As a Hen Gathereth her Chickens

Study Topics

As a Hen Gathereth her Chickens

In the newly renovated Jordan River temple there is a beautiful piece of art by Jeff Hein depicting Christ and a young girl feeding chickens titled “As a Hen Gathereth.” This theme appears multiple times in scripture and makes for a great topic of study to see how to use Scripture Notes in a more comprehensive way.

In the scriptures there are many references to the scattering and gathering of Israel. In this study topic we’ll take on one aspect of gathering.

Purpose of Gathering is to Build Temples

I’d like to start off this topic with a quote from Joseph Smith on the actual purpose of gathering.

“What was the object of gathering the people of God in any age of the world? … The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose…

…Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles.

It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings, etc.”

Joseph Smith: History of the Church, 5:423-25, 427 (Discourse 6/11/1843)

So the prophet tells us the purpose of gathering is to build temples and receive the ordinances and principles of salvation. This is a critical thing to know that the ultimate purpose of all gathering efforts relates to temples and ordinances. I would save this quote in a collection note with no verses attached yet, and call it “Purpose of Gathering Israel is to Build Temples”. You could give it several tags for easy retrieval.

Now lets get pecking!

The Hen came before the Chicken or the Egg

Open Scripture Notes and in a search window search for:

Hen AND chick* (no quotes so it’s not a phrase search, wildcard to pick up chick, chicks, chicken, and chickens – Start to think about variations…)

Seven results appear for verses that contain both words. Convert the search to a collection note.  If you want to search the scriptures for yourself, stop reading now and go to your Scripture Notes and make basic verse notes and a master note for this collection by reading carefully through the results. Then return.

As a Hen Gathereth her Chickens has a Formula for Us

The references in Matthew 23:37 and D&C 43:24 show the love of God in wanting to gather his people, and the nations of the earth, but they would not. This brings to mind the children of Israel in the wilderness when they rejected the higher priesthood and refused to enter God’s presence and only wanted Moses to do that on their behalf.

The three references in 3 Nephi 10 are particularly of interest for the tenses used by the Lord. He says in verses 4-6:

“How oft have I gathered you” (4)

“How oft would I have gathered you” (5)

“How oft will I gather you” (6)

Clearly this is part and parcel of the Lord’s eternal work. He never stops. Verse 4’s reference seems to indicate there’s been some successes. We can think of glorious times in the history of the earth when the Lord’s people have gathered together to build temples and strive to become a Zion people.

Now the last couple verses of this search give clues to this process. First in D&C 10:65 we read the Lord says “I will gather them…if they will not harden their hearts”. Second, in D&C 29:2 we see that we also need to hearken to His voice, humble ourselves before Him, and call upon Him in mighty prayer.

There’s our formula for being gathered. We know it is the Lord’s great desire to gather his people, but we must have soft hearts, hearken to His voice, be humble, and call on Him in mighty prayer.

Now look at this verse with new eyes. What imagery pops into your mind as you read this?

3 Nephi 9:13 “O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?”

Can’t you just see the Lord calling his children who have been humbled by great destructions like a mother hen calling her chicks in for both temporal and spiritual safety and protection? He wants to heal us…

Additional references?

Now lets see if there are other verses we should be adding to this collection. There are other things we can search for. Lets start by opening up the search and see what we find.

Search “chick*”. Interestingly there are no other references to chickens in the scriptures. Every instance is the analogy to hens gathering chickens.

Now search “hen” and repeat the find process. We see there are two new verses added. One is in Zechariah as someone’s name (Did you know that? I didn’t.). The other is in Luke 13:34 where the author indicates chickens are children (“how often would I have gathered thy children together…”). Lets add this verse in Luke to our collection note and drag it over.

Now lets look at the original 7 results for “chicken and hen” (without quotes) again.

Are there any other words we notice in the results we have that stand out that we should search for and see if we might find a related concept? This would be a good time to start a spreadsheet or notebook with things you want to research. We will be adding a research list feature in the future but for now just open up a file to get started.

More to search for

As you study, look for words that stand out that you can do a quick search for and see if there are any other results to add to your collection note, just as a hen gathereth her chickens to her… ;) Some I saw are:

  • Brood
  • “gathereth” (with quotes-because it’s a different form of “gather” and implies
  • “how oft*” (with quotes and a wildcard to pick up variations of oft like “often”)
  • “Mighty prayer” or “mighty AND prayer” (without quotes on the second one for a broader search)
  • Wings (there are other references to wings. What are they? How do we use them?)

We might also ask some questions and try to research the answers.

  • How do we harden our hearts (search “hard* and heart*” without quotes)? How do we soften our hearts (search “soft* and heart*” without quotes)?
  • How does mighty prayer differ from other forms of prayer? What types of prayer are used in the scriptures?
  • Why does the Lord scatter his people and then try to gather them? What’s the purpose of scattering? Who does the Lord use to scatter his people? (maybe search “scatter and people” without the quotes)
  • What are other purposes of gathering? (see 1 Nephi 10:14) for a start on this topic.

Your turn…. Post below what you found interesting in this topic and additional things you found to study from it.

As a Hen Gathereth her Chickens As a Hen Gathereth her Chickens

About the Author

God, Family, Country - Oak Norton

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