Gathering of Israel

“Gathering of Israel,” Topics and Questions (2023)

church congregation singing

Gospel Study Guide

Gathering of Israel

The greatest cause on earth today

Have you ever blown on a plant such as a dandelion and watched the seeds scatter? What would it take to gather all those seeds back up? It seems impossible. But all things are possible with God.

The Old Testament tells of another kind of scattering—when God’s covenant people were “scattered … with a whirlwind among all the nations” (Zechariah 7:14). But through His prophets, the Lord promised that they would one day be gathered again (see Deuteronomy 4:27–31).

We call it “the gathering of Israel,” and it began as the Church of Jesus Christ was restored in the latter days and His gospel started to spread throughout the world. This gathering effort has continued to gain momentum as the Restoration of the gospel has moved forward.

What Is the Gathering of Israel?

When speaking of the gathering of Israel, Israel refers to the literal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It also refers to those who have been adopted into their family through the covenant of baptism. Anciently, God scattered the children of Israel because of their wickedness and rebellion. Israel is gathered as God’s children accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation, make covenants with God, and strive to keep those covenants.

Related gospel study guides: Everlasting Covenant, Inviting All to Receive the Gospel, Patriarchal Blessings, Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Section 1

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ Are Part of the House of Israel

family in congregation

The Lord established His everlasting covenant with Adam. He renewed it with Abraham and Sarah, with their son Isaac, and with their grandson Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Israel’s descendants are known as “the house of Israel.” But in our day, the term applies much more broadly.

Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ and enters His covenant path by joining His restored Church—regardless of their lineage—is gathered to the house of Israel and becomes part of the Lord’s covenant people (see Exodus 6:7; 1 Nephi 14:14; 3 Nephi 21:6; Abraham 2:10). These followers of Christ are children of the covenant (see 3 Nephi 20:25–27). As they keep their covenants, they receive the same blessings promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Doctrine and Covenants 38:17–20; 132:30–31; Abraham 2:9–11).

Things to think about

  • To learn more about how Church members are part of the house of Israel, you could study President Russell M. Nelson’s talk “Let God Prevail.”1 What does it mean to you to be part of “Israel”? You could also read or listen to the words of hymns that talk about Israel, such as “Redeemer of Israel,” “Israel, Israel, God Is Calling,” and “Hope of Israel,”2 replacing the word “Israel” with “covenant keepers” to see what insights you gain.

  • Elder David A. Bednar has taught about the importance of choosing to be part of God’s covenant people by following His laws: “We have both God’s call and our individual response to that call, and many may be called but few chosen. To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather, you and I ultimately can choose to be chosen through the righteous exercise of our moral agency.” 3 What blessings come to us as we “choose to be chosen” as part of the house of Israel? What more might you do to choose to be chosen?

Activities for learning with others

  • You could read together the part of President Nelson’s talk “Choices for Eternity4 where he discusses labels. Then look at labels on food or other containers and talk about how the labels on these items influence what we think about them. What three labels for us did President Nelson say should take priority over all other labels? How can the label “child of the covenant” help us understand the blessings that can come from being members of the house of Israel? Read 3 Nephi 20:25–27, and discuss what these verses teach us about what the Lord expects of us as His covenant children.

  • Though God’s everlasting covenant has been made with specific people throughout the centuries, everyone can be part of it. Elder Quentin L. Cook taught, “Those who accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, regardless of lineage, become part of gathered Israel.”5 You could review Elder Cook’s message “Safely Gathered Home” to learn more about the importance of being part of gathered Israel. Discuss what you learn.

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Section 2

The Gathering of Israel Is the Most Important Cause on the Earth Today

sister missionaries

The ancient Israelites were scattered because they rejected Jehovah and were not faithful to their covenants with Him (see Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 4:23–27). This scattering happened over time, as the Israelites were conquered by other nations and carried away into captivity (see 2 Kings 17:6–23; 25:1–12; 1 Nephi 22:3–5). Even more tragically, many of them lost their sense of identity as God’s covenant people (see 2 Nephi 6:8–11).

