Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Land of Promise: Choice above All Other Lands

What is meant in the Lord’s promise to Lehi, when the aged patriarch said: “notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:5).    This promise guaranteed to Lehi, his family, and their seed, a perpetual land blessing providing the area of the Nephite Land of Promise to Lehi’s seed forever. This promise, like all promises, cannot be withdrawn by the Lord, i.e., the blessing of this land. Man’s requirement, meaning the people involved (Lehi, his family and descendants) each, in turn have to qualify through their willingness to be righteous and serve the Lord, to inherit the land for eternity. While those who do not qualify will not be part of the promise, all those who do qualify would retain that promise for it was binding, as are all promises of the Lord.
    For some reason, many theorists consider the fact that the Nephites lost their blessings, lost their grace, and were wiped out in their evil state, that they lost the Land of Promise, which the Lord promised to them.
    Nothing could be further from the truth!
    The Lord promised that land to Lehi, and to his seed forever. Because the last of the Nephite seed was evil and wiped out, and none remained after Cumorah and Moroni’s eventual death, does that mean Lehi, Nephi, and the many other righteous Nephites who lived during their 1000-year history lost their inheritance? Of course not. The land was promised to them by the Lord and that promise remains in effect.
    When the Lord promised Israel the land of Palestine, which was later divided among the twelve tribes by his decree, and they lost their land entirely, though now reclaiming a smaller portion of it, does that mean the tribes lost their inheritance?
    Of course not!
    That land of promise will be restored to them in the future, including its fullest dimensions that were promised to Abraham, which basically is from “the River of Egypt” (Nile River) in the south, including the Sinai Peninsula, to the area just north of Seleucia, Antioch, and Karkamisin in the north, and including Tipsah, Damascus, Ammon, Moab, and Edom in the East, to the seacoast of the eastern Mediterranean in the West. That land was given to Abraham for his direct, or priesthood descendant, line (Isaac, Jacob and Joseph) and will be theirs forever.
    Thus, we look at the Lehi Land of Promise, given to Lehi, from the tribe of Manasseh, which included that area described as the Land Northward and the Land Southward, which at one time was an island according to Jacob (2 Nephi 10:20).
The area of land given to the 10 tribes, from the Nile River to the Euphrates and bordering on the Mediterranean is only a small portion of the entire Middle East

Like the land given to Abraham (Isaac, Jacob and Joseph) was only a part of the land we call the Middle East today or the land bordering the eastern Mediterranean, the Land of Promise given to Lehi and his seed did not include the greater area of the Western Hemisphere; however, the Western Hemisphere is the land spoken of in: “that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof“ (Ether 13:2).
    This greater land, which includes that portion of the Land of Promise that has been dedicated for the New Jerusalem (Ether 13:3), and the remnant of the house of Joseph (Ether 13:8) where “it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old” (Ether 13:8).
    In fact, another quote from Nephi regarding his father’s discussion of the land with his family as he approached the end of his life: “he also spake unto them concerning the land of promise, which they had obtained“ (2 Nephi 1:3), tells us that the land they were in was most definitely the Land of Promise the Lord gave them and they had already achieved it—they were already both in the land and the promise of the land was then in effect.
    One of the things we need to keep in mind when it comes to the Nephite Land of Promise and its current location, is that when the Lord discusses such with man, he is not looking at national boundary lines, but of a land in general—His land that he is giving to those he denotes. We sometimes get caught up in a line between countries that we forget the Lord talks about land, areas, or regions, and not a particular piece between political boundaries.
The land Joseph would have understood was the United States—the red and orange; the purple, at less than 18 people per square miles, with the green two or less per square mile would have been rarely considered as the U.S. in 1830

