Christ begins this particular discourse after having delivered the sermon on the temple mount and called His twelve disciples. It is interesting to note that this is a different title than the Jewish Apostles, to whom these twelve disciples were to be subordinate. After calling these righteous men, Christ informs them of a particular message that he has been instructed to give them by the Father of us all. The message He was instructed to give us begins as follows:
Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people, who are a remnant of the House of Joseph. And behold, this [America] is the land of your inheritance; and the Father hath given it unto you. And not at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell it unto your brethren at Jerusalem [the Jews]. Neither at any time hath the Father given me commandment that I should tell unto them [the Jews] concerning the other tribes [Lost Ten Tribes] of the House of Israel, whom the Father hath led away out of the land.[i]
These first few verses are packed with information. First, Christ identifies his audience as a Remnant of Joseph. The group to whom Christ is speaking to is comprised of the disciples, but the assembled multitude that had gathered at the temple in the land Bountiful is likely also present. Christ confirms that the House of Joseph, according to their faithfulness, will inherit the Americas.
Christ also confirms that what we have read in the Apocrypha regarding the Lost Tribes is true, namely that the they were led by the hand of the Father “away out of the land”. There is a tremendous connotative difference between the words associated with the Lost Tribes and those of Joseph and Judah. Consider the differences between “led”[ii] and “scattered”,[iii] “return”[iv] and “gather”[v]. The differences are pronounced; the Lost Tribes were led away and will return, Judah and Joseph were scattered and needed to be gathered.
One more point worth mentioning here is the specific word choice the Savior used. The Savior specifically stated that the Lost Ten Tribes had been “led away out of the land”. Let us consider the different potential meanings this phrase could have. The meaning of the word “land” here could have a range of meanings, the land of Assyria, the Middle East, the entire continent, or the earth itself. If it were to be written that the people of Enoch were “led away out of the land”, we would equate the land with the earth itself. There is a scriptural precedent for large groups of people being removed entirely from the land. We have now encountered numerous hints that the Remnant of Jacob is in fact located somewhere in the heavens rather than on earth.[vi] Christ continued as follows:
This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them [the Jews]: That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they [the Jews] understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them.
But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them [the Jews] because of their iniquity; therefore it is because of their iniquity that they know not of you. And verily, I say unto you again that the other tribes hath the Father separated from them; and it is because of their [the Jews] iniquity that they know not of them [the Lost Ten Tribes].
And verily I say unto you, that ye [Manasseh] are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. And they [the Jews] understood me not, for they supposed it had been the Gentiles; for they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their [the Jews] preaching.
This is an interesting comment made by Christ to the Nephites. He provides commentary to the meaning of his words to His followers in Jerusalem. He explicitly limits the meaning of the sheep in that verse to them, a Remnant of Joseph. Christ continues:
And they [the Jews] understood me not that I said they [a Remnant of Joseph] shall hear my voice; and they [the Jews] understood me not that the Gentiles [the rest of the world] should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them [the Gentiles] save it were by the Holy Ghost. But behold, ye [a remnant of Joseph] have both heard my voice, and seen me; and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me.[vii]
Now Christ provides additional insight, which clearly identifies the Lost Ten Tribes to be a group existing as a body 900 years after they disappeared from the scriptural history. Consider this as Christ continues:
And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep [the Lost Ten Tribes], which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister. For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them. [By this He means a personal visitation such as the Nephites were currently receiving.] But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them.[viii]
Up to this point, the Lord has made mention of all four groups, the Gentiles, a remnant of the House of Joseph, the Lost Ten Tribes, and the Jews. Furthermore, Christ has given some additional background to the meaning of the phrase, “led away out of the land”. He further states that the Lost Tribes “are not of this land” – meaning America, “neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about”.
He openly states that all Twelve Tribes of Israel are to hear His gospel directly from Him, not second hand through the ministration of the others. This goes back to the Lord’s covenant with them. Jehovah covenanted that He would be their God, and they would be His people. This means that Jesus Christ, who is the God of Israel, will be their personal instructor, with the Holy Ghost and in conjunction with missionaries instructing the Gentiles. He personally brought the gospel to the Jews, He personally brought the gospel to the American remnants, and He clearly stated that He would also visit the Lost Ten Tribes, and personally bring the gospel to them.
Today we are aware of Christ’s personal ministration to the House of Joseph, and to the House of Judah. We have no knowledge of any other personal visitation of Jesus Christ to any other group of people on earth. It is conceivable that Satan could twist and corrupt the memory of a culture regarding the personal visitation of God, but completely erase it? It does not follow the pattern. The New Testament has sparked thousands of new religions, has been suppressed from publication, but never did its influence altogether disappear. Likewise, among the indigenous people of the Americas, stories of the white bearded God were well known, and ingrained into the culture.
Where then is the evidence of Christ’s ministration to the Lost Ten Tribes? The Ten Tribes, by rights should have been about ten times the size of Judah or Joseph. It would be hard to imagine such a large group on earth without any hint of a cultural imprint. We have no record of any early missionary efforts coming across a large group of people that already had the knowledge of the gospel among them. If the Lost Ten Tribes are among us today, say in Siberia or the Northern Block countries, how is it that all such evidence of Christ’s personal ministration among them has been completely erased? Does not the absence of this cultural imprint suggest that this people may have been led away out of the “land” as we know it?
The next point is that the Jews missed out on a major learning opportunity regarding the other tribes. Why? Because they supposed that they understood the words the Master spoke. What hidden treasures of knowledge are kept from us for similar reasons? Christ knew that they did not understand this point, but Christ’s pattern of teaching is not one of “force feeding” information, but rather, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”.[ix] How many doctrines have only been given after a question was asked? In the following passages Christ continues to illustrate this point.
And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem [the Jews], they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you [a Remnant of Joseph] by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes [the Remnant of Jacob] whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed [the Jews], who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.[x]
Above, Christ confirms that he would have given the Jews more information if they had asked for it. Also, Christ specifically confirms that the tribe of Judah was about to be scattered upon the face of the earth because they broke their covenant and rejected Him. But, as a rising tide lifts all ships, so the faith of the Gentiles in the latter-days will bring the Jews to a knowledge of their Redeemer. Note that this is a very low threshold to meet.
He does not say that the Jews will be converted to the Savior by the Gentiles, only that they will be brought to a knowledge of Him. The LDS Church has made agreements not to proselyte among the Jews in Israel. Any students that would like to attend BYU Jerusalem, must promise not to discuss the gospel with the Jews. This may seem strange, but the Jews, who of all people were the first to hear the gospel, will be the last to receive it in the latter-days.
Ultimately, while the Jews will obtain a knowledge of Christ, their wholesale conversion will not happen until the Lord comes in great power and glory to liberate them from annihilation. At that time they will look upon Him and realize who it is that has saved them. This is made clearer by an Old Testament prophecy regarding this event.
And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the House of my friends.[xi] And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.[xii]
In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.[xiii]
We see above that while the Jews will have a knowledge of Christ, only when they actually see Him coming in great glory, seeing the marks in His hands, feet, and side, only then will the realization begin to set upon them. Finally they will fall at the feet of the King of the Jews, and mourn for the wickedness of their fathers. Then will that realization come to them that the truth is not among them, but within the American Zion. Only then, at the end, will the righteous nation who holds the restored gospel of Jesus Christ come among them and restore that which they had long since lost. Christ continues in his discourse:
And then will I gather them [the Jews] in from the four quarters of the earth; and then will I fulfill the covenant which the Father hath made unto all the people of the House of Israel. [Note the gathering of Judah was always an antecedent for the return of the lost tribes, and this requirement is now fulfilled] And blessed are the Gentiles, because of their belief in me, in and of the Holy Ghost, which witnesses unto them of me and of the Father. Behold, because of their belief in me, saith the Father, and because of the unbelief of you, O House of Israel, in the latter day shall the truth come unto the Gentiles, that the fullness of these things shall be made known unto them.[xiv]
The usage of the term “House of Israel” lets us know that Christ is addressing more than one of the typical subgroups, Judah, Joseph, or the Lost Tribes. Without specific context it would be safe to assume he addresses all three. However, in this instance, Christ has given us additional context. He called out specifically which subgroups he is referring to. He did this as the Americas were engulfed in darkness, after the massive destruction across the Americas, when many of their own fell. Consider the following verse:
And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the House of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the House of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.[xv]
It appears, from this verse, that Christ has excluded the Lost Tribes from this reference. Only Manasseh, and Judah are mentioned. Could it be the Lost Tribes were excluded because they were not wicked like these other two? Christ continues:
But wo, saith the Father, unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles [general reference to all the unbelieving Americans, – North and South]—for notwithstanding they have come forth upon the face of this land, and have scattered my people who are of the House of Israel [Manasseh]; and my people who are of the House of Israel have been cast out from among them, [e.g. to Indian reservations] and have been trodden under feet by them; and because of the mercies of the Father unto the Gentiles, and also the judgments of the Father upon my people who are of the House of Israel, verily, verily, I say unto you, that after all this, and I have caused my people who are of the House of Israel to be smitten, and to be afflicted, and to be slain, and to be cast out from among them, and to become hated by them, and to become a hiss and a byword among them—
And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.[xvi]
Perhaps the latter part of the above verse is better understood when put into context with other teachings from the Book of Mormon. The following verse discusses those that once belonged to the Church of God, but openly sinned against the gospel and rejected it. Once they did so, they became hardened far beyond that of any other group of people we have knowledge of among the Nephites. Consider the following verse.
