More, with regard to the gathering of the Jews

 

On Israel's coastline
Along the Israeli coast (Wikimedia Commons public domain)

 

Pursuing the topic further . . .

 

Does this mean that the remarkable return of hundreds of thousands of Jews from around the world to Palestine is not, in the fullest sense, the promised gathering? I think it does. Does it mean that it has nothing to do with the gathering? No, I think a positive answer to that question is inconceivable. And the scriptures do not commit us to it. Rather, they clearly teach that unbelieving—that is, non-Christian—Jews will be upon the land of Palestine when the Lord returns.

And then shall the Lord set his foot upon this mount, and it shall cleave in twain… And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God. And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king.[1]

In 1875, Elder Orson Pratt offered the clarification that some of the Jews gathering to Palestine would have already accepted the gospel. “Some of them,” he said,

will believe in the true Messiah, and thousands of the more righ­teous, whose fathers did not consent to the shedding of the blood of the Son of God, will receive the gospel before they gather from among the nations. Many of them, however, will not receive the gospel… They will have their synagogues, in which they will preach against Jesus of Nazareth, “that impostor,” as they call him, who was crucified by their fathers.[2]

Perhaps, indeed, the physical return of the Jews to Palestine is designed to play a central role in the advent of a belief in Christ.

Wherefore, he will bring them again out of captivity, and they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance; and they shall be brought out of obscurity and out of darkness; and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.[3]

I like to think of the current state of Israel, and of the Jewish immigration that gave rise to it and continues to sustain it, as a kind of preparatory gathering. It does not seem to meet the Book of Mormon’s requirements for being the “gathering” in the full sense of the word. This full sense was expressed by the late Elder Bruce R. McConkie, of the Council of the Twelve, as follows: “Now I call your attention to the facts, set forth in these scriptures, that the gathering of Israel consists of joining the true Church, of coming to a knowledge of the true God and of his saving truths, and of worshiping him in the congregations of the Saints in all nations and among all peoples.”[4]

 

[1] Doctrine and Covenants 45:48, 51-53.

[2] Journal of Discourses 18:64.

[3] 1 Nephi 22:12.

[4] Bruce R. McConkie, in Official Report of the First Mexico and Central America Area General Conference (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1973), 45.

 

 

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