The Gathering of the House of Israel

To view the entire lesson go here: The Gathering of the House of Israel

This week in our Relief Society lesson we are studying the gathering of the house of Israel. I think to understand this, we have to understand that the house of Israel was scattered. The house of Israel are the descendants of Jacob, who was later called Israel because of his righteousness. He had twelve sons who became the tribes of Israel. They were the covenant people of God during biblical times. In Deuteronomy 28:64 we read, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.” The scattering was promised long before it actually occurred. The people fought amongst themselves and divided into two. This led to more fighting and eventually caused the scattering that had been promised to them. In 1 Kings 22:17 we read, “And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.” The descendants of Israel were scattered to all the world because of unrighteousness. In Romans 11:20, we read, “. . . because of unbelief they were broken off . . .”. The promises of the prophets of old, are only available to those who keep their covenants with the Lord. As latter-day saints, we believe that those who become covenant people of the Lord now, are in a sense adopted into the house of Israel.

What responsibilities do God’s covenant people have to the nations of the world?

In Matthew 28:19-20 we read the following:

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

God’s covenant people have made covenants with the Lord, to be a light to the world. This means that they are to be an example of righteousness and have the duty to teach the gospel to all people and to bring them closer to God. In order for the world to be blessed as a whole, the covenant people of the God, must keep the commandments and stand for truth and righteousness.

What benefits have come to God’s children because His covenant people have been scattered throughout the earth?

Some of those who were scattered, such as Lehi’s family, brought the gospel with them to other parts of the world. Because of the scattering, much of the world has been able to learn of some portions of the gospel. The blessings of the house of Israel are not for only those who live where ancient Israel once was, so many people all over the world have the blessings available to them if they choose it.

Why does the Lord want His people to be gathered?

The Lord made a covenant with the house of Israel, that they would be gathered again. In 3 Nephi 20:29 we read, “And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time, that I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the promised land unto them forever, saith the Father.” The Lord wants to keep his covenant with his people. There has always been strength in numbers. We are constantly in a world-wide war against Satan and his angels. When we gather together as covenant people, we have the strength to overcome. In Jeremiah 12:15 we read, “And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.” The tribes of Israel need to be gathered so that the inheritance that God has promised them, can be received. It can only be received when they willing accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and so part of the reason for the gathering is to bring the people to Christ so that they can have salvation.

How will the house of Israel be gathered?

The gathering, which began with the restoration of the gospel, is done through missionary work. In 1 Nephi 15:1 we read, “And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—”. As people are brought into the fold of God through baptism, they are gathered into the house of Israel. This gathering started with the gentiles when Joseph Smith was instructed to organize the church. It will continue until the second coming of the Lord, when all will be made aware of Christ.

In what ways have you been gathered spiritually as one of the Lord’s covenant people?

I made the choice to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as a member I have made covenants with the Lord. Through these covenants, I have been spiritually gathered with other saints who are all striving to live righteous lives and become more like Christ. As I draw closer to him, through my choices and understandings of the gospel, I am gathering closer with the saints. I have been able to make more covenants because of living worthy to enter the temple of the Lord. These covenants and blessings are eternal and sacred to me.

UPDATE: The more I thought about this, I realized that even though I was raised in the church and baptized at age 8, I have since had the opportunity to be gathered spiritually. There were many things that I took for granted about the gospel, when I was young. Then, when I was 19 years old, I went out with a friend and we sat looking at the temple. We talked about the choices we had made personally and how we felt about our own levels of righteousness. He challenged me to be a better person than I was at the time and I challenged him to do the same. We made a pact to work on it together. In that very moment, I had a change of heart and I started my own personal gathering with the saints.

In what ways have you participated in the gathering of others?

In one way, I have tried to share my testimony with others. This is done both in word and in my actions. When we live a righteous life, firm in the truth of the gospel, we have a joy and a light that is an example to those around us. I am striving daily to be a light to others so that they will want to find the joy that comes through this gospel. In another way, I am helping to gather others, by going to do temple work. Those who are dead, are hearing the gospel through the missionary efforts going on beyond the grave. These people need people like me, to go and do the physical work for them in the temple, so that they can be baptized and make additional covenants. I am so glad to have the opportunity to share my testimony and to do work for those who have died. I know that these things bring me great blessings in this life and I have a great hope in the blessings that this will bring after this life as well.

UPDATE: I think it would be interesting to hear from Jews, who have a lineage of living as practicing Jews, about their feelings about the gathering of Israel. I am sure these promises are discussed for them today. This should be a source of great anticipation and excitement for those who are devout. I would love to know how they feel, so that I could understand even more, the blessings that will be when the gathering has been finished.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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