Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Land of Promise and to Whom it was Promised – Part I

There is so much confusion today regarding where the Land of Promise is located, and so many ideas on to whom the land is promised and why, that perhaps we should spend a little time recounting the land the Lord separated from the rest of the world and kept in reserve.    First of all, the Lord has always promised his covenant people who are faithful, four principle blessings.
1. Posterity
2. Prosperity
3. Security, and
4. Freedom
    and, of course, a land of promise.
The first recorded instance of a “land of promise” in scripture is a land called Cainan (Kenan), named after a great-grandson of Father Adam (Moses 6:17), and the son of Enos and father of Mahalaleel—he was not the son of Cain. Also known as Kenan, Cainan was not the son of Cain. Cainan was a grandson of Cain's surviving brother Seth, of which there were other brothers as well, besides Abel i.e. "the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters" (Genesis 5:4). Nor was Cainan the father of the Canaanite people as some have assumed.
The Canaanites originated long after the time of Cainan, from Canaan, a grandson of Noah through Noah's son Ham (Genesis 10:6,15-20). Although the names Cainan and Canaan are usually pronounced the same in English, in the original Hebrew of the Holy Scriptures they were not—Cainan was pronounced kay-nawn, while Canaan was pronounced ken-ah-an.
    We understand through the scriptures that this land of Cainan was near current day Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri (D&C 116:1). Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Temporarily, we call it America. But it began with the single, primeval continent of Genesis, and the miracle of millennial healing will bring that unity again at some point in the future. The most sacred of places, then, will always be those locations which God has designated for holy and eternal purposes, locations where he is the “doer of the deed.” These places are revered forever by his faithful children wherever they may be.
The land called America is such a place. However, America, despite what people of the United States like to call themselves, is not the only place where people are called Americans. Depending upon alliances and originations, most people in the Western Hemisphere call themselves Americans with the exception primarily of Canadians. But this “American” label is used throughout what we refer to as Latin America, i.e., Central and South America.
    Thus we talk of America, but we mean different things. It is like Moroni’s comment to Joseph Smith when he told him that the plates Joseph would soon be given contained the history of the people “of this continent,” meaning the entire North and South American continent as it was known as a single continent in Joseph’s day. North America was not separated from “this continent” until just before the Second World War when it became prudent in the educated circles to separate this northern part from the southern part for clarification purposes.
    But in Joseph Smith’s time, “this continent” meant both North and South America, a land which was labeled simply as America on all maps from the time of Americus Vespucci, when specifically South America and this entire land of the New World was given his name—America.
    Thus, America is such a place held in reserve by the Lord for his purposes. Of course, it wasn’t always called America, nor has it always been identified in its current specific continental shape—at one time it was merely a portion of a much larger land mass that the Lord referred to as “Earth,” that when finished, was simply declared in Genesis as “good” (1:10).
    As Jeffrey Holland stated: “Whatever its name and geographical configuration, however, it was from the beginning a land of divinity as well as a land of destiny, and particularly one part, a choice part, where the Garden was planted eastward in Eden, and our first parents were placed.”
    Initially filled with paradisiacal glory, its location was where the city of Zion would eventually be placed and in the last days, the city of Zion built (D&C 57:1-3). When driven out of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve dwelt at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman—an area now identified as Daviess County, Missouri.
This was the place where the Ancient of Days, Father Adam, gave his final mortal blessing to all his posterity and to where he will return when resurrected.
    In this place, the first family spent their mortality, planting, harvesting, tending their flocks and offering sacrifices. Here they learned the gospel, and three years before Adam’s death, his posterity rose up and blessed him, calling him Michael, the prince and archangel.  
    As Jeffrey Holland said, “Never before had one spot of earth been favored with such a meeting, nor provided the stage for such sacred scenes from the drama of man’s ultimate destiny.”
