In this article, I would like to explore, speculate, and attempt to answer some of the questions surrounding the sealed portion of the golden plates. When Joseph Smith received the golden plates we were told that they were six inches thick and that two-thirds of that was sealed. So there are about a thousand pages of additional scripture that we don’t have and that we know little about. In this article, I wanted to do my best in gathering up all of the little amounts of information that we do have.
What did the Sealed Portion look like?
Interestingly, none of the eight witnesses describe the sealed portion. (Likely because they saw the Small Plates of Nephi. See my other article Were There Two Sets of Plates?) Everything we know of it comes from the three witnesses. David Whitmer said that: “A large portion of the leaves were so securely bound together that it was impossible to separate them.” He later described them as being “as solid to my view as wood. About a half of the book was sealed.” Although Orson Pratt was not among the witnesses he gives a secondhand account in saying that, “About two-thirds were sealed up, and Joseph was commanded not to break the seal; that part of the record was hid up. The plates which were sealed contained an account of those things shewn unto the brother of Jared.”
So, if you see a picture of the golden plates and there’s a clasp, it’s not accurate. The witnesses describe a different type of sealing. Perhaps the idea of the clasp came into play because of the wording that one day the clasp would be “broken”. This makes for a better image if you can picture a slim piece of metal holding the plates together. However, from the descriptions, this isn’t the case. I learned recently, after seeing a picture of the golden plates that was accurate, that a silversmith named Gordon Andrus recreated the plates for the Church History Museum back in 2014. I was interested to see how he made the sealed portion to appear “as solid as wood.”
The article reads: “To replicate the sealed portion of the golden plates, Andrus encased the edges of the sealed portion of his plates with a solution of beeswax and pitch. This made the edges appear as ‘solid as wood,’ consistent with one of the descriptions from the period” [Artist Re-creates the Golden Plates for Museum Display from Written Descriptions, by R. Scott Lloyd, 2017].
I don’t know what method the brother of Jared or Moroni used to seal the plates, we know at least the Jaredites had honeybees which would give them access to beeswax. I’m not sure what Moroni would have done, given his circumstances of being in the midst of a war. Unless he had some wax on hand and simply melted it down. Anyhow, in my lame attempt to learn about different methods for sealing things I discovered that to reseal a wine bottle (or any bottle) you can replace the lid or cork and submerge the top in hot wax. I learned that people often complain about those wax seals being impossible to open, which made me think of what David Whitmer said about the pages being impossible to move.
Where was the Sealed Portion located?
I have always been of the assumption that the sealed portion was located at the back of the collection of plates. Why? Well, for three reasons.
Reason Number One: It is always depicted that way. Every picture of the golden plates that I have ever seen, regardless of the number of things the artists got wrong (no D shaped rings, a wide strip of metal sealing part of the book, the writing wasn’t etched in black, etc.) the one thing they all agreed on was that the sealed portion went at the back.
Reason Number Two: If the sealed portion was “as solid ..as wood” and “impossible to separate” then it makes sense to put it out of the way of the pages that can be turned so as to make it easier to read.
Reason Number Three: I can’t get past the quote about the title page. Joseph Smith said: “the title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left-hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general…” [History of the Church, 1:71]. To me, this means that the title page came from the last leaf of what was translated, so, before the sealed portion which wasn’t translated.
However, with all that being said, my dad gave me a different perspective. He believes that the sealed portion was somewhere in the middle. Probably after the Book of Mormon and before the Book of Ether. He believes this also for three reasons.
Reason Number One: Probably the most convincing of his reasons are found in the text of the Book of Mormon. In Ether 4:5 Moroni says, “Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord.” Moroni’s wording implies that he already wrote the sealed portion and that he already sealed up the interpreters. So, either he wrote the sealed portion and set it aside (what I like to believe) or he simply sealed it after he wrote it and placed it chronologically in the order that he wrote everything (what my dad likes to believe). Make sense? So, 4 Nephi, Mormon, Sealed Portion, Ether, Moroni. …You get the idea.
