“12 Facts about the Gathering of Israel,” New Era, July 2019, page–page.
The tenth article of faith says, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes.” So, what does it actually mean?
This question is especially relevant since President Russell M. Nelson has challenged youth to “enlist in the youth battalion of the Lord to help gather Israel” because the gathering is “the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today” (“Hope of Israel” [worldwide youth devotional, June 3, 2018], 8, 13, HopeofIsrael.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Here are 12 facts about the gathering, with some background to help you see how the gathering fits into the gospel—and how you fit into the gathering.
God made a covenant with Abraham, promising him that:
Israel had 12 sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Joseph, and Benjamin (see Genesis 29–30).
The 12 sons moved to Egypt where their descendants formed 12 tribes who were eventually enslaved (see Genesis 49).
The 12 tribes followed Moses out of Egypt and received the Lord’s law, priesthood, covenants, and ordinances, and later inherited a promised land (see Exodus 12–13).
Ultimately, the Abrahamic covenant also includes temple ordinances, which allow us to inherit eternal life with Heavenly Father and be sealed to our families forever (see Abraham 2:6–11).
Because they were unrighteous, rebelled, and killed the prophets, the Lord punished Israel and scattered them, placing Abraham’s seed throughout the earth.
Israel split into the northern and southern kingdoms (see 1 Kings 12:20–21), and in 721 BC, the 10 northern tribes of Israel were carried captive to Assyria and then were scattered and lost.
The remaining Israelites, mostly from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, swung back and forth between righteousness and wickedness.
In 605 BC and again in 597 BC, Israelites were carried captive from Jerusalem to Babylon (see 2 Chronicles 36).
In 537 BC, Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered Babylon, allowed them to return (see Ezra 1:2–3).
In AD 70 and again in AD 135, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, scattering the Jews among all nations.
Both ancient and modern prophets, from Enoch to Joseph Smith, have foretold that the Lord’s covenant people would be gathered again in a future day—first spiritually and then temporally (see 1 Nephi 15:12–16; 19:16).
The gathering is a prelude to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see Moses 7:61–65).
The gathering is part of the Restoration and has priesthood keys associated with it, which were restored when Moses delivered them to Joseph Smith (see D&C 110:11).
Though the Lord’s people may sometimes be asked to gather to a particular place, people today generally are gathered when they accept the gospel, receive ordinances, and make covenants (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:2).
All people can be gathered to Israel, either by direct descent or by adoption, which happens when they are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Those who have been baptized can later receive a patriarchal blessing, which declares their lineage in a tribe of Israel.
The Book of Mormon is written to “the remnant of the house of Israel” and to “the Jew and Gentile” (Book of Mormon title page) and is a sign that God is fulfilling His covenant to gather Israel in the last days (see 3 Nephi 21), as well as a major instrument of that gathering.