Lesson 40: Then Will I Gather Them In

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 177–80


Purpose

To help class members understand the latter-day work of gathering Israel and establishing Zion.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Read, ponder, and pray about 3 Nephi 16, 20, and 21. These chapters contain part of the resurrected Savior’s teachings to the Nephites. In these chapters, the Lord teaches and prophesies of the Restoration of the gospel and the gathering of the house of Israel in the last days.

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: 3 Nephi 29–30; Mormon 5:9–24; Articles of Faith 1:10; Bible Dictionary, “Gentile,” 679–80; “Israel,” 708.

  3. 3.

    Before class, write the following questions on the chalkboard:

    What is the house of Israel?

    Why was Israel scattered?

    Who are the Gentiles?

    What do the Gentiles have to do with the scattering and gathering of Israel?

    What is the gathering of Israel?

    What sign has been given to show that the latter-day gathering of Israel has begun?

    As members of the Church, what are our responsibilities in the gathering of Israel?

  4. 4.

    If you use the attention activity, bring to class some or all of the following items:

    1. a.

      The pictures Jacob Blessing His Sons (Gospel Art Picture Kit 122); Joseph Smith (62449; Gospel Art Picture Kit 400); and Boy Being Baptized (62018) or Baptism (Gospel Art Picture Kit 601).

    2. b.

      A copy of the Book of Mormon.

    3. c.

      A missionary name tag or another object that represents missionary work.

    4. d.

      A photograph of yourself and your family.

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Display the objects that you have brought to class (see “Preparation,” item 4). Explain that each of these objects represents an important part of today’s lesson. Ask class members to remember these objects during the lesson and look for ways in which the objects relate to 3 Nephi 16, 20, and 21.

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. The Savior prophesies of the scattering of the house of Israel.

Direct class members’ attention to the first question on the chalkboard (see “Preparation,” item 3):

  • What is the house of Israel?

    Explain that the titles house of Israel and Israel refer to the descendants of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel (if you used the attention activity, you may want to display the picture of Jacob blessing his sons as part of this explanation). Members of the house of Israel have been referred to in scripture as “the covenant people of the Lord” (1 Nephi 15:14) and “the children of the covenant” (3 Nephi 20:25–26). The Nephites were of the house of Israel, as descendants of Jacob’s son Joseph (1 Nephi 5:14).

Explain that the Savior taught of the scattering of Israel. Then direct class members’ attention to the second question on the chalkboard:

  • Why was Israel scattered?

    Invite a class member to read 3 Nephi 16:4 aloud. Encourage the other class members to read along, looking for the answer to the question. As class members discuss the question, ensure that they understand that the members of the house of Israel were “scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief.”

2. The Savior prophesies of the spiritual gathering of the house of Israel.

Direct class members’ attention to the third question on the chalkboard:

  • Who are the Gentiles?

    Explain that in the scriptures, the term Gentiles is used to designate either people who were not born into the house of Israel or nations that are without the gospel. In the chapters discussed in this lesson, the term Gentiles refers to nations that are without the gospel, even though some individuals in those nations may be descendants of Jacob (Bible Dictionary, “Gentile,” 679).

Direct class members’ attention to the fourth question on the chalkboard:

  • What do the Gentiles have to do with the scattering and gathering of Israel?

    Invite a class member to read 3 Nephi 16:7–9 and 21:1–5. Encourage the other class members to read along, looking for answers to the question.

    Emphasize the Savior’s prophecy that the Gentiles would play a part in the scattering of Israel. Also emphasize the prophecy that it would be through the Gentiles that Israel would eventually receive the restored gospel and be gathered.

Direct class members’ attention to the fifth question on the chalkboard:

  • What is the gathering of Israel?

    Invite a class member to read 3 Nephi 16:4, 12; 20:10–13. Encourage the other class members to read along, looking for answers to the question. As class members discuss the question, ensure that they understand the following:

    Israel is gathered as people gain a testimony of the Redeemer and His restored gospel and join His Church (if you used the attention activity, you may want to display the picture of a baptism as part of this discussion).

    In the early days of the restored Church, part of the gathering of Israel was the Lord’s command that members of His Church join the body of Saints in North America, whether in Missouri, Illinois, or the Salt Lake Valley. In the future, another temporal gathering will occur, as members of the house of Israel are gathered to the lands of their inheritance (see section 3 of this lesson). However, the gathering now taking place is a spiritual gathering.

