The Power of the Abrahamic Covenants (Week 7 Part 2/7) Genesis 12–17; Abraham 1–2 | Feb 7 – Feb 13 – powered by Happy Scribe
Imagine a concept so powerful it could completely change your life. That’s what we find in the Abrahamic Covenant. In Genesis Twelve, we learn that the Lord promised Abraham land and posterity. In Abraham two we read that Jesus said to Abraham, I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seat after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this Ministry and priesthood unto all nations. So another part of the Abrahamic Covenant is the priesthood.
But perhaps more important than the blessings promised, Abraham and its descendants are the responsibilities they were given. Jesus gave Abraham and his posterity the responsibility to bear this Ministry unto all nations so that all the families of the Earth will be blessed. Nephi tells us that this will happen through the restoration of the gospel in the latter days. In other words, you and I have an important role to play in the Abrahamic Covenant. As we help take the gospel to all the nations of the Earth, our responsibility is emphasized.
It appears in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the doctrine of covenants, and the pro of great Christ. Every book of scripture talks about our responsibility to take the gospel to the world as part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Now, to summarize this Covenant, we might say that Jesus Christ, Abraham and his descendants, posterity promised land and priesthood. And Jesus gave Abraham and his posterity the responsibility to take the gospel to all the nations of the Earth, so that all the families of the Earth will be blessed. This will happen through the restoration of the gospel in the latter days.
And you and I have an important role to play in taking the gospel to all the nations of the Earth. How could modern prophets help us learn more about the Abrahamic Covenant, the Scripture Citation Index app or the website Scriptures. Byu.edu can help us identify every time that a scripture has been quoted in General Conference. One of the places the Abrahamic Covenant appears is in Genesis 22. As you can see from the website, Genesis 20, 216 18 has been quoted six times.
I click on this and I can see different places where this passage has been quoted. If I click on the Elder Bennar talk, I can see what Elder Bennar has said about these verses. He said, we are the seed of Abraham. We were foreordained in the premortal existence and born into mortality to fulfill the Covenant and promise God made to Abraham. You and I today and always are to bless all Peoples and all the nations of the Earth.
That is who we are and that is why we are here today and always. First and foremost, we are spiritual beings. We are children of God and the seed of Abraham. This quote contains a life changing idea. Our lives are very different if we believe our key identity is not found in careers or hobbies, but who we are as children of God and descendants of Abraham.
We are part of a Covenant that has been going on for thousands of years. One principle that grows out of the doctrine of the Abrahamic Covenant is a principle that a core purpose of why we’re here is to share the gospel. I was born to do that. You were born to do that. So if that’s a principle, then what are possible applications for some of us, that might be I’m going to go on a full time mission or for some of us, it could be I’m going to find natural and normal ways to share the gospel in my everyday conversations.
Here’s another application. Suppose I wake up on Sunday and I think I don’t really feel like going to Church today. If the doctrine of the Abrahamic Covenant is deep in my heart, I’ll realize that the issue is not do I feel like going to Church today? It’s I’m part of the Covenant that’s been going on for 40 years to gather Israel and Israel is gathering today at Sacrament meeting. I’m a part of that.
So not only am I going to go I’m going to call a friend and bring a friend with me. It totally changes the way I look at things. Well, I’ve given a few different application ideas and you could come up with many more. As we ponder these principles I hope that the Holy Ghost will teach us specific applications and that will act on the promptings we’ve received and that these will help us draw closer to Jesus Christ.
The Four Promises or Major Aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant
- BLESSING OF A PROMISED LAND (Genesis 13:14–15)
“… a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession …” (Abraham 2:6.)
- BLESSING OF POSTERITY (Genesis 13:16)
a. “… I will make of thee a great nation.” (Abraham 2:9.) Genesis 12:2; Genesis 18:18
b. “thou shalt be a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:4–6, 16.) Abraham 1:2
c. “… I will multiply thee, and thy seed after thee, like unto … the number of sands [and stars in the heavens].” (Abraham 3:14.)
d. “… kings shall come out of thee.” (Genesis 17:6, 16.)
- BLESSING OF PRIESTHOOD (Genesis 17:7)
a. “… I will take thee, to put upon thee my name, even the Priesthood.” (Abraham 1:18.)
b. “… thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed … they shall bear (my) … ministry and Priesthood unto all nations.” (Abraham 2:9.)
c. “… this right [of priesthood] shall continue in thee, and in thy seed (… the literal seed, or the seed of the body)” … (Abraham 2:11.)
d. “… I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee. …” (Abraham 2:11.)
e. “… through thy ministry my name shall be known in the earth forever” (Abraham 1:19.)
- BLESSING OF SALVATION AND EXALTATION (Genesis 22:18)
a. “And I will bless them through thy name: … as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed. …” (Abraham 2:10.)
b. “… and make thy name great among all nations. …” (Abraham 2:9.)
c. “… and [many] shall rise up and bless thee, as their father.” (Abraham 2:10. See also Abraham 51:2.)
d. “… and he [Abraham] will command his children and … they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. …” (Genesis 18:19.)
e. “… in thy seed after thee … shall all the families of the earth be blessed. …” (Abraham 2:11.)
f. “… I will bless thee above measure … even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.” (Abraham 2:9, 11.)
- A Promised Land
The Lord gave the land of Canaan as a blessing to Abraham, his wife Sarah, and his covenant children. Later revelations reveal that the Lord has designated other promised lands—the Americas as an inheritance to the children of Joseph, for example. (3 Nephi 15:13; 3 Nephi 16:16; Ether 13:8.)
