Context and General Information
- Lehi is speaking to his sons a final time before his death.
- Despite the afflictions they experienced, they had obtained a land of promise. This land would be a land of inheritance for Lehi’s seed.
- Lehi prophesied according to the Spirit.
- This land is consecrated unto him whom the Lord shall bring to it.
- If those who come here serve the Lord according to the commandments, then this land would be a land of liberty. They will not be captive. However, if they are full of iniquity, then the land would be cursed for their sakes.
- Other nations wouldn’t know of the land while Lehi’s seed were there – or at least not for a while.
- Lehi received a promise – inasmuch as those whom the Lord brought out of Jerusalem should keep His commandments, then they would prosper in the Promised Land. The land would be protected from other nations. If they kept the commandments, then they would be blessed upon the face of the land – none would bother them or take their land.
- However, when the time comes that they dwindle in unbelief – after having so many blessings and knowledge from God, then the Judgments of God would rest upon them. He would bring other nations to them and give those other nations power. He would allow for the rebellious people to be scattered and smitten.
- Additionally, there would be bloodsheds and war. Lehi urges his sons to remember God and the conditions of the land – so they could dwell in happiness and peace.
The Conditions of the Promised Land
I’m not all that sure of what to make of today’s study. I did find a lot of fun pictures, though.
This is an interesting block of scriptures because, I enjoy living here in the New World, the Americas, the “Promised Land.” Reading these scriptures, I can see that both of the promises and the warnings of Lehi’s had been fulfilled.
Maybe we’ll study those promises and warnings…
Promises and Warnings
Lehi told his sons about the following promises and the Promised Land:
- This land is choice above all other lands.
- This land would be a land of inheritance for Lehi and his seed.
- This land is consecrated unto him whom the Lord shall bring.
- To those who will keep God’s commandments, this land will be a land of liberty.
- Unto the righteous, this land will be blessed forever.
- This land would be kept from the knowledge of other nations for many years.
- Inasmuch as those who were brought out of Jerusalem keep the commandments, they will prosper on the face of the land, they will not be bothered, they will dwell safely.
- If the people who have inherited the promised land slip into iniquity, then the land will be cursed for their sakes.
- When the people dwindle in unbelief – after having so many gifts and knowledge from God, when the people reject the Savior, then the Lord will bring others to the promised land and will give them power. The Lord will take away their possessions and let them be scattered and smitten.
- When the people dwindle in unbelief, then there will be bloodsheds and problems.
I realize that this blog is on the world wide web. I realize that people from all over this earth can read it. I realize that I’m an American, and that many people consider Americans to be ethnocentric. While I’m grateful to be an American, it is my country and my home, I also know that there are so many other parts of this world that are just as unique and special as the United States. Furthermore, I realize that “the promised land” makes up the entire continents of North and South America – not one single country.
My point is, I’m going to try to study this block of scripture as objectively as possible. It is important for us to understand it, I think – because it is in the Book of Mormon. And I believe that what we learn about the Promised Land in these verses can probably be applied to a more general “promised Land” – one that we are all striving for throughout our mortal lives.
Okay – so on to it.
One – The Americas is a choice land. Above all others? I’m not sure. I think that the Lord has probably said this about many other lands, too. Maybe we can say that it is choice above all lands to those people who inherit it. I’m not sure.
Maybe what is important to note here is that the Lord is giving Lehi and his family a really special and prized gift – a place. They need to understand that this is a choice gift. They shouldn’t treat it poorly – through their stewardship to the land itself and through their commitment to the God who gave it to them. Maybe that is what we really need to understand.
Two – This land would be for Lehi and his seed. Lehi’s seed and civilization flourished for 1,000 years. And his seed continued on even after the civilization finally imploded. In fact, there are remnants of Lehi’s seed here even still today.
Three – The Land is consecrated to those that the Lord will lead to it. This is the point that has me questioning. It is one thing to look at this statement as Lehi mentioned it – there weren’t many people in the Americas at the time. There weren’t mass migrations of people. There were a few other groups who came to the promised land that we know of (the Jaredites, the Mulekites). I think it is safe to assume that there may have been other groups brought to the promised land anciently.
However, when we read this now, it’s a different scenario. Does the Lord bring other groups here to the Americas still? Probably, I suppose. Maybe in different conditions. I can’t help but think of the many slaves that were brought here to the Promised Land from Africa during the 1500s-1800s. (Wow. That’s three hundred years…so terrible). Did they think it was a promised land? They experienced captivity. How do these scriptures apply to them?
I have to admit that I’m not sure.
