About 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, a prophet named Nephi experienced a sweeping vision, in which he saw a number of events in the distant future. One of those events was the establishment of the United States of America. Here is how he describes it:
I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.
And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.
And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.
And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations (1 Nephi 13:16-19).
I think it’s significant that the catalyst for the American Revolution was that the people who had immigrated from Europe collectively humbled themselves before God. As a result, they received power from God and were able not only to obtain their independence from “their mother Gentiles” (Great Britain), but also to defend themselves from “all other nations.”
Throughout the Book of Mormon, we read that God intends for the American continent to be a land of liberty, but we also read that this liberty is dependent on the righteousness of its people. Here are a few examples:
Lehi told his sons:
None shall come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.
Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever (2 Nephi 1:6-7).
Jacob taught that America would be “a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles” (2 Nephi 10:10-12).
Jesus explained that the establishment of a free country would set the stage for the Father to bring forth the Book of Mormon and begin the process of gathering scattered Israel (3 Nephi 21:1-4).
Moroni tells us that, many thousands of years earlier, the Lord delivered a sobering warning to the brother of Jared, just before his family journeyed to the American continent:
And he had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.
And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity (Ether 2:8-9).
Surely this principle is true anywhere in the world: If you turn your heart to God, you will prosper, and if you turn away from Him, you will fail to receive vital blessings you need in order to be successful.
Still, it is clear that the establishment of the United States was a significant manifestation of that principle, and the liberty and prosperity which the citizens of that country enjoy is a direct result of the righteousness of their forbears.
No wonder President M. Russell Ballard made the following plea last week in Worcester, Massachusetts:
I plead with you this evening to pray for this country, for our leaders, for our people and for the families that live in this great nation founded by God. Remember, this country was established and preserved by our founding fathers and mothers who repeatedly acknowledged the hand of God through prayer….
I invite you to join in a new movement. Invite your neighbors, your colleagues, your friends on social media to pray for this country” (“The Lord’s Hand,” DCU Center, October 20, 2019).
Today, I will pray for my country, for my leaders, and for the families that live here. I will remember that we owe our liberty to the righteousness of those who have preceded us, and that we must also turn to God, for the benefit of future generations.