    Thus, it was not the land of the United States he was discussing with Nephi in the latter’s vision—an area not then in effect, and would have been unknown to Joseph Smith in 1830, but the entire Western Hemisphere of which Joseph would have easily understood.
    Thus, it goes without saying that there is a huge difference between a “promised land” as mentioned in scripture and that of dynasties in the feudal system of men or would-be conquerors. The latter were part of the enduring itch for aggrandizement, a condition aptly described by Machiavelli as “the disease of princes.” On the other hand, the concept of a promised land, as defined in scripture, involved special lands offered to special peoples by God himself. Moreover, receiving and possessing the lands as an inheritance was confirmed by covenant, with God offering both temporal and spiritual blessings for high levels of righteous behavior. If the covenant was broken by man, the divine sanction and protection were forfeit to future generations and hence the loss of the land itself for a time. We see this in the case of Lehi’s seed. For a thousand years the promise was in effect, but after “the day of grace was passed with them, both temporarily and spiritually,” the Nephites lost their land (Mormon 2:15), and there were no future generations to inherit it.
The Western Hemisphere as both Zion and the overall Land of Promise to the Tribes of Menasseh and Ephraim

A “promised land,” prepared and protected by the Lord and tied to the covenant that “inasmuch as ye keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land,” is surely one of the more vivid and pervasive concepts of the Book of Mormon. Both the Jaredites and the Nephites occupied land on the Western Hemisphere under this condition and, failing to keep the covenant, lost it to their utter ruin from that point onward.
    As part of a great land promise, and the vision associated with it, both Lehi and Nephi, witnessed many wonderful things and were instructed as to their meaning as he viewed such things as the tree of life and the iron rod leading to it. Nephi’s guide, an angel, told him of the Land of Promise, of which he was given several views, including what would befall his people, and their final annihilation. He also saw the visit by the resurrected Savior and the glorious two-hundred year “golden years” of the Nephites.
    He also saw that the Lamanites would survive, eventually dwindling in unbelief as a perverted people “full of idleness and all manner of abominations” (1 Nephi 12:23). He also saw numerous events on how the Land of Promise would be unveiled to the world and many people looking for freedom would reach its shores. As Nephite stated of this:

 “And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land (1 Nephi 13:12).
    Obviously, a clear reference to Christopher Columbus and his “discovery” of the New World, though when it comes to political lines, never saw or touched what is called the North American continent of today, but only the islands of the Caribbean and South America. Yet, as Nephi looked at the vision, he “beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12).
    Thus, we see Nephi’s vision was not limited to a politically bounded area of land, but of the land in general—of the entire Land of Promise. A choice land. A choice land above all others. He was visioning the Western Hemisphere and the Land of Promise, an area far greater than that of a single nation.


  1. Your one picture of North America showing the New Jerusalem and SLC is a little perplexing. Right now it is true that government of Ephraim is located in SLC. But when the New Jerusalem descends the government will be located there because that is where Christ will be during the millennium. Minor point I guess.

    Again this scripture in Nephi of Columbus coming to the Land of Promise proves beyond any doubt that America is the land of promise and not some heathen lands in Asia. Why is it that some people can't understand this simple truth. It's a shame and very perplexing.

    1. Columbus died thinking he had discovered Paradise on the shores of Asia. He had no idea there was anything called America, or some new continent. In his mind, Asia was the "Mondo Novo" or New World.

      This is not perplexing if you simply look at the world in the way it was known by every person in the Book of Mormon. All the "islands of the sea" were the New World. Its that easy. If it wasn't known, it was new. Columbus himself believed he fulfilled the "islands of the sea" prophesy, and where did Columbus believe he was? On an island, in Asia.

      Simply try to look at the world in the way the Book of Mormon authors (and Columbus himself) would have known it, then you won't struggle so much with problems like "America is the land of promise and not some heathen lands in Asia".

    2. Columbus's (lack of) understanding of where he landed has absolutely nothing to do with Nephi's prophecy of him arriving in the Land of Promise. No matter where he imagined himself to be, his actual arrival (in the Americas) was what was prophesied.

