The Lord promised that He would restore Israel and Judah in the last days. Jeremiah was commanded to record those promises (see Jeremiah 30:1–3). As you study Jeremiah 30–33, look for the importance of the Abrahamic covenant and the tribe of Ephraim to this restoration or gathering.
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
In the last days the tribe of Ephraim, the birthright tribe, is being gathered first. They have the responsibility to help gather the rest of the house of Israel (see Jeremiah 31:1–14, 18–21, 31–34; 32:36–41).
Suggestions for Teaching
Jeremiah 30–33. Jeremiah prophesied about many wonderful events that would happen in the last days. (55–65 minutes)
Ask students to recall the last major sporting event in their area and discuss how some people would consider that event happy while others would consider it sad. Ask:
Why would people have such different attitudes toward the same event?
What other events or times might be considered both good and bad, depending on one’s perspective?
Do you think of the Second Coming as a happy or a sad time?
Tell students that today they will study some of the prophecies Jeremiah made about the last days and the Millennium.
The majority of Jeremiah’s prophecies dealt with the destruction and captivity of Judah by the Babylonians, which also foreshadows the destructions of the last days. But Jeremiah also prophesied of many wonderful and positive events of the last days that help us understand how, for the righteous, the Second Coming will be a time of great happiness.
Jeremiah’s prophecies can be grouped into several categories. Write the following three categories on the board, read the associated scripture references with your students, and discuss each category as a class, using the accompanying material as needed.
Israel and Judah will be gathered and dwell in safety in their own lands.
Jeremiah 30:3, 8–11, 17–18. The prophecy that Israel and Judah would return from captivity has more than one fulfillment. It refers to how the Lord inspired King Cyrus to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem after seventy years of captivity in Babylon (see Ezra 1:1–2). It also speaks of the restoration of the Jews to their homeland in the last days and the return of the lost tribes from the north countries (see D&C 133:11–35).
Jeremiah 31:1–20. The Lord testified repeatedly in these verses that He Himself will direct the gathering of Israel and Judah (see vv. 1–4, 8–11). The Lord calls “watchmen upon the mount Ephraim”—stake presidents, bishops, missionaries, home teachers, and others—to assist in watching over and gathering His children (v. 6; see also Ezekiel 3:16–21). The most important of these watchmen are the latter-day prophets, who have received the keys of the gathering of Israel (see D&C 110:11).
These watchmen will gather “the remnant of Israel” from “the north country” and from “the coasts [ends] of the earth” (Jeremiah 31:8; see also D&C 133:26). The “weeping” and “supplications” referred to in Jeremiah 31:9 may be from the realization that their sufferings throughout the centuries were caused by their rejection of Jesus Christ (see Jeremiah 50:4; Zechariah 12:10). Contrast that weeping with the joy and rejoicing of those who heed the prophets and “come and sing in the height of Zion” (see Jeremiah 31:12–14).
Jeremiah 33:16. When the Lord gathers Judah and Israel, they will dwell safely in their lands (see also Jeremiah 23:5–6). This can refer to safety both from enemies and from the effects of their own sins.
Judah and Israel will accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
“That the Branch of David is Christ is perfectly clear. We shall now see that he is also called David, that he is a new David, an Eternal David, who shall reign forever on the throne of his ancient ancestor” (The Promised Messiah, 193; see also Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5–8).
Jeremiah 32:37-42. In these verses, Jeremiah prophesied that the Jews would return not only to their promised land but also to the true Church, and the Lord would "make an everlasting covenant with them" (v.40). Even though many Jews have joined the Church, and many more surely will in the days to come, the complete fulfillment of this promise has yet to be realized (see 3 Nephi 20:29-46; 21). Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
“The great conversion of the Jews, their return to the truth as a nation, is destined to follow the Second Coming of their Messiah. Those able to abide that day, in their extremity and mourning, will ask: ‘What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.’ (D. & C. 45:51–52; Zech. 12:8–14; 13:6)” (Mormon Doctrine, 722–23).
“Search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how He will save them” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 11–12).
Even though we can know God now, it appears that the complete fulfillment of these verses in Jeremiah will occur during the Millennium, when the Lord will dwell personally among us (see D. & C. 84:96-100). President Joseph Fielding Smith, referring to Jeremiah 31:31-34, said:
“In order that this prophecy may be fulfilled, many members of the Church will need to repent and be more diligent in the study of the scriptures and in their prayers and obedience to the laws and commandments of the gospel. If they fail to do these things they will be cut off from the presence of the Lord in that great day when he shall descend as Lord of lords and King of kings to take his place and sit on his throne to rule and reign” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 21–22).