1 Nephi 13:12 — LeGrand Baker — “he went forth upon the many waters”

1 Nephi 13:12 

12. And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.

Our tendency, sometimes, when we think of foreordination, is to limit the scope of our own understanding to having it be about only the great prophets. But here is a striking example of Nephi’s knowing about Columbus’s mission 2,000 years before it happened. Nephi also described other events that required specific individuals to bring about their accomplishment. For example, President Ezra Taft Benson observed:

The restoration of the gospel and the establishment of the Lord’s church could not come to pass until the founding fathers were raised up and completed their foreordained missions. Those great souls who were responsible for the freedoms we enjoy acknowledged the guiding hand of providence.{1}

President Benson’s words echo George Washington’s:

The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.”{2}

Just because those men were foreordained to their tasks does not mean that the tasks were easily accomplished. It only means that the Lord removed the obstacles that would have prevented them altogether. Elder Alvin R. Dyer observed:

The very articles of the Constitution would seem testimony enough that the ministerial bickerings of that day did not hamper, to any appreciable degree, the work for which they were foreordained of God and which they accomplished to the lasting benefit of mankind.{3}

When Wilford Woodruff did the temple work for the Founding Fathers and others in the St. George Temple, he ordained all the men for whom vicarious work was done to be elders, except a few whom he ordained High Priests. President Woodruff’s journal reads:

August 19, 1877
I spent the Evening in preparing a list of the Noted Men of the 17 Century and 18th including the signers of the declaration of Independence and the Presidents of the United States for Baptism on Tuesday the 21 Aug 1877.

August 21, 1877
I Wilford Woodruff went to the Temple of the Lord this morning and was Baptized for 100 persons who were dead including the signers of the Declaration of Independence all except John Hancock and [William Floyd]. I was baptized for the following names: [lists names] ….

Baptized for the following Eminent Men: [lists names] ….
When Br McAllister had Baptized me for the 100 Names I Baptized him for 21, including Gen Washington & his forefathers and all the Presidents of the United States that were not in my list Except Buchanan Van Buren & Grant. It was a vary interesting day. I felt thankful that we had the privilege and power to administer for the worthy dead especially for the signers of the declaration of Independence. that inasmuch as they had laid the foundation of our Government that we Could do as much for them as they had done for us.
Sister Lucy Bigelow Young went forth into the font and was Baptized for Martha Washington and her family and seventy (70) of the Eminent women of the world. I Called upon all the Brethren & Sisters who were present to assist in getting Endowments for those that we had been Baptized for that day.

August 22, 1877
…. [Wilford Woodruff] ordained 2 High Priests for George Washington and John Wesley ….

August 23, 1877
…. W Woodruff Ordained 2 High Priest One for Christopher Columbus.

March 19, 1894
I had a Dream in the night. I met with Benjamin Franklin. I thought he was on the Earth. I spent several hours with him and talked over our Endowments. He wanted some more work done for him than had been done that I promised him He should have (2d). I thought then He died and while waiting for burial I awoke. I thought very strange of my Dream. I made up m mind to get 2d Anointing for Benjamin Franklin & George Washington.{4}

One can get a better sense of how completely God is in charge of the world’s affairs when we realize that not only is he aware of what is going to happen, but he is also concerned with who is going to do it. Brigham Young explained,

If God has foreordained certain men to certain ends, it is because he knew all things from eternity, as in the case of Pharaoh, who he knew would do wickedly; consequently, selected him to be put upon the throne. “You are determined to be wicked and to carry out the schemes of the Devil; therefore I will use you to promote my kingdom on the earth and to exalt me among men, for I know that you will do all you can against my children, against my work, and against my grace to save the children of men.” God raised him to the throne of Egypt, because he foresaw that in this position he could use him to the greatest advantage to His cause,—not because he was foreordained to that position.{5}



{1} Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 604.

{2} John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., Writings of George Washington, 39 vols.(Washington, U.S. G.P.O. 1931-44), 12:343.

{3} Alvin R. Dyer, Who Am I? (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1966), 20.

{4} “Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1833-1898,” Typescript in 9 vols. edited by Scott G. Kenney.

{5} Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), 8: 160.


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