Material for all of these chapters can be found in two chapters of the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church:... (the old Priesthood/Relief Society manuals), in Joseph Smith, chapter 15 and in Brigham Young, chapter 44. These can all be found by going to the new “lds.org” then click on “Go to Classic LDS.org” (lower left corner), then click on “Gospel Library” then “Lessons” then “Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society.” The manuals are all found at the bottom of this page.
As with the last lesson Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual will be a wonderful resource for this lesson. It is available online at “institute.lds.org” then click on “Course Catalog” on the top bar.
1 - - The House of Israel Are God’s Covenant People
In the Bible Dictionary, it states that “Israel” means “One who prevails with God” (p. 708).
This section discusses the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Following is a repeat from Chapter 15 in this blog concerning this covenant:
In the February 2006 Ensign was a wonderful article, along with some terrific artwork (not usually included online) entitled “Abraham: Father of the Faithful.” Here is a quote from that article:
In the Old Testament, Abraham is regarded as the head of the covenant line, which is personified in the house of Israel. He is often called the “father of the faithful.” Abraham received the gospel through baptism, or the covenant of salvation. The higher priesthood was conferred upon him, and he entered into celestial marriage, the covenant of exaltation, gaining assurance that he would have eternal increase. He received a promise that these same blessings would be offered to his mortal posterity. The divine promises to Abraham assured that Christ would come through his lineage and that Abraham’s posterity would receive certain lands as an eternal inheritance. These promises are called the Abrahamic covenant.
Heavenly Father’s children who are of non-Israelite lineage can be adopted into the house of Israel, becoming heirs of the covenant and the seed of Abraham through the ordinances of the gospel. (See Bible Dictionary, “Abraham,” 601; and “Abraham, Covenant of,” 602.) (p. 38)
As before stated in this blog, a terrific resource is the "LDS Scripture Citation Index," where you can click on any scripture and pull up all times that scripture was used in a conference talk. Just Google that title and it is the first item that comes up. You can also put “scriptures.byu.edu” in your address bar to pull it up. The following great quote from a conference talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks was found this way looking under “Galatians 3:29”:
The Bible tells us how God made a covenant with Abraham and promised him that through him all “families” or “nations” of the earth would be blessed (see Gen. 12:3 Gen. 22:18). What we call the Abrahamic covenant opens the door for God’s choicest blessings to all of His children everywhere. (Ensign, May 2006, 77)
If you want a good outline of the “blessings” promised to Abraham (discussed in the second paragraph of this section—after the beginning question), Paul K. Browning, did a good job in an Ensign article:
In brief, the covenant promises Abraham the following blessings if he is faithful:
1. Both his literal posterity and all those who accept the gospel will be counted as Abraham’s seed (see Abr. 2:10-11).
2. His seed will be as numerous as the stars of heaven (see Gen. 15:5).
3. His seed will be inheritors of a land that will be theirs as an everlasting possession (see Abr. 2:6; Gen. 17:7-8).
4. His seed will be the means of spreading the gospel and the priesthood to all the world (see Abr. 2:9). (Ensign, Jul 1998, 54)
The combination “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” are used 47 times in the Old Testament (19), New Testament (10), Book of Mormon (14) and Doctrine and Covenants (4). They may be grouped as follows:
Promised Land (Gen. 50:24; Ex. 6:8, 33:1; Num. 32:11; Deut. 1:8, 6:10, 9:5, 30:20, and 34:4)
Covenant People (Ex. 2:24; Lev. 26:42; Deut. 29:13; 2 Kings 13:23; Jer. 33:26; Acts 7:8;
1 Nephi 17:40 and D&C 98:32)
In Heaven (Matt. 8:11; Luke 13:28; Alma 7:25 and Hel. 3:30) and specifically, in the Celestial Kingdom (D&C 133:55, 136:21 and 138:41)
I am the God of… (Ex. 3:6, 3:16, 4:5; Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37; Acts 3:13, 7:32;
1 Nephi 6:4, 19:10; Mosi. 7:19, 23:23; Alma 5:24, 29:11, 36:2; 3 Nephi 4:30; Morm. 9:11;)
I appeared to (Ex. 6:3)
Great Sacrament Meeting in Last Days (D&C 27:10)
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt. 1:2 and Luke 1:34)
Plural Marriage (D&C 132:1)
To be remembered (Deut. 9:27)
Some very significant phrases from the above are:
I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. (Exodus 3:6)
And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD:
And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob… (Exodus 6:2 - 3)
Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham… (Leviticus 26:42)
I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob… (Matthew 22:32)
…this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and thy fathers, Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham (D&C 98:32)
Noah…Shem…Abraham, the father of the faithful; Isaac, Jacob, and Moses (D&C 138:41)
Now, what is the significance of all this? It appears that the Lord wants us to know from the Bible as well as lattter-day scripture that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are very important in several matters.
One reason for all of this may very well be the split at Abraham into two major cultures who both consider themselves the children of father Abraham. One is the Jewish and Christian people, through Abraham’s son Isaac. The other is the Islam people through Abraham’s son Ishmael. The following from Wikipedia is from the Qur’an, the Islamic equivalent of the Bible (much of it being very similar in content):
When Abraham's son reached the age of young youth, Abraham was given the command to sacrifice his son. This was a tremendous trial for the patriarch as his only son was being asked to be offered to God. When Abraham, however, told his son about his revelation, his son readily accepted his father's order. This clearly showed Abraham that his son was as devoted to God as he was. Then, when Abraham lay his son down, upon his forehead, and was about to sacrifice him and offer him up, a voice called out to him, telling him that he had fulfilled the vision and had passed the test of God successfully. Abraham was than rewarded with a momentous sacrifice, which is usually believed to have been a ram, goat or sheep.
One thing of note is that the name of the son is not given in the Qur’an, but most accept that it was Ishmael because the following passages discuss the birth of Isaac.
Abraham is of immense importance in Islam. He became the leader of the righteous in his time and it was through him that the people of both Arabia and Israel came (see, “Islamic View of Abraham”).
Also from Wikipedia:
The Qur’an states that Abraham dreamed he was to sacrifice his son. The son is not named in the Qur'an (see Qur’an 37:99—113) and in early Islam, there was a controversy over the son's identity. However the belief that the son was Ishmael prevailed, and this view is continued to be endorsed by Muslim scholars (see, “Ishmael”).
This historical Mount Moriah upon which Abraham was called to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22:20) was also the mount upon which Solomon was commanded to build the temple (2 Chron. 3:1). This temple was subsequently restored by Zerubbabel and partially rebuilt by Herod (see Bible Dictionary, 781). On this mount today stands the Dome of the Rock.
According to Sunni Islamic tradition, the rock is the spot from which Muhammad ascended to Heaven (see Wikipedia, “Dome of the Rock”). At the Dome of the Rock, a guide told one of our friends, “Here Abraham sacrificed his son Ishmael.” By many, the Dome of the Rock is considered the third-most sacred location in Islam.
One teaching of the Qur’an that deserves major attention here is its doctrine of Jesus Christ. Again, from Wikipedia:
Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered to have been a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of God), as he preached that his followers should adopt the "straight path" as commanded by God.
Islam rejects the Christian view that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God, that he was ever crucified or resurrected, or that he ever atoned for the sins of mankind.
The Qur'an says that Jesus himself never claimed any of these things, and it furthermore indicates that Jesus will deny having ever claimed divinity at the Last Judgment, and God will vindicate him. The Qur'an emphasizes that Jesus was a mortal human being who, like all other prophets, had been divinely chosen to spread God's message (see, “Jesus in Islam”).
Satan, of course, is the author of attacks against the divinity and atonement of Jesus Christ. Following is a repeat from Chapter 36 of this blog. A current prophet, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, has warned:
Satan’s most strenuous opposition is directed at whatever is most important to the Father’s plan. Satan seeks to discredit the Savior and divine authority, to nullify the effects of the Atonement, to counterfeit revelation, to lead people away from the truth… (Ensign, Nov 1993, 72).
