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Old Testament Lesson 10

Birthright Blessings; Marriage in the Covenant
Taught by Jeff Stone March 7, 2010

The question we must ask ourselves in this lesson is are we patient enough, and do we have endurance enough to wait for the right time and right place to do the right thing to receive our blessings?

It is often human nature to give up something that will benefit us long-term for a “quick fix” or for something “now.” Take the analogy of a fruit. If you could chose to have eiher one fruit now to satisfy your hunger or an endless supply of that fruit after a few months of work to plant and harvest?

Unfortunately, many will choose the fruit now because they “can’t” wait for the harvest or they don’t want to do the work required to have endless fruit. We will see that Abraham and Isaac had endurance to wait for the right time to get the endless fruit, but others traded it for fruit now.

Scriptures Covered in This Lesson:
Genesis 24
Genesis 25
Genesis 26
Genesis 27
Genesis 28
Genesis 29

Marriage in “The Covenant:”
On his death-bed, Abraham, insisted that his servant go to the land of Haran, which was at least 700 miles from where they were living, to find a wife for Isaac. The reason for going to Haran was because it was the nearest place that a non-Canaanite could be found.

The Canaanites, of course, were cursed to not be able to hold the priesthood, therefore if Isaac married a Canaanite, their children could not hold the priesthood which would put an abrupt stop to the promises made to Abraham – the Abrahamic covenant (see Lesson 7 for details on the Abrahamic covenant)

The lesson that we must learn from this is the importance of marrying someone who can share our values and who is willing to be sealed to us in the temple.

President Howard W. Hunter:

“Let us plan for and teach and plead with our children to marry in the house of the Lord.

Let us reaffirm more vigorously than we ever have in the past that it does matter where you marry and by what authority you are pronounced man and wife”

(in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 118; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 88).

Modern Day Examples:

President Gordon B. Hinckley told of a family who joined the Church in Australia and then sold all their possessions so they could travel to New Zealand and be sealed as a family.

The father of this family said: “We could not afford to come [to the temple]. Our worldly possessions consisted of an old car, our furniture, and our dishes. I said to my family, ‘We cannot afford not to go.

If the Lord will give me strength, I can work and earn enough for another car and furniture and dishes, but if I should lose these my loved ones, I would be poor indeed in both life and in eternity’ ” (Be Thou an Example [1981], 138).

What is a birthright? The lesson manual gives a clear definition: The birthright was usually passed from father to eldest son. Receiving this birthright meant that the eldest son would inherit a double share of the family wealth, and in return he would preside over the family and take care of his mother and sisters after his father’s death.

The statement that “the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25: 23) in the Lord’s revelation to Rebekah meant that in this situation the younger son would receive the birthright and his descendants would be the covenant people.As the story unfolds, we learn that Esau (the eldest) sells his birthright to Jacob (the “younger”) for a bowl of stew. He clearly didn’t value his birthright.

Additional Notes:
There is some excellent commentary about the situation between Esau and Jacob in the Old Testament Institute manual. It addresses the situation with Rebekah and Jacob conspiring to trick Isaac into giving the birthright blessing to Jacob rather than Esau. Please take the time to read it. It really helps clarify a few things: Old Testament Institute Manual Chapter 7.

Also, a portion of the lesson we skipped today was a mini quiz that you could use for a family home evening activity. Here is the link to the quiz, answer sheet and instructions: Lesson 10 Activity.

We have birthrights (priesthood, temple blessings, ordinances, revelation, etc). However, we must not treat them with such low worth as did Esau. We must be worthy of the birthrights like Jacob was. We must also seek to not only marry in the temple but to regularly attend the temple to remember the covenants that are our birthright.