Sermoncitos, a family tradition
The Gathering of Israel
Janeen and I recently read a high adventure detective novel that depicted the struggle in the Middle East (that affects all the world) as beginning with the struggle between the various descendants of Abraham. The book, like all the rest of the world, thinks of his descendants in terms of the Arabs and the Jews, and Abraham’s religious legacy as Muslim, Jew, and Christian. Modern revelation helps us understand much more about the legacy of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Lord made an everlasting covenant with Abraham that all the earth would be blessed through his son Isaac, but not his other children. Isaac’s priesthood blessing was passed on through his son Jacob. His other son received other blessings, including a large and prosperous posterity. The tribes of Israel received various aspects of this blessing from the Patriarchs of old (Deuteronomy 32:7-9; 28:9-10). The Gospel was exclusive to a narrow population of the earth for millenia. Then Jesus fulfilled the Law and gave a new commandment: “love one another” (John 13:34); and “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). One of the blessings to Abraham, was that through the priesthood of his lineage, all the earth would be blessed.
One group to receive the Gospel is the descendants of Jacob of the 12 tribes. Jesus came to the tribe of Judah, but said to them: ”and other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10: 16). He fulfilled part of this prophecy when He appeared to the descendants of Lehi, but there was more: “And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister” (3 Ne. 16: 1). We are given to understand that the 12 tribes of Israel are scattered throughout the earth, but not forgotten by the God who covenanted with them.
And that is not all. The covenant of Abraham is to bless all the earth: “And it shall also be of worth unto the Gentiles; and not only unto the Gentiles but unto all the house of Israel, unto the making known of the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” (1 Ne. 22: 9). Those who are not literal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are adopted into Israel when they are baptized into the church. All the people of the earth participate in the gathering of Israel. “Every stake on earth is the gathering place for the lost sheep of Israel who live in its area” (Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, May 1977, p. 118).
“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers” (Jer. 16: 14-15).
May you be blessed with the spirit of the gathering of Israel, restored by Moses to Joseph Smith on April 3, 1836, and keep the covenants that will bring the Spirit of God into your family today.