In a strictly chronological sense, the earliest reference to the "choice land," and "land of promise preserved for a righteous people" of the Book of Mormon is made in Ether. (Ether 1:24-25, 2:7-12.)
The seriousness with which the Lord introduced this subject and its accompanying promises and warnings is emphasized by Moroni, the compiler of these pages. He had personally witnessed the extermination of his people because of their failure to heed the warning and repent.In Ether is recorded, "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." (Ether 2:8.)
Moroni then twice repeats this message. He concludes with a warning to modern inhabitants, to whom he refers as Gentiles, to repent "and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done." (Ether 2:11.)
Throughout the Book of Mormon this warning is issued, often coupled with a promise that the righteous shall prosper in this land.
During the Savior's visit to the Nephites, the warning is given in yet more detail. He said that "if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive . . . the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.
"And it shall come to pass that I will establish my people, O house of Israel. . . . And the powers of heaven shall be in the midst of this people; yea, even I will be in the midst of you." (3 Ne. 20:15-22.)