Chapter 24: The House of Israel Returns Home

I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people.1


When the prophet Nephi was given a vision of the latter days, he was told that the main objective of the Lord in bringing about the destruction of the wicked and the other events of the last days is to fulfill the covenants that He has made with the house of Israel.2 When the children of Israel begin to accept Jesus Christ and follow Him, and when “they no more turn aside their hearts against the Holy One of Israel, then will He remember the covenants which He made to their fathers,”3 and they will become “a pure and a delightsome people,”4 highly favored and blessed by the Lord.

They will be gathered home to their lands of inheritance, after having been absent from those sacred lands for almost three thousand years.5 They will be restored to a knowledge of their forefathers.6 They will then, in turn, be a great benefit to the inhabitants of the earth as they spread the kingdom of God and the gospel message of repentance, salvation and exaltation.7 They will also bless and serve the world as the Kingdom of God’s righteous leadership fills the nations with peace, law and order.8 In these magnificent days the Lord will reveal all of the doctrines that He has given to His children throughout the history of the world.9

The Remnants of Israel Begin to Gather Home

Once the land of Jerusalem has been freed from the grasp of the wicked armies that have surrounded and attacked it, the righteous remnants of Israel will be able to return to their lands of inheritance. After the tribes of Israel begin to believe in the Savior, and are baptized for the remission of their sins, they will start to gather home.

The remnants of the house of Israel will gather to their lands of inheritance in the land of Palestine, but the house of Joseph, which consists of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, has been given the land of America for their inheritance.10 The Savior told the Nephites after His resurrection:

“And I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time, that I would give unto them again the land of their fathers for their inheritance, which is the land of Jerusalem, which is the promised land unto them forever, saith the Father.

And it shall come to pass that the time cometh, when the fullness of my gospel shall be preached unto them; and they shall believe in me, that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name.

“Then shall their watchmen lift up their voice, and with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye. Then will the Father gather them together again, and give unto them Jerusalem for the land of their inheritance.

“Then shall they break forth into joy---Sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Father hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Father hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of the Father; and the Father and I are one.

“And then shall be brought to pass that which is written: ‘Awake, awake again, and put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city, for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion’ [Isaiah 52:1-2].”11

The remnants of Israel who are scattered throughout the world will begin to gather to their sacred lands of inheritance, in fulfillment of the covenants that Heavenly Father made with Father Abraham over four thousand years ago. The Savior said:

“Then is the fulfilling of the covenant which the Father hath made unto His people, O house of Israel---and then shall the remnants, which shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth, be gathered in from the east and from the west, and from the south and from the north; and they shall be brought to the knowledge of the Lord their God, who hath redeemed them.”12

The remnants of Israel who are on the European, Asian and African continents will begin to gather to the land of Palestine. And those remnants of Israel on the American continent will gather to the cities of Zion in the Americas, as the resurrected Lord prophesied to the Nephites:

“And then shall they [the righteous Gentiles] assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem. And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst. And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people.

“Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem. Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.

“Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby His people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance. And they shall go out from all nations; and they shall not go out in haste, nor go by flight, for I will go before them, saith the Father, and I will be their rearward.”13

The Kings and Queens of the Gentiles Will Assist in the Gathering of Israel

As these scattered tribes of Israel hear and accept the message of the gospel, they will recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. They will then follow the counsel of inspired leaders, and gather home to their lands of inheritance. The Lord told the prophet Jacob:

“When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.

“And it shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth; and the nations of the Gentiles shall be great in the eyes of me, saith God, in carrying them forth to the lands of their inheritance.
“Yea, the kings of the Gentiles shall be nursing fathers unto them, and their queens shall become nursing mothers; wherefore, the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles, for He hath spoken it, and who can dispute?”14

Isaiah and Jacob both prophesied that the kings and queens of the Gentiles will help to gather the house of Israel.15 Since it has been very rare in the history of the world to find a king or queen that is willing to help bring about the purposes of the Lord, Heber C. Kimball asked the Saints how this scripture was to be fulfilled. The answer to his question is actually quite thrilling. He said:

“If we should wait for the rotten-hearted kings and queens of the wicked nations to gather us home, we shall have to wait a long time. . . . Then who is to gather the people of God? You all say that we are to become a kingdom of kings and priests, of queens and priestesses; and the Bible supports this doctrine. Now, the truth is, you are the very kings and priests that have got to gather the Saints, and your wives have got to school them and nurse them.”16

The Saints Will Go Forth, Preaching the Gospel and Gathering Israel Home

The Saints of God will have a mighty work to perform in the latter days, as they go forth to teach the gospel and gather home the scattered tribes of Israel.17 The truth of the gospel message will be the instrument of the Lord that will cause the people to leave their homes and gather to Zion. President Brigham Young testified:

“All that Joseph Smith did was to preach the truth---the gospel as the Lord revealed it to him---and tell the people how to be saved, and the honest-in-heart ran together and gathered around him and loved him as they did their own lives. He could do no more than to preach true principles, and that will gather the Saints in the last days, even the honest-in-heart.”18

