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Obtaining a Land of Promise

Obtaining a Land of Promise
As we read and study the scriptures it is amazing to see how often we find accounts that parallel each other. Saul of Tarsus and Alma the Younger have strikingly similar conversion stories. When reading about King Riplakish in the book of Ether it’s hard not to notice how closely his story of corruption, oppression and his eventual death at the hands of his subjects resembles the story of King Noah in the book of Mosiah. And the lament of Habakkuk over the suffering of Israel at the hands of the Chaldeans is reminiscent of the prayer offered by the prophet Joseph Smith in Carthage jail as he plead for the Saints to be delivered from the anger of the mobs.

Of all the themes in the scriptures one that seems to pop up more often than most is the story of the journey to a “Promised Land”. Whether it’s Abraham going to Canaan, Lehi and his colony coming to the Americas, or the Jews returning back to Jerusalem after their captivity in Babylon, the Lord seems to constantly be moving people to a better place.


Just as with so many other themes in the scriptures the various journeys to Promised Lands have some very significant similarities. Here are some that stood out to me:

  • The people have been commanded to leave a wicked land.
  • The Lord provides them with a leader who is being guided by the Holy Ghost.
  • They are commanded to bring their flocks, herds, treasures and/or provisions with them on the journey.
  • They bring the scriptures with them or they are given them before they arrive at their destination.
  • The people are guided through a wilderness not knowing ahead of time exactly where they are going and/or traveling an indirect route not knowing when they will get there.
  • They experience both hardships and joy in the wilderness.
  • They have to cross at least one body of water.
  • When they arrive in the land it is given to them with a covenant of obedience that is renewed with each succeeding generation.
  • Temple worship is established in the new land.
  • The former inhabitants of the land are destroyed.
What is the significance of these similarities? For one, it powerfully demonstrates the love our Heavenly Father has for His children. It is His “work and [His] glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). As such, He is always working to bring His children to a better place. These similarities are also significant because it shows the importance of the journey. The journey is as critically important as the eventual arrival to the destination. The journey is essential to make us into the type of people who are ready to inherit the land we are going to.

I think there is an infinitely more important reason why these accounts matter. The journey to The Promised Land is the journey that every one of us is on.  However, the destination is not The Rocky Mountains, Mt. Ararat or Zarahemla. Our destination is the Ultimate Promised Land: The Celestial Kingdom of God. Our mortal experience parallels these scriptural accounts:

  • All of Heavenly Father’s children have been commanded to leave behind the wickedness of the world.
  • All of us have the Light of Christ to guide us on our journey.  When we make the choice to seek the Kingdom of God we are blessed with the Gift of The Holy Ghost and the guidance of living prophets and Priesthood leaders.
  • We all brought certain, talents, attributes and foreordained blessings with us to this life and the experiences and knowledge that we gain here will “rise with us in the resurrection” (D&C 130:18).
  • We have been blessed with the scriptures.
  • As we go through the wilderness of mortality we have to walk by faith.  In spite of all our plans and preparations our path through this life never goes exactly how we expect and we can never be sure how much time we have on the journey.
  • Our lives are made up of both hardships and joys which serve to mold us and teach us how to become like our Heavenly Father.
  • Before we reach our destination we have to pass through the waters of baptism.
  • When we finally leave this life and enter into our Exaltation all the blessings of the Gospel covenants we have made will be realized and we will have an eternal increase.
  • You think that the temples are beautiful here?  I can’t wait to see the Temples that will be in The Celestial Kingdom!
  • When the earth is cleansed and becomes The Celestial Kingdom, all corruption and evil will be gone.

The greatest truth in the universe is that the Savior came to earth and worked out the atonement so that all of us could go on this journey and come back to our Heavenly Father. The journey to the promised land is the story of the scriptures. It is the story of the plan of salvation. It is the story of mortality. It is the story of every son and daughter of God.

~Ryan O’Berry

I am very grateful to have been invited to contribute to this website.  Come and visit me on my Facebook page Liken The Scriptures Unto Us to share your thoughts and insights on the scriptures.