After arriving in the promised land, Lehi gave a series of sermons to his family, giving them his final words of counsel before his death. This sermon was directed primarily to one of his younger sons: Joseph.
Lehi’s purpose in addressing Joseph was to reassure him that God had promised great blessings to him and to his descendants.
- You were born in “the wilderness of mine afflictions,” and God will consecrate this promised land to you and to your descendants if you will keep His commandments (2 Nephi 3:1-2).
- Your posterity will not be destroyed. One of our ancestors, also named Joseph, obtained a promise that some of his descendants would come to know the Messiah in the latter days (2 Nephi 3:3-5).
- Joseph’s prophecy (2 Nephi 3:6-21).
- Joseph prophesied that one of his descendants would be a great seer. Like Moses, he would communicate God’s word to the world. He would also strengthen their faith in the word they had already received (2 Nephi 3:6-11).
- The descendants of Judah will write, and the descendants of Joseph will also write. Their words will merge, and the combined word of God will clarify doctrine, eliminate contention, and establish peace (2 Nephi 3:12).
- God will bless and protect this seer. His name will be Joseph, and his father’s name will be Joseph (2 Nephi 3:13-15).
- I am sure of this prophecy, just as I am sure that Moses will come (2 Nephi 3:16-18).
- The words of my descendants will “cry from the dust” because of this seer (2 Nephi 3:19-21).
- Because of Joseph’s prophecy, your descendants will not be destroyed. They will follow the words of the book. One of them will work mighty wonders (2 Nephi 3:22-24).
- Conclusion: Listen to the words of your brother, Nephi, and remember the words of your dying father (2 Nephi 3:25).
Sometimes we need to see the bigger picture in order to understand our individual worth. Joseph was a young boy with a number of older brothers. His family had been essentially homeless his entire life, traveling through the wilderness and across an ocean. They were now beginning to establish a new civilization in an unfamiliar land. He had many reasons to feel insignificant. His father wanted him to understand that he was important.
Lehi reminded Joseph of an ancestor whom he was named after. He quoted a prophecy from this ancestor and reassured Joseph that this prophecy applied to him and to his descendants. They would be blessed by the Lord and they would come to know the Savior. Joseph was an important link in this chain. His life mattered.
President Gordon B. Hinckley shared an experience in which an awareness of generations past and future helped him to better understand the significance of his life:
Last Saturday and Sunday we were in Columbus, Ohio, dedicating a new and beautiful temple…. With me were my wife and my daughter, who was there to assist her mother. To our delight, a granddaughter and two of her children, our great-grandchildren, drove in from St. Louis, where they live.…
As I sat in the temple…looking at my great-grandchildren, a peculiar thing happened to me. I suddenly realized that I stood midway with three generations with which I am familiar behind me and three generations ahead of me. My heart literally turned to my fathers. My heart also turned to my posterity. I envisioned a chain of the generations; that chain goes back a very long way into the distant past of which we know so very little. It now reaches for three generations beyond me. I pictured that chain in my mind’s eye, to date unbroken and shining and strong. …
Now I thought, as I sat in the temple, that I am a link, joining all of the generations of the past and all of the generations of the future. All that I have of mind and body, of tissue and limb and joint and brain, have come as an inheritance from those who were before me. And all that my posterity have passed through me to them. I cannot afford to break that chain. My posterity cannot afford to break that chain.
(Devotional Address at Ricks College, September 1999, quoted in David A. Bednar, “A Welding Link,” Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, 10 September 2017, Apex, North Carolina).
I will respond to Lehi’s teachings by recognizing my own importance. I will remember the generations who have gone before me: parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who are counting on me to carry on their legacy and to realize their dreams and hopes. I will also think of my children and my future grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My faithfulness and diligence can bless their lives and help them to achieve great things and become great people. I will remember that the decisions I make today matter. They matter to me, but they also matter to many other people who are connected to me and who are affected by the life I choose to live.
Blog Posts About Lehi Teaching Jacob
- “He Shall Do a Work…Which Shall Be of Great Worth” – 2 Nephi 3:7 (1/17/2021)
- What Did Lehi Teach About Joseph Smith? (2/5/2020)
- What Does the Book of Mormon Fulfill? (12/30/2019)
- What Is the Relationship Between the Family and the Church? (9/18/2019)
- How Can I Teach the Gospel More Effectively in My Home? (9/16/2019)
- What Does It Mean to Consecrate Something? (5/4/2019)
- How Does the Book of Mormon Complement the Bible? (1/19/2019)
- Out of Darkness Unto Light – 2 Nephi 3:5 (8/17/2018)
- Thou Art the Fruit of My Loins – 2 Nephi 3:3-4, 22-23 (10/5/2017)
- 2 Nephi 3:19-21 They Shall Cry from the Dust (2/6/2015)