good things to come
Week 46 is scheduled for study Nov. 6-12, 2023. Jesus Christ is the High Priest of good things to come. Let’s look at some of those good things to come. This is what we put our faith in.

Day 1

As you read Hebrews 7-13, you may receive impressions through the Holy Ghost. Consider ways you can record them; for example, you could record them in the outline, in the margins of your scriptures, or in a notebook or journal.

Hebrews 7 – The Melchizedek Priesthood points me to Jesus Christ.

Side note: The original name of Jerusalem was Salem, the same city Melchizedek ruled when he first met Abraham and received tithes from him. Salem dates back to the early Bronze age (starting about 3300 BC), and was a Canaanite town. The first time it is mentioned in the scriptures is in Genesis when Abraham and Melchizedek meet.

No one knows when the name of the city changed from Salem to Jerusalem. When Israel conquered and sacked Salem then abandoned it, the next time we see the name in the Bible it is known as Jerusalem. Note here that Israel did not name the town. They only Hebraized the name for their own purposes. From the first conquering until David conquered it again and made it his capitol, the city was occupied by Jebusites. Originally the city was in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. Later it was the domain of the tribe of Judah. I don’t know when and how that all happened.

Just as in English where many of our words have numerous meanings, often with opposite meanings, so too does Hebrew have words with many meanings. For example, in English, “to cleave” means both to cling together and to split apart. So a husband and wife should cleave to each other, but you cleave a piece of meat to cut it up into pieces.

If you take into account all the possible word combinations of the two words that make up Jerusalem, you end up with many possible meanings of the name of this city. Here are a few: pointing the way to completeness, rain of peace, possession of peace, foundation of peace. This is the end of my side note.

Below are the first three verses of Hebrews 7. I have included all three verses, because it is one sentence, one thought. Verse 3 is repeated using the JST (Joseph Smith Translation). The focus for today is on seeing how these verses point us to Christ by using the Melchizedek priesthood.

For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

JST of Hebrews 7:3

For this Melchizedek was ordained a priest after the order of the Son of God, which order was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life. And all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually.

Having the translation of that third verse given by a modern-day prophet makes all the difference in our understanding of that verse. It doesn’t mean that Melchizedek was without beginning of days, etc., but that the priesthood he bore was without beginning of days, etc. The Jews held Levi, the source of their priesthood authority, and hence all that took place in their temple, in the highest regard. The writer of Hebrews is trying to show that as much as the Jews esteemed Levi as the source of their priesthood and as a direct descendant of Abraham, Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, paid tithes and offerings to someone even greater than himself – Melchizedek. The effort here is to point out the extreme esteem owed to this higher authority than that of the Levitical priesthood.

The writer of Hebrews goes so far as to say that even Levi, who was tasked to receive the tithes of Israel, paid his tithes to Melchizedek, for the future seed of Abraham was still inside of Abraham when he went and paid his tithes to Melchizedek. So in this way, even Levi vicariously paid his tithes to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:9-10) through his progenitor Abraham.

And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.

10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

The rest of chapter 7 demonstrates that the Levitical law by which the Jews lived was inferior to that law by which Abraham lived. Perfection can’t come by way of the priesthood of the Levites. Their priesthood is assigned to them, but the priesthood of Abraham is given by an oath and a covenant. In ancient times, the oath settled all controversy and ended all doubts. The oath was inviolate, unbreakable. When a man swore an oath on his life or on God, for example, to break that oath would mean being cast out of society and ostracized for life. He would lose his reputation, his income, all social support, and would have to live without protection or companionship ever after. This is why when, in the Book of Mormon, Nephi swore an oath to Zoram that if he would come with them he would be assured a place with them as a free man forever, it says that Zoram’s fears ceased and swore an oath that he would go with them. That oath put Nephi’s fears to rest.

God also swears oaths, but He has nothing greater than Himself on which to swear the oath. In Hebrews 7:17 God swore that Jesus was a priest after the order of Melchizedek forever.

