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Gospel Doctrine Lesson 12: How We Taught This Topic in the Past

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 15, 2009

Lesson 12: “The Gathering of My People”

Today’s lessons on gathering emphasize the gathering of the Saints into stakes, while the earlier lessons discussed the physical gathering, first to Kirtland, then to Missouri, Nauvoo, and Deseret. Even in these early lessons focusing on the physical gathering, though, we find the stated purpose to be a concentration of Saints who could serve each other and, especially, build temples.

1896: Deseret Sunday School Union Leaflets

Lesson 81: The Gathering

Place – Kirtland, Ohio.
time – March 7, 1831.
Texts. – Doc. and Cov. Sec. 45:64-71. Isaiah 2:2, 3

Lesson Statement.

Up to the spring of 1831, the members of the church were distributed in various branches in New York, Ohio and elsewhere, no attempt having been made to gather them into one place. But it was impossible to bring the people into proper union in temporal and spiritual matters while in this scattered condition. So much time would necessarily be occupied by the elders in their visits from place to place, and their labors, no matter how assiduous, would be lost to such an extent on account of the scattered condition of the people, that the best results could not possibly follow their ministrations. In order to bring about proper unity and avoid this waste of effort, it became necessary that steps should be taken looking to the gathering of the people into one place, wher4e the laws of God could be better taught and followed. Accordingly on March 7, 1831, a revelation was given to the Prophet Joseph, in which he was told that the Lord would appoint a gathering place to the westward, where the Saints could assemble, to build up the New Jerusalem. The promise was made that this should be a city of peace and safety from the wars and turmoils of the nations. Also that the glory and power of God should rest upon this home of His people, to the end that their enemies should fear the inhabitants of the city and avoid coming up to war against them. If any among the nations desired to escape from the wars occurring there, they should flee to Zion for safety, for there alone would peace prevail. This peace and power was to continue in Zion until all the righteous had been gathered out of the nations, singing songs of joy for their deliverance. As a matter of act, all these happy conditions were to prevail as a result of the faithfulness and obedience of the Saints, as the blessings which God bestows upon His people are given in accordance with their righteousness and as a consequence thereof. No definite place was appointed for the gathering at this time, though the prophetic eye of the servant of God was directed toward the west.


The Gathering. – This event was predicted by some of the prophets of old, notably Moses and Isaiah. its purpose is explained in the Lesson Statement. The work of gathering was not to be accomplished all at once, but should be the result of years of teaching and endeavor. the revelation on this subject, referred to in the text, was given to the Prophet soon after his removal to Kirtland, Ohio. Four general places of gathering have been appointed during the progress of the work of God in this dispensation: Kirtland, Ohio; Jackson County, Missouri; Nauvoo, Illinois; and this intermountain region.

Kirtland. – A small town in Geauga County, in the northeastern part of Ohio, near Lake Erie. it was the first gathering place of the saints, though but few lived there at any one time. The first temple of this dispensation was built there, and dedicated in the spring of 1836.

New Jerusalem. – the name applied to the city which is to be built upon this continent as a residence for the Saints when they sanctify themselves by obedience to the law of God. It is to be a most beautiful city, filled with peace and order and ruled according to the will of the Lord. [Ether, chap. 13.]

What We May Learn from This Lesson.

1. That God desires His people to dwell together. 2. That he designs gathering them out from the wicked nations of the earth. 3. That they may by these means become more righteous and obedient to the law of God. 4. That when they have sanctified themselves they and their habitations will be accepted of the Lord. 5. That then the peace and glory of God will rest upon their city. 6. that the wicked will then be afraid of the people of Zion. 7. That god is always willing to accept and bless those who do His will.

Questions on the Lesson.

1. What is meant by the gathering? 2. What is its purpose? 3. When and where was the revelation on the gathering given? 4. What were the Saints commanded to do with their riches? 5. What name would be given to the city which was to be built? 6. name some of the promises of the Lord concerning this city. 7. What kind of people would come there to live? 8. How would the wicked regard the city and its inhabitants? 9. Name the four gathering places appointed in this dispensation. 10. What do you know of Kirtland?

1896: Deseret Sunday School Union Leaflets

Lesson 82: The Center Stake of Zion

Place – Jackson County, Missouri.
Time – Summer of 1831.
Text. – Doc. and Cov. Sec. 52:1-5, 57:1-5. Isaiah 52:7, 8.

Lesson Statement.

As stated in the last lesson, the prophetic eye of Joseph had always been turned toward the west as a proper gathering place for the Saints. In the year of which this lesson treats, 1831, there was but little civilization west of Ohio. But the Prophet knew that the people could develop more rapidly and obtain greater prosperity and power in a new country than in one already thickly settled. Accordingly, June 7, 1831, a revelation was given to the Prophet, in which he and others were commanded to travel westward, two by two, to preach the Gospel, and to locate, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the new home which the Saints were to occupy. In obedience to this commandment Joseph, with a number of other brethren, left Kirtland for Missouri. After a difficult journey by wagon, canal boat and stage, they arrived at Independence, Jackson County, Mo., about the middle of July. Here they found the Saints who had preceded them, and did much to comfort them. They also found a class of illiterate, frontier people, emigrants from the southern states, who partook of all the prejudices that so largely characterized the people of that section of the country before the war of the rebellion. These Missourians regarded the members of the Church as Yankees and abolitionists; and to call a man a Yankee was, with them, a term of the strongest opprobrium.

