Editors Note: This blog entry is converted from a personal study effort which I called the Topical Guide Compendium started in 2002 in which I studied a chosen topic in the Topical Guide of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints scriptures, and attempted to outline all the aspects of the topic into a coherent sermon. It was started in November 2002. You can see the original list of scriptures in the Topic Guide here Abrahamic Covenant, BD Abraham, Covenant of
Let’s use Genesis Chapter 17 as an introduction to the Abrahamic Covenant. It can be read to include almost all the elements of the Abrahamic Covenant.
Abraham had to be obedient to obtain the covenant.
1 AND when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.Gen. 17:1
I.B Eternal Offspring
The Lord covenanted that he would have eternal offspring.
2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.Gen. 17:2 – 4
I.C New Names and Titles
Beyond this life, Abraham would gain new names and titles if faithful, including the title of King.
5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.Gen. 17:5, 6
I.D Continuation of the Covenant
The Lord will make the covenant available to Abraham’s children.
7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.Gen. 17:7
Notice that Abraham and his children choose for God to be their God. (See Abr. 2:8)
The Lord will give Abraham land, now, and in eternity, whereon he and his posterity may dwell.
8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.Gen. 17:8 (See also Abr. 2:6. We are all “strangers” upon this land, having left our “home” with God.)
I.F Outward Symbols
The Lord’s covenant with Abraham was marked by an outward symbol of a very intimate nature: Circumcision.
9 ¶ And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.Gen. 17:9 – 12
I.G Law of Adoption
This covenant is not just for literal descendants, but to “strangers” who are brought into the house of Abraham as well.
13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.Gen. 17:13
I.H Absence of the Symbol
Absence of the symbol is a sign that the covenant is not meaningful to that person, and thus is not in effect.
14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.Gen. 17:14
I.I Sarah’s Covenant
Sarah shares in all the same blessings, including the titles, of her husband.
15 ¶ And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.Gen. 17:15 – 16
How could Abraham ever hope to have children, to be a “father of many nations,” without her?
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.1 Cor. 11:11
I.J Eternal In Nature
The promise of posterity wasn’t dependent upon the age of Abraham or Sarah. These promises are in effect no matter what age they might attain.
17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?Gen. 17:17
I.K Non-Covenant Children
Even Abraham’s children who might “choose” not to partake of the covenant will be blessed.
18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.Gen. 17:18 – 22
Let’s examine these different elements more closely
II Spiritual Progenitor
Joseph Smith taught that:
“Noah, who is Gabriel, … stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in his day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven.” (History of the Church, 3:386)
Because he is the progenitor of all people who now live, he holds a special place, has a special role, in our Heavenly Father’s plan.
I believe Abraham also has a special place for a similar reason. Abraham is not the mortal progenitor to everyone, but he is the spiritual progenitor to everyone—everyone that will inherit eternal life is a spiritual descendent of Abraham.
What make Abraham our spiritual progenitor? It is the Abrahamic Covenant.
The following is from the bible dictionary.
Abraham, Covenant of. Abraham first received the gospel by baptism (which is the covenant of salvation). Then he had conferred upon him the higher priesthood, and he entered into celestial marriage (which is the covenant of exaltation), gaining assurance thereby that he would have eternal increase. Finally he received a promise that all of these blessings would be offered to all of his mortal posterity (D&C 132:29–50; Abr. 2:6–11). Included in the divine promises to Abraham were the assurances that (1) Christ would come through his lineage, and that (2) Abraham’s posterity would receive certain lands as an eternal inheritance (Gen. 17; 22:15–18; Gal. 3; Abr. 2). These promises taken together are called the Abrahamic covenant. It was renewed with Isaac (Gen. 26:1–4, 24) and again with Jacob (Gen. 28; 35:9–13; 48:3–4).BD Abraham, Covenant of
If I were asked to define the covenant of Abraham in one word, I would choose the word “family.” The terms “eternal posterity,” “eternal marriage,” “adoption,” “patriarch,” “matriarch,” “inheritance,” “children of the covenant” are all associated with the Abrahamic Covenant.
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.Gen. 12:3
Let’s discuss some of these familial terms in more detail.
III.A Marriage Covenants
The Lord speaks of the Abrahamic covenant as a “marriage” covenant between him and the House of Israel, Abraham’s descendants.
14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:Jer. 3:14
20 ¶ Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.Jer. 3:20
The Lord speaks of a new covenant he will make, because Israel did not keep the first covenant.
31 ¶ Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.Jer. 31:31 – 34
He will be like a good husband unto the House of Israel.
18 And in that day will I make a covenant for them….
19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.
20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.Hosea 2:18 – 20
III.B Children and Posterity
Certainly Abraham was blessed with children, and posterity—both in time an in eternity.
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.Gen. 22:17 – 18
Notice all the family words in this next verse from 1st Nephi.
14 And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.1 Ne. 15:14
The promise as described in the Book of Abraham discusses adoption more thoroughly.
