When God's People Strayed

Mormon's Warning to the Latter Days

With one thousand years of Nephite history in his hands to ponder, Mormon, the man who abridged the record called the Book of Mormon, was able to survey the problems with the Nephites, and summarize their downfall. As the last lesson shared (Nephite's Folly), the people forgot God in the day he blessed them. God's people resultingly lose His Word and His Spirit. All other punishments are mere symptoms of that fate.

Mormon not only surveyed the spectrum of Nephite history, he saw ahead into the latter days also. In this lesson, we uncover a clear message Mormon shares with those of us in the last days.

Thus far, the message of these lessons has been

1) God's people can stray

2) God's people have strayed, and

3) God's people are prone to stray.

4) God's people were prophesied to stray and prophesied to return.

Unfortunate as the first three points are, these are the facts. Happily, the fourth point will also be fulfilled. We will read about that in the following two lessons.

But given the church's tendancy to stray, is it any wonder that Mormon writes warnings rather than accolades to the people of the last days?

Mormon realized the church was to lead in whatever land she is born. Its commission, to show the culture the true God, to live in ways that bring true happiness and peace. The presence of the church leading by these truths would bring prosperity to the culture. Conversely, if the land and culture is corrupt, then he understood that to be because the church wasn't effective in doing its job.

Mormon makes little distinction between the Gentiles of our day who were unchurched, and the Gentiles to whom the church was restored. He basically sees an overview of our day, and lumps us all together as a people who had great potential, glimmers of light, but basically fallen.

What did Mormon actually say, and where did he say it? Turn to 3 Nephi, Chapter 14. The whole of the chapter is a message he sends to us. After all, in his day, no Gentiles were around to read the records--the only Gentiles that could get message would be those of the latter days--i.e. US.

The whole chapter is only three verses. He apparently didn't need to expound on the message to us. He says they were commanded to him by Jesus. Here it is:

14:1 Hearken, O, ye Gentiles, and hear the words of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, which he hath commanded me that I should speak concerning you, for, behold he commandeth me that I should write, saying,

14:2 Turn all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways, and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations,

14:3 And come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people, who are of the house of Israel.

Now some would argue that these Gentiles were the 'unchurched' because the final admonition speaks to baptism, i.e. to those outside of the church. Perhaps, but the Book of Mormon never calls the people of the last days, who came to inhabit this land of promise as anything other than Gentiles. Mormon realized this land was the covenant land for Joseph of Manasseh, the original inhabitants. Some of Ephraim come to America, but those of the church of the last days are lumped together as the 'Church of the Gentiles.'

1 Nephi 3:183 And after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which has been kept back, by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb, I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb;


The above scripture clearly foretells the Book of Mormon, the plain and precious truths, coming to the Gentiles (even if some were of Ephraim). The great prophecy is that the first would be last, and the last first. The meaning is that the gospel came to the Israel (Jews, Joseph and others) first, then would go to Gentiles (non-Israel), then be restored to Gentiles (latter day non Jews) and return to Israel (Jews, Joseph, lost tribes, etc).

We'll look at the following scripture again in the next lesson, but its worth noting at this juncture, for this reason. 3 Nephi 10:1 is speaking to Gentiles, these being referred to in the first words with the pronoun 'They.' If They repent, i.e. the Gentiles and the Church of the Gentiles, they will be numbered among whom? Jacob, which is to say the House of Israel. And what else does Jesus say (these are Jesus' prophetic words), that the Gentiles get numbered among the remnant of Joseph, and that this is THEIR land of covenant, not ours. This is big news. All along, the church of the latter day thought the story was about us. It is not. It is about them, the ancient covenant people. Our job was to be stewards of the word, enjoying the benefits of the promises, and being numbered among THEM when the Lord starts his work to regather the nations. The story is not about us, and the burden of the work was never ours alone. Read what Jesus says:

3 Nephi 10:1 But if they will repent, and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant, and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance, and they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob;

As a people, we need some major doses of humiliation. The notions that the story was about us, we were the exalted ones to single-handedly build the kingdom for the world, come from church folklore over scripture. The Word says that we, the Gentiles, get to be counted among the ancient covenant people and assist them, because the covenant was made with them. Jesus covenanted to establish a church among us, the Gentiles, which he did. The promise of gathering, however, was made with Israel, and not because of the church of the latter days.

Mormon's warning is primarily to the Gentile church (not the unchurched) who he saw falling into priestcraft (what is priestcraft? Wresting the true word of God) and abominations.

Jesus has some even more direct words to those of us in the church of the last days. It may be surprising to some that these words are even in scripture, they seem to be overlooked by many. The next lesson tells of Jesus' Latter Day Warning.

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