The Book of Mormon teaches that it helps to take away stumbling blocks
And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God
in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power,
in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks --
The Lamb of God manifests Himself unto the Gentiles in three ways: in word, in power,
and in very deed. I would have thought that “very deed” meant a personal visitation,
but that is generally not the gift for Gentiles. Every person can have the word
of the Lord, and every person can see His power in various ways, but only few receive
Him in “very deed.” His manifestation in very deed is, for most, the same as His
word, because we have faith that He visited the prophet Joseph Smith and certain
However, the angel said that these manifestations are for the purpose of taking away
their stumbling blocks. Jesus had previously mentioned the Gentiles stumbling (1
Nephi 13:34) because of what they lacked in their holy book. Thus, He has already
established that He will remove their stumbling blocks by revealing the Book of Mormon.
So we must look to the Book of Mormon for those manifestations to the Gentiles.
Indeed the Book of Mormon does include the words of Christ, both throughout the history
and at His glorious visit at the temple in Bountiful. All of the narrative of the
Book of Mormon points to the power of Christ. He appeared in very deed to the Nephites
after His resurrection.
As we read the Book of Mormon, He is manifested to us in word, in power, and in very
1 Nephi 14:2
Harden not your heart against the Lamb of God
The Book of Mormon teaches
that we can be a blessed people on the Promised Land
And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God,
they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father;
yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel;
and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever;
they shall be no more brought down into captivity;
and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.
From my short life perspective, this is a huge leap. Verse one was spread over two
thousand years, so it should not be so disconcerting to find verse two reaching from
the Restoration, across the last century to sometime in the future.
Latter-day Saints are familiar and comfortable with the idea of being numbered among
the House of Israel, thanks to our patriarchal blessings. But here we learn that
those who do not harden their hearts against Jesus and accept His removal of our
(Biblical) stumbling blocks, we will be numbered among the seed of Lehi, or the native
I do not see anything in current native American society that would draw me to identify
with them, only perhaps sympathize with them. Who will jump for joy when they hear,
“Congratulation! You won the prize! You get to go live on the res!”
I have appreciated my heritage as an American, with our traditions of human dignity,
hard work, and liberty. I’ve also looked farther back and valued my English and
German heritage of freedom, and my Scottish heritage of thrift, both of which no
doubt informed the American fabric. Since I can retain appreciation for my European
roots while being fully American, I suppose that we can remain American when we enter
this merger with the children of Lehi.
The Lord wants us to know that this new confederation or unity is a good thing –
we will a blessed people. This also implies a change in the status of the children
of Lehi. Furthermore, it is not difficult to see the excesses of power exercised
by the U.S. federal government, which is echoed and imitated by state governments
and tribal governments, as well as the gross taxation and penalty system removing
the fruits of labor from working Americans to non-working Americans and non-Americans,
to bureaucrats we pay to “harass our people” and exercise dominion over others, and
trillions of dollars’ worth of other purchases by government to prop itself up and
enable it to continue to oppress. This verse indicates that will end. We will no
more be confounded by regulations limiting our opportunities to live our lives and
provide for our own families and innovate.
Alternatively, being numbered among the seed of Lehi may mean that our nation finally
recognizes the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and we see ourselves as a reborn
Nephite nation of freedom on the Promised Land.
1 Nephi 14:3
The great pit will be filled with those who digged it
The Book of Mormon teaches
that those who plan evil for others will in the end be destroyed
And that great pit,
which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church,
which was founded by the devil and his children,
that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell --
yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men
shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction,
saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul,
save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.
We must read this verse in conjunction with 1 Nephi 13:5,9, which describe that great
and abominable church, to remember what the Lamb is talking about now. He’s talking
about those who persecute, subject to captivity, and kill the saints of God, and
they do this so that they may have power and wealth, satisfy the lusts of the flesh,
and enjoy the praise of the world. The time will come when the political and legal
structures in all the countries of the world will no longer allow this gross perceptual
manipulation of evil into good. Evil will be recognized as evil. God’s judgment
has always sentenced evil-doers to hell; now it will be widely acknowledged. There
will be no more pretending. Individuals’ life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness
will no longer be subject to the heavy hand of those who want to create the world
in their own image.
It is interesting that the verse speaks of “that hell which hath no end.” Does this
mean that there are hells which do have an end?