It may be, then, that in the scriptures listed above, Jehovah or Jesus Christ is being very clear that the true birthright, the chosen covenant people, and the chosen lands are through the loins of Isaac (and thus on through Jacob), and not through Ishmael. Jehovah told Abraham as much:
And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called (Genesis 21:12).
The Jews have fought over the land now known as Israel with their cousins, the descendants of Ishmael, for 4,000 years.
This mount is also the place where a new temple will be built and from which Jesus Christ will rule during the Millennium. This spot of three millennia of contention will be where the last big battle will take place before the Second Coming will culminate and is where Jesus Christ come and save his chosen people from total destruction. The phrase Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is of crucial importance.
With all of the above it is crucial that we as members of Christ’s true Church separate Satan and those leaders of Islam who he has captured into doing his bidding from our brothers and sisters who are of the Islamic faith. Within a month after 9/11, President Hinckley in general conference made this perfectly clear:
I am pleased that food is being dropped to the hungry people of a targeted nation. We value our Muslim neighbors across the world and hope that those who live by the tenets of their faith will not suffer. I ask particularly that our own people do not become a party in any way to the persecution of the innocent. Rather, let us be friendly and helpful, protective and supportive (Ensign, Nov 2001, 72).
President Hinckley’s very next words, however, warned of the battle with Satan:
It is the terrorist organizations that must be ferreted out and brought down. We of this Church know something of such groups. The Book of Mormon speaks of the Gadianton robbers, a vicious, oath-bound, and secret organization bent on evil and destruction. In their day they did all in their power, by whatever means available, to bring down the Church, to woo the people with sophistry, and to take control of the society. We see the same thing in the present situation (Ensign, Nov 2001, 72).
The covenant of Abraham can be studied in the Bible Dictionary, p. 602). A wealth of information is also available by typing in “Covenant of Abraham” on “lds.org” under “Search all LDS.org” (upper left-hand corner).
2 - - The House of Israel Was Scattered
Concerning the reasons for the scattering of the House of Israel, Joseph Fielding Smith stated:
If you will read the 26th chapter of Leviticus and the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy—there are many other chapters also in the Bible but these two especially—you will find recorded many things by way of covenant and promise and admonition that the Lord gave to Israel. He told them what would happen if they kept his commandments. He told them the consequences of breaking his commandments. All that was clearly set forth in these scriptures before the
Israelites entered the promised land. . . .
As time went on they violated these covenants. They turned away from the admonitions, the commandments, the instructions that the Lord gave them through the Prophet Moses, and eventually, because of that rebellion, the curses came upon them and they were scattered among the nations of the earth (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 64).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie added:
Israel was scattered because she apostatized; because she broke the Ten Commandments; because she rejected the prophets and seers and turned to wizards that peep and mutter; because she forsook the covenant; because she gave heed to false ministers and joined false churches; because she ceased to be a peculiar people and a kingdom of priests. When she became as the world, the Lord left her to suffer and live and be as the world then was (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 65).
Something that could be very important to teach in this section is the account of the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream by Daniel (see Daniel 2). The reason it might fit here is that it occurred after Judah was scattered and taken to Babylon. Brigham Young declared:
Out of this Church will grow the Kingdom which Daniel saw. This is the very people that Daniel saw would continue to grow and spread and prosper [see Daniel 2:44]; and if we are not faithful, others will take our places, for this is the Church and people that will possess the Kingdom for ever and ever (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 323).
This remarkable prophesy of the latter-day restoration was a favorite topic for President Gordon B. Hinckley. He referred to it in his first conference talk as a new prophet (Ensign, May 1995, 69), again in October conference of 1999 (Ensign, Nov 1999, 72), again in October Conference of 2003 (Ensign, Nov 2003, 4) and in his final talk as prophet, for which the title was, “The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain,” (Ensign, Nov 2007, 83). One of our favorite quotes from President Hinckley was from the Dedicatory Prayer for the Redlands Temple, March 12, 2010:
Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth (“ldschurchnews.com”).
