Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lehi’s Seed in the Americas – Part II

Continued from the previous post regarding the seed of Lehi in the Americas, from Canada to Chile, and the importance of the comments of Presidents and Church Leaders to support the idea that Lehi’s descendants filled the Americas.
    In addition to the South American, Central and Mesoamerican comments of Church Presidents in the previous post, we look here at more comments from Church Leaders regarding Lehi’s descendants in North America:
Arizona, southern United States: Heber J. Grant, Mesa Arizona Temple dedication, 23-26 October 1927:
    “We beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thou wilt stay the hand of the destroyer among the descendants of Lehi who reside in this land and give unto them increasing virility and more abundant health, that they may not perish as a people but that from this time forth they may increase in numbers and in strength and in influence, that all the great and glorious promises made concerning the descendants of Lehi may be fulfilled in them; that they may grow in vigor of body and of mind, and above all in love for Thee and Thy Son, and increase in diligence and in faithfulness in keeping the commandments which have come to them through the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that many of them may have the privilege of entering this holy house and receiving ordinances for themselves and their departed ancestors.”
Vernal, northeastern Utah: Gordon B. Hinckley, Dedication Prayer for the Vernal Utah Temple, 2–4 November 1997:
    “May there come about a reconciliation of feelings between the descendants of Lehi and those who have come to reside in these valleys. May old animosities be dispelled, and may there come a renewed spirit of brotherhood and love and respect.”

Rocky Mountains, western United States: Parley P. Pratt to Brigham Young, 13 March 1852, in Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography, p368: “Could we have preached to the Lamanites, if we had stayed in Nauvoo? No, we could not; but the people have driven us to a place where we can do much more good, than we could have accomplished by remaining in Nauvoo; they have driven us into the midst of the Lamanites, where we can preach the Gospel unto them.
Illinois, United States: Joseph Smith, Diary Entry, Thursday, May 23, 1844:
    “1pm. Held council with the Indians Sac & Fox in my back kitchen. I replied…Great Spirit wants you to be united and live in peace. (I) found a book, (presenting the Book of Mormon) which told me about your fathers and Great Spirit told me you must send to all the tribes you can, and tell them to live in peace, and when any of our people come to see you treat them as we treat you.”
Alberta, Canada: Heber J. Grant, Dedicatory Prayer for the Cardston Alberta Temple, 26–29 August 1923:
    “We beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thou wilt stay the hand of the destroyer among the descendants of Lehi, who reside in this land…that all the great and glorious promises made concerning the descendants of Lehi…”   
Temple dedicatory prayers where the existence of Lehi and his family are specifically mentioned 
    With all of this, and numerous other comments and factual writing and speaking of other leaders, we find that Lehi’s descendants were scattered all over the Americas. This is not to say that the specific area of the Jaredite, Nephite and Lamanite lands in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon are scattered all over the Americas, but that Lehi’s people were.
    So how is that remark justified?
    To better understand this, there are a few things that we need to keep in mind:
1. Promised Land: The Lord told Nephi in the wilderness that: “inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yes, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands” (1 Nephi 2:20). Lehi, to whom the land was promised, said: “behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice” (1 Nephi 5:5), where his sons and their wives were to: “raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise” (1 Nephi 7:1). In a vision, Nephi “beheld the land of promise” and he also “beheld multitudes of people, even as it were in number as many as the sand of the sea” (1 Nephi 12:1). There was to be “multitudes of Gentiles upon the land of promise who would scatter and smite (conquer) Lehi’s seed (1 Nephi 13:14).
2. Covenant Land: In addition to having a land of promise prepared for Lehi and his posterity, it was “the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance” (1 Nephi 13:30, emphasis added). This covenanted land was for Lehi’s seed. As he stated: “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” (2 Nephi 1:5, emphasis added)
    Therefore, Lehi didn’t just have a land of promise that the Lord prepared for him and his family, but it was a guaranteed contract, agreement, and promise from the Lord, for all of Lehi’s posterity, conditional upon their obedience to the Lord’s conditions of living righteously. This does not mean that if the Nephites were to eventually dwindle in disbelief that the covenant of the land would be withdrawn from Lehi’s descendants, but only withdrawn from those of his descendants who failed to live up to their end of the agreement, which is what happened to the Nephite people at the end (Mormon 2:15), when the day of grace passed with those individuals (Mormon 2:15) would no longer have the promised covenant of a land inheritance.
3. The Time Frame of Events: It is absolutely necessary for one to keep in mind the time frame in which scriptural events take place. As an example, there was a great Flood, called Noah’s Flood, which took place within a certain time frame in Biblical history. First, the Lord himself verified the Floods of Noah occurred when he said, “For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee” (3 Nephi 22:9; see also Moses 7:38,42-43,49-52). Secondly, the time frame of the early patriarchs is known by the years of their birth and when compiled, lead to an exact year of 2344 B.C. for when the rains began (Genesis 7:11), and the year 2343 B.C. when the waters were dried up from off the earth” (Genesis 8:13). Thus, all dates determined by man must fit into the time frame the Lord has revealed despite what modern science claims, what evolutionists demand, and what the geologic time scale (strata) chronological dating system states.
4. Lehi’s covenanted land: this land, referred to in the Book of Mormon as the Land of Promise (2 Nephi 1:5) states nothing about the size, shape, or continuity of the land Lehi was promised. Jacob says it was an island (2 Nephi 10:20), which may mean that the area of the original island was the land promised to Lehi (Land Southward and Land Northward), but as that changed during the devastating conditions at the time of the crucifixion, when “the whole face of the land was changed” (3 Nephi 8:12), more land may well have been added to the area that was not within the land covenanted to Lehi—but still part of the overall land that was “a land which is choice above all other lands” where there would be no kings (2 Nephi 10:11).
    So the Lord covenanted a land to Lehi and his posterity that was a land of promise to them, “a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed” (2 Nephi 1:5), in an overall choice region of land that “should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations” (2 Nephi 1:8), a land which was consecrated unto those the Lord would bring (2 Nephi 1:7) out of the land of Jerusalem (2 Nephi 1:9), where eventually the Lord ”will bring other nations” and “give them power [to] take away from them the lands of their possessions, and…cause them to be scattered and smitten” (2 Nephi 1:11).
The area of the Land of Promise in Palestine and its division among the 12 tribes. Note all the other land around it and contiguous to it—that is, the Abraham/Jewish Land of Promise was not isolated from other land, and there is no reason to think that Lehi’s Land of Promise was isolated or separated from other land 

Thus, we can conclude that, like in Palestine, the Land of Promise was a smaller part of a much larger land mass, at one time just an island, that became an overall choice land the Lord had prepared, sometimes also referred to as the Land of Promise, especially by modern Church Leaders, than the land of promise covered in Lehi’s covenant promise. We see this in the land of Palestine promised to Israel through the promise given to Abraham (Genesis 28:13), which was the area of present day Israel, part of southern Lebanon, southwestern Syria, western and southwestern Jordan, and a small portion of the Sinai, originally surrounded by the lands of the Hittites to the north, Arameans to the northeast, Ammonites to the east, Moabites to the southeast, Edomites to the south, the Sinai of Egypt to the southwest and Philistines to the west.
    This should also suggest to us, that a land of promise the Lord covenants with a group is not necessarily isolated from other lands that might well be occupied by other peoples.
(See the next post, “Lehi’s Seed in the Americas – Part III,“ for more information on how the development of the seed of Nephi ended up in South America, Central America, Mesoamerica and North America, showing that all these various theories are not isolated, non-connected models, but a single model that covered the entire Americas)

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