I wrote this treatise back in 1979 when I was still strongly influenced by the mindset of the LDS church and its various writings. Since then many of my views have changed and my perspective broadened. My later book – The Gathering of Lights more correctly reflects my current thinking and presentation and is written for the general populace.
This treatise has some excellent material and lots of good quotes for the LDS people. It was written to speak to the LDS using their language and contains many wake up calls and provocative thinking for them to consider. Most important is it does present the true principle of the gathering using their own teachings.
THE LITERAL GATHERING OF ISRAEL
J J. Dewey
The Literal and Figurative Gathering
The tenth article of faith reads: “We believe in the LITERAL gathering of Israel, and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built on this (the American) continent…
Does the Church still believe in this literal gathering of Israel? Is there a literal gathering in the Mormon church today, or is it a figurative gathering?
If there is a literal gathering in the church today then that would have to mean that all there is to the gathering of Israel is the gathering together in meetings and occasional conferences. But if this is so then how are the LDS gathering together any more than the Methodists or the Baptists? If The LDS believe in the “literal” gathering of Israel today then so also do all the other churches in Christendom. If Mormon belief on the gathering is the same as the other churches then why do they pretend that this belief sets them apart?
Actually, until the turn of the twentieth century, the Latter-Day Saints did believe in the literal gathering of Israel, but after a number of compromises, the church decided to cease and desist in its efforts to gather out of Babylon. From that point in time to the present the Saints have become like unto the world and most of the members of the church have become part of Babylon itself.
In speaking of Jesus in his day Joseph Smith said: “Jesus did everything to gather the people, and they would not be gathered, and he therefore poured out curses upon them.” DHC 5:423 Joseph also said: “The Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ is a gathering Spirit. Its tendency is to gather the virtuous and good, the honest and the meek of the earth, and in fine, the Saints of God.” DHC 6:12.
Yes, many are not aware that Jesus did everything possible to literally gather out the pure in heart in his day, but he had such little success that there is nothing recorded in the New Testament of any gathering at all except into meetings. Near the end of his life when he saw that his efforts were futile Jesus painfully declared: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often WOULD I HAVE GATHERED thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Matt 23:37-38
Jesus talks about the same principle in our day and he even calls it a mystery which implies that the principle is not understood by the average member: “Therefore I will unfold unto them this great mystery; For behold I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, IF THEY WILL NOT HARDEN THEIR HEARTS.” D&C 10:64-65
It looks as if the saints must have hardened their hearts for there is no gathering of the righteous at all today. Jesus tried to gather the saints in Jerusalem and they “would not”, and he again tried to gather them in our dispensation and again they would not.
Concerning this “mystery” the Lord continues: “Behold this is my doctrine, whosoever repenteth and cometh (gathereth) unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore HE IS NOT OF MY CHURCH.” D&C 10:67-68. Thus even though a person may have a membership in the Church on the earth it is not written in heaven unless he possesses the spirit of gathering.
This is why the Lord calls those who do not possess this desire to gather non members. This is also verified in the Book of Mormon: “Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion (The gathering of Israel) both Jew, and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; FOR THEY ARE THEY WHO ARE THE WHORE OF ALL THE EARTH. II Nephi 10:16. Many members of the church will fight against the establishment of Zion through the gathering of Israel and thus belong to that great and Abominable Church of the Devil for the Adversary desires the dispersion of Israel so that the wheat will be burned along with the tares. We are told that Satan through his secret combinations seeks “the destruction of ALL people.” Ether 8:25. Since the Gathering of Israel will provide a place of “refuge” which would thwart the Adversary’s plan of destruction he, of course, wants to fight against this principle with all of his power.
When Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith he said: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children THE PROMISES MADE TO THE FATHERS, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so THE WHOLE EARTH WOULD BE UTTERLY WASTED AT HIS COMING.” D&C 2:1-3.
Notice that Moroni said that the promises (plural) that were made to the fathers must be planted in the hearts of the children or the earth would be “utterly wasted”.
What are the promises made to the Fathers???
The church is, of course, aware of “one” of the promises, and that is the sealing powers, but a full concept of this is not taught. Joseph Smith said: “This is the spirit of Elijah, that we redeem our dead, and connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven… We cannot be perfect without our fathers. WE MUST HAVE REVELATION FROM THEM.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith Page 338.
Thus we see that the redemption of the dead is only part of the spirit of Elijah. In addition to this we must be connected with them to the extent that we can receive revelation from them. Part of the redemption of the dead involves freeing our fathers in the Spirit World so they can communicate with us as promised.
Why do we need revelation from our Fathers? Because all of the Fathers in Israel who we read of in the scriptures sought the gathering of Israel and the redemption of Zion and found it not, therefore they are very interested in our accomplishing this today for they do not want to be resurrected on a planet that is “utterly wasted”.
