Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Early Leaders Didn’t Separate North and South America

Early Leaders Didn’t Separate North and South America
Early leaders of the Church, from Joseph Smith through the present, have made it quite clear that North and South America is the Land of Promise in these latter days. In their discussions of the importance of this land as the Land of Zion, the land promised to Jacob and his descendants through Joseph and Manasseh, and to the location of their inheritance, they have spoken of both North and South America as one entity or location, and of its importance.
Brigham Young said, “And what is Zion? In one sense Zion is the pure in heart. But is there a land that ever will be called Zion? Yes, brethren. What land is it? It is the land that the Lord gave to Jacob, who bequeathed it to his son Joseph and his posterity, and they inhabit it, and that land is North and South America. That is Zion as to land, as to territory, and location. The children of Zion have not yet much in their possession, but their territory is North and South America to begin with. You need not teach that this place is Zion, or that Nauvoo or Missouri is Zion; but tell the people that North and South America are the land of Zion.” (Journal of Discourses 2:258, and 8:72).
On this same subject, Wilford Woodruff said, “This land, North and South America, is the land of Zion; it is a choice land—the land that was given by promise from old father Jacob to his grandson and his descendants, the land on which the Zion of God should be established in the latter days” (Journal of Discourses 15:279). He also prophesied that temples would “appear all over this land of Joseph, North and South America” (JD, 19:230).
In addition, Ezra Taft Benson added: “This is our need today—to plant the standard of liberty among our people throughout the Americas…the struggle for liberty is a continuing one—it is with us in a very real sense today right here on this choice land of the Americas.”
Bruce R. McConkie, a member of the First Council of Seventy for 26 years, and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 13 years, said, “The Americas are the land of Joseph—the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, the land of the Nephites, the land of the Ephraimites who are gathering in the latter days.”
President Spencer W. Kimball tied all these thoughts together as he reminded the Saints in Brazil and Argentina that “Zion was all of North and South America, like the wide, spreading wings of a great eagle, the one being North and the other South America” (Conference report April 1975, pp31-33).
Speaking of the quote in 2 Nephi 10:11, Orson Pratt said, “There are promises and decrees of God in relation to ‘land’ of an extraordinary character. No other land can boast of the same. How beautifully does the spirit of the above prophetic sentiment chime in with the great American principle, ‘that no foreign prince, potentate, or sovereign will be allowed to interfere in the affairs of this Continent!’ Spain must give up Cuba; England, Canada and the United States of America must hold, as her dependencies, every country on the Western Continent, with the islands along its borders.” The Western Continent, lest one forget the early geography of the Western Hemisphere, the entire area of North, Central and South America were considered a single continent. With this same understanding, the 10th Article of Faith states: “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”
Just for clarification on this point, from the mid-19th century, some United States atlases more commonly treated North and South America as separate continents, while atlases published in Europe usually considered them one continent. However, other U.S. atlases considered them as one continent and it was still not uncommon for United States to treat both North and South America as one continent up until World War II. In addition, the Olympic flag, devised in 1913, has five rings representing the five inhabited, participating continents, with the Americas being treated as one continent and Antarctica not included (Martin W. Lewis and Karen E.Wigen, The Myth of Continents: a Critique of Metageography, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1997, p. 32). Thus we see that in the case of the early use of “this continent,” the reference is to both North and South America.
And finally, Joseph Smith made it quite clear that any attempt to equate Zion exclusively with the location of the New Jerusalem contradicts his words: "Speaking of the Land of Zion, It consists of all North and South America but that any place where the Saints gather is Zion which every righteous man will build up for a place of safety for his children…The redemption of Zion is the redemption of all North and South America.” (July 19, 1840; see Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2002, p533)
The LDS Church also teaches that the gathering of descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh in the Americas fulfills the prophecy of Jacob that "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:"(Genesis 49:22) wherein the "wall" of the "well" is understood to symbolize the oceans separating the American continent from Eurasia.

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