The House of Israel
We hope you enjoyed talking about the priesthood, and that you really got some new insights out of our study.
Now we’re going to switch gears just a little bit (though everything in the gospel is interrelated). As we prepare to study the Old Testament next year, why not delve into some topics from that mammoth book that most of us haven’t read cover-to-cover? Let us say this to you regarding a study of the Old Testament – it will yield incredible results for you both spiritually and in terms of scriptural knowledge. There are powerful lessons in the Old Testament, and with a deeper study of it comes a better understanding of the more oft-cited texts in the Church.
- What and who are the Twelve Tribes of Israel? Make yourself a little chart or schematic explaining who descends from whom and why. Take it all the way back to Abraham if you can, and pepper in as much history as you know.
Can we tell you how much we love this topic – The House of Israel? We’ll be reasonable broad in our approach, but we hope you enjoy it.
Yesterday’s question – What and who are the Twelve Tribes of Israel? – was more homework than an introspective spiritual endeavor, but everything needs a foundation, right? How’d you do? For your enjoyment and my own homework, I made the following chart (click to enlarge):
The map included on the graphic is skipping ahead a little bit, but I don’t think I’ll play spoiler by telling you that Israel eventually inherited Canaan. Moses never even saw it happen, as he died/was translated before they ever made it. Remember that whole “forty years in the wilderness” thing?
I’m fascinated by the concept of the birthright and how vital it is, both in terms of tangible inheritance and what it symbolizes in a spiritual context.
- Which leads to today’s question(s) – What is the Abrahamic Covenant? What are the blessings associated with it? To whom is it available and why?
- “The Abrahamic Covenant” – S. Michael Wilcox
- “The Ancient Covenant Restored” – Robert L. Millet
- “All Men Everywhere” – Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Did you get a chance to think through the Abrahamic Covenant? Here’s a breakdown of some of it:
- Abraham make covenants a few times – when he received the gospel, when he was ordained a high priest, and when he entered into celestial marriage.
- He was promised that his posterity would be numerous
- Through the ministry of his seed, “all the families of the earth would be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abraham 2:11)
- Anyone can receive these blessings regardless of literal descendancy.
- So today, we will think a bit more about being a descendant. Patriarchal blessings include a declaration of lineage. Why? Why are so many saints of the tribe of Ephraim? Why is it important to know one’s lineage, whether actual or adopted? Is one privy to different blessings or expectations based on tribal lineage? Take 20 minutes of your day and work through this. It’s worth it.
- “Your Patriarchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light” – President Thomas S. Monson
- Genesis 49
- Romans 8:9
- Romans 9:4
- “You Have a Noble Birthright” – Julie B. Beck
So I really hadn’t thought much about lineage before yesterday’s question. I just assumed that everyone was from Ephraim and that was just some quirky Mormon tradition. Sure, in my day, I’d met people from other tribes (some from Dan. Woo hoo!), but did it really mean much to me? Not really.
I hope you all won’t think less of me for naivete on the subject, but I at least came to better understand that so many of us are from Ephraim because Joseph was blessed that he would be the father of many nations, and Ephraim had a specific charge to take the gospel to the world, which is all the more important in the latter days.
It’s really interesting to read Genesis 49 (Deuteronomy 33 is a great companion) and see that among the various blessings and statements given by Jacob to his sons, Joseph really sticks out, discussing at length how he has been hated and grieved, but he will abide things in strength and was made strong by the Lord. We all also learn that Joseph’s branches will “run over the wall,” meaning the Nephites and Lamanites.
- What events led to the scattering of Israel? What is spiritual bondage and what can you learn from the dispersion of the Twelve Tribes?
- Jacob 5
- Deuteronomy 28:9-10, 13 and Leviticus 26:13-16 — Look for the conditions the Lord imposed to guarantee Israel’s survival.
- “The Scatterings and Gatherings of Israel” – Edward J. Brandt
I bring greetings from the happy hills of Germany today. Geoff gave us a fun question yesterday – “What events led to the scattering of Israel? What is spiritual bondage and what can you learn from the dispersion of the Twelve Tribes?” The scattering of Israel is a blast to study, mainly because any topic of study that is aided by a period map is just more awesome. We know directionally where a lot of the tribes went off to, we know a few stayed put (relatively), we know that it was war and land disputes that drove the scattering, but what difference does it make? The real angle to this question is what have they been doing for so long, and maybe why has the Lord waited so long?
Just as the gathering of Israel is a spiritual experience, the scattering would likely be spiritual led journey as well, meaning they are not forgotten to the Lord, obviously. My favorite though here, is when Jeremiah (chapter 50:4-6) describes what will happen –
4 In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God.
5 They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a everlasting(see footnote) covenant that shall not be forgotten.
I love that when it’s time, they will have something in them looking for an everlasting covenant with the Lord, it’s in their nature to gather. Spread them out, leaven the whole loaf, salt the earth, etc, put them everywhere, and they will turn their faces to Zion like a sunflower to the sun. Tell me the Lord doesn’t have plans for a group like that. 🙂
- By what means has the Lord promised to gather his people from spiritual bondage in the last days? What responsibilities are yours?
- “President Kimball’s Vision of Missionary Work” – President Ezra Taft Benson
- D&C 133:6-15
- “The Gathering of Scattered Israel” – Elder Russell M. Nelson
- Articles of Faith 1:10 (you should really know what this means to you)
One thing in particular that I love from yesterday’s question was the counsel from Elder Nelson – that the gathering of Israel would be impossible without the Book of Mormon. Why? Because people are brought unto the fulness of the gospel through the Book of Mormon and are, therefore, adopted into the House of Israel. Pretty cool, no?
- What does temple work have to do with the gathering of Israel, and what is your role in that?
- Teachings of Wilford Woodruff
- “Ezekiel’s Sticks and the Gathering of Israel” – Keith Meservy
- Isaiah 2
Temple work is awesome. We’ll save a deep dive into temple stuff for another course, but hopefully you wrote out your answer to yesterday’s question – “What does temple work have to do with the gathering of Israel?
At first glance, the answer is pretty obvious – we are helping to redeem the dead, linking generations together, and slowly, through adoption into the covenant bringing the lost tribes out of obscurity.
But remember this: while we may only perform ordinances in the temple for ourselves once, we sanctify ourselves and prepare ourselves for the eternities through regular temple attendance. Temple attendance with an open heart and desire to be taught results in great spiritual awakenings and improved sensitivity to spiritual promptings. In the temple, we come to understand our role in the broader plan, and prepare ourselves to bring about the literal gathering and recovery of the lost tribes.
- What will be the major gathering places to gather Israel? How can you be a part of the gathering? Search the scriptures and LDS.org. We’ll provide some links below.
- Teachings of Brigham Young
- Articles of Faith 10
- “The Gathering of My People” – Doctrine and Covenants Gospel Doctrine manual
- Isaiah 49:18-21
We have really loved studying The House of Israel. What an engaging topic. We certainly hope you’ve gotten a lot of out it and found deeper knowledge about how all of this relates to the bigger picture.
Oh, and the gathering will happen all over the place, but particularly in “old” Jerusalem and New Jerusalem. Missouri, ftw!
- As we finish this one up, here’s your assignment: You Have been asked to give a talk on The House of Israel and how it pertains to our individual salvation. Write up an introductory paragraph to introduce your primary thesis. Don’t spend forever on this, but create an argument and work with what you’ve written down over the past week.