Recently members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world learned that President Nelson announced the building of twelve temples. That seemed like a very impressive list. But missing from that list is the temple yet to be built in Independence, Missouri. There in Jackson county sits an empty lot today waiting for Lamanites to build it, assisted by repentant Gentiles. In 1975, During General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball, giving his First Presidency message said:
“When I was a young man living among the Lamanites more than seventy years ago, the destruction of the Lamanites was a stark reality. It seemed impossible to me that this broken people could ever rise from the destruction and become a mighty people once more, as the Lord had promised. I remember reading the words of President Wilford Woodruff, spoken in a day when the Lamanites were literally the “vanishing Americans”:
“The Lamanites will blossom as the rose on the mountains. I am willing to say here that, though I believe this, when I see the power of the nation destroying them from the face of the earth, the fulfillment of that prophecy is perhaps harder for me to believe than any revelation of God that I ever read. It looks as though there would not be enough left to receive the Gospel.” (Journal of Discourses 15:282.)
For a thousand years after the closing of the Book of Mormon record, these people wandered in spiritual darkness and were scattered upon the American continents and the isles of the sea. They lost their written language, their high culture, and, worst of all, their knowledge of the living God and his work. Faith was replaced by fear, rich language by crippled dialects, and an understanding of God and his ways by idolatry, even human sacrifice. Since the coming of the white man to the Americas, they have been driven mercilessly, killed, and degraded…Someone said, “If my pen might have the gift of tears I would write a book and call it ‘The Indian,’ and I would make the whole world weep,” Only the most brazen soul could fail to weep when contemplating the fall of this people, and yet it was the decree of the Lord that the Lamanites should be preserved in the land, that this remnant of Joseph should again come into their promised inheritance.”–Our Paths Have Met Again
In 1963, while an apostle, Spencer W. Kimball said:
“I’ve known people who have been promised in their patriarchal blessings that they would live to see the temple built and some of them are dying and haven’t seen the temple built. Do you know why? In my estimation, the Lord’s time table is directed a good deal by us. We speed up the clock or we slow the hands down and we turn them back by our activities or our procrastinations. And do you know why I think people who are actually promised that they would live to see the temple built are dying before the completion of the temple? Because we haven’t converted the Indians in large enough numbers; never shall we go to Jackson County until we have converted and brought into this church great numbers of Lamanites. Now you just as well set that down as a basic fact.”–From a copy of the December 1963 talk obtained from President Kimball’s secretary as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed., 1981), 427-28
I have spent a great deal of time studying and writing about the Lamanites of the last days, which resulted in two recent blog entries, which I hope everyone reads or will have read:
Nephi and other Book of Mormon prophets concerned themselves with two distinct categories of people:
There is a subset of Jews, which dissented from the covenant people:
If you read the title page, it becomes clear. By the end of their civilization, Moroni acknowledges and writes concerning them in his title page:
“Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile…”
He knew that it would be a Gentile who brought forth their record:
“…Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile…”
The Hebrew word for repent is “teshuvah” which literally translated means to return. This is the fulcrum of the message of the prophets of the Book of Mormon. They are calling us to repentance. Ultimately those who will “return” and build the New Jerusalem are:
1: Lamanite remnant
2: Repentant Gentiles
The Book of Mormon did come by way of repentant Gentiles when Joseph Smith and the early saints ushered in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were tasked to take the gospel to the Lamanites, which they attempted briefly, but instead they took the gospel to the rest of the Gentile world. To reiterate what Orson Pratt said, which I quoted in an earlier blog entry:
“We can pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus, to convert these Indian tribes around us, and bring them to a knowledge of the truth, that they may fulfill the things contained in the Book of Mormon. And then when we do return, taking them with us, that they shall be instructed not only in relation to their fathers and the Gospel contained in the record of their fathers, but also in the arts and sciences. They will also be instructed to cultivate the earth, to build buildings as we do, instructed how to build Temples and in the various branches of industry practiced by us; and then, after having received this information and instruction, we shall have the privilege of helping them to build the New Jerusalem. The Lord says—“They,” the Gentiles, who believe in the Book of Mormon, “shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.”
Now, a great many, without reading these things, have flattered themselves that we are the ones who are going to do all this work. It is not so; we have got to be helpers, we have got to be those who cooperate with the remnants of Joseph in accomplishing this great work; for the Lord will have respect unto them, because they are of the blood of Israel, and the promises of their fathers extend to them, and they will have the privilege of building that city, according to the pattern that the Lord shall give…We have got to be sent forth as missionaries to all parts of this American continent. Not to the Gentiles, for their times will be fulfilled; but we must go to all those tribes that roam through the cold regions of the north—British America, to all the tribes that dwell in the Territories of the United States, also to all those who are scattered through Mexico, and Central and South America, and the object of our going will be to declare the principles of the Gospel unto them, and bring them to a knowledge of the truth…
These are some few things pertaining to the redemption of Zion. I would to the Lord that we were righteous enough to know a few more! There are a great many things that I would like to know about the redemption of Zion that I do not know, and I presume that you also would like to know them. But what the Lord has revealed is very plain when connected together; and when we reflect upon it, it is astonishing to us to think that in our day the Lord has decreed to perform such a great work in the midst of the earth. It will be astonishing to us when the time comes for the Lord to gather in, from every part of this great continent, these poor, miserable, degraded Lamanites, that his servants may have power over them in order to bring them to civilization. It looks impossible to us, but remember that that is the day of the Lord’s power, and that then will be fulfilled the saying in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, that the Spirit of the Lord shall be shed forth upon the hearts of those who are ordained to that power; that every man among these remnants of Joseph will hear the Gospel in his own tongue, by the power of the Holy Ghost shed forth upon those who are ordained unto this power. There is such a saying as that in the Book of Covenants, and when that day comes the Lord God will work mightily by signs, wonders and miracles in various ways that will have an influence over these remnants of Joseph to convert them and bring them to a knowledge of the truth, that the prayers of their ancient fathers, and of the Prophets and Elders who once dwelt on this American continent, may be fulfilled upon their heads.” –(source: http://jod.mrm.org/17/289)
We read about this succinctly in some of Moroni’s final words to us:
Ether 13:6 And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.
7 For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.
8 Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.
New Jerusalem will never be built until the Lamanites in the latter days have been gathered up to accomplish their duty. The world may become dotted with temples and yet if this temple in Independence, Missouri (or be it somewhere else) is not built up and the New Jerusalem established, the Lord will not come. The world will continue to languish in corruption and decay. As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit until all the fruit is equal. The master of the vineyard labors tirelessly that perhaps the tree might bring forth fruit equally. So if you have wondered, like I have, why the Lord delays His coming, it is not He who delays, it is we who delay it.
D&C 49:24 But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose.
The Lamanites cannot do it without the Gentiles. And the Gentiles will never do it without the Lamanites.