Of course, this was during the time of the Great Apostasy. And we know that the Lord allows us to express our agency – for better or worse. I don’t condone the actions of the slave trade. Not at all. But it happened. And all I can do is have faith that the Lord will consecrate the afflictions that those who were sold into slavery experienced – for their gain. Unfortunately, this is still playing out. Fortunately, our mortal lives are finite. The Lord is infinite. And His mercy extends far beyond this mortal realm.
Four – This will be a land of liberty. Again, I have the same sentiments as I just expressed. But it is good to remember – these blessings are conditional based on our behaviors.
Not only that, but this was the prophecy given to Lehi to give to his sons. It was a different time and condition of the promised land than what we experience now. I’m not suggesting that all of these promises and warnings are void. I’m just saying that some things may have shifted as history unfolds…Does that make sense???
For example, anciently the dietary code was kosher – no pork, no water dwelling creatures that don’t have scales (lobster, shrimp, etc), etc. Now, we have another dietary code – the Word of Wisdom – no alcohol. No hot beverages. No smoking. But shrimp is fine. Wine was permitted anciently, and is forbidden now.
Why? I suppose it is because things shift as history unfolds – society, culture, technology. These shifts then create new advantages and disadvantages. So – maybe we can apply this same thinking to what Lehi was saying. I’m not sure.
In any case, we need to accept two things: 1) Lehi was a prophet – specifically a prophet to his people, not necessarily to us currently. 2) History as it occurred. And we can glean from Lehi’s prophecies what applies to us still.
Five This land will be blessed forever to the righteous.
Okay – so it makes sense that the righteous will be blessed. I don’t think that we need to get into that. There are countless mentions of the fact that if the people are righteous in the promised land, then they will prosper.
Six – This Land will be kept from the knowledge of other nations.
Okay – so back to the point I think that I was trying to make earlier. Obviously, this is no longer in force. Nowadays, thanks to technology the world is small. In fact, over 400 years ago, the world became smaller when Columbus stumbled upon the Americas.
That “mistake” changed the world forever.
After Columbus, the other nations did know of the promised land, and just as Lehi said – they have “overrun it.”
So maybe there are some prophecies that Lehi gave that simply are no longer applicable now, but understanding these prophecies will help us to understand the people of the Book of Mormon as we read it.
Seven – Inasmuch as those who were brought out of Jerusalem keep the commandments, they will prosper on the face of the land, they will not be bothered, they will dwell safely.
This prophecy is much more specific. Notice the phrase: those who were brought out of Jerusalem. Perhaps all of these prophecies are about those who were brought out of Jerusalem – rather than Europe, Asia, or Africa. Perhaps some of these prophecies apply to all people, and others are more specific.
I don’t know. But what I know is that those who came to the promised land out of Jerusalem will be prospered, protected, and safe if they are righteous. Lehi pronounced this to his sons – the first people of their civilization to dwell in the promised land.
It might seem like I’m being a little nit-picky right now. What’s the point???
Well, maybe here is the thing – it is helpful for us to get acquainted with a few of the prophecies that were specific for the people of the Book of Mormon – even if they don’t fully apply to us. We will see that everything that Lehi promised and warned came to pass.
We will see that when the people of the Book of Mormon kept their covenants, they were prospered. They lived in peace. When they were wicked, they had wars. We will see that at a future point all of the Nephites will completely reject God. Even after the witnesses they had, they will rebel against Him. This will result in their complete extinction.
Not only that, but we also have history. We know that the people who were indigenous to this land when Columbus arrived were smitten and scattered. Lehi’s posterity did not heed his warnings, and everything that he warned came to pass.
The Lesson for Today
A few things:
One – The conditions of the promised land, as prophesied by Lehi to his people – 600ish years before the birth of Christ. Understanding these conditions will help us better understand the Book of Mormon and the arc of the civilization that Lehi started.
Two – The conditions of the promised land – some of which may still be applicable today. I don’t know if we can sit down and parse which of these prophecies are applicable and which are not. I don’t know if all of them are applicable or all of them are void. I think that it just depends.
I do know that we can read with the Spirit, and that the Spirit will help us to live according to the conditions of the Promised Land.
Three – Evidence that the Lord will do nothing save he revealed his secret unto his servants the prophets.
These promises and warnings all came to pass just as Lehi prophesied. We can learn from this! The Lord speaks to us through His prophets.
Even if these specific prophesies and warnings aren’t all for us, specifically, we can see that we should listen to our current prophets because they give us relevant prophecies and warnings.
What are our current prophets promising and warning? What are the things we should keep doing and the things that we should change??? What was the advantage for those people who ignored Lehi’s prophecies? What will our advantage be if we ignore current prophecies?
Thanks for taking this ride with me. When I began my study, I really didn’t know what I would learn. But, in the end, I feel like I learned what I needed to know. I hope you did, too.