20 For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;
21 And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
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;
On the second day of the Savior’s visit to the American continent, He prayed for the people and administered the ordinance of the sacrament for the second time. Then, He taught them about their role in the grand scheme of world events, including the following:
- In the last days, the children of Israel, who have been scattered throughout the world, will be gathered together again. This gathering will be first and foremost a restoration to a knowledge of God (3 Nephi 20:12-13).
- The gathering will commence with the establishment of a free nation among the Gentiles. In that nation, God will reveal the gospel to the Gentiles, who will carry it to the descendants of Israel (3 Nephi 21:4-5).
- The Gentiles who carry the gospel to the Israelites will also be adopted into the house of Israel (3 Nephi 21:6).
I think it is significant that, in the middle of those sweeping statements, the Savior talks about the role of the church: “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.”
So, in this global narrative, the church fulfills a central role as the entry point into the covenants which God made with the ancient prophets. Even though God promised Abraham that his seed would inherit his covenants, it was always true that this inheritance would depend on their willingness to repent and seek righteousness and that those who were not his direct descendants could receive these blessings through adoption. (See Abraham 2:10.)
What a powerful concept! The Savior established His church in order to bring people into the covenants which he made with ancient prophets, so that they can inherit the same blessings those prophets received. Today, I will remember the covenants I have been privileged to make through my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I will remember that the Church exists to make those covenants and blessings available to all of God’s children who are willing to accept them.