Study the above youth devotional entitled Hope of Israel, given in 2018 by President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy W. Nelson.
When thinking about the gathering of Israel, and it being the most important work on the earth today, I strive to understand who Israel is, and how I am to go about gathering them. The following resource has inspired some fundamental doctrines that I feel obliged to relate.
Biblically, Abraham’s grandson was named Jacob. He later changed his name to Israel. Israel had twelve sons, and the descendants of each have been divided into twelve separate tribes. Hence, the twelve tribes of Israel are known as the House of Israel. For example, descendants of Judah, the fourth-born son of Jacob, are known as Jews. Jacob’s son Joseph begat Ephraim. Most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints today are Ephraimites.
A Gentile can be referred to someone who is “other” or “non”. So to a Jew, a Gentile is a non-Jew, to a Hebrew, a Gentile is a non-Hebrew, so on and so forth. 1 Nephi 21: 4-6 explains the Lord’s will about our example towards the Gentiles. The term Gentile is not demeaning however, and it can be interpreted and applied in several different ways. The Prophet Joseph Smith was a descendant of Jacob (Israel) through Joseph, the father of Ephraim. The title page of the Book of Mormon, written by Moroni, says that it was to come forth “by way of the Gentile.” Did not the Book of Mormon come forth by the way of Joseph Smith? President Joseph Fielding Smith made it clear that a majority of the members of the Church today are descendants of Israel:
“The Lord said he would scatter Israel among the Gentile nations, and by doing so he would bless the Gentile nations with the blood of Abraham. Today we are preaching the gospel in the world and we are gathering out, according to the revelations given to Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other prophets, the scattered sheep of the House of Israel. These scattered sheep are coming forth mixed with Gentile blood from their Gentile forefathers. Under all the circumstances it is very possible that the majority, almost without exception, of those who come into the Church in this dispensation have the blood of two or more of the tribes of Israel as well as the blood of the Gentiles.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957–66, 3:63.)
Essentially, everybody is of the House of Israel, through one line or another. It is not only through lineage, either. Anybody who accepts and embraces the gospel becomes part of Israel. But as now is the time to gather God’s people, we must understand the special responsibilities held by Ephraimites in this dispensation. President Joseph Fielding Smith makes it clear:
“The members of the Church, most of us of the tribe of Ephraim, are of the remnant of Jacob. We know it to be the fact that the Lord called upon the descendants of Ephraim to commence his work in the earth in these last days. We know further that he has said that he set Ephraim, according to the promises of his birthright, at the head. Ephraim receives the ‘richer blessings,’ these blessings being those of presidency or direction. The keys are with Ephraim. It is Ephraim who is to be endowed with power to bless and give to the other tribes, including the Lamanites, their blessings. All the other tribes of Jacob, including the Lamanites, are to be crowned with glory in Zion by the hands of Ephraim. …
“That the remnants of Joseph, found among the descendants of Lehi, will have part in this great work is certainly consistent, and the great work of this restoration, the building of the temple and the City of Zion, or New Jerusalem, will fall to the lot of the descendants of Joseph, but it is Ephraim who will stand at the head and direct the work.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:250–51; italics in original removed.)
This gathering is both literal (the Saints will build up a New Jerusalem) and figurative. Figuratively, maybe we need to be building up a sort of “New Jerusalem” just by surrounding ourselves with a culture of righteousness. The gathering of Israel within our own souls can be considered as weeding out the temptations of the natural man (Jacob 5) and coming to realize our Divine potential as God’s children born in the covenant. The logistics of the Second Coming and Millennium are simply too much for our minds to comprehend. What can you do today to gather Israel? Print out or take a name to the temple to do family ordinances for? Teach another about the gospel of Jesus Christ? Or maybe it’s just as simple as sharing a smile with someone you meet on your way.
Through all the complexities of eternity that are too complicated for our mortal minds to comprehend, hold fast to the words of the Savior as He poetically illustrates a beautiful reminder that brings it all home to nature and its Creator, even the love of God…
“Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not” (Luke 12:27).