Editor's note: “Resources to follow Him” curates study resources, teachings, and thoughts to deepen your study of this week's Come, Follow Me.
Do you think the Come, Follow Me chapters that fell around general conference were a coincidence? Some might say yes, but I am not a believer in coincidences. I think it’s kind of cool that we are currently knee-deep in our own kind of Book of Mormon general conference. There has been a lot of talk recently of when Jesus comes again and signs of the Second Coming as we wait impatiently for the day when we will experience what we have been reading about the last few weeks in 3 Nephi. But as I read these chapters, I wonder if I have appreciated what we already have of the words of Christ as much as I should.
As Jared Halverson put it on this week’s episode of Unshaken, “These are kind of the forgotten chapters of 3 Nephi, which is tragic because Jesus is still the one speaking. It seems that we gear up for the climax, that crescendo when Jesus descends among the Nephites and begins to minister, and then we’re familiar enough with the Sermon on the Mount that we enjoy the sermon at the temple. We sort of get confused in [chapters] 15 and 16, but 17 comes to save the day with Jesus ministering to the Nephites in such a personal and powerful way.”
Halverson goes on to explain that one reason these chapters may be more difficult for readers is because there is a lot of Old Testament. “But the tragedy is we are missing out on the Savior’s teaching,” Halverson says, “This is not some minor discourse . . . the Savior of the world has come to teach them and to teach us, and we have to pay attention in spite of the difficulty.”
“The gathering of Israel has captured my attention”
I don't think it's a coincidence that this week we are studying about the gathering of Israel right after President Russell M. Nelson spoke on the exact subject. Fortunately, we have a prophet who really loves the doctrine of the gathering of Israel. In fact, he said in his talk during the Sunday morning session of the October 2020 general conference, “For the more than 36 years I’ve been an apostle, the doctrine of the gathering of Israel has captured my attention. . . . I have studied the gathering, prayed about it, feasted upon every related scripture, and asked the Lord to increase my understanding.” President Nelson went on to share what he has most recently learned about the gathering of Israel, but one of the most important things we can understand about the gathering of Israel is taught by our prophet in the Come, Follow Me manual. He says, “We are among the covenant people of the Lord. Ours is the privilege to participate personally in the fulfillment of these promises. What an exciting time to live!” (“The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 79).
In general conference, President Nelson invited all of us to spend the next six months making “a list of all that the Lord has promised He will do for covenant Israel. I think you will be astounded! Ponder these promises. Talk about them with your family and friends. Then live and watch for these promises to be fulfilled in your own life.”
3 Nephi 20–22 is a great place to start.
“That which we already have”
If you’re like me, there are some topics in general conference that you just eat up and then others that are more difficult to understand. The gathering of Israel? Definitely one of those that are more difficult for me. But still, I think if the prophet is asking us to study it and if it is something the Savior spent His valuable time teaching the Nephites, it is worth our effort to understand. We have to seek to understand the doctrines and truths we have been given.
On this week’s Sunday on Monday Study Group, host Tammy Uzelac Hall shared the following quote from Elder Neal A. Maxwell:
Just as there will be many more Church members, families, wards, stakes, and temples—later on, there will also be many more nourishing and inspiring scriptures. However, we must first feast worthily upon that which we already have! (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 70; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 52).
We long for more direction from Christ, but do we actually appreciate all of the chapters where we have His words?
Listen to segment one of the study group below. The Sunday on Monday Study Group is a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original presented by LDS Living. You can access the full study group discussion through the Bookshelf app. Listen to a segment of this week's episode below or listen to the full Sunday on Monday episode here.
“Not Cast Off Forever”
On the title page of the Book of Mormon, we read that one of the purposes of the book is “to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.”
On this week’s Don’t Miss This, David Butler read this paragraph and then explained that in the Book of Mormon it is assumed that we know the Old Testament and understand the implications of the covenants and promises to the children of Israel. In 3 Nephi 20:26–27, Christ says, “Ye are the children of the covenant—And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed…”
Butler helps us understand by paraphrasing Christ's invitation in modern language: “Just like I’ve filled you and gathered you in, I now need you to take that rescue to the rest of the world.”
So what does this look like for us now? If we are still called to gather, how do we do it? I believe that first we start with President Nelson’s call to be “willing to let God prevail” in our lives. But second, I think we can also look for opportunities to gather those around us.
This week on The Gathering Home Instagram account, Emily Freeman wrote, “When was the last time I studied, prayed about, and asked the Lord to increase my understanding of gathering? For my family. For my faith community. For all of covenant Israel.”
I would ask the same questions. Why do we care? Why does gathering Israel matter? I think it matters because of the other precious doctrines the Savior taught when He came to the Americas. It matters because of what we know through the Book of Mormon. It matters because of the beautiful truths we learned in general conference just last week. It matters because of priesthood restored to the earth and ordinances and covenants. It matters because of temples and families that can be together forever. It matters because of a God who keeps His promises. In short, it matters. No effort in seeking to aid the Lord’s efforts to gather is wasted, and we are all enlisted.