“Israel to Be Nursed by the Gentiles”

Monte S. Nyman

The KJV text is not quoted above because it is identical to the First Nephi text except for some of the punctuation, which does not affect the message. Nephi and Jacob interpreted these two verses for us. Nephi gave both a temporal and a spiritual interpretation. The temporal one is given first. As quoted before, many of the tribes of Israel had been and more would be “scattered among all nations” (1 Nephi 22:5).

6 Nevertheless, after they shall be nursed by the Gentiles, and the Lord has lifted up his hand upon the Gentiles and set them up for a standard, and their children have been carried in their arms, and their daughters have been carried upon their shoulders, behold these things of which are spoken are temporal; for thus are the covenants of the Lord with our fathers; and it meaneth us in the days to come, and also all our brethren who are of the house of Israel.
7 And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered. [1 Nephi 22:6–7]

The Lord setting “them up for a standard” suggests he is preparing them for a standard (v. 6). Jesus told the Nephites, when he visited them in person, “that it was wisdom in the Father that [the Gentiles] should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that [the Book of Mormon] might come forth from [the Gentiles] unto a remnant of [the Nephites’] seed” (3 Nephi 21:4). Therefore, the Lord raised “up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land” (1 Nephi 21:7) by establishing the United States of America. The U.S. Constitution helped prepare an environment for the restoration of the gospel. The Gentiles nursed the house of Israel who had been scattered among them and lost their identity, but the Lord was preparing these members of the house of Israel “who [were] identified with the Gentiles” (D&C 109:60) to bring forth the Book of Mormon. Although the Gentiles who set up the mighty nation scattered the seed of the Nephites (1 Nephi 22:7), they nursed them in the temporal sense by placing them on reservations and giving them government assistance.

For many years this assistance was meager and inadequate, but the last half of the twentieth century brought a more extensive fulfillment of prophecy, as reported by Elder Spencer W. Kimball:

In 1947 the cry was raised: “The Navajo’s are freezing and starving.” You remember I’m sure. Truckloads of clothing and food were fathered here in Utah and taken from our Church welfare storehouses for these distressed Indians. Simultaneously, the press took up the cry and warm hearted people of the nation, and particularly of the West, answered the call with bedding, food, clothing, and money. The echoes resounded from ocean to ocean, and a sleeping nation roused itself.
Pictures and stories of want and starvation were printed in newspapers and magazines; pressures were brought to bear upon officials; and the important prophecies began to be fulfilled, and the arms of the gentile nation which had scattered the Lamanites now opened to enfold them, and the shoulders which once were used to into reservations, now squared away to carry these deprived ones to their destiny. Even within the past two or three years, great strides have been made. Education, the common denominator and leveler, is coming to the red man. The clinic and hospital are available to him. Indian children are being born in hospitals, sanitation is being taught, and the sun is rising on the Indian world with the government, churches, and many agencies becoming “nursing parents” to them.
Yesterday tribal people resisted education: today they grasp it eagerly. Not long ago nearly all Indians were illiterate and unschooled; today many in 1956 nearly every Indian child in America may have some training. Yesterday Indian children were kidnapped from their parents and forced to school. Today parents beg for school, and children eagerly attend.

There has been much more nursing of these people, the remnants of Joseph, in the past fifty years, but there is more to be done.

Nephi said the temporal nursing came because of “the covenants of the Lord with our fathers; and it meaneth us in days to come, and also all our brethren who are of the house of Israel” (1 Nephi 21:6). Jacob, “according to the words of the angel who spake it unto [him],” interpreted how these verses (1 Nephi 21:22–23) would be fulfilled among the Jews. After reading them, which he also said “ Isaiah spake concerning all the house of Israel” (2 Nephi 6:5–7), he commented:

8 And now I, Jacob, would speak somewhat concerning these words. For behold, the Lord has shown me that those who were at Jerusalem, from whence we came, have been slain and carried away captive.
9 Nevertheless, the Lord has shown unto me that they should return again. And he also has shown unto me that the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, should manifest himself unto them in the flesh; and after he should manifest himself they should scourge him and crucify him, according to the words of the angel who spake it unto me.
10 And after they have hardened their hearts and stiffened their necks against the Holy One of Israel, behold, the judgments of the Holy One of Israel shall come upon them. And the day cometh that they shall be smitten and afflicted.
11 Wherefore, after they are driven to and fro, for thus saith the angel, many shall be afflicted in the flesh, and shall not be suffered to perish, because of the prayers of the faithful; they shall be scattered, and smitten, and hated; nevertheless, the Lord will be merciful unto them, that when they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, they shall be gathered together again to the lands of their inheritance. [2 Nephi 6:8–11]

The prophecy of the Jews returning from their captivity (in Babylon); Christ being crucified, and their being smitten and afflicted again is now a matter of history (1 Nephi 22:8–10). Their being gathered again as they come to the knowledge of their Redeemer is now in the beginning stages, and will likewise be fulfilled. Jacob himself enlarges upon this prophecy by Isaiah of the Jews being gathered, but we will consider it more fully then, (2 Nephi 10:1–9; chapter twelve of this work).

The spiritual interpretation, given by Nephi, of Isaiah’s prophecy: “I (the Lord) will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people” (1 Nephi 21:22), was partially mentioned before, but given in full here.

8 And after our seed is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders.
9 And it shall also be of worth unto the Gentiles; and not only unto the Gentiles but unto all the house of Israel, unto the making known of the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. [2 Nephi 22:8–9]

Nephi interprets what Isaiah calls the Lord’s “standard” as “a marvelous work among the Gentiles” (1 Nephi 22:8). Later, as quoted by Nephi, the Lord equates the marvelous work and the standard with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

But behold, there shall be many—at that day when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel;
2 And also, that I may remember the promises which I have made unto thee, Nephi, and also unto thy father, that I would remember your seed; and that the words of your seed should proceed forth out of my mouth unto your seed; and my words shall hiss forth unto the ends of the earth, for a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel. [2 Nephi 29:1–2]

Later, in a revelation to the Church through Joseph Smith, the Lord extends the definition:

9 And even so I have sent mine everlasting covenant into the world, to be a light to the world, and to be a standard for my people, and for the Gentiles to seek to it, and to be a messenger before my face to prepare the way before me. [D&C 45:9]

Wherefore, the everlasting covenant, or the restoration of the covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon may be seen as the beginning of the spiritual fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. These instruments of salvation must be extended to others of the house of Israel. In 1965 Elder Spencer W. Kimball gave this admonition:

They are a chosen people with rich blood in their veins. They are casting off the fetters of superstition, fear, ignorance, and prejudice and are clothing themselves with knowledge, good works, and righteousness. And this Church is elated to have an important part in bringing about this transformation… .
Yesterday they were deprived, weakening, vanishing; today thousands are benefitting in the Indian seminaries, in regular seminaries and institutes as they become involved in the placement program and church work within the stakes and missions. Numerous are receiving secular as well as spiritual training in Mexico, South America , and Hawaii and the isles of the sea. Many are now in college and large numbers in full-time missions. Tens of thousands are now eligible for superior training and service through church organizations and in all the Americas and in the pacific. Lamanite-Nephite leaders are now standing forth to direct and inspire their people. The day of the Lamanite is come, and tomorrow will be even better… .
This day of the Lamanite brings opportunity. Millions farm the steep hillsides of Andean ranges and market their produce with llamas and horses and burros. They must have the emancipating gospel. Millions serve in menial labor, eke out bare subsistence from soil and toil. They must hear the compelling truths of the gospel. Millions are tied to reservations, deprived, untrained, and less than they could be. They must have the enlightening gospel. It will break their fetters, stir their ambition, increase their vision and open new worlds of opportunity to them. Their captivity will be at an end— captivity from misconceptions, illiteracy, superstitions fear. “The clouds of error disappear before the rays of truth divine (Parley P. Pratt, Hymns 269)… .
The brighter day has dawned. The scattering has been accomplished; the gathering is in process. May the Lord bless us all as we become nursing fathers and mothers (see Isaiah 49:23 and 1 Nephi 21:23) unto our Lamanite brethren and hasten the fulfillment of the great promises made to them, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

In the April 2001 General Conference, another program was introduced to bring further spiritual nourishment to the Lamanites. President Gordon B. Hinckley announced:

We have many missionaries, both young men and young women, who are called locally and who serve with honor in Mexico, Central America, South America, the Philippines, and other places. They have very little money, but they make a contribution with what they have… . They work with faith and devotion. Then comes the day of their release. They return to their homes. Their hopes are high. But many of them have great difficulty finding employment because they have no skills. They sink right back into the pit of poverty from which they came… .
The Church is establishing a fund largely from the contributions of faithful Latter-day Saints who have and will contribute for this purpose… . We shall call it the Perpetual Education Fund … loans will be made to ambitious young men and women, for the most part returned missionaries, so that they borrow money to attend school. Then when they qualify for employment, it is anticipated that they will return that which they have borrowed together with a small amount of interest as an incentive to repay the loan… . It will work because it will follow priesthood lines and because it will function on a local basis… . Participation in the program will carry with it no stigma of any kind, but rather a sense of pride in what is happening. It will not be a welfare effort. Commendable as those efforts are, but rather an educational opportunity.

Thousands will be nourished educationally and spiritually by this fund, and other programs will probably be instituted in the future to nurse the house of Israel.

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Nephi Wrote This Record