Reason Number Two: If the sealed portion was in the middle it would set the Title Page up as the Hebrew last page and the English first page, making it the first thing Joseph Smith would see, since, most likely he would have picked it up with the binding on the left like all books written in English rather than with the binding on the right like all books written in Hebrew. And this would make it “the very last leaf, on the left-hand side of the collection or book of plates” of everything, not just what was translated. Does that make sense? The last page would become the English versions front cover?
Reason Number Three: The wording of the witnesses concerning the sealed portion is interesting. David Whitmer stated: “A large portion of the leaves were so securely bound together…” and from Orson Pratt we get the image that the plates were altogether “something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed.” The fact that they don’t say “the back was sealed” or the “sealed ending” but rather continually use the word “portion” or “part of” leaves the location open for debate. Additionally that the witnesses have to guess (and guess differently) the amount that was sealed, implies that the sealed part was not as easy to measure because it separated the translated pages, making it hard for them to see whether half or two-thirds was sealed.
One thing that I mentioned to my dad is that if the sealed portion was in middle, Moroni gives Joseph no warning that it’s there or what to do with it when he gets to it. It would have been after Mormon’s writing and there’s nothing that says: “Hey Joseph, don’t touch this part, just skip over it and I’ll tell you more about it later.” Instead, the explanation doesn’t come until the Book of Ether. (Well, there is a brief message from Nephi to Joseph concerning the sealed portion, but anyway.) What I forgot, however, was that Moroni personally directed Joseph Smith to the plates and among his twenty-seven visits he could have easily instructed him concerning the sealed portion.
What Does the Sealed Portion Contain?
The sealed portion contains “all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof” (2 Nephi 27:10; 3 Nephi 26:3-4). So, all the questions about the Big Bang Theory, Evolution, and Doomsday will be answered. Pretty exciting.
Another part of the sealed portion is probably specific temple ordinances. After the Lord ministered to the brother of Jared, the Lord gave him this command:
“Behold, thou shalt not suffer these things which ye have seen and heard to go forth unto the world, until the time cometh that I shall glorify my name in the flesh; wherefore, ye shall treasure up the things which ye have seen and heard, and show it to no man. And behold, when ye shall come unto me, ye shall write them and shall seal them up, that no one can interpret them; for ye shall write them in a language that they cannot be read” (Ether 3:21–22).
The brother of Jared was told not to divulge the things which he had “seen and heard” and that he should “show it to no man”. It seems that the knowledge that the brother of Jared received was of such a sacred nature that it couldn’t be shared but that needed to be remembered. He was to “treasure up” these things, to write them before he died, and that they would come forth after Christ’s resurrection. It seems that the brother of Jared was shown specific “temple” ordinances (the quotations is simply because when there were no physical temples, the Lord would allow such revelations to be shown elsewhere, such as on a mountain). Similarly, President Joseph Fielding Smith stated that it was his belief that Peter, James, and John received their endowments on the Mount of Transfiguration [Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, pp. 165, 170]. Just as with the brother of Jared, they too were instructed not to tell of the occurrences on the Mount until after Jesus was “risen again from the dead” (Matthew 17:9). It seems to fit that the brother of Jared also received such ordinances from the Lord and that they are recorded in the sealed portion and were not to come forth until after Christ was resurrected.
In a CES Symposium, Elder Bruce R. McConkie listed off many things that are contained in the sealed portion. “When, during the Millennium, the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon is translated, it will give an account of life in the premortal existence; of the creation of all things; of the Fall and the Atonement and the Second Coming; of temple ordinances, in their fullness; of the ministry and mission of translated beings; of life in the spirit world, in both paradise and hell; of the kingdoms of glory to be inhabited by resurrected beings; and many such like things. As of now, the world is not ready to receive these truths. For one thing, these added doctrines will completely destroy the whole theory of organic evolution as it is now almost universally taught in the halls of academia. For another, they will set forth an entirely different concept and time frame of the creation, both of this earth and all forms of life and of the sidereal heavens themselves, than is postulated in all the theories of men. And sadly, there are those who, if forced to make a choice at this time, would select Darwin over Deity” (Bruce R. McConkie, of the Quorum of the Twelve, CES Symposium on the New Testament, 17 August 1984, BYU).
I love Moroni’s description of the sealed portion and its author. Moroni informs us first that “there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared (Ether 4:4). He also said to the Lord: “Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them” (Ether 12:24). Can you imagine reading that? Have you ever read a book that was just so awesome that you couldn’t even finish reading it? ..I haven’t either. But! I can not wait to experience it!
Note About the “Interpreters” or Urim and Thummim
Before I continue, I think it is important to note that when the scriptures have any mention of the interpreters or the two stones, they are always linked to the sealed portion.
The Lord said to the brother of Jared: “And behold, these two stones will I give unto thee, and ye shall seal them up also with the things which ye shall write. For behold, the language which ye shall write I have confounded; wherefore I will cause in my own due time that these stones shall magnify to the eyes of men these things which ye shall write” (Ether 3:23-24).
In other words, the interpreters are always to be kept with the sealed portion. Whoever has the interpreters has the sealed portion and visa versa.
With that being said, we will go on to the next question.
Who Kept the Sealed Portion?
Well, we know that the sealed portion came from the brother of Jared. He received a vision of the Lord and was commanded to write it down and show it to no one until after Christ should come among the Nephites (Ether 4:1).
Through study (and some speculation), however, we see that there were others who were permitted to copy this record. For one, Moroni was commanded to copy down what the brother of Jared had written. He writes: “Behold, I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw…. Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them. And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord” (Ether 4:4-5).
Additionally, it seems like a good assumption to say that the Nephites in 3 Nephi also received the sealed portion after Christ appeared unto them. The scriptures don’t say this exclusively only that Jesus Christ revealed scriptures to them that hadn’t been revealed before.
“And he [Jesus] saith: These scriptures, which ye had not with you, the Father commanded that I should give unto you; for it was wisdom in him that they should be given unto future generations. And he did expound all things, even from the beginning until the time that he should come in his glory -yea, even all things which should come upon the face of the earth, even until the elements should melt with fervent heat, and the earth should be wrapt together as a scroll, and the heavens and the earth should pass away; And even that great and last day, when all people, and all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works…” (3 Nephi 26:2-4).
Mormon goes on to say that “there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people; But behold the plates of Nephi do contain the more part of the things which he taught the people. …Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people” (3 Nephi 26:6-7, 11). If the Nephites in 3 Nephi didn’t have the sealed portion then they were given many of the same revelations as the brother of Jared, revelations that were sacred enough to be kept back because of the wickedness of the people, much like the sealed portion.
It seems a good assumption to say that Ether also had possession of the sealed portion, although the scriptures are nearly silent on this matter. There are, however, many things that would support this idea. Number One is that it was tradition to hand down records from leader to leader and we know that Ether was a direct descendant of the first Jaredite king, Orihah. Number Two is that the Jaredite nation was almost entirely destroyed except for Ether and Coriantumr and it makes sense that Ether would have had the record and kept it safe. What we do know is that King Mosiah (probably King Benjamin’s father) had the interpreters and the sealed portion. The link between the brother of Jared having them and then King Mosiah having them is probably that Ether handed down the interpreters and the sealed portion to the only righteous king left in the land.
Side Note: As far as the timeline between the Jaredite destruction and the exodus of King Mosiah and his people out of the land of Nephi, that is a post for my dad to write. Just trust me that it fits. And, should the math be wrong, Ether’s last written words can clear things up. He says: “Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen” (Ether 15:34). It is odd that Ether would make this statement about being translated if he didn’t have a good reason to think he would be translated. It seems to me that he expected to stick around so that he could give these records to someone else. Much like the angel Moroni did with Joseph Smith. Except that since Jesus Christ was the first person to be resurrected in glory, Ether would have needed to be kept alive since it was necessary to hand the plates and the interpreters to someone else before the resurrection of Christ, some 130 years before Christ was even born. ..And if I totally didn’t lose you just then, I’ll continue.
As I mentioned before, King Mosiah kept the interpreters. Ammon pointed this out to Limhi when he said that the king had “wherewith he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God” (Mosiah 8:13). Even later in the same book, we see again that Mosiah translated the twenty-four plates “by the means of those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow” (Mosiah 28:13). He even translated the “large stone” that was brought to him that was written by Coriantumr, by this “gift and power of God” (Omni 1:20).
It is apparent that King Mosiah had the interpreters and most likely the sealed portion since they were always to remain together. It’s fun to speculate on the jump between Ether having the sealed portion and the interprets to King Mosiah having them. Perhaps Ether traveled down and delivered those things personally, or he was translated then appeared to Mosiah and told him where he could find them -personally that’s my favorite because it so closely mirrors that of Moroni and Joseph Smith and it also gives some credit to Joseph Smith Senior who revealed a little of what was lost in the 116 pages about one of the Nephites finding the interpreters [Interview by Fayette Lapham, The Historical Magazine, vol. 3, p. 308-309]. But regardless of how he got them, King Mosiah had the interpreters and was able to use them to translate other things, but it wasn’t yet time to reveal what was contained in the sealed portion.
When Will We Get to Read the Sealed Portion?
In the Second Book of Nephi, Nephi wrote a message from the Lord to Joseph Smith. The Lord said: “Touch not the things which are sealed, for I will bring them forth in mine own due time; for I will show unto the children of men that I am able to do mine own work. Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men. (2 Nephi 27:22).
During my first read-through to answer this question I simply made a list of anything and everything that pertained to us getting the sealed portion. During my second read-through, however, I came up with a very different answer. I’ll give you both and see what you think.
Conclusion Number One
In Ether 4:5-7 Moroni gives us certain conditions that we are to follow if we are to receive the sealed portion. “They [the words which have been sealed up] shall not go forth unto the Gentiles [us] until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord. 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…”
Another condition was pointed out by President Spencer W. Kimball when he said: “I have had many people ask me through the years, ‘When do you think we will get the balance of the Book of Mormon records?’ And I have said, ‘How many in the congregation would like to read the sealed portion of the plates?’ And almost always there is a 100-percent response. And then I ask the same congregation, ‘How many of you have read the part that has been opened to us?’ And there are many who have not read the Book of Mormon, the unsealed portion. We are quite often looking for the spectacular, the unobtainable. I have found many people who want to live the higher laws when they do not live the lower laws” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 531-32).
Orson Pratt, of the original Quorum of the Twelve, said similarly, “I highly esteem the Book of Mormon, as I presume do all the Latter-day Saints. But many lay it upon the shelf and let it remain there for a year or two, consequently they become careless concerning the dealings of the Lord with the Former-day Saints. You are not to suppose that you are going to be jumped into the midst of revelations, and by one great and grand step are to burst the vail, and to rend it from your eyes, do you think that you are to step into the celestial kingdom and see it all at once? No, these blessings are by far too precious to be attained in such a way; they are to be attained by diligence and faith from day to day, and from night to night. Hence you are to become habituated to do good in your thoughts and conduct, in all that you do, until you become perfectly initiated into the great principles of righteousness, and continue to live uprightly until it becomes a kind of second nature to be honest, to be prudent, to govern all your passions, and bring all of the influences of the flesh, of the fallen nature, into the most perfect subjection to the law of God” (Journal of Discourses 3:348, Orson Pratt, April 13, 1856).
In another place, Orson Pratt also stated, “I am fully aware that there are in the Church of Latter-day Saints many persons who are very careless about reading the “Book of Mormon.” It is one of the greatest treasures, so far as books are concerned, that has been given to mankind for almost 1,800 years. It contains the things of God in great plainness, so easy of comprehension that the child who reads can understand it. And yet, how many there are of the Latter-day Saints who suffer this book to remain upon their shelves, week after week, without ever reading a page of these precious things. (Journal of Discourses 19:214). In short, another condition that we must read the Book of Mormon and treasure up its words.
So the list then, for us the receive the sealed portion, would be:
- Exercise faith in the Lord
- Become sanctified in the Lord
- Study the Book of Mormon daily
Conclusion Number Two
Let’s go back to Ether 4 for a minute and look at the text again. Speaking of the sealed portion, Moroni says: “For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord” (Ether 4:6).
First off, who are the Gentiles?
The word Gentile has several meanings in the scriptures. There seem to be two meanings that could fit here. One comes from 2 Nephi 10:11 where it uses the term Gentile to mean those in the Promised Land or the land of liberty with no kings upon it (aka, the people of the United States). The second meaning comes from 1 Nephi 15:13 where it defines Gentiles as the members of the Lord’s restored Church who will teach the gospel to the remnant of the seed of Lehi. We see this unfold in D&C 28, 30, and 32 were Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, Parley P. Pratt and Ziba Peterson were all called to serve among the Lamanites in Missouri.
Let’s assume that Ether 4:6 is referring to the members of the Lord’s Church instead of to the United States as a whole. (The US citizens aren’t waiting around for additional scriptures and are not privy to the promises made in the Book of Mormon.) If we include this assumption into the text it changes the meaning significantly.
“For the Lord said unto me: They [the sealed portion] shall not go forth unto the members of the Church until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.”
Okay, well, now we have to figure out this “iniquity” bit. It’s interesting that it doesn’t say “iniquities” as in the members should repent of all the bad they’ve done in general, instead the text suggests that there is one iniquity that the members of the Church are committing as a group.
There are probably a few examples I can pull from the scriptures that deal with the Lord’s chosen people committing a single inequality as a group, but the best example I can think of happened during our last General Conference. As you may recall, President Nelson called upon the members of the Church to repent in that they should use the correct name of the Church. The effort to use the full name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he said “is a correction” and that “it is the command of the Lord.” President Nelson went on to say that “To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us -even His Atonement” [The Correct Name of the Church, October 2018].
To figure out this “iniquity” spoken of in Ether 4:6, let’s look at the events surrounding the vision of the brother of Jared. The brother of Jared had gone up into a mountain to petition the Lord that he would touch the stones so that they could have light in order to get to the promised land. The brother of Jared had faith that the Lord could light the way and bring them to a better land.
The Promised Land is precious to the Lord. In the beginning, this land was given to Adam and Eve. After they were cast out of the Garden of Eden they dwelt at a place called Adam-ondi-Ahman, located in what is now Daviess County, Missouri. There the Lord blessed the righteous, but even so wickedness began to prevail until the Lord was so pained by their choices that he opened the windows of heaven and cleansed the entire earth with water. The scriptures record that, “after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof” (Ether 13:2).
With care and selectivity, the Lord began almost at once to repeople the promised land. To the brother of Jared, the Lord said that the land was “choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42). The Jaredites became a great nation upon this land, but in Ether 11:21 we see that because of wickedness the Lord was ready to give the promised land to yet another people if the Jaredites did not repent. Nephi was promised the land in 1 Nephi 2. “Ye shall …be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.” The Nephites and Lamanites inherited the land of promise, became a great nation, and in due course, they too fell into wickedness. The Gentiles, us, were prepared next and through miraculous events inherited this land of promise. How could it be otherwise? Lehi himself prophesied that “there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:6).
To a Church-wide audience, Elder Paul H. Dunn (of the Seventy) declared: “[Joseph Smith] grew up toward adolescence just like the new land. He fitted it. He was young, clean, unspoiled—a lad without a past, kneeling in a grove. This pristine land—this innocent young man—and thus the Lord reached out and kept his promise. He established his conditions over centuries; you see, God has time. His plan made it possible for the holy priesthood and the Church to be restored upon the earth—the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ—but only in America. …The purpose of America was to provide a setting wherein that was possible. All else takes its power from that one great, central purpose.” (Ensign, Nov. 1975, p. 54.)
But the Promised Land is part of a bigger covenant. As you may recall, the sons of Israel were given lands for their inheritance (aside from Levi). But it also seemed, to me at least, that Joseph was skipped. His inheritance went to Ephraim and Manasseh. Right? Well, turns out no. Genesis 49:26 states that Joseph in Egypt would receive a land of inheritance. “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.”
Then, to answer the question of what land did Joseph inherit, President Nelson (then the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) gave this statement: “The Book of Mormon reveals the inheritance of Joseph, son of Israel, who was not forgotten when land was distributed to the tribes of Israel. This was promised in the Abrahamic covenant… Joseph’s inheritance was to be a land choice above all others. Choice because it was chosen to be the repository of sacred writings on golden plates from which the Book of Mormon would one day come. Choice because it would eventually host the world headquarters of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days. And it was chosen because it was a land of liberty for those who worship the Lord and keep His commandments” [Russell M. Nelson, June 2016, Provo MTC}.
What then is our iniquity? It seems to me that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a whole, still embrace a Mesoamerican setting for the Promised Land. This is an idea rooted deeply within the Saints, beginning probably in 1841 with Benjamin Winchester who had great desires to share the Gospel and wanted to carry “evidence” to the people. Our paintings, our stories, our video representations as a whole, depict a promised land that is not America.
As a small example, for Christmas this year my in-laws gave us a beautiful copy of The Book of Mormon Family Reader which gives nice five minute outlines for family discussion. What I noticed as I was examining the cover is that right at the bottom is a depiction of Chichen Itza which is a Mayan ruin that wasn’t even built until 600 A.D. I was a little disappointed when I saw that the copyright was from just two years ago, making this book relatively new. Which, to me, is a small piece of a larger concept that the Church as a whole still accepts a Mesoamerican Promised Land.
It is interesting that the 2013 edition of the Book of Mormon no longer has the paintings of Arnold Friberg which depict very Mesoamerican geography. I thought that maybe this was a quiet step taken by the Church at embracing something much bigger. Of course, I’m still waiting for them to change the North Temple Square Visitor Center which has a display that depicts Mormon in a very Mayan setting when directly across from it there is another display of Moroni burying the plates in New York.
Even the early saints struggled to hold to their faith in embracing this land of promise. From the Saints book, we learn that the prophet Joseph Smith had commanded the members to buy up lands in and around Jackson County, Missouri. In a letter to the Church Leaders in that area, Joseph wrote: “It is the will of the Lord, that not one foot of land purchased should be given to the enemies of God or sold to them” (Letter to the Church Leaders in Jackson County, Missouri, 18 August 1833). The members did this and then began to doubt the authority of Joseph Smith and sold the land against the Lord’s will. “Joseph urged the Saints [to] trust in the promises the Lord had already given them. He counseled the Saints to be patient, rebuild the printing office and store, and seek legal ways to recover their losses. He also implored them not to abandon the promised land…” (Saints, Chapter 17 Though the Mob Kill Us, pg. 185-186).
Perhaps our iniquity is that we, as a whole, have abandoned the promised land.
Now, with this in mind, let us look at the text in Ether 4 again with these added changes. “For the Lord said unto me: They [the sealed portion] shall not go forth unto the members of the Church until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, in that they accept America as the Promised Land which I have covenanted unto them, and become clean before the Lord.”
When we discard the covenant land of America and look elsewhere, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ has done for us on this land since it was given to the Gentiles -to us. The Church was restored upon this land. Sacred records were buried in this land. This land is a land of liberty. This land is the Promised Land of the Lord. Just as the Lord covenanted this land to Adam, to Joseph in Egypt, to the Jaredites, and to the Nephites and Lamanites, He has covenanted it unto us because we are of the House of Israel. We are part of that covenant promise.
The Lord has given us this precious gift and we have yet to accept it.
Whether the world or the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are ready for the sealed portion or not, whether it be a condition that we embrace America as the Promised Land or not, we have the assurance that the book will indeed be brought forth. From Isaiah we read that the sealed portion will someday be revealed and that the words of the book “shall be read upon the housetops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men” (2 Nephi 27:11). Until then, we must do all that we can to prepare ourselves for this flood of spiritual enlightenment. We ought to be repenting daily, exercising faith daily, seeking for sanctification and studying the Book of Mormon each day. We ought also to study the covenants that the Lord made to us in the Book of Mormon and to embrace our patriarchal inheritance.