The scattering of Israel has been the gospel topic du jour in my mind lately. I thought about the prophecy about the state of Israel ceasing to exist and its inhabitants being scattered and then my mind turned to the seed of Lehi on the reservations and I asked myself, “Can the Indians truly be considered in a scattered state if they are gathered onto reservations?” I then wondered if they, too, would be further scattered off of the reservations. My curiosity piqued, I then took up the scriptures to find out if there was any prophetic indications that the scattering of this land’s remnant (Lehi’s seed) was not yet over. Here’s what I found and how I ended up reading (interpreting) the text:
1 Nephi 22:7
Nephi, expounding Isaiah 49:22-23 to his brothers Laman and Lemuel, said:
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.
Now, notice the timeline of Nephi’s prophecy.
First, “all the house of Israel” will be scattered and confounded. That includes the current State of Israel. So, this prophecy is still future to us.
Second, only AFTER “all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded,” the Lord will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles. I have always been taught that we Americans, the citizens of the United States of America, are that mighty nation that scattered the Indians, but according to this new reading of the text, we are just a shadow fulfillment. After Israel ceases to exist as a State, I suppose we do, too. Then there will be another Gentile nation afterward upon this land, “a mighty” one, which the Lord God will raise up.
Third, it is this other Gentile nation, raised up by the Lord God on this land, after the USA has come and gone, that kicks the seed of Lehi off the reservations. The U.S. Federal government oversees the Indian reservations, so if there is no more federal government, there is no more federal protection for the Indians, and their land is, essentially, up for grabs. No one today dares take the reservation land from the Indians because it is essentially federal government land, and doing so would pit one against the feds, which is a no-win situation. But without the feds, the Indians, which truly are weak these days, are easy prey.
Samuel the Lamanite prophesied the following to the Nephites:
Yea, I say unto you, that in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites; and notwithstanding the many afflictions which they shall have, and notwithstanding they shall be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, and be hunted, and shall be smitten and scattered abroad, having no place for refuge, the Lord shall be merciful unto them.
Although it is true that the Indians have been moved off of their traditional lands, and thus scattered from these lands, the reservations can still be considered places of refuge. Only if they are kicked off of the reservations, and the reservation lands are occupied and inherited by the Gentiles (so that there are no more “reservations”), and the Indians are scattered among the Gentiles, only then can this prophecy of them “having no place for refuge” be literally fulfilled. This interpretation shows, yet again, that the scattering of Israel is not yet complete.
And also that a knowledge of these things must come unto the remnant of these people, and also unto the Gentiles, who the Lord hath said should scatter this people, and this people should be counted as naught among them—therefore I write a small abridgment, daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen, because of the commandment which I have received, and also that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people. (Mormon 5:9)
There are two things about this prophecy: first, that the Indians will be counted (by the Gentiles) as nothing, and second, that the Indians will be counted among the Gentiles. In other words, they will be scattered off of their lands and assimilated into the Gentile populations. So, there will be no more Indian lands, no more Indian tribes, no more “Indian” anything. They will completely lose their identity and will incorporate into the Gentiles, yet the Gentiles will not view them as full persons. This reminds me of the 3/5 person accounting of slaves for direct tax apportionment, as written in the U.S. Constitution. If I had to venture a prophetic guess, I would say that the seed of Lehi, at this future point, will enter the Gentile population as slaves, which is why Mormon uses the term “naught” to describe how the Gentiles will count them.
Now, taking this further—for I will treat this interpretation as a prophetic mood, at this point, and see where it leads—if indeed they will enter bona fide slavery among the Gentile population of the new, mighty nation raised up by the Lord God upon this land, then the prophecies of the Book of Mormon which speak of them being brought down into captivity and being brought out of captivity will be fulfilled literally. So, although legal slavery has been abolished in this Gentile nation, the next Gentile nation to appear on this land will bring it back.
Three groups of captives; three divine deliveries
The Book of Mormon prophesies of three groups of people that will be brought down into captivity and then delivered by the power of God: a group of Gentiles, the saints of God and the remnant of this land. Here is an example concerning the Gentile group:
And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations. (1 Nephi 13:13,19)
And these scriptures show the captivity and deliverance of the saints and remnant:
And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity. (1 Nephi 13:5)
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. (2 Nephi 3:5)
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. (1 Nephi 14:14)
Now, by way of explanation, this righteous branch that Lehi spoke of is the remnant of his seed in the latter days*. Jacob prophesied the following:
And behold how great the covenants of the Lord, and how great his condescensions unto the children of men; and because of his greatness, and his grace and mercy, he has promised unto us that our seed shall not utterly be destroyed, according to the flesh, but that he would preserve them; and in future generations they shall become a righteous branch unto the house of Israel. (2 Nephi 9:53)
It would appear then, according to these scriptures (and others that I will not get into), that prior to the final scattering of the remnant upon this land and their entrance into captivity (slavery), a great and abominable church must be in existence, one which brings the saints into captivity (slavery) and which, perhaps, is also responsible for the captivity of the aforementioned Gentiles (who go out of captivity) and the subsequent captivity of the remnant. The appearance of that great and abominable church is a prophetic marker, which indicates the final phase of the scattering. It should be fairly easy to identify the church when it is formed, since slavery (and other abominations) will be one of its tenets.
Finally, Mormon also wrote this, concerning the scattering of the remnant of this land:
But behold, it shall come to pass that they shall be driven and scattered by the Gentiles; and AFTER they have been driven and scattered by the Gentiles, behold, THEN will the Lord remember the covenant which he made unto Abraham and unto all the house of Israel. (Mormon 5:20)
This means that the scattering of Israel begins with all the other tribes of Israel (they are the first to be scattered) and ends with the seed of Lehi (they are the last to be scattered.) And only after the seed of Lehi is finally and fully scattered, then and only then will the Lord remember the covenant that He made to all the tribes of Israel, to bring them out of captivity, gather them, restore them to their lands and to the knowledge of their fathers, etc. Then the last tribal branch that was scattered (the seed of Lehi) will be the first tribal branch that will begin to be gathered, and so on and so forth (first to last and last to first.)
*And when they repent and come to Christ, they shall take upon themselves the name of Nephi, calling themselves Nephites, which is a topic I might fully unfold in a future post. In the meantime, see here and here.