Soon after his arrival in Missouri, Joseph received a revelation in which Independence, Jackson County, was set apart as the center stake of Zion. The exact spot where the temple was to be erected, was pointed out in this revelation, and the Saints were commanded to purchase as much of the land as possible, that it might be a permanent inheritance. They were to go into merchandising and other honest lines of business, to raise money with which to purchase the land.


Zion. – This title has been applied to three different places: to the city which Enoch founded; to one of the hills on which Jerusalem was built, and therefore to the city itself; and to the place to be occupied by the Saints on this continent. The word originally meant “a hill,” but it has come to mean a people elevated by holiness above surrounding peoples. Thus in the writings of Moses, as given in the Pearl of Great Price, the people of Enoch and their city were spoken of as Zion, because of their purity and holiness. So Jerusalem and its inhabitants, the chosen of God, were referred to by this title. When God chose His Saints in this dispensation and appointed a place for their habitation, the name Zion was applied to the land and to the people who were to sanctify it by their righteousness.

Missouri. – A state on the west bank of the Mississippi River. At the time of which this lesson treats, it was one of the border states. It had been admitted into the union ten years before. The majority of the inhabitants of the state were friendly to slavery, and a great deal of the trouble between abolitionists and slaveholders which preceded the Civil War, occurred in this state.

Jackson County. – A county in the extreme western portion of the state and on the south bank of the Missouri River.

Independence. – The county seat of Jackson County.

What We May Learn from This Lesson.

1. That God desires His people to keep themselves from the sins of the world. 2. That they may sanctify the land through their righteousness. 3. That such a land becomes the Zion of God. 4. That Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, was appointed as the center stake of Zion. 5. That the lands were to be obtained by the Saints in a perfectly honorable manner.

Questions on the Lesson.

1. When were the two revelations given, from which we quote? 2. Give the substance of the first revelation. 3. Of the second. 4. What did Joseph do in response to the first? 5. What two classes of people did he find in Missouri? 6. What object had the Saints in view in occupying Missouri? 7. What do you know of Missouri? 8. Of Jackson County? 9. Of Independence? 10. What commandment was given in the second revelation? 11. How were the people to procure the land? 12. How should they obtain the money for these purchases? 13. What are the two meanings of the word Zion? 14. to what places and peoples has the term been applied?

1934: Primary Sunday School Lessons

Lesson 25: The Church Moves to Kirtland

While the missionaries, of whom we read last week, were spending the winter of 1830-31 at Jackson County, marvelous things happened at Kirtland and nearby towns. Sidney Rigdon and his group wekre “turning the world up-side-down,” preaching about the true Church. Mormonism seemed to be sweeping he country. Within eight months from the time Sidney was baptized, the Church numbered two thousand in Kirtland. This was June, 1831.

Let’s look at Kirtland a minute. Soon after the missionaries pulled out in November, 1831, Sidney, who had been the Campbellite minister, but now the president of the Mormon branch, desired very much to see the Prophet. As a result, during the first week in December, he and Edward Partridge struck out to find Joseph and talk with him for themselves. Although the spirit of God had borne testimony to their souls, still they wanted to see this wonderful man, and get first-hand knowledge from his own lips. After facing two hundred and fifty miles of snow and wind, they arrived at the Whitmer home. Here was Joseph and the other brethren. What a wonderful time they had together! All hearts were made glad. The Prophet seemed even greater than they had hoped for. His words were sweet music to their hungry ears. There was no room for doubt!

Sidney Rigdon’s great work was now made known. Joseph asked the Lord for a revelation for Brother Rigdon, and received Sec. 35. You should read it. Part of it says, “Behold, thou wast sent forth, even as John, to prepare the way before me, etc.” This made Sidney Rigdon very happy, knowing that his work at Kirtland was accepted of the Lord. Joseph then asked for a Revelation for Edward Partridge, and received Sec. 36. It starts out in this wonderful fashion. “Thus sayeth the Lord god, the Mighty One of Israel, Behold, I say unto you, my servant Edward, that you are blessed, and your sins are forgiven you, and you are called to preach my gospel as with the voice of a trump.” These revelations are good examples of how the Lord spoke to his early leaders. Five or six of these wonderful revelations, including the 7th chapter of the Book of Moses, were given while the brethren stayed at the Whitmer home. At this time the Lord was preparing four books, called the Standard Works of the Church, the Bible, Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and The Doctrine and Covenants.