Indeed the literal gathering of Israel is one of the promises made to the fathers and it must be planted in the hearts of the children by revelation or the earth could be wasted at the coming of Christ. Why will the earth be wasted if there is no gathering? Because the Lord said that the gathering was “for a defense and for a refuge from the storm.” D&C 115:6 For this reason he commanded the Saints: “Go ye out of Babylon, gather ye out from among the nations, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other… Let them, therefore, who are among the Gentiles flee unto Zion… “D&C 133:7&12 “Declare both by word and by FLIGHT that desolation shall come upon the wicked.” D&C 63:37 “I WILL NOT SPARE ANY THAT REMAIN IN BABYLON.” D&C 64:24
If God will not spare “ANY” that remain in Babylon and all the saints remain there and not gather to form Zion then obviously the earth will be “utterly wasted” at his coming for there would be no men left. Indeed the Lord has warned us: “For a desolating scourge shall go forth among the inhabitants of the earth, and shall continue to be poured out from time to time, if they repent not (for not establishing Zion by gathering), UNTIL THE EARTH IS EMPTY and the inhabitants thereof are CONSUMED AWAY AND UTTERLY DESTROYED (or wasted) by the brightness of my coming.” D&C 5:19
Joseph Smith illustrates clearly that the sealing powers restored by Elijah and the gathering go hand in hand: “The keys are to be delivered, the Spirit of Elijah is to come, the Gospel to be established, the Saints of God GATHERED, ZION BUILT UP, and the Saints to come up as saviors on Mount Zion The Saints have not too much time to save and redeem their dead and GATHER TOGETHER THEIR LIVING RELATIVES, that they may be saved also, before the earth will be smitten, and the consumption decreed falls upon the world… If the Church should go to with their might to save their dead, seal their posterity and GATHER THEIR LIVING FRIENDS, and spend none of their time in behalf of the world, they would hardly get through before the night would come, when no man could work; and my only trouble at the present time is CONCERNING OURSELVES,THAT THE SAINTS WILL BE DIVIDED, BROKEN UP, AND SCATTERED BEFORE WE GET OUR SALVATION SECURE; for there are so many fools in the world for the devil to operate on.” TOTPJS Pages 330- 331.
We see here that the gathering is necessary to secure our salvation. This is understandable when we consider that Joseph Smith said that “Salvation is nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet.” These enemies he said referred to “this world”. TOTPJS Page 297. In other words it is impossible for the kingdom of God to triumph over its enemies in this world without the gathering of Israel and the establishment of Zion. ‘Without a knowledge of this “mystery” the kingdom of God cannot set up an “ensign” to the nations which will bring peace on the earth.
Before we continue we must successfully define what is meant by the “Literal gathering of Israel” even though the meaning should be as clear as crystal to anyone who has read the Doctrine and Covenants even once.
Unfortunately many Latter-Day Saints actually believe that the missionaries of today-are participating in the gathering of Israel. Many members also believe that they are gathering by simply meeting in wards and stakes. Others who understand what is meant by the “literal gathering of Israel” believe that the gathering was suspended for a time and is to be resumed when they go to Jackson County and that there we will have a literal gathering.
THE MISSIONARIES OF TODAY ARE NOT PARTICIPATING IN THE LITERAL GATHERING OF ISRAEL.
Have you ever wondered why missionaries such as Wilford Woodruff were able to convert over three thousand people in several years of labor? Why is there not a missionary in the church today with the persuasive power of any of the early brethren? Is it because the missionaries of today lack charisma, or perhaps use the wrong brand of mouthwash? No. The reason is simply that today there is a different message with the most vital element deleted. That missing ingredient is the warning voice to all people to gather out from among the nations and come to Zion. Let the wheat be separated from the tares so the tares can be bound in bundles to be burned. Parley P. Pratt wrote his VOICE OF WARNING for this purpose. Also the Lord told us: “Behold, I sent you out to testify and to WARN this people…” D&C 88:81
Why were they to be warned? We are told a few verses later: “That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked.” D&C 88:85
To Sidney Rigdon the Lord commanded: “Let him lift up his voice with the sound of a trump, and WARN the inhabitants of the earth to FLEE THE WRATH TO COME.” D&C 124:106 “Let your preaching be a warning voice.” D&C 38:41 “Lift a WARNING voice to the inhabitants of the earth; and declare both by word and by FLIGHT that desolation shall come upon the wicked.” D&C 63:37 “This is a day of WARNING…,’ D&C 63:58. “Let thy warning voice go forth; and when the night cometh let not the inhabitants of the earth slumber because of thy speech.” D&C 112:5. We are told that the main purpose of the Doctrine and Covenants is to be a “Voice of warning… unto all people.” D&C 1:4
Where is the Warning voice today?