17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

The Levite priests died at the end of their lives, so their priesthood died with them. They had to be replaced because they were dead. But Jesus was different. God gave him the same priesthood that Melchizedek held, and with an oath proclaimed that Jesus would have it forever. Jesus also died, but was resurrected, so he still lives and wields this priesthood. And by this priesthood he reigns over his work and his people while he sits on the right hand of God. This is the difference between the two priesthoods. The purpose of these passages in Hebrews 7 is to give credibility and perspective to the change in priesthood Christ brought to the people. They continued to be hung up on having the Levitical priesthood, but salvation can’t come from that priesthood. Only the Melchizedek priesthood can offer salvation (Hebrews 7:19).

19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Verses 25-27 point out that Jesus, because he lives forever, and because he possesses this higher priesthood continually, he makes an endless intercession for his people. This was something that was unthinkable for a holder of the Levitical priesthood who was assigned duties in that priesthood, and lost those duties and had to be replaced at his death. The “he” referred to in verse 25 is Jesus. The high priests referred to in verse 27 refer to the high priest who entered into the Holy of Holies only once a year, according to the Mosaic law, to offer sacrifices for sin. First he offered a sacrifice for his own sins then he offered a second sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. This was done year after year for many centuries.

25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

All of these verses are meant to show us how powerful the Melchizedek priesthood is. It is, after all the priesthood after the holy order of the Son of God. In Christ’s days of mortality he was the only one who held the keys of that priesthood. When he gave the gospel to the people he also gave them this higher priesthood. Not only did it make the Levitical high priest obsolete, but every worthy male who held the priesthood authority had access to the full blessings of the gospel Christ taught. These were blessings far beyond anything offered by the law of Moses. These were the same blessings of exaltation offered to Abraham himself.

Day 2

As you read Hebrews 7-13, you may receive impressions through the Holy Ghost. Consider ways you can record them; for example, you could record them in the outline, in the margins of your scriptures, or in a notebook or journal.

Hebrews 9; 10:1-22 – Ancient and modern ordinances point to Jesus Christ.

It may be difficult for modern people to recognize what the ancient Israelites thought about when they thought of the sacrifices and ordinances offered them by the Levitical priesthood. We know that those ordinances and sacrifices were supposed to point them to Christ who was to come. But what did they see in their daily living? As a people they eventually forgot the purpose of those ordinances and sacrifices. Those things became a way of life that set them apart from the rest of the world. Their daily practices were supposed to please God and make them special in His eyes. How or why that was the case didn’t seem to be so important. They just did, so even as they became wicked, they continued to perform their ordinances and sacrifices. This is why, in the Book of Mormon, Laman and Lemuel considered the people in Jerusalem to be righteous. They were still performing all the ordinances and sacrifices God required of them. What did their personal behavior have to do with righteousness? Their sacrifices made them righteous.

The scriptures tell us that the difference between the law Moses gave the people and the law Jesus would bring the people was that the higher law taught by Jesus would be in their hearts and minds, not something that was to be outwardly practiced to be observed. Christ’s law would become a way of life for his people. Instead of the sacrifice of animals, they would offer their hearts and hands in his service to others. In modern parlance the gospel he brought was a higher and holier version of the law Moses gave them.

Each year the high priest would offer sacrifices for the sins of the people. He would then take a goat and transfer all the sins of Israel onto the head of that goat and drive him into the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts. This act created what we refer to as a scapegoat, one who takes the blame for someone else’s behavior and deeds. Now we weekly take the sacrament and promise the Lord to remember Christ in all that we do and say every day. We reverence his sacrifice for all mankind that put an end to the need for Levitical sacrifices. Christ’s sacrifice was an eternal offering for sin that will never need to be repeated. Instead of transferring our sins onto the head of a goat we bear the responsibilities for our own sins by taking them to Christ who has already paid for those sins. We seek his forgiveness, and by obeying his commandments he forgives us and we are sanctified a little more each time by the Holy Ghost.

The children of Israel didn’t have the gift of the Holy Ghost like we do. They lived an Aaronic priesthood life. We live a Melchizedek priesthood life. The bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost is reserved for the Melchizedek priesthood. This is why perfection, sanctification, and full holiness can only be achieved with the Melchizedek ordinances and covenants. Those ordinances and covenants bring with them the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and His influence purifies and changes us to be more like Christ. This was not available to the people living the law of Moses.

