The Gathering of Israel

Bruce R. McConkie

Through her establishment as a nation, her ancient dispersion among all the peoples of the earth, and her latter-day gathering together again, the world is viewing the miracle that is Israel. Scattered when she forsook the Lord, rejected his statutes, and turned to unrighteousness, Israel is now being gathered as she turns back to the true God of her fathers, stands fast again in the everlasting gospel covenant, and turns her heart to righteousness. (Teachings, pp. 84-85, 92-93, 183, 231-232; Articles of Faith, pp. 328-344.)

"As general as was the scattering of Israel so must the gathering be. If the dispersion was over all the earth, and among all nations, so the gathering must be out of all nations, and from all parts of the earth.

"When we reflect that it is 32 centuries since the enemies of Israel began to oppress them in the land of Canaan; that about one-third of the time they were a people in that land, they were, more or less, in bondage to their enemies; that 700 years before the coming of Christ the Ten Tribes were scattered throughout western Asia; that we have no record that any have as yet returned to the land of their inheritance; that nearly 600 years before Christ the Babylonish captivity took place, and that, according to the Book of Esther only a part of the Jews ever returned, but were scattered through the 127 provinces of the Persian empire; that Asia was the hive from which swarmed the nomadic tribes who overran Europe; that at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans the Jews were scattered over the known world;

"we may well ask the question, Does not Israel today constitute a large proportion of the human family? With this comprehensive view of the subject of the scattering, we the better understand such passages as the following: 'I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them.' (Jer. 23:3.)" (Compendium, p. 90.)

The gathering of Israel is first spiritual and second temporal. It is spiritual in that the lost sheep of Israel are first "restored to the true church and fold of God," meaning that they come to a true knowledge of the God of Israel, accept the gospel which he has restored in latter-days, and join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is temporal in that these converts are then "gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and . . . established in all their lands of promise" (2 Ne. 9:2; 25:15-18; Jer. 16:14-21), meaning that the house of Joseph will be established in America, the house of Judah in Palestine, and that the Lost Tribes will come to Ephraim in America to receive their blessings in due course. (D. & C. 133.)

However, the temporal gathering of Israel will not be completed before the Second Coming of the Son of Man. "I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God," Nephi recorded relative to the last days, "were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore." (1 Ne. 14:12.) The erection by the Church of temples in distant lands is further evidence that all the hosts of Israel who are gathered into the spiritual fold will not be assembled temporally. But in due course "the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Jos. Smith 1:37.)

The purpose of the gathering of Israel is twofold: 1. To put the peoples of living Israel in that environment where they may the better work out their salvation, where they may have the Gentile and worldly views erased from them, and where they may be molded into that pattern of perfect righteousness which will please the Almighty; and 2. To enable the gathered remnants of the chosen lineage to build temples and perform the ordinances of salvation and exaltation for their Israelitish ancestors who lived when the gospel was not had on earth.

"It was the design of the councils of heaven before the world was," the Prophet taught, "that the principles and laws of the priesthood should be predicated upon the gathering of the people in every age of the world. Jesus did everything to gather the people, and they would not be gathered, and he therefore poured out curses upon them. Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.

"It is for the same purpose that God gathers together his people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings, etc. One of the ordinances of the house of the Lord is baptism for the dead. God decreed before the foundation of the world that that ordinance should be administered in a font prepared for that purpose in the house of the Lord." (Teachings, p. 308.)

That Israel cannot be gathered in the latter-days, in fulfilment of the host of ancient prophecies, without revelation and direction from on high is evident to every thoughtful person. Accordingly the Lord restored the ancient covenants again and sent Moses to deliver the keys of the gathering of Israel and the leading of the Ten Tribes from the land of the north. (D. & C. 110:11.) By virtue of these keys the prophet and his successors, each in turn, have held the directive and presiding authority relative to this great work. The Lord has set his hand the second time to gather his people (D. & C. 133), and they are now beginning to assemble from all nations at the mountain of the Lord's house. (Isa. 2:2-4.) In due course all Israel will be gathered and the other tribes will receive their blessings from Ephraim whose status is that of the firstborn. (D. & C. 133;Jer. 31:9.)

The fact of the gathering of Israel, under the direction of the president of the Church who holds the keys, is one of the great evidences of the divine calling of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Any church which does not understand the doctrine of the kingdom being restored to Israel in an age after New Testament times (Acts 1:6) cannot be the Lord's Church.

The glory of Israel's latter-day gathering is beginning to appear, and it will not be long before the Ten Tribes will return (D. & C. 133) and all things incident to this great work will be fulfilled. Then the Lord's promise as given by Jeremiah will find complete fulfilment: "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." (Jer. 16:14-15.)

Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine