Sunday, March 18, 2012

Latter Day Gentiles God's Favored People

Nephi, in his great vision of the latter days, was shown the migration and settlement of the latter day Gentiles of European decent to the land of promise. (1Nephi 13: 10-16) The description in Nephi's vision of the latter day European immigrant Gentiles, shows that the Gentiles came to the land of promise with the blessing and favor of the Lord. The latter day seed of Nephi's own family, on the other hand, are described as being out of favor with God. Concerning the favor of the Lord upon the latter day Gentiles, Nephi said:

"And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance...I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them...And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle. And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations." (1Nephi 13: 15-19)

At the same time, the angel's and Nephi's own description of the latter day seed of Nephi's family:

"Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren…and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten." (1 Nephi 13: 11,14)

The Gentiles, as they migrate to, and settle upon, the land of promise, are blessed of the Lord and enjoy His power and protection. At the same time, the latter day seed of Nephi's family are to experience the wrath of God upon them. They were to be scattered before the Gentiles and smitten. This part of Nephi's vision describes in precise terms, the treatment of the indigenous people of the American continent by the European immigrants. They were indeed "scattered" and "smitten" by the European immigrant Gentiles.

The Gentiles at this point in Nephi's vision are in the favor of the Lord. They enjoy His power and blessing. Though the Gentiles dominate, drive, scatter, and smite the latter day seed of the family of Nephi, Nephi receives the promise that they, (the Gentiles) will not completely destroy his (Nephi's) latter day seed. This land has been promised to the seed of Nephi's father. The Lord will therefore, preserve Nephi’s seed. The promise of the Lord that this land will be preserved for them (The seed of Nephi's father) as the land of their inheritance will ultimately be honored and upheld by the Lord.

The angel says to Nephi,

"Nevertheless, thou beholdest that the Gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, upon the face of 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; wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren. Neither will he suffer that the Gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren." (1Nephi 13: 30-31)

Although the latter day remnant seed of Nephi is out of God's favor at this point in Nephi's vision, they are not forgotten of the Lord. God yet has promises to fulfill to this remnant of Israel. 

As for the Gentiles, Nephi is told,

"Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness, which thou beholdest they are in... Wherefore saith the Lamb of God: I will be merciful unto the Gentiles, unto the visiting of the remnant of the house of Israel in great judgment...after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel—and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy (Nephi's) father—wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb." (1Nephi 13: 32-34)

God's mercy is upon the latter day Gentiles. God's wrath is upon the remnant of Israel (the seed of Nephi's father.) Nephi is then shown the latter day restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Gentiles. This was to happen after the seed of Nephi (the "remnant of the house of Israel, the seed of Nephi’s father") was "visited" by God's great judgment and smitten by the hand of the Gentiles. The Gentiles, Nephi is told, will receive the mercy of the Lord. The Lord will, "bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious." (1Nephi 13: 34)

That which is "plain" and "precious" that will be brought forth by the Lord unto the Gentiles is none other than the "precious" Book of Mormon. Nephi is told,

"For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy (Nephi's) seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb. And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation." (1Nephi 13: 35-36)

As we have already discussed in other installments, the reason for the restoration of the gospel through the latter day Gentiles is so that the gospel could come from the Gentiles to the remnant of Israel. (1Nephi 10: 14, 1Nephi 15: 13, 1Nephi 22: 8, 2Nephi 30: 3, 3Nephi 16: 4 among many others) Nephi is now shown in his vision the sharing of the latter day documents that contain the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to the remnant of Israel from the Gentiles. Nephi records,

"I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew, (The Holy Bible) that it came forth from the Gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren. And after it (the Bible) had come forth unto them I beheld other books, (including foremost, the Book of Mormon) which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, (the remnant of Nephi's family seed) unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true. And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, (foremost the Book of Mormon) which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, (the Bible) which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved." (1Nephi 13: 38-40)

To this point in Nephi's great vision, the latter day Gentiles have been blessed of the Lord. They have filled the measure of the role given them as the restorers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have delivered that restored truth to the remnant of Israel, Lehi's seed.

The angel declares to Nephi,

"And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks— And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy (Nephi’s) father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded." (1Nephi 14: 1-2)

The latter day Gentiles have a marvelous opportunity to "hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day." If they do, He has promised to manifest Himself in three magnificent ways unto them. If they will hearken unto Him, He will manifest Himself unto the Gentiles in "word," and also in "power," and in "very deed." (That phrase, "in very deed" ought to be given extremely careful consideration by us.) If the Gentiles "harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God," they will thereby have the opportunity extended to them by the Lord to be "numbered among" the seed of thy, (Nephi's) father. In this way, latter day Gentiles may be "numbered among" the house of Israel.

Then, a few short verses later, the angel makes a suggestion to Nephi that seems ominous given the favored status of the Gentiles up to this point in Nephi's vision. The angel says,

"Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them; and thou also knowest concerning the covenants of the Lord unto the house of Israel; and thou also hast heard that whoso repenteth not must perish. Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God." (1Nephi 14: 5-6) 

It seems unfathomable that those who were responsible for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon; those who would have responsibility to deliver that gospel to the remnant of Israel, could "harden their hearts against the Lamb of God." Why would the angel make such a suggestion to Nephi? So far, we know that there are two possibilities for the latter day Gentiles;  It can be "well" with the Gentiles if they "repent," Or, it could be "Wo" unto the Gentiles if they "harden their hearts." 

Perhaps it is at this juncture we may begin to understand the need the Lord felt to insert the last two verses in the book of 3Nephi. (3Nephi 30: 1-2)

We will find, as we continue this investigation, the favor of the Lord may not remain with a people indefinitely. The favor of the Lord may be a fleeting thing. Our choices with what we are given are everything.

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