Gathering of Israel

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The Gathering of Israel is the spiritual and physical gathering of all the house of Israel (the Twelve Tribes) in the latter days. The tenth Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reads—

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

The physical gathering entails the literal gathering of the Jews to Palestine, the return of the "Ten Lost Tribes" from their unknown domain in the north (see 2 Esdras 13:40–45), and the gathering of the "Saints" to New Jerusalem, centered in Jackson County, Missouri. The spiritual gathering of Israel is the spreading of the Gospel of Christ. Those who accept the Savior become his children. The faithful are also called the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who was Israel). Some are literal descendants; others are grafted in because of their faithfulness.

Ephraim and Mannaseh and the Gathering of Israel

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ qualify to receive patriarchal blessings—revelatory blessings given through priesthood authority by the laying on of hands. Through these blessings, Latter-day Saints are told their lineage from the tribes of Israel. All tribes have been represented, but Latter-day Saints descend mostly from the sons of Joseph—Ephraim and Mannaseh.

The descendants of these two sons of Joseph were given a divine commission by Moses. He said that their “horns are like the horns of unicorns [wild oxen]: with them he [Joseph] shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh” (Deuteronomy 33:17).
In this prophecy we see the latter-day descendants of Joseph diligently going about the work of gathering scattered Israel or “pushing them together.” The patriarch Jacob, or Israel himself, foresaw this work as he gave a blessing to Joseph’s two sons: “For thou shalt be a light unto my people, to deliver them in the days of their captivity, from bondage; and to bring salvation unto them, when they are altogether bowed down under sin” (JST Genesis 48:11). In due time, other tribes come “unto the children of Ephraim . . . and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even [by] the children of Ephraim” (Doctrine and Covenants 133:30, 32). (See Paul K. Browning, “Gathering Scattered Israel: Then and Now,” Ensign, July 1998, 54–61)

Thus, the literal gathering of the Jews to Palestine was greatly facilitated by the countries of Europe and America, identified as descending from Ephraim. And the spiritual gathering of the peoples of the earth will be facilitated by the members of the Church, who also mostly descend from Joseph.

And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me (Isaiah 49:23). (See also, 2 Nephi 10:9; 2 Nephi 6:7; 1 Nephi 21:23.)

The Physical Gathering of Israel

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” (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 who are now hidden from the world will receive their promised blessings with the tribe of Ephraim. (See Doctrine and Covenants 133:26–35)

President Joseph F. Smith has spoken of these two gathering places as follows: “Jerusalem of old, after the Jews have been cleansed and sanctified from all their sin, shall become a holy city where the Lord shall dwell and from whence he shall send forth his word unto all people. Likewise, on this continent, the city of Zion, New Jerusalem—shall be built, and from it the law of God shall also go forth. There will be no conflict, for each city shall be headquarters for the Redeemer of the world, and from each he shall send forth his proclamations as occasion may require. Jerusalem shall be the gathering place of Judah and his fellows of the house of Israel, and Zion shall be the gathering place of Ephraim and his fellows, upon whose heads shall be conferred ‘the richer blessings.’ ” (Improvement Era, vol. 22 [1919], pp. 815–16.)

To Palestine:

  • Again and again prophets of the Lord warned the house of Israel what would come to pass if they transgressed the laws of God. 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).
  • “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12).
  • “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them” (Jeremiah 23:3).
  • The Lord has declared: “I give unto you a sign . . . that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion” (3 Nephi 21:1).
  • “Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed. It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, etc., and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance” (Joseph Smith, Documentary History of the Church (DHC), vol. 5, p. 337).
  • "In 1841 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent an apostle, Elder Orson Hyde, to the Holy Land to dedicate the land for the return of the Jewish people. Part of this dedicatory prayer is as follows:
[I] dedicate and consecrate this land unto Thee, for the gathering together of Judah’s scattered remnants, according to the predictions of the holy Prophets. . . . Incline them to gather in upon this land according to Thy word. Let them come like clouds and like doves to their windows. Let the large ships of the nations bring them from the distant isles; and let kings become their nursing fathers, and queens with motherly fondness wipe the tear of sorrow from their eyes. (DHC, vol. 4, pp. 456–57.)
When Elder Hyde offered that dedicatory prayer, there were fewer than 5,000 Jewish people in the entire land of Palestine." Today there are over 5,000,000, people in Israel, and they have immigrated from the four corners of the earth (Daniel H. Ludlow, “The Future of the Holy Land,” Ensign, May 1972, 96).

