If the Gentiles Shall Harden Their Hearts Against Me, I Will Return Their Iniquities Upon Their Own Heads

The earthly ministry of Jesus Christ and His early Jewish disciples set off a chain of events where (especially after the Reformation when many more souls were able to read the teachings in the Bible) the Holy Ghost influenced the Christian nations in such a way that they became the most powerful — politically and technologically — in the world. Without the impetus created by the Lord’s covenant people – starting with Abraham and culminating in the Lord Himself coming to His people in the flesh – none of these blessings and powers would have come to the Christian (i.e. Gentile) nations. The truths and teachings in the Bible were (and are) a blessing from the house of Israel and were a conduit for the Holy Spirit to influence the cultures and peoples who embraced them. See the following video, which touches on some of these themes: Because of Him—Easter Video – YouTube

As the nations that have previously been Christian turn away from the spiritual wellspring given to them by the house of Israel — firstly through the Bible and subsequently from the added testimony of Jesus Christ found in the Book of Mormon — they will no longer be strengthened and upheld by God. Their sin, instead of being forgiven through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, will be turned upon them.

Below is Jesus Christ speaking to a group of the descendants of the house of Israel in the Americas about A.D. 34.

“…Ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant—And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed—unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel. And they shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fulness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads, saith the Father.” (3 Nephi 20:25-28)

Questions:

-How many perceive — or believe in — the intervention of God in granting prosperity to countries influenced by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the testimony of the house of Israel (as found in the Bible)?

-How many believe that the Book of Mormon is a second witness of the truth of the Bible and was instrumental in restoring the fulness of Christ’s gospel?

The Sword of My Justice Shall Hang over All the Nations of the Gentiles

Christ Himself prophesies that – as a people who were given this land by GodLehi’s descendants will be a means of breaking down the decayed and spiritually-corrupt social structures of the wicked Gentiles in the Americas in preparation for the establishment of the New Jerusalem. In a broader context “all the nations of the Gentiles” (beyond the Americas) will also be destroyed if they do not repent and come unto Christ who is the beginning and end of all creation.

“…Then shall the remnants [of the house of Israel], which shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, be gathered in from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north; and they shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them. And the Father hath commanded me that I should give unto you this land, for your inheritance. And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people—Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off. And I will gather my people together as a man gathereth his sheaves into the floor. For I will make my people with whom the Father hath covenanted, yea, I will make thy horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass. And thou shalt beat in pieces many people; and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth. And behold, I am he who doeth it. And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles. And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel. 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 20:13-22)

Questions:

-In our day, are the Gentiles in the Americas (in general) repenting toward the gospel of Jesus Christ and His covenants? Or, are they moving the opposite direction and squandering the blessing that has been offered them via the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ?

-Should the above prophecy be interpreted as mainly a spiritual phenomenon or as a physical phenomenon? Will the fulfillment of the prophecy have both elements?

-Would the true followers of Christ among the descendants of Lehi ever resort to violence other than in a posture of patient self-defense?

Blessed Are the Peacemakers, For They Shall Be Called the Children of God

Jesus Christ taught the descendants of Lehi in the Americas (who were of the house of Israel) many of the same gospel principles He taught to His Jewish disciples in the Old World. The teachings as recorded in the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament, known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants.

Below is the seventh of the Beatitudes, as recorded in the King James version of Matthew, and the comparable teaching as found in 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. (3 Nephi 12:9)

Questions:

  • Is peace one of the main results created in the world by those who Christ calls His children?

Blessed Are All the Pure in Heart, For They Shall See God

Jesus Christ taught the descendants of Lehi in the Americas (who were of the house of Israel) many of the same gospel principles He taught to His Jewish disciples in the Old World. The teachings as recorded in the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament, known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants.

Below is the sixth of the Beatitudes, as recorded in the King James version of Matthew, and the comparable teaching as found in 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)

And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (3 Nephi 12:8)

Questions:

-What is the relationship between having a pure heart and seeing God?

-Does this apply to one’s heavenly destination as well as to one’s ability to see God’s beauty in this mortal life?

Blessed Are They Who Do Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness, For They Shall be Filled with the Holy Ghost

Jesus Christ taught the descendants of Lehi in the Americas (who were of the house of Israel) many of the same gospel principles He taught to His Jewish disciples in the Old World. The teachings as recorded in the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament, known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants.

Below is the fourth of the Beatitudes, as recorded in the King James version of Matthew, and the comparable teaching as found in 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (3 Nephi 12:6)

Questions:

-Is hungering and thirsting after “righteousness” as defined by one’s culture different from hungering and thirsting after God’s righteousness?

