In a previous blog post, the discussed concentrated on the Davidic servant’s possible lineages based on an interpretation of D&C 113, a question and answer session between Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ. This blog post will continue along the previous post’s line of thinking, building upon the insights gleaned from the answers Christ gave prophets. Though another topic was chosen aside from this one, the Lord, in his tender mercies, expanded this author’s mind in which several inferences have caused euphoria. This new, enhanced paradigm thus requires some explication here. Sitting down to begin what was supposed to be this post, some sudden strokes of intelligence began to distill and connected possibilities heretofore unconsidered. However, this does not mean that the material prepared was jettisoned; rather, the Lord assured this author that it would buttress what now came to mind. This will take us to an obscure General Conference address, which Spencer W. Kimball gave in October of 1947.
What is intriguing about this address is that Kimball posits some information that most members of the Church have never heard or even considered. This conference address makes mention of a Lamanite prophet arising once the end-time scenario commences, an awful and wondrous spectacle for all to witness. Furthermore, it focuses somewhat on restorative concepts involving the Native American peoples. He uses stories of conversion and such to attract the attention of the members of the Church. Then, at the end of the address, something interesting is presented, for he seems to allude to the notion that the Church’s efforts to restore the Native Americans will not be enough in the end. So, if the efforts of the Church will prove futile in restoring the Native American peoples, then what or who shall be the remedy? Kimball has the answers. He states, “And in the day when their prophet shall come, one shall rise … mighty among them … being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work mighty wonders … (2 Nephi 3:24). From the context of the address, this prophet who arises among the Lamanites will help them gain a sort of civilization based on the current paradigm. This interpretation appears to be at odds with what the Book of Mormon states the Lamanite will do once they arise in might and power. To understand what I am saying, Ether 13 must be consulted:
And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type. For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not. Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away. And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new. And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.
Once the Lord empowers the Lamanites, they will build the New Jerusalem, a city with such splendor that will make the current paradigm pale in comparison. The source of this empowerment is this prophet who shall arise among them. Who exactly is this being? To support Kimball’s understanding of 2 Nephi 3, it should also be noted that, early on in the Church, Elder Orson Pratt, in 1879, began dividing the Book of Mormon up into readable sections and chapters. While doing so for 2 Nephi 3, he inserted a footnote on verse 24 pointing to a Native American prophet arising at some future date. Why would he do this and why has this particular footnote vanished? Though I am unable to answer the latter part of this question, the first part is approachable. I would now like to go through 2 Nephi 3 and give you my personal interpretation of this chapter of scripture.
2 Nephi 3 is Lehi’s pronouncement of a blessing upon his last born son, Joseph. Joseph, the son of Lehi, is promised that his seed shall not be utterly destroyed from off the face of the earth but shall abide even until the end-time.Then, Lehi does something very interesting, which is only noticeable if you’re looking at the chapter holistically. He addresses three persons throughout the chapter: Joseph who was sold into Egypt, a latter-day seer by the name of Joseph, and another figure near the end of the chapter. Notices the arrangement of these individuals. This author submits to the reader that this is a nice parallel that allows the reader to place 2 Nephi 3 and D&C 113:1-6 together. As you do, it should become apparent that the structure of these scriptures under comparison align well with one another.
The Stem of the House of Joseph
Joseph who was sold into Egypt comes first. Why? It is my speculation that he, in this prophetic utterance, serves as archetype to represent the Messiah or the Stem paralleling D&C 113. Moreover, he is the Stem in this instance because he is vine from which the other two personages in this particular prophecy arise. He as an archetype of Christ; this assumption comes from an understanding that Joseph of Old served as a messianic figure saving both a mighty Gentile nation, Egypt, and the House of Israel from famine. This is interesting because in Genesis 48 of JST, Jacob says something very important about Joseph.
“Therefore, O my son, he hath blessed me in raising thee up to be a servant unto me, in saving my house from death, in delivering my people, thy brethren, from famine which was sore in the land; wherefore, the God of thy fathers shall bless thee and the fruit of thy loins, that they shall be blessed above thy brethren and above thy father’s house.”
Notice that Joseph who was sold into Egypt is referred to as a servant saving the House of Israel. Although this Joseph’s messianic mission was temporal in nature, it nonetheless mimicked Christ’s spiritual mission of saving humanity from their sins. Two of Joseph’s dreams also serve to reinforce the parallel concerning his messianic calling to the House of Israel.
And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
At the end of each of these dreams, the whole house of Israel are made obeisance unto Joseph. The imagery of obeisance in the ancient world often meant that others were kneeling in a king’s presence. Throughout the scriptures, the reader is reminded repeatedly of Christ’s appearance as king before the world when all “knees shall bow and every tongue confess” that He is indeed their king.This imagery again depicts Joseph as a messianic figure in the similitude of Christ. In the context of 2 Nephi 3, the reader learns that the Lord is merciful unto the House of Joseph because they are broken off from the rest of the House of Israel and that they would be a righteous branch. The chapter conveys that THE Messiah will not arise from the House of Joseph, meaning Jesus Christ. Although the House of Joseph would not produce the Messiah, par excellence Christ the Lord, this does not mean other messianic figures could not arise from this righteous house within Israel.
The Rod: Joseph Smith, The Great Seer
Now, the next messianic figure should be quite obvious to any member of the Church. This particular figure is a great seer who brings forth records unto the seed of Joseph, both to the Gentile Ephriamites and to the Manassite Lamanites. In verse 16, Joseph who was sold into Egypt states that this seer will be named after him and that the seer’s father’s name will be Joseph too. Then Joseph who was sold into Egypt likens this seer unto Moses in a particular way, which is interesting because he saw not only the coming of Moses but also the coming of a great seer. The certain descriptions he uses of Moses match those of the great seer. Pay close attention:
“And the Lord hath said: I will raise up a Moses; and I will give power unto him in a rod; and I will give judgment unto him in writing. Yet I will not loose his tongue, that he shall speak much, for I will not make him mighty in speaking. But I will write unto him my law, by the finger of mine own hand; and I will make a spokesman for him.”
The great patriarch Joseph tells us that the Lord promised to raise up a Moses and his powers shall be like unto a rod. Hmm….do you remember last blog post, wherein I stated that the rod of D&C 113:3-4 is none other than Joseph Smith? It appears we have a second witness about the rod. What is also interesting is how Moses and his brother Aaron were inseparable and leaned upon one another; the same must be said of Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith as well. Also, many attested to the lack of learning and oratory skills in Joseph Smith, again being a type of Moses. The parallels and connections are not mere coincidence.
The Root: Descendant of Joseph, Son of Lehi
After Lehi rehearsed Joseph’s prophecy pertaining to his seed, he turns to his son Joseph and administers what appears to be a patriarchal blessing. This blessing is astonishing, layered with many implications. Joseph, the son of Lehi, is told that his seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book brought forth through the great seer, Joseph Smith.However, it should be noted that most of the Native Americans today have not received the Book of Mormon, but there are whisperings about their medicine men and elders having receive it. The latter remain aloof from the Church, awaiting the rise of great warrior to bring them the record. So, it appears that someone else will need to bring it to them. With this in mind, what Lehi prophesies next is of the utmost importance. Lehi continues his blessing, asserting:
“And there shall rise up one mighty among them, who shall do much good, both in word and in deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work mighty wonders, and do that thing which is great in the sight of God, unto the bringing to pass much restoration unto the house of Israel, and unto the seed of thy brethren.”
From this verse, Joseph, son of Lehi, is promised that one shall arise from his posterity, who will be an instrument in the hands of God. He will be magnificent in his utterances and in his actions. These descriptive terms force my mind to Isaiah’s words about this person.
“He has made my mouth like a sharp sword—in the shadow of his hand he hid me. He has made me into a polished arrow—in his quiver he kept me secret.”
This is not all. This messianic figure will bring “much restoration” to both to the House of Israel and the seed of Lehi. These two entities are the natural lineages of Israel or the natural branches of the Olive Tree, for he is indeed the root or branch spoken of in D&C 113:5-6 and Isaiah 11. Though the great seer Joseph Smith laid the foundation of the restoration, this descendant of Joseph, son of Lehi, will finish the work commenced by the former. So, who is this being spoken of in D&C 113, Isaiah 11, and at the end of 2 Nephi 3? I submit to you that he is the Elias Who Restores All Things. This should be made evident in the act of restoration he performs both for the House of Israel and for the seed of Lehi. Since he himself comes from the natural lineages of House of Israel, he is the man for the job.
I believe this structural analysis of both D&C 113:1-6 and 2 Nephi 3 further clarifies the distinctions between the various individuals who have important roles in God’s plan of salvation found in Isaiah 11. Although the Stem, Jesus Christ, and the Rod, Joseph Smith, have made their mortal appearances on the earth, the descendant of Joseph, son of Lehi, has yet to appear on the scene to perform his latter-day mission of restoration unto the House of Israel and the restoration of all things. Spencer W. Kimball’s address is indeed a nice clue in this puzzle, for it does indeed show that this idea has once held sway among some of the leadership of the Church. The only problem I have with the address is that it labels this being as a mere prophet, but all indications suggest that he will be so much more than that. He is the temporal messiah that the Jews have awaited for so long.
2 Nephi 3:3
Genesis 48:8-9 JST
Genesis 37:6-10 JST
Isaiah 45:23 cf. Romans 14:11
2 Nephi 3:5
2 Nephi 3:17
2 Nephi 3:23
2 Nephi 3:24
Isaiah 49:2 Gileadi Translation