I love the prophet, Joseph Smith. He was and is a great man who God used to restore the truth to the earth after centuries of darkness and confusion.
There were other great men named Joseph in ancient history. In 2 Nephi 3 (in the Book of Mormon), Lehi talks to his son named Joseph, who was born “in the days of [his] greatest sorrow” (verse 1). Lehi reminds him of his namesake—Joseph of Egypt (from the Bible) “who was carried captive into Egypt (vs 4)…[and] truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel” (vs 5). Lehi tells his son that this same Joseph of Egypt saw centuries earlier that “a seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins” (vs 6).
This seer who God raised up is Joseph Smith Junior, who was born more than 2,000 years after Lehi gave these prophesies to his son. Lehi told how Joseph of Egypt prophesied that the latter-day seer would do these things (it’s quite a list):
- “He shall be esteemed highly among the fruit of thy loins.” (vs 7)
- The Lord will “give commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins, his brethren.” (vs 7)
- This work shall be “of great worth unto them.” (vs 7)
- This work shall bring “them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers.” (vs 7)
- “He shall do none other work, save the work which I (God) shall command him.” (vs 8)
- The Lord “will make him great in [His] eyes; for he shall do [His] work.” (vs 8)
- “He shall be great like unto Moses…and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins.” (vs 9)
- He won’t just speak God’s word, “but [he will speak it] to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.” (see below for what the Book of Mormon does when combined with the Bible. (vs 11)
- “Out of weakness he shall be made strong.” (vs 13)
- He will commence the work of the Lord in the latter-days…the restoration (vs 13)
- The Lord will bless him. (vs 14)
- They that seek to destroy him shall be confounded (vs 14)
- “His name shall be called after me.” (Joseph of Egypt prophesied this, so he is saying that this seer’s name will be called Joseph) (vs 15)
- This Joseph (the seer) will be named after his father (vs 15) (It’s curious to note that Joseph Smith was the 4th child of Joseph Smith, Sr. He had several older brothers, all of which could have received their father’s name before him—which is the way it’s done traditionally, but they didn’t)
- He shall be like unto Joseph of Egypt, “for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.” (vs 15)
This salvation is the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon. In verse 12 of 2 Nephi chapter 3, we see that the coming together of the Bible and Book of Mormon will establish God’s truth. The two books of scripture “shall grow together unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.”
I love this verse because it lists five blessings that the Book of Mormon will bring about when combined with the Bible (which is true as far as it has been translated correctly—Article of Faith 8). It will:
- Confound false doctrines (the Bible taken alone can be taken to mean so many different things. Just look at all the different Christian denominations and their various beliefs—all based on the Bible. The Bible can be likened to a horizontal line on a map. Different people can set that line at a thousand different places on the map. But add the Book of Mormon into the equation—a vertical line—and you get one intersecting point of truth. This is God’s truth that has been revealed from the beginning of time)
- Settle contentions (If you read Joseph Smith History, you see that the different Christian denominations of the time actually fought against each other. There was serious contention that led Joseph Smith—at the young age of 13—to go to the Lord to ask which church to join. He was confused by the contention each preacher and member spewed at one another. Being a spiritual boy who wanted to do right by the Lord, he turned to the Bible and prayer. After reading James 1:5 in the Bible, which states: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God…” he decided to do just that…and ASKED OF GOD.
- Establish peace (the Book of Mormon and Bible together bring peace when a humble follower of God heeds their doctrine. The fruits of God are peace. Reading these two books of scripture can bring a sincere inquirer of truth the peace they seek in this life.
- Bring Lehi’s seed to the knowledge of their fathers (The history in the Book of Mormon tells about a nation that had the truth of God and lost it. The truths of this book were protected for generations by God and allowed to come forth in these days to bring this lost knowledge back to these people. It also blesses ALL His children around the world.)
- Reveal God’s covenants to his children (the true ordinances of baptism by immersion and laying on of hands and other sacred covenants are revealed in detail in the Book of Mormon. These are hinted at or talked about in part in the Bible, but not so clearly that we have one church (as God intended). The Book of Mormon brings about this clarification so that God can have ONE church and ONE people—those who sincerely want to follow and return to Him after this life.)
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we don’t worship Joseph Smith. We worship God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior. But we do revere Joseph Smith for being an instrument in God’s hands to restore the truth upon the earth once more. I am grateful for the additional light and knowledge the organization of the church and the Book of Mormon bring.
One sacred, testimony-building moment for me was when I followed counsel from general conference a couple years ago and read aloud the whole Joseph Smith History. As I did so, tears came freely and a burning in my bosom made me KNOW that Joseph Smith truly is the seer prophesied of Joseph of Egypt in the Bible. I am grateful to be a member of this restored church and to know God’s covenants and feel peace in following Him and His living prophets upon the earth today. If you ever find yourself struggling, or want to have a deeper conviction that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the restoration-the Lord’s anointed—read from Joseph Smith history aloud…and then study and seek further confirmation of God’s peace, light and truth through the Book of Mormon. I promise you great joy as you do.