nations of the earth
Latter-day Saints can sometimes be myopic or narrow minded about our own importance. We are so focused on the all-important covenants, and the relationship with God those covenants bring we forget that God still loves, and is involved with, all His other children who haven’t yet made covenants. He cares for more than just us. He cares for, and influences, the affairs of all the nations of the earth.

Introduction

I say that the saints can be narrow minded, but perhaps it is more true to say that I have always been this way when it comes to my thinking about how the Lord views His saints. The scriptures focus on the covenant children of God by addressing only the prophecies and promises made to the House of Israel. It is through Israel we inherit our priesthood lineage and our covenant blessings. If we see all of mortality through the lens of the scriptures and the writings of most prophets, the world and it’s concerns take a distant second place. When was the last time anyone actually discussed the Lord’s relationship with and His promises concerning all the other nations of the earth? I certainly can’t remember ever having that conversation.

As we explore the scriptures about the nations of the earth in the text below, notice a couple of things. First, Israel is its own nation, until they reject God’s covenants and are scattered. The scattering doesn’t happen all at once. From time to time the Lord lead people away from the main body of the Israelites, like He did with Lehi’s family. Ten of the tribes of Israel were taken captive by the Assyrians and disappeared from the annals of history. Finally, after Christ’s resurrection, in 70 AD the remaining Jews around Jerusalem were scattered throughout the Roman empire. It was at this point in time in western history that they ceased to be a nation. We refer to them as Israelites, and a covenant people, but they had, in fact, rejected all their covenants. They were Israelites in a genetic sense only.

After the ascension of Jesus the Church received the commandment to take the covenants of Israel to all the world. Anyone who was baptized was adopted into the family of Israel. They were Israelites by adoption, but there were some who were blood relatives who were converted, so Israel became a representation of anyone who was willing to make covenants. Just as those who make covenants and believe in Christ become his sons and his daughters, so too are we considered descendants of our father Abraham. It is no longer just about being a blood descendant.

Bicentennial of the Restoration on Canvas
“Oh how lovely was that morning.”

The second thing you need to notice is that God’s relationship with the nations of the earth changes from one time period to the next. From Abraham to the death of Christ Israel was supposed to keep to themselves, away from other nations. I’ll refer to this more than once below. But after the gospel invitation is extended to the gentiles, the nations of the gentiles begin to take a more prominent role in what happens with those of the covenant. We still refer to covenant makers as the House of Israel, but now much of that house is comprised of those who are adopted into the family or are only distantly genetically related to the family. After all, the point of scattering them among all the nations of the earth was to mix their genes with the populations of the rest of the earth, so when they hear the gospel message it rings true in their ears. This is part of the process of the gathering of Israel.

Note: I have included a lot of scriptural passages that show where I get my claims. If you want to just believe me and not read the scriptural references that come either before or after the claims, you will get to the end of this article much faster. Your choice. I would recommend doing the quick read (i.e. skipping reading the actual scriptural verses) then going back and reading all parts as they are printed. Personally, I am OCD enough that if the scriptural verse is printed, I simply have to read it. Hopefully you are not afflicted in that way. ūüôā

Background

In a recent Sunday School we were discussing the Book of Mormon. After class I had a conversation with a sister about the gospel as it relates to all of God’s children, and she seemed to be new to the idea that those who are blessed with the covenants of baptism and the temple are a very small and unique portion of God’s children. This is what got me thinking about the topic. Every verse quoted in this article comes from the Book of Mormon. I don’t recall seeing any of these thoughts in any other book of scripture, so I just used the ones I remembered reading in the Book of Mormon.

When you think about how many of us there are in the Church compared with how many people there are on the planet at any one time, you quickly see we are only the tiniest percentage of the total population. All of our scriptures are devoted to this small percentage of God’s children. The house of Israel is the lineage through which all the priesthood authority and all the covenants that lead to godhood flow. I mistakenly thought that God was pretty much only concerned with those who align themselves with this chosen family.