Elder James E. Talmage taught the following concerning the scattering:
It has been said, that ‘if a complete history of the house of Israel were written, it would be the history of histories, the key of the world’s history for the past twenty centuries.’ Justification for this sweeping statement is found in the fact that the Israelites have been so completely dispersed among the nations as to give to this scattered people a place of importance as a factor in the rise and development of almost every large division of the human family (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 65).
President Joseph Fielding Smith also taught:
We have something in the Book of Mormon that, if we did not have any other truth expressed in it, would be sufficient evidence of the divinity of this book. I have reference to the fifth chapter of Jacob. In this chapter we have a parable that nobody could have written unless he had the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord. It would have been impossible. . . . No greater parable was ever recorded. It is a parable of the scattering of Israel. The Lord revealed to Jacob that he would scatter Israel, and in this figure, Israel is a tame olive tree. . . .
“. . . In its native land it began to die. So the Lord took branches like the Nephites, like the lost tribes, and like others that the Lord led off that we do not know anything about, to other parts of the earth. He planted them all over his vineyard, which is the world (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 64-5).
Jacob 5 indeed needs to be emphasized in this lesson.
3 - - The House of Israel Must Be Gathered
Joseph Smith wrote, in a letter to the elders of the Church in September of 1835:
[The] subject of the gathering…is a principle I esteem to be of the greatest importance to those who are looking for salvation in this generation, or in these, that may be called, “the latter times.” All that the prophets…have written…in speaking of the salvation of Israel in the last days, goes directly to show that it consists in the work of the gathering (quoted in Gerald Lund, Fire of the Covenant, 81).
Brigham Young stated the importance of this gathering:
To possess and retain the spirit of the Gospel, gather Israel, redeem Zion, and save the world must be attended to first and foremost, and should be the prevailing desire in the hearts of the First Presidency, of the Elders of Israel, and of every officer in the Church and Kingdom of God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 325).
President Joseph F. Smith also explained its high priority:
We proclaim the objects of this organization to be, the preaching of the gospel in all the world, the gathering of scattered Israel, and the preparation of a people for the coming of the Lord (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 64).
President John Taylor added:
Why is it that you are here to-day? and what brought you here? Because the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four quarters of the earth have been committed to Joseph Smith, and he has conferred those keys upon others that the gathering of Israel may be accomplished, and in due time the same thing will be performed to the tribes in the land of the north. It is on this account, and through the unlocking of this principle, and through those means, that you are brought together as you are to-day (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 66).
Two key gatherings in preparation for the Second Coming are outlined by Brigham Young:
By and by the Jews will be gathered to the land of their fathers, and the ten tribes, who wandered into the north, will be gathered home, and the blood of Ephraim, the second son of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, which is to be found in every kingdom and nation under heaven, will be gathered from among the Gentiles, and the Gentiles who will receive and adhere to the principles of the Gospel will be adopted and initiated into the family of Father Abraham, and Jesus will reign over his own and Satan will reign over his own (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 66).
Elder James E. Talmage discusses the gathering of the Jews:
The sufferings of Israel have been but necessary chastening by a grieved yet loving Father, who planned by these effective means to purify His sin-stained children. . . .
Though smitten of men, a large part of them gone from a knowledge of the world, Israel are not lost unto their God. He knows whither they have been led or driven; toward them His heart still yearns with paternal love; and surely will He bring them forth, in due time and by appointed means, into a condition of blessing and influence befitting His covenant people. In spite of their sin and notwithstanding the tribulations that they were bringing upon themselves, the Lord said: ‘And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: I am the Lord their God.’ As complete as was the scattering, so shall be the gathering of Israel (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 65).
