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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Gentiles in America and the Conditions of the Last Days (1 Nephi 14)

Listen now!Nephi learns what the Gentiles need to do to stay in favor with God while inhabiting the lands of the Americas. The requirements are simple. The Gentiles:
  • shall hearken unto the Lamb of God
  • [shall] harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God
  • [shall] repent
The blessings they will receive for their faithfulness are great.
  • taking away of their stumbling blocks
  • they shall be numbered among the house of Israel
  • they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever
  • they shall be no more brought down into captivity
  • the house of Israel shall no more be confounded
  • that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction
Nephi is taught about a "marvelous work and a wonder" that God would bring to pass around the time that the Gentiles immigrate to the Americas. This work would be as the dividing of the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, "either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil".

Nephi is reminded of the part of the vision he saw wherein there was a great and abominable church, representing the world at large, or anything or anyone that fights against the kingdom of God. In comparison to that church, the kingdom of God on the earth would be very small.

Nephi sees the great and abominable church gather against the seemingly small church of God, who were scattered across all the earth and armed with righteousness. God, seeing this imbalance, pours out wars and rumors of wars among those of the church of the devil. At the beginning of all of this conflict, the work of God commences, "preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel."

At this point, Nephi is shown a man, who is identified as one of the "twelve apostles of the Lamb" who would write down everything that would happen in those days of wars and conflict. This is obviously whom we know to be John the Revelator, who wrote the Book of Revelations in the Bible. Others also wrote the visions they were given of the same happenings, but those records were sealed up to be revealed later, when God decides to reveal them. The brother of Jared, mentioned in the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon, wrote one of these accounts which makes up the sealed portion of the gold plates Joseph Smith received, but was not permitted to translate. Even though Nephi is allowed to see all of those things, he is not allowed to write them himself because it is not part of his mission.

At this point Nephi's vision ends. Who can doubt that we live in these times that Nephi foresaw? During what age of the world's history have we had such a density of conflicts between worldly organizations and the kingdom of God? When have the righteous been more persecuted and martyred on such a global scale? Think of the Holocaust, and those that continue to follow it in diverse parts of the globe. It is the mark of a desperate enemy of God who knows he has little time to hinder God's work of restoring the Gospel to all the earth.

Which church do you belong to? The one which supports God's work, or the one that fights against it? Look at all of your beliefs, affiliations, alliances, and practices and ask yourself whether they help or hinder those who are trying to build up God's kingdom.