Day 3

As you read Hebrews 7-13, you may receive impressions through the Holy Ghost. Consider ways you can record them; for example, you could record them in the outline, in the margins of your scriptures, or in a notebook or journal.

Hebrews 11 – Faith requires trusting in God’s promises.

Belief in something is a choice we make. Once we have chosen to believe something, hope in the promises of what we have chosen to believe in can take root in our soul. It is that hope in the promises God makes to us that makes us choose to live in such a way as to merit the fulfillment of those promises. This is faith. So there can be no faith without hope, and hope is empty without faith to fulfill it.

According to Sister Anne C. Pingree, faith is “the spiritual ability to be persuaded of promises that are seen ‘afar off’ but that may not be attained in this life.” Faith is living in such a way as to bring hope into reality, even if that reality may not be in this life, but the next. When we believe what God has told us, and we remember that God always thinks in terms of eternity, we need to adjust our thinking to include what comes after this life, as well as what we experience in the here and now. Without this expanded form of thinking, we continue to view “life” as something that only consists of our short years in mortality. Faith enables us to view our lives as eternal beings, not just mortal ones.

Have you noticed that putting our faith in Christ brings us many joys today, and peace today that we couldn’t find before? But most of our promises, at least the very biggest promises Jesus makes to us don’t come to fulfillment until the next life. The blessings we receive in this life are but a small taste of what we will receive in the next life. This is why putting faith in Christ and in all of God’s promises is essential, for without faith we will abandon our obedience to them, because we can’t see immediate results sufficient to go on. We lose our hope in God’s promises. God wants us to take the blessings of today and use them to increase our hope of greater blessings held in reserve for tomorrow, which is the next phase of our life in eternity.

FHE/Personal Study

Hebrews 12:2 – “For the joy that was set before him”

Again, I think we need to read the whole sentence, so instead of just verse 2, here is 1 and 2.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

If we just read verse 2 then our whole focus is only on Christ and how he was able to endure his trials. While this is important, the purpose for including this thought in the whole sentence was as an example to help us run and win our own race in mortality. Let’s start with verse 2 and go backwards.

Have you ever wondered where Jesus got the strength to endure what he had to go through in Gethsemane and on the cross? Lesser men would have caved and given up. Verse 2 tells us that there was a “joy that was set before him” that enabled him to endure what he had to suffer in order to obtain that promised joy. It brings to mind that Jesus is often stating in the scriptures that his Father has given him certain souls and they were promised to him to have with him in the eternities. This is rarely talked about, but I think it is part of that joy that was set before him to keep him focused on the why of what he was doing each day.

We also have promises given to us. Our covenants promise us an eternal companion, even if we don’t get one in this life. We are promised eternal increase of posterity – children who will praise us and glorify us as we will properly do to our Father in Heaven once we are resurrected. We are promised exaltation, which means godhood. These are the greatest blessings God can give to any person, eternal life as a god, with an eternal companion and children whom we can freely love and who will love us in return. Such promises of felicity are not found anywhere else.

Just as Jesus used the future joys promised to him to carry him through his earthly trials, we too need to learn to use our promised joys to carry us through our earthly trials.

Hebrews 12:5-11 – The purpose of chastening

A ruler doesn’t chasten or reprove servants in the same way he does his own children. He has a vested interest in his own children, for they will be following in his own footsteps someday. Servants will always be servants and are held to a lower standard than the ruler’s heirs. There is so much that needs to be learned to be the leader, the ruler, the sovereign. Servants never need to learn most of those lessons. The heirs however, need to learn how to rule with compassion, reverence, tolerance, kindness, humility, and love.

We are not being groomed to take over a company, but a universe. When the Lord is through training us we will have learned what we need to know and how to be so that all of creation will willingly give us respect, reverence, and obedience. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:49 the Lord tells us that because of the kind of people we will become (by following the Holy Ghost) our rewards will be eternal and never ending, and that the symbol or scepter of our righteousness will flow to us without compulsion, but willingly by all in the universe, forever.

46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

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NT46-2023 – An High Priest of Good Things to Come