9 Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not:
10 And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:
11 And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.
What greater evidence is there of Joseph’s forgiveness than his pure desire to take care of his brethren? I know the words I am reading are translated, but I am still struck by the tender compassion in phrases like “thou shalt be near unto me,” and “there will I nourish thee.” There is a sort of maternal concern conveyed in words like these.
But not only maternal concern, Joseph also says that he will be providing them with food and shelter, the chief responsibilities of a father. The once outcast brother will now be the foundation of life for the whole family!
And the family absolutely need Joseph to care for them like this. As Joseph reveals, there are another five years of famine remaining, enough to destroy his father’s household several times over. Yes, the brothers have repented of their prior hatred towards Joseph, but even if they hadn’t, they really wouldn’t have any choice but to put themselves under his protection! The must submit to his care or die!
4 And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field unto his flock,
5 And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me.
6 And ye know that with all my power I have served your father.
7 And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.
8 If he said thus, The speckled shall be thy wages; then all the cattle bare speckled: and if he said thus, The ringstraked shall be thy hire; then bare all the cattle ringstraked.
9 Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.
God had commanded Jacob to leave Laban and return to his former home. But while it appears Jacob was agreeable to that he also seems concerned for how his wives will take the news. They had lived their whole lives in this place, and he was about to ask them to give it all up.
Jacob began by testifying that they were cared for by God all this while, and not Laban. Which I imagine was meant to be a comfort to the women since God would still watch out for them, even when they were outside of their father’s protection.
And I very much appreciate this insight into how Jacob’s relationship with God has evolved. He had originally come to this land seeking mortal refuge, hoping that his uncle would provide for him in the place of his father. What he had instead found was that his uncle was untrustworthy, and repeatedly tried to cheat him, but God intervened in Jacob’s behalf. And through this God had won Jacob’s trust. Out on the fields God had assured Jacob that He would care for him, and now Jacob had seen the truth of it. Thus, Jacob took his sense of dependence from mankind and put it in the divine. And if the divine told him that it was time to leave, then he would trust that that was the right thing to do.
And thus they departed into the wilderness with their numbers which they had selected, to go up to the land of Nephi, to preach the word of God unto the Lamanites.
And Ammon went to the land of Ishmael, the land being called after the sons of Ishmael, who also became Lamanites.
And thus Ammon was carried before the king who was over the land of Ishmael; and his name was Lamoni; and he was a descendant of Ishmael.
And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or among his people.
But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni. And it came to pass that he was set among other servants to watch the flocks of Lamoni, according to the custom of the Lamanites.
And now, if thou wilt tell me concerning these things, whatsoever thou desirest I will give unto thee; and if it were needed, I would guard thee with my armies; but I know that thou art more powerful than all they; nevertheless, whatsoever thou desirest of me I will grant it unto thee.
Now Ammon being wise, yet harmless, he said unto Lamoni: Wilt thou hearken unto my words, if I tell thee by what power I do these things? And this is the thing that I desire of thee.
Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni.
I previously shared an example from the Book of Mormon where a missionary named Ammon defended himself a king and later his brother taught the gospel to him. There is a somewhat similar story just a few chapters before, where that same Ammon taught another king and I find his approach very interesting.
When he first has an audience with the king he does not immediately launch into proselyting. Rather he asks to be commissioned as a servant and to care for the king’s domain. He is put over the sheep and he faithfully watches over them. Shortly thereafter a band of thieves comes to steal the sheep, and Ammon manages to protect both the flock and the other servants against great odds. The fame of this battle is soon brought before the king.
If thou wilt tell me concerning these things, whatsoever thou desirest I will give unto thee.
Wilt thou hearken unto my words? This is the thing that I desire of thee.
And so the king calls Ammon to him and inquires how he possessed the power to stand against so many assailants. He even asks Ammon whether he is a god himself!
At this point the king is coming to Ammon of his own volition and asking to know more. Ammon’s audience is ready now, even actively seeking. And so it is here that Ammon finally delivers the gospel message that he has come to give.
I believe there is a great wisdom in this approach. On my mission I learned that most people really didn’t care about what I had to share…until they first knew that I cared about them and would sincerely serve them. In my experience, cutting overgrown grass, repairing fences, and erecting houses were better than sermons.
In a previous study I explored how God has the capacity to see each of us individually. Though there are billions of us here on Earth, He hears our pleas directly and answers us personally. It is a remarkable feat, one that is a physical impossibility to all of us who are constrained by time.
Perhaps more important than God’s being able to, however, is that He wants to. I’ve seen my young son pray about the most inconsequential of things, such as his new toys and knee-scrapes, yet I am convinced that God listens to his heart with rapt attention. I am sure from His perspective that my prayers about work and finances seem just as inconsequential, but He cares about these things because we care about them.
In spite of all this, I know a lot of people that don’t expect God to ever make direct, personal covenants with them like He did for Abraham, David, or Moses. I myself have been doubtful of it at times. I’ve had this idea that I’ll just be grandfathered-in to the promises that he made to His covenant people millennia ago.
That simply is not the way God works, and I’d like to use this study to examine that fact. In the meantime I would love to hear about what ways you have seen God show up for you personally? What sort of legendary promises has He made to you? How did that change your life moving forward?