Now came a big surprise to the Church in New York State. All the Saints were to move to Kirtland, Joseph leaving at once, and the rest to follow in the spring. The Lord said, “I say unto you, that the enemy in secret chambers seeketh your lives. Wherefore for this cause, I give unto you the commandment that you should go to Ohio; and there will I give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high, and if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity. Go ye out from the wicked.”

A month after this command, February 1, 1831, a sleigh, carrying four people, drew up in front of the chief store in town, that of Gilbert and Whitney. A sturdy young man sprang from the sleigh. he was twenty-six years old, six feet tall, broad shouldered, blue eyed, light hair; in fact, a very attractive person. Walking straight into the store and up to the youngest keeper, he exclaimed, as he held out his hand in a very familiar manner: “Newel K. Whitney. Thou art the man!”

“Stranger, you have the advantage of me. I could not call you by name as you have me.”

“I am Joseph, the Prophet. You have prayed me here, now what do you want of me?”

We are told that while Joseph was over two hundred miles away, he had seen Brother Whitney praying, requesting he Prophet to come to Kirtland. Since this proved a great testimony to Brother Whitney, he took Joseph and Emma into his home to live. Sidney Rigdon and Edward Partridge also told of the wonderful experiences they had received while visiting with the Prophet. It was a good thing that Emma had a nice place to stay, for soon after this, she gave birth to twins, which only lived a few hours. This great grief, added to the many sorrows she and Joseph had recently passed through, was a deep trial. Among other things, they had now lost three children, their home in Harmony, the love of Emma’s parents, and all earthly wealth. They had given them all for the Gospel. But even in all this sorrow, Joseph writes that the Lord comforted them with his word, with many new friends, and with plenty to eat and wear. Then, too, Sister Murdock had twins about the same time that Emma’s died. Sister Murdock died, and Brother Murdock let the Prophet adopt the babies, which were a great comfort to Emma.

Within a week after Joseph came to Kirtland, the Lord gave a revelation (Sec. 41), calling Edward Partridge to be the very first Bishop of the new Church. He was told to leave his store and to “spend all his time in the labors of the Church.” From then until his death, he kept this command faithfully. Before Joseph had been in Kirtland a month, Elder Parley P. Pratt arrived from the west, coming from Jackson County, a thousand mils away. He was worn and weary from his long journey alone through snow and ice, and rain and mud. The Prophet blessed him for his faithfulness, yet was very sorry that the mission to the Indians had failed, being stopped by the government agents. Since Joseph had been told that Missouri was the place for the New Jerusalem, he decided to let Oliver Cowdery and the other three Elders stay at Jackson County until he could visit them a little later.

Soon after Brother Pratt’s arrival at Kirtland, he tells us about the healing of Chloe Smith: “She was so low, that no one had been allowed for some days previous to speak above a whisper, and even the door of the log dwelling was muffled with cloths to prevent a noise. The Elders kneeled down and prayed vocally all around, each in turn; after which President Smith arose, and went to the bedside, took her by the hand and said to her in a loud voice, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, arise and walk!’ She immediately arose, was dressed by a woman in attendance, when she walked to a chair before the fire and was seated and joined in singing a hymn. The house was thronged with people in a few moments, and the young lady arose and shook hands with each as they came in; and from that minute, she was perfectly restored to health.”

Such wonderful scenes as this, along with speaking in tongues, having visions, and the earnest work of the brethren and sisters, soon brought a thousand people into the Church; and by June Conference, fourteen months after the Church had been formed, two thousand had joined. Thus was the Gospel beginning to “roll forth to fill the whole earth,” as it had been promised. Today, a hundred years later, there are almost twenty-five thousand being baptized each year, and over twenty thousand are born in the Church.

Since the Lord had told the Saints in New York to leave and come to Kirtland, the Smiths, Whitmers, Knights, Harris family and others, sold their lands and houses, barns and cattle, at a huge sacrifice, and were soon headed westward, following their Prophet wherever he should lead. Eighty of the Saints, who were traveling by boat at Buffalo, Lake Erie, were held there for a long time because of the thick ice in the harbor. They all held prayers that the ice would break up and allow them to go on their way. A very strange thing happened. The mother tells it as follows, “At that instant a noise was heard, like the bursting thunder. The captain cried, ‘every man to his post.’ The ice parted, leaving barely a passage for the boat, and so narrow, that as the boat passed through, the buckets of the water-wheel were torn off with a crash, which, joined to the word of command from the captain, the hoarse answering of the sailors, the noise of the ice, and the cries and confusion of the spectators, presented a scene truly terrible. We had barely passed through the avenue, when the ice closed together again.” Other vessels were left behind. The Saints thanked the Lord for this great blessing, and went on their way rejoicing.

1940: Church History Sunday School Lessons

Lesson 17: The Church Moves West

Last week we talked about the mission to the Lamanites. You will remember that the four men, and later a fifth, who undertook that mission, preached all along the way. They felt they were on a mission from the moment they left home, and at every opportunity that came to them, they let people know about the new gospel.