Now these dissenters, having the same instruction and the same information of the Nephites, yea, having been instructed in the same knowledge of the Lord, nevertheless, it is strange to relate, not long after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent, and more wild, wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites—drinking in with the traditions of the Lamanites; giving way to indolence, and all manner of lasciviousness; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God.[xvii]
In the above verse, it was the dissenters from the church whose wickedness exceeded all other people and nations. They hardened their hearts, and were filled with an unquenchable hatred towards their former brothers. Perhaps Glenn L. Pace former member of the Presiding Bishopric said it best:
You can leave the Church, but you can’t leave it alone. The basic reason for this is simple. Once someone has received a witness of the Spirit and accepted it, he leaves neutral ground. One loses his testimony only by listening to the promptings of the evil one, and Satan’s goal is not complete when a person leaves the Church, but when he comes out in open rebellion against it.[xviii]
Some who were once members, filled with the love of Christ, drove the spirit from their lives by knowing the good and choosing evil. They did not loose their testimony, they gave it away. They become consumed with hate. They mock their former fellows, persecute them, and openly conspire and scheme against them. Among all the wickedness upon the earth, it is hard to imagine a more vile group than these who, having felt the love of God, now openly resist and venomously fight against it.
We know from modern revelation, that the restored gospel “shall never be taken again from the earth”.[xix] Therefore, when Christ said the following: “[if they] shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fullness of my gospel from among them.”[xx] Rather than suggesting that the Gospel will be taken from the Americas, it implies that the wicked will be swept off the face of this land. This will not be the first time an event like this has happened. It happened in the ancient church. Consider the following verse from the New Testament:
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?[xxi]
This happened with the early church, it happened with the Nephites, and it was also present during the beginning of the restoration. After events such as the failing of the Kirtland Safety Society, and the unyielding mob persecutions, many of the early church members apostatized. All three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, a member of the First Presidency, four members of the quorum of the twelve apostles, and a large percentage of church members fell away.
Many of these apostates thought that their leaving the church would bring the fledgling organization to its knees. It did not. While the church had reason to mourn for the loss of so many, the standard of truth had been erected and no unhallowed hand could stop the work from progressing. Though persecutions raged, armies assembled, and reputations were defamed, the truth of God went forth boldly, nobly, and independent of these apostate’s railings.[xxii]
The Lord showed forth once again that he could perform his own work. He purged His vineyard. He then refreshed the church with thousands of foreign converts. As Christ continues in his discourse, it would appear this is a pattern we should expect to see happen again. Consider the following verses:
And then will I remember my covenant which I have made unto my people, O House of Israel, and I will bring my gospel unto them. And I will show unto thee, O House of Israel, that the Gentiles [the enemies of God] shall not have power over you; but I will remember my covenant unto you, O House of Israel, and ye shall come unto the knowledge of the fulness of my gospel.[xxiii]
Like the earlier foreign saints who renewed the strength of the church, so will the House of Israel come to renew the Church in these latter-days. But unlike the early saints whose feet came to America to tread down the prairie sod, these that come will tread down something much different.
But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, [note, returning denotes they were once with Him – apostates] saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O House of Israel. And I will not suffer my people, who are of the House of Israel, to go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.
