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Ancient Israel is connected to modern Israel

Ancient Israel and modern Israel, though separated by thousands of years, are linked arm in arm, explained Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve.

"We are part of a destiny known by relatively few people upon the earth," he said during the keynote address of the 26th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium at BYU Oct. 11.His message, titled "Remnants Gathered - Covenants Fulfilled," was based on the Book of Mormon account where "the Lord speaks of fulfilling `the covenant which [His] Father hath made unto his people,' of the house of Israel," he said. (3 Ne. 20:12-13.)

"The gathering of those remnants and the fulfilling of that divine covenant are occurring in our day. Yet this big picture is obscure to the eye of many who focus upon bargains at supermarkets and rankings of favorite football teams."

He spoke of five "strong and significant links between ancient and modern Israel."

The first link, the link of Joseph, applies to both Joseph who was sold into Egypt and to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Five connections between Joseph of old and Joseph of the Restoration include:

- A righteous branch being raised from the loins of Joseph.

- A branch of Israel being broken off and carried into a far country.

- A choice seer being raised up from Joseph's loins.

- Writings from the loins of Joseph combining with the writings of the loins of Judah in the last days.

- The promised seer being named Joseph, like his father and Joseph of old.

The second link, the link of the Book of Mormon, deals with the "prophets in the Old Testament who foretold of this great book."

The third link, designated as the link of the House of Israel, is comprised of the Abrahamic covenant, and of the scattering and gathering of Israel.

"The Book of Mormon," Elder Nelson explained, "teaches that the Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled only in these latter days."

The fourth link connecting ancient and modern Israel, titled link of the exodus, offers "fascinating . . . parallels between the exodus from Egypt of the Israelites under Moses, and the exodus from the United States of the pioneers under Brigham Young," he said.

"Both groups had to leave their homes and earthly possessions. Both had to rely wholly upon the Lord and be sustained by Him during their travels. Both traversed deserts, mountains and valleys of untamed wilderness. Both groups endured trials of their faith during which the weak were winnowed away and the strong were empowered to endure to the end."

The fifth connection between ancient and modern Israel is denoted as the link of the timeless truths of the gospel.

"Timeless truths and principles of the gospel were and are important to people of ancient and modern Israel," Elder Nelson said. Such truths include honoring the Sabbath day, tithing and temple worship.

In summary, Elder Nelson said, "We are His people. . . . We are His remnants now being gathered and gleaned into His eternal garners. We are fulfilling `the covenant which the Father hath made unto his people. . . .' We are the children of the covenant."