the_wicked_husbandmen_Jan_Luyken_etching_Bowyer_Bible

The Wicked Husbandmen, Jan Luyken

1 Nephi chapters 11-22 raise some threads which will wind conspicuously through the rest of the Book of Mormon. In this post, I will trace those threads only as far as I would if I were teaching it in a Sunday School class, providing a high level structural overview. These threads are worth following more deeply and closely in personal study, but the overview in this post will be a good departure point. In 1 Nephi 11-14, Nephi sees the future of Lehi’s descendants including their destruction, their dwindling in unbelief, and their restoration and triumph in the last days. Between their dwindling in unbelief and their triumph, he sees an interlude in which the Gentiles are repeatedly offered the gospel. The Book of Mormon goes on to address both topics repeatedly: the triumph of the Israelite remnant and the offer given to the Gentiles to avoid destruction. If we want to truly understand the Book of Mormon we need to see these prophecies clearly, unencumbered by vanity, flattery, and wishful thinking. If we misread them, we will miss a central purpose of the Book.

The Latter-day Saint tradition regarding the Church’s relationship to the House of Israel is outlined here in a brief written by eminent Latter-day Saint thought leader Daniel H. Ludlow: http://emp.byui.edu/davisr/121/Of_the_House_of_Israel.htm. The theory is that Latter-day Saints are Israelites by lineage and therefore building up the Church through proselyting is the predicted gathering Israel. The prophecies of Israel’s destined gathering and triumph, therefore, will be realized only by and through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hence the recent emphasis on labeling all of the Church’s efforts as “gathering Israel on both sides of the veil.”

I suggest that this doctrine represents a misreading of the scriptures, that it ignores large swathes of scriptural prophecy while misinterpreting the rest, and that it prevents readers of the Book of Mormon from hearing God’s warning voice to them. This misreading and its terrible consequences become obvious through an honest review of Book of Mormon prophecy. We will examine:

  • The Book of Mormon’s identification of the Gentiles
  • God’s promised mercies that came to the Gentiles
  • The “two ways” the Gentiles must choose in light of God’s mercy
  • The scriptures’ prophecies of failure for the latter-day Gentile Church
  • The connection between the latter-day Gentile Church, the tribe of Ephraim, and the “fulness of the Gentiles” prophesied by the scriptures.

 

The Book of Mormon on Israel and the Gentiles

The Book of Mormon’s primary prophetic concern is with scattered tribes of Israel. Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob all reference Zenos’ prophecy that compares Israel to an olive tree whose “natural branches” are scattered throughout the vineyard, to be gathered and grafted back in to the mother tree in the last days (1 Nephi 15:7-20; Jacob 5). These scattered branches include Lehi’s descendants, the Jews, and other unidentified tribes. It is that group which appears to be God’s special concern, and it is their final restoration that will constitute the Zion that meets Christ at his return. That gathering and restoration will fulfil the “covenants made to the fathers” referenced so often in the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon always distinguishes between these groups and “the Gentiles”. The word Gentile comes from the hebrew goyim, meaning “nations.” In general the term refers to anybody who isn’t one of the scattered natural branches of Israel. Hence, the Book of Mormon refers several times to “the nations of the Gentiles” (1 Nephi 13:4,29; 1 Nephi 14:13; 2 Nephi 10:8; 2 Nephi 27:1; 3 Nephi 20:20). Because the various branches of Israel rejected Christ at and around the time of his coming in the flesh, the invitation to become God’s covenant people was turned from them to the Gentiles (1 Nephi 15:17). This invitation came to them anciently, as recorded in the Book of Acts, but also was to come to them first in the last days before turning from them and returning to Israel (ibid; 1 Nephi 13:42).

Among the many nations of the Gentiles there are groups and individuals who become the focus of special attention in scriptural prophecy. There would be a population of Gentiles guided to the American continent and established in freedom (1 Nephi 13:19). The Book of Mormon was prophesied to come forth “by way of the Gentile” (Title Page), and was to be given “unto the Gentiles”( 1 Nephi 13:35). It was Gentiles who were to be first offered the fulness of the gospel in the last days (1 Nephi 15:13). This specific group of Gentiles would have the fulness of the gospel among them, and the Book of Mormon speaks of them them separately from the rest of the gentile nations (3 Nephi 16:10). Their status as Gentiles and their distinct group identity persists even if they fully accept the gospel, are sanctified, establish a covenant with God, are “numbered among the House of Israel”, and build Zion (3 Nephi 21:22-224). So Joseph Smith and those people who received his ministry are “Gentiles” according to the Book of Mormon. The various institutions over which their descendants preside, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are Gentile churches (D&C 109:60).

 

God’s mercy to the Gentiles

As stated earlier, because of the Israelite rejection of Christ thousands of years ago, the Gentiles were guaranteed opportunities and invitations to become God’s people. This included an invitation delivered through divine messengers anciently—the missionary journeys of the twelve apostles—and an invitation delivered through divine messengers in the last days—a process initiated by Joseph Smith (1 Nephi 13:42).

The blessings guaranteed as part of the last invitation include having God’s power manifest to them in the following ways:

  • Being brought to the American continent (1 Nephi 13:12-14)
  • Dwelling in freedom and being made “mighty above all” (3 Nephi 20:27)
  • Having the Book of Mormon translated by them and published to them (1 Nephi 13:35)
  • Receiving “much of” Christ’s gospel (1 Nephi 13:34)
  • Being offered “the fulness of the gospel” (1 Nephi 15:13; 3 Nephi 16:10)
  • Having God’s arm of mercy extended to them to give them every possible opportunity to repent (1 Nephi 28:32)

God promised Nephi that he would manifest himself to the Gentiles “in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks,” removing the stumbling blocks of ignorance set in place during the long period of apostasy (1 Nephi 13:34 – 14:1).

When Christ came in the flesh, the relatively few Israelites who heard him teach in Palestine served as representatives of the whole nation, with his rejection by the officials in Jerusalem constituting a rejection by the whole nation. So also a relatively small population of Gentiles have borne close witness to the latter-day invitation to the Gentile nations generally. They are representatives of and ambassadors to the Gentiles. If the Gentile nations are like a large pond of water, the ripples of God’s work are highest where the stone of revelation is dropped. Therefore the opportunity and risk associated with God’s invitation are greatest among the Gentiles who have inherited Joseph Smith’s work (D&C 82:3):

Gentile Blessings

The two ways

The blessings listed above were a promised manifestation of God’s mercy to the Gentiles (1 Nephi 13:34). They came not because of the Gentiles’ persistent righteousness, but as God’s offer to turn them from their current path toward destruction. With those blessings in place, the scriptures then leave the Gentiles to choose between two paths: They can repent and be blessed; or they can harden their hearts, remain on the same path, and be cursed. 

The following extracts describe the way of blessing. The blessings are highlighted in orange and the conditions for receiving them in blue:

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1 Nephi 14:1 And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks— 2 And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity;…

5 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them;

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2 Nephi 33:9 I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.

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3 Nephi 16:13 But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.

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3 Nephi 21:6 For thus it behooveth the Father that it should come forth from the Gentiles, that he may show forth his power unto the Gentiles, for this cause that the Gentiles, if they will not harden their hearts, that they may repent and come unto me and be baptized in my name and know of the true points of my doctrine, that they may be numbered among my people, O house of Israel…

22 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;

23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem. 24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem. 25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.

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Ether 4:6 For the Lord said unto me: [the contents of the Brother of Jared’s sealed vision] shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.

7 And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.

If the Gentiles hearken to Christ, do not harden their hearts against him, repent of their sins, enter the straight and narrow path by obeying the doctrine of Christ, then Christ will establish his Church among them (D&C 10:67-68), bring them in unto his covenant, number them among the children of Lehi, and give them a peaceful inheritance in this land. The Gentiles will be allowed to assist the remnant of Israel in building the New Jerusalem, and then assist the rest of the scattered remnants to be gathered in, the right to actually do those works belonging to the remnants of Israel themselves. They will be invited to be present when the power of heaven will come down among them, and Christ will be in their midst. If they repent of their iniquity and become clean before the Lord, exercising faith in Christ enough to be sanctified in Him, then he will manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw and unfold to them all of His revelations. That is the way of blessing.

The following references describe the way of cursing. The curses are highlighted in red and the prophesied wickedness of the Gentiles is highlighted in green.

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1 Nephi 14:3-6
If the Gentiles
…harden their hearts against the Lamb of God
…do not repent

Then
they will be destroyed and cast into a hell which hath no end.
they will perish.

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2 Nephi 26:20 – 27:27
The Gentiles will
…be lifted up in the pride of their eyes
…build up churches while putting down the power and miracles of God
…preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning for the purpose of …getting gain by grinding on the face of the poor
…engage in religious envyings, strifes, and malice.
…engage in secret combinations
…engage in priestcraft, preaching and setting themselves up for a light unto the world that they may get gain and praise of the world, but will not seek the welfare of Zion
…be drunken with iniquity and all manner of abominations
…fight against Zion and distress her
…seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, working in darkness and secret.
…reject the prophets sent by God

In response the Lord will
…visit them with thunder, earthquake, great noise, storm, tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.
…make them as the dream of that passes away and is forgotten as soon as sleep ends
…withdraw his spirit, leaving them blinded and impaired by their own iniquity
…not reveal his will to those who are looked to as rulers and seers

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2 Nephi 28
In the day the Book of Mormon goes forth to Lehi’s seed, the Gentiles will
…build up churches and claim to be the Lord’s, but they will not be built up unto the Lord
…contend one with another; and their priests shall contend one with another, and they shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance.
…claim that God has given the church leaders his power and that therefore people should trust their teachings and should not expect nor seek to have miraculous contact with God for themselves. The leaders will warn others not to believe miraculous events that don’t happen through the leaders or without their sanction.
…teach that God will save everybody in the kingdom of God, even if he has to beat them with a few stripes beforehand.
…all have gone astray and become corrupted because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine
…rob the poor to build fine sanctuaries and to wear fine clothing
…lead even the humble followers of Christ to err by teaching them the precepts of men
…be stirred up to anger against that which is good
…be lulled into carnal security to believe that all is well in Zion, and that Zion is prospering
…refuse to receive more of God’s word when it is offered
…trust in their leaders and hearken to their uninspired precepts
…delay their repentance and continue on their course despite God’s patience

In response the Lord has and will
…pronounce three wos upon them “wo, wo, wo”
…thrust them down to hell
…destroy them when they are fully ripe in iniquity
…judge them according to their wickedness

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3 Nephi 16
The Gentiles who receive Christ’s gospel in the latter-days will
…be unbelieving
…sin against Christ’s gospel
…reject the fulness of the gospel, refusing to enter Christ’s presence
…be lifted up in pride, considering themselves above all gentile nations
…be filled with lyings, deceits, mischiefs, hypocrisy, murders, priestcrafts, whoredoms, and secret abominations

In response the Lord will
…bring the fulness of his gospel from among the Gentiles
…bring the gospel unto the house of Isreal
…suffer the house of Israel to go through among them and tread them down as salt that has lost its savor (see also 3 Nephi 20:15-16

———————————————————————————–————

3 Nephi 20
If the Gentiles who have received the gospel
…harden their hearts against God

Then the Lord will
…return their iniquities upon their own heads
…remember the covenant which he made to Israel, that he would gather them together and give them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance.

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3 Nephi 21
If the Gentiles
…do not repent
…do not come unto Christ

Then the Lord will
…cut off their horses out of the midst of them
…destroy their chariots
…cut off their cities and throw down their strongholds
…cut off witchcrafts and destroy soothsayers
…cut off graven images and standing images
…pluck up their groves
…destroy their cities
…cut them off from among the house of Israel

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Mormon 8
Moroni saw the Gentiles to whom the Book of Mormon would come and said they
…engage in secret combinations and works of darkness
…deny God’s power
…become defiled and lifted up in pride as congregations
…foster envy from the members toward the leaders of churches
…pollute the earth
…commit murders, robbing, lying, deceiving, whoredoms, and all manner of abominations, expecting that God would justify their actions
…build up churches to get gain
…transfigure the holy word of God
…pollute their churches because of their pride, wearing fine apparel, envying, strifes, malice, and persecutions
…love money, substance, fine apparel, and the adoring of their churches more than they love the poor, needy, sick, and afflicted
…sell themselves for that which will canker
…pollute the holy Church of God
…seek the praise of the world
…adorn themselves with that which hath no life, while suffering the hungry, needy, naked, sick, and afflicted to pass by without notice
…built up confidential religious op
erations to gain and grow wealth at the expense of widows and orphans

As a consequence
…the blood of the saints cries out
…the sword of vengeance hangs over them

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These scriptures predict that there will be some Gentiles who walk the way of life, who act as nursing fathers and mothers to bring the remnant of Israel out of obscurity and back to the knowledge of Christ (1 Nephi 22:8-12). They also clearly predict that not only will the nations of the Gentiles be destroyed, but many of those Gentiles given custody of the kingdom, even the vast majority, will walk the way of death as well; You cannot pollute the holy Church of God unless you are part of the holy church of God; you cannot sin against a gospel you haven’t learned (3 Nephi 16:10); which means Moroni’s blistering critique found in Mormon 8, and Christ’s indictment of the Gentiles in 3 Nephi 16 are both directed at the Latter-day Gentiles who inherited the holy church of God and who have been taught the gospel. Those who belong to the various Gentile churches of the restoration should be wary of anyone who…

…justifies neglecting the poor to build fine sanctuaries;

…makes secret plans for the acquisition and building of wealth using tithing funds;

…uses tithing money to live in relative luxury compared to their millions of followers;

…employs sophisticated marketing techniques to seek the praise of the world;

…teaches that there is no saving value in Christ’s personal ministry, thus rejecting “the fulness of the gospel;”

…teaches that we should trust in the arm of the flesh, and places themselves in opposition to the holy prophets who wrote their testimonies in the scriptures;

…claims to have authority to transfigure the holy word of God.

…or who fosters a system which encourages any of the other steps on the path of cursing.

 

No safety in the Gentile Church

It is tempting to imagine that while the nations of the Gentiles generally are on an uninterrupted path to destruction, active membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints surely constitutes walking the way of life. Wouldn’t staying aligned with the main stream of the Church guarantee that we are among the few Gentiles who carry the gospel to the remnant of Israel and are numbered among them? Perhaps not. First, it must be recognized that almost from the day it was founded in 1830, the mainstream of the Church has not been a place of spiritual safety. In 1832, the Lord laid a condemnation on the whole Church which has not been removed (D&C 84:49-58). Thus, by definition we know the mainstream of the Church persists in treating the Book of Mormon lightly, neither accurately teaching its principles nor doing them. We have persisted in “vanity and unbelief,” laboring under the same spiritual darkness as the rest of the world. If it were not so, the Lord would have removed the condemnation. Escaping condemnation requires each of us to leave the mainstream and choose to believe, teach, and do what the Book of Mormon requires instead of believing, teaching and doing the false traditions that constitute the Church’s “unbelief”. For instance, as long as the Church’s official teachings encourage people to trust the words of Church leaders and to believe those leaders cannot and will not lead us astray, we will inherit the “wo”s pronounced by Nephi (2 Nephi 28:26-31).

Even if we pretended that 3 Nephi 16 and Mormon 8 were not pointed at Latter-day Saints, the scriptures are explicitly pessimistic about the success of the Gentiles who take possession of the gospel in the latter-days. In Matthew chapter 21:33-44 Christ teaches a parable about a landowner (God) who leaves his vineyard in the care of hired servants (the leaders at Jerusalem). Rather than rendering the fruit of the vineyard to the owner, they abuse and kill the servants who are sent to collect. Finally, they kill the owner’s son. When Jesus first gave this parable, he asked his audience of Jewish leaders what the Lord of the vineyard would do to the husbandmen. They answered, passing judgment on themselves: “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” Joseph Smith’s translation of Matthew 21 records what happened next:

50 And now his disciples came to him, and Jesus said unto them, Marvel ye at the words of the parable which I spake unto them?

51 Verily, I say unto you, I am the stone, and those wicked ones reject me.

52 I am the head of the corner. These Jews shall fall upon me, and shall be broken.

53 And the kingdom of God shall be taken from them, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof; (meaning the Gentiles.)

54 Wherefore, on whomsoever this stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.

55 And when the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, he will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let again his vineyard unto other husbandmen, even in the last days, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons.

56 And then understood they the parable which he spake unto them, that the Gentiles should be destroyed also, when the Lord should descend out of heaven to reign in his vineyard, which is the earth and the inhabitants thereof.

Here Christ spells out the same dispensational structure that Nephi learned in 1 Nephi 13:42: Because of Jews’ rejection of him they were destroyed and scattered and the lease of the vineyard given to the Gentiles; In the last days the roles would be reversed: It would be the Gentile husbandmen who would reject the servants sent to them, and by the mechanism of their rejection and wickedness the vineyard would be taken from them and given to the remnant of Israel (3 Nephi 16:10-12). The first shall be last and the last shall be first. In both cases it is the “husbandmen” who are specifically singled out for blame, meaning those who claim the authority to manage and oversee the work of the kingdom. Christ reechoed this same pointed indictment of the Gentile leaders in an 1837 revelation to Joseph Smith:

D&C 112:23 Verily, verily, I say unto you, darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupt before my face.

24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.

As a natural consequence of their choices the nations of the Gentiles generally are slated for wrath, burning, desolation, weeping, mourning, and lamentation. Using the pond analogy from earlier, the stone is going to fall into the water and the ripples will cover the whole surface; But the highest and first waves will rise where the stone falls: on those who have stood in God’s house and blasphemed by falsely claiming to know him. It will fall on the Gentile husbandmen and “grind [them] to powder”:

Gentile Condemnation

The Gentiles and Ephraim

I have a blessing from my stake Patriarch labeling me as an Ephraimite, as do most members. There are also representatives of the other lost tribes named in their respective blessings. Doesn’t that undermine the idea that the Book of Mormon’s warnings to the Gentiles are pointed at us? 

The scriptures above are plain: The people who brought forth and received the Book of Mormon are “Gentiles”. The people first given charge of the gospel in the last days are Gentiles. The prophetic warnings about that group should be taken very seriously. However, the scriptures also indicate that Joseph Smith was a descendant of Joseph of Egypt (2 Nephi 3) and that those in the early Church who were truly faithful were “of the blood of Ephraim” (D&C:64:36). Within the span of four verses, D&C 109 identifies those present at the Kirtland as both “the sons of Jacob” and as “Gentiles”, while distinguishing them from the “children of Jacob who have been scattered upon the mountains for a long time” (vss. 57-61). Those who will assist in gathering the scattered Israelite remnants in at the everlasting hills at the last days are called “Ephraim” (D&C 133:30-34). From this we can conclude that the nations of the Gentiles who are offered the gospel in the last days include at least some who are descendants of Joseph through Ephraim. Interestingly the story of Ephraim in Genesis preserves a prophecy about this.

When Israel blessed his sons in his old age he blessed his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh as though they were his own sons, giving them equal status with Joseph’s brothers. Despite Manasseh being the firstborn of the two, Israel gave Ephraim the greater blessing. While Manasseh would become a great nation, Ephraim’s “seed shall become a multitude of nations” (Genesis 48:19). The hebrew phrase from which “a multitude of nations” is melo ha-goyim. Melo can also be properly  translated “fullness,” coming from the root meaning “to fill”; and ha-goyim is the plural hebrew word used to refer to “the gentiles” or “the nations” among which Ephraim was scattered. Israel’s blessing could be translated “his seed shall become the fullness of the gentiles.” The tribe of Ephraim was scattered when the Kingdom of Israel was broken up by the Assyrians in 720 BC, and apparently his descendants were folded into many nations, or goyim, making Ephraim “a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall” (Genesis 49:22). From this dispersed and obscured population, a group of Ephraimites could emerge to be offered the gospel in the last days. We will see that being an Ephraimite does not remove the danger facing us as we decide between the way of blessing and the way of cursing.

 

The “fulness of the Gentiles”

Both the Book of Mormon and Paul claim that it is “through the fulness of the Gentiles” that the right to the gospel would return to Israel and they would be gathered (1 Nephi 15:3; 3 Nephi 16:4; Romans 11:25). According to Paul, “the fulness of the Gentiles” which must “come in” before Israel’s blindness will be removed; and according to Nephi, it is “through the fulness of the Gentiles” that this blindness is lifted. He says:

1 Nephi 15:13 And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—

14 And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.

When the angel came to Joseph Smith in 1827, he said “that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in” (JSH 1:41). There are two ways in which the fulness of the gospel can come “from the gentiles unto the remnant of [Nephi’s] seed.” First, Gentile ministers can bring the Book of Mormon and “the very points of [Christ’s] doctrine” to them. Second, the Gentiles can reject the fulness of the gospel, having God’s offer of redemption withdrawn from them and taken instead to Israel. The scriptures predict that both of these things will happen (D&C 133:30-34; 3 Nephi 16:10). Just as a small group of Israelite ministers bridged the end of the Israelite dispensation at Jerusalem and brought the gospel to the Gentiles, so a small group of Ephraimite Gentile ministers may watch the Gentile Church ignorantly lose their right to the kingdom and see the kingdom and gospel carried the elsewhere. So in the first sense, the “fulness of the Gentiles” means the final harvest of Gentiles worthy of being gathered and redeemed; in the second sense, the “fulness of the Gentiles” is their completely filling the cup of wrath that will be poured out to their destruction (Ether 2:8-11; 9:20). 

Now we are in a position to step back and view the symmetry of the scriptural description of the Israelite kingdom before Christ and the Gentile kingdom in the Latter-days, the same story playing out in reverse:

Gentile Chiasmus

Both the Israelites and the Gentiles were invited into God’s presence and rejected that invitation; both rejected the messengers that were sent to them from God’s presence; both lose the kingdom as a consequence of their treatment of Christ’s offer to them; both the Isrealite husbandmen in charge of the vineyard anciently and the Gentile husbandmen given charge of the kingdom in the Latter-days are singled out for special condemnation; and a remnant of both kingdoms carries the gospel message and God’s invitation to the new inheritors of the kingdom. Hard as it may be for Gentiles to hear (as it was hard anciently for the Israelites to hear) it is what the scriptures say will happen. 

There is neither safety nor praiseworthiness inherent in claiming to be an Ephraimite. Given the Book of Mormon’s prophecies about the Gentiles who receive the Book of Mormon and learn the Gospel, we would do well to heed Isaiah’s timely warning to “the drunkards of Ephraim” (Isaiah 28):

1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!

2 Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand.

3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet:

4 And the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up….

7 ¶…they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

8 For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.