To Jackson County:

  • And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a bland of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God;
And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.
And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.
And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.
And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.
And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy (Doctrine and Covenants 45:66-71).
  • “When Joseph [Smith] first revealed the land where the Saints should gather, a woman in Canada asked if we thought that Jackson County would be large enough to gather all the people. . . . I will answer the question. . . . Zion will extend, eventually, all over this earth. There will be no nook or corner upon the earth but what will be in Zion. It will all be Zion. We are going to gather as many as we can, bless them, give them their endowments, etc., preach to them the truth, lay the principles of eternal life before them, inform their minds all we have power to do, and lead them into the path of truth and righteousness” (in Journal of Discourses, 9:138).
  • Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;
And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth (Doctrine and Covenants 115:5, 6).

(Referring to the "Ten Lost Tribes"):

And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence.
And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.
Their enemies shall become a prey unto them,
And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.
And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.
And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence.
And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim (Doctrine and Covenants 133:26–32).

The Spiritual Gathering of Israel

Our present gathering is primarily spiritual, not geographic. Christ declared that in the latter-days He would “establish [His] church,” “establish [His] people,” and “establish . . . among them [His] Zion” (3 Nephi 21:22; 3 Nephi 20:21; 3 Nephi 21:1). As He establishes His Church in our day, people can be taught the gospel and be “brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God” (3 Nephi 20:13) without leaving their homes. In contrast to the pronouncements during the early days of the restored Church, our leaders have decreed that now the gathering should take place within each land and among every tongue. Our need to be physically near large numbers of Saints is less than it was a century ago because Church magazines and satellite transmissions bridge distance and time, creating a sense of oneness throughout the entire Church. All have access to the same keys, ordinances, doctrine, and spiritual gifts (Douglas L. Callister, “Book of Mormon Principles: The Gathering of the Lord’s Faithful,” Ensign, Oct. 2004, 58–59).
The Lord said to the Latter-day Saints, “And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:7). Obviously, of first importance is their receptivity to God and his teachings [1].
In 1836 Moses appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple to restore the keys for the “gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:11). President Harold B. Lee explained the nature of the gathering in the last days: “The gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church; of coming to a knowledge of the true God and of his saving truths” (quoting Bruce R. McConkie in “Strengthen the Stakes of Zion,” Ensign, July 1973, 4).

President Nelson's Invitations to Join in the Gathering

On June 3, 2018, President Russell M. Nelson and his wife Wendy Watson Nelson hosted a worldwide youth devotional. President Nelson said:

“The Lord is hastening His work to gather Israel.”
“The gathering of Israel ultimately means offering the gospel of Jesus Christ to God’s children on both sides of the veil who have neither made crucial covenants with God nor received their essential ordinances.”
“That gathering is the most important thing taking place on earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty. . . . When we speak of the gathering, we are simply saying this fundamental truth: every one of our Heavenly Father’s children, on both sides of the veil, deserves to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. They decide for themselves if they want to know more.” He invited the youth to join in the gathering: “And if you choose to, if you want to, you can be a big part of it. You can be a big part of something big, something grand, something majestic!” “Would you like to be a big part of the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today?
“Would you like to help gather Israel during these precious latter days? Would you, who are the elect, be willing to help find the elect who have not heard the message of the restored gospel? Would you like to be among those “swift messengers” of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke?”

"As I conclude, I invite you to stand with the youth from all around the world and experience the thrill of being a member of the Lord’s youth battalion in “Zion’s army” by singing our closing hymn, “Hope of Israel,” because this hymn is all about you! From the depths of my soul, I testify that this is the work of Almighty God. He lives. Jesus is the Christ. This is His Church, restored to accomplish its divine destiny, including the promised gathering of Israel."

To the women of the Church in the Women’s session of the October 2018 General Conference, President Nelson referenced his talk to the youth in June:

“So tonight I’m extending a prophetic plea to you, the women of the Church, to shape the future by helping to gather scattered Israel.”

He invited women to start in four areas:

First, I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind. . . .
Second, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year. . . .
Third, establish a pattern of regular temple attendance. . . .
My fourth invitation, for you who are of age, is to participate fully in Relief Society. . . .

He concluded with “We simply cannot gather Israel without you. I love you and thank you and now bless you with the ability to leave the world behind as you assist in this crucial and urgent work. Together we can do all that our Heavenly Father needs us to do to prepare the world for the Second Coming of His Beloved Son.”