“The great mission that was given to Abraham was that he would be a blessing to the generations coming after him, and through him all nations would be blessed. . . . When Israel entered the promised land, the Lord gave them strict commandment that they should serve him and keep his commandments. If they would obey, they were to be greatly blessed and prospered in the land the Lord had given to them. If they should reject his commandments and turn to evil, he would punish them and take them out of the land, and scatter them to all parts of the earth, where they would serve other gods, “which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.” 1
“All of this was to come on Israel as a punishment for their wickedness. However, the Lord never punishes his people without turning that punishment into some blessing in the end. The scattering of Israel became a blessing to the Gentile peoples among whom they were dispersed, for the Israelites mixed with the people thus bringing the Gentiles into the benefits of the blessings that had been promised to Abraham and his seed after him.” 2
“The descendants of Abraham, the tribes of Israel, became the chosen people of the Lord according to the promise. The Lord honored them, nourished them, watched over them with a jealous care, until they became a great nation in the land the Lord had given to their fathers. Notwithstanding this tender care and the instructions and warnings this people received from time to time through their prophets, they failed to comprehend the goodness of the Lord and departed from him. Because of their rebellion they were driven out of their land and eventually were scattered among the nations. Their priesthood was lost and they were left in spiritual darkness.” 3
And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Leviticus 26:28, 33
I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? or what is our iniquity? or what is our sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?
Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the Lord, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;
And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me:
Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not shew you favour.
Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my sabbaths.
In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood: and in thee they eat upon the mountains: in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.
In thee have they discovered their fathers’ nakedness: in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution.
And one hath committed abomination with his neighbours’ wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter.
In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord God.
Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.
Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it.
And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee.
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.
Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord.
For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.
Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers To Gospel Questions 4:37-38