You and I can take a hint from that. We are not serving as regular missionaries. But that doesn’t prevent us from preaching the gospel as we go about our daily activities. That doesn’t mean that we need to talk about the doctrines of our Church. But it does mean that at all times we can live them. We can observe the Word of Wisdom. We can refrain from swearing. We can be kind and considerate. We can be helpful and generous. We can be honest and virtuous. If in our daily lives we observe all these principles of our gospel we will become such fine examples of the power of the gospel that those who see us are likely to become interested enough tow ant to know what makes us act that way. We ought always therefore to resolve to live the principles of the gospel so that in this, our own small way, we can preach the gospel always. But now to get back to our story of the four missionaries.

Branches of the Church are Set Up

You know that as they went from place to place in their travels they baptized those who believed in their message. And in some places, particularly in and around Kirtland, Ohio, there were scores of men and women who joined the Church. But the missionaries could not remain with them to teach them all of the regulations of the Church. They had to keep moving, for their real mission lay far to the west with the Indians. The result was that although large groups joined the Church, they were left largely without leaders of experience to direct them. Then too, because the church was so young, even those who had been in from the beginning, with the exception of the Prophet, probably knew little about the many particulars of running the Church. It was only natural, therefore, that the Saints in Kirtland ran into difficulties.

John Whitmer wrote the Prophet asking him to come to Kirtland. Joseph inquired of the Lord, and was told that he should go and take his family with him. And before long the entire church in New York was preparing to leave for the little western city. Their neighbors had persecuted them. They could find no peace. The gospel was being well received in Ohio, and they would all go there where they could worship the Lord without being molested. That was the first of many western movements which were to take the Church almost across the continent of America in an effort to find peace.

The Faith and Courage of Mother Smith

Joseph’s mother took charge of a large group who were going to Kirtland. They hired a boat to take them through the canal to Lake Erie, from which point they would sail to a port near Kirtland. She was a woman of strong character, and it was from her perhaps that Joseph inherited many of those fine qualities which made him outstanding among his fellows.

When all were on board she called all the brethren and sisters together and reminded them that they were not out for a joy-ride, but that they were rather traveling by the commandment of the Lord, and if they were to expect His blessings they would have to act as Saints of God should.

It was not long before Mother Smith discovered that some of the group had come off without enough provisions to last them. From the supplies she had brought to take care of her own family, she had to care for many, especially children, who would otherwise have had to have gone without. When she got to Buffalo where they were to transfer to a lake boat, she discovered other members of the Church who had been there about a week awaiting the breaking of the ice on the lake so that the boats could move.

Mother Smith asked them if they had taken advantage of this opportunity to tell people of the gospel. “No, indeed,” they replied, “neither must you mention a word about your religion, for if you do you will never be able to get a house to wait in or a boat to ride in.”

Now Mother Smith was not in the habit of hiding the fact that she was a Mormon. She was proud of it, and she also knew that every Latter-day Saint had the responsibility of preaching the gospel whenever opportunity permitt4ed. She told the brethren that she would tell people precisely who she was, “and,” she went on to say, “if you are ashamed of Christ, you must not expect to be prospered in this journey. And, although you had a head start, I shall wonder if we do not get to Kirtland before you.”

When it appeared that perhaps the ice would break up so that the boat could get through, the captain requested all of Mother Smith’s company to get on board and stay on board. He then sent one of his men out to measure the ice, and when he returned he told some discouraging news. the ice, he said, was piled up for twenty feet, and in his opinion it would be two weeks before they could leave.

But Mother Smith was anxious to get to Kirtland, and she felt that the Lord would help them. She said to her group, “Now brethren and sisters, if we will all seek the Lord in prayer, that the ice may be broken up, I am sure that He will hear our prayers and we will be permitted to go.”

She had no sooner said this than a mighty roar was heard, and the captain cried out, “Every man to his post.” The ice parted, leaving just room for the boat, and immediately after it had passed through, the ice closed together again leaving the brethren stranded behind who had been ashamed to preach the gospel.

The remainder of the journey passed without trouble, and Mother Smith was quick to remind everyone to thank the Lord for their safe passage. It was not long until practically all the Saints had left New York for Ohio. The place where the Prophet had had so many wonderful experiences, and where the Church had been organized, was left behind. There was hatred for the Church of Christ in that section, just as it was to grow in other sections where the Saints tried to live their religion. Missionaries returned to labor there, and now the Church has a strong organization in New York, but the headquarters of Mormonism have never been returned to the land of its birth.

1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley

Chapter 13
THE GATHERING OF ISRAEL (Section 29, verses 7 and 8)

The gathering of Israel is one of the great themes in this important volume of scripture and one of the major objects of the missionary system of the Church. As universal as was the scattering of Israel, so shall the gathering be. If the dispersion was over all the earth and among all nations, so the gathering must be, out of all nations and from all parts of the earth.

“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt. 24:31.)

