Summary Lesson 12: “The Gathering Of My People”
- JEWISH VIEW OF A LATTER-DAY JOSEPH: When the Chief Rabbi, Avraham HaKohen Kook was appointed in Palestine in the 1920’s, Jews asked if they could now build the Temple (destroyed since year 70 A.D.). He said that priestly rights were gone and referring to the great 12th century rabbi Moses Maimonides, said, in effect, “We are waiting for a Messiah Ben-Joseph, to him will be given the keys of the gathering of Israel, he will restore Temple worship.”
- MORMONS IDENTIFIED AS ISRAEL TRIBES? In Tel Aviv, the Diaspora Museum displays the travels and dispersion of Israel. The museum curators also identify “Mormons” as those claiming to be part of the lost tribes, for the most part as Ephraimites from the Israelite tribe of Joseph.
- GATHERING HERALDS MESSIAH’S COMING: “The Talmud teaches that the ingathering of the exiled kingdoms will be part of the coming of the Messiah.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) The State of Israel has special emissaries assigned throughout the world to assist the Jews in gathering to Israel. This is a frustrating thing to some ultra-religious Jews, who feel that the State of Israel should only be established through a Messiah, (Messiah ben Joseph).
- JOSEPH SMITH: The keys of the gathering of Israel were restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. during Passover week in 1846. Special Mormon emissaries are assigned throughout the world to find and assist the “Blood of Israel” in gathering to the Lord. On the other hand, Jews throughout the world are making an exodus “gathering to Israel.”
- BALFOUR DECLARATION: “The meetings with Weizmann eventually led to the Balfour Declaration, which he signed in 1917. This was England’s declaration of approval that ‘a national home for the Jewish people’ be built in Palestine.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) At the same time, Anti-Semitism raised its ugly head.
- ANTI-MISSIONARY MOVEMENT: A similar example of dissent and subsequent success is when Israel’s government approved the building of the “Mormon” center where the BYU Study program is currently located. The building was well under way when an Orthodox Jewish group (dedicated to crushing Christian activities) started a twofold campaign. First, to discredit the government (which they did not support anyway) for allowing the BYU facilities to be built. Second, likening it antisemitism, they called the center a “missionary activity.” (There are three kinds of antisemitism to the Jews; 1. kill the Jews, 2. let someone else kill the Jews, and 3. convert the Jews.) This same group attempted to pass a laws against proselytizing in Israel, and failed. There is NO Israeli law prohibiting missionary activity, even though, proselytizing is deemed highly insensitive and antisemitic.
- ISRAELI LAW: They did manage to pass a law prohibiting any bribe or payment inducing Jews to change religion. (Mormons don’t pay, they charge!) BYU did sign a statement announcing they had no intention of missionary activity. President Howard W. Hunter also signed a similar statement adding the clause, “. . . so long as such activity is prohibited by the government of Israel.” The reason Latter-day Saints are not proselytizing in Israel is because it is the Lord’s will. “. . .the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.” (1 Nephi 13:42) Israeli government leaders kept their commitment to allow the building. The anti missionary group did not manage to convince the government to stop the BYU project. No legal precedent was established that might affect the Latter-day Saints nor, for that matter, any other church.