These prophesies, by Brigham Young and Elder Talmage, were fulfilled in 1948 (when Israel was declared a nation) and 1967 (when Jerusalem was once again established as a center of worship for the Jews). There will be no lasting peace for the Jewish people until the Savior returns.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie discussed an important concept concerning missionary work:
Many ancient prophecies foretold that in the last days the Lord would set up an ensign to the nations, a standard to which Israel and the righteous of all nations might gather. ( Isa. 5:26 ; 11:10–12 ; 18:3 ; 30:17–26 ; 31:9 ; 49:22 ; 62:10 ; Zech. 9:16 .) This ensign is the new and everlasting covenant, the gospel of salvation ( D. & C. 49:9 ); it is the great latter-day Zion ( D. & C. 64:41–43 ); it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 6).
In the Priesthood/Relief Society manual for Brigham Young this “ensign to the nations” is explained further:
On July 26, 1847, just a few days after the first pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley, President Brigham Young and a small group of priesthood leaders climbed a hill north of the area that would later become Salt Lake City. They named the hill Ensign Peak in remembrance of the prophecy of Isaiah: “He will lift up an ensign to the nations from far … and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly” (Isaiah 5:26). President Young later identified this hill as the place he had seen in a vision, a place where the Saints would flourish, where the kingdom of God could be built and the latter-day Israel gathered. In the years that followed, missionaries took the message of the gospel throughout the world, and thousands of newly converted Saints came to the Salt Lake Valley. Today the building of the kingdom and the gathering of Israel goes on in hundreds of nations. President Young said, “The gathering of Israel is so important a part of the great work in which we are engaged that it occupies much of our thoughts, and we are ever anxious to afford it all just facilities and influence” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 323).
Brigham Young had actually arrived in what is now Salt Lake City the day before, later than did most of the company. Even though he was still sick, he was excited about a small hill north of the city. Accompanied by all of the apostles who arrived in the first pioneer company, he climbed what is now Ensign Peak. President George Albert Smith declared of that occasion:
President Young had a vision of Joseph Smith who showed him the mountain we now call Ensign Peak immediately north of Salt Lake City, and there was an ensign [flag] fell upon that peak, and Joseph said “build under the point where the colors fall and you will prosper and have peace."
When they [the pioneer company] entered it [the valley] President Young pointed to that peak, and said he, “I want to go there.” He went up to the point and said, “This is Ensign Peak” (Journal of Discourses, 13:85-6).
This was a seminal event in the latter-day history of the gathering of Israel through missionary work. The number of mission calls that have been issued by the Lord through His prophets under the “shadow” of that peak in these latter days must now be about 99.99 %.
All of this was prophesied in the Old Testament and primarily through Ephraim. In the Bible Dictionary, “Ephraim” means “fruitful” and Ephraim was given the birthright of Israel (p. 666). Before he died, Jacob blessed each of his twelve sons. To Joseph he proclaimed:
The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph (Genesis 49:26).
The only place in the world where there are “everlasting hills” (from pole to pole) includes Ensign Peak. These mountain ranges include the Andes from the tip of Chile, the Sierra Madres through Mexico, and the Rocky Mountains to Alaska.
The heading to Deuteronomy 33 discusses the blessing given by Moses to each tribe, “…Joseph blessed above all; he shall gather Israel in latter days…” For Joseph’s blessings is then recorded:
…his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth… (Deuteronomy 33:17).
In these latter days, the Lord has proclaimed:
And there [Christ’s people] shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.
And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy.
Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows (D&C 133:32-34).
Brigham Young exclaimed:
We are now  gathering the children of Abraham who have come through the loins of Joseph and his sons, more especially through Ephraim, whose children are mixed among all the nations of the earth.
Who are Israel? They are those who are of the seed of Abraham, who received the promise through their forefathers [see Genesis 22:17–18]; and all the rest of the children of men, who receive the truth, are also Israel. My heart is always drawn out for them, whenever I go to the throne of grace.
