The Promised Land

Where is the Promised Land?

If you were to ask 100 Mormons, “Where is the Promised land?” It’s a pretty safe bet that at least 95 of them would say America is the Promised Land. But it’s interesting that if you asked those same 100 people, “Where did the events in the Book of Mormon take place?” the majority would probably say it all happened in Central America . . . and maybe South America.

It’s not possible for America to be the Promised Land and yet NOT be the land of the Book of Mormon. When writers of the Book of Mormon wrote about the Promised Land, they were talking about the land they were living in at the time. Therefore, if we believe America is the Promised Land, then those writers were living in America.

Joseph-Knew-Book-of-EtherArriving in the Promised Land

“And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.” (Ether 6:12 italics added)

Looking at this scripture in the book of Ether, it is clear that the Jaredites landed in the Promised Land. If we accept America as the Promised Land, then we accept that they landed in America. Now, if one believes that the events described later in Ether took place in Central America, the only logical explanation is that the Jaredites landed in America, bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, shed tears of joy for the Lord’s mercies in bringing them there, and packed up and moved to another land.

The same logic must also be applied to the events involving the Nephites and the Lamanites.

“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 italics added)

If Central America is the land of the Nephites and Lamanites, then they landed, pitched their tents, called it the Promised Land, packed up their tents and moved to Central America.

Either America is the Promised Land spoken of in the Book of Mormon or it isn’t.

Joseph-Knew-3-NephiChrist in the Promised Land

When the resurrected Christ visited the Nephites it was in this land. It was in North America that he reaffirmed the covenant he made with their father Jacob. He miraculously provided bread and wine to the multitude and said:

“And behold, this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant 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)

Those 100 Mormons will confirm that the New Jerusalem will be in this land of America. In the above scripture Christ says that the New Jerusalem with be in “this land”, the land in which he is standing at the time. He wasn’t standing in Central America and talking about this land up north. He was standing in America and talking to the Nephites about their land, North America.

In January 2012, Elder L. Tom Perry delivered a devotional address at Brigham Young University-Idaho. The address, The Tradition of Light and Testimony, was reprinted in the December 2012 edition of the Ensign magazine. In that address, Elder Perry said:

“The United States is the promised land foretold in the Book of Mormon—a place where divine guidance directed inspired men to create the conditions necessary for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the birth of the United States of America that ushered out the Great Apostasy, when the earth was darkened by the absence of prophets and revealed light. It was no coincidence that the lovely morning of the First Vision occurred just a few decades after the establishment of the United States.”

Elder Perry is reaffirming what Christ said about this land.

Joseph-Knew-Moroni-Monument-AutumnProphets troughout history have known what Elder Perry knew. When Moroni was finishing his record concerning the destruction of his people, he said:

“Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.

“And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel—

“And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.” (Ether 13:4-6 italics added)

When we consider statements from ancient prophets, modern-day prophets, and the Lord himself, it’s clear that America, the land of the restoration, is the Promised Land.

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6 thoughts on “The Promised Land

  1. If your argument hangs on the use of “this land” referring only to the United States or North America, then it seems to be contradicted by 1 Nephi 13:12 “and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” Columbus never stepped foot on the main land. By your argument, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have to be part of the Promised Land

    1. Matt, thanks for your insightful comment. We agree that 1 Nephi 13:12 can imply that the promised land could be those islands where Columbus visited. Here are a few things to think about:
      1. The “man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by many waters;…” could be someone other than Columbus. Many people visited America, and many of them long before Columbus.
      2. If that scripture is talking about Columbus, and the “seed of my brethren” he visited were, as you correctly point out, not in North America, then that would contradict the “Promised Land” article. But consider this. Perhaps that verse is being read incorrectly. Perhaps Nephi was saying: The man visited the seed of my brethren, my brethren who are in the promised land. Meaning, the seed of my brethren were in Haiti, but my brethren were originally in North America. — We know that can seem like a stretch, but keep in mind that the punctuation of the Book of Mormon was not included as part of the translation process. The type setter John Gilbert added all of the punctuation to make it read as he thought the author intended (See this article for more info on that: http://www.mormonmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Mormon-Media-Network-QH-John-Gilbert.jpg )

      Thanks for your comment, and for sparking some thoughts about this.

  2. However, under Jewish tradition, even when it is not in Jewish occupation, the land has not lost its status as the Promised Land. In 1896, Herzl exhorted Jews to take up the movement, writing “for these have never lost the faith in the Promised Land”.

  3. Consider these quotes from the Ezra Taft Benson when he was President of the 12 and from Gordon B. Hinckley when he was First Counselor:

    Ezra Taft Benson
    “God inspired “a man among the Gentiles” 23 who, by the Spirit of God was led to rediscover the land of America and bring this rich new land to the attention of the people ionEurope. That man, of course, was Christopher Columbus, who testified that he was inspired in what he did.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 577)

    “The temple work for the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence and other founding fathers has been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was President of the St, George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a High Priest at that time. You will also be interest to know that according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained High Priests at the time. When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to God for it.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson 604)

    Gordon B. Hinckley
    That verse from Nephi’s vision states: “And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” (1 Ne. 13:12.)
    We interpret that to refer to Columbus. It is interesting to note that the Spirit of God wrought upon him. After reading that long biography, a Pulitzer winner of forty years ago, titled Admiral of the Ocean Sea—I have no doubt that Christopher Columbus was a man of faith, as well as a man of indomitable determination. (Gordon B. Hinckley General Conference October 1992)

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