Jacob was a great prophet who lived hundreds of years before the time of Christ. Jacob was so faithful in keeping the commandments of God that Heavenly Father gave him the special name of
. Jacob was the father of twelve sons, and these sons along with their families became known as the twelve tribes of Israel , or Israelites (see Genesis 49:28). Israel
The Bible Dictionary tells us that the name
means “one who prevails with God” or “let God prevail.” "This name was given to Jacob at Penuel (Genesis 32:28) and at Israel (Genesis 35:10). It [the name Bethel ] also applies to [Jacob's] descendants and to their kingdom (2 Samuel 1:24; 23:3). After the division of the kingdom, the northern tribes, as the larger part, retained the name Israel Israel, while the southern kingdom was called . The Judah land of Canaan is also called today. And in another sense Israel means the true believer in Christ, as explained by Paul (Romans 10:1; 11:7; Galatians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12). The name Israel is therefore variously used to denote (1) the man Jacob, (2) the literal descendants of Jacob, and (3) the true believers in Christ, regardless of their lineage or geographical location." (See Bible Dictionary, p. 708.) Israel
Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob, was so righteous that God made an everlasting covenant with him, and this covenant was renewed with Isaac, with Jacob, and with the posterity of Jacob. God promised the Israelites that they would be His covenant people for as long as they would keep His commandments (see Deuteronomy 28:9-10). God also told them that they would be a blessing to all the nations of the world by taking the gospel and the priesthood to them (see Abraham 2:9-11). Through taking the blessings of the gospel and the priesthood to the world, the Israelites would keep their covenants with Heavenly Father, and He would keep His covenant with them.
Prophets counseled the Israelites to keep their part of the covenant and warned time after time what would happen if they were wicked. Moses told them, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deuteronomy 28:64). For some reason, the Israelites could not keep the commandments of God. They fought among themselves and eventually split into two kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom was called the
kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom was called the . kingdom of Judah
The Northern Kingdom consisted of ten of the twelve tribes of
. The Israel Northern Kingdom was conquered by enemies and taken into captivity, but some of them later escaped into the lands of the north to become lost to the rest of the world. Thus, they are known as the Lost Tribes.
The Southern Kingdom survived for another 100 years before they were also conquered. Many members of the remaining two tribes were taken into captivity when the city of
was destroyed in 587 B.C. Some members of these two tribes were later able to return and rebuild Jerusalem . Lehi and his family, who were of the house of Jerusalem Israel, left just before it was destroyed and then settled on the American continents. Jerusalem
The Lord promised to gather His covenant people some day: “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them” (Jeremiah 23:3).
God explained that the gathering of the house of
would take place through missionary work. When people are taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, receive the ordinances of salvation, and keep the associated covenants, they become “children of the covenant” (3 Nephi 20:26). God gathers His children for a number of important reasons. One reason for the gathering is so they can learn the teachings of the gospel and be prepared to meet Jesus Christ when He returns to earth. Another reason why God gathers His children is so they can build temples where they perform the sacred temple ordinances for ancestors who died without that blessing. God also gathers His children in order that they can strengthen each other, find protection from the wicked influences of the world, and become unified in the gospel. Another reason why God gathers His children is so they can learn to share the gospel with other people. Israel
Moses, under direction from God, bestowed the power and authority to direct the gathering of the house of
Israel to Joseph Smith when he appeared in the in 1836 (see Doctrine and Covenants 110:11). Each prophet in succession has held the keys for the gathering of the house of Kirtland Temple . This gathering is an important part of the work performed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. God is currently gathering His covenant people as they accept the restored gospel and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Deuteronomy 30:1-5). Israel
The Israelites will be gathered spiritually before they are gathered physically. They are gathered spiritually when they join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and make and keep sacred covenants. This spiritual gathering started during the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith and continues all over the world today. Converts to the Church are Israelites either by blood or by adoption, and they belong to the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see Abraham 2:9-11; Galatians 3:26-29).
President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “There are many nations represented in the … Church. … They have come because the Spirit of the Lord rested upon them; … receiving the spirit of gathering, they left everything for the sake of the gospel” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954-56], 3:256; italics in original).
The physical gathering takes place when the covenant people are “gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise” (2 Nephi 9:2). The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh will receive the
as their inheritance and be gathered there. The tribe of Americas Judah will return to the city of and the area surrounding it. The ten lost tribes will receive their promised blessings from the tribe of Ephraim (see Doctrine and Covenants 133:26-34). Jerusalem
In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, converts were instructed to gather to where the Church was located – first in
Ohio, then Missouri, and then the . Prophets today tell Church members to build up the Salt Lake Valley in their own lands. Elder Russell M. Nelson stated: “The choice to come unto Christ is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual commitment. People can be `brought to the knowledge of the Lord’ [3 Nephi 20:13] without leaving their homelands. True, in the early days of the Church, conversion often meant emigration as well. But now the gathering takes place in each nation…. The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in kingdom of God Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in ; and so forth. Korea is `the pure in heart.’ [Doctrine and Covenants 97:21.] Zion is wherever righteous Saints are” (Ensign, Nov. 2006, 81). Zion
The physical gathering of the house of
will continue until the Second Coming of the Savior and on into the Millennium (see Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:37). At that time the Lord’s promise will be fulfilled: Israel
“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
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” (Jeremiah 16:14-15). Israel
I am blessed to be a part of the gathering of the house of
. I look forward with excitement to see how the Lord orchestrates the gathering of His covenant people. Israel