Israel is dispersed among all the nations of the earth; the blood of Ephraim is mixed with the blood of all the earth. Abraham’s seed is mingled with the rebellious seed through the whole world of mankind (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 325).
President Joseph Fielding Smith spoke of the role Ephraim would play:
It is essential in this dispensation that Ephraim stand in his place at the head, exercising the birthright in Israel which was given to him by direct revelation. Therefore, Ephraim must be gathered first to prepare the way, through the gospel and the priesthood, for the rest of the tribes of Israel when the time comes for them to be gathered to Zion. The great majority of those who have come into the Church are Ephraimites (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 66).
President Spencer W. Kimball also defined gathering and missionary work:
Now, we are concerned with the gathering of Israel. This gathering shall continue until the righteous are assembled in the congregations of the Saints in the nations of the world. This reminds us of the tenth article of faith, wherein the Prophet Joseph Smith said to his inquirer, ‘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.’ . . .
Now, the gathering of Israel consists of joining the true church and their 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 (Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, 66).
The Ten Tribes were scattered by Assyria to “the North.” Ephraim was among them. A good question at this point is, “Of the sixteen Presidents of the Church, how many trace their ancestries back to the British Isles?” The answer is “All of them.” The seed of Ephraim is obviously in “the “North” countries of Great Britain.
In the Bible Dictionary, it states that the third denotation of “Israel” is “the true believers in Christ, regardless of their lineage or geographical location” (p. 708).
If someone is baptized and is not in the lineage of Jacob, or as God changed his name, Israel, he or she becomes adopted. When they get their patriarchal blessing they are then assigned to one of the tribes of Israel. From Chapter 15 of this blog, we repeat a statement from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism on adoption:
Today, members of the Church—latter-day Israel, largely Joseph’s descendants, either by blood or adoption—are to seek out the other descendants of Israel and those who would become Israelites through adoption by baptism. The Prophet Joseph Smith observed that “as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene;…while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. (p. 706)
On the other hand, if someone is of the lineage of Israel and refuses baptism or is baptized and apostatizes, he or she can leave them self outside of the covenant. President Lee explained:
…we have our free agency here, there are many who were foreordained before the world was, to a greater state than they have prepared themselves for here. Even though they might have been among the noble and great, from whom the Father declared he would make his chosen leaders, they may fail of that calling here in mortality (Ensign, Jan. 1974, 2).
We also here repeat from Chapter 40 of this blog, a powerful quote from President Wilford Woodruff:
There will be very few, if any, who will not accept the Gospel. … The fathers of this people will embrace the Gospel (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, p. 191).
Note that “the fathers of this people” may be the indication that many of the blood of Israel will “embrace the Gospel.” This means we have a great deal of family history and temple work to do for our ancestors.
Near the end of this section, Elder Nelson is quoted stating, “Zion is wherever righteous Saints are” (p. 249). Building Zion is in preparation for the Second Coming. Brigham Young emphatically stated:
We are to build up … Zion, gather the House of Israel, and redeem the nations of the earth [see D&C 115:4–6]. This people have this work to do, whether we live to see it or not. This is all in our hands.
It is obligatory upon us to see that the House of Israel have the Gospel preached to them (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 325).
Joseph Smith declared the importance of this concept:
The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory; it is left for us to see, participate in and help to roll forward the Latter-day glory (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 186).
Joseph Smith also added to what Elder Nelson stated:
Anyplace where the Saints gather is Zion, which every righteous man will build up for a place of safety for his children.
There will be here and there a Stake [of Zion] for the gathering of the Saints. … There your children shall be blessed, and you in the midst of friends where you may be blessed. The Gospel net gathers of every kind.
We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object. … The time is soon coming, when no man will have any peace but in Zion and her stakes (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 186).
It is up to us to help keep the hope of every prophet alive. In a wonderful conference talk on the subject of this lesson, “The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Elder Russell M. Nelson stated:
Spiritual security will always depend upon how one lives, not where one lives. Saints in every land have equal claim upon the blessings of the Lord (Ensign, Nov. 2006, 79).