The Promised Land

In his book, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 316, the Prophet, Spencer W. Kimbal, cites 10 identifying characteristics of the promised land, namely, that it will be; 1- a land of liberty to its people. 2- They shall never be brought down into captivity. 3- There shall be none to molest them. 4- It is a land of promise. 5- It shall be free from bondage. 6- It shall be free from all nations under heaven. 7- There shall be no enemies come into this land. 8- There shall be no kings upon the land. 9-This land shall be fortified against all other nations. 10- He that fighteth against Zion shall perish.

Shortly after the Universal Flood the Lord covenanted with Jared and his friends that if they were to remain faithful he would lead them to a land choice above all other lands; a land of promise. After much preparation and a harrowing journey across the great deep Ether 6:12 informs us “. . . . they did land upon the shore of the promised land.” Ether then explains the sacred nature of the promised land:

For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off. (Ether 2:10.)

The Nephites were likewise led to the promised land. During the time the Lord was preparing for the destruction of Jerusalem he commanded Lehi to lead his family from harm’s way with the promise that: “ . . . inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.” (1 Nephi 2:20.) The ancient American Prophet Nephi, called it the promised land immediately upon landing. He said:

And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land. (1 Nephi 18:23.)

Nephi’s father, the Prophet Lehi, a prophet of renown even back in Jerusalem, also acknowledged the land they came to settle as a promised land, a land choice above all others.

But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the Lord. (2 Nephi 1:5.)

The question we must ask ourselves at this point is – just where was it the Lord led these two colonies, actually – three, for when the Nephites arrived in Zarahemla they discovered the Mulekites had likewise been led to the promised land by the hand of the Lord. Now, any land can be considered a land of promise to those who receive an inheritance from the Lord, but this land was considered choice above all others and was destined for great and marvelous things.

The New Jerusalem was Destined to Rise in the Land of Promise

One of the most important clues to the location of the promised land is the Lord’s declaration that the New Jerusalem would rise in that favored land. From the Prophet Moroni’s abridgment of the fallen Jaredite Nation, we read that the New Jerusalem was destined to be built in the promised land. He said

     And now I, Moroni, proceed to finish my record concerning the destruction of the people of whom I have been writing.
For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof;
And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.
(Ether 13:2-8.)

What Christ Revealed about the New Jerusalem

In speaking to the multitude in Bountiful after his crucifixion, the Savior himself spoke to the Nephites about the future of the very land upon which they were then standing, i. e., the promised land:

    And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob; and it shall be a New Jerusalem. And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you. (3 Nephi 20:22, italics added.)

In a revelation to our modern Prophets, the Lord declared exactly where the that holy city would be built.

    Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.
Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.
(D&C 57:1-2, italics added.)

Now, if the New Jerusalem is to be built in “this land,” as prophesied in Ether 13:8, and we know by modern revelation that the New Jerusalem is to be built in the western borders of Missouri, (Doctrine and Covenants 84:3)  then – this land – this promised land, must be America, the homeland of both the Nephites and Jaredites, so proclaimed by both old and modern prophets.
The land of promise has been a choice land from the beginning. It was the same land the ancients walked and where Adam gathered his posterity together in a grand council at Adam-Ondi-Ahman and blessed them before his death; the very spot near Daviess County, Missouri, where he will one day call them together a second time and will gather the keys from all dispensations in preparation for the Savior’s triumphant return (see Doctrine and Covenants 116). It was in the land of promise the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, and where the Angel Moroni came to him and gave him charge over the sacred Golden Plates. And it will be upon this choice land – this land of promise – that Christ will sit upon his throne in the great city, the New Jerusalem, and will reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over the whole earth during his glorious millennial reign.

What Modern Prophets have Said About the Promised Land–Each of the Twelve also considered Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

This choice land is destined for a number of great things, yet many prophecies concerning the land have already been fulfilled, such as the those concerning the formation of a great nation that would be a refuge to the peoples of the world. But, the simple fact that the land has been designated as a land of liberty, also leads us to America (the land of the free), as the homeland of the ancients of the Book of Mormon.
Marion G. Romney, (second counselor in the First Presidency) in the Saturday morning session of Conference, Oct. 4, 1975, said in regards to the questions that had arisen over whether we as a nation could maintain our freedoms and enjoy another two hundred years of peace and prosperity he said, quoting from the scriptures:

“This is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will be serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ. (2 Nephi 1:6-7)

In the western part of the state of New York near Palmyra is a prominent hill known as the hill Cumorah.” (Morm. 6:6.) On July twenty-fifth of this year, as I stood on the crest of that hill admiring with awe the breathtaking panorama which stretched out before me on every hand, my mind reverted to the events which occurred in that vicinity some twenty-five centuries ago—events which brought an end to the great Jaredite nation. And why were they exterminated ? Because they forgot the Lord’s everlasting decree that only those nations who worshiped him would prosper in the promised land, and that all others would be wiped away, and so they were.

President Romney reiterates that:”The tragic fate of the Jaredite and the Nephite civilizations is proof positive that the Lord meant it when he said that: ‘this a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.’” (Ether 2:9)

The voice of the Joseph F. Smith was heard to say:

    This great American nation the Almighty raised up by the power of his omnipotent hand, that it might be possible in the latter days for the kingdom of God to be established in the earth.
If the Lord had not prepared the way by laying the foundations of this glorious nation, it would have been impossible (under the stringent laws and bigotry of the monarchial governments of the world), to have laid the foundations for the coming of his great kingdom. The Lord has done this.
His hand has been over this nation, and it is his purpose and design to enlarge it, make it glorious above all others, and to give it dominion and power over the earth, to the end that those who are kept in bondage and serfdom may be brought to the enjoyment of the fullest freedom and liberty of conscience possible for intelligent men to exercise in the earth. [1]

The Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson taught us that the land of liberty was to be the Lord’s latter-day base of operations for the restored church, a land set apart as a land of liberty by the Savior 2000 years ago.

    Our Father in Heaven planned the coming forth of the Founding Fathers and their form of government as the necessary great prologue leading to the restoration of the gospel. Recall what our Savior, Jesus Christ said nearly two thousand years ago when He visited this promised land; ‘for it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth’. (Emphasis added.) [2]

Only in this land of promise and under the divine guidance of the Lord could a nation be set up that would provide the environment necessary to establish the restored Church.
In speaking of the prophecies of Nephi, the Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson said:

    Sixteen hundred years later the prophet Nephi was privileged to see a large part of the history of the establishment of this great nation. He spoke in no uncertain terms regarding its mission. He told us that the Spirit of the Lord came down and wrought upon a man upon foreign shores, and that he went forth and discovered this land. He also saw other Gentiles follow to these shores under the influence of that same Spirit. And he saw that the Spirit of the Lord was here and that multitudes of people came to these shores and that he had prospered them because they humbled themselves before Him; and He was with them and that His power was here, and that during times of struggle and conflict – referring to the Revolutionary War – that the Lord was with them and sustained them and bore them off victorious. (1 Nephi 13:12-19.) He further saw that this land was consecrated to those whom the Lord should bring and who would serve Him and keep His commandments; and it should be a land of liberty; and it should never be bought down into captivity unless it be because of the iniquity of the people.[3]

1- President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 409.
2- Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, 3 Oct., 1987.
3- Teachings of Ezra T. Benson, p. 575-576. (CR April 1948 Improvement Era 51, (May 1948.)