Three P’s of the Abrahamic Covenant

If you are following along with the Come Follow Me lessons, you know that over the next couple of weeks we are going to be studying the Abrahamic Covenant. We talk about this a lot, but sometimes I think that we think of the Abrahamic Covenant, as a promise God made to Abraham, but don’t really know what that means. Knowing a little more about his story helps give us some context about this Covenant.

Abram lived in the ancient citadel of Ur in Mesopotamia, near modern-day Iraq. Mesopotamia is known by archaeologists to be one of the oldest civilizations, because it had its own writing system, domesticated animals and farming, and a class system. They worshipped a collection of over 1,000 gods, whose mythology resembles that of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Abraham was selected to be sacrificed to the ancient idol of Elkenah (Hebrew for The Creator), who was believed to require child-sacrifices, after seeking to worship the God of his fathers and receive the Priesthood, and speaking out about this practice, when he was rescued by an angelic visitor. [Abraham 1: 1-15] He escaped Ur to the land of Canaan.

If you are following along with the Come Follow Me lessons, you know that over the next couple of weeks we are going to be studying the Abrahamic Covenant. We talk about this a lot, but sometimes I think that we think of the Abrahamic Covenant, as a promise God made to Abraham, but don’t really know what that means. Knowing a little more about his story helps give us some context about this Covenant.

Abram lived in the ancient citadel of Ur in Mesopotamia, near modern-day Iraq. Mesopotamia is known by archaeologists to be one of the oldest civilizations, because it had its own writing system, domesticated animals and farming, and a class system. They worshipped a collection of over 1,000 gods, whose mythology resembles that of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Abraham was selected to be sacrificed to the ancient idol of Elkenah (Hebrew for The Creator), who was believed to require child-sacrifices, after seeking to worship the God of his fathers and receive the Priesthood, and speaking out about this practice, when he was rescued by an angelic visitor. [Abraham 1: 1-15] He escaped Ur to the land of Canaan.

A Name Change

The Lord begins by giving Abram a new name. (Genesis 17:5) Okay… why would that be significant? Well to begin with the literal meaning, Abram in Hebrew means “exalted father.” Ham or Him (pronounced heem) in Hebrew means “multitude, many, or great”. So here, God is literally elevating Abram from an exalted father to an exalted father of multitudes. Stop and think about that for a minute. A man who has longed for a child amid years of struggling with infertility with his wife, being told that not only is a child really going to be coming, but that there are multitudes of children coming in the future. How overwhelming grateful would that make you feel? If that thing you had waited for, that one thing you’ve prayed for, not only was coming after all, but was going to be multiplied beyond what you ever dreamed?

Name changes are also symbolic. As disciples of Christ, we take upon us His name, and covenant to become new creatures in Christ. Receiving a new name, Abram is becoming a new person through Christ. He no longer is Abram, because by entering into the Covenant, he is leaving behind who Abram was to become who Christ wants Abraham to be. We see this pattern repeated again with Simon who became Peter (Matthew 16:18), and Saul being renamed Paul (Acts 13:9).

Posterity

Then God moves to the promised blessings associated with this Covenant. First being the one that Abraham has been praying so faithfully for, posterity. God tells Abraham to number the stars in the heavens, and the sands of the sea, that his children shall exceed that number. Those who are of the Covenant are promised to belong to the family of God, and the Covenant House of Israel.

The Covenant also promised that through the seed of Abraham, all people of the Earth should be blessed. The Children of Israel would go through phases of obedience and apostasy over the centuries, eventually resulting in the scattering of Israel illustrated in the scriptures. As they were scattered, they mixed into the societies in which they lived. (Meaning that nearly everyone would be literal descendent of Abraham now.) Now, people are gathered into the House of Israel through missionary work. But most importantly, Jesus Christ is a descendent of Abraham, and through His Atonement, all of God’s children are blessed.

Priesthood

Abraham is also promised that the Priesthood would continues with his lineage. (Abraham 2:11) This again would have been poignant to Abraham, whose fathers had turned away from the gospel, and he had sought out that privilege in his younger years. As members of the House of Israel, we are promised access to the blessings and to the saving ordinances of the Priesthood. This allows us to enter the Covenant through the waters of baptism, and make further covenants with the Lord in the temple, including sealings to create eternal family units.

