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Jeremiah was a prophet who had the misfortune of trying to call Israel to repentance during a time when they didn’t want to hear it. Many of these chapters center on how Israel has abandoned the Lord and turned to extremely evil practices. Because of this apostasy, the Lord scatters the people. They’re taken away from their homes and over time, they spread over the entire earth.
We know this story. The House of Israel is scattered and gathered.
But are we aware of just how significant it is that we’re gathering them again?
One of the signs of the Second Coming is that the “times of the Gentiles” will end. In other words, the Gentiles will reject the gospel and there will be renewed emphasis on gathering the descendants of the Israelites. I don’t know about you, but I feel like that’s all President Nelson talks about.
The time of the Gentiles has ended. They are rejecting the gospel. The Second Coming is drawing near, and we are supposed to be preparing the Israelite descendants to accept Christ.
Jeremiah prophesies that this gathering will be awe-inspiring, even more impressive than helping the Israelites escape Egypt with plagues and sea-splitting.
14 Therefore, 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;
15 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: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.
16 Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.
So this is it people. The Second Coming is quickly approaching, and the Lord is asking us to be a part of it. We are the fishers or hunters…or at least we’re supposed to be.
You were foreordained
Like Jeremiah, you and I were known by the Lord before we formed in our mother’s womb. We were prepared and sanctified to change the world through His power. You agreed to this. You stood up and said you would come down to help.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence in the Lord’s mind that our chapters for this week include the gathering of Israel and doctrine surrounding foreordination. We were foreordained to do this work.
This gathering is supposed to be incredible, astounding, but this miracle isn’t going to miracle itself. Someone has to step up to do it. We can leave it to the next generation, but we’re only hurting ourselves.
So this gathering will dethrone the impressive miracle that brought the Israelites out of bondage. Interestingly enough, I feel like this miracle will be similar to bringing the Israelites out of bondage.
Moses was given a period of rest when he fled Egypt and found himself with Jethro. He found camaraderie. He got married. He was probably a good person who found deep purpose amongst other members of the church. He probably served and worked and found a lot of peace.
Until the Lord shows up in a burning bush. Moses is commanded to leave his comfy seat and go save Israelites.
Recently, President Nelson gave a message to the youth in a devotional.
“My dear extraordinary youth, you were sent to earth at this precise time, the most crucial time in the history of the world, to help gather Israel. There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than that. There is nothing of greater consequence. Absolutely nothing.”
Consider your bush burned. Sure, he was talking to the youth, but who on earth is supposed to be teaching the youth? Us duh. And the best way to teach? Through example.
It’s time to step up. Maybe you shouldn’t go find a public place and start handing out copies of The Book of Mormon, but it is time to find your testimony of this work. Pray for eyes to see its importance. Pray to see the role you were meant to play. Pray that the Lord will open your eyes to how critical it is that we step up now. I am convinced that once you have a testimony of those things, you won’t help but want to engage.
The first three plagues – blood river, frogs, and lice – seem to have affected the Israelites the same as the Egyptians. After that, things become a little less clear but it seems as though the Lord separates the Israelites from the Egyptians. Does He separate them or do they start listening to Moses? Did they have light already prepared when the darkness came because they listened to Moses’ warnings? Were they instructed to separate their cattle from the other cattle? We all know they were taught how to save their firstborn sons.
If we are willing to listen, the Lord will guide us as closely as He guided Moses. We will be able to help people know how to avoid the devastation of the last days, and we will help people know how to avoid sickness, darkness, and the loss of their children. We will teach them how to save themselves, and it will all be according to how the Lord teaches us.
Another parallel with the plagues is how difficult the entire process might have been for Moses. I wonder if the first plague occurred and he was like, “Okay. Here it is. Pharaoh is definitely going to let them go now.” I wonder if he felt that way after each and every plague. It was probably soul stretching to keep holding on, to keep trying to save the Israelites even when they didn’t want to be saved.
The splitting of the Red Sea
I wonder where Moses was walking when he was leading the Israelites. I wonder if he knew he was coming up on the Red Sea. Was he guided there or was he simply trying to put as much distance between his people and the Egyptians?
When Moses gets to the Red Sea, everyone starts to flip out. I love Moses’ response because to me, it indicates that he had no idea what was about to happen. When the people complain, Moses is like, “Guys! The Lord will fight for you (Exodus 14:14).”
In my mind, I think Moses believed God was about to wipe out the Egyptians or that He was going to turn the Israelites into super soldiers. I think Moses literally believed a battle was coming. But the Lord course corrects Moses and tells him to lift his rod and keep the Israelites moving.
Now what does this have to do with our own purpose as member missionaries?
Well if my theory about Moses’ foreknowledge is correct, then it has everything to do with us being missionaries.
The Lord will do His own work (D&C 88:73). Maybe the Lord didn’t actually care whether Moses led them to the Red Sea. Maybe Moses could have led them a different way, and the Lord would have miraculously made the Egyptians get lost. Maybe there are a million ways that we can do missionary work, and we’re so worried about missteps that we’re not stepping at all. And if we’re not stepping, the Lord can’t part the sea.
Look at the role of the Lord, and look at the role of Moses.
Moses simply had to show up. Did he create the plagues? Did he part the sea? No! He wouldn’t have even gone back to Egypt if the Lord hadn’t told him to. Moses showed up. He stepped forward, and when the Israelites were scared, Moses quieted them and told them that the Lord would take care of everything. And the Lord did. I believe that if we could feel what Moses felt as he was experiencing all of this, we would be like…“Oh…that’s how I feel.”
The Lord is simply asking us to show up and walk. Take steps. He will do His work, but He refuses to just make it happen. He expects us to get moving. You don’t have to do anything except get on your knees, ask for a testimony of this work and your role in it, tell the Lord you are willing, and then take a step. In any direction. And when you hit the Red Sea, step again and the Lord will part it. Your responsibility is so simple. Show up. Gain a testimony at the burning bush. And go. You may have no idea who you will meet that day, but the Lord can lead you to someone who’s ready if you simply believe in Him and His power to accomplish miracles.
He can send another
If Moses hadn’t stepped up to the plate, the Lord would have sent another. The Israelites would have been saved, and the work would have progressed.
But Moses would have missed everything.
Surely the Israelites grew a bit through this process, but imagine the utter transformation that Moses went through. He was called by a burning bush but by the end of the entire Egyptian ordeal, Moses was able to stand before the Savior on Mount Sinai. There is nothing that trumps that experience, and saving the House of Israel is one of the most important tools we have been given to prepare ourselves to stand before Christ.
The gathering of Israel is the most important work occurring today. When the rest of the world is stopped in its tracks from the calamities before the Second Coming, this work will progress and it will progress by His power.