What are Promised Lands?
There are many promised lands. From the beginning, the Lord has reserved choice lands for righteous followers. They include the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:9), a “land of promise” for Enos (Moses 6:17), and Zion for Enoch and his people (Moses 7:19).
Promised lands are those lands which the Lord promises as an inheritance to his faithful followers, and often also to their descendants. When speaking of the “Promised Land” a majority of Christendom refers to the land of Israel, or to those lands that were promised to Abraham and his posterity.
Promised Lands Given to Abraham and His Posterity
In the Old Testament book of Genesis, for example, we read “And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him” (Genesis 12:7). Careful note should be taken that Abram did not just say thank you and walk away without giving the conversation that he had just had with the Lord any further thought, but rather, he took the time to build and altar, and to worship, and to call on the name of the Lord. The next verse tells us:
And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 12:8).
As a brief side note, the name Beth-el is actually comprised of two Hebrew words – “Beth” has the literal meaning of “house”, and “el” is the root word for God. Therefore, Beth-el is literally translated “the house of God.”
Another reference to Promised Land being given to Abraham is found in Genesis 17:8, “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
The Lord Leads the Righteous into Promised Lands
Often in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants, the Promised Land spoken of is the Americas or Zion (the New Jerusalem). The 10th Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states:
We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi spoke of a particular Promised Land as, “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” (2 Nephi 1:5).
It is the Lord who “leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes” (1 Nephi 17:38). The Psalmist declared, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). Therefore, one of the conditions set for those who inherit a Promised Land is that they must covenant to “serve the God of the land.”
Promised Lands are Given Predicated upon Covenants that are made
The Lord promises to give lands to those who are righteous, but it is with those righteous people, not the promised lands, that He makes everlasting and eternal covenants. The promised lands are given to the people predicated upon their fulfilment of the conditions of the covenants which they have made. Modern day revelation as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 teaches, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”
The Book of Mormon peoples, including the family of Lehi and the jaredites, for example, were given a Promised Land in the hemisphere now called the Americas based on the condition of keeping God’s commandments. In 1 Nephi 2:20 we read that the Lord made the following promise to Nephi:
And 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.
An Ancient Prophet’s Warning
The prophet Moroni gave this warning to the future inhabitants of this land: (Ether 2:9-12)
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.
11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
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 admonition applies to all the lands that the Lord has promised at any time, to any of His people.
As a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy veteran (that is over half of my life dedicated to the service of our country of which I have no regrets), I can boldly testify that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that America is a truly blessed and choice land. Having been blessed to work and serve in, as well as visit many different countries throughout the world, I can emphatically state that we as Americans have absolutely nothing to whine, cry, gripe, or complain about when we stop to realize what we have in comparison to so many others in different parts of the world. What deeply saddens me is that so many Americans take the blessing that God has bestowed upon this great land for granted.
A similar admonition as given by the prophet Moroni is found in the Old Testament in 2 Chronicles 7:14 . As we approach another 4th of July celebration, and in light of a recent Supreme Court decision regarding the sanctity of marriage, I believe that this scripture is both timely and appropriate. The scripture reads as follows:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
God has designated land inheritances to all those who love Him and keep His commandments. It is my humble prayer that we, His people, will ever be found faithful and obedient to Him, so that we too may obtain a land of promise, a land which is choice above all others. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen.