Nephi is a second example of the principle of faith unto life and salvation. The Lord visited him and assured him that they were all being led to a land of promise, and that Nephi was to play a leadership role in this great endeavor (vv. 19–22). Thus he knew that he was pursuing the right course or the will of the Lord.
The promise to Nephi is the first of many references to the land of promise, a land choice above all other lands, not only to Nephi and his people, but to all who inhabit it. It is a blessed land for all upon the same conditions of righteousness. To the brother of Jared, the Lord said,
10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.
12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. [Ether 2:10–12]
Thus, the promise is still in effect today. While there is a tendency for some to think that this promise is only to those who live in the United States, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south, and is described by the Prophets, who declare that it is the Zion where the mountain of the Lord should be, and that it should be in the center of the land” (TPJS, 362).
Other promises made to those who live in the Americas include:
Nephi was given a personal blessing regarding the choice land. He would be led to the land and “inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren” (vv. 20, 22). This promise may be read as conditional or unconditional. The writer believes it to be unconditional, the Lord knew he would keep the commandments, and thus made the promise. Therefore it is labeled as faith unto life and salvation.
The Lord also knew Laman and Lemuel would rebel against Nephi (v. 21). They were cut off from the Lord about thirty years later (2 Nephi 5:1–8). For years they had cut themselves off from personal revelation because of sin and transgression, but after thirty years, they cut themselves off from Nephi, the Lord’s prophet. They continued to cut themselves off spiritually and temporally because of their rebellion against God. Their separation, their curse, and their being a scourge to Nephi’s seed will be discussed later (see discussion under 2 Nephi 5).