Our Father is aware of every nation

Just because scriptures focus on those who make covenants, it doesn’t mean that our Father in Heaven is not also aware of His other children. It also doesn’t mean that He doesn’t care about them, for many scriptures make it clear that He cares very much, as you will see below. The good sister I was talking to after Sunday School was of the opinion that all people, if they knew the truth, would flock to the Church and accept the covenants that lead to exaltation. I don’t believe that is true. Many will, and many do. But history has shown that those who are willing to partake of God’s greatest blessings are but a small percentage of all His children.

Think about the populations of the kingdoms God’s children will inhabit after the judgment. Most of the people will live in the telestial and terrestrial kingdoms, not the celestial kingdom. So there is a basic division – either you end up in the celestial kingdom or you don’t. Whether you are in the telestial or the terrestrial kingdom is only a matter of how much goodness you were willing to live by in mortality. Only those who make, and keep, sacred covenants can enter into the celestial kingdom.

Those who won’t be in the celestial kingdom won’t be there because they were never given the opportunity to know about the covenants available through the restored gospel. They will be in those other kingdoms because that is where they are most comfortable. It is where they will have chosen to be. Remember that one of the laws that govern our agency is that God will never force His influence or His desires for our happiness upon us.

This mortal experience is all about us and our choices. That is why the Book of Mormon always only gives us two options for eternity. We either choose eternal damnation (telestial/terrestrial kingdom) or eternal life (celestial kingdom). But note that it is our choice, not God’s. By giving us our moral agency He had to first accept the truth that He would lose most of His children to the vagaries of our own choices. God’s first loss came when one third of His children were cast out of heaven when they exercised that very agency God had given them. Let the agency games begin!

What does He do for each nation?

I never remembered ever hearing about what the Lord did for the rest of His children outside the covenant, except for this verse in Alma 29:8.

8 For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.

Take a minute and look at all the information this short verse holds in it. The Lord grants each nation on the planet information that leads to their happiness. It might not be the fulness of the gospel we currently enjoy, but in His wisdom, He decides what and how much they should have. And lest we should think we are more wise than God, Himself, Alma points out “that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.” How can we argue with that?

The Lord is mindful of all people, all cultures, tongues, and nationalities. He gives them a portion of His word in whatever form He sees in His own wisdom they need for their best good. They may not have priesthood-wielding prophets to give them scriptures like we have, but they are given whatever the Lord, in His wisdom, decides they should have. The Lord sends them inspired men to teach them whatever principles He wants them to have.

We cannot say why they are not given what we have been given through the scriptures and through the living prophets. All we know is that they have what the Lord sees fit they have for now. What the Lord gave all the nations of the earth may have been different at different points in history, because in Mosiah 3:12–14, 20 we learn from king Benjamin that at some point in history the Lord sent prophets to all the people of the earth to teach them of Christ. I refer here mainly to verse thirteen.

12 But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

13 And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them.

14 Yet the Lord God saw that his people were a stiffnecked people, and he appointed unto them a law, even the law of Moses.

20 And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. [emphasis added]

restoration

Bicentennial-of-the-Restoration Mug

Mark that it wasn’t always the case that prophets were among all people. Most of the people of the earth, for which we have record, according to their own records, knew little or nothing of Christ. It kind of reminds me of the millennia¬†after the Nephites were destroyed where the people went without knowing much truth about Christ. I wonder if this same falling away and state of apostasy experienced by the Lamanites may have taken place among all the nations of the earth in the distant past, leaving all the inhabitants to wander in darkness until the day the gospel is brought back into their lives through the wisdom of God’s timing. Something to consider.

More witnesses of God’s communications with His children

In¬†¬†2 Nephi 29:7–8, 12 the point is again made that God speaks to all the nations of the earth in His own way and through His own means. I find it interesting that He requires all of them to write down what He has given them.¬†

7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. [emphasis added]

In 2 Nephi 29:9–10 Nephi teaches us that God’s words may be different from one people to the next, but that all His words to His children work to further His plans for the good of His children.

9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. [emphasis added]

The punishment of nations

Thinking about all the prophecies concerning the punishing of the nations of the earth, especially in the last days, it is easy to assume that God has abandoned them to their own devices. Yet the scriptures would attest to something very different. According to the scriptures the gentile nations of the earth, those nations that live without the saving covenants, are cared for and watched over by the Lord, and always have been. And remember that it is also through the gentile nations that the gospel is spread in the last days. This is part of that changing role I mentioned at the beginning of the article that takes the nations of the gentiles from being minor players on the world’s stage to being major actors in the last days.

