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Why Look to “the Stick of Joseph” as a Standard – Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Introduction

And of Joseph he [Moses] said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh. (Deuteronomy 33:13-17)[1]

Joseph, the son of Jacob (Israel), holds a prominent place in the history of the house of Israel.[2]  Details of his life, from his birth to his death, are included in nearly a third of the chapters of the opening book of the Bible.[3]  Of the utmost importance, studies of these details show how Joseph’s life prefigured certain aspects of the life and ministry of the Messiah promised to Abraham.[4]

The present study explores God’s purposes for Joseph’s life foreshadowing Abraham’s Redeemer with respect to the latter-day healing and restoration of Israel’s household.[5]

Moses’ prophetic blessing quoted above directs our attention to how Joseph will once again hold a prominent place among all his father’s family according to God’s plans for them as His ancient covenant people.[6]  From this blessing and related prophecies preserved in scripture, we find that Joseph’s influence in the nation of Israel and in the world during these latter times will be expressed through descendants of his two eldest sons Manasseh and Ephraim.[7]

To chronicle how Joseph’s influence will be manifest as we near the end of the world, this study examines the history of a specific remnant from Manasseh’s line and the prominence God has given it by revealing an abridged record of this remnant to recent generations.[8]  A series of topics related to their history and future is presented in the following chapters to show how God is fulfilling the blessing Moses was led to pronounce over Joseph at the close of his ministry to the children of Israel.[9]

This study draws on Jacob’s blessing of Joseph to explain why Moses described Joseph’s land as a precious land filled with many precious things.  Of particular interest to this study is Jacob’s statement that Joseph is a fruitful bough by a well that runs over (beyond) the wall (border) of the covenant land originally promised to Abraham.[10]  Taken together, Jacob’s and Moses’ blessings provide valuable insights into God’s plans for Manasseh’s remnant being an integral part of His plan for restoring Israel to their respective covenant lands of inheritance to bless the whole world.[11]

As the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul boldly declared God’s faithfulness to His covenant with Israel by writing to the church in Rome that all Israel would be saved at a designated time in the future according to this covenant.[12]

Romans 11:25-32For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.  As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.  For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:  Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

With his declaration, Paul assured the church in Rome that God will yet meet the full extent of this new covenant that He made with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.[13]  For this is the new covenant Abraham’s Redeemer, Jesus Christ, set in place in the fulness of time as foretold by the prophets of old.[14]

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (Hebrews 8:7-13) – Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Ezekiel 37:19-26…Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim,[15] 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.  And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.  And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.  Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.  Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

Before making his bold declaration about God’s faithfulness to His covenant with all Israel, Paul issued this sobering warning to the church in Rome:

Romans 11:18-24Boast not against the branches.  But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.  Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith.  Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

Paul then called the members of the church in Rome to action by appealing to them to offer themselves unto God as living sacrifices for extending mercy to the house of Israel by that faith which only God can give.[16]

Romans 12:1-3I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

This call to action by Paul to the church in Rome will last until God fulfills all His covenant promises to Israel,[17] and He brings the great commission to a close at the end of the world.[18]

Matthew 28:18-20And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.  Amen.

Plainly stated, Romans 12:1-3 is a call to take the gospel to all the children of Israel.  Though they were scattered among all the nations of the earth (according to God’s covenant judgments founded in the writings of Moses), the Lord promised to regather them unto Himself.[19]

Jeremiah 31:10,11Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.  For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.

Jeremiah 16:14-17Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.  Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.  For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.

As shown in this study, the Lord’s work of reconciling all Israel unto Himself in these last days involves bringing a remnant of Manasseh to a vital knowledge of their Redeemer through a set of sacred records prepared by their forefathers for this purpose.[20]  When they no longer abide in unbelief, they will blossom as a rose, and all Israel—Ephraim and Judah—will come to the knowledge of how to abide together in God’s new covenant with Him.[21]  Joseph will then hold a prominent place in the closing chapters of the history of the world—just as he does in the opening chapters of the Bible—by his true sons holding a prominent place in all the house of Israel for blessing the whole world.

Zechariah 10:6And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them.

Isaiah 11:10-14And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.  And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.  The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.

Just as the Lord God of Israel raised up Israel’s son Joseph to be His true and faithful witness in the courts of Egypt, so will there be true and faithful sons of Joseph raised up by the Lord in Joseph’s land in these latter times.[22]  Their commission will be to complete His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to Joseph and his sons Ephraim and Manasseh.[23]

Like their father Joseph, these true sons of his will honor the one true and living God by giving the meat of God’s word in due season to their brethren and to their fellowman.[24]  Specifically, they will give the meat which comes of the living Word of God, Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Father.[25]  For they shall know Him, that He is their very life.[26]

Also like their father, these true sons of Joseph will honor God by not betraying His trust.[27]  Specifically, they will not break the marriage covenant God established in the likeness of the new covenant Jesus Christ established with His bride, the church.[28]  Instead, they will be true to the vision God has placed within them to be faithful stewards of His calling on their lives.

The faith of these true sons of Joseph will not be based in the works of the flesh nor in will worship, but in the love of Jesus Christ as the Word of God and in His work of redeeming souls through the faith which works by love.[29]  Most importantly, their confidence will be in the power of Jesus Christ’s atonement and in the power of His resurrection.[30]

Through their witness and labor of love, the fruit of Joseph’s faithfulness will be born out in the lives of these true sons of his before the whole world unto the glory and honor of their heavenly Father through the grace and mercy of their Redeemer Lord, the Holy One of Israel, Jesus Christ.[31]

Isaiah 41:14Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 47:4As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 48:17 Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

Isaiah 49:7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.

Isaiah 54:5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

Romans 11:33-36O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!  For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?  Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?  For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever.  Amen.

