Now, brethren, I should like to talk to the older men, hoping that there will be some lesson for the younger men as well. I wish to speak to you about temporal matters. As a backdrop for what I wish to say, I read to you a few verses from the 41st chapter of Genesis.
Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, dreamed dreams which greatly troubled him. The wise men of his court could not give an interpretation. Joseph was then brought before him:
“Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river: And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow: And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed . . . . And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine: . . . And I saw in my dream … seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good: And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them: And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: . . . And Joseph said unto Pharaoh . . . God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one . . . What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine . . . . And God will shortly bring it to pass” (Genesis 41:17–20, 22–26, 28–30, 32).
Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order. So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings.
We have witnessed in recent weeks wide and fearsome swings in the markets of the world. The economy is a fragile thing. A stumble in the economy in Jakarta or Moscow can immediately affect the entire world. It can eventually reach down to each of us as individuals. There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed. I hope with all my heart that we shall never slip into a depression.2
Following this talk, research was conducted to find earlier references to Pharaoh’s dream of seven years of plenty (grain) and seven years of famine. The following is an excerpt of Heber C. Kimball’s3 talk on this subject:
Will you be slack, brethren, and let the evil come upon us, when we forewarn you of the future events that are coming? Now, supposing that I had not the spirit of prophecy upon me, then I had better sit down. If a man gets up here and lets the Spirit of God dictate him, he cannot help prophesying, for the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of prophecy, and he will foretell future events, and you cannot help it. We are telling of what the prophets have said–of what the Lord has said to Joseph. Wake up, now, wake up, O Israel, and lay up your grain and your stores. I tell you that there is trouble coming upon the world. They have a pretty good drouth in some places this year. I do not know whether brother Amasa has told you, but almost everything is burnt up in Southern California. They have got to live there and get bread, and probably will be glad to take a handcart.
Is it so in the United States? It is. They have got to eat that dish; and when famine, pestilence, and starvation come upon us in a small degree, it will increase upon them fourfold, packed down and running over, and they cannot help it. Let them exult. There never was such a prejudice existing against this people as there is at this day. The Devil is stirring them up because we have commenced that Temple; and we will build it, and they cannot help themselves; and we will lay up the grain for seven years, and thousands of them will worship us for a little johnny cake, and I will live to see it: so will you. And when you see it, you will then have knowledge, won’t you?4
Years later, J. Reuben Clark, Jr. referred to Pharaoh’s dream and demonstrated clearly the divine wisdom in the counsel given to lay up grain for seven years, all in preparation for those events spoken of concerning the redemption of Zion.
What are your thoughts on this subject?
- Gordon B. Hinckley served as the 15th President and prophet, seer and revelator of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from March 12, 1995 until his death on January 27, 2008, at the age of 97.↩
- Hinckley, Gordon B. “To the Boys and to the Men.” 3 October 1998. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1 December 2008.↩
- President Heber C. Kimball served as one of the original members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served as a counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency from 1847 until his death in 1868. Of the original Twelve Apostles, only Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball did not “lift their heels” against the Prophet Joseph Smith. See for example, D&C 121:16; cf. John 13:18.↩
- Kimball, Heber C. Journal of Discourses. 4:338-339.↩