Nephi tell us in¬†1 Nephi 17:36–37 that the Lord is responsible for the rise and fall of nations. He has His hands in all things that happen among His children.

36 Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.

37 And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked.

This notion that God destroys the nations of the wicked brings up some interesting questions. It is a basic law of agency that where there is no law there is no punishment. This means that God has to give to each nation sufficient laws of decency to be able to hold them accountable enough to warrant their destruction if they rebel against the laws they are given, whatever those laws are.

Let’s look at some scriptural references that talk about God’s laws and how He holds the nations accountable for them. The first reference comes from Moroni 7:13. Moroni tells us that all things “which inviteth and enticeth to do good” are inspired of God. So to the extent that people are taught to do good and don’t do it, they become worthy of God’s punishment.

13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

Think of the story of Jonah being sent to Nineveh. The people had become wicked, which means there was a known standard of goodness had among them. Jonah was called to warn them they had violated their standard, whatever that standard was. If they didn’t repent they would be destroyed. They repented and were not destroyed. Even by the world’s standards Nineveh was a wicked city, yet even they were willing to change when the Lord told them they had gone too far.

Different standards of wickedness

I always assumed that when the children of Israel were lead to the promised land the Lord just randomly required that they destroy the nations that currently occupied where the Israelites wanted to live. I took it on faith that He had good reason for performng what we would consider to be genocide. But look at what Nephi teaches us about this very situation in 1 Nephi 17:32–38.

32 And after they had crossed the river Jordan he did make them mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land, yea, unto the scattering them to destruction.

33 And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.

34 Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay.

35 Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.

36 Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.

37 And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked.

38 And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes. [emphasis added]

The Lord could not judge them worthy of complete destruction unless He had taught them to be better than they were acting at that time. The only reason He destroys a people is for giving in to Satan with their whole hearts, so they had to have rejected whatever it was God had given them as a people. Does the underlined portion above sound familiar to your ears? It should. It is the same promise we read over and over again throughout the Book of Mormon, that when the people become ripe in iniquity they will be wiped off the map by the Lord. That will either happen at the hand of the Lord, as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah or it will happen at the hands of someone else. Usually it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished.

This passage in 1 Nephi 17 shows us that we don’t know the whole story. The people whom the Israelites destroyed obviously had been taught principles of goodness by someone. They had rejected everything the Lord saw fit in His wisdom to give them, and persisted in their pursuit of evil until they had become ripe in iniquity and needed to be destroyed. There was nothing random about this. This punishment he meeted out through those He sent in to inhabit the land, the Israelites, follows the ageless pattern of repent and flourish or persist in sin and be destroyed.

The punishment of the Jews

We think of the many, many places in the scriptures where the Lord tells His people, the Jews, that destruction is imminent because of their hard heartedness. He had sent them priesthood bearers, prophets, to tell them of their sins and to call them to repentance. But time and time again the people stoned and killed the prophets rather than submit to He who kept and preserved them from generation to generation.

I fully believe that if the Jews had been any other people the Lord would have just had them wiped off the map as He had done to so many other nations who refused to repent. In 2 Nephi 10:4–6, 8, 12 Jacob tells us that the Jews, at the time of Christ, would be more wicked than any other nation on earth. They were worthy and ripe for destruction. But it was this very condition that was required for the death of the Son of man, for if Christ had gone to any other people on earth they would have recognized him as their God and worshipped him. Only the Jews were wicked enough, and perverse enough to crucify their own God.

4 For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God.

5 But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.

6 Wherefore, because of their iniquities, destructions, famines, pestilences, and bloodshed shall come upon them; and they who shall not be destroyed shall be scattered among all nations.

8 And it shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth; and the nations of the Gentiles shall be great in the eyes of me, saith God, in carrying them forth to the lands of their inheritance.

