Carrying on with the first draft of my book on the Islam and the Middle East for Latter-day Saints:
At the beginning of this book, I said that we would treat the question of whether Orson Hyde’s mission to the Near East had been a success. The answer, I think, should by now be completely beyond dispute. It is clear that many portions of Elder Hyde’s inspired prayer have at least begun to be fulfilled.
- Judah ‘s scattered remnants have indeed begun to gather back to Palestine, according to the predictions of the holy prophets. (Nowhere in scripture are we told what number of Jews need to return to the Holy Land, nor are we told what percentage of the world’s Jews need to be involved.) Large ships have returned them from virtually every corner of the earth.
- Many foreign governments have gone to unusual lengths to assist Israel and to aid in the emigration of Jews to Palestine.
- Israeli ingenuity and industry have reclaimed large tracts of desert land and restored them to fertility.
- Jerusalem has been built up again. It is a beautiful city, with modern buildings, hospitals, a great university, museums, a philharmonic orchestra, and a vibrant commercial and cultural life. At the same time, much of its ancient and medieval character has been preserved. And, although many nations (until recently including the United States) do not officially recognize its status, Jerusalem functions today as the capital of a Jewish state.
- No divinely authorized temple has yet been built in Jerusa
- No Davidic king presides over the gathered Jews.
- The returning Jews have not, for the most part, come home with “a spirit of grace and supplication.” Many of them are thoroughly secular, Jews only in a cultural sense. Their unbelief has not yet been conquered and subdued. From the perspective of the restored gospel, their hearts remain stony.
“In the Jewish tradition, there is at the same time Jerusalem in the heavens and Jerusalem on the ground. Jerusalem is a living city, but also the heart, the soul of the Jewish people and the state of Israel.” (Yitzhak Rabin)