    3. You are correct, the LDS Church interprets the prophesies to mean the American continent was the Land of Promise. But Columbus, himself, did not. He believed Kattigara (Cambodia) and Malacca (Malay) and the Indias more widely to be the Promised Land, and claimed the voice of God had declared this to him:

      "Tired, I went to sleep, sighing to myself, when I heard a very tender voice saying: "O fool, and slow to believe, and to serve your God, God of all!...The Indias, which are so rich a part of the world, he gave to you to keep as yours; for you to divide as it pleased you, and empowered you to do so. For the hindrances of the oceanic sea, which were kept shut by such strong chains, He gave you the keys; you were obeyed in so many lands, and from those which were Christian, you gathered such honourable fame...The privileges and promises that God offers, He neither breaks, nor says, after having accepted the service rendered...He keeps his word to the letter, and everything that He promises, He fulfills many times over. Is this not remarkable?"

      I fully agree Columbus' version claiming that the New World was to be found in the Indias does not match the LDS interpretation. But I don't think it is correct to dismiss the narrative as given to us by Columbus himself. I think the more conservative resolution is to accept that everything between the West Indies and the East Indies (the Indias) is all New World. All the "isles of the sea" are the Promised Land. That's my interpretation, open for discussion.

  2. Let's not rewrite history. The “New World” was named for the American continent (North and South America) because it was, well, NEW! No one had ever been there before, no one had known it had existed before, no previous venture had ever gone there before. The term was first used in 1540 on Sebastian Münster’s map. It was adopted because prior to this, everyone thought the world consisted onlh of Africa, Europe and Asia collectively, which became known as the Old World after the discovering made by Columbus and others who followed. It was, in fact, the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (who the Americas were given his name) and was at the time and for some time after referred to as the “fourth part of the world” (by the way, Toby Lester’s book by the title is excellent and I highly recommend it)

    Whether Columbus understood where he landed was not the point of our discussion or the article above. Don't change the dialogue. He landed in the Caribbean, Central and South America, not North America or Mexico. He sure as diddly squat did not land in Asia or Malay. Your statements are misleading and self-serving and not in line with the way the above terms were used. In Washington DC they call that "spinning" the dialogue, i.e., taking a truthful statement and changing it to meet a personal ideology.

  3. Thanks, sounds like an interesting book. I'll try to get a hold of it.

    My intention is not to change the subject from the main article. I was responding to Ira's suggestion that America was the Land of Promise that Columbus had in mind. There is of course no doubt that Columbus landed in the Americas. I'm not questioning that. I am simply pointing out that he did not known he had discovered a new continent. He believed he was somewhere in the area of Zipangu and Kattigara, Asian lands that were thought to have existed, but had not yet been found. Something we don't often consider is that places like Japan, the Philippines, the East Indies and all the thousands of islands in the sea were actually discovered long AFTER Columbus died. Should they be considered "Old World" or "New World"?

    Its not "spinning" when there is ample evidence that Columbus himself believed that the New World was in Asia, and much more expansive than you allow for. As evidence, here's the map of the New World supposedly drawn by the Columbus brothers. Notice they use the words "Mondo Novo" or "New World" in 1503 before Sebastian Munster and it was to refer to what Columbus believed was Asia:

    "Columbus had said to the Catholic sovereigns: “Your Majesties have another world here.” His brother, Bartholomew Columbus, in 1503 drew a map bearing the inscription Mondo Novo. Peter Martyr used the terms Nova Terrarum, Novo Orbis, Orbe Nove, from 1493. But they employed these expressions in referring to islands or in speaking of matters having to do with Asia. It was a way of glorifying the discoveries. Columbus had said that it was Asia, and nobody could budge him from that position."

    Columbus himself referred to Asia as the Mondo Novo, so I am not spinning things when I suggest that everything between the West Indies and the East Indies was part of the New World. The proof is right there on Columbus' map, and I don't believe he was spinning things.

    1. “The term ‘Mondo Novo’ (New World) used by Bartholomew and Christopher Columbus meant to them the recently-discovered, hitherto-unsuspected, and hence “new” part of Asia extending to the east. It did not mean to them a new and separate continent.”


    2. Jay, The problem is you are not interpreting scripture correctly. It doesn't matter one bit where Columbus thought he was. The scripture clearly shows that America is the land of Promise not the heathen nation of Malaysia as you want to make it to be. Malaysia is not the land of promise and that is clearly explained in this and other scriptures in the BOM such as Ether 2. You clearly do not understand a thing about the scriptures.

      Of a truth! You just can't argue with stupid I guess.

    3. The Book of Mormon does not reference America, or any other known location. It references an island, nearly surrounded by water, with elephants, silk, horses, chariots, asses, cattle, barley, wheat, iron, swords, bows and arrows, golden plates with writing, etc. None of these things are found in North or South America, they are all found on the Malay Peninsula. So, your model works good for some things, and my model works good for others. Together, they both help validate the Book of Mormon.

      Now I know you and many others believe these all of the things listed above are present in the Americas during the Book of Mormon time period. But they were not. I know you believe that Chile was an island until 35 AD, but it wasn't. You are forced to reject science and logic to make your interpretations of scripture fit. I have no problem with that. No problem at all.

      But you don't have any moral (or scientific) high ground to call me stupid. So just chill out.

  4. Jay, you just don't understand scripture do you. This is all based on a religious belief system that you are rejecting. It is very clear in the Bom that Columbus came to America. Del has spelled out where he landed
    The bom tells us that the land where he landed was the promised Land . It's as simple as that. You might very well be brilliant when it comes to worldly matters. But when it comes to the scriptures you are just plain....

    1. I try my best to understand scripture, and I have found that the easiest way is to take them at face value. If you honestly look at the scriptures themselves (without adding in all the commentary that has come since 1830) it is very clear that the Book of Mormon narrative took place on an island in the sea. That island had elephants, silk, chariots, horses, iron, swords, cimiters, barley, wheat, bees, bows, and a dozen other things that aren't found in the Americas.

      You've made it very clear that you don't agree with me, so might as well just leave it at that. Attacking me isn't going to change anybody's viewpoint.

  5. When Joseph Smith tells us what the angel Moroni (the same Moroni who wrote part of the scripture, who hid it up and is considered the custodian of the records from which the scripture came through Joseph Smith) tells us that the Land of Promise was on this continent, you seem not to be trying very hard to understand the scripture when you claim a landing on Malay. This is not an attack, but it certainly is a point of view you cannot discount or claim something else about--Moroni tells us where the Land of Promise ("on this continent) was located, and also "from whence the occupants came" which is spelled out in the scriptural record to have been Jerusalem, i.e., from Jerusalem to "this continent" of which the scriptural record is so clear it cannot be gotten around by any reasonable claim. So you keep thinking Malay and we will follow the scriptural record.

    1. The "source from whence they sprang" is certainly open for discussion. Just as elephant/mammoth, horse/alpaca or silk/pineapple fiber is open for discussion.

      There is not a single Book of Mormon geography model that resolves all questions. If there was we wouldn't be having this conversation. There wouldn't be a need for the outrageous amounts of publications put out by John Sorenson, Brant Gardner or the FIRM Foundation. There wouldn't be a need for this blog. We would all know the answer and that would be the end of the discussion. But unfortunately that is not the case.

      Your model is excellent, but it also has weaknesses that cannot be gotten around by any reasonable claim. For example, you'll be hard pressed to find many people willing to reject all the evidence that South America was not a small island 2000 years ago. That is not an attack, but it certainly is a point of view you cannot discount.

  6. Unknown: Columbus is a perfect example, and always has been to those who understand the dilemma involved in these events. At the time, there were two basic understandings of the size of the Earth. Using the correct one, Columbus would not have been able to reach Asia since sailing that distance in that day was not possible (supplies, water, food, etc.) On the other hand, using the lesser size, Columbus knew the distance would be acceptable. The problem was, the Catholic Church leaders at the time knew the correct size of the Earth and knew Columbus’ view and plan was not workable. They were adamantly advising Ferdinand and Isabella not to accept Columbus’ claim that he could make the voyage and reach Asia since they knew it could not be done.
    On the other hand, the Lord (Spirit) knew of course that there was a New World in between Europe and Asia and that Columbus could make that distance in his day with his type ships. The dilemma was in convincing Columbus to know this. As he wrote about it, the Spirit convinced Columbus that he could reach land and Columbus understood that in the light of his knowledge, i.e., he could reach the promised land, that is, he could reach Asia. Both views were correct, that is, he could reach land, and it was the promised land. It was just not Asia, but the New World Columbus was destined to “discover.” Columbus own narrative, when understood in light of the events taking place and the historicity of these events, which you seem not to know, is very important. Columbus was describing the events in light of the only land existence he knew at the time. It would take others, later, to understand that he discovered new land, so convinced was he that he had reached Asia—which of course he did not, therefore it matters little what he thought, only what he did.