12 And I will fortify this land against all other nations. [emphasis added]

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Note in verse six that the punishment the Jews earned by their stubborness lasted a good two thousand years. That was some pretty wicked behavior, with a punishment to match. Now notice that in verse eight at the end of their punishment, when God begins to bring them back from their long dispersion, it will by way of the gentile nations, meaning those who are not Jews. Why does He say the gentiles will be great in His eyes? These gentile nations are not those who have made covenants, they are nations who are largely Christian in character, but who do the Lord’s will by opening the way for the remnant of His ancient people to return to the lands of their inheritance. About the same time the gentile nations were helping the Jews return to their ancestral home the gospel had been restored and was being taken to all the world also through gentile nations.

The Lord is not only mindful of the house of Israel, but of the gentiles as well. By gentiles I mean everyone on earth who aren’t covenant makers. Remember the old adage that we hear over and over again about the first being last and the last being first? In this case it is referring to who gets the gospel message. God set up a timetable before the earth was made and this is how He planned it. The House of Israel would get the gospel first. He would raise up a people, separate and apart from all other nations to strengthen them and help them stay faithful to covenants. But when they hardened their hearts and turned against the Lord, He would take the gospel from among His chosen people and give it to those who had lived without it, the gentiles.

Once the gentiles are blessed with the covenants formerly almost the sole rights to the physical descendants of Abraham, the gentiles, those not necessarily of the blood of Abraham, would become adopted into Abraham’s lineage of priesthood blessings and would become responsible for taking the gospel out into the other gentile nations to find, through missionary work, the lost descendants of Abraham, and anyone else willing to believe and accept the covenants. This is what the scattering and gathering of Israel is all about. The Lord is using all the other nations of the earth to accomplish this great work. So He is acutely aware of every nation, and has blessings in store for all of them. Today, most of the nations of the earth have at least a small representation of the covenant population living among them.

The Lord’s timetable

Even though the nations of the earth at one time had the gospel of Christ taught to them, as per king Benjamin’s verses quoted above, they lost that knowledge, just like the Lamanites who once were so richly blessed with the knowledge and privileges of the gospel of Christ. Through the centuries the Lord has been working among all people to bring the whole world into the position that would result in the Restoration. Without the restoration of His gospel the world would be wasted and destroyed at Christ’s second coming. How did the Lord work this out?

The western hemisphere is designated as the choicest land on earth. It is the land God has declared to be the promised land, rich in every way for the blessing of those who would be brought here by the Spirit. When the first inhabitants to arrive in the isles of the sea, the Jaredites, the Lord told them this was the choicest land in all the world (Ether 2:9–10, 12).

9 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is 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.

10 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.

12 Behold, 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 but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.

This decree of God concerning this land is different than with any other land. If you want to live in this land it is not enough to just be good. To live here you must worship Christ. Those who turn from God will not be allowed to live upon this land, but will be swept off when they have become ripe in their iniquity. The basic promise and threat of destruction are the same as with other nations, but the requirement appears to be higher for those who live on this continent. Those who are brought to this land are promised that they will never be brought down into captivity and bondage and will be free from all other nations under heaven, IF “they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ.” If we don’t then destruction awaits us.

The Lord hid this hemisphere from the rest of the world, specifically so He had a place to bring His righteous people to for a land of inheritance. If others knew of this land it would be overrun by other countries and there wouldn’t be a place for God’s people to call their own. In agreement with God’s own timetable for when things happen in mortality, the Americas were kept hidden away from everyone else. But they wouldn’t always be kept hidden. Once the Spirit inspired Columbus to sail that ocean blue, His promise came true that other nations would overrun this land. It was only allowed to happen because the people God brought here, the¬†Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites had all rejected God’s blessings, His knowledge and covenants. So He gave the land to be an inheritance for the gentile nations. Here is what Lehi taught his children before his death (2 Nephi 1:8–9).

8 And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.

9 Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.

When the Lord promises that something will last forever, it often means it will last as long as the earth stands in mortality, AND as long as the people remain righteous. Reject the Lord and all promises become null and void, and instead, all His promises of destruction kick into production. Those who were brought to the land of promise rejected God and His commandments. They turned against the Savior. Because of this the Lord had promised them that He would give this land to the gentiles for their inheritance, and in the process of doing that those who were the descendants of lehi would be smitten and scattered, and that only a handful of them would survive to eventually be blessed by the same gentile nations who were sent to punish them. Here is 2 Nephi 1:11.

11 Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.

