Evidence #250 | October 5, 2021

Sign of Gathering

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Scripture Central


The Book of Mormon prophesies that it will be instrumental in helping gather in people from all nations, kindreds, and tongues. Today, this remarkable prophecy has largely been fulfilled, even though there was little secular evidence in 1829 to support it.

Prophecies of the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon

Several prophecies found in the Book of Mormon connect its coming forth to the commencement of the gathering of Israel from all the nations of the world. One instance of this prophecy can be found in Nephi’s visions of the future of his people. He saw that the writings of his people would “come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 13:35) and that they would be instrumental in convincing “all kindreds, tongues, and people” that Jesus is the Savior of the world (v. 40). In his later prophecies, after again mentioning the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 30:3), Nephi similarly declared that “the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth” (v. 8).

Joseph Smith retrieving the Book of Mormon. Image via churchofjesuschrist.org. 

This prophecy was further echoed by Jesus Himself during His ministry among the Nephites. Jesus foretold that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon would be a sign that the gathering of Israel was “about to take place” (3 Nephi 21:1). Importantly, this gathering was once again said to take place among all nations: “and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance. And they shall go out from all nations” (vv. 28–29).

The Book of Mormon and the Gathering of Israel

The Book of Mormon was first published in March 1830. The very next month, Christ’s Church was restored to the earth and missionaries soon began to share the Book of Mormon with the world.1 Today more than 150 million copies of the Book of Mormon have been printed in more than 100 languages,2 including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Czech, Fijian, Hindi, Korean, Norwegian, Persian, Quiché, Tagalog, Thai, and Xhosa, to name a few.3 Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now hail from more than 160 countries and territories and collectively speak more than 178 languages.4

Map of Latter-day Saint membership across the world from 2005. Image via churchofjesuschrist.org. 

In the early phases of the Restoration, people from many countries physically gathered with the Saints in the Unites States. Currently, the gathering of Israel is taking place to stakes of Zion throughout the world. Further gathering phases may unfold as the world transitions closer to Christ’s Second Coming.5


In the summer of 1829, when these prophecies embedded in the Book of Mormon were first dictated by Joseph Smith to his scribes, there was no guarantee, based on secular evidence alone, that the book would have the type of global impact that it predicted. Joseph Smith didn’t yet have a large following, and there was no precedent for gauging how the world at large would respond to such a text. In fact, at the time, there was no assurance that the Book of Mormon would ever get the funding to be published in the first place.6

In other words, the unfolding of events and circumstances needed to get the book printed, distributed to the world, and accepted by millions of people from a multitude of nations and tongues would have seemed, if anything, to be highly improbable in 1829. Yet, as the statistics clearly demonstrate, the Book of Mormon’s prophecies about its global distribution and reception have already largely been fulfilled.7

Book of Mormon Central, “Why is the Book of Mormon a Classic? (Ether 12:25),” KnoWhy 63 (March 26, 2016).

Po Nien (Felipe) Chou and Petra Chou, “‘To Every Nation, Kindred, Tongue, and People’,” in The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon: A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, ed. Dennis L. Largey, Andrew H. Hedges, John Hilton III, and Kerry Hull (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2015), 227–264.

1 Nephi 13:351 Nephi 13:402 Nephi 30:32 Nephi 30:83 Nephi 21:13 Nephi 21:28–29

1 Nephi 13:35

1 Nephi 13:40

2 Nephi 30:3

2 Nephi 30:8

3 Nephi 21:1

3 Nephi 21:28–29

  • 1 See Book of Mormon Central, “What Role Does the Book of Mormon Play in Missionary Work? (2 Nephi 30:3),” KnoWhy 288 (March 17, 2017).
  • 2 See “Book of Mormon in 110 Languages,” Liahona, May 2015, online at churchofjesuschrist.org; “Book of Mormon Reaches Another Milestone: 150 Million and Counting,” Newsroom, April 18, 2011, online at https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org.
  • 3 See https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/translations-and-downloads?lang=eng
  • 4 See “Church Growing in More than 160 Countries,” Ensign, January 2005, online at churchofjesuschrist.org.
  • 5 See Book of Mormon Central, “Where Did Joseph Smith Get His Ideas about the Physical and Spiritual Gathering of Israel? (2 Nephi 21:11),” KnoWhy 290 (March 22, 2017).
  • 6 See Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter, “‘For the Sum of Three Thousand Dollars’,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14, no. 2 (2005): 4–11, 66–67.
  • 7 It is true that in a technical sense, the Book of Mormon hasn’t yet been distributed in every nation or been translated into every tongue in the world. Nor are people from every nation and tongue currently represented in the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yet it should be remembered that the Restoration is an ongoing process and that the ultimate extent and reach of the Book of Mormon remains to be seen. Furthermore, there is reason to question if these prophecies were meant to be interpreted in a technically absolute way to begin with. Other instances of the use of “all” or “every” in the Book of Mormon have similar caveats. For instance, Nephi reported that according to “the prophet” the Jews at Jerusalem would be “scourged by all people” (1 Nephi 19:13). Yet this clearly wouldn’t pertain to all people because many cultures (such as the Nephites themselves) would never come into direct contact with the Jews at Jerusalem. Similarly, on one occasion the book of Ether records that “there began to be a war upon all the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired” (Ether 13:25). While it can be assumed that this statement was generally true, it would be technically false since Ether himself was among the people at this time and was clearly not involved in the factional warfare. In other words, the prophecies that the Book of Mormon would help gather people from all nations who speak all tongues may very well have been meant in a general way, rather than a technically specific way. If so, then they can be seen as having been already essentially fulfilled. Even if it these prophecies were meant in a very literal way, there is still time before and after Christ’s second coming for people to be literally gathered from every nation and who literally speak every language.
Fulfilled Prophecies
Book of Mormon

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