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Old Testament - Lesson 7

The Abrahamic Covenant
February 15, 2010

Abraham Facsimile #1
As outlined in the lesson manual, the purpose of this lesson is to help us understand the blessings and the responsibilities of the Abrahamic Covenant. Often, we forget about the responsibilities and think only of the blessings.

Scriptures Covered This Lesson:
Abraham 1, Abraham 2, Genesis 11, Genesis 12, Genesis 13, Genesis 15, Genesis 16, Genesis 17, D&C 132:19–24

We will cover two main topics: “What is The Abrahamic Covenant?” and “What is our responsibility regarding it?” In order to fully discuss these two topics, it is important to briefly understand patriarchal blessings, and it it’s also important cover a brief history of Abraham up to this point in his life where he receives the covenant.

Patriarchal Blessings:
Bruce R. McConkie As we know, modern day revelation can be given to each of us through our patriarchal blessing. In this blessing we are specifically told which tribe we are from. Most of us are from the tribe of Ephraim or Manasseh. There are, of course, others, but for the sake of this lesson, it is important to point out that both Ephraim and Manasseh are descendants of Abraham. Keep checking back on this page for updates on more details about lineage declared in a Patriarchal blessing.

In the meantime, here’s a quote from Bruce R. McConkie that explains a patriarchal blessing: “Patriarchal blessings [are] an inspired declaration of the lineage of the recipient, and also, where so moved upon by the Spirit, an inspired and prophetic statement of the life mission of the recipient, together with such blessings, cautions, and admonitions as the patriarch may be prompted to give. . . . The realization of all promised blessings is conditioned upon faithfulness to the gospel of our Lord” (letter to stake presidents, 28 June 1957; quoted in Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 558).

Historical Overview:
As we discussed in Lesson 6, The flood ended around 2300 B.C., and shortly after (about 100 years), the languages are confounded at the tower of Babel. However, one group was spared from this calamity. That group was the Jaredites that we learn about in the book of Ether. They were sent, by The Lord, to the American Continent around 2200 B.C.; this gives us some insight into The Lord’s plan for his people. If you’ll recall, before the flood, The Lord kept his saints somewhat gathered together. However, as we saw, pretty much the entire world fell apart.

The new plan – so to speak – was to spread the saints throughout the world. We know about the Jaredites, but are there others? We know that during the time of Christ’s birth, there were wise men from “The East.” Of course, Nephi was given some insight on this subject as we. We read in 2 Nephi 29:12 that there are many others, and that they all recorded a history much like the Jaredites.About 1600 years after the Jaredites landed in America, they had completely destroyed themselves via Civil War. About this same time in history (600 B.C.), Lehi and his family received instructions to go to America. They were basically a replacement for the Jaredites who had destroyed themselves.

Back to about 1950 B.C., The man Abraham was born roughly the same time that Noah died – Noah lived 350 years after the flood. As a young adult, Abraham was living in the Ur of Chaldeas. It would appear that Ur what we would call a city, and Chaldeas was what we would call a State. During Abraham’s life, there was much corruption and wickedness and many false priests. In Abraham 1, he tells us the story of how the false priests who were likely governed by the Egyptians, placed him on an altar in attempt to sacrifice him. He also drew us a picture of the event as seen at the top of this page. You can also get a more details view and description of it here.

Be sure to read the full account in Abraham 1, but the short story is that while tied to the altar, Abraham pleading unto God (Jehovah), who came and freed him along with destroying the altar and the priests who sought to take Abraham’s life. On top of all that Jehovah plagued the land and told Abraham to leave. The plague killed many, including Abraham’s brother Haran.

Abraham’s Lineage:

From Adam To Noah To Abraham . . .
Abraham was the son of Terah who was a descendant of Shem (son of Noah). Terah had three children:

  • Haran

  • Abraham

  • Nahor

Haran, as mentioned above, was killed in the Plague of Chaldeas. When he died, Terah adopted his two daughters (Sarah and Milcah) Along with Haran's son, Lot.

Thus Abraham became the half brother of Lot, Milcah and Sarah (whom he later married). Basically, Abraham married his niece/half-sister.

Later when Abraham and his wife reach Egypt, The Lord warns Abraham that his life would be in danger because the Egyptians would kill him to take his wife, so he is told to tell everyone that she is his sister.
Interestingly enough, she actually was his sister!

The flash presentation to the left shows a brief outline of Adam's lineage, Noah's lineage, and some brief information about Abraham.

When The Lord told Abraham to leave Ur, he was ultimately headed toward Egypt, but along the way, he stopped at a place that he named after his brother, Haran. He stayed in Haran with his family and his father for a few years. His father, Terah, had been a wicked man who repented when the plague scared him into repentance. However, when the got to Haran, after a few years he fell back into his wicked ways. Abraham left his father in Haran as he continued on toward Egypt. In your scriptures, you can look at “map 2″ which shows the path that he took.

In Abraham 1: 23–27, we learn a bit about Egypt. Basically, Ham (Noah’s son) and his wife Egyptus discovered Egypt which was buried under water. When the water level finally lowered, they began to colonize it. Ham and Egyptus had a daughter also named Egyptus, and she had a son named Pharaoh. He was the first king of Egypt.

He was actually a very honorable and righteous leader, but because he was of the seed of Cain (Egyptus is a decendant of Cain), he could not hold the priesthood. Eventually, over time, the leaders Egypt who succeeded Pharaoh claimed, falsely, the right to priesthood and began calling themselves priests. It was these wicked priests who were involved in the attempted sacrifice of Abraham in the Ur of Chaldeas.

As we see, Ham’s (son of Noah) lineage ended up in Egypt (along with other places), and Shem’s (son of Noah) line ended up in Ur (along with other places). Many times throughout history these paths cross as the did in Egypt when Abraham arrived.

The Abrahamic Covenant:
The Abrahamic Covenant is found in Abraham 2:9–11. In these three short verses we discover how blessed we will be, and how blessed Abraham was. We will outline below 7 main points or prophecies that are given in The Abrahamic Covenant. After each one will be some specifics about the fulfillment of these prophecies:

  1. I will make of thee a great nation (Abraham 2:9)
  2. Thy name will be great among all nations (Abraham 2:9)
  3. Thy seed will bear the ministry and priesthood to all nations (Abraham 2:9)
  4. Those not of thy seed shall be counted as thy seed if they accept the gospel (Abraham 2:10)
  5. I will bless those who bless thee and curse those who curse thee (Abraham 2:11)
  6. The right of the priesthood would continue in him (Abraham 2:11)
  7. The entire world (all families) shall be blessed by his literal seed (Abraham 2:11)

Notice that in promise number four, it is discovered that even those who are not of the literally seed pointed out in their patriarchal blessings, can still be adopted as his seed by accepting the gospel. Also keep in mind that those who are of literal descent are not guaranteed these blessings, but are given them by the same means, that means being the acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fulfillment of Prophesy:
Let’s look at each covenant and see how it has been or is being fulfilled:

  1. I will make of thee a great nation (Abraham 2:9)
    • According to Cleon Skousen in The First 2000 Years, genealogy shows that Abraham’s seed to be in:
      • Europe
      • South America
      • Central America
      • North America
      • Asia
      • Pacific Islands
    • As shown by Patriarchal Blessings, we know that many are literal descendants of Abraham
  2. Thy name will be great among all nations (Abraham 2:9)
    • Muslim, Christian, and Jew alike revere the prophet Abraham.
    • Based on, The World contains:
      • 2.1 Billion Christians
      • 1.3 Billion Muslims
      • 14 Million Jews
      • 3.4 Billion total
      • Over half of the world’s 6 billion people “consider his name great.”
  3. Thy seed will bear the ministry and priesthood to all nations (Abraham 2:9)
    • Many who have brought gospel and priesthood to the world are of Abraham’s literal seed
    • Just to name a few:
      • Jesus
      • The 12 Apostles
      • Joseph Smith
  4. Those not of thy seed shall be counted as thy seed if they accept the gospel (Abraham 2:10)
  5. Joseph Fielding SmithIn Paul’s Epistle to The Romans (Romans 4:11–12), we see a further explanationof this concept. Modern day revelation also supports this concept:
    Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph. Those who are not literal descendants of Abraham and Israel must become such, and when they are baptized and confirmed they are grafted into the tree and are entitled to all the rights and privileges as heirs” (“How One May Become of the House of Israel,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1923, 1149).

    As the seed of Abraham, Church members are heirs to the blessings and responsibilities of the Abrahamic covenant. How do we become heirs to this covenant? (When we are baptized into the Church, the Abrahamic covenant’s promise of salvation is renewed with us. When we are sealed in the temple, the Abrahamic covenant’s promise of exaltation is renewed with us. To receive the blessings of the covenant, we must fulfill the associated responsibilities and live worthily.) -Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Manual

  6. I will bless those who bless thee and curse those who curse thee (Abraham 2:11)
    • We are told in Matthew 10:14–15 that those who do not accept the gospel will have a more difficult judgement day than the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrha.
  7. The right of the priesthood would continue in him (Abraham 2:11)
    • This was basically a prophesy to inform Abraham that he would always remain worthy to hold the priesthood and would, therefore, be able to pass it down to his sons
  8. The entire world (all families) shall be blessed by his literal seed (Abraham 2:11)
    • As pointed out in number 3 above, many people who have been responsible for the various dispensations of the gospel, and most importantly, this dispensation are literal descendants of Abraham. Thus his seed is blessing the world by bringing the gospel to the families of the world.

Our Responsibility:
Whether we are a member of the literal seed or not, we must be accepted in by accepting the gospel, namely:

  • Faith in The Lord Jesus Christ
  • Repentance
  • Baptism by Immersion for the Remission of Sins
  • Receive the Gift of The Holy Ghost by the Laying on of Hands

Ezra Taft Benson

Secondly, we must bring the gospel to others. Remember, the covenant said that Abraham’s seed would bring the gospel to the world. We are his seed; we must bring it to the world for the prophesy to be fulfilled.

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The responsibility of the seed of Abraham, which we are, is to be missionaries to ‘bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations.'(Abraham 2:9)”

(Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 107; or Ensign, May 1987, 85).

As we know, the “Three-Fold Mission of The Church is:”

  1. Proclaim The Gospel
  2. Perfect The Saints
  3. Redeem The Dead

Each of these three missions are another way of saying “missionary work:”

  1. Proclaim The Gospel – Missionary work to the world
  2. Perfect The Saints – Teaching the gospel / missionary work to members
  3. Redeem The Dead – Missionary work for the other side of the veil

It is my testimony that we must be missionaries in every meaning of the word if the Abrahamic promises are to be ours. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.