The Title Page
The title page of the Book of Mormon was said by Joseph Smith to be taken from the last leaf of the plates of Mormon and was written by Moroni himself. A portion of this section states that the Book of Mormon is:
…to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever…
The first purpose of the Book of Mormon that is mentioned is to show the remnant of Israel the great things God did for their fathers so they may KNOW the covenants of the Lord and that they are still in effect. In other words, here is a message from God saying that he is still there for us and that his covenants are still extended toward us.
In 1 Nephi 13, we learn about the significance of the Bible and that it contains the covenants of the Lord.
23 And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.
These important covenants are contained in the Bible, but there will exist in the future a ‘great and abominable church’ that has taken away many covenants from the gospel.
26 And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.
The Marvelous Work
In chapter 14 the prophet, Nephi learns that at a future time God will work a great and marvelous work.
7 For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men; …
8 And it came to pass that when the angel had spoken these words, he said unto me: Rememberest thou the covenants of the Father unto the house of Israel? I said unto him, Yea.
The angel of the Lord asks Nephi if he remembers the covenants of the Father to the House of Israel, and as an Israelite raised of ‘goodly parents’ this is something that Nephi and most Israelites would have had an understanding of; the Abrahamic covenant.
In verses 8 – 16 the angel immediately begins to talk about the great and abominable church, and how it would seek to oppress the saints and spread over the face of the entire earth. In verse 17, the angel tells Nephi that when his wrath is poured out upon this great and abominable church, this will be the time where the fulfilling of the covenants will commence.
17 And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel.
The great and abominable church would first be establish upon all nations and then the wrath of God will be poured out upon it. At that day, the Lord would begin to fulfill the covenants he made with all the people who are of Israel. In other words, God will do a ‘marvelous work and a wonder’ (as Isaiah put it).
If we examine the words “marvelous” and “wonder” as they would have been understood in Joseph Smith’s time, we can turn to the 1828 Webster’s dictionary.
Marvelous – 1. Wonderful; strange; exciting wonder or some degree of surprise.
Wonder – 1. That emotion which is excited by novelty, or the presentation to the sight or mind, of something new, unusual, strange, great, extraordinary, or not well understood; something that arrests the attention by its novelty, grandeur or inexplicableness.
The Hebrew word in Isaiah translates to: pele’ (peh’-leh) from ‘pala” (6381); a miracle:–marvellous thing, wonder(-ful, -fully).
So this marvelous work and a wonder would be something surprising, new, even unusual and strange, not well understood and inexplicable. We have discussed how the fulfilling of the covenant can surpass even death itself and seeing how God will pull this off would most certainly be something we have not yet seen before. We’ve seen from history how people react to new things that are not traditional; one needs to look no further than the ministry of Jesus Christ and the foreign teachings he brought to the Jews. He was seen as a heretic, blasphemer, and devil for the things he taught.
Next in 1 Nephi 15, Nephi is expounding to his confused brothers on the house of Israel and how there will be many that will be gathered in.
18 Wherefore, our father hath not spoken of our seed alone, but also of all the house of Israel, pointing to the covenant which should be fulfilled in the latter days; which covenant the Lord made to our father Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
The fulfilling of the covenant in the latter days would not only bless Lehi’s seed and the house of Israel but all the KINDREDS of the earth, meaning other bloodlines outside of Israel. So a major key to fulfilling the Abrahamic covenant involves expanding the blessings to all the people of the earth. Not only that, another clue is given, that this covenant would be fulfilled in the ‘latter days’ or the ‘last days’ which are generally understood to be the days just before the second coming of Christ.
In 1 Nephi 19:15, we read:
Nevertheless, when that day cometh, saith the prophet, that they no more turn aside their hearts against the Holy One of Israel, then will he remember the covenants which he made to their fathers.
Very often in the Book of Mormon, it is emphasized that God will always remember and never forget his covenants. This is a critical part of the purpose and message of the Book of Mormon.
In 1 Nephi 22:6, Nephi is using the words of Isaiah to teach his brothers more about this subject of the covenants of the Lord and the manner in which they will be fulfilled.
Nevertheless, after they shall be nursed by the Gentiles, and the Lord has lifted up his hand upon the Gentiles and set them up for a standard, and their children have been carried in their arms, and their daughters have been carried upon their shoulders, behold these things of which are spoken are temporal; for thus are the covenants of the Lord with our fathers; and it meaneth us in the days to come, and also all our brethren who are of the house of Israel.
The next clue about the nature of these covenants of the Lord is that they are temporal, meaning they are tied to this state of mortality. This is a key element to understand how the covenant will be fulfilled and why it’s considered a marvelous work and a wonder.
In verse 7 we read:
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.
There will be a mighty nation of Gentiles upon the American continent that will scatter and confound the descendants of Nephi and his brothers and the rest of their party. The scattering is a sign, however, and after this scattering is when the marvelous work will occur:
8 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 nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders.
9 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.
The covenants of the Father will be fulfilled so that all the kindreds of the earth can be ‘blessed’ or prepared for eternal life. The marvelous work will make known the covenants of the Father to Abraham, which is what the purpose of the Book of Mormon is according to what Moroni wrote in the title page. This reveals that the Book of Mormon is a part of this marvelous work and the fulfilling of this covenant.
12 Wherefore, he will bring them again out of captivity, and they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance; and they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.
Out of obscurity and out of darkness, to Latter-day Saint understanding refers not only to those in physical captivity but also to those in what is known as ‘spirit prison’ which is a term indicating those who died not knowing the truth along with the wicked. So the fulfilling of the covenant has to do with gathering the living and the dead.
2 Nephi 3 includes a description of a prophecy of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt about his posterity.
5 Wherefore, Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel; not the Messiah, but a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless, to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light—yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.
Broken remnants, of which the Nephites and Lamanites were a part of, will all be remembered in the covenants. The covenants will be made manifest in the latter days and will have power to bring people out of darkness and captivity, here we see the dual meaning again. The great and marvelous work will be so because it will transcend both the physical and spiritual world.
7 Yea, Joseph truly said: Thus saith the Lord unto me: A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and he shall be esteemed highly among the fruit of thy loins. And unto him will I give commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins, his brethren, which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers.
A seer through the lineage of Joseph (Ephraim, via European descent) will bring forth the knowledge of these covenants.
12 Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.
Here again a connection is made to the Book of Mormon and the fulfilling of the covenants; the Bible and the Book of Mormon will be key in bringing people to the knowledge of the covenants of the Lord.
21 Because of their faith their words shall proceed forth out of my mouth unto their brethren who are the fruit of thy loins; and the weakness of their words will I make strong in their faith, unto the remembering of my covenant which I made unto thy fathers.
Through faith, the remnant will be able to understand the covenants.
An Introduction to The Role The Gentiles Will Play
2 Nephi 6 states that the Gentiles, or those who scatter the remnant upon the American continent, are invited to receive the blessings of the covenants if they do not unite with the great and abominable church.
12 And blessed are the Gentiles, they of whom the prophet has written; for behold, 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; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children; and for this cause the prophet has written these things.
2 Nephi 10 includes an amazing promise that the Lord will restore the fathers who have since died, will be ‘restored in the flesh, upon the earth’ to their respective lands of inheritance that they were promised.
7 But behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.
In the eternites, these lands will be inhabited by those they were promised to. This earth is an inheritance to all who become part of the covenant.
15 Wherefore, for this cause, that my covenants may be fulfilled which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh, I must needs destroy the secret works of darkness, and of murders, and of abominations.
The Lord first needs to destroy the secret combinations and the great and abominable church in order for the covenants to be fulfilled. As long as they are on the earth, the covenants cannot be fulfilled. We see in today’s world the secret combinations in governments throughout the world carrying us into wars, destroying principles of freedom, and seeking to burden us with a global form of government. The mastermind behind these oppressions is none other than Satan himself according to Joseph Fielding Smith:
“Satan has control now. No matter where you look, he is in control, even in our own land. He is guiding the governments as far as the Lord will permit him. That is why there is so much strife, turmoil, and confusion all over the earth. One master mind is governing the nations. It is not the president of the United States; it is not Hitler; it is not Mussolini; it is not the king or government of England or any other land; it is Satan himself.”Joseph Fielding Smith (Doctrines of Salvation)
Later on in Helaman chapter 6 verse 37, we see one of the rare occasions where this type of secret combination was actually ‘utterly destroyed’ from among the people:
37 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.
The secret combinations are destroyed by the preaching of the gospel; it is possible that they will be destroyed at least in part by the same fashion in our time.
2 Nephi 29:1 But behold, there shall be many—at that day when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel;
The marvelous work is again directly tied to the fulfilling of the covenants.
In part one, the idea that the covenants must be fulfilled by extending blessings to those who have died is addressed in 3 Nephi 10 as Jesus Christ speaks to the survivors of the post-resurrection cataclysms that were still enveloped in a mist of darkness.
7 But if not, O house of Israel, the places of your dwellings shall become desolate until the time of the fulfilling of the covenant to your fathers.
This is an extremely important verse to pay attention to because Jesus Christ warns the survivors that if they don’t repent that their ‘dwellings shall become desolate’ UNTIL the time of the fulfilling of the covenant. The phrase ‘dwellings shall become desolate’ has to do with their posterity being cut off, but then there’s the word UNTIL. So this desolation appears to be only temporary which raises the question, “How can you have more posterity in the future when your bloodline has become desolate?”
The fulfilling of the covenant will apparently allow the lineage to continue even though death breaks the lineage. Now we turn to Isaiah 49:21,22 where the same language is used when he prophesies what the house of Israel will say in the last days or at the time of the fulfilling of the covenant:
21 Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?
22 Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.
The Gentiles through the marvelous work of fulfilling the covenant will transcend death and broken lineages to bring the covenants of the Lord to these lineages. This can only be done through work that involves both the living and the dead. There has never been such work among any religious groups tracing their lineage to Abraham, except one: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
3 Nephi 16:5 talks about a great gathering that will be before but accompany this fulfilling of the covenant:
5 And then will I gather them in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfil the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the house of Israel.
11 And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O house of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them.
The Lord promises to remember the covenant and not let the Gentiles have power over them.
12 And I will show unto thee, O house of Israel, that the Gentiles shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O house of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.
Keep all this in mind, as we will come back to how the Gentiles fit into the grand design after taking a look at the sign that will proclaim to the world when all of this is going to take place.