-Is it possible to find true righteousness, and to be truly spiritually filled, without the influence of the Holy Ghost?

Blessed Are They Who Will Repent and Turn unto Me

Repentance, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, makes or breaks the soul of one who understands who Christ is and what He has done to prepare the way for each individual person spiritually and eternally.

“…Thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me, but wo unto him that repenteth not.” (Helaman 13:11)  

Questions:

-Will everyone who ever lived have a chance to receive or reject Christ’s Atonement before the Last Judgment?

Little Children are Blessed as the Blood of Christ Atoneth for Their Sins

King Benjamin teaches that Jesus Christ, through His atoning sacrifice, pays the price for any wrongdoing by children before they reach an age where they are accountable for their actions.

“I say unto you [little children] are blessed; for behold, as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins.” (Mosiah 3:16)

“For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:18)

Questions:

-Would a merciful and just God hold children responsible for the things they do wrong before they develop a clear sense of right and wrong?

-In comparison to waiting to baptize until children are old enough to be accountable for their actions, does infant baptism show more, or less, trust in Christ’s redemptive power?

-Is it possible to repent if you are unable to understand what you have done wrong?

The Nations Who Shall Possess Them Shall Be Judged of Them

Nephi obtained a promise from the Lord that his record would be preserved for as long as the earth exists. Those who have access to his record and teachings will be held accountable for what they do with them.

“…The Lord God promised unto me that these things which I write shall be kept and preserved, and handed down unto my seed, from generation to generation, that the promise may be fulfilled unto Joseph, that his seed should never perish as long as the earth should stand. 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.” (2 Nephi 25:21-22)

Questions:

-Which nations possess the record of the Nephite prophets as initiated by Nephi (a large portion of which is found in the Book of Mormon)?

-Is it at all intimidating to know that you will be responsible, in God’s eyes, for what you do with the truths found in the Book of Mormon?

-Do you think the blessing of having the light and knowledge contained in the Book of Mormon is worth the added responsibility?

-Are most, or all, true covenants with God tied to covenants he has made with others who have gone before (such as how promises received by Nephi were tied to the promises Joseph received)?

Teachings of Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“…Note where the Lord placed [The Book of Mormon’s] coming forth in the timetable of the unfolding Restoration. The only thing that preceded it was the First Vision. In that marvelous manifestation, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned the true nature of God and that God had a work for him to do. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon was the next thing to follow. Think of that in terms of what it implies. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon preceded the restoration of the priesthood. It was published just a few days before the Church was organized. The Saints were given the Book of Mormon to read before they were given the revelations outlining such great doctrines as the three degrees of glory, celestial marriage, or work for the dead. It came before priesthood quorums and Church organization. Doesn’t this tell us something about how the Lord views this sacred work?” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 4).

“…We must make the Book of Mormon a center focus of study…it was written for our day. The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us. Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization. Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us.

Each of the major writers of the Book of Mormon testified that he wrote for future generations. Nephi said: ‘The Lord God promised unto me that these things which I write shall be kept and preserved, and handed down unto my seed, from generation to generation’ (2 Ne. 25:21). His brother Jacob, who succeeded him, wrote similar words: ‘For [Nephi] said that the history of his people should be engraven upon his other plates, and that I should preserve these plates and hand them down unto my seed, from generation to generation’ (Jacob 1:3). Enos and Jarom both indicated that they too were writing not for their own peoples but for future generations (see Enos 1:15–16, Jarom 1:2).

Mormon himself said, ‘Yea, I speak unto you, ye remnant of the house of Israel’ (Morm. 7:1). And Moroni, the last of the inspired writers, actually saw our day and time. ‘Behold,’ he said, ‘the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.

‘Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing’ (Morm. 8:34–35).

If they saw our day and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon? We should constantly ask ourselves, “Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 6).

The Spirit Is the Same, Yesterday, Today, and Forever

As he recounts (somewhere around 588-570 B.C.) how his son Jacob had come to know Christ, Lehi focuses on the power and consistency of the Spirit, who is the third member of the Godhead, in testifying of Christ.

“…I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men. And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” (2 Nephi 2:3-4)

-Did the Spirit have the power to testify of Christ in ancient times, before He came to the earth? Was the Spirit’s testimony in any way vague or indirect? Or, was it a clear manifestation without ambiguity?

-Did the power of the manifestation depend on the faithfulness and spiritual strength of the individual to whom the witness came?

-Is it possible for us, who live after Christ’s coming, to receive a clear manifestation, without ambiguity, that He was (and is) who He said he was?