Friday, June 28, 2019

The Land of Promise -- Part I: It’s Beginning and Fate

We are continually asked our opinion and thoughts on the mounting popularity among members of the theory that Lehi landed in North America and that only the area of the United States is the Land of Promise. While we have covered this idea numerous times, especially over the past year or two, North America has an appeal to some people, especially those who feel this land is superior to all others, and to those who think that much has been claimed by Joseph Smith and modern Church leaders to acknowledge this area as Lehi’s Land of Promise, that we still find ourselves trying to get the record straight for those who have yet to understand the scriptural references embodied.
    As an example, the deeper meaning of the simple statement made by Moroni: “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). The questions one should ask before jumping to a conclusion about meaning are: 1) What waters, 2) What land was “this land,” 3) What is meant by “Upon the face thereof.”
In its simplest form, “This Land” would apply to where Moroni was located, as opposed to the land that was disconnected from “this land,” or the separation from the “New World” from the “Old World,” which then became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord”

Perhaps to better understand this, we need to think in terms of the statement within this verse that states: “After the waters had receded,” which obviously refers to the Great Flood. Before that Flood, all the waters of the world were in one place (“Garden of Eden,” Relief Society Magazine, vol.3, No.1, Lesson 1, January 1916, p718). This means that all the Earth was connected since the waters had been gathered into one place (Abraham 4:9). Thus, there were no continents originally, and all the land was interconnected, forming one large land mass on the Earth.
    However, when the Flood ended, we find that there were continents, or that the lands were separated by waters (oceans and seas). Thus, when Moroni makes this statement when he was abridging the record of Ether sometime between 385 and 421 AD (Moroni 1:1), his reference to “this land” had to do with the land upon which he lived. And that land, the Americas, was one massive land mass, unoccupied, virgin land with no boundaries, nations, or people.
    At this point, Moroni, living more than 2500 years after the Flood waters receded, was referring to a land that had been occupied by the Jaredites, who had been led to it by the hand of the Lord, causing Moroni to state: “the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof” (Ether 13:2). When the Jaredites failed to do so after 1500 years, they were removed from the land and replanted with others led there by the Lord, i.e., Lehi and Mulek. Finally, after 1000 years, these too, were removed for failing to serve the Lord.
    That is, it was to be “the place of the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.
The Land of Promise in the Americas was like the Land of Promise in the Middle East—certain areas were carved out of other lands to form certain areas within the Land of Promise

Now upon this overall land called the Americas, there were certain areas set aside for different purposes. First, it would be “the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord” (Ether 13:3); it would be the home of Lehi and a land promised to him and his posterity, that is, as he told his children before his death: “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).
    Lehi also prophesied “that there shall be none come into this land save they be brought by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:6).
    It is interesting that so many North American theorists claim that he Land of Promise is the “land of liberty,” which of course it is, however, they seldom consider the promise attached to that promise, which is: “this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Nephi 1:7).
    Therefore, in order for this land to be a land of liberty, the people have to live righteously. The land was dedicated to be such a land, however, when the people are disobedient and embrace evil, the land will be cursed for their sake, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever. Thus, this land is a land of liberty for and to the righteous—people who trust in God and obey him and live righteous (as best they can) lives. Therefore, if there is any part of the Americas that is not a “land of liberty,” then it is due to the inequity of the people living there—that land is dedicated as a land of liberty, but people have to keep it that way!
    Under King George, the original thirteen colonies from England in the Americas believed they were no longer free—there was no liberty in their lives because they were under the thumb of a king who was mistreating the colonies. Thus, they rebelled. The same is true of other areas than the thirteen colonies, i.e., in South America, people rebelled and threw off the yoke of kings and established freedom, as the original thirteen colonies did. These groups are called themselves by different names, but overall, there was, at one time, liberty throughout the entire Americas.
Washington (left) defeated the British under King George III (right) and gained freedom and independence for the United States
Simón Bolívar (left) defeated Joseph Bonaparte (right), king of Naples (Spain) to gain independence and freedom for several South American states