1 Nephi 14:4
The justice of God
The Book of Mormon teaches
that the justice of God meets the captivity of the devil
For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil,
and also according to the justice of God,
upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him.
In this verse we may read the idea that God and the devil are partners – they have
the same goal, and this wrapping up scene is according to the plans of both of them.
Looking more closely, however, we see a difference: The devil’s plan is to captivate,
to have dominion, to have power over all. For that reason he founded his great and
abominable church, to draw everyone to his philosophies, and thus subject them to
himself. God’s plan is justice; He wants everyone to end up where they truly belong,
where they want to be, and He is always giving His children the opportunity and information
to choose Him. The justice comes in that those who “digged the pit” were eager to
have dominion over others, generally to their hurt, but now they themselves will
be eternally subject to a being whose only desire is to make others miserable like
unto himself (2 Nephi 2:27).
1 Nephi 14:5
If the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them
The Book of Mormon teaches that repentance is crucial
And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld
that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them; and thou also knowest concerning
the covenants of the Lord unto the house of Israel; and thou also hast heard that
whoso repenteth not must perish.
Before showing or explaining more to Nephi, the angel takes a moment to remind him
of two ideas that he has seen and heard in the vision thus far, and, centrally, one
idea that he already knew.
The angel say that Nephi already knows concerning the covenants of the Lord to the
house of Israel. Nephi knows this perhaps because, as an Israelite, he was raised
on the information. He certainly knows it because he has studied the Brass Plates.
We, too, know of these covenants. The Abrahamic Covenant is found in Genesis 15:18-21,
17:2-14; it is renewed through Isaac in Genesis 17:19-21, and with Jacob in Genesis
28:3,4,13-15. It is better described in Abraham 2:9-11. This would be the foundation
of the Lord’s covenants with Israel.
However, in Deuteronomy we learn that generally when the Lord speaks of His covenant
with Israel, He is referring – for their part – to their faithfulness in keeping
His commandments, His statutes and judgments and laws. The Ark of the Covenant contained
the stone tables on which He inscribed the Ten Commandments. That was the covenant.
In most of the book of Deuteronomy Moses eloquently beseeches his people to keep
the covenant – a review of their history of Jehovah’s faithfulness and their unfaithfulness,
a review of the statutes and judgments, glorious promises for faithfulness and horrendous
consequences of failure, and running through it all a passionate appeal to the children
of Israel to keep the covenant. To fully understand what the angel claims that Nephi
already knows, the reader is advised to spend some time reading Deuteronomy, particularly
chapters 1-11, 26-32. (The intervening chapters are more profitably read when one
is aware of the brutality and savagery under which humans lived in those days, so
that one can recognize the “statutes and judgments” given by God to Israel as a higher
law for their times.) As Moses describes, the covenants of the Lord to Israel are
glorious and beautiful, full of life and potential.
The angel speaks to Nephi first, however, of the Gentiles, saying simply that “It
shall be well with them” if they repent. This, too, has a context in Deuteronomy.
While Moses powerfully describes the blessings of obedience to the covenant in several
passages, in several others he merely says it shall be well with them (Deuteronomy
6:3,18, et al). Thus, with this deceivingly plain statement, the angel links the
Gentiles with the blessings of Israel, conditioned upon their repentance.
The angel spoke first of the Gentiles and second of the house of Israel, reminding
Nephi of the great blessings each group can receive through obedience to the Lord’s
covenant. He concludes the verse by lumping them together as “whoso.” Both the
Gentiles and the house of Israel have need to repent, as described in Deuteronomy.
Thus far in the vision Nephi has seen several groups who have perished as a result
of their refusal to repent. Like Deuteronomy and much of the Bible, this verse presents
a stark contrast between the righteous and the wicked, whether they are born of Israel
or are Gentiles.
The angel has explained that the Book of Mormon will establish the truth of the Bible,
and add information which is not contained in the Bible, and that they will work
together (1 Nephi 13:40,41). That process begins immediately in this very vision.
In this verse we are given to understand how all the calamities that have befallen
the inhabitants of the Promised Land, as well as those which shall befall them, were
described millennia ago by Moses as consequences of rejecting the covenant. Deuteronomy
enhances our understanding of Nephi, while Nephi supports the assertions in Deuteronomy
with additional historical and future examples.
“If ye hearken to these judgments, and keep them, and do them, that the Lord thy
God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:
“And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the
fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land. . .
“Thou shalt be blessed above all people.” (Deuteronomy 7:12-14)
1 Nephi 14:6
Wo be unto the Gentiles
The Book of Mormon teaches that wo comes upon those who harden their hearts
Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles
if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God.
The angel is describing two scenarios, to be enacted simultaneously, but affecting
two different groups of people differently. The first scenario was verses 1-4, where
he described the blessed and happy state of the Gentiles who repent and do not harden
their hearts against the work of the Lord in the Restoration, which includes their
joining the house of Israel and seeing the end of their oppressive enemies. Verse
5 transitioned between the two, and the angel is now addressing what the heart-hardening
Gentiles can expect in this same time period.
1 Nephi 14:7
A great and a marvelous work
The Book of Mormon teaches that His great and marvelous work
will give people the opportunity to choose peace and life eternal
For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God,
that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men;
a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other --
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, of which I have spoken.
The angel again says that he is quoting the Lord in this verse. Latter-day Saints
generally regard the great and marvelous work to be the restoration of the gospel
in the latter-days through Joseph Smith, which included the coming forth of the Book
of Mormon. There is good scriptural evidence for this, as the original reference
in Isaiah 29:14 which comes between the book that is sealed, which the learned cannot
read, and the deaf hearing the words of the book. But in this chapter of Isaiah,
as with the rest of the book, we pick out parts that we think we understand, and
have no idea how the intervening or adjacent verses fit into our template. The Restoration
is indeed a marvelous work and a wonder, but, like many scriptures, can there be
The Lord’s description through the angel to Nephi does not seem to match the description
of the Restoration, and the phrase “the time cometh” implies that this work and wonder
happens after the Gentiles have the opportunity to have their stumbling blocks removed
(by the Book of Mormon). This idea in no way lessens the greatness and importance
of the Restoration and Joseph Smith, but it does imply that we may yet look forward
to something not yet envisioned in the Church, at least not publicly. Our missionaries
do not give the message, “Believe and accept our message or be destroyed.” Instead,
the Church more and more recognizes the efforts of people of faith and good will
everywhere, and seeks to work with them and join in those efforts (for example, humanitarian
aid and justserve.org). There is no apparent causality between captivity and destruction
that we currently see in our world and rejection of the fullness of the gospel in
Captivity and destruction happen because of unrighteous dominion, and the only way
to accomplish wide-spread dominion, captivity, and destruction is through government.
The Church currently does not become involved in government, and very minimally
makes comments on political positions. This may be due to its insistence on each
person’s ability and right to make his own choices in those regards (see Article
of Faith #11, Doctrine & Covenants 134). It may be due to the lack of revelation
on those topics, leaving the leaders free to share their own ideas, but understandably
reluctant to do so out of respect for differing opinions and humility regarding their
unerringness. It may be due to government’s retributive actions towards those who
they perceive as a threat to their power.
This verse is pointing to the future building of Zion. It will be each person’s
conscious choice whether he chooses to throw in his lot with that project, or believe
in the status quo. But the status quo is not stable, not sustainable. Our world-wide
monetary system is founded on debt, so it is a giant Ponzi scheme, with the debt
always growing bigger and more voracious. There is no practical way to avoid this
chasm. The Bible speaks of an entity who compels the world to buy through his system
(Revelation 13:6). I could say much about the inequities that have developed in
our political and economic systems, but better thinkers and writers than I have written
books and blogs and articles on it. Many solutions are proposed and some even tried,
but in general the results have been poor, and the trend toward social destruction
continues. Zion will be a marvelous work and a wonder, and it will be due to revelation
from the Lord, because our current modus operandi is heading for disaster, and no
one knows how to stop it or in what direction to even try to turn it.
Whether the Restored Church as an entity will change its policy toward government
commentary or the leadership will come from elsewhere, the Lord will be behind the
work. This verse teaches us that we will not always live in the dismal, declining
doldrums, where we say, “It doesn’t matter who I vote for” or “They’re all the same.”
There will be a clear difference.
This marvelous work and a wonder will be worldwide. It is not spoken of as happening
among the Jews or the Gentiles, but among the “children of men.” Everyone will equally
experience the choice.