My Come, Follow Me lesson this week was Doctrine and Covenants 29. This revelation was given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, in the presence of six elders, in September 1830, at Fayette, New York. It was given several days before the conference that began September 26, 1830. It reveals much information about the gathering of Israel, the Millennium, the conditions that will precede the Second Coming of Christ, the last resurrection, and the final judgment after the Millennium. There are numerous other topics in this section.
Even though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been organized on April 6, 1830, there were still many truths to be revealed and many questions to be answered. They were familiar with prophecies in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ about the gathering of Israel and the building up of Zion (see 3 Nephi 21). How would the gathering take place? Where would Zion be built?
In addition, Hiram Page claimed to receive revelations, and people had increased curiosity about revelations (see Doctrine and Covenants 28). Other people had questions about the Fall of Adam and Eve and spiritual death. The Lord welcomed these questions: “Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:6). He also welcomes our questions today. He wants to teach us, and He waits for us to go to Him in prayer with our questions. Section 29 shows that God often imparts more truth and knowledge than a simple answer to a prayerful question. The first topic covered in Section 29 is the gathering of Israel.
1 Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, the Great I Am, whose arm of mercy hath atoned for your sins;
2 Who will gather his people even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me, and call upon me in mighty prayer.
3 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that at this time your sins are forgiven you, therefore ye receive these things; but remember to sin no more, lest perils shall come upon you.
4 Verily, I say unto you that ye are chosen out of the world to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump.
5 Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.
6 And, as it is written – Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer according to my command, ye shall receive.
7 And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice land harden not their hearts;
8 Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked (Doctrine and Covenants 29:1-8).
This revelation taught the small group of men that the members of the newly organized church are chosen to take the gospel to the world and to gather the Lord’s “elect.” The Lord defined His “elect” as those who “hear [His] voice and harden not their hearts” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:7). The Lord’s elect is anyone who assists the Lord in the work of salvation (see Doctrine and Covenants 101:39-40; 115:5; 138:55-56). The gathering begins when individuals hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, make covenants with God, and gather with the Saints. This gathering must take place for God’s people to be prepared for “the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:8).
In the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ, new converts gathered to where the main body of the Saints was located. They first gathered in Jackson County, Missouri, but were later driven from their homes. They gathered in Far West, Missouri, but were driven out of Missouri. They gathered to Nauvoo, Illinois, and later to the Salt Lake Valley. It is no longer necessary for converts to gather to a specific geographical place. They are counseled to remain in their home country and to build up the stakes of Zion wherever they live. President Spencer W. Kimball explained the law of the gathering of Israel.
The gather of Israel consists of joining the true Church and … coming to a knowledge of the true God…. Any person, therefore, who has accepted the restored gospel, and who now seeks to worship the Lord in his own tongue and with the Saints in the nations where he lives, has complied with the law of the gathering of Israel, and is heir to all of the blessings promised the Saints in these last days” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 439).
In the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ, there was only one “stake of Zion,” so converts were counseled to gather to a central gathering place. Now there are “stakes of Zion” located in many of the nations on earth, and new converts can gather with the Saints in their local stakes. President Russell M. Nelson, then-President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught how the gathering of God’s elect takes place today.
Here on earth, missionary work is crucial to the gathering of Israel…. Consequently, servants of the Lord have gone forth proclaiming the Restoration. In many nations our missionaries have searched for those of scattered Israel….
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 Lord has decreed the establishment of Zion [see Doctrine and Covenants 6:6; 11:6; 12:6; 14:6] in each realm where He has given His Saints their birth and nationality. Scripture foretells that the people “shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise” [2 Nephi 9:2]. “Every nation is the gathering place for its own people” [Bruce R. McConkie, in Conference Report, Mexico City Mexico Area Conference 1972, 45]. The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in Korea; and so forth. Zion is “the pure in heart” [Doctrine and Covenants 97:21]. Zion is wherever righteous Saints are. Publications, communications, and congregations are now such that nearly all members have access to the doctrines, keys, ordinances, and blessings of the gospel, regardless of their location” (“The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, 81).
The gathering of Israel continues to take place, and there are many ways to assist in the work. My sons and sons-in-law served as missionaries in their young adulthood. Now their children are following in their footsteps. My oldest grandson will complete his mission in early June, and my oldest granddaughter plans to leave on her mission in mid-July. Other grandchildren are quickly reaching the age of missionary work.
Other gathering takes place as we live our lives and show good examples to the communities around us. I try to use this blog as an instrument to help in the gathering. Wherever we live, there are opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and assist in His work of gathering Israel in preparation for His return to earth.