CLICK HERE to read 2 Nephi 3.
This chapter continues the dying blessings Lehi is giving to his sons.
The blessing in this chapter is specifically for his youngest son, Joseph. Joseph is special to Lehi because Joseph was born during “the days of my greatest sorrow” (verse 1). It has been a hard experience, leaving Jerusalem and traveling through the wilderness. But they have now arrived in the promised land, and that is what Lehi promises to Joseph “for thy security forever, if it so be that ye shall keep the commandments of the Holy One of Israel” (verse 2).
Lehi specifically promises that Joseph’s descendants will not be destroyed.
Lehi begins reminding his son Joseph about Joseph in Egypt (as in “the coat of many colors”), and Lehi also prophesies about another Joseph that will be in the future. He says to his son, “For behold, thou art the fruit of my loins; and I am a descendant of Joseph who was carried captive into Egypt. And great were the covenants of the Lord which he made unto Joseph” (verse 4).
Then Lehi explains pieces of those covenants the Lord made with Joseph in Egypt:
“Wherefore, Joseph 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; not the Messiah, but a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless, to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light—yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom” (verse 5).
So Lehi is telling his son Joseph, that even their family is a partial fulfillment of the promises the Lord made to Joseph in Egypt.
But there is more to come, Lehi says.
Because the Lord also promised Joseph in Egypt that his descendant would be a prophet to the people.
“Yea, Joseph truly said: Thus saith the Lord unto me: A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and he shall be esteemed highly among the fruit of thy loins. And unto him will I give commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins, his brethren, which shall be of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers” (verse 7).
If we break this down in time frame, with a future prophet to come later, and Lehi and his family being in the middle, and Joseph in Egypt being in the past… then we understand how Lehi is explaining to his son Joseph that the covenants with the Lord that He made with Joseph in Egypt will be restored through a prophet in the future. This also implies the knowledge will be lost for a time, as it cannot be restored without being lost. We know about this apostasy from the previous blessings Lehi gave to his other sons.
Lehi continues telling his son about this future prophet that will restore the knowledge of the covenants:
“And he shall be great like unto Moses, whom I have said I would raise up unto you, to deliver my people, O house of Israel” (verse 9).
Here the delivery is a spiritual delivery from what we now know is the apostasy, and the delivery comes in the form of the restoration.
It is also a physical delivery, as the lost tribes of Israel are gathered through Temple work and identified through Patriarchal blessings, which can only be given through the restored priesthood.
This prophet, says Lehi, will not just have the power to bring forth the word of God, but also to convince people about the word of God “already gone forth among them” (verse 11). We understand this, in our day, to refer to how the Book of Mormon helps us understand the Biblical scriptures we already had access to before the restoration.
So, says Lehi, the Book of Mormon and the Bible will be companions, scriptures that go together. We have the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Another Testament.
“the fruit of my loins shall write” (such as Nephi is already keeping the records of what we know hold as the Book of Mormon)
“the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write” (the Biblical scriptures given to us from the Jews)
“and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together” (all of it together being Scripture)
“unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace… bringing them to … the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord” (verse 12).
The reason history holds so many battles about Scripture and doctrine is because pieces had been lost or twisted by men along the way.
The Book of Mormon helps us iron out these wrinkles, so that we understand the Bible as far as it is translated correctly. The Book of Mormon sheds light on the Biblical text, explaining and defining what it means, giving the whole story, so that there is no longer doctrinal confusion. False doctrines are confronted, and our questions are answered. This brings us the peace of truly knowing our Heavenly Father and being able to have an accurate understanding about Him, ourselves, and His plan for us.
And, Lehi says, like many other prophets before him (such as Moses, already given as an example), this future prophet will be made strong by the Lord in the places where he is weak: “And out of weakness he shall be made strong…” (verse 13). This is a promise that applies to us all when we apply the atonement!
So, Lehi says, Joseph of Egypt prophesied about this future prophet that will come in the latter days. Lehi says that Joseph of Egypt said, “his name shall be called after me; and it shall be the name of his father” (verse 14). So we know that the future prophet who will bring forth this book of records Nephi is now writing and will pass on to his descendants – that book will be brought forth to all the people by a prophet named Joseph, just like Joseph of Egypt, and also named after his father.
Joseph Smith, the prophet, was really Joseph Smith, Jr. His father’s name was Joseph Smith, Sr. So we see this fulfilling of the prophecy, as Joseph Smith, Jr., was a prophet of God who brought forth the Book of Mormon.
Like Moses, the Lord promises to help the prophet Joseph (Smith) get his message delivered despite his weaknesses – but not necessarily remove his weaknesses. “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” (verse 17).
Not only that, but Lehi says the words will “cry out from the dust” (verses 19 and 20), and we know that Joseph Smith found the buried plates of Nephi, the Book of Mormon, buried in the earth.
Lehi says, “Wherefore, because of this covenant thou art blessed; for thy seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book” (verse 23).
And Lehi again refers to Joseph Smith in verse 24:
“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.”
Lehi closes his blessing to this son Joseph by reminding Joseph that he is still young, and so to pay attention to the words of his older brother Nephi.
These are almost the final words of Lehi, as in the next chapter he then gives the final blessings to his children and their families as a group, before passing from this life.