The plan of the gathering comprehends, (1) the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, (2) the restoration of the Ten tribes, and (3) the assembling of the people of Israel on the land of Zion.

The limitations of this lesson are such that we can only consider the gathering upon this land and the return of the Jews to Jerusalem.

Who Are the People to Be Gathered?

In this revelation, the Lord refers to the “gathering of mine elect,” and “as many as shall hearken to My voice.” No doubt he refers to the gathering which has been going on since the organization of the Church and which is now going on.

President Brigham Young delivered a discourse in the tabernacle at Salt Lake City, April 8th, 1855, from which the following are extracts: “The set time has come for God to gather Israel and for his work to commence upon the face of the whole earth, and the elders who have arisen in this Church and Kingdom are actually of Israel. Take the elders who are now in this house. You can scarcely find one out of a hundred but what is of the House of Israel. * * * Will we go to the Gentile nations to preach the gospel? Yes, and gather out the Israelites wherever they are mixed among the nations of the earth. What part or portion of them? The same part or portion that redeemed the House of Jacob and saved them from perishing from famine in Egypt.

“When Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph ‘guiding his hands wittingly’, he placed his right hand upon Ephraim and he blessed Joseph and said, ‘God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’ Joseph was about to remove the old man’s hands, and bringing his right hand upon the head of the older boy, saying, ‘Not so, my father, for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.’ And his father refused, and said, ‘I know it, my son. I know it; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great, but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.’ Ephraim has become mixed with all the nations of the earth, and it is Ephraim that is gathering together. It is Ephraim that I have been searching for all the days of my preaching. That is the blood which ran in my veins when I embraced the gospel. If there are any of the other tribes of Israel mixed with the Gentiles, we are also searching for them. Though the Gentiles are cut off, do not suppose that we are not going to preach the gospel among the Gentile nations, for they are mingled with the House of Israel. We want the blood of Jacob and that of his father, Isaac, and Abraham which runs in the veins of the people. There is a particle of it here and another particle of it there, blessing the nations as predicted. * * * It is the House of Israel we are after and we care not whether they come from the east, the west, the north, or the south; it is the very lad on whom the father, Jacob, laid his hands, that wills ave the House of Israel. The Book of Mormon came to ephraim, for Joseph Smith was a pure Ephraimite. And the Book of Mormon was revealed to him, and while he lived he made it his business to search for those who believed in the gospel. You understand who we are. We are of the House of Israel, of the royal seed of the royal blood.”

When those who have in their veins the blood of Ephraim have heard the gospel it has had a familiar sound. they have recognized it and accepted it, and when they have received it, the spirit of gathering has rested upon them in great power. They are the elect referred to; they are those who will hearken to the voice of the Lord.

Why Are They to Be Gathered?

to escape calamities;
2. to fulfill prophecies (Isa. 2:2, 3);
3. To be schooled and prepared for the work of the ministry;
4. To establish the kingdom of God.

Quoting Doctrine and Covenants 29:7, 8: “And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts; Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and to prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked.”

The importance of this work was emphasized by a later revelation in which the Lord gave this commandment: “Send forth the elders of my Church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews. And behold, and lo, this shall be their cry, and the voice of the Lord unto all people: Go ye forth unto the land of Zion. … Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion. And let them who be of Judah fle unto Jerusalem, unto the mountains of the Lord’s house. Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon.” (D & C 133:8, 9, 12-14.)

Quoting from page 339, Articles of Faith – “The last sentence of the foregoing quotation expresses the purpose for which this work of gathering the Saints from the nations of the earth has been ordained. The Lord would have His people separate themselves form the sins of the world, and depart from spiritual Babylon, that they may learn the ways of God and serve Him the more fully. * * * And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven and God hath remembered her iniquities.’” (Revelation 18: 2, 4, 5.)

Brigham Young, as recorded in his Discourses, page 186, said, “We are gathering the people as fast as we can. We are gathering them to make Saints of them and of ourselves. We have been gathered to the valleys of these mountains for the express purpose of purifying ourselves, that we may become polished stones in the temple of God. We are here for the purpose of establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth. To be prepared for this work it has been necessary to gather us out from the nations and countries of the world, for if we had remained in those lands we could not have received the ordinances of the Holy Priesthood of the Son of God, which are necessary for the perfection of the Saints preparatory to His coming.”

One of the purposes was to get the people together wherever the Church was organized that the Saints might be taught the gospel and be trained and made to function in the offices of their calling.

The Law of Gathering

“Isaiah declared, ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s House shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ (Isa. 2:2, 3.) It is remarkable how minutely the Latter-day Saints are fulfilling the terms of this prophecy: First, they are building the temples of God in the top of the mountains, so that the House of the Lord is truly where Isaiah saw it would be. Second, the Saints engaged in this work are people gathered from nearly all the nations under heaven, so that all nations are flowing unto the House of the Lord in the top of the mountains. Third, the people who received the gospel in foreign lands joyfully say to their relatives and friends, ‘Come ye, let us go up to the House of the Lord, and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths.”“ (Articles of Faith 1899 Ed., p. 355.)

