I suspect I’m not the only one who has been baffled by the advantage (or not) of being the literal blood of Israel vs. being adopted into the house of Israel. Being adopted in to the lineage by taking baptismal covenants makes good enough sense to me, but then we hear various authoritative quotes about how basically everyone that joins the Church probably has the literal blood of Israel coursing through their veins already anyway. Here is an example:
The great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph. (President Joseph Fielding Smith, Improvement Era, Oct. 1923, p. 1149.)
How can we know if it applies to us? What are the advantages of having the literal blood of Israel? Does it even matter? If not why bring it up so often? It seems the whole thing is confusing enough to warrant entire articles explaining it in the Ensign. Here is a fine example of one of them by Daniel H. Ludlow from January of 1991.
Well, I have interesting news on this front. It now looks like everyone on the planet has the literal blood of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob running through their veins.
In the comments of a recent post J. Stapley and Nate Oman mentioned an article in the The Atlantic Monthly that was published a couple of years ago. The header is sufficient for my purposes right now I think. It says:
The mathematical study of genealogy indicates that everyone in the world is descended from Nefertiti and Confucius, and everyone of European ancestry is descended from Muhammad and Charlemagne
Well that solves that problem! Let’s see… Confucius lived after the time of Lehi and Nefertiti lived some time in the 1300’s B.C. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all lived before that so it is an easy deduction that we’re all partial descendants from all of them. (I didn’t get a subscription and read the whole article so feel free to correct me if you did read it and my assumptions are wrong here.)
Sure, it might make us a little less unique blood-wise than we might have hoped, but it sure makes it easier trying to figure out who is literally descended from Israel and who is adopted. It looks like in the church we’re all both. And in terms of feeling good about ourselves, isn’t it better to focus on the fact that you are part of the modern spiritual house of Israel because you opted in (either here or in your pre-mortal life) anyway? Being gathered into spiritual Israel is always due to a choice and never due to luck. After all — His sheep hear His voice.