The converging of destinies

From the time of Noah, until the time of Christ, God’s people, the House of Israel, were commanded to keep themselves separate from all the other nations of the earth. The Lord still worked with these other nations, even though we don’t have the records of His dealings with them. But after Christ came, look at history and you will see that little by little the time of the gentiles becomes intimately intertwined with the ancient House of Israel.

Once Israel rejected their covenants and were scattered, the time of the gentiles began to come to the forefront. Nephi taught his brethren in 1 Nephi 22:3, 5, 7, 10–11, 14, 28 that their descendants would be scattered and smitten by the gentiles who would be brought to the promised land. Their descendants would be treated just like the rest of the House of Israel who rejected their redeemer.

3 Wherefore, the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual; for it appears that the house of Israel, sooner or later, will be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations.

5 And since they have been led away, these things have been prophesied concerning them, and also concerning all those who shall hereafter be scattered and be confounded, because of the Holy One of Israel; for against him will they harden their hearts; wherefore, they shall be scattered among all nations and shall be hated of all men.

7 And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered.

10 And I would, my brethren, that ye should know that all the kindreds of the earth cannot be blessed unless he shall make bare his arm in the eyes of the nations.

11 Wherefore, the Lord God will proceed to make bare his arm in the eyes of all the nations, in bringing about his covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the house of Israel.

14 And every nation which shall war against thee, O house of Israel, shall be turned one against another, and they shall fall into the pit which they digged to ensnare the people of the Lord. And all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed, and that great whore, who hath perverted the right ways of the Lord, yea, that great and abominable church, shall tumble to the dust and great shall be the fall of it.

28 But, behold, all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people shall dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if it so be that they will repent.

Nephi ends this section by telling us that in the last days the Lord would show forth His power to redeem His people, even though they are lost among all the nations of the earth. He would do this by giving the gospel to the gentiles who would bring that gospel back to the house of Israel. This is done through missionary work, family history and temple work. This is what the work of the gathering is all about.

Nephi’s promise in these verses is that the blessings of salvation, safety, prosperity, etc. no longer will belong just to those who are genetically of the House of Israel, but to any and all who repent and worship God. Actually, that has always been the promise, always. But it is especially evident here in the last days. We are in the day or time of the gentiles.

The destiny of the gentile nations

The gentile nations have been without the full gospel of Christ for many millennia, but that does not mean they have no standards by which the Lord judges them. We have already seen that God holds them to standards, and if they violate those standards sufficiently, they are destroyed. In 1 Nephi 14: 11, 13, 15–16 we are taught that Satan will always pervert all forms of truth, giving rise to what the prophets refer to as the “whore of all the earth.” The whore who sits upon many waters represents all the philosophies and religions and practices that are not what God wants us to do and live by. These are the philosophies of men that have shaped the thinking of nations for many centuries, without consideration to what God wants from us.

11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.

13 And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God.

15 And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth.

16 And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots; and behold, thou seest all these things

The nations of the earth, the gentile nations, are destined for a very unhappy ending, unless they accept Jesus and His atoning sacrifice. In 2 Nephi 25:3, 15–16, 20, 22 Nephi warns the nations of the earth that the judgments of God are going to come upon them. In these four verses he gives the briefest of histories of the future of Israel, and by association, the people of the gentile nations, for they will be judged by what they have been taught. When the Lord gives the gentile nations the gospel, they will be judged by that higher standard.

3 Wherefore, I write unto my people, unto all those that shall receive hereafter these things which I write, that they may know the judgments of God, that they come upon all nations, according to the word which he hath spoken.

15 Wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered among all nations; yea, and also Babylon shall be destroyed; wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered by other nations.

16¬†And after they have been¬†scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to¬†believe¬†in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind‚ÄĒand when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and¬†clean hands, and look not forward any more for¬†another¬†Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things.

20 And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.

22 Wherefore, these things shall go from generation to generation as long as the earth shall stand; and they shall go according to the will and pleasure of God; and the nations who shall possess them shall be judged of them according to the words which are written.

The ultimate destroyer of nations

A great deal of time is spent in the Book of Mormon describing to us how their secret combinations repeatedly brought the people to the brink of destruction. Ultimately, it brought about the total annihilation of the Nephite people. We are shown how people in leadership positions in government sought more power, authority, and lusted for money. Satan obliged them by giving them a set of secret combination/oaths to hide all their true intents and do everything in secret. This is, of course, completely opposite to how the Lord does things.

