I invite you to take a trip back in time and learn some facts about the house of Israel!
We begin with Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant. (For more information on this covenant click here) This covenant was renewed with Abraham's son Isaac,
and Isaac's son Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, and Jacob's twelves sons, whose posterity became known as the 12 Tribes of Israel.
The twelve tribes grew in size and eventually split into two kingdoms because they could no longer live together in peace. Ten tribes moved to the north; the remaining tribes remained in the south. Jerusalem was included in the Southern Kingdom's land.
Because of continual wickedness, the Northern Kingdom was conquered in 721BC. They were captured and forced to relocate away from the Promised Land. Some of these Israelites escaped their conquerors and went north.
Then, in 586 BC, the Southern Kingdom was conquered and forced to relocate to Babylon. To see maps of before and after the Babylonian Invasion, click here. To watch a video explaining the Babylonian invasion, check out the Church's "Old Testament Visual Resource DVDs." (A short video describing this DVD set can be seen here.) Watch "Eyewitness News at Six (586BC)" on Disc 2.
Some Israelites were able to return to Jerusalem, but after the time of Jesus, Rome conquered Jerusalem and the tribes were again scattered all over the world.
Time to leave the ancient world and return to our dispensation!
Where is the house of Israel today? All the literal descendants of Israel and all who have been adopted into the house of Israel are members of the house of Israel. (To read about how to be adopted into the house of Israel, click here.) Every resident of the earth, living or dead, is (or can be) part of the house of Israel.
On April 3, 1836, Moses appeared to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland temple where he committed unto Joseph the keys of the gathering of Israel. (D&C 110:11) Today, President Monson holds the keys of gathering.
Why does the Lord feel that gathering Israel is so important? So that those gathered can:
learn the gospel and prepare to meet the Savior,
build temples and do work for the dead,
strengthen one another,
and prepare to share the gospel with others.
First, the people are gathered spiritually. "There are many nations represented in the . . . Church. . . They come because the Spirit of the Lord rested upon them; . . . receiving the spirit of gathering, they left everything for the sake of the gospel." (President Joseph Fielding Smith)
Second, the people are gathered physically. During the early church, Saints were encouraged to emigrate to Utah. In the present time, Saints are encouraged to remain in their own countries. "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' 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 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.'" (Elder Russell M. Nelson)
How do we fulfill our responsibility to help gather Israel?
MISSIONARY WORK and TEMPLE WORK!
"But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers." Jeremiah 16:15
If you happen to have the "Old Testament Visual Resource DVDs" mentioned above, I recommend the short video on the second disc entitled Gathering of Israel. It will really motivate you to go forth and GATHER!