"And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.
"For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; therefore it must needs be that he must speak also to the Gentiles.
"And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake" (3 Ne. 23:1-3).
There is an interesting parallel we behold in the scriptures. The first side of it is that the Lord established his covenant anciently with a group of people who were called the house of Israel. We are fairly familiar with the covenants he gave to that people. We are familiar with their history; not that we know all the particulars of that history, but we understand and are taught about the perpetual stiffneckedness among a people that had been promised so much.
Though it is clear to us how the prophecies concerning that people played out, the situation in which they found themselves was not always apparent to those living out those prophecies . Laman and Lemuel for instance thought that the Jews were a righteous people, even on the eve of their destruction and captivity (1 Ne. 17:22). Their circumstances blinded them. Tradition, culture, and everyday concerns blinded them. Their desire to remain in babylon blinded them. The people who provided us with the record of the Book of Mormon happened to awake and discover their awful situation, and prevailed upon God for guidance.
The other side of this parallel is that the Lord established his covenant in our day with the Gentiles. This was all prophesied. Because in the meridian of time Israel was stiffnecked and rejected Christ, and the Gentiles believed, it was promised that in the last days they would be first, and Israel last (3 Ne. 16:7).
We are fairly familiar with the covenants the Lord gave to us. We are acquainted with stories from our history. We don't know all the particulars of our history, but believe that we are chosen. Our view of ourselves is different than the view we have of those Jews with whom God earlier established his covenant. We think them foolish, and dismiss the idea that we may be like them. We view them in a more true light than we view ourselves. We view ourselves through the same lens the Jews used to view themselves. We are like them in many ways.
The ancient messengers Mormon, Moroni, Nephi, Isaiah, and Christ viewed these two groups of people - the house of Israel and the Gentiles - as similar. They were to share similar fates. They are both extended the same covenants and opportunities, ultimately react to the message of the prophets in the same manner, and reap the same rewards. They share parallel histories. In other words, history repeats itself. "All things that [Isaiah] spake have been and shall be."
Isaiah's writings contain "all things" concerning the Lord's people. The first group of people, who are the Lord's covenant people and whom he here identifies as the house of Israel, rejected the gospel, cast out the prophets, and couldn't recognized their Lord. They were scattered and taken captive by their enemies. Their cities became desolate. They were considered harlots because they were not faithful to the Bridegroom, their God. Despite all this, they considered themselves righteous by keeping up outward appearances. They despised the message of repentance. The Lord forsook them, and in his wrath hid his face from them (3 Ne. 22:7-8).
Christ prophesied: "therefore it must needs be that [Isaiah] must speak also to the Gentiles. And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake." "Therefore," Christ goes on to say, write all this stuff down because "according to the time and the will of the Father they shall go forth unto the Gentiles" (3 Ne. 23:4). In mercy, the Lord has given us the Book of Mormon warning us to pay attention to these things.
Much earlier in the Book of Mormon, after Nephi finished reading the words of Isaiah to his people, and recording them for our benefit, he says this to those who heard his message:
"And now behold, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you; for I, Nephi, would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the Gentiles shall be. For behold, except ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall all likewise perish; and because of the words which have been spoken ye need not suppose that the Gentiles are utterly destroyed" (2 Ne. 30:1).
Nephi's hearers were dismayed at the wickedness of the Gentiles. I'm sure some thought the Gentiles were foolish, and dismissed the idea that they may be like us. They were tempted to think they were better off than us. Nephi warned them against that kind of thinking. He made it clear to them that we're really all on the same awful ground unless we repent. These groups of people "shall all likewise perish" unless they repent and "keep the commandments of God."
Though Nephi consoles his contemporary listeners by saying, "don't worry, the Gentiles are not utterly destroyed," it should be no consolation to you. It's dreadful to me to read.
I would not suffer that ye should suppose that ye are more righteous than the house of Israel had been. As a people we, like ancient Israel, were promised the fulness and to be able to enter into the rest of the Lord, but would not hear (Isa. 28:12; D&C 84:24; D&C 45:28-29). Who has obtained it?