The Lord will assist the Saints in this important work. He will watch over and protect them, as the prophet Jacob prophesied:

“The Messiah will set Himself again the second time to recover them [the house of Israel]; wherefore, He will manifest Himself unto them in power and great glory, unto the destruction of their enemies, when that day cometh when they shall believe in Him; and none will He destroy that believe in Him.”19

The Lord has His own special purpose in gathering His people. Once they have congregated in the cities of Zion, He can purify His people by teaching them true and enlightened principles by which they can thrive and prosper. President Brigham Young explained:

“‘This kingdom is not of the world,’ says Jesus. It is different from any other kingdom that is now upon the earth; and while the people of it are mixed with the people of other nations and kingdoms, the Lord could never teach them how to establish His Kingdom. He must get them away from the wicked; gather them out; bring them into a place He has reserved for them to gather together, where He can teach them of His laws.”20

The Return of the Lost Tribes of Israel

As part of the gathering of Israel, the Lord will also bring about the return of the lost tribes of the house of Israel. For many years the Lord has had His own plan for these lost tribes, which will come about according to His will and timetable.21 Through latter-day revelation we know that an Apostle of Jesus Christ has been working with the ten lost tribes for about two hundred years. The Prophet Joseph received a significant revelation at a conference of the Church in Kirtland in June 1831, and the Church historian noted:

“The Spirit of the Lord fell upon Joseph in an unusual manner, and he prophesied that John the Revelator was then among the ten tribes of Israel who had been led away by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, to prepare them for their return from their long dispersion to again possess the land of their fathers.”22

When the lost tribes of Israel are finally fully prepared by the Lord, they will return as He has promised. The Prophet Joseph will participate in this event. In the Kirtland Temple on Sunday, April 3, 1836, the resurrected prophet Moses appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He laid his hands upon Joseph’s head, and bestowed upon him “the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.”23 The Prophet Joseph, as a resurrected being, will have the opportunity to exercise these priesthood keys when the ten tribes return again.

The lost tribes of Israel will first appear in the northern arctic regions of our planet.24 By the power and protection of the priesthood they will wend their way down the North American continent, where they will meet the Saints of God.25 This will be a joyous reunion. The Lord described the depth of the miracle of the return of the lost tribes in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in November 1831:

“And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear His voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence. And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.

“Their enemies shall become a prey unto them, and in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.

“And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants. And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence. And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim. And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy.

“Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows.”26

This prophecy can also be found in the writings of Isaiah, when he rhetorically asked the Lord:

“Art thou not He who hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over? Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”27

Isaiah also prophetically described the highway that will bring the lost tribes of Israel home from their long dispersion:

“And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called “The way of holiness;” the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those; the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

“No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: and the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”28

The return of the ten tribes will be a spectacular event to behold. It will require an amazing display of the Lord’s power, which will be more awe-inspiring than the parting of the Red Sea in the days of Moses. As the prophet Jeremiah recorded:

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, ‘The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;’ 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.’”29

As the Saints rejoice in the presence of their long lost brethren, they will be spiritually blessed and historically enriched as they receive the records of the lost tribes of Israel. In that day we will be able to finally answer the question of where the lost tribes were taken during their many long years of dispersion, and we will learn the amazing stories that have taken place among them. The records of the lost tribes of Israel will even include an account of the resurrected Savior’ appearance to them.30 The Lord told the prophet Nephi:

“And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.

“And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.”31

Many of these future events may seem too fantastic to believe, but Wilford Woodruff assured us that they will most assuredly come to pass:

“All that God has said with regard to the ten tribes of Israel, strange as it may appear, will come to pass. They will, as has been said concerning them, smite the rocks, and the mountains of ice will flow before them, and a great highway will be cast up, and their enemies will become a prey to them; and their records and their choice treasures they will bring with them to Zion. These things are as true as God lives.”32

The Land Will Be Blessed by the Lord

As the children of Israel gather in the land of America and in the land of Palestine, the soil will be blessed by the Lord. The desolate deserts in the American West and in Palestine will receive nourishing rains and many fresh water springs will suddenly appear throughout the land. Water will be found in plentiful quantities. The ground will bring forth grasses, bushes and trees abundantly, and soon there will be an ocean of green where once there was nothing but rock, sand, barrenness and sterility. As Isaiah poetically described it:

“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. . . .

“Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons [lizards], where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.”33

Both the prophet Isaiah and the prophet Ezekiel prophesied that these lands would become as beautiful as the Garden of Eden, and the people would rejoice to live in such abundant prosperity:

“The Lord shall comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”34

“Ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. . . . In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.

“And they shall say, ‘This land that was desolate is become like the Garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.’”35

The Lord repeated this promise in the Doctrine and Covenants, assuring us that “in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.”36 The land will bring forth flowers, trees and shrubs in abundance and the people will thrive as their gardens produce great quantities of vegetables and fruits.

The Tribes of Israel Will Inhabit the Empty Cities of the Wicked

As the returning tribes of Israel wend their way down from the northern parts of the planet, they will settle in the lands of America and inhabit the cities that have been made desolate and empty because of the judgments of the Lord upon the wicked. The Prophet Joseph prophesied of this, warning the wicked that their destruction would make room for the returning tribes of Israel:

“Pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country.”37

This prophecy was also verified by Isaiah. He predicted that the returning tribes of Israel would greatly outnumber the remnants of Israel that are currently here upon the earth, and that they would fill the empty cities of the wicked Gentiles:

“And then shall that which is written come to pass: ‘Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.

“Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.’”38

The returning tribes of Israel will be so numerous that their leaders will have difficulty finding sufficient room for them. Millions of the children of Israel will fill the land, as Isaiah prophesied:

“For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants; and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children whom thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the first, shall again in thine ears say: ‘The place is too strait for me; give place to me that I may dwell.’

“Then shalt thou say in thine heart: ‘Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? And who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where have they been?’”39

The Returning Tribes of Israel Will Begin to Gather to Their Lands of Inheritance

Eventually the returning tribes from the house of Israel will gather to their lands of inheritance in the land of Palestine during the early years of the Millennium. Prophecies of this final gathering of the tribes of Israel to their lands of inheritance can be found throughout the scriptures. Isaiah prophesied:

“They shall return to their lands of promise. And the house of Israel shall possess them, and the land of the Lord shall be for servants and handmaids; and they shall take them captives unto whom they were captives; and they shall rule over their oppressors.

“And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall give thee rest, from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.”40

These will be days full of joy and happiness for the children of Israel. Isaiah compared it to the freedom that a prisoner feels when he is released from bondage. The children of Israel will rejoice with shouts of acclamation to have the privilege of inhabiting the lands of their forefathers:

“That thou mayest say to the prisoners: ‘Go forth;’ to them that sit in darkness: ‘Show yourselves.’ They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor the sun smite them; for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.

“And then, O house of Israel, behold, these shall come from far; and lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; for the feet of those who are in the east shall be established; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for they shall be smitten no more; for the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His afflicted.”41

These days will truly be filled with joy, peace, love and happiness. The tribes of Israel and the righteous Saints will thrive and grow as they fill the lands of Zion. Here they will anxiously await the return of their Savior, Jesus Christ, at His glorious Second Coming.

Chapter Footnotes

1 . 3 Nephi 20:29.
2 . 1 Nephi 14:8-17; 3 Nephi 20:33-46.
3 . 1 Nephi 19:15.
4 . 2 Nephi 30:6.
5 . 1 Nephi 15:19-20; 2 Nephi 29:14, 30:8; 3 Nephi 20:33-42, 31:1.
6 . 2 Nephi 29:12-13; 3 Nephi 21:1-7.
7 . Abraham 2:11; 1 Nephi 15:18; 3 Nephi 16:10-12; D&C 90:9-11.
8 . 1 Nephi 22:8-14; 2 Nephi 30:9-16; 3 Nephi 16:18-20.
9 . 2 Nephi 30:17-18.
10 . Ether 13:6-8; 3 Nephi 20:14, 21:22.
11 . 3 Nephi 20:29-37; see also Isaiah 52:9-10, 1-2.
12 . 3 Nephi 20:12-13.
13 . 3 Nephi 21:22-29.
14 . 2 Nephi 10:7-9; see also 1 Nephi 22:11-12.
15 . Isaiah 49:22-23; 2 Nephi 6:6-15, 10:8-9.
16 . Heber C. Kimball, February 17, 1861, Journal of Discourses 8:349.
17 . 2 Nephi 21:10-16.
18 . Brigham Young, July 31, 1864, Journal of Discourses 10:326.
19 . 2 Nephi 6:14.
20 . Brigham Young, May 17, 1868, Journal of Discourses 12:229.
21 . 3 Nephi 17:4.
22 . History of the Church 1:176 note.
23 . D&C 110:11.
24 . D&C 133:26.
25 . D&C 133:26-34.
26 . D&C 133:26-34.
27 . 2 Nephi 8:10-11; Isaiah 51:10-11.
28 . Isaiah 35:8-10.
29 . Jeremiah 16:14-15.
30 . 3 Nephi 16:1-4.
31 . 2 Nephi 29:13-14.
32 . Wilford Woodruff, August 1, 1880, Journal of Discourses 21:301.
33 . Isaiah 35:1-7.
34 . 2 Nephi 8:3; Isaiah 51:3.
35 . Ezekiel 36:28, 33-35.
36 . D&C 133:29.
37 . History of the Church 1:315.
38 . 3 Nephi 22:1-3; Isaiah 54:1-3; emphasis added.
39 . 1 Nephi 21:19-21; Isaiah 49:19-21.
40 . 2 Nephi 24:2-3; Isaiah 14:2-3.
41 . 1 Nephi 21:9-13; Isaiah 49:9-13.