Prophesied thousands of years ago, it is the most relevant thing for you today.
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.” (Watch the entire broadcast.)
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’s Covenant with Abraham
- God made a covenant with Abraham, promising him that:
- He would have numerous posterity.
- His seed would have the gospel and the priesthood.
- All the earth would be blessed through his seed.
- This covenant was passed down through Abraham’s son Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob (who was also called Israel).
- Israel had 12 sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Joseph, and Benjamin.
- The 12 sons moved to Egypt, where their descendants formed 12 tribes who were eventually enslaved.
- The 12 tribes followed Moses out of Egypt and received the Lord’s law, ordinances, priesthood, and covenants and later inherited a promised land.
- 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. (Read more about What Abraham’s Covenant Means to You.)
- Ancient prophets, including Moses, foretold the scattering of Israel.
- Because they were unrighteous, rebelled, and killed the prophets, the Lord punished Israel and scattered them.
- In 721 BC, 10 of the tribes of Israel were carried captive to Assyria and then were scattered and lost.
- The remaining Israelites swung back and forth between righteousness and wickedness.
- In 605 BC and again in 597 BC, Israelites were carried captive from Jerusalem to Babylon.
- In 537 BC, Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered Babylon, allowed them to return.
- In 70 AD and again in 135 AD, 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. (Read: 4 Prophets Who Have Seen Our Day.)
- The gathering is a prelude to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
- 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.
- 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 major instrument of the gathering in the last days.
Want to know more?
- Russell M. Nelson, “The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Oct. 2006 general conference.
- Russell M. Nelson, “The Book of Mormon, the Gathering of Israel, and the Second Coming,” Ensign, July 2014, 26.
- Guide to the Scriptures, “Israel,” scriptures.lds.org.
- “Abrahamic Covenant,” topics.lds.org.