Kings at one time ruled the Americas until the Revolutionary War for the North American colonies and the South American colonies, fought for their independence in the Spanish American wars of independence from 1808 to 1826. Little by little despots, dictators, and otherwise evil men sought to gain control of different areas within the Americas, within this Land of Promise, and the people suffered until they were able to rise up and correct the problem, either through battle or by vote.
    In addition, Moroni wrote: “And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8). There can be no question that this entire Western Hemisphere was kept from the knowledge of other nations for almost 4000 years, with the descendants of Lehi occupying the land.
    But only for a time. Several hundred years following the wars between the Lamanites, the Lord readied the world for others he would bring to this Land of Promise. As Lehi prophesied, “Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten. Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them” (2 Nephi 11-12).
    Obviously, from history we can see the results of Columbus’ discovery (he may not have been the first to reach these shores, but his voyage opened the doors for others to follow). Thus, the land was soon overrun and became possessed by many other nations. First came the Spanish and Portuguese, then the English, French and Dutch, until all of the Western Hemisphere had been lost to the indigenous people who once occupied it, and now became hunted and killed or made slaves in their own land as Lehi had proclaimed.
    The entire Western Hemisphere, the entire Land of Promise, was affected, as Lehi had prophesied.
    Lehi further stated: “Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence” (2 Nephi 1:20). And thus the Lamanites, descendants of Lehi, and those who joined them over the centuries, were disposed from their lands and the lands were given to others—the “many nations” Lehi foresaw.
(See the next post, “The Land of Promise: An Understand of the Land – Part II,” for more on why we need to understand the writings of the early prophets regarding the geographical setting of the Land of Promise to better understand the application of the scriptural record today)


  1. I still think you are failing to accept the very clear revelation in Moses 3:5. This revelation makes it very clear that the creation account in Moses 2 (and the other versions of it in Genesis 1 and Abraham 4) is an account of the SPIRITUAL creation of life and other things IN HEAVEN. One cannot quote Abraham 4:9 and say it applies to our physical earth and universe once they have been enlightened to what Moses 3:5 is clearly saying. The scriptures we have do NOT give an account of the physical creation of our earth, but only of the creation of the spirits prepared for this earth.

    This verse is much clearer than Genesis 2:5 which it parallels:

    "And EVERY plant of the field BEFORE it was in the earth, and EVERY herb of the field BEFORE it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, SPIRITUALLY, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created ALL the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; FOR IN HEAVEN CREATED I THEM; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;" – Moses 3:5

    Notice it says, "created all things, of which I have spoken". The only thing created and spoke of before this verse is what is in the chapter before it. So this verse is quite clear: everything spoken of in Moses 2 (Genesis 1, Abraham 4) is being created SPIRITUALLY in HEAVEN.

    Notice it mentions that "ALL the children of men" were created spiritually. Not just some of them, ALL of them. And yet Adam was not yet on the earth. So again, it is clear, the account in Moses 2 (Genesis 1, Abraham 4) is an account of all life being created SPIRITUALLY in Heaven.

    While it is true that the physical creation is patterned after the spiritual creation, we simply cannot jump to conclusions and assume that Genesis 1, and the more inspired versions of if we have, are talking about things that happened on our physical earth. These accounts are talking about spiritual things in Heaven before those spirits came to earth. We have not been given an account of the physical creation of our earth, or of the universe it is in.

    If I am wrong, I will happily change my position. But show me I am wrong from the scriptures.

  2. George,

    You are absolutely correct that the accounts in the scripture of the 6 days of creation and the seventh day of rest refer to the spiritual creation and not the physical one.

    Genesis makes it appear that the 6 days of creation are of the physical creation, which is where most Christians, and unfortunately most LDS, go wrong. However, the books of Moses and Abraham both state that it was the spiritual creation.

    As for the account of the physical creation, we are given some information in both Moses and Abraham. From both accounts it is clear that Adam was created before the plants and animals, so the physical creation cannot follow the spiritual creation. Atleast the order of events are different.

    Moses 3:6-25 and Abraham 5 contain the accounts of the physical creation.

    The following article does a nice job of breaking it all down.

    1. Thanks for the link. I will check out more on your blog eventually. I am putting my own effort to understand the creation account in this file. It is a work in progress.

      The Book of Moses Creation Account With Explanations

    2. Thanks for that PDF George. One thing you might want to consider is whether or not there is metaphorical meaning in the spiritual creation account.

      For example is the dividing of the light from the darkness metaphorical for the separation of Jesus and the spirits who followed him from Satan and the spirit who followed him?

      That event was certainly necessary in preparing the earth for physical life.

      What about the Spirit of God moving upon the waters? Could that metaphorically represent God the Father creating the spirit bodies of his spirit children?

      Just some thoughts.

  3. George: First of all, we do not disagree here about the spiritual creation preceding the physical or temporal creation. Secondly, the account of the creation in Abraham 4 is very similar to the one in Moses 2. In verse 31 the Gods said “We will do everything that we have said, and organize them” showing that the physical creation and organization of life upon the earth just described was not yet accomplished. The Gods would do it in the future. The argument is not when the events occurred, but that what they did spiritually, they would be physically. Abraham 4:9 discusses where the oceans “would be placed,” thus when is not the issue but this was accomplished before Adam was placed physically in the Garden of Eden. Thus, the comment in the above article, not involved in the spiritual and physical creation, but in the 1end result, states the inescapable fact that initially the waters (oceans) were all gathered in the north country.

    1. Good points. I do agree that anything in scripture after Genesis 1 (Moses 2) is talking about our present physical world.