Friday, August 15, 2008

Stick of Joseph

I have a non-member friend who came to church with me and really enjoyed himself. He wanted to study the book of Alma because he was intrigued by its teaching and so the missionaries got him a Book of Mormon. I started talking to him about the book and how it is a history of the stick of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. I told him about how the scriptures explains how Joseph testified how his posterity would be broken off and preserved and how this book is the history of Joseph and that the Bible is the history of Judah. He then asked me where he can find that in the Bible? I was unsure and told him that I would find out for him. That led me to a quick search during the beginning of Elders Quorum in hopes to quickly find an answer for him. I must say that my mind was given flight and the Spirit guided my search and thinking and I was able to piece together an answer for him. I found support in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith Translation. I am thankful to the guidence of the Spirit and also realized that I needed to study the Bible in greater detail. This talk is the result of my search in an effort to be able to show by ways of the scriptures the reality and existence of the stick of Joseph.
Lets start by reading the prophecy of Ezekiel:

16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
18 ¶ And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?
19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. (Ezekiel 37:16-19)
Mormon Doctrine explains "sticks" as follows: "Ezekiel, in foretelling the preparation and coming forth of the Book of Mormon, called it the stick of Ephraim, and the stick of Joseph in the hand of Ephraim. In similar imagery he called the Bible the stick of Judah. The promise was that these two records would become one stick in the Lord's hand in the day of the gathering of Israel. (Ezek. 37:15-28.)

"Here then was a symbol," Elder Orson Pratt said, "represented before their eyes in language that could not he misunderstood; it was a symbol of two records; for it is well known that records were kept in ancient times on parchment; rolled upon sticks, the same as we keep our maps at this day. All the prophecies of Jeremiah for many years were written and rolled round a stick, and were called a book; so in Ezekiel these sticks represent two records, one the record of the tribe of Joseph, and the other of Judah." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, pp. 290-291.)"

Here we see only two sticks but were there not 12 sons of Jacob or Israel, which were given blessings? Yes, there were but they are the lost tribes of Israel and there in lies the secret. In order for the gathering to take place all 12 must be gathered together. It is interesting to note that many look to the Bible as the only word of God, and that is where it gets interesting because there in the Bible it talks about the lost 10 tribes of Israel and how they will be gathered again to gain their inheritance, but counting Judah and the lost 10 tribes of Israel that is only 11, why because the reminant of Joseph is not lost but is present with Judah and their history is contained in the Book of Mormon. Nephi, helps us understand this very well, even in a language which is plain that it can't be misunderstood.

To start off with Nephi talks about the Bible:

3 And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible.
4 But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles?
5 O ye Gentiles, have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but ye have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return all these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.
Then, Nephi explains the true gathering of the word of God:
6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?
7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?
8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.
9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.
10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.
11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.
12 For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it.
13 And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews.
14 And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever.

Now for what purpose are the sticks of Judah and the sticks of Joseph and some day the sticks of the lost 10 tribes of Israel brought to one? Nephi unfolds this mystery unto us:

2 Nephi 30:3-8
3 And now, I would prophesy somewhat more concerning the Jews and the Gentiles. For after the book of which I have spoken shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many which shall believe the words which are written; and they shall carry them forth unto the remnant of our seed.
4 And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.
5 And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.
6 And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.
7 And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ shall also become a delightsome people.
8 And it shall come to pass that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth."

The whole grand purpose of all of this is to bring all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people to knowledge of the Savior of the world even Jesus Christ and not just to a knowledge but to a full inheritance. What great wisdom does our Father in Heaven and His son have and what great love, that they remember all people that have ever lived upon this earth and that does now live upon the earth. It is sweet to me and it brings me great joy.

So we see that the Lord is mindful of all people, the question now at hand is where is the stick of Joseph? The Lord himself declares in D&C 27:5:

5 Behold, this is wisdom in me; wherefore, marvel not, for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim;

Remember in Ezekiel the Lord said, "I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim." So we now see that the Book of Mormon is the stick of Joseph. This is very well documented in the Book of Mormon but not quite as clearly described in the Bible. Why is it not as well documented or prophecied in the Bible because the prophecies of Joseph are contained in the brass plates which we know from the Book of Mormon were taken by Lehi into the wilderness and therefore were not present to be compiled into the Bible.

