4 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.Whose day did Joseph of Egypt see? Was it Lehi's day, or was it the latter days? The answer is both. Joseph saw that a righteous branch of his descendants would be broken off from the house of Israel, but still remembered in the covenants. The branch that was broken off were the descendants of Lehi. Not only did the Lord promise not to forget them in the promised land, but that they should be remembered in the latter days, and brought from captivity and darkness into freedom and light.
5 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.
11 But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins—and not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.
12 Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; 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, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.
The Lord raised up a seer in Joseph Smith to bring forth His word, including the stick of Joseph2. Together, the stick of Judah (the Bible) and the stick of Joseph (the Book of Mormon), would confound false doctrines and restore the knowledge of the covenants of the Lord. You could even make a good argument that the many recorded revelations given by Joseph Smith constitute part of the stick of Joseph as well, since Joseph Smith was a descendant of Joseph of Egypt.
Imagine that you are given a sheet of paper with a single dot on it. You are handed a ruler, and told to draw a straight line through the dot. Can you do it? Sure, it's easy. In fact, there are an infinite number of different lines that you can draw that would satisfy the requirement. Now suppose the paper had two dots, and you are told to draw a straight line that passes through both. Can you do it? Yes, but now there is only one right way to do it. Any other line may pass through one dot or the other, but cannot pass through both. This is one of the axioms of geometry, that any two distinct points define a unique line.
While the analogy is not perfect, we can relate the single-dotted paper to the christian world without the truths of the Restoration. During the Great Apostasy, there arose many churches, each claiming to be founded in the principles of the Bible, yet having great discrepancies in doctrine. It did not help that many plain and precious3 truths were removed from its pages. It wasn't until the advent of the stick of Joseph that certain truths were restored establishing the many points of His doctrine4 and pointing again in a straight line5 towards eternal life.
The Lord tells Joseph that the seer (Joseph Smith) will be given power, not only to bring forth the stick of Joseph, but power to convince them of the word of the Lord which had already gone forth among them in the stick of Judah. Why did they need to be convinced of the words which they already had? Because they did not understand them. There was a spiritual famine6 in the land, and the truth was nowhere to be found, despite the availability of the Bible.
15 And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.Besides being a seer and a prophet, what did Joseph Smith have in common with Joseph of Egypt? Saving his brothers from the famine. Just as the hungry souls that went to Pharaoh were sent to Joseph7 for bread, those hungry souls who turn to the Lord in search of truth have the bread of life8 made available to them by the Lord through Joseph Smith.
1. D&C 133:26-34
2. Ezekiel 37:15-17
3. 1 Nephi 13:29
4. 1 Nephi 15:14
6. Amos 8:11
7. Genesis 41:55-57
8. St. John 6:35