The wickedness spread by these proud people who desired evil things, went through the population like a virus, causing widespread wickedness by the whole population. Only those who held fast to the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets were spared this evil. This form of evil, because it comes in so many forms, and can be so subtle, becomes the ultimate destroyer of nations. In a series of comments in the middle of the book of Ether, Moroni tells us this about what secret combinations are, and how deadly they are. I find it interesting that he tells us that secret combinations are had in all nations, as that is one of the most deadly tools Satan has to destroy us (Ether 8:18–22, 25).

18 And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God;

19 For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man.

20 And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites.

21 And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.

22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.

The new norm

According to the Lord’s timetable, the posterity of Abraham were the purveyors of God’s priesthood authority and all of His covenants with humanity. God deliberately kept them separate from the rest of the world to help build up His people in size and faith. It was never assumed that they would remain faithful. He told them over and over again, in every generation, that the day would come that either they or their descendants would reject His covenants and a swift and sure punishment would follow.

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The Jews remaining in and around Jerusalem in 70 AD were the last to be scattered of those still in the holy land. They were scattered among all the Roman empire. The bulk of Israel had vanished many hundreds of years earlier by the invasion of the Assyrians. The last of Israel to be ultimately smitten and scattered were the descendants of the remnants of the family of Lehi. Those promises of scourging were still being fulfilled nearly a century after the Restoration took place.

Now we live in a time where the destiny of the House of Israel and the gentiles is basically one and the same. This is the new norm. It is the gentile’s responsibility to find and return the lost members of Israel. No man could conceive of this work. This is the work of a God. What once was given only to the descendants of Abraham is now available to anyone in the world who is willing to believe and obey. Abinadi saw this day when he said the following in Mosiah 16:1.

1 And now, it came to pass that after Abinadi had spoken these words he stretched forth his hand and said: The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just.

Abinadi is referring to the Millennial period in the verse above, but this time of universal awareness is approaching closer and closer as the gospel spreads among the nations of the earth. Nephi also taught that in this day and age it is necessary that the gentiles be converted in order to bring the gospel to the rest of scattered Israel (2 Nephi 26:12–13).

12 And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God;

13 And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.

The universal standard

Whereas the gentiles and the house of Israel were originally kept separate, they are both being treated and same today. All are required to listen to the Spirit and come unto Christ. The standard is no longer different between the two groups. The standard is now universal. In 2 Nephi 30:8 Nephi taught this.

8 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth.

Abinadi also taught this same principle in Mosiah 15:28, 31.

28 And now I say unto you that the time shall come that the salvation of the Lord shall be declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

31 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

As the Lord prepares us for the second coming, the whole earth is being prepared, not just those who make covenants. The missionary work is taking the standard of truth to all the nations of the earth. What will happen to each of those nations will depend on how much they embrace the truth offered by the missionaries. Alma taught this necessity that all mankind needs to be redeemed in Mosiah 27:25–26.

25 And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;

26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

Final Thoughts

There is no reason to believe that we, as Latter-day Saints are floating alone on a spiritual sea, isolated from the rest of mankind. The Lord is not working with just those of us who make covenants. He is working wonders among all the nations of the earth. The scriptures we have been given cannot save or exalt anyone without the needed covenants the Lord has commanded us to make with Him. So the scriptures are¬†ultimately¬†for the benefit of those who make and keep priesthood covenants. But the Lord has and is always expanding His reach in these the last days. He is doing His work among the nations of the earth. It is true that most will not accept the gospel of Christ, but that doesn’t mean all is lost.

In this article I didn’t get into the blessings promised to those who make and keep covenants, for my focus has been on God’s dealings with the nations of the earth. But now that the Restoration is fully underway, the blessings of covenants and obedience to those covenants can now be had by all of God’s children, not just one extended family. God has always been mindful of the gentile nations. He has never really left them alone. He has always had their redemption in mind. Their redemption is, after all, what He was referring to when He told Abraham that through him and his posterity all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

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What Are God’s Dealings with the Nations of the Earth