But if they will not turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, I will suffer them, yea, I will suffer my people, O House of Israel, that they shall go through among them, and shall tread them down, and they shall be as salt that hath lost its savor, which is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of my people, O House of Israel.[xxiv]
Lets be clear about what the Lord has just said. He is talking to latter-day America. The United States is the most powerful nation on the planet, yet the Lord is saying that if America does not repent, and turn again to Him, they will be destroyed. Not just destroyed, trodden under foot- walked over as if we were not even here. Who could do such a thing? Christ teaches that it will be the House of Israel.
What are we to understand by the House of Israel in this instance? Are we to assume that Manasseh from the South, Judah from the East, and Ephraim from within converge upon the Americas and accomplish this great purge? From Isaiah we learned that this purging task was to be done at the hand of the Remnant of Jacob. We shall see, as Christ’s discourse progresses, that his teachings align perfectly with Isaiah’s.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, thus hath the Father commanded me—that I should give unto this people [“this people” refers to Manasseh] this land for their inheritance. And then the words of the prophet Isaiah shall be fulfilled, which say: Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion [this verse refers to the watchmen of Joseph – the leaders of the church – meeting and seeing eye to eye with the watchmen of those that come in the name of the House of Israel]. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. [It will be through the coming of the House of Israel that the waste places of Jerusalem will be inhabited] The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God [The coming of this group of Israel will be world-wide news, everyone will know about it].[xxv]
Note that while, thus far, Christ has not specifically identified this coming group of Israel, other than the House of Israel, He has associated them both with redeeming Jerusalem, and inheriting the gospel in America. With this statement, such would cause one to believe that this group will not be affiliated with either Judah or Joseph, as we know them today. Christ will bring further clarity to this point shortly, but for explanatory purposes, it is the Remnant of Jacob – the Lost Ten Tribes.
Christ uses the verses we have reviewed so far as an introduction to this topic among the group that had gathered together at the temple in the Land Bountiful. Keep in mind, this group has been together for many hours now, and they have had a tremendous amount of information to take in. The have seen the promised Messiah. They have interacted with him one on one, feeling the imprints in his hands, feet, and side. They have heard the sermon on the Temple mount. They have seen Christ call the twelve disciples. It has been a very eventful day.
Joseph Smith associated being in the presence of a glorified being as a very exhausting experience. Suffice it to say this group was weary in body and mind. Christ perceives this fact. As a result, He understands that they are not grasping the scope of His Father’s message. They need a break. The narrative therefore continues as follows:
Behold, now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked round about again on the multitude, and he said unto them: Behold, my time is at hand. I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time. Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again. But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them.[xxvi]
This closing part of the Savior’s message is fascinating. He reiterates again that the message He is bringing is not His own, but the Father’s. We know that this message, while given to the Nephites, is really meant for the people of the latter-days. Nevertheless, Christ admonishes the Nephites to petition the Lord for understanding regarding this message. How much more, should we, who now live in the latter-days, petition the Lord that we too might understand Christ’s stunning message. Furthermore, as Christ prepares to leave the Nephites, He tells them that He will return in the following day, but while they were sleeping He would travel to be among the Lost Tribes of Israel.
[i] 3 Nephi 15:12-15
[ii] 3 Nephi 15:15
[iii] 1 Nephi 13:14, 2 Nephi 25:15
[iv] 2 Nephi 20:21
[v] Zachariah 10:6-9
[vi] Deuteronomy 30:4, 2 Nephi 23:5, Nehemiah 1:9, Mathew 24:31, Isaiah 13:5
[vii] 3 Nephi 15:16-24
[viii] 3 Nephi 16:1-3
[ix] Mathew 7:7
[x] 3 Nephi 16:4
[xi] Zechariah 13:6
[xii] Zechariah 12:10
[xiii] Isaiah 26:1-2
[xiv] 3 Nephi 16:5-7
[xv] 3 Nephi 10:5
[xvi] 3 Nephi 16:8-10
[xvii] Alma 47:36
[xviii] Glenn L. Pace April 1989, LDS Conference Address
[xix] D&C 13:1
[xx] 3 Nephi 16:10
[xxi] 1 Peter 4:17
[xxii] History of the Church, 4:540
[xxiii] 3 Nephi 16:11-12
[xxiv] 3 Nephi 16:13-15
[xxv] 3 Nephi 16:16-20
[xxvi] 3 Nephi 17: 1-4