" 1 AND now, I, Nephi, speak concerning the prophecies of which my father hath spoken, concerning Joseph, who was carried into Egypt.
2 For behold, he truly prophesied concerning all his seed. And the prophecies which he wrote, there are not many greater. And he prophesied concerning us, and our future generations; and they are written upon the plates of brass." (2 Nephi 4:1-2)

Even though we do not have the great prophecies of Joseph we still have evidence of the whereabouts of his posterity.

Genesis 49:22
" 22 ¶ Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:"

A bough is a vine, whose branches run over the wall signifying that his posterity, symbolized by branches, shall be led to a new land symbolized, by running over, and the wall symbolized, the land that the original vine is on. Again, the Book of Mormon is clear and uses the same type of imagery in Jacob 5 refering to the house of Israel as an olive tree. Contained in this chapter is a representation or prophecy of what is to befall the house of Israel from the begining to the end. Here we see the bough or branches being grafted into another spot of ground or land.

Jacob 5-8
8 And behold, saith the Lord of the vineyard, I take away many of these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will; and it mattereth not that if it so be that the root of this tree will perish, I may preserve the fruit thereof unto myself; wherefore, I will take these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will.

As I studied this parable I realized that Ezekiel used similar imagery as well in descibing Joseph's seed.

Ezekiel 17:22
22 ¶ Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent:

Joseph Smith by the power of God retranslated the Bible and one of the verses that was left out or removed from the original translation of the Bible is the following found in Genesis 50:24 in the JST:

25 And it shall come to pass that they shall be scattered again; and a branch shall be broken off, and shall be carried into a far country; nevertheless they shall be remembered in the covenants of the Lord, when the Messiah cometh; for he shall be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the Spirit of power; and shall bring them out of darkness into light; out of hidden darkness, and out of captivity unto freedom.
Another prophecy that I happened to stuble upon in my reading is found in Alma 46:23 and is quoted by Captain Moroni after he rent his garments and wrote the title of Liberty upon it and the people came flocking to him willing to convenant that they will maintain their freedom and fight for the cause of the Christians. Here are his words:
23 Moroni said unto them: Behold, we are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; yea, we are a remnant of the seed of Joseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces; yea, and now behold, let us remember to keep the commandments of God, or our garments shall be rent by our brethren, and we be cast into prison, or be sold, or be slain.
24 Yea, let us preserve our liberty as a remnant of Joseph; yea, let us remember the words of Jacob, before his death, for behold, he saw that a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said—Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment.
25 Now behold, this giveth my soul sorrow; nevertheless, my soul hath joy in my son, because of that part of his seed which shall be taken unto God.
26 Now behold, this was the language of Jacob.

It seems to me that here is evidence that sets forth most positively the existence of the stick of Joseph and that it is in reality the Book of Mormon, but there is only one true way to know without a shadow of doubt and that is to ask Him to whom it is that knows all even our Father in Heaven. He will testify to your heart the truthfulness of this sacred record.
Ezra Taft Benson said, "We do not have to prove the Book of Mormon is true. The book is its own proof. All we need to do is read it and declare it! The Book of Mormon is not on trial- the people of the world, including the members of the church, are on trial as to what they will do with this second witness for Christ. (also found in Conference Report, Oct. 1984)
With that I testify to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and know through the Holy Spirit that it is true and that it contains the words of Christ and it testifys of him. I would like to close with the following quote by Ezra Taft Benson which reads, "The Bible sits on the pulpit of hundreds of different religious sects. The Book of Mormon, the record of Joseph, verifies and clarifies the Bible. It removes stumbling blocks, it restores many plain and precious things. We testify that when used together, the Bible and the Book of Mormon confound false doctrines, lay down contentions. and establish peace. (BofM Study Guide, ch 1)
Amen.

2 comments:

  1. Why do you stop with Ezekiel 37:19? There are 9 more verses that follow to complete the prophesy which clearly explains that the 2 sticks represent the norther kingdom and the southern kingdom of Israel which God will bring back together as one Kingdom with one ruler. Please, in your studies, be diligent and read ALL verses surrounding what you think are the answer you are looking for.

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  2. Actually the next 9 verses specifically talk about David, which is meant Jesus Christ because he is from the lineage of David, will come and join the nations into one. He will reign and there will be no more idols or transgressions. That will only happen when he comes.

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