Narrative: Nephi’s future history is very selective. His purpose is to show how the words and faithfulness of his people will be an instrument in bringing the gentiles to the knowledge of Jesus as the Christ. In that context he shows a gentile nation in the throws of apostasy. In this part of his future vision he has left out the original preaching of the word to the gentile. That is not at all his interest. Nephi excises that piece of history to concentrate on the one most important to his message. In the New World there will be a nation of gentiles who “have stumbled.”
Even in his condemnation of the gentiles, Nephi echoes language and concerns of Isaiah. These future gentiles “preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning.” While not a citation, this is certainly an echo of Isaiah:
21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Nephi’s condemnation of the treatment of the poor is also an echo of a theme from Isaiah:
1 Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;
2 To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!
For Nephi, these future gentiles will find themselves in the precise situation that Isaiah has described, a people who have had the gospel (Judah from the covenant, and the gentiles from the beginnings of gentile Christianity) but who have strayed. Both Isaiah’s Judah and Nephi’s gentiles are in a state of apostasy, and require redemption.