[1] Unless otherwise stated, for this study, Bible references are from the King James Version (KJV)—for Bereans; Book of Mormon references are from the Restored Covenant Edition (1999 Edition); and Doctrine & Covenants references are from the RLDS D&C.

[2] cf. Genesis 48:3-22Deuteronomy 33:13-17 with I Chronicles 5:1,2 & Joshua 17:1 Exodus 4:22, Psalm 105:17-24, Jeremiah 31:9

[3] Joseph’s name appears in 16 of the 50 chapters of Genesis.  He is also alluded to in Genesis 15:13,14 regarding the prophecy of the house of Israel abiding in Egypt under the care of Joseph, Jacob’s (Israel’s) son.

[4] e.g. with Psalm 105:1-45

[5] cf. Isaiah 29:22-24 & Isaiah 49:1-26 with Matthew 22:32 & John 8:56; cf. Jeremiah 31:1-40 with Romans 11:1-36;  see also Mormon 4:17-28, I Nephi 3:237, I Nephi 4:16-29, II Nephi 5:30-114, II Nephi 12:45-52 & III Nephi 7:6

[6] cf. Deuteronomy 33:13-17 & Zechariah 10:6 with Genesis 48:1-20, I Chronicles 5:1,2, Jeremiah 31:7-34, Ezekiel 37:1-28

[7] Genesis 48:5,6 with Jeremiah 31:9-34 & Ezekiel 37:15-28 and with I Nephi 3:181-205, Jacob 3:127-139 & III Nephi 9:46-106

[8] cf. II Nephi 11:39-57, II Nephi 14:4, Jacob 3:6, Jarom 1:10,11, Mosiah 1:30, Alma 16:1-6, etc. with Matthew 5:19 & D&C 83:8a-c

[9] Deuteronomy 33:13-17 with II Nephi 2:5-9 and with Numbers 13:11, Numbers 13:31-34, Numbers 14:1-24 & Numbers 14:37. Note that unlike Joshua of Ephraim, the representative of Joseph’s firstborn son Manasseh gave Moses a bad report regarding Abraham’s promised land.  Even so, Moses was led to bless all of Joseph’s posterity according to his birthright.

[10] Genesis 49:22-26 & Deuteronomy 33:13-17 with Ether 6:1-13; see also I Nephi 1:61-174 with II Nephi 2:4-50

[11] Genesis 15:18 & Deuteronomy 33:13-17 with II Nephi 7:12 & III Nephi 13:54-56; See with Isaiah 11:10-13 with Ezekiel 37:25-26

[12] Romans 11:13 & Luke 21:20-24 with Acts 23:11; cf. Romans 11:25 with II Corinthians 3:15,16; cf. James 1:1-4 & James 5:7,8 with Daniel 9:24 & Zechariah 10:1; note: Paul wrote these words long after the “last supper,” the atonement, the resurrection, and ascension of Christ.

[13] Romans 11:26,27 & Hebrews 8:7-13 with Isaiah 11:10-13, Jeremiah 31:31-34 & Ezekiel 37:26-28

[14] cf. Isaiah 29:22-24 with Isaiah 11:10-13, Isaiah 42:1-9, Isaiah 43:15-19, Isaiah 48:1-17 & Isaiah 49:1-26; cf. Genesis 12:3 & Genesis 28:14 with John 8:56, Galatians 3:16,17 & Hebrews 2:16-18; cf. Galatians 4:4 with Ephesians 1:10, II Thessalonians 2:6, I Timothy 2:6, etc.

[15] Question:  Why is the stick of Joseph in the hand of Ephraim?  This and many related questions are discussed in the chapters that follow.

[16] cf. Romans 11:26-32 & Romans 12:1-3 with Romans 11:12,15,31 & II Corinthians 5:14-21

[17] Romans 11:25-31 with Romans 12:1-3; cf. Matthew 4:18-22 & Mark 1:16-20 with Jeremiah 16:14-17

[18] Matthew 13:36-53 with Mark 16:14-20 & Luke 24:44-49

[19] Deuteronomy 30:1-20 with Deuteronomy 11:26-28; see also Joshua 8:33-35 with Deuteronomy 31:24-27

[20] I Nephi 3:16-19 with Book of Mormon Title Page & I Nephi 4:16-19

[21] D&C 49:5a,5b, Ether 1:109-117 & Ether 6:4-13 with Isaiah 11:10-13, Jeremiah 31:31-34 & Hebrews 8:7-13

[22] Deuteronomy 33:13-17 with Genesis 49:22-26

[23] cf. Genesis 41:14-57, Genesis 47:1-31 & I Chronicles 5:1,2 with Matthew 11:16-19 & Luke 7:35; cf. Ether 6:1-13 with II Nephi 2:1-50 & III Nephi 9:46-106

[24] cf. Matthew 24:45 & Luke 12:42 with John 1:1-17 & John 6:26-63

[25] cf. John 1:1-17 & John 6:26-63 with Matthew 4:3,4 & Deuteronomy 8:3; cf. I Corinthians 3:2 & Hebrews 5:12 with I Peter 2:1-3 & II Nephi 14:1-6

[26] cf. Alma 18:11-18 & Mosiah 8:81-83 with John 17:1-3 & Colossians 3:1-17

[27] cf. Genesis 39:7-12 with Proverbs 6:20-35; cf. Matthew 19:5,6 with Matthew 5:27,28

[28] cf. Proverbs 6:20-35 with I Corinthians 11:20-34 & Ephesians 5:25-33

[29] cf. with John 13:34,35 & Galatians 5:1-6

[30] cf. II Nephi 7:38-44 with II Nephi 6:1-105

[31] cf. III Nephi 8:30-55 with Matthew 5:13-16 & John 14:12-14