    As for “from whence they came” it is not open to discussion. 1 Nephi 1:4 makes that quite clear! It is not a matter of LDS interpretation, it is a matter of what Nephi wrote about the location of his father and from “whence” they came, i.e., Jerusalem.

  7. (Continuing)
    There is a single location and that is Andean Peru in South America. I have a listing of 44 specific matching scriptures to South America—not altered scriptures or changes of meaning, but specific matches. Plus there are another 21, totally 65 in all, matches. They have all been written about in this blog over the past 8 years and within the two books “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica” and “Who Really Settled Mesoamerica.”
    The fact you don’t agree with that is understandable and certainly within your right, but until you can counter with legitimate sources that are presented in academic manner (i.e., sources listed, author, work, publisher, location, date and if possible page numbers, and in the language of those to whom it is being presented), you don’t have a leg to stand on. In all your work, the vast majority of your disagreement is 1) speculation, 2) hearsay 3) unsourced information, 4) sources that are easily explained away or even debunked, etc.

    As for reasonable claim. The only claim we make are these: 1) Book of Mormon scripture and its obvious and unchanged meaning, 2) Biblical dating. When you combine that with the dozens of geologists and other scientists who agree that South America was once underwater except for two above water areas (as shown on their maps we have reproduced numerous times), that Darwin who studied the mountain tops of South America before any controversy arose over the subject and before anyone had a theory on the matter, showed that the Andes came up during the Age of Man, and that Moses gives us a 13,000 year old Earth, there is no room to present “a point of view you cannot discount” but gives extreme credence to the belief we present here.

    We do not expect your agreement on any of this, but it is an argument you have yet to accurately critic and certainly have yet to show any evidence to the contrary. Be that as it may, you keep your beliefs as unfounded and indefensible as they area. We will keep ours until greater revelation discloses information yet unknown. To date we know that the Lord has led numerous people away from the House of Israel into unknown areas, including isles of the sea, only one of which are the Nephites, who landed in the Western Hemisphere—a fact you have yet to show one reasonable alternative factual account to the contrary.

    In the meantime, why don’t you create your own blog and write about your own beliefs and see how many people you can draw to your corner. At last count, we have had 804,947 visitors to our blog in the time we have been publishing here, having posted 2472 articles on these pages.

    1. Hi Del, my comments are not intended to critique your research. There is much I like about your model. Again, I usually only comment when the Malay Model is misrepresented in an article or in the comments. Other than that, I find your model to be the most plausible of the New World models. No doubt I recognize the model I propose will never have wide acceptance, or readership. But I still am motivated to assure that it is represented accurately. Thanks. -Jay

  8. Thank you for your comment. The model of theory of Malay is treated here as we treat all theories, i.e., how they compare to the scriptural record and little else. Our intention is to see that the scriptural record is not misused or misinterpreted, which is so often is as theorists try to bend the meaning of the scriptural record to meet their models. As we have stated in the past, our information stems from a beginning in following the scriptural record no matter where it led without any preconceived beliefs or opinions. At the time I began it, I was pretty accepting of the Mesoamerican location, though I have to admit the location of the Land of Promise was of little interest to me before then. That changed when I found that Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni gave us a specific road map to follow and ever since that has been our guideline. While you do not want your Malay theory misrepresented, we do not want the scriptural record misrepresented. That should leave room for all of us here.