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. (2 Ne. 3:12.)

More than a week ago, a thought came to me that I ought to call Keith Meservy, my brother-in-law’s father, and tell him how much I’ve appreciated his example and scholarship over the years. Since moving to Kentucky and Virginia I hadn’t spoken to him, yet I was a better person because of our past association. His quiet, encouraging manner and careful attention to spiritual things left their mark on me.

Sunday, I was stunned to hear that he passed away peacefully after a battle with leukemia.

I first knew of Keith’s scriptural scholarship when I read an article by him in the September 1977 Ensign of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was leaving or had just left on my mission, and his discoveries about ancient Assyrian writing answered a question that had puzzled me. The common LDS understanding of the prophecy in Ezekiel 37:15–17—that they represented scrolls and therefore scriptures—seemed previously incomplete. (The “stick” of Joseph and “stick” of Judah are joined together, becoming one, and reuniting of the two branches of the House of Israel is then foretold.) Critics claimed that the sticks referred to scepters and not scrolls, hence the Book of Mormon could not be the “stick of Joseph.” Both explanations seemed out of place to me, yet both partly true. Only in the light of Keith’s article did the full beauty and literal nature of the prophecy become clear, and the truth of both perspectives opened to my view. His February 1987 article later filled in remaining answers in a seamless tapestry of truth.

As I read these articles, their tone resonates with what little I knew of the man—his quiet example, his expounding of truth in an unassuming and non-contentious, yet clear and unmistakable way. The truth speaks for itself, as did his life. There was no way you could know him and feel his character and not sense his quiet, humble conviction.

I cried when I heard of Keith’s passing because I knew it would likely be years before I could renew our acquaintance, but also partly because of the lost opportunity. My first blog article spoke of “missed opportunities” and wanting to mend them. Now, here were two more: failing to recognize and heed an ever-so-gentle prompting of the Spirit, and failing to renew an important friendship in mortality while I could.

Keith has moved on, but I’m sure his feet remained firmly on the path I sensed was his years ago, so there is no question in my mind what his destiny is and what he is doing now. I am certain that he, along with the other “faithful elders of this dispensation,” now continues his work “in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead.” (D&C 138: 57, see also all of D&C 138.)

For my part, I intend to stay on that path here, laboring on this side of the veil. Sometimes that work will involve remembering and emulating Keith’s example, and sometimes, when appropriate, sharing doctrinal and historical insights from him “unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace.” (2 Ne. 3:12.)


Every Good Thing, The Personal Blog of Kevin Crenshaw
Every Good Thing Blog

5 thoughts on “The Stick of Joseph and the Confounding of Contention—A Personal Tribute to Keith H. Meservy”

  1. Love you Dad. Remember what you used to tell me… Mistakes are good if you learn from them. =)

    I wish I could have gotten to know him too.

  2. Kevin,
    I appreciate your kind and well written words about my Dad. You two are kindred spirits in many ways and I know he would have enjoyed knowing you better. Thanks for your generous tribute.
    Love, Mark

  3. Kev,
    I agree with what Mark said about you and Keith being like kindred spirits. You remind us of him in a lot of ways. Thanks for taking the time to write such a beautiful tribute to Keith. He is a most excellent man that even until his dying day wanted to make sure that each of his children and grandchildren knew where he was coming from with regards to his testimony and his love for the savior. He will be missed.


  4. Kevin

    I have been meaning to thank you for your wonderful comments about my dad. You have a wonderful way with words but you also sense some of the same things I have felt about my dad. Thank you so much for expressing them in a way that they can be share with those of us so far away.

    I am going to try to share a list of some of the things dad published. Having just gone through the process of gathering digitizing all of his published works . . . .

    Looks like the line wrapping may be funny but the list still comes through alright.

    Thank again
    Mike Meservy

    1 1984 B Studies in Scripture Vol 1 (The Doctrine and Covenants) New Testament Items in the Doctrine and Covenants
    2 1985 B Studies in Scripture Vol 3 (Genesis to 2 Samuel) The Good News of Moses
    3 1986 B Studies in Scripture Vol 5 (The Gospels) The Worth of a Soul
    4 1987 B The New Testament and the Latter-day Saints Jesus and Josephus Told of the Distruction of Jerusalem
    5 1988 B A Sure Foundation (Answers to Difficult Gospel Questions) Did Ezekial’s Prophecy about two “sticks” foretell Book of Mormon
    6 1989 B The Pearl of Great Price (Revelations From God) Gaddiantonism and the Destruction of Jerusalem
    7 1992 B Encyclopedia of Mormonism Vol 1 Bibilical Prophecies about the Book of Mormon
    8 1992 B Encyclopedia of Mormonism Vol 2 Elohim
    9 1993 B Studies in Scripture Vol 4 (1 Kings to Malachi) God is with US
    10 2003 B Book of Mormon Reference Companion Various Topics

    11 1965 M The Instructor — March Few Are Chosen
    12 1966 M The Instructor — October Unto a Perfect Man
    13 1968 M The Instructor — August Missing Scriptures of Old Testament Times

    14 1973 M Ensign Book Review: A Plainer Translation
    15 1973 M Ensign — October Questions
    16 1974 M Ensign — February Question: Blood on ones head or garments
    17 1977 M Ensign — September Ezekiel ‘Sticks’
    18 1986 M Ensign — January Four Accounts of the Creation
    19 1986 M Ensign — July The Peaceful Life Through Reconciliation: Five Stories from the Old Testament
    20 1987 M Ensign — February Ezekiel Sticks and the Gathering of Israel
    21 1987 M Ensign — April This Day Is This Scripture Fulfilled
    22 1990 M Ensign — September Ezekial, Prophet of Hope
    23 2002 M Ensign — June Question: Lord = Jehovah

    24 1978 S Sidney Sperry Symposium Job: Yet will I Trust in Him
    25 1978 S RES CES Book of Mormon Symposium The Writing Boards of Ezekiel and What They Mean
    26 1978 S SEHA Newsletter — November Discoveries at Nimrud and the Sticks of Ezekiel 37
    27 1979 S RES CES Science and Religion, The So-Called Modernist Controversy
    28 1979 S RES CES Evolution and the Origin of Adam
    29 1983 S RES CES 7th Annual The Old Testament, The Higher Critics, and the Korihor Syndrome

    30 1950 Paper — Undergraduate A Study of Ante-diluvian Apostasy
    31 1974 Paper — Proposal for Gospel Doctrine Lesson It’s What We Are and Not What We Used to BE
    32 1990 Retirement Retirement Speech
    33 2008 Lessons from the Scriptures A Conversation with Keith H. Meservy

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