Yet the scriptures clearly state that this promise is conditioned upon the people’s righteous behavior. In the Old Testament, we read how God postponed the promise of the land when his people refused to serve him. First, the ten northern tribes were taken from the land as a result of their unworthiness (2 Kings. 17), and then, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were similarly taken (2 Kings. 24–25). The Lord denied ancient Israel the blessing because its people had failed to earn it, fulfilling the Lord’s word that inheritance in the land could be had only on the condition of faithfulness. (Deuteronomy 4:25–27; Deuteronomy 28:15, 62–64.)
Since a promised land is the blessing of a sacred covenant, the covenant people can receive it only by fulfilling the stipulations of the covenant. When the scattered tribes of Israel again accept the ancient Abrahamic covenant, the Lord will gather them fully, in peace, to their lands of promise. (2 Nephi 6:11; 2 Nephi 10:7–8.)
- A Great Posterity
Perhaps the best-known blessing of the Abrahamic covenant is that of a vast posterity. The Lord promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Today, one can see this promise partially fulfilled in the many millions who look upon Abraham as their ancestor. Millions of Arabs acknowledge Abraham as their lineal parent, as do millions of Jews. More than seven million Latter-day Saints hold him as their forefather, while more than one billion other Christians and Muslims consider Abraham to be their father in a symbolic sense. These figures show the impressive fulfillment of God’s promise to his noble servant.
The ultimate realization of the Lord’s promise, however, will come in a different way. Modern revelation testifies of a heavenly fulfillment:
“Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins … which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, … both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:30.)
The Abrahamic promise of countless descendants pertains to the eternal world as well as to descendants on earth. (See Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, The Second Coming of the Son of Man, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982, pp. 262–64, 267.)
Even with our understanding of exaltation, eternal families, and the nature of God and his work, we can scarcely envision the magnitude of that promise the Lord made to Abraham.
- Priesthood and Gospel Blessings
Among the promises of the Abrahamic covenant is the one whereby faithful heirs will possess the gospel and the power of the Lord’s priesthood. Covenant descendants of Abraham and Sarah have a right, by virtue of their inheritance, to these blessings. However, as with other covenantal blessings, they actually realize the blessings of their birthright only on the basis of personal worthiness.
A key passage of scripture teaches us about that right: “In thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Abraham 2:11.)
Thus, the priesthood will continue with Abraham’s and Sarah’s descendants. Though there have been periods of apostasy in which the gospel and the priesthood were not available to the world, they remained hidden with Abraham’s lineage until the Restoration, when they were revealed anew:
“Thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers—
“For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—
“Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began.” (Doctrine and Covenants 86:8–10.)
- A Mission of Salvation to Others
The scriptures teach that through the covenant family of Abraham and Sarah “shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.” (Abraham 2:11.) Foremost among the blessings that the family of Abraham brought about is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Jesus, who was a descendant of Abraham and Sarah, blesses all people through his atonement. Because of him, all will be saved from the bands of death through resurrection; and all but the few who commit the unpardonable sin will receive an eternal inheritance in a degree of glory.
The second aspect of the Abrahamic ministry of salvation is this calling that Abraham’s covenant children have received: to take the gospel and its blessings to the rest of God’s children. The Lord has called the house of Israel to carry the gospel to the world. He explained the following to Abraham concerning his descendants: “In their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations.” (Abraham 2:9.)
Since the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when gospel blessings have been on earth they have been made available through the house of Israel. Thus, Abraham’s and Sarah’s descendants are chosen people. They are chosen not because they have an easier path to salvation, or because God loves them more than other people. They are chosen to service, in the same sense that individual Latter-day Saints are chosen for callings in the Church. If we consider the house of Israel’s chosen status to be a calling to serve—like any other calling in the gospel—then we can keep the calling in proper perspective.
The Abrahamic covenant blesses those who are not of Abraham’s lineage in a very direct way. The house of Israel is the family of the Lord’s Saints. According to the scriptures, those who accept the gospel and join in the Abrahamic covenant become members of the family of Israel, even if they are not Abraham’s literal descendants. The Lord taught Abraham concerning the nations of the earth who would not be his physical offspring:
“I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father.” (Abraham 2:10.)
Paul taught the same doctrine about non-Israelites being adopted into the family of Abraham: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek [in other words, neither Israelite nor non-Israelite], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:27–29.)
The principle of adoption brings those who are not Abraham’s descendants but who accept the gospel into his family. The Lord accounts them heirs of the covenant with its blessings and obligations; they become members of the house of Israel. (We learn of our lineage through a patriarchal blessing.) We thus make no distinction between the literal seed of Abraham and his heirs through adoption, for they are “all one in Christ Jesus.”
In the last days, the Lord has called the covenant children of the ancient patriarchs “a light unto the Gentiles, and through this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israel.” (Doctrine and Covenants 86:11.)
The twofold missionary calling of the latter-day children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is (1) to gather others of the house of Israel back to the covenants that God made with their forefathers and (2) to gather all others who desire to become one with them.
The Lord has restored the gospel in modern times for the blessing of all people. Every faithful man and woman can receive its blessings to the fullest degree, by accepting baptismal and temple covenants and by living righteously. Privileged as we are to live when covenant blessings are available among the Lord’s Saints, we have a marvelous opportunity and a great responsibility to make those blessings available to all our Father’s children.