Joseph Fielding Smith
I have heard people say, and members of the Church too, “I have a right to do as I please.” My answer is: No, you do not. You haven’t any right at all to do just as you please. There is only one right that you have, and that is to . . . keep the commandments of Jesus Christ. He has a perfect right to tell us so. We have no right to refuse. I do not care who the man is; I do not care where he lives, or what he is– when the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented to him he has no right to refuse to receive it. He has the privilege. He is not compelled to receive it, because our Father in heaven has given to everyone of of us, in the Church and out, the gift of free agency. That free agency gives us the privilege to accept and be loyal to our Lord’s commandments, but it has never given us the right to reject the. Every man who rejects the commandments of our Father in heaven is rebellious. 1
In this day of gathering the Lord is fulfilling his purposes and is calling back into the fold of the True Shepherd, the children of Abraham. They are largely of the tribe of Ephraim, for Ephraim was given the blessing of standing at the head in the last days:
And they, [that is, returning Israel,] 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. 23
When the Lord sent forth his disciples to proclaim the message of the gospel in all the world, he informed them that there would come a time of apostasy when the love of many would wax cold. After saying this he declared:
And again, this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come, or the destruction of the wicked; 4
This prophetic utterance was an indication that the gospel would have to be restored and that it would be taught in all the world. Following these days of restoration, “. . . the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” 5 During this period of restoration, the burden of the preaching of the gospel would rest on the descendants of Ephraim, in other words, the Latter-day Saints. 6
From this [D&C 133:11-16 ] and other revelations in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, we are informed that the Jews are to gather at Jerusalem. On this, the American Continent, the converted Israelites and Gentiles are to gather with the Latter-Day Saints and the revelation states that those who come from among the Gentiles are to “flee” unto Zion. However, they are not to go out “in haste,” that is to say, the Latter-day Saints are preparing they way. They are building the temples and the highways and performing the labors which are necessary for the tribes of Israel when their prophets shall speak to them and they shall receive their call to come to Zion. . . .
Before this great work will be accomplished, the prophecy in relation to the tribes of Israel as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants must be fulfilled. Through the preaching of the gospel in all parts of the world, the preparatory work is being accomplished. The “lost tribes” will be discovered and, as the revelation states, the lost sheep among the gentiles will flee to Zion and the Jews to Jerusalem as the Lord has decreed. The Redeemer will come to take his place as King of kings, and the great day of the millennial reign will be ushered in. 7
Ezra Taft Benson
For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming of the Lord. Every previous gospel dispensation has drifted into apostasy, but ours will not. True, there will be some individuals who will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to welcome the return of its head—even Jesus Christ. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. It is that God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the Kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God.
All through the ages the prophets have looked down through the corridors of time to our day. Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on us. Make no mistake about it—you are a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time as there is of us. Never before on the face of this earth have the forces of evil and the forces of good been as well organized. Now is the great day of the devil’s power, with the greatest mass murderers of all time living among us. But now is also the great day of the Lord’s power, with the greatest number ever of priesthood holders on the earth. And the showdown is fast approaching. 8
Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers—
For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—
Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.
Therefore, blessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness, a light unto the Gentiles, and through this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israel. The Lord hath said it. Amen.
Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel: )
Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
“Why is it that ye receive not the preaching of him whom God hath sent? If ye receive not this in your hearts, ye receive not me; and if ye receive not me, ye receive not him of whom I am sent to bear record; and for your sins ye have no cloak.
Repent, therefore, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance;
And think not to say within yourselves, We are the children of Abraham, and we only have power to bring seed unto our father Abraham; for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children into Abraham.”
Melvin J. Ballard
I was thrilled not long ago when I read an article appearing in one of our national magazines. The author was discussing the question: “Are the Jews the Chosen People of God?” He denied them the right to claim for themselves and their posterity all the blessings pronounced upon all the sons of Jacob, but limited their blessings to their own particular line—the tribe of Judah. After tracing the history of the Jews and the several tribes of Israel the author concludes: “If we could find in the earth somewhere today the descendants of Joseph, we would find the chosen people of God,” because the blessings of Joseph were so much greater than the blessings of his brethren that you will recall they despised him and were jealous of his blessings, and sold him into Egypt; but the Lord was with him and raised him up and made him mighty to become the deliverer of his father’s household. I say, when I read that statement my soul thrilled with a new sensation of gratitude to God that I live to see the day when Joseph’s children are being gathered again, and realize that the Latter-day Saints are of Joseph, children of his favored son, Ephraim, gathered “one of a city and two of a family,” a few from the midst of the nations of the earth, whither they have been scattered, and brought to the land of Zion. The Lord has selected and picked them. They were chosen spirits before they were born. He knew them in the spirit world. He held them in reserve to come forth at the right time. 9
Orson F. Whitney
What is the significance of sending into the world a chosen race of spirits, called upon earth the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but known to us to have been the children of God before Abraham was born? They were chosen in the heavens, before they came in the flesh, and were sent forth from the presence of God with a mission. We who call ourselves Latter-day. Saints are a branch of the house of Israel, gathered out from among the Gentiles; we are a portion of that martyred nation, chosen of God and sent upon earth to suffer and endure for His sake and for the sake of all mankind; to bear the oracles of God, and be His representatives in the midst of the human race.
Read what Moses says in the eighth verse of the 32nd chapter of Deuteronomy, if you doubt that Israel had an existence before the earthly days of Father Abraham. The passage runs as follows: “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number Of the children of Israel.” This was before the birth of Abraham. The Lord had nations upon the earth before that time, and he set their bounds according to the number of the children of Israel.” What does this mean, If not that Israel was a pro-existent race, ordained before the world was to perform the great and important mission that has rested upon them all down the ages, and a portion of which is now being performed by the Latter-day Saints, the gathered children of Ephraim. 10
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, April 1967, pp. 120-21
- D&C 133:31-33
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers To Gospel Questions 4:41
- Joseph Smith 1-31
- Ibid., 1:33
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers To Gospel Questions 5:71
- Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers To Gospel Questions 5:72-74
- Ezra Taft Benson, “In His Steps,” in Speeches of the Year, 1979 Provo: BYU Press, 1980, pg. 59
- Elder Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, October 1924, Afternoon Session 28.
- Orson F. Whitney., Conference Report, October 1905, Outdoor Meeting. 97.