Friday, September 5, 2008

Israel: Scattering and Gathering

The 10th Article of Faith says, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”

Abraham begat Isaac who then begat Jacob. Jacob worked for seven years to marry Rachel. On his wedding night, it was not Rachel who was in his tent, but her older sister, Leah, because a younger sister could not marry if an older sister remained unmarried. Jacob was not pleased that he’d been tricked into marrying Leah, but consented to work another seven years for Rachel, the one he truly loved.

While Leah gave Jacob four sons, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Rachel remained barren. In an effort to vicariously give children to her husband, she offered her handmaid, Bilhah, to Jacob to take as a wife. Bilhah bore Dan and Naphtali. Since Leah had not borne any more children, she then gave Jacob her handmaid, Zilpah who gave birth to Gad and Asher. Leah was then able to conceive Issachar and Zebulun and later a daughter named Dinah. Finally, after many years, Rachel conceived and bore Joseph. Years later, she conceived again and gave birth to Benjamin, the last of Jacob’s sons. In total, Jacob fathered twelve sons and one daughter.

Jacob’s name was changed to Israel when he met a heavenly messenger. Each son’s descendants were known by the tribe named for their father. Many people believe that Israel only includes the tribe of Judah, when in fact it refers to all of the sons of Jacob/Israel and all of the descendants. The oldest son, Reuben, gave up his birthright by committing a serious moral sin so all of the blessings bestowed on the house of Israel bypassed Reuben and were given to Joseph.

Because the house of Israel continued to be disobedient over the years, they were eventually scattered throughout the earth and appear in many nations, particularly in the north countries and the isles of the sea. We believe that the descendants of these tribes will be gathered before the second coming of Jesus Christ. The gathering has already begun.

We also believe that the New Jerusalem will be built on the American continent. Latter-day revelation reveals that the center place will be in Jackson County, Missouri. The Lord will return and reign in all of His glory. The earth will be cleansed and returned to a paradisiacal state as it was in the Garden of Eden.

“Article 10 tells of our belief ‘in the literal gathering of Israel,’ that Zion will be built again and Christ will return and ‘reign personally upon the earth.’ It was in June of 1830 that Samuel Smith, the brother of the Prophet, embarked on the first missionary journey to proclaim the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Thus began the gathering of Zion. The word went forth from Mount Zion to the peoples of the earth that the gospel had been restored. Today the work of uniting our Father in Heaven’s children continues as we prepare for His ultimate return, for His millennial reign over the earth. We are anxiously and personally engaged in that great literal gathering when we profess His everlasting gospel to our friends, our neighbors, and the other peoples of the earth." (L. Tom Perry, “The Articles of Faith,” Ensign, May 1998, 22).

Return to the neighborhood.

No comments: