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The Gentiles and Zion Part I


Gentiles Defined


“The word [gentiles] is used in Nephi’s writings to include literal descendants of Israel — particularly the Northern Tribes — once they have intermarried and lost their identities, thereby becoming gentiles. However, as they convert and remake restored covenants with the Lord through baptism, the same people who were gentiles at one point become “Israel” at another, after their conversion . . .” (A Glossary of Gospel Terms, Gentiles, p.657, emphasis added).

The term “gentiles” applies to literal descendants of Israel once they intermarry, diluting their lineal and covenant status as descendants of Israel. The loss of covenant privileges may be restored as they renew their covenant status through baptism into a new dispensation and renewed covenant with the Lord.

“The church restored through Joseph Smith is referred to throughout the Book of Mormon as the gentiles. Joseph knew this, and the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer, which came to him as a revelation, explained how the church was regarded by the Lord (see T&C 123:18). All the prophecies of the Book of Mormon upon the gentiles are references to what the latter-day gentile church will accomplish (or fail to accomplish). Christ’s prophecy does not anticipate gentile success (see 3 Nephi 7:5). The gentiles will reject the fullness offered to them. “At that day when the gentiles shall sin against my gospel” [Who are the only gentiles who receive His gospel?] does not raise the possibility of if, but only when. According to Christ, the gentiles shall reject the fullness of my gospel.

Taking these words at their plain meaning, it leaves no room for gentiles to obtain and perpetuate the fullness of the priesthood. They will, instead, reject it when it is offered them. But despite having rejected it, gentiles are allowed to repent and join the remnant of the Book of Mormon people and be saved.”

The gentiles referred to in the Book of Mormon are gentiles because they are not direct descendants of Israel to whom covenant promises were offered. In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Lord by revelation to Joseph Smith made the following statement about the membership of the restored church:

“Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the gentiles. . .” (RE T&C 123:18, emphasis added).

In addition to the Lord’s declaration about the membership of the latter-day church being gentiles, Nephi reaffirms the gentile status of the church in the latter-days.

“. . . For behold, saith the Lamb, I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious. And after thy seed shall be destroyed and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up to come forth unto the gentiles by the gift and power of the Lamb [Who were the gentiles who received the writings?] And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation. And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the holy ghost. And if they endure unto the end, they shall be lifted up at the last day and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb. Yea, whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be!” (RE 1 Nephi 3:23, emphasis added).

Nephi sees the record of his people hidden for a time before it is given to the “gentiles.” The point is, the Book of Mormon record, at least partially is given to Joseph Smith and the people of the Restoration. They are designated as gentiles. Not Israel, and not the remnant of Lehi’s seed. Jesus also establishes who the latter-day gentiles are when He tells the Nephite survivors when their record is brought to light.

“And verily I say unto you, I give unto you [Lehi’s remnant] a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place, that I shall gather in from their long dispersion my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion. And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign: for verily I say unto you that when these things which I declare unto you — and which I shall declare unto you hereafter of myself and by the power of the holy ghost, which shall be given unto you of the Father — shall be made known unto the gentiles, that they may know concerning this people who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, and concerning this my people who shall be scattered by them, verily, verily I say unto you, when these things shall be made known unto them [gentiles] of the Father and shall come forth of the Father from them [gentiles] unto you [Lehi’s remnant]— for it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them [gentiles] unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel — therefore, when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the gentiles unto your seed which shall dwindle in unbelief because of iniquity — for thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the gentiles, that he may shew forth his power unto the gentiles for this cause, that the gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel — and when these things come to pass, that thy seed shall begin to know these things, it shall be a sign unto them that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel. And when that day shall come, it shall come to pass that kings shall shut their mouths, for that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider.” (RE 3 Nephi 9:11, emphasis added).

Like Nephi, the Lord points out the record of Lehi’s people is given to the gentiles first so the Father may offer a testimony to both the gentiles and Lehi’s descendants. The gentiles are given the opportunity to receive the Holy Order. It will be generally rejected by the gentiles and carried to the posterity of Lehi by those few gentiles who enter the Holy Order and assist the remnant of Lehi’s seed in their induction into the Holy Order. But there is no indication repentant gentiles become part of Israel, only that they are numbered among them and enjoy the same blessings.

