There is a particular latter day body of people referred to in the Book of Mormon as "the" remnant of Israel. Although there are numerous "remnants" (plural) (1Nephi 10:14 and 3Nephi 20: 13) who could claim descent from Israelite blood scattered around the earth, the remnant group referred to in the Book of Mormon is set out and identified separately from all other remnants of Israelite descent. Beginning with the title page of the Book of Mormon, a group referred to as "the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel" are first identified. According to the title page, the "abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—"(was) "written to" this remnant group called the Lamanites.
The modern day Gentile church which had primary responsibility for bringing forth the record of the Book of Mormon in the latter days (1Nephi 13: 34-35, 1Nephi 15: 13, 3Nephi 16: 4, 3Nephi 21: 2-6, D&C 109: 60, many others) has largely set aside and treated with unbelief the prophecies and understanding concerning the remnant of Israel, (Lamanites) contained in the Book of Mormon. Neglect and unbelief of the plain precepts of the Book of Mormon have led to the false idea within the modern day Gentile church that it's members are the remnant of Israel spoken of. The Gentile church has become confused as to the doctrine of adoption into the family of Abraham and the house of Israel and the separate doctrine of "the" remnant of Israel and their specific and prophetic destiny as diagrammed in the Book of Mormon narrative. The specific and very narrow identity of the prophetic "remnant of Israel" from the Book of Mormon is first spoken of in the Book of Mormon by Nephi who is taught by an angel: (1Nephi 13: 34)
"And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel—and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father—"
The angel is addressing Nephi. Nephi's father is Lehi. The "remnant of the house of Israel" spoken of by the angel to Nephi is the offspring of Lehi, Nephi's father. This verse sets forth the meaning and definition of "the remnant of the house of Israel" for the entire remainder of the Book of Mormon narrative.
The identity of the prophetic remnant of Israel does not change throughout the entirety of the Book of Mormon. Lehi's offspring comprise the remnant of Israel whether they are referred to by Nephi, (1Nephi 13: 38 and 2Nephi 28: 2) or the lord Jesus (3Nephi 15: 12 and 3Nephi 20: 10,16) or Mormon (4Nephi 1: 49 and Mormon 5: 9,12, 24) or Moroni (Ether 13: 6, 8, 10). The latter day seed of Lehi are as the angel explained to Nephi, "the remnant of the house of Israel." Understanding this principle, but most importantly, BELIEVING that Lehi's seed are "the remnant of Israel" spoken of in the prophecies of the Book of Mormon will open vistas of truth and knowledge regarding the very purpose of the Book of Mormon.
Until I read the words of the Book of Mormon with the clear understanding that the oft-mentioned "remnant of Israel" was the latter day seed of Lehi, I did not, could not, understand the meaning of the book. A clear understanding and belief that "the remnant of Israel" is the latter day offspring of Lehi, together with the associated understanding and belief in the identity of the latter day Gentiles as Joseph Smith and the church he established, allows all of the prophecies of the Book of Mormon to fall into a perfect harmony and revelation of the meaning of the entire book.
The Lord explained the "very purpose" of the record of the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith in the following words:
16 Nevertheless, my work shall go forth, for inasmuch as the knowledge of a Savior has come unto the world, through the testimony of the Jews, even so shall the knowledge of a Savior come unto my people—
17 And to the Nephites, and the Jacobites, and the Josephites, and the Zoramites, through the testimony of their fathers—
18 And this testimony shall come to the knowledge of the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the Ishmaelites, who dwindled in unbelief because of the iniquity of their fathers, whom the Lord has suffered to destroy their brethren the Nephites, because of their iniquities and their abominations.
19 And for this very purpose are these plates preserved, which contain these records—that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people;
20 And that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name, and that through their repentance they might be saved. Amen. (D&C 3: 16-20)
The "very purpose" the plates containing the record of the Book of Mormon were preserved is to fulfill the promises of the Lord to "His people." The Nephites, the Jacobites, the Josephites, (all sons of Lehi) and the Zoramites who mixed their blood with the blood of Lehi's offspring, along with the Lamanites and Lemualites (sons of Lehi) and the Ishmaelites who also mixed their blood with the seed of Lehi, all comprise the seed of Lehi, "the remnant of Israel" that survives today as one amalgamated group we refer to as "Lamanites."
It is to this "remnant of Israel" the Book of Mormon was written. The next several entries to this blog will deal with "the remnant of Israel" and their prophetic and wonderful latter day destiny as set forth in the precious Book of Mormon.