Promises Repeated and an Invitation to Repent
Mormon 1-6 doesn't seem to be crammed with promises to covenant Israel like the end of 3 Nephi was. I thought it was interesting that so many of the promises I did find seemed to be repetitions of promises previously made. It seemed like emphasis that these promises will be fulfilled.
First, a brief summary, then some application to me.
If Israel repents, comes unto Christ, is baptized and builds up again his church, she shall be spared. (This promise was specifically made to the declining Nephites, but I think it applies generally).
The 12 tribes will be judged by the Twelve Apostles of Jesus
The Lehites will be judged by the twelve Lehite disciples.
All will stand before the judgement-seat of Christ and be judged according to their works
The Book of Mormon will provide the Jews with additional witnesses of Jesus' messiahship.
The Book of Mormon will come forth according to the wisdom and commandment of the Lord.
It will go to the unbelieving Jews, persuading them that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God
Jews and all the house of Israel will be restored to the land of their inheritance, to fulfill the covenant and bring about the great and eternal purposes of the Father
The Lehites will more fully believe the gospel, which goes to them from the Gentiles
After the Lehites are driven and scattered by the Gentiles, the Lord will remember his covenant with Abraham and all the house of Israel
The Lord will remember the prayers of the righteous in Israel's behalf
If the Gentiles don't repent, the remnant of Jacob will go forth among them as a lion, tearing them in pieces with none to deliver.
All will resurrected with incorruptible bodies, to be judged
The Father will do with all according to his justice and mercy
The verse that hit me with power as I read was Mormon 5:10, where Mormon addressed himself to "the Gentiles who have care for the house of Israel, that realize and know from whence their blessings come."
I want that phrase to describe me.
The message that keeps impressing upon me is that we are under a clear and insistent directive from the Lord to repent of a culture that has "counted [the Lehites] as naught among [us]" (Mormon 5:9). And when I say clear and insistent, I'm referring to language like, "O ye Gentiles, how can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways? Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll? Therefore, repent ye, and humble yourselves before him, lest he shall come out in justice against you --- lest a remnant of the seed of Jacob shall go forth among you as a lion, and tear you in pieces, and there is none to deliver" (Mormon 5:22-24).
I have a bunch of thoughts going on.
First of all, I know that I am no less precious to the Lord than are the descendants of the Lehites. To Him, all flesh is one. We are all His and He loves us equally. So, I am not an afterthought in His designs for the Book of Mormon. He designed its coming forth as much on my behalf as on the behalf of my First Nations neighbours.
That said, I think that I am something of an afterthought to Lehi, Nephi, Enos, Mormon and Moroni. I think their prayers and their intentions in writing were primarily focused on the eventual restoration of their posterity and their brethren's. Just like my children and family tend to be dominant concerns in my faith and prayers.
So, I love how the Lord has designed things so that the promises He made to the Lehite patriarchs were to be fulfilled by way of the Gentiles. Thus, I and my people get a share in all the blessings for which they fasted and mightily prayed. I think that's what Mormon means when he writes about the Gentiles realizing and knowing from whence our blessings come.
It also means that I owe it to the Lehite patriarchs (as well as to my Heavenly Father) to "have a care" for their descendants. I need to be on board for their being restored to their lands of promise. I'm not exactly sure what that means. I am pretty sure that it's complicated, and also that it could and should be a lot simpler than it looks.
The way I read the scriptures, the historic injustices to the descendants of the Lehites do not need to be rectified in a way that's unjust to the Gentiles. The Lord's desire is that we become one and that we inherit the land together. But there's a bunch of repenting that we, the Gentiles, need to do in order for that to be possible. Of course there's a bunch of repenting that the descendants of the Lehites need to do as well. The Lord is clear about that. But I don't see any evidence that the Lord is willing to let the Gentiles wait on repenting until after the Lehites. Especially when we're supposed to repent of counting them "as naught" among us.
If we resist the invitation to repent...the Lord is still going to do His work among the Lehites. They will still inherit this land, but the manner is not going to be pleasant for those of us who persist in discounting them.
A week ago, I was talking with friends about the urgency I'm feeling to heal the divide with our First Nations neighbours. I talked about learning that the Book of Mormon seems to be written primarily to the Lehites, that the task of building up the New Jerusalem seems to be theirs, and that our assigned role seems to be that of messenger and assistant. I gave my opinion that if our attitudes of superiority prevent us from performing our role, then we "are as salt that has lost its savor, and is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men" (D&C 103:10).
A wise friend listened to me speak and then raised an additional issue. If I want to help heal the divide, perhaps I should be willing to learn from my First Nations neighbours, and not just focus on what I want to share with them.
Wow! Approaching my neighbours with a desire to learn from them would be a good initial step in humility. It's a good way to repent of counting them "as naught."