“Therefore, woe be unto the gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God” (1 Nephi 3:26). Notice that the relationship is between the Lamb of God and the gentiles. It is not between the gentiles and leaders or prophets or administrators or general authorities or even messengers. It is between the gentiles and the Lamb of God. It’s no wonder that after making great promises to the gentiles, if they will but repent, the angel cries out, Woe be unto the gentiles! They won’t receive: 1) the Gospel, nor 2) the testimony of Jesus, nor 3) the prophets sent to warn them or the message given to them, nor 4) the everlasting covenant offered to them. The church restored through Joseph may be referred to as “latter-day Israel” or similar terms, but the Book of Mormon vocabulary applies the term “gentiles” to all members of the latter-day churches. The Book of Mormon prophecies still do not refer to the latter-day gentiles as anything other than “gentiles,” even when they are numbered among the seed of Lehi. In prophecy, their identification remains “gentiles,” even though they are adopted as Lehi’s seed. Hence Joseph Smith’s reference in the Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer to the Latter-day Saints as “gentiles” by identity (see T&C 123:18). Whenever a gentile manages to acquire this adoption, they do not become identified as the “remnant” as a result. Instead, they become heirs to share in the promised blessings, but they do so as “gentiles.” They will get to assist the “remnant,” but they do so as “gentiles,” not as the “remnant.” Still, those who are adopted as Lehi’s seed do inherit, with the “remnant,” the Lord’s promises. But they are nevertheless called “gentiles” throughout prophecy” (A Glossary of Gospel Terms, Gentiles, pp.657-658, emphasis added).

For those raised in the Latter-day Saint tradition it may come as a shock we, in the Book of Mormon context, are not included in Israel. The gentiles will assist Israel. Apparently this question was present in Nephi’s day among his people.

“And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you, for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God, ye shall all likewise perish. And because of the words which have been spoken, ye need not suppose that the gentiles are utterly destroyed. For behold, I say unto you, as many of the gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord, and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off. For the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel” (RE 2 Nephi 12:11, emphasis added).

Inheriting the Lord’s covenant is less a matter of lineage and more a matter of repentance and accepting Christ. Gentile or Israel, absent repentance, no one receives a covenant with the Lord. The covenant represents induction into the family of God and only those who are like Him receive the covenant.

“Some of the prophecies outlined for the gentiles in our day include: The Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the gentiles…unto the making known of the covenants of the Father of Heaven unto Abraham (1 Nephi 7:3). And blessed are the gentiles…if it so be that they shall repent, and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church, they shall be saved (2 Nephi 5:5).

This paragraph deserves its own treatment in a book or paper. I’ve done both but will touch on a few points in this pregnant paragraph. What is the marvelous work among the gentiles in our day?

“. . . 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. And after our seed is scattered, the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the gentiles which shall be of great worth unto our seed. Wherefore, it is likened unto their being nursed by the gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders. And it shall also be of worth unto the gentiles, and not only unto the gentiles but unto all the house of Israel, unto the making known of the covenants of the Father of Heaven unto Abraham, saying, In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. (RE 1 Nephi 7:3, emphasis added).

The marvelous work will benefit the gentiles, the seed of Lehi and the house of Israel by restoring to them knowledge of Abraham. Contemplate how that would unfold. Knowledge of Abraham, besides what exists in the Bible adds to the understanding of the gentiles, descendants of Lehi and Israel. Joseph Smith provided the Book of Abraham which speaks of Abraham seeking after great knowledge and greater knowledge, and greater righteousness. Abraham obtains those things by accepting a covenant with the Father of Heaven. Abraham was only able to obtain that knowledge by connecting with a Patriarchal Father [Melchizedek] by ordination and later ratification by the voice of God when Abram received the new name of Abraham. This was accomplished in two steps. First, Abraham connected with a Patriarchal Father providing a direct connection to God. Access to the Patriarchal Fathers is only granted through the Spirit of Elijah.


The Marvelous Work Among Latter-day Gentiles


Nephi was shown a work the Lord would do among the gentiles He characterized as “a marvelous work among the children of men.” The marvelous work would be something that divides men into two categories, one positive and the other negative.

“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 [gentile or Israel].Therefore, woe be unto the gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God. 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 unto destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the Devil of which I have spoken” (RE 1 Nephi 3:26, emphasis added).

The marvelous work the Lord performs for “the children of men” marks the end for the gentiles and their covenant opportunity and a beginning for the last time the Lord’s covenant is offered to Israel. Those who repent receive “peace and eternal life,” and those who harden their hearts against the Lord and His marvelous work are delivered to their hard hearts and blind minds. They are brought down into captivity and destruction both temporally and spiritually, captive to the Devil and his angels.

How is this brought to pass? The Savior explained His latter-day marvelous work, adding “great” to His description like Nephi.

“For in that day [last days], for my sake, shall the Father work a work which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them, and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them. But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore, they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will shew unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the Devil. Therefore, it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him [Lord’s servant] to bring forth unto the gentiles, and shall give unto him power [Spirit of Elijah] that he shall bring them forth unto the gentiles, it shall be done even as Moses said — They shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant . . .” (RE 3 Nephi 9:12, emphasis added).

The “great and marvelous work” is performed by a servant the Lord calls to bring to light more of Christ’s words to the gentiles. When the majority of the gentiles reject the words of Christ and His servant who delivers them, the gentiles are cut-off from the covenant people, Israel.


Scott Roderick

2/17/24


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