“Lesson 11 Class Preparation Material: The Gathering of Israel,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material (2019)
“Lesson 11 Class Preparation Material,” Foundations of the Restoration Teacher Material
The children of Israel are the descendants of the Old Testament prophet Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. They are partakers of the same covenant God gave to Jacob’s father Isaac and to his grandfather Abraham (see Genesis 26:3–4, 24; Abraham 2:6–11). Jacob’s 12 sons and their descendants are the “house of Israel” or the “twelve tribes of Israel.” At times “the Lord scattered and afflicted the twelve tribes of Israel because of their unrighteousness and rebellion. However, the Lord also used this scattering of His chosen people among the nations of the world to bless those nations” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Israel,” scriptures.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Consider marking some of the following prophecies about the gathering of Israel.
The Book of Mormon teaches that the Savior Himself will gather the descendants of Jacob.
In our dispensation, some early Church members had great interest in the Book of Mormon prophecy about the gathering of God’s people in the last days to build Zion in preparation for the Savior’s Second Coming (see 3 Nephi 21:23–26). Days before a Church conference in September 1830, Joseph Smith and others inquired of the Lord concerning this prophecy and received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 29.
A month after this revelation was given, Oliver Cowdery and three others began a missionary journey to help in the gathering of the Lord’s elect.
The missionaries’ greatest success came when they stopped in the area of Kirtland, Ohio. There they baptized about 130 converts, principally from among the Reformed Baptist congregation of Sidney Rigdon, thus opening what would become a gathering place for hundreds of Church members the following year. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 150)
After this first missionary effort, the Lord continued to call missionaries to the work of gathering those who would listen to His voice.
At the end of December 1830, the Lord revealed through Joseph Smith His will for the Church regarding a gathering place in Ohio:
“A commandment I give unto the church,” He declared, “that they should assemble together at the Ohio.” They were to gather with the new converts in the Kirtland area and wait for the missionaries to return from the West. …
The call to move to Ohio seemed to bring the Saints closer to fulfilling ancient prophecies about the gathering of God’s people. The Bible and Book of Mormon both promised that the Lord would gather together His covenant people to safeguard them against the perils of the last days. (Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, vol. 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846 , 109)
Through this and other revelations, the Saints were commanded to gather together first to Ohio and Missouri, then to Illinois, and then to the Salt Lake Valley. In each of these places of gathering, the Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught:
The Lord gathers His people to worship, to build up the Church, for a defense, and to receive counsel and instruction. …
The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that in all ages the divine purpose of gathering is to build temples so that the Lord’s children can receive the highest ordinances and thereby gain eternal life [see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 416–19]. (David A. Bednar, “The Spirit and Purposes of Gathering” [Brigham Young University–Idaho devotional, Oct. 31, 2006], byui.edu)
Today the Lord physically gathers His people to the stakes of Zion and to temples in nations throughout the earth.
He is also spiritually gathering them to the knowledge of His gospel (see 1 Nephi 15:12–16).
One early convert to the newly restored Church named Heber C. Kimball was later called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Heber felt nervous about his ability to share the gospel with others. He recalled:
“About the first day of June 1837, the Prophet Joseph came to me, while I was seated in … the Temple, in Kirtland, and whispering to me, said, ‘Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me, “Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my gospel and open the door of salvation to that nation.”’” Elder Kimball was overwhelmed by the thought of such an undertaking: “I felt myself one of the very weakest of God’s servants. I asked Joseph what I should say when I got there; he told me to go to the Lord and He would guide me, and speak through me by the same spirit that [directed] him.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 327)
Elder Kimball recorded the following in his journal:
Feeling my own weakness and unfitness for such an undertaking, I was led to cry mightily to the Lord for wisdom and for that comfort and support which I so much needed. …
I endeavored to put my trust in God, believing that he would assist me in publishing the truth, give me utterance, and that he would be a present help in the time of need. (Journal of Heber C. Kimball, ed. R. B. Thompson , 15)
Heber C. Kimball later recalled:
I went and performed the mission according to the words of the Prophet of the living God and was gone eleven months and two days from Kirtland, … in which time there were about two thousand souls added to the church and kingdom of God. (Heber C. Kimball, “Sermon,” Deseret News, Dec. 2, 1857, 3)
President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency has also taught that we can rely on the Lord while we help gather Israel by sharing His gospel:
We must pray for the Lord’s help and directions so we can be instruments in His hands for one who is now ready—one He would have us help today. Then, we must be alert to hear and heed the promptings of His Spirit in how we proceed.
Those promptings will come. We know from countless personal testimonies that in His own way and His own time the Lord is preparing persons to accept His gospel. Such persons are searching, and when we are seeking to identify them the Lord will answer their prayers through answering ours. He will prompt and guide those who desire and who sincerely seek guidance in how, where, when, and with whom to share the gospel. (Dallin H. Oaks, “Sharing the Gospel,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 8)
President Nelson has further taught:
Now, participating in the gathering of Israel will require some sacrifice on your part. It may even require some changes in your life. It will definitely take some of your time and energy and your God-given talents. Are you interested? …
… 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. …
… You were sent to earth at this precise time, the most crucial time in the history of the world, to help gather Israel. There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than that. There is nothing of greater consequence. Absolutely nothing.
… This is the mission for which you were sent to earth. (Russell M. Nelson, “Hope of Israel,” 8; italics in original)