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Concept of a Promised Land

by Clarissa Katherine Cole

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi spoke of a particular Promised Land as "choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed" (2 Ne. 1:5). Because the earth belongs to the Lord (Ps. 24:1), those who inherit a Promised Land must covenant to "serve the God of the land," who will then keep them "free from bondage, and from captivity" (Ether 2:12); otherwise they will "be swept off" (Ether 2:10; cf. Deut. 27- 28).

From the beginning, the Lord has reserved choice lands for righteous followers. They include the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:9), a "land of promise" for Enos (Moses 6:17), and Zion for Enoch and his people (Moses 7:19). Notably, God received up Zion's inhabitants (Moses 7:69), who will return to earth to the New Jerusalem during the last days (Moses 7:62-64; Rev. 21:2). Moreover, God gave the land of Canaan "unto [Abraham's] seed…for an everlasting possession" if "they hearken to [God's] voice" (Abr. 2:6). This promise was partially fulfilled when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt to Canaan.

The Book of Mormon Peoples, including the family of Lehi and the jaredites, were given a Promised Land in the hemisphere now called the Americas, on condition of keeping God's commandments (1 Ne. 2:20; Ether 1:42-43). The prophet Moroni 2 warned future inhabitants of this land: "Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free…if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ" (Ether 2:12). This admonition applies to all lands that the Lord has promised to any of his peoples.

Latter-day Zion, a "Promised Land" for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, includes the city New Jerusalem that will be built in the Americas (A of F 10) and, in another sense, the stakes of the Church in all the world. Members also believe that the New Jerusalem is where the "lost ten tribes" will first come (D&C 133:26).

Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord promised in 1831 to lead the Saints to a "land of promise" (D&C 38:18; cf. Ex. 3:8). Because of persecution by enemies and sin among Church members, Joseph Smith was unsuccessful in establishing a permanent community (D&C 101:1-8). After his death, the Saints migrated to the Rocky Mountains, "a land of peace" (D&C 136:16), and still anticipate fulfillment of the Lord's promises to open the way for building New Jerusalem in the designated place (D&C 42:9; 57:1-5; 101:9-22).

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Doctrines of the Gospel home page)


Davies, William D. "Israel, the Mormons, and the Land." In Reflections on Mormonism, ed. T. Madsen, pp. 79-87. Provo, Utah, 1978.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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