They Shall Be Gathered on the Land of Zion

“This western continent is known as the land of Joseph and is also designated as the land of Zion. Isaiah and other ancient prophets have so referred to it. The holy city which is to be built upon this land is sometimes called the Cit of Zion. We should keep in mind that these terms, City of Zion and New Jerusalem, have reference to the same sanctified place whence shall go forth the law as the word of the Lord shall go forth from Jerusalem.” (WP, p. 263.)

Very early in the Church, Jackson County, Missouri, was designated as the place of gathering. It was to be the center stake of Zion. there the city of “New Jerusalem” was to be built. this land of Joseph is to be the gathering place of Israel and Jerusalem is to be the gathering place of the Jews. The Church is growing … stakes are organized in almost all parts of the United States, Canada, and Mexico making Jackson County the center. The gathering is preparatory to the Second Advent of the Savior. This implies two things at least. First, that the gospel is to be preached in every land and to every people so that all may hear it and have the opportunity of accepting or rejecting it; second, all Saints must be valiant in the work of the ministry, at home, to fulfill the prophecies concerning it. The elect are to be gathered from all of the nations of the earth to escape the calamities that shall overtake the wicked; they must be gathered to establish the kingdom of God on earth for the purpose of training, purifying and perfecting the Saints themselves.

Gathering of the Jews

One of the clearest and most comprehensive references to the gathering of the Jews is contained in the Book of Mormon, II Nephi 25:14-17: “And behold it shall come to pass that after the Messiah hath risen from the dead, and hath manifested himself unto his people, unto as many as will believe on his name, behold, Jerusalem shall be destroyed again; for wo unto them that fight against God and the people of His Church. Wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered among all nations; yea, and also Babylon shall be destroyed; wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered by other nations. And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind – and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things. And the Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men.”

Jerusalem was trodden down of the Gentiles from the days of its destruction until the close of the year 1917, when it was freed from Turkish rule by General E.H. Allenby of the British forces. After World War I, Palestine became a British mandate and Great Britain, by proclamation, declared that country to be a refuge for the Jews who were invited to return. The first governor of the land under their mandate was Sir Herbert Samuel, a British subject. From that time until now, Palestine has been a refuge for he down-trodden Jews, and they have been gathered to the land of their fathers by hundreds and thousands.

At the time of this writing a bitter war is on between the Jews and their ancient enemies, the Arabs, for the possession of that historic and battle-scarred land. Preceding and during World War II, Hitler scourged the Jews as they had never been scourged in all of their tragic history. Notwithstanding all of this Jerusalem will be rebuilt, the Jews gathered, Christ will come there, they will accept him, and a nation will be born in a day.

1950: The Gospel Message, by William E. Berrett

Lessons 37-38: The Gathering of Israel

The Name Israel

The name Israel, strictly interpreted, means “prince of God” or “soldier of God.’ It is first found, used in the Bible as a title given to Jacob: “thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with god and with men, and has prevailed.” (Gen. 32:28.)

We read further: “And god appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.

“And God said unto him: thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.” (Gen. 35:9-10.)

From the above events, the descendants of Jacob came to be called Israelites or the Children of Israel. The term Israel, however, has a broader connotation which would include Abraham, Isaac and earlier prophets as Israel or “princes of God.” The term might be said to embrace “the faithful” in all ages. The Lord promised Abraham that he would become the “father of the faithful,” evidently referring to those who were faithful in the Spirit world and were to come to earth after Abraham’s time. These faithful ones god knew, for they were Israel, “Princes of god.” having promised Abraham that “the faithful” should come to earth through his loins, God also promised that through the seed of his loins should all the nations of the earth be blessed.

The Scattering of Israel

Because of wickedness among them during the centuries preceding the coming of Christ, the children of Israel were scattered, finally being found among all the nations of the earth. Prophecies concerning the scattering of Israel are numerous in the Old Testament. (Deut. 28:25-64; I Kings 14:15; Isa. 5:107, 13; 10:3; 42:24-25; Jer. 7:12-15; 9:11; 10:22.)

“… For it appears that the house of Israel, sooner or later, will be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations.

Nephite Prophets also spoke of the scattering of Israel:

“And behold, there are many who are already lost from the knowledge of those whoa re at Jerusalem. Yea, the more part of all the tribes have been led away; and they are scattered to and fro upon the isles of the sea; and whither they are none of us knoweth, save that we know that they have been led away.

“And since they have been led away, these things have been prophesied concerning them, and also concerning all those who shall hereafter be scattered and be confounded, because of the Holy One of Israel; for against him will they harden their hearts; wherefore, they shall be scattered among all nations, and shall be hated of all men. …

“And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord god will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed by scattered.

“And after our seed is scattered, the Lord god will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders.

