“The Gathering of My People”
Lesson 12 D&C 29:1-8; 33:3-7; 37; 38:24-41; 52:2-5, 42-43; 57:1-3; 110:11
Our Heritage pgs. 16-23, 37-39
The gathering of the house of Israel is another prominent theme in the Doctrine and Covenants. As the restoration commenced and missionary labors began early in this dispensation, the ancient prophecies began to be fulfilled. Those prophecies foretold a day in which Israel would be gathered in and the gospel blessings would be available to them again as they exercised faith and obedience.
· The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “All that the prophets…have written, from the days of righteous Abel, down to the last man that has left any testimony on record for our consideration, in speaking of the salvation of Israel in the last days, goes directly to show that it consists in the work of the gathering” (TPJS, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 83)
· D&C 45:71, 10th Article of Faith—both indicate that the gathering has a physical and a spiritual component to it.
§ Spiritual: Learning the gospel, coming unto Christ, baptism, reception of the Holy Ghost, keeping the covenants—gathered from the world to the Church.
§ Physical: gathering in specific locations (Ohio, Missouri, Utah) and in the various stakes of Zion that now extend throughout the world.
· D&C 29:1-2, 7-8 tells us more about the purposes of gathering that included assembling the Lord’s elect “to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked”.
· D&C 110:11 (and the section heading) explain that the authority to direct the gathering is vested in specific keys of the priesthood and that those keys were restored to the earth at a specific time and place.
· What began with the gathering of a few people in New York has grown to a world-wide gathering process involving millions. D&C 33:7; 38:40; 39:11; 88:81 specify our responsibilities to assist in this great and glorious work.
The Saints gathered in Ohio (1831-1838) (1839-1846)
The first direction that the Lord gave to latter-day saints to physically gather was given in December 1830, eight months after the Church was organized. D&C 37:3 told Joseph to have them leave New York in favor of settling in Ohio. (For maps see pgs. 29, 31 in Class Member Study Guide)
· D&C 38:31-32; 39:15 reveal the purpose of the Ohio gathering. D&C 95:8; 105:33; 110:9 provide insight on how the Saints were “endowed with power from on high” while in Ohio. In part, endowments were given through appearances of the Lord and the restoration of priesthood keys in the Kirtland temple.
· D&C 38:24-27 His people were counseled to prepare for the gathering by being virtuous, loving each other, and becoming unified as a people. The Lord has often stressed that His people must be one.
· D&C 38:34-39 gave other counsel on the Ohio gathering (i.e., the appointment of brethren to look after the temporal welfare of the poor and needy Saints and administer to their relief, governing the affairs of the property of the church) and a promise of “riches” was made in verse 39—accompanied by a warning that they should not become prideful as the Nephites of old.
· During the January – May period in 1831, the majority of the Saints traveled the 300 miles to Ohio after disposing of their farms. The changes required great sacrifice, financially and in other ways, on their part as they obeyed and helped build the kingdom on earth. (For more on the challenge—including the Knights, Lucy Mack Smith, and Brigham Young, see Our Heritage, pgs. 18, 19, 23)
The Saints gathered in Missouri (1831-1838)
Locating and establishing the city of Zion, or New Jerusalem, was a major objective of the early Saints who had read the prophecies of Isaiah and Nephi. When Joseph Smith received revelation that Missouri was the site of the city of Zion, that state became the second gathering place in this dispensation. (D&C 63:24, 36-48)
· Sept. 1830 – New York: The Lord revealed that the site of the city of Zion was “ on the borders by the Lamanites”, leaving the specific location to be identified later. D&C 28:9
· Sept/Oct 1830 in New York: In D&C 30:5-6; 32:1-3, the Lord called four missionaries to preach to the Lamanites. They became the first Church members to go to Missouri.
· Feb. 1831 in Kirtland: In D&C 42:62, the Lord said he would reveal the location of the New Jerusalem in his own due time.
· D&C 52:2-5, 42-43. June 1831 in Kirtland: Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and others were given a mission call to Missouri and the Lord promised to consecrate Missouri for an inheritance to His people.
· D&C 54:8. June 1831 in Kirtland: The Lord directs that the Colesville New York saints to continue on to Missouri rather than stopping at Kirtland. They did so and were joined by others. Their story is told in pages 37-39 in Our Heritage.
· D&C 57:1-3. June 1831 after the prophet’s journey to Missouri: Revelation named Independence, MO, as the center place of the city of Zion. A temple would be built there.
In 1847, Brigham Young led the Saints west into the Salt Lake Valley and numerous saints continued to migrate to Salt Lake and Utah until the middle of the 20th century. In 1972, the Saints were counseled by Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “[The] revealed words speak of…there being congregations of the covenant people in every nation, speaking every tongue, and among every people when the Lord comes again… The Place of gathering for the Mexican Saints is in Mexico; the place of gathering for the Guatemalan Saints is in Guatemala…and so it goes throughout the length and breadth of the whole earth. Japan is for the Japanese; Korea is for the Koreans;…every nation is the gathering place for its own people.” (Conf. Rpt., Mexico and Central America Area Conference 1972)
According to Elder Packer, in April 1973, President Harold B. Lee, in effect, announced in general conference that ”…the pioneering phase of gathering was now over. The gathering is now to be out of the world into the Church in every nation.” (Ensign, Nov. 1992, 71) This is partly due to the fact that the Church’s resources became sufficient to establish stakes and build temples in many areas of the world.
In times past, the Saints needed to gather together to strengthen each other and find refuge and protection from the world. Those objectives can now be met through the established stakes of Zion.
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “Presently, Israel is being gathered to the various stakes of Zion…A stake has at least four purposes:
Temple building was an essential part of gathering in Kirtland, Missouri, Nauvoo, and Utah. It continues to be essential. Temple work makes its own special contribution to the gathering of the Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “What was the object of gathering…the people of God in any age of the world?…The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation…It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings” (History of the Church, 5:423-24)