The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies. These include Isaiah’s voice that would speak from the dust, the sealed book, and Ezekiel’s “stick of Joseph,” among others.
One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament is the account of Joseph, the son and heir of Jacob who was sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers. This is a prophetic passage of scripture contained in Genesis chapters 37, 39-43 tells us about the future role of the Church in the latter days.
The condensed version of the story is this: Joseph had an inspired dream. He interpreted that dream that his father and his brethren would one day bow down before him and make obeisance. Obeisance is the “bending the head or body or knee as a sign of reverence or submission or shame.” (wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)
Naturally his brothers and his fathers thought this was presumptuous of him. They were jealous of him to begin with and they soon conspired to get rid of him. Joseph held the birthright which his brothers envied. His name means “he will add” or “he will gather.” Some etymologies interpret it “God will add.” All of those names are well suited to his mission in life.
Joseph’s brothers conspired to kill him by leaving him to die in a pit in the wilderness. When a passing caravan came along, they repented of their bloodlust and decided instead to sell him as a slave. Joseph ended up in Egypt where he served as a slave and ended up in prison, falsely accused.
Joseph’s spiritual gifts rescued him from prison and brought him into Pharaoh’s court, where he interpreted the king’s troubling dreams. The interpretation from God helped Egypt prepare for a seven year famine that would follow seven years of plenty. Because Pharaoh wisely followed the inspiration of a prophet, his people were blessed. When famine came, Egypt had plenty of food. Joseph was elevated to a position second only to Pharaoh in the government.
When the famine drove his family into Egypt seeking food, Joseph recognized his brothers. His clever actions gathered (as his name said he would) his brothers and his family to the land of Egypt. During this time, his true identity was hidden from them. Once they were safely gathered into safety, Joseph revealed himself to them. Genesis chapter 45 relates:
“And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.“
As a result, Joseph saved his family and brought them to safety while the famine would still prevail for another five years. Like it had appeared in his dream, his brothers and his fathers reverenced him for the salvation God had brought them through Joseph.
How does this relate to the Mormons? The Book of Mormon was written by the descendants of Joseph. It was brought forth and translated in our day by a descendant of this same Joseph in the book of Genesis. The Prophet Joseph Smith was this descendant. We have traced his genealogy all the way back and we know this to be true. It is interesting to notice that the chief criticism of the Book of Mormon by sectarian Christians is that Joseph “added to” the Bible. That’s exactly what the name Joseph means: “God will add.”
In 1836, Moses appeared to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple on Passover day. He committed to Joseph the keys of authority to administer the gathering of Israel. The first tribe to be gathered, not coincidentally is the tribe of Joseph. Remember, Joseph’s name also means “he will gather.” From the gathered posterity of Joseph, through the loins of his sons Ephraim and Manasseh, God is gathering the other tribes of scattered Israel whose blood runs though the peoples of all nations.
Joseph Smith received the revelations to gather Israel to a holy city, the New Jerusalem, the Zion of God. These revelations gave us the instructions, the pattern, the location, and the power to build this place of refuge when the time will be fulfilled. Interestingly, Hebrew tradition tells us that the ancient Joseph’s wife, an Egyptian convert to the faith of the biblical patriarchs was named Asenath. Her name means “City of Refuge.” Together Joseph and Asenath’s chosen posterity will gather “Israel” to the city of refuge: Zion.
We live in the latter days, a time when trouble will come upon the nations. When a time when famine, wars, disease, and disasters will be upon the world, the remnant of Joseph will gather those who will follow the prophetic warnings to Zion. In Zion there will be safety and peace.
Like Joseph’s brethren, the sectarian world has rejected the birthright God has placed upon Joseph’s posterity. They have conspired to kill, persecute, and sell out the Latter-day Saints as seen in our history. The identity of this latter-day Joseph has been veiled from them. Yet that will change someday. They will come to escape a famine. What kind of famine is it they will seek to escape? Amos chapter 8, verse 11 tells us:
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord”
In this day when sectarian Christians, as well as all other non-Christian faiths teach that God is silent and doesn’t speak, they are experiencing the famine of hearing the words of the Lord predicted by Amos. Only among Latter-day Saints is the fountain of revelation continuous and active today.
One day, the time will come when our critics and those who have ignorantly condemned us will have the veil removed and they will see us for who we truly are. Our antagonists will behold that we have the only spiritual nourishment that can satisfy them from the affects the famine for God’s word.
In that day, we will embrace and they will rejoice in the salvation God has revealed through his servants of the tribe of Joseph. The Gentiles will, like Joseph’s brethren, will reverence the God of heaven who inspired Joseph Smith. I testify that Joseph Smith was truly this prophet and that those who hear God’s voice in the Book of Mormon will come to know that these things are true by the Holy Spirit.
For more info: please visit www.mormon.org. The opinions above are the author’s and should not be considered official statements of the Church.