“The Spirit of God Leads a Man to the Promised Land”

Monte S. Nyman

The Gentiles being separated from the seed of Nephi’s brethren shows that what Nephi had seen about the abominable church had taken place on the eastern continent. Again, we remind you not to draw a conclusion as yet about the identity of the great church. The wrath of God upon the seed of Nephi’s brethren indicates a period of time after the fourth generation from the visit of Christ to the Nephites. It was previously described, by the angel: “Behold (Nephi’s seed) shall dwindle in unbelief” (1 Nephi 12:22).

The first specific thing noted by Nephi is that God was responsible for leading the Gentiles out of captivity from all other nations (vv. 12–13). The Book of Mormon has identified one person who is directly involved in this event—the discovery of the New World. Columbus is accredited with this discovery. What evidence is there of this identification? While today many people are attempting to discredit the accomplishments of Columbus, various scholars have furnished further evidence supporting Columbus.

From my first youth onward, I was a seaman and have so continued until this day. The Lord was well disposed to my desire and He bestowed upon me courage and understanding; knowledge of seafaring. He gave me in abundance, and of geometry and astronomy likewise. Further, He gave me joy and cunning in drawing maps and thereon cities, mountains, rivers, islands, and harbors, each one in its place. I have seen and truly I have studied all books and cosmographies, histories and chronologies for which our Lord with provident hand unlocked my mind, sent me upon the seas and gave me fire for the deed. Those who heard of my enterprise called it foolish, mocked me and laughed, but who can doubt but that the Holy Ghost inspired me.

The Book of Mormon comes to the aid of these scholars in defending Columbus, and confirms that God did direct the history of the latter-days in the establishment of a great nation among the Gentiles (vv. 12–19). The Spirit of God also wrought upon other Gentiles (the pilgrims) (v. 13). The Lord had preserved a land, a choice land above all other lands, for these people. As Lehi was led to prophesy by the Spirit: “this land shall be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8). Also he was led to prophesy, as Nephi’s vision serves as an example, “there should none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:6).

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Nephi Wrote This Record