Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:11-12

11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 

12 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families.

At first these verses might not seem very significant. Everything that Joseph said would happen, and that Pharaoh confirmed would happen, that was what happened.

However, we live in a world defined by broken promises. Whether due to lying intent or unforeseen challenges in the way, all the time we are told that something will happen and then let down. People who were supposed to always be there for us are absent, a steady employer has to let us go, or a lifelong mentor loses their own way.

Thus, I think it is actually very significant that the record explicitly shows that what Joseph promised, that was what was delivered, to the letter. He had pledged a parent-like nourishment for his family, and that was what he gave to them. He was true and dependable, and he was able to be so because he was built upon the foundation of his every-faithful God.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:1-3

1 And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.

2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

3 And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:

Jacob has determined to go down to Egypt, but this is a big decision, and before actually following through he goes to Beer-sheba to commune with the Lord. Beer-sheba has shown up a few times in the biblical record before. It was where Abraham made a solemn oath of peace with the king of the Philistines, and the same place where Isaac made a similar pledge. More relevant to Jacob, though, Beer-sheba was the land that he left when escaping the wrath of Esau, suggesting that this was where he was raised.

While in this historical and spiritual place, Jacob has yet another special connection with God, instruction given through a “vision of the night.” God reassures Jacob that he should go down to Egypt, and dwell among the people there. God even promises that in Egypt He will finally fulfill his promise of growing a great nation out of the Israelites. This has been promised since back with Abraham, and now the family is finally coming to the place and situation in which it will occur.

And now we see that there was a special wisdom in how long it has taken for God to deliver this promise. It might have seemed strange that after such a grand commitment Abraham had only one covenant child, and that child also only had one covenant child. In essence, Abraham’s same situation was extended down two generations to Jacob, with no growth whatsoever.

But what if the family had seen explosive growth during those two generations? If that had happened, it seems less likely to me that Pharaoh would have been so willing to receive such a large party into his domain. By keeping the family small, they could be easily integrated into Egypt’s bounty, and once there they could grow unhindered.

When God made his promise to Abraham, He was always going to follow through on it, but He needed to orchestrate things so that the nation would come forth in the exact way that it needed to. With great care and control He led this fledgling household, preserving them as they were until this moment of great fulfillment.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 42:6

6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

I imagine that Joseph needed to set up some sort of delegation, distributing the work of storing and selling the grain to a whole army of workers. But evidently he didn’t delegate his way out of the process entirely. He was still integral to the operation, apparently being responsible for negotiating the sales with foreign customers.

And here, at last, we find the fulfillment of Joseph’s prophecy from many years ago. We know he was seventeen when he had his dreams, thirty when he was taken out of prison by Pharaoh, that seven years of bounty had already passed, and some amount of time in famine before Jacob’s sons came to buy grain. Thus, over twenty years had passed since Joseph first related his dreams to his brothers, which showed that they would come and bow to him.

Which goes to show that the Lord’s timing is on a far different timescale from our own. There is no sense of “too long” since the promise was given, no expiration, no distance of time or status that render His word invalid. The sequence of events that had transpired to bring this prophecy to pass were impossible to anticipate, there was no “lucky guessing” on Joseph’s part to prophesy of it. This development could only have been foretold by an omniscient being who had already seen all that would be.

That They Might Have Joy- Summary

Studying the gospel can be a most satisfying experience. After all, it is meant to be “good news,” and to bring us “tidings of great joy.” It is specifically designed to make us happy and give us hope. Who wouldn’t want to spend time in those joyful places?

In my experience those mission statements of the gospel are not empty promises. The ideas of peace and joy truly do pervade its verses, and the pattern of life for achieving them are well detailed. The common desire of all mankind is to find abiding happiness, and I am convinced that the gospel provides the best, even the only, path to achieving it.

We Are Meant to Have Joy

We very often try to mask our desires. We don’t want to appear selfish by daring to say we want something or the other. In fact we often see the path of discipleship as being one of restraining our indulgences. It is easy to see where the stereotype of religious people being stuffy and passionless arises from! But nothing could be further from the truth. True disciples are all about the pursuit of happiness.
Do we suppress our carnal desires, yes, but for the purpose that we may be truly happy. The short-lived, guilty indulgences that bring momentary happiness are always followed by abiding sorrow, and there is nothing “stuffy” in circumventing those pitfalls. Instead we pursue deep and living joy, and we pursue it vigorously.
Indeed that is God’s entire intention for us. He made us to be ridiculously, inexplicably, rapturously happy! You are supposed to feel good, you are supposed to feel fulfilled, and you are supposed to feel it always.
2 Nephi 2:25- Men are, that they might have joy
Psalm 149:5- Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds

The Joy We Seek Can Only Come From God

We are a creative and ingenious species, always looking to invent new things. That is good, it is by design, it is how we progress and improve as a race. But sometimes we take it to the point where we are trying to reinvent the wheel, looking for new solutions to an already-solved problem.
As God is the author of our very existence, He is also the final authority on what we were made for. The workmanship of a perfect creator will only ever be able to find fulfillment and completeness when it satisfies the ends to which it was created. I, myself, have found that my abiding joy comes as a result of living the purposes for which God has made me.
Though we may try to find joy in other paths, it simply cannot work. Our greatest joys will only occur when following God’s precepts. And to that end, God has cleverly placed a conscience in each of us, by which He guides us whether we know Him or not. I do believe that when we stand before God in the flesh we will finally recognize how He was behind every abiding joy we ever perceived in life.
Doctrine and Covenants 88:19- For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father

God Gives Us Joy That Doesn’t Make Sense

As part of this study I chose to examine the joy I have personally been feeling of late. I wanted to place its source, because it caught me off guard. I frankly didn’t feel like I was justified in feeling as good as I have.
As I conducted this study it dawned on me that inexplicable joy is one of the fundamental promises of the gospel. I should therefore expect unexpected happiness when I try to follow my Savior. This sort of peace and joy will never make sense so long as we view it by worldly metrics, because it does not emanate from a worldly place. The joy that God gives is spiritual, and therefore can only be understood spiritually.
Trusting in the dawning of that joy therefore requires faith. You won’t be able to calculate its coming, so you simply will have to hope that the promise of it will be fulfilled. I can give my testimony that it does.
John 14:18- I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you
John 14:27- Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you

That They Might Have Joy- Personal Example: Summary

One of the motivations for this study was that I have been feeling an increase of joy over the past year and wanted to examine the reasons why. As I’ve considered the matter I have identified three basic reasons, which I have discussed over the previous days.

First I spoke about my discipleship, and how finally taking it seriously made me come alive spiritually. Secondly I spoke about creativity, and purposefully doing the work I felt I was made to do. And finally I spoke about my wife and I expecting our second child, and the way that fatherhood helps me discover divinity within myself.

Now all of these describe my very personal situation, and some of these points may not apply to you. But I do believe there is a common core that is universal in them, which is universal to all mankind. In each of these cases I was receiving joy by more fully living my fullest, truest self. I was discovering the man that God meant for me to be and feeling immense pleasure in becoming more complete with that image.

I am convinced that this truth applies to us all: the level of our joy is directly related to how fully we are living the divine identity God put in us. The more we fill that measure, the more we give expression to the person God meant for us to be, the happier we will become. We will simply feel more right.