10 And 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;Abr. 2:10
Another way of saying this is from the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.
34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.D&C 84:34
[To expand this talk, use the Adoption [Forward Reference] topic which returns to the location below.]
It is clear from the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood that his adoption is not some esoteric, purely spiritual adoption. It affects our bodies, affects them in some physical way, changing who and what we are.
33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.D&C 84:33
(See also TG Entry: 2 Ne. 30:2 Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord)
The children of Israel, the covenant children of Abraham, are heirs of all that their fathers had, whether through adoption or naturally.
8 Therefore, thus saith the Lord unto you, with whom the priesthood hath continued through the lineage of your fathers—
9 For ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—
10 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.D&C 86:8 – 11
(See also TG entry: D&C 52:2 heirs according to the c.)
[Return from Adoption here]
IV Renewed and Remembered
IV.A Renewed with Isaac, and Jacob
The Lord didn’t just make his covenant with Abraham, and then stop. He renewed it, or made it again, with each of Abraham’s descendants. The Lord said to Isaac:
3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.Gen. 26:3 – 5
The Lord made the covenant with Jacob (Israel) as well.
10 ¶ And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran.
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.Gen. 28:10 – 15
IV.B Renewed with Us
The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant don’t extent to us just because we are spiritual offspring of Abraham.
The portions of the covenant that pertain to personal salvation and eternal increase are renewed with each individual who receives the ordinance of celestial marriage (see D&C 132:29–33). Those of non-Israelite lineage, commonly known as gentiles, are adopted into the house of Israel, and become heirs of the covenant and the seed of Abraham, through the ordinances of the gospel (Gal. 3:26–29).BD Abraham, Covenant of
Each one of us can partake of the covenant of Abraham by making the exact same covenants with the Lord. We become like Abraham. Let’s review Genesis chapter 17 and “liken it” to us. As Nephi said:
5 And now, the words which I shall read are they which… concerning all the house of Israel; wherefore, they may be likened unto you, for ye are of the house of Israel. And there are many things which have been spoken… which may be likened unto you, because ye are of the house of Israel.2 Ne. 6:5
These promises become effective when we take upon us the temple ordnances.
- Obedience. We must be obedient to obtain the covenant. (Gen. 17:1)
- Eternal Offspring. The Lord covenants that we will have eternal offspring. ( 17:2 – 4)
- New Names and Titles. Beyond this life, we will gain new names and titles if we are faithful, including the titles of King or Queen. ( 17:5, 6)
- Continuation of the Covenant. The Lord will make the covenant available to our children. (Gen. 17:7)
- Land, Earth, Elements or “wealth”. Although we have “wandered” from our home and are “stangers,” the Lord will give us land, now, and in eternity, whereon we may dwell. ( 17:8 See also Abr. 2:6). “Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.” D&C 6:7
- An Outward Symbol of a very intimate nature. The Lord’s covenant with Abraham and with us is marked by outward symbols of a very intimate nature. Circumcision in his day has been replaced with temple garments in our own. (Gen. 17:9 – 12)
- Law of Adoption. These promises aren’t just for our literal seed, if we have any. They extend to our adopted seed, and potentially to those we serve. (Gen. 17:13)
- Absence of the Symbol. Absence of the symbol is a sign that the covenant is not meaningful to that person, and thus is not in effect. ( 17:14)
- Wives’ Covenant. Wives share in all the same blessings, including the titles, of her husband. (Gen. 17:15 – 16)
- Eternal in Nature. The promise of posterity is not just in this life. It is for eternity. Just as it didn’t matter to the Lord that Sarah and Abraham were old, it doesn’t matter to him what our familial status is—married, single, old or young. These promises are in effect no matter what age we might attain. (Gen. 17:17)
- Rebellious Children. Even our children who “choose” not to partake of the covenant will be blessed. (Gen. 17:18 – 22)
Not only will the Lord make this covenant, he will remember it.
15 Nevertheless, when that day cometh, saith the prophet, that they no more turn aside their hearts against the Holy One of Israel, then will he remember the covenants which he made to their fathers.
16 Yea, then will he remember the isles of the sea; yea, and all the people who are of the house of Israel, will I gather in, saith the Lord, according to the words of the prophet Zenos, from the four quarters of the earth.
17 Yea, and all the earth shall see the salvation of the Lord, saith the prophet; every nation, kindred, tongue and people shall be blessed.
18 And I, Nephi, have written these things unto my people, that perhaps I might persuade them that they would remember the Lord their Redeemer.1 Ne. 19:15 – 18
(See also TG Entry: 2 Ne. 29:1 that I may remember my covenants which I have made)
V Priesthood and Restoration of the Gospel
V.A Gospel Restored
The Bible dictionary points out that the Abrahamic covenant is a crucial part of the restoration of the gospel.
To fulfill the covenant God made with Abraham—having particular reference to the fact that the literal seed of his body would be entitled to all of the blessings of the gospel (Abr. 2:10–11)—a number of specific and particular things must take place in the last days. The gospel must be restored, the priesthood must be conferred again upon man, the keys of the sealing power must be given again to mortals, Israel must be gathered, and the Holy Ghost must be poured out upon the gentiles. All this has already taken place or is in process of fulfillment. See also Adoption; Gentiles.BD Abraham, Covenant of
When making the covenant with Abraham, as recorded in the Book of Abraham, the Lord made specific reference to the priesthood.
9 And 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 seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and 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, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.Abr. 2:9, 11
Priesthood is the medium through which the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant is past to subsequent generations. It is the responsibility for administering these blessings. By accepting and magnifying the priesthood we become the sons of Abraham (D&C 84:34 They become … the seed of Abraham).
V.B Keys Restored
After the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, a series of visions restored the priesthood keys. The first to appear was Moses. Moses committed the keys of the gathering of Israel, which are the keys of missionary work. The last to appear was Elijah. Elijah restored the keys of the sealing power, which is the power to bind on earth and in heaven. Sealings are performed in the temple. We might think of Elijah’s visit as restoring the keys of redeeming the dead.
So, two of the three missions of the church were restored by these two individuals. The third mission of the church is “perfecting the saints.”
12 After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.D&C 110:12
Again, it is the message of families.
But the Abrahamic Covenant also encompasses the entire mission of the church. Missionary work is gathering the House of Israel, the literal and adopted children of Abraham. Redeeming the dead includes providing each with the blessings of eternal families.
The Abrahamic covenant is bestowed upon us through the ordinances of the temple.
V.C Temple Marriage
Marriage in the temple is the capstone ordinance of the gospel. In revealing this ordinance to the prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said the following.
29 Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.
30 Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph—which were to continue so long as they were in the world; and as touching Abraham and his seed, out of the world they should continue; 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.
31 This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.
32 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.D&C 132:29 – 32
As we enter into celestial marriage, we take upon ourselves the fullness of the new and everlasting covenant. By entering into the celestial marriage, we begin our own work and glory, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) Through our children, we become immortal ourselves.
VI False Pride and the Chosen
We must be careful to avoid pride in being a member of the church, or of the seed of Abraham.
Being a member of family of Abraham was a major stumbling block for the Children of Abraham in the Savior’s day.
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33 ¶ They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.John 8:31 – 39
The Bible Dictionary says the following:
Being an heir to the Abrahamic covenant does not make one a “chosen person” per se, but does signify that such are chosen to responsibly carry the gospel to all the peoples of the earth. Abraham’s seed have carried out the missionary activity in all the nations since Abraham’s day. (Matt. 3:9; Abr. 2:9–11).BD Abraham, Covenant of
We are not worthy of any glory because of what our ancestors may or may not have done. They receive the rewards for their righteous works or punishments for their sins, not us.
But we are expected to be different.
2 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.Deut. 14:2
Why are we expected to be different?
…I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.Isa. 49:6
The Seed – Christ
Paul taught that the true “seed” through which the blessings of Abraham would be extended to all mankind is Christ.
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.Gal. 3:16
The Savior explained this more fully to the Nephites.
25 And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
26 The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant—
27 And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed—unto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel.3 Ne. 20:25 – 27
But each one of us can take part in being that seed. The Savior said to Joseph Smith.
58 And as I said unto Abraham concerning the kindreds of the earth, even so I say unto my servant Joseph: In thee and in thy seed shall the kindred of the earth be blessed.D&C 124:58
As we follow the Savior, and take part in his work, we further the Lords work. We literally become the seed of Abraham.
The promises of the Abrahamic covenant come by believing in, and following Jesus Christ.
7 But behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance.2 Ne. 10:7
Through the Abrahamic Covenant, we are given the opportunity to become like our Father in Heaven. It is the roadmap to Godhood.
Praise to the Lord!
Oh, let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath breath,
Join with Abraham’s seed to adore him!
Let the “amen”
Sum all our praises again,
Now as we worship before him.Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, Hymn 72 verse 4
Like ten thousand legions marching
Moves a mighty band of youth,
Boldly taking to all people
Zion’s glorious song of truth.
Out of ev’ry nation surging
Sons of Joseph, Israel’s band
Now they spread salvation’s message
In the tongues of ev’ry land.
Far across the mighty waters,
Reaching ev’ry waiting shore,
Seed of Abraham and Jacob
Like a mighty lion roar.
Come, ye nations, out of darkness;
‘Tis the time of Christ’s return.
Heed the Restoration’s message;
Let its light within you burn.Like Ten Thousand Legions Marching Hymn 253
See also Gen. 15:18; 18:18; Judg. 2:1; Isa. 50:1; 54:5; Rom. 11:27; Heb. 6:14; 11:18; 1 Ne. 22:9; 2 Ne. 6:12; 9:1; 11:5; Morm. 5:20; D&C 103:17; Abr. 1:19.
Heir [Forward Reference]
Initial writing finish January 14, 2003