“Wherefore, the Lord god will proceed to make bare his arm in the eyes of all the nations, in bringing about his covenants and his gospel unto those who are of the House of Israel.

“Wherefore, he will bring them again out of captivity, and they shall be gathered together to the lands of their inheritance; … and they shall know that the Lord is their Savior and their Redeemer, the Mighty One of Israel.” (I Nephi 22:3-5, 7-8, 11-12.)

The historian is witness that the scattering of Israel has been completed. In 721 B.C. ten and one-half tribes were taken by he Assyrians into captivity. From that captivity they did not return. They disappeared as a nation so completely that they have been designated “the Lost Tribes.” They seem to have departed from Assyria, the place of captivity, and to have gone northward. (See Apocrypha, II Esdras 12; Doc. and Cov. 133:26-27.) their final destination is not known although some of the Israelitish blood is found among the nations of Europe. (For a treatment of the “Scattering of Israel” see Talmage, Articles of Faith, Chap. 17.)

In the year 586 B.C. most of the tribe of Judah were carried into captivity by the Babylonians. Some, to escape the fate of their compatriots, fled into Egypt and other lands, while some found refuge on the isles of the sea, and at least two groups reached the American continent. (These were the Nephites and the Mulekites.)

Few of these returned, except from among those carried to Babylon. those who returned re-established the Jewish State, which continued until the time of Christ. In the year 70 A.D. Jerusalem was crushed and destroyed by the Romans in punishment for an insurrection against roman authority. The inhabitants were killed, sold into slavery, or scattered. Jerusalem was not rebuilt and for centuries hardly a Jew could be found in Palestine.

The Gathering

In declaring the faith of the Latter-day Saints Joseph Smith wrote:

“We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes.” (Smith, History of the Church, Period I, Vol. IV, Wentworth Letter. Articles of Faith, 10, p. 535.)

The doctrine thus expressed is scriptural and is believed in by many Christians other than the Latter-day Saints. the distinctive feature of the Mormon belief is the claim that the Church is bringing this prophecy to fulfilment, that the gathering has commenced, both upon the American continent and at Jerusalem. On this subject the word of the Lord has been revealed:

“And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; …

“Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked.” (Doc. and Cov. 29:7-8.)

“Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves; gather ye together, O ye people of my church, …

“Yea, verily I say unto you again, the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you: Go ye out of Babylon; gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Ibid., 133:4, 7.)

The Latter-day revelations upon this subject indicate a three-fold restoration:

1. The assembling in the land of Zion of the people of Israel from the nations of the earth.

2. The return of the Jews to Jerusalem.

3. The restoration of the Lost Tribes.

The appointment to and authority for the work of gathering Israel was committed to Joseph Smith and Oliver cowdery in the Kirtland Temple in 1836, on which occasion Moses appeared unto them in person and committed such authority to them. Joseph records these words:

“The heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes rom the land of the north.” (Ibid., 110:11.)

The urgency of the calling thus placed upon the church is apparent in other revelations received upon the subject. consider the following:

“Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews.

And behold, and lo, this shall be their cry and the voice of the Lord unto all people: Go ye forth unto the land of Zion, …

“Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion.

“And let them who be of Judah flee unto Jerusalem, unto the mountain of the Lord’s house.

“Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, from the midst of wickedness, which is spiritual Babylon.” (Ibid., 133:8, 9, 12-14.)

The timeliness of this mission and the need for the gathering are becoming more and more apparent as the wickedness of nations plunges mankind time and again into the agonies and throes of war and destruction. Blessed indeed were those to whom the message of the missionaries came, who heeded the message and gathered to Zion before the destructions began; and blessed are those who now heed it. the Prophet Nephi foresaw a day of great destruction, for speaking of the latter days upon the earth he wrote:

“For they shall war among themselves, and the sword of their own hands shall fall upon their own heads, and they shall be drunken with their own blood.” (I Nephi 22:13.)

Perhaps more important than saving the lives of the righteous by gathering them together in Zion is the savings of their souls, and those of their children by removing them out of the spiritual stagnation of Babylon.

The faith of the Latter-day Saints teaches that, in the day of wrath to come, safety shall be found only in Zion.

The fidelity of the Saints in carrying this message to the world is demonstrated by its missionary record. Imbued with a desire to save the righteous of the earth and to turn the wicked from their evil ways, missionaries have gone forth with a zeal unmatched since the day of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Spirit of Gathering

God has not required of the Church that which could not be accomplished, nor has He left the members unaided. A spirit of gathering has come upon the blood of Israel in all lands. those who accept the gospel seem to have an urge within them to gather to Zion. So great has been this spirit at times, that in Europe, before immigration restrictions became so severe, it was impossible to retain Saints long enough in the established branches of the Church to keep the Church officered.

The miracle of the latter-day gathering is greater than the healing of the sick or the raising of the dead. It has been a continuous miracle for more than a century. The Mormon convert in every clime has undergone a change of spirit which has transformed a life’s habits, severed the strongest of economic bonds, and the closest of family ties, in order to satisfy that longing which has come in his heart “to gather to Zion.”