But the Lord had not forgotten them. He promised that He would gather His people after they had been scattered for a time (see 2 Nephi 10:6–8; Doctrine and Covenants 33:6). God’s people are being gathered as they come to a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and come unto Him (see 1 Nephi 19:16).

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the main object in gathering the people of God was to help them receive the ordinances of the temple and prepare them for salvation.6 The gathering of scattered Israel is just as important now as it was in the time of the Prophet Joseph. President Russell M. Nelson called it “the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today.”7 It is how God’s children can come to know and ultimately return to Him.

Things to think about

  • President Nelson has spoken often about the importance of the gathering of Israel. He has declared: “The Lord is gathering those who will choose to let God be the most important influence in their lives. For centuries, prophets have foretold this gathering, and it is happening right now! As an essential prelude to the Second Coming of the Lord, it is the most important work in the world!”8 Think about what it might mean that this is the “most important work” on earth. How can this knowledge help you decide how you spend your time, talents, energy, and resources?

Activities for learning with others

hen gathering chickens
  • You could study 3 Nephi 10:5–6 and Doctrine and Covenants 29:1–8 and discuss how the Lord is gathering His people in the last days. How is the gathering of Israel like a hen gathering her chicks? As you ponder these scripture passages and this question, look at the accompanying image of a hen and chicks. Share with each other details from the picture that seem important. How do these details help you understand what the Lord wants to teach us about gathering? How are we protected physically and spiritually as we gather with other Saints?

  • You could watch the video “Jesus Christ Prophesies of the Gathering of Israel” to learn more about the gathering in our day. What does the Savior teach in this account about how the gathering of Israel will be fulfilled? Talk about what you learn and how it is relevant to us today.

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Section 3

Latter-day Saints Have a Responsibility to Help the Lord Gather Israel

young men sharing scripture

The gathering of Israel is both spiritual and physical (see 1 Nephi 22:3; Gospel Principles [2011], 248). Soon after the Church of Jesus Christ was restored, the Lord commanded the Saints to gather physically in Kirtland, Ohio; Independence, Missouri; Nauvoo, Illinois; and eventually the Salt Lake Valley. Today, rather than gathering in one location, Church members build up the Lord’s Church in the areas where they live as they gather to the Savior—to His doctrine and His covenants (see 2 Nephi 10:2).

Church members have a duty to assist with the gathering (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:2, 7; 88:81; Abraham 2:10–11). Sharing the gospel is an essential part of that effort. So are temple and family history work, as we seek to help gather Israel among both the living and the dead.

Things to think about

  • Elder Ronald A. Rasband has emphasized the importance of missionary work in helping to gather Israel. He said: “We are gathering God’s children in these last days that they might have ‘blessings poured out upon their heads’ [3 Nephi 10:18] and the promises of ‘the riches of eternity’ [Doctrine and Covenants 78:18]. It follows that to gather Israel we need missionaries—many more than are [currently] serving. … As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I ask you to serve as a missionary in the gathering of Israel.”9 Consider how you might help the Lord gather His people—with or without a formal calling as a missionary. Record the impressions you receive, and act on them.

Activities for learning with others

  • Read Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–16 together, and share with each other your impressions about how God feels about His children. Why is the work of gathering His children so important to Him? What do we find in these verses that inspires us to help gather Israel?

  • How do we help gather Israel? Consider this powerful explanation from President Nelson: “Anytime you do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel. It is as simple as that.”10 It might be fun to make a list of activities that are part of gathering Israel. See who can make the longest list! You could also share with each other some things you have done this week—or that you plan to do in the coming week—to help in the great work of gathering Israel. (Examples could include teaching a Primary or Sunday School class, doing family history, attending the temple, sharing a scripture on social media, or helping someone in need.) What blessings have you seen as you have helped God in His work of gathering His people to Him?

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