    This was sacred ground and upon it one day would rise up a nation that would secure the peace for this entire hemisphere. After the Flood had washed clean this land that had become polluted over the millennia since Adam’s arrival, this entire land would be reserved, set aside, and held for a time. This land was not divided by political boundaries at the time, there were no nations that controlled it, no governments that secured it, no people that occupied it.
    It was a vast land, separated by oceans whose currents would not be discovered to penetrate them and learn of this land until the Lord was ready for that to take place. We are told 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).
    Such a sacred and choice land required separation, to be free from the indiscriminate traveler and the soldier of fortune, from the evils of man and toil of his unworthy labor. To guarantee this sanctity the very surface of the earth was rent and the land divided into great continents as God decreed, and the land separated as the oceans rushed in to surround them. The promised place was set apart. Without habitation it waited for the fulfillment of God’s special purposes.
    Here, the Jaredites were first to be led, with stories of the great flood fresh in their minds and its implication upper most in their thoughts, and a knowledge that “Whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them” (Ether 2:8).
Yet, despite careful and explicit counsel and the knowledge of all that had gone on before, the Jaredite empire steadily fell into a wicked and vicious society where men slept on their swords and swore to fight to the death. Their “promised land,” which righteous ancestors had left them, by 1500 years, they had lost through their unwillingness to serve the Lord, until finally they “ate and slept, and prepared for death on the morrow” (Ether 15:26).
    Thus, the Lord removed the Jaredites from the Promised Land, and brought another group to inherit it. As the last breath left the Jaredite civilization, the sun rose on a new society in the land that was to last a thousand years—the Nephites and Lamanites began to spread across the Land of Promise and despite periods of war and rebellion, there were moments of greatness achieved by them, of power and purity, including the divine ministry of the resurrected Christ, who walked and talked and prayed with these New World inhabitants for three indescribable days, that was followed by more than 200 years of unprecedented peace and prosperity.
    But alas, here, too, the lessons of history of those who had preceeded them fell on deaf ears, and the Nephites fell from grace, destined to repeat the horrible acts of their predecesors in the land, and follow them to the grave in an unrighteous dash to oblivion.
    Only a single father and his son would remain to see the final outcome of this headlong dash that ended in the complete annihilation of a vast and once righteous people. Different this time was found only in no other people were brought in to inherit the land. The land degenerated into serving an unknowing and uncaring, unrightous people, as the wicked were allowed to destroy the wicked in a final battle that saw nearly half a million people return to the soil from which they sprang.
    A thousand years after God had given such choice land to their fathers and a thousand years before he would attempt to do it again, Mormon wrote to his son Moroni: “O the depravity of my people! They are without order and without mercy” (Moroni 9:18). It would be another thousand years before a young Italian named Cristóbal Colón, who set sail under the Spanish flag, and who Nephi had seen in a much earlier vision where “he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the Promised Land” (1 Nephi 13:12).
This “discoverer” of the promised land did not set foot in North America, or have any interaction with the people there, nor did he set foot in Mexico or Mesoamerica, or have any interaction with the people there, yet Nephi tells us: “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).
    Of course, Columbus did land in the Western Hemisphere:
1) On islands of the Caribbean
2) On the mainland of South America, and 
3) On Central America. 
    He led the scourging of the unrighteous in the Lord’s good time when He was ready for the next settlement of this precious and sacred land. He did not, as stated above, land in North America or in Mexico or even Mesoamerica.
(See the next post, “The Land of Promise and to Whom it was Promised – Part II,” for more information on the land the Lord promised to the Jaredites and then the Nephites, and finally to the Gentiles)

1 comment:

  1. Another interesting post. You've pointed it out before, but I'm intrigued with how clear yet another scripture is that says Columbus will go to the promised land and he never set foot in North America or Mesoamerica. Jacob clearly stated we are upon an Isle. Samuel clearly stated that a new mountain of exceeding height would rise up.
    I don't think any other model even claims to meet these scriptures.