Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Remnant of Israel - The Seed of Joseph

Joseph Smith told us in his own words what the Book of Mormon is:

“The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians; having been found through the ministration of an holy angel, and translated into our own language by the gift and power of God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years, containing the word of God which was delivered unto them. By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants of that Joseph who was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them, and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come, with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply with the requisitions of the new covenant.” (HC 1:315)

Given Joseph’s statement about the sacred record, it is little wonder that the Lord would declare:

19 And for this very purpose are these plates preserved, which contain these records—that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people;

 20 And that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name, and that through their repentance they might be saved. Amen. (D&C 3: 19-20)
It is the latter day seed of Lehi, Nephi’s father, that comprise “the remnant of Israel” of Book of Mormon prophecy. (1Nephi 13: 34) It is helpful to understand the lineage and pedigree of Lehi in order to begin to understand why it would be his offspring that would rise to such lofty prophetic status in the Book of Mormon. Just as Joseph Smith said in the statement quoted above, Lehi and all of his offspring are descendants of ancient Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob, (Israel), who was sold into slavery in Egypt at the hands of his brothers, and who was responsible for preserving his father Jacob and his eleven brothers in Egypt. Lehi’s pedigree through Joseph was confirmed on the brass plates Nephi secured from Laban by slaying Laban with his own sword in Jerusalem. (1Nephi 3 and 4) One of the major reasons the brass plates were needed by Lehi was to establish the record of Lehi’s descent through Joseph. Lehi spoke to Nephi about the need to obtain and preserve the genealogical record.  Before Nephi and his brothers were sent to obtain the plates, Lehi said:

2 Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.

 3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.

 4 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness. (1Nephi 3: 2-4)

After securing the plates and the genealogical record of Lehi’s descent from Joseph contained on them, Nephi records:

14 And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.

 15 And they were also led out of captivity and out of the land of Egypt, by that same God who had preserved them.

 16 And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records. (1Nephi 5: 14-16)

We learn later in the Book of Mormon record that Lehi’s descent from Joseph came through Joseph’s eldest son Mannasseh. (Alma 10: 3) The importance of Lehi’s and his offspring’s descent from the blood of Joseph cannot be overstated. Jacob, (Israel) blessed his sons through the power of the Patriarchal priesthood which carries the sealing power. Jacob’s blessing to Joseph is recorded as follows:

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

 23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:

 24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)

 25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:

 26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren. (Genesis 49: 22-26)

Joseph’s branches, through his Mannasehn grandson Lehi did indeed “run over the wall” of the great ocean that separated Jerusalem and the other tribes of Israel from the land of promise to which Lehi was led.  The great blessings and promises of the Almighty “shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.” A remnant of Joseph’s seed that yet exists upon the land of promise, separate geographically from their brethren of Israel, awaits fulfillment of the ancient blessing of Jacob, (Israel) to him. Because, the blessings of their father have prevailed with the Lord, above the blessings of all of Jacob’s progenitors, unto the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. This is why the Lord would repeatedly call Lehi’s seed “My people.” (3Nephi 15:12, and 3Nephi 16: 8-9, 11, 13-15, and 3Nephi 20: 15, 19, 21-22, 27-29 and many more) Lehi’s seed holds title to the most favored land unto the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. The Lord said, “Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people, who are a remnant of the house of Joseph. And behold, this is the land of your inheritance; and the Father hath given it unto you.” (3Nephi 15: 12-13)

Joseph Smith in his inspired translation of Genesis adds clarity to Jacob’s promises and God’s blessings to Joseph and his offspring. (JST Genesis 48: 7-11)

7 And Jacob said unto Joseph when the God of my fathers appeared unto me in Luz, in the land of Canaan; he sware unto me, that he would give unto me, and unto my seed, the land for an everlasting possession.

For Jacob “the land” spoken of in this verse was all the lands promised as an inheritance to all of his twelve sons. For Joseph however, Jacob’s statement in this verse means the most choice land to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills promised to his offspring through Lehi’s seed. The promise of the Lord Jesus recorded in the verses above (3Nephi 15: 12-13) is the bestowal of the promised gift of land for inheritance by Joseph’s seed. That land of inheritance belongs to Lehi’s remaining seed, the remnant of Israel, the Lamanites. They will rise up. They will take possession.    

 8 Therefore, O my son, he hath blessed me in raising thee up to be a servant unto me, in saving my house from death;

 9 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;

Not only did Joseph save Jacob his father and his brothers from death from the famine anciently, but this is a type of the latter day work the seed of Joseph will accomplish for their brethren of the house of Israel. Joseph’s latter day seed, the remnant of Israel, will “save” them from death again as they will receive the fullness of the gospel and facilitate the gathering of their brethren Israel. (3Nephi 20 and 21) 

 10 For thou hast prevailed, and thy father’s house hath bowed down unto thee, even as it was shown unto thee, before thou wast sold into Egypt by the hands of thy brethren; wherefore thy brethren shall bow down unto thee, from generation to generation, unto the fruit of thy loins for ever;

In this statement by Jacob (Israel) to his son Joseph, the latter day stage is set for the work and prophecies of the latter day remnant seed of Joseph and Lehi, (the remnant of Israel) to be  fulfilled in leading and blessing the house of Israel in accordance with the final statement of Jacob in the following verse. 

 11 For thou shalt be a light unto my people, to deliver them in the days of their captivity, from bondage; and to bring salvation unto them, when they are altogether bowed down under sin.

If we can understand these things we can move ahead and begin to understand the prophetic latter day work of the “remnant of Israel” spoken of in the Book of Mormon.




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