The Gathering of the House of Israel
“Chapter 42: The Gathering of the House of Israel,” Gospel Principles, 271
The House of Israel Are God’s Covenant People
Jacob was a great prophet who lived hundreds of years before the time of Christ. Because Jacob was faithful, the Lord gave him the special name of Israel, which means “a prince of God” (see Genesis 32:28). Jacob had twelve sons. These sons and their families became known as the twelve tribes of Israel, or Israelites (see Genesis 49:28).
Jacob was a grandson of Abraham. The Lord made an everlasting covenant with Abraham that was renewed with Jacob and his children (see Deuteronomy 32:7–9; see also chapter 15, “The Lord’s Covenant People”). God promised that the Israelites would be his covenant people as long as they would obey his commandments (see Deuteronomy 28:9–10). They would be a blessing to all the nations of the world by taking the gospel and the priesthood to them. Thus, they would keep their covenant with the Lord and he would keep his covenant with them.
The House of Israel Was Scattered
Again and again prophets of the Lord warned the house of Israel what would happen if they were wicked. Moses prophesied, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deuteronomy 28:64).
Gradually the Israelites began to break the commandments of God. They fought among themselves and split into two kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom, called the kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, called the kingdom of Judah. Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel lived in the Northern Kingdom. During a war they were conquered by their enemies and carried away into captivity. Some of them later escaped into the lands of the north and became lost to the rest of the world.
About one hundred years after the capture of the Northern Kingdom, the Southern Kingdom was conquered. The capital city of Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 b.c., and the remaining two tribes of Israel were taken captive. Later, some of the members of these tribes returned and rebuilt Jerusalem. Just before Jerusalem was destroyed, Lehi and his family left the city and settled in the Americas. The Lamanites are descendants of Lehi’s people.
After the time of Christ, Jerusalem was again destroyed, this time by Roman soldiers. The Jews were scattered over much of the world. Today Israelites are found in all countries of the world. Many of these people do not know that they are descended from the ancient house of Israel.
• Have class members list the important events that are part of the scattering of the house of Israel.
The House of Israel Must Be Gathered
The Lord promised that the Israelites, his covenant people, would someday be gathered: “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them” (Jeremiah 23:3).
The Lord has some important reasons for gathering the Israelites. The people of Israel need to learn the teachings of the gospel and prepare themselves to meet the Savior when he comes again. The Israelites have the responsibility of building temples and performing sacred ordinances for ancestors who died without having this opportunity. The covenant people of God must take the gospel to all nations. They must fulfill the covenant to be a blessing to all the world.
The power and authority to direct the work of gathering the house of Israel was given to Joseph Smith by the prophet Moses, who appeared in 1836 in the Kirtland Temple (see D&C 110:11). Since that time, each prophet has held the keys for the gathering of the house of Israel, and this gathering has been an important part of the Church’s work. The house of Israel is now being gathered as they accept the restored gospel and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Deuteronomy 30:1–5).
How Will the House of Israel Be Gathered?
The Israelites are to be gathered spiritually first and then physically. They are gathered spiritually when they join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This spiritual gathering began during the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith and continues today all over the world. Converts to the Church are Israelites either by blood or adoption. They belong to the family of Abraham and Jacob (see Abraham 2:9–11; Galatians 3:26–29).
President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “There are many nations represented in the … Church. … They have come because the Spirit of the Lord rested upon them; … receiving the spirit of gathering, they have left everything for the sake of the gospel” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:256).
The physical gathering of Israel means that the Israelites will be “gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise” (see 2 Nephi 9:2). The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh will be gathered to the land of America. The tribe of Judah will return to the city of Jerusalem and the area surrounding it. The ten lost tribes will receive from the tribe of Ephraim their promised blessings (see D&C 133:26–35).
When the Church was first established, the Saints were instructed to gather in Ohio, then Missouri, and then the Salt Lake Valley. Today, however, modern prophets have taught that Church members are to build up the kingdom of God in their own lands. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:
“Every stake on earth is the gathering place for the lost sheep of Israel who live in its area.
“The gathering place for Peruvians is in the stakes of Zion in Peru, or in the places which soon will become stakes. The gathering place for Chileans is in Chile; for Bolivians it is in Bolivia; for Koreans it is in Korea; and so it goes through all the length and breadth of the earth. Scattered Israel in every nation is called to gather to the fold of Christ, to the stakes of Zion, as such are established in their nations” (“Come: Let Israel Build Zion,” Ensign, May 1977, p. 118).
The physical gathering of Israel will not be complete until the second coming of the Savior (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37). Then the Lord’s promise will be fulfilled:
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
“But, the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:14–15).
• Genesis 17:1–8 (God’s covenant with Abraham)
• 2 Kings 17 (Northern Kingdom taken captive)
• 2 Chronicles 36:11–20 (Southern Kingdom taken captive)
• James 1:1 (twelve tribes scattered abroad)
• 1 Nephi 10:12–13 (Nephite migration was part of the scattering)
• Jeremiah 3:14–18 (one from a city, two from a family)
• Jeremiah 31:7–14 (lost tribes to come from the north countries)
• Ezekiel 20:33–36 (Israel will be gathered from all countries)
• 3 Nephi 20:29–46 (Jews will be gathered to Jerusalem)
• 3 Nephi 21:26–29 (gathering starts with restoration of the gospel)
• D&C 133:26–34 (ten tribes to return from the north)
• Isaiah 11:11–13 (the Lord will recover his people)
• Revelation 18:4–8 (a voice will proclaim the gathering)
• D&C 133:6–15 (Gentiles to Zion, Jews to Jerusalem)
Jacob blessed his sons and prophesied what would happen to their descendants in the last days.