15 April 2015

On Gathering

Reading randomly in 3 Nephi recently, a pattern in the last part of chapter 21 leapt off of the page at me. I noticed that there were a lot of instances of "and then", and that they were laying out an ordered set of events. Check it out:
 22 But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance; 
STEP 1: There's a repentant group of gentiles among whom Jesus Christ will establish His church. Those who repent and come unto Christ are His church (D&C 10:67). This isn't a case of "the ONE and ONLY TRUE CHURCH" being set up among this group as the only place the ONE and ONLY TRUE CHURCH exists. These verses are saying that part of the body of Christ (those who repent and come unto Christ) will be this apparently smallish group of Gentiles. Later verses show there are other gatherings and other remnants all over the nation and world. This is just an initial, preliminary gathering for those who are called to do the work laid out in step two.
23 And they shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob, and also as many of the house of Israel as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the New Jerusalem.
STEP 2: The remnant of Jacob and this repentant group of gentiles will build the New Jerusalem.
24 And then shall they assist my people that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the New Jerusalem. 
STEP 3: Now that there's a place to gather, more gathering of those who Christ openly claims as His own to the New Jerusalem can happen.
25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.
STEP 4: "The power of heaven" is Christ, and He will come to the New Jerusalem.
26 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. 27 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. 
STEP 5: "The work of the Father" only commences at this point, with the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is very simple: "Jesus won!!! And He can save you if you repent and call on His name!" It is nothing more, and nothing less.
28 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. 
STEP 6: This is when the gospel, in its simplicity, is openly preached "among all nations", so ALL who claim God as their Father can be gathered home.
29 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. 
STEP 7: When gathered in the last and final gathering (which may very well be many years after that initial gathering to build the New Jerusalem), those gathered will not be refugees, and their way will be prepared before and sealed behind by the Father. Pretty amazingly cool, if you ask me.

I keep thinking over this chronology, and I'm just blown away. Such a beautiful, simple, pattern, and yet so considerate and well-planned. God is going to do things in wisdom and order, and we don't have to be afraid. If we're seeking Jesus Christ and following Him, then we will not be taken by surprise, and our God will make provision for those who follow Him.

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!