The membership of the Church has been gathered from many countries of the earth, one of a family, and two of a city. Their patriarchal blessings show those now gathered to be of the blood of Joseph, chiefly, of the lineage of Ephraim. The lost tribes have not yet been gathered, but the return of the Jews to Jerusalem has begun, and Jerusalem is being rebuilt. (See Berrett, The Restored Church, pp. 205-208. for the story of the dedication of Palestine, the return of the Jews, and subsequent events related thereto.)


In the tenth article of Faith we read:

“We believe … that Zion will be built upon this (the American) continent; …” (Pearl of Great Price, Articles of Faith, No. 10.09 concerning the Latter-day Saint doctrine of Zion the late James E. Talmage wrote:

“Two Gathering Places: Some of the passages quoted in connection with the dispersion and the subsequent gathering of Israel make reference to Jerusalem, which is to be re-established, and Zion, which is to be built. True, the latter name is in many cases used as a synonym of the first, owing to the fact that a certain hill within the Jerusalem of old was known specifically as Zion, or Mount Zion; and the name of a part is often used figuratively to designate the whole; but in other passages the separate and distinctive meaning of the terms is clear. The prophet Micah, ‘full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might” (Micah 3:8.) predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and its associated Zion, the former to ‘become heaps,” (Ibid., 3:12.) and then announced a new condition that is to exist in the last days, when another ‘mountain of the house of the Lord” (Ibid., 4:1.) is to be established, and this is to be called Zion. The two places are mentioned separately in the prophecy: ‘for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ (Ibid., 4:2; Isa. 2:2-3.)

“Joel adds this testimony regarding the two places from which the Lord shall rule over his people: ‘The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem.’ (Joel 3:16.) Zephaniah breaks forth into song, with the triumph of Israel as his theme, and apostrophizes the daughters of both cities: ‘Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all thy heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.’ (Zeph. 3:14.) Then the prophet predicts separately of each place: ‘In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.’ (Ibid., 3:16.) Furthermore Zachariah records the revealed will in this way: ‘And the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.’ (Zech. 1:17; see also 2:7-12.)

“When the people of the house of Jacob are prepared to receive the Redeemer as their rightful king, when the scattered sheep of Israel have been sufficiently humbled through suffering and sorrow to know and to follow their Shepherd, then, indeed, will he come to reign among them. Then a literal kingdom will be established, wide as the world, with the King of kings on the throne; and the two capitals of this mighty empire will be Jerusalem in the east and Zion I the west. Isaiah speaks of the glory of Christ’s kingdom in the latter days, and ascribes separately to Zion and to Jerusalem the blessings of triumph: (Isa. 4:3, 4.) ‘O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! (Ibid., 40:9.)

“The name ‘Zion’ is used in several distinct senses. By derivation Zion, or, as written by the Greeks, Sion, probably meant bright, or sunny; but this commonplace signification is lost in the deeper and more affecting meaning that the word as a name and title came to acquire. As stated, a particular hill within the site of the city of Jerusalem was called Zion. When David gained his victory over the Jebusites he captured and occupied the ‘stronghold of Zion,’ and named it the city of David. (See II Samuel 5:6, 7; I Kings 2:10; 8:1.) ‘Zion’ then was the name of a place; and it has been applied as follows:

1. To the hill itself, or Mount Zion, and, by extension of meaning, to Jerusalem.

2. To the location of the “mountain of the house of the Lord,” which Micah predicts shall be established in the last days, distinct from Jerusalem. to these we may add another application of the name as made known through modern revelation, viz.:

3. To the City of Holiness, founded by Enoch, the seventh patriarch in descent from Adam, and called by him Zion. (See Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:18-21.)

4. Yet another use of the term is to be noted – a metaphorical one – by which the church of God is called Zion, comprising, according to the Lord’s own definition, the pure in heart.” (See Doc. and Cov. 97:21. Talmage, Articles of Faith, Chap 19, pp. 345-347.)



  1. It was interesting to see the various treatments of this topic, especially since our understanding of “gathering” has changed over time. In that light, after reading the 1896 Sunday School leaflets’ description of Joseph’s “prophetic eye” being so firmly fixed on gathering in the “west,” or Missouri, I found myself wanting to see how the 1896 writers would have dealt with the concept of the Saints gathering to the Salt Lake Valley.

    And I laughed when reading the description of the Southerners in Missouri as “illiterate, frontier people . . . who partook of all the prejudices that so largely characterized the people of that section of the country.” (emphasis mine).

    Last, it was a sad reminder of the seemingly never-ending Israeli/Arab conflict to read Bryant Hinckley in 1949 refer to the “bitter war” being waged at that time “between the Jews and their ancient enemies, the Arabs.”

    Comment by Hunter — March 17, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

  2. Thank you for wading through all that, Hunter. Some things never change, do they? (and this time I’m not referring to the Gospel)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 17, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

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