This gift of Priesthood also allows us to perform ordinances for those who were unable to receive them in this life through proxy work. President Thomas S. Monson said, “Great service is given when we perform vicarious ordinances for those who have gone beyond the veil….However, we serve, and in that process we attain that¬†which comes of no other effort: we literally become saviors on Mount Zion. As our Savior gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice for us, so we, in some small measure, do the same when we perform proxy work in the temple for those who have no means of moving forward unless something is done for them by those of us here on the earth.”

Promised Land

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.

Kent P. Jackson

The last promise sometimes gets overlooked as we study the Abrahamic Covenant. The Lord tells Abraham to look in all directions, and as far as he can see will be consecrated to his posterity. Why land? Land is biblically symbolic for a few reasons. First, for a mainly nomadic people due to the nature of their profession, a physical place to call home would almost be a dream. To Abraham, that would have been a significant promise, to have some place of his own. The land also indicates a place where the Lord will care for His people. This also was symbolic of the Lord’s Atonement. Christ brought salvation to mankind through His atoning sacrifice, allowing all people to be resurrected and receive eternal life.

Over the course of history, the Lord has repeated this pattern of bringing His chosen people a Promised Land on the condition that they remained righteous, illustrating how through obedience, Christ will bring us to a place of peace and rest, or exaltation. We see this pattern with Moses and the Israelites, the Jaredites, as well as the Nephites and Lamanites in the scriptures.

Inheriting All that the Father Hath

Like many things in the scriptures, the Abrahamic Covenant is designed to teach us something bigger. As we enter into this Covenant, we begin down the Covenant path to receive “all that [the] Father hath.” (Doctrine and Covenants 84: 38) This teaches us what our Father in Heaven, the King of the Universe, treasures the most.

Think about Abraham (and many other prophets for that matter) at the beginning of their vision. As they are introduced to the Lord, they are shown the workmanship of His hands (Abraham 3). The Promised Land are symbolic of His worlds without end.

Then God pledges the Priesthood to the seed of Abraham. He promises His literal power and authority to rule over heaven and earth, and the keys to salvation to all of his worthy posterity. And as we keep our Covenants, we will inherit full access to His power.

But first and foremost, God blessed Abraham with a posterity. A continuing line throughout the ages, beyond even the number of the stars. God’s first blessing to Abraham, was His children. You, me, our families. We are our Father in Heaven’s greatest treasure. And by virtue of the Covenant, we have the potential to have the same opportunity in the world to come.

What Does the Abrahamic Covenant Have to Do With Preparedness?

Whew! So that was a lot, but what does this have to do with preparing for the days ahead?

Understanding what the Covenant is allows us to see our responsibility in the last days. God has called the House of Israel to become a peculiar people. The Hebrew word for peculiar here is actually segullah which means treasured, preserved, or saved. We are to be His chosen people. The treasured ones.

How do we become treasured by the Lord? Christ himself taught, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) To become a treasured people, we must do what He asked us to. He has asked Israel to gather His people. To share His gospel, to prepare for His coming, to watch for the signs, to become like Him. The Abrahamic Covenant has everything to do with our preparing for the future, because it tells us who we are. We are His.

How does that change things? How does that motivate us? If we can see ourselves as the heirs to a royal lineage, promised to be protected, prospered, and lead by the very God of Heaven, things become clearer. President Nelson said, “When your greatest desire is to let God prevail, to be part of Israel, so many decisions become easier. So many issues become non-issues! You know how best to groom yourself. You know what to watch and read, where to spend your time, and with whom to associate. You know what you want to accomplish. You know the kind of person you really want to become. Now, my dear brothers and sisters, it takes both faith and courage to let God prevail. It takes persistent, rigorous spiritual work to repent and to put off the natural man through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It takes consistent, daily effort to develop personal habits to study the gospel, to learn more about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and to seek and respond to personal revelation.”

We are God’s treasured people. But, we must choose to participate. We must choose to prepare. By acting on who we are, we become who Christ wants us to be. We let God prevail, and we will be ready for the days ahead. We will become the people worthy to receive Him. Doesn’t that make your spine tingle? Do you feel the jolt of electricity in your soul? The spark, longing to reach your eternal potential?

God has chosen you. Will you choose Him?

XOXO,

Cheri

Resources