    President Spencer W. Kimball explained: “The ‘gathering of Israel’ is effected when the people of the faraway countries accept the gospel and remain in their native lands. The gathering of Israel for Mexicans is in Mexico; in Scandinavia, for those of the northern countries; the gathering place for the Germans is in Germany; and the Polynesians, in the islands; for the Brazilians, in Brazil; for the Argentines, in Argentina” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, 4; or Ensign, May 1975, 4).

Direct class members’ attention to the sixth question on the chalkboard:

  • What sign has been given to show that the latter-day gathering of Israel has begun?

    Invite a class member to read 3 Nephi 21:2–7 and 29:1–2. Encourage the other class members to read along, looking for the answer to the question.

  • How have the “sayings” and “works” of the Nephites come forth to the Gentiles? (Through the translation of the Book of Mormon. If you used the attention activity, you may want to use the copy of the Book of Mormon as part of this discussion.) What are some roles that the Book of Mormon plays in the gathering of Israel? (For some examples, compare 3 Nephi 16:4, 12 and 20:10–13 with 1 Nephi 6:3–4 and the title page of the Book of Mormon. Emphasize that the Book of Mormon was written to teach of the covenants of the Lord and to convince all people that Jesus is the Christ.)

  • The Lord spoke of a servant who would help in the “great and … marvelous work” of bringing forth the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 21:9–10). Who was this servant? (Joseph Smith. If you used the attention activity, you may want to display the picture of Joseph Smith as part of this discussion.)

    You may want to point out that Joseph Smith was a literal descendant of Jacob (2 Nephi 3:3–8, 11–12), but he lived in a Gentile nation. His work in restoring the gospel and bringing forth the Book of Mormon was thus part of the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that “the truth [would] come unto the Gentiles” (3 Nephi 16:7).

  • Have a class member read 3 Nephi 16:11–12 aloud. What did the Lord promise to do after the fulness of the gospel was restored through the Gentiles? (He promised to remember His covenant with the house of Israel.)

  • The covenant that the Lord promised to remember was the Abrahamic covenant (3 Nephi 20:25, 27, 29; 21:4; Mormon 5:20). What are the blessings and responsibilities of the Abrahamic covenant? (See Genesis 17:1–8; Abraham 2:6, 9–11.)

  • What will happen to Gentiles who repent and turn to God? (See 2 Nephi 30:2; 3 Nephi 16:13; 21:6, 22. All people who repent and come unto the Lord through baptism will be numbered among His covenant people.)

    President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “Every person who embraces the gospel becomes of the house of Israel. In other words, they become members of the chosen lineage, or Abraham’s children through Isaac and Jacob unto whom the promises were made. The great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph. Those who are not literal descendants of Abraham and Israel must become such, and when they are baptized and confirmed they are grafted into the tree and are entitled to all the rights and privileges as heirs” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:246).

Invite a class member to read the seventh question on the chalkboard:

  • As members of the Church, what are our responsibilities in the gathering of Israel?

    Give class members the opportunity to answer the question. You may also want to ask the question below to encourage more discussion. If you used the attention activity, you may want to display the photograph and the missionary name tag (or other object) during this discussion.

  • The mission of the Church is to invite all people to come unto Christ. We accomplish this mission by proclaiming the gospel, redeeming the dead, and perfecting the Saints. How does the mission of the Church contribute to the gathering of Israel?

3. The Savior prophesies of the temporal gathering of the house of Israel.

  • Have a class member read 3 Nephi 16:16 and 20:14 aloud. According to these verses, what specific promise did the Lord extend to the Nephites? (They would be given the lands of the Americas as an inheritance. See also 2 Nephi 1:5–7.) What responsibilities accompany this promise? (See Enos 1:10; Ether 2:8–9.)

  • Have class members take turns reading verses from 3 Nephi 21:22–29. According to these verses, what will happen in this land of inheritance in the last days? (A city called the New Jerusalem will be built.)

Point out that the original city of Jerusalem will also be restored (3 Nephi 20:29–34). The Jews will be given this land as an inheritance.

  • The Savior said that He would gather His people and establish Zion again among them (3 Nephi 21:1). While the word Zion often refers to specific places, it is also a condition of heart and mind. How has Zion been described in the scriptures? (See D&C 97:21 and Moses 7:18–19 for some examples.) How can we begin to establish Zion in our homes, wards, and stakes today?

Conclusion

Remind class members that in the last days, the title house of Israel encompasses all those who repent, follow Jesus Christ, and are baptized into His Church. Encourage class members to live so as to be worthy to be part of the Lord’s covenant people. As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.