Question: What does the gospel being taken from the Gentiles entail? So many are leaving the church, is that what it refers to?
Answer: Knowing that to date the restored church consists mostly of Ephraimite Gentiles—that is, of Ephraimite lineages who “assimilated” (yitbolal) into the Gentiles (Hosea 7:8), “who are identified with the Gentiles” (Doctrine & Covenants 109:60), and who are called “the fulness of the Gentiles” (melo’ hagoyim; Genesis 48:19; cf. Romans 11:25; 1 Nephi 15:13; 3 Nephi 16:4)—and that the “house of Israel” is defined in the scriptures as the Jews, Israel’s Ten Tribes, and the Lamanites of today (1 Nephi 15:12–20; 2 Nephi 29:12–14; 3 Nephi 16:1–15)—we can be clear on prophecies about the gospel being taken from the Gentiles and given to the house of Israel.
By analyzing these prophecies—by searching and discovering their interconnections, using word links, key ideas, and time frames—we can pinpoint the time when this reversal between the Gentiles and house of Israel takes place. Jesus nevertheless sums up these events by saying that “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,” then will he “bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. 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” (3 Nephi 16:10–11).
The degree of wickedness Jesus enumerates that accompanies the Gentiles’ rejection of the gospel, however—pride, lyings, deceits, mischiefs, hypocrisy, murders, priestcrafts, whoredoms, and secret abominations (3 Nephi 16:10)—isn’t something a churchgoing people would likely consider applying to themselves. Neither did the Jews of Jesus’ day who condemned Jesus or the Nephites in their times of wickedness. Moreover, one cannot “sin against my gospel” and “reject the fulness of my gospel” without first having the gospel and then rejecting it. He isn’t speaking of those who had never been converted to it but of those who sinned against it afterwards.
While the current mass exodus of members from the church—of those who consider themselves unworthy of the blessings of the gospel within its divinely established institution—may form a prelude to the gospel turning from the Gentiles to the house of Israel, Jesus’ further clarifications inform us of a more precise time. First, it occurs “after the blessing which they [the Gentiles] shall receive, after they have scattered my people” (3 Nephi 20:15). That doesn’t mean, for example, that the Gentiles reject the gospel immediately after the time of the prophet Joseph Smith, as some claim, because the house of Israel’s “scattering” continued even into last century.
Rather, “They [the Gentiles] shall be a scourge unto the people of this land. Nevertheless, when they shall have received the fulness of my gospel, then if they shall harden their hearts against me I will return their iniquities upon their own heads” (3 Nephi 20:28). Only then is “when the fulness of my gospel shall be preached unto them [the house of Israel]. And they shall believe in me, that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name”—when Jesus will “remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time” (3 Nephi 20:29–31).
To be even more precise, Jesus links the reversal between the Gentiles and house of Israel to his end-time servant’s mission of bringing forth his words to the Gentiles: “It shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant” (3 Nephi 21:11). Those words of Jesus, which he taught the Nephites, aren’t included in the Book of Mormon but are on the large plates of Nephi (3 Nephi 26:1–11).