I am familiar with the last two editions of the missionary lessons and there is not one warning in either of them. The main theme of the current set is to testify of “living prophets.” However, the scriptures plainly tell us that any recognized prophet will warn the people of the wrath to come. Why are those proclaiming to be “special witnesses” not doing this? Why O why are the missionaries not sounding the warning voice when sudden destruction awaits us and the time is coming that even with a gathering the “inhabitants of the earth are burned, and FEW MEN LEFT.” Isa 24:6 thus making “a man more precious than fine gold.” Isa 13:12
In an interesting vision attributed to John Taylor on December 16, 1877 we find a description of some of the desolation we are to warn against:
“I went to bed as usual about 9:30 P.M…. The next I knew I was just this side of Omaha. It seemed as though I was above the earth, and looking down upon it. As I -passed along upon my way east, I saw the road full of people, mostly women, with just what they could carry in bundles on their backs traveling to the mountains on foot.
“I wondered how they could get through with such a small pack on their back. It was remarkable to me that there were so FEW MEN AMONG THEM It did not seem as though the cars were running. The rails looked rusty and abandoned and I have no conception of how I traveled as I looked down upon the people. I continued east by way of Omaha and Council Bluffs which were full of disease. The states of Illinois and Missouri were in tumult. Men were killing one another and women joined in the fighting. Family were against family in the most horrid manner. I imagined next that I was in Washington and I found desolation there. The whole House was empty and the Halls of Congress the same and everything in ruins. The people seemed to have fled the city and left it to take care of itself. (This would undoubtedly include the Washington temple). I was next in Baltimore in the square where the monument of 1812 stands in front of the Charles Hotel. I saw dead piled up so as to fill the squares. I saw mothers cutting the throats of their own children for their blood. I saw them suck it from their throats to quench their own thirst, and then lie down and die. The waters of the Chesapeake Bay were so stagnant and the stench arising from it on account of their throwing dead bodies in it, so terrible that the very smell carried death with it. I saw no men except they were dead or dying on the streets and very few women. And those I saw were crazy and in an ugly condition.
“Everywhere I went I beheld the same sight all over the city, it was terrible beyond description to look upon. I thought this must be the end, but no, I was seemingly in an instant in the city of Philadelphia. There everything was still. No living soul was there to greet me. It seemed the whole city was without any inhabitants. In the south of Chestnut street and in fact everywhere I went the putrefaction of the dead caused such a stench that it was impossible for any living thing to breath, nor did I see any living thing in the city.
“Next I found myself in Broadway in New York, and there it seemed the people had done the best they could to overcome the disease, but in wandering down Broadway, I saw the bodies of beautiful women, some dead and others in a dying condition on the sidewalk. I saw men come out of cellars and ravish the persons of some that were yet alive, and then kill them and rob their bodies of all the valuables they had upon them and they would roll over a time or two and die in agony. In some of the back streets I saw them kill some of their own offspring and eat their raw flesh and in a few minutes die themselves.
“Everywhere I went I saw the same scenes of horror and destruction and death. No vehicles or cars were running, but death and destruction was everywhere. Then I saw a fire start, and just at that moment a mighty East wind sprang up and carried the flames over the city and it burned until there was not a single building left standing there. Even down to the waters edge. Wharves and shipping all seemed to burn and follow in common destruction where the great city was a short time ago. The stench of the bodies that were burning was so great that it was carried a long distance across the Hudson Bay and carried death and destruction wherever it penetrated. I cannot paint in words the horrors that seemed to compass me about. It was beyond the description of men.
“I supposed this was -the end, but no, I was given to understand, that the same horrors were being enacted all over the country – East, West, North, and South. FEW WERE LEFT ALIVE STILL THERE WERE SOME. Immediately after I seemed to be standing on the left bank of the Missouri and Illinois and all of Iowa were a complete desert with NO LIVING BEING THERE. A short distance from the river, however, I saw twelve men, dressed in temple robes, standing in a square or nearly so, and I understood it represented the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem. Their hands were uplifted consecrating the ground and laying the Corner Stone of the temple.” Source: Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, June 15, 1878, “A Vision, Salt Lake City, Night of Dec 16, 1877
Is it not now obvious why the Lord said: “Go ye out from among the nations, even from Babylon, FROM THE MIDST OF WICKEDNESS, which is SPIRITUAL BABYLON… Let him not look back lest sudden destruction shall come upon him.” D&C 133:14-15.
Here we see that one is in spiritual Babylon when he is in the “midst of wickedness”. We, of course, cannot be in physical Babylon today so it is obvious that the prophesies of Babylon in our day pertain to this “spiritual Babylon” as the scriptures have said.
Copyright 1979 by J J Dewey
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