Pivotal Perspectives of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews

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“The gathering of the house of Israel in the last days will be a greater miracle than the exodus from Egypt,” Victor L. Ludlow quoted from the book of Jeremiah in his lecture “Pivotal Perspectives of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews,” a part of his education week series, “The Middle East Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: An LDS Scholar’s Perspective.”

Ludlow began his lecture by discussing the main groups of people typically referred to in discussions of the gathering of the House of Israel: the Ten Tribes of Israel, the Lehites, the Jews, and the scattered remnants of Israel which includes the Gentiles. He compared the journeys of these groups, who had common origins, to the journeys of the early saints as they traveled west.

“Not all of the groups ended up in the same place,” he said.

Though they have been scattered to various places, Ludlow illustrated with specific examples about how each group has begun to be gathered back.

The remnants of the House of Israel began to be gathered in 1820 when Moses appeared in the Kirtland Temple to restore the keys of the gathering of Israel. The Jews began to be gathered with the advent of the Jewish State of Israel with the ending of the Jewish War of Independence in 1948. In the latter quarter of the 20th century, South America has seen enormous success in missionary efforts, showing the gathering of the descendants of the Lehites. As for the gathering of the Ten Tribes, patriarchal blessings show that Saints all over the world represent the descendants of each of the ten tribes.

Focusing on the Jews, Ludlow cited three steps the Jews would need to take before the conversion of the Jewish people would take place. First, a change in attitude must occur. Before 1830, the majority of the world’s Jews lived in Eastern Europe, where they were treated as second-class citizens. Following World War II and the advent of the State of Israel, Jewish attitudes toward Christians have improved dramatically.

“In all my countless hours of experience with Jews, I have yet to be spit upon once when I brought up Jesus Christ,” joked Ludlow.

The second step Ludlow cited was a change in knowledge. “I found many Jewish students in my graduate studies that could more comfortably discuss Christ and the parables than could my New Testament students at this campus,” he said.

The last step toward conversion for the Jews Ludlow stated was a change in belief. Though proselyting in the Middle East is not currently allowed, Ludlow stated one could find pockets of Jewish converts to the Church all across the United States. “The Jews have gathered, and they are still gathering,” he said, adding that President Spencer W. Kimball said in an October 1975 special conference, “The day of the Jew is now.”

As descendants of Ishmael, the Palestinian Arabs are just as much a crucial part of the gathering as the Jews and Gentiles. Palestinian Gaza and the West Bank are huge hot spots in terms of poverty, politics, terrorism and intolerance. And yet, even as turmoil reigns in this area of the world, Ludlow said, the Lord’s work will go ahead. The first place the Lord visits during the second coming will be the Mount of Olives, in modern day Palestine.

The Middle East is made up of various languages, cultures, governments and religions, but one of the first things that comes to mind about the region is Islam, which affects most of the other aspects of culture. With an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, Ludlow addressed the sentiment that the gospel will not spread to these predominately-Muslim regions until the millennium.

“I’m not going to wait that long,” Ludlow joked, “I hope the Lord doesn’t.”

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