I would like to propose a little self-administered quiz. Here we go:
From the title page of the Book of Mormon we read: “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile.” So we have three groups identified as targeted recipients of the Book of Mormon:
- Remnant of the House of Israel, or the Lamanites
Now for the question: To which one of these three groups do you belong?
[please proceed when you have completed the test]
If you are a native American, a Pacific Islander or other similar lineage, there is a traditional answer; that being number one. But what if you are a white of European descent? The only two options left for you are Jew or Gentile. Perhaps a couple of scriptures may help to point you in a direction of an answer.
First, from 2 Nephi 33 verse 8:
“I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.”
Also, in 2 Nephi, chapter 15, first in verse 17 and again in verse 20, Nephi seems to be comfortable interchanging two groups, Jews and ‘house of Israel.’:
“for the very cause that he shall be rejected of the Jews, or of the house of Israel.”
In the context of the Book of Mormon, a Jew represents those that were of the house of Israel who lived in the area around Jerusalem.
So, I would suggest that you out there of European descent don’t qualify as Jews.
The only answer left is… guess what????? Yes, Gentile.
The members of the LDS Church, who have long pointed at the world and said, ‘eeww Gads, Gentiles’ are actually pointing at their own brothers????? Could Mormons actually be Gentiles according to the Book of Mormon?
My answer is an emphatic yes. Fortunately, I am not alone. In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith stated the following:
“Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles.” D&C 109:60
So what does being identified with the Gentiles mean? I suggest it means we are part of that group.
Prefer something of a little later vintage? How about Boyd K. Packer’s statement in a 2007 speech at BYU?
“Wherefore, O ye Gentiles [and the term gentile in that place in the Book of Mormon refers to us in our generation], it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you. . . . ” Ether 8:23
Boyd K. Packer, devotional address was delivered on January 16, 2007
This certainly begs the question, how do you tell when the use of the term ‘Gentile’ in the latter day scriptures refers to us as members of His church? I would suggest that throughout the Book of Mormon, we are identified with the Gentiles. We are part of that group. We, therefore, should be paying close attention to the messages and warnings contained in these scriptures that were delivered by way of the Gentile because the messages and warnings are to US! I will elaborate further on this topic in the next post.
Going back to the title page of the Book of Mormon, we find that this record was ‘to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile.’ Since the Book of Mormon contains the ‘fulness of the Gospel,’ it is only appropriate that Nephi would assert that ‘the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the gentiles unto the remnant of our seed.’ So, it is through the Gentiles that the remnant of the house of Israel is to receive the Book of Mormon. We, Gentiles, are the recipients of the Book of Mormon, just as the title page suggests and it is our responsibility to take the fulness of the Gospel, as contained in the Book of Mormon to the remnant of the house of Israel. That I will leave to further explore also in another post.
Assuming that you have even read this far, I would suspect that a significant majority of you are muttering something about the patriarchal blessings, the tribe of Ephraim and Joseph Smith being a descendent of Joseph of Egypt.
So how can Joseph Smith (and the rest of us) be both of the tribe of Ephraim and a Gentile? Actually, we should expect that we could carry both titles given the blessing Ephraim received at the hands of his grandfather, Isaac, as found in Genesis 48:
“And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him.
And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.
And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day.
The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.
And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.”
Here is where a little Hebrew comes in handy. The blessing of Ephraim states that ‘his seed shall become a multitude of nations (male hagoyim).’ If you have a Strong’s concordance, you will find that ‘goy’ is translated just as easily as Gentiles rather than nations.’ So, Isaac’s blessing is a prophecy that Ephraim will produce a multitude of Gentiles, or a fulness of nations, or even the fulness of the Gentiles. So, we can be both a descendent of Ephraim AND a Gentile. The point I want to make here is that it is entirely credible that the Gentiles described in the Book of Mormon are us. Yes, Gentiles-R-Us.
Perhaps one of the most demonstrative of the scriptures that point to Gentiles being composed of both believing and unbelieving is found in 3 Nephi, chapter 16.
First, let’s read verses 6 and 7:
“And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father.
Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O house of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fulness of these things shall be made known unto them.”
Here we have Gentiles who have received a witness of Christ and the Father ‘in and of the Holy Ghost.’ Who else could that be? The unbelief of the house of Israel also leads God to give the fulness of the gospel to the Gentiles. Again, who else could this refer to? We, indeed, claim to have the testimony of the truthfulness of these things ‘in and through the Holy Ghost.’ We, positively, claim to have the fulness of the gospel. We, as gentiles, have received these things.
Believers who have received a witness by the Holy Ghost can still be considered Gentiles, but not all Gentiles are believers as we read in the verse 8:
“But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles—for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the house of Israel; and my people who are of the house of Israel have been cast out from among them, and have been trodden under feet by them;”
So, here we clearly see that there are unbelieving Gentiles as well as believing Gentiles. In these verses, Christ identified both the believing and unbelieving of the Gentiles.
In summary, The restoration and the delivery of the Book of Mormon occurred to the Gentiles. We, being identified with the Gentiles, are the recipients of the fulness of the gospel.
What think ye?