righteous desires
Week 07 is scheduled for study Feb. 7-13, 2022. We may have righteous desires, but that doesn’t always translate into the blessings we hope for in mortality. Some blessings must wait on the Lord’s timing and way of doing things.

Day 1

As you read about Abram and Sarai and their family, ponder how their examples inspire you. Record impressions about what you can do “to be a greater follower of righteousness.”

Abraham 1:1-19 – God will bless me for my faith and righteous desires.

Today’s lesson should not be shorted for time or attention. The more I look at the questions in the manual, and the more I consider the actual verses in the lesson, the more overwhelmed I feel by the sheer amount of material to study. And all of it is so worthwhile. In the spirit of President Oaks’ questions in the manual, let’s take a moment and look at just verse two. I will quote the whole verse then look at it phrase by phrase to see how Abraham’s account of himself can be so close to the account of our own lives.

And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.

Abraham was raised with the gospel of Christ. He knew of the scriptures and the prophets before him all the way back to Adam. At the time of his writing this account he was in possession of the sacred records the prophets had kept back to Adam. Let’s acknowledge that these are Abraham’s words, but liken them to us in our day and see how we might read verse two as it may apply to us. (So yes, this is a loose paraphrase of the original verse.)

And, finding there was greater happiness, peace, and rest for me in the gospel of Christ than in the ways of the world, I sought for the priesthood blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same. I have been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness. I also wanted to possess greater knowledge from on high, and to be a father of many nations, and a prince of peace, like the fathers before me. And having a desire to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the same right belonging to the fathers.

In Abraham’s day, they had many records of those who had come before them who lived for many hundreds of years. These people literally saw their posterity become nations and kingdoms during their lifetime. It was no mystery to Abraham that all the Lord asked for was a willing and obedient heart in order to receive the blessings of eternity He offered to the righteous. Abraham’s own scriptures demonstrated the Lord’s promise of posterity that would become inumerable as the sand of the sea. And Abraham was not the first to receive the covenant of eternal marriage, nor was he the last. And as it was true for him, it is true for us that all God requires of us is a willingness to commit to and obey His commandments, and all the blessings of the covenant He made with Abraham can be ours as well.

As the manual points out, Abraham’s father was an idolatrous man, and even offered up his own son to be slaughtered on the altar of Pharaoh’s god. Abraham was not a child when this happened, for they took him by force to offer him up. In verse 12 he says, “the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also.” In verse five Abraham demonstrates that he wasn’t just a passive participant in the gospel he had adopted. He actively tried to reconvert his father and others. It makes me wonder if Abram’s persistent preaching might have been part of the reason his father decided to offer him to the priests.

My fathers, having turned from their righteousness, … utterly refused to hearken to my voice;

Now that we have a little background on Abraham let’s look at how much we are like Abraham. Until today, I have never dared to compare myself to the “Father of the faithful.” Such a thing I have always considered too blasphemous to contemplate, but the more I read his story, the more I see of myself in Abraham. He was just a faithful follower of Christ who exercised his faith and overcame all of the obstacles placed before him. Isn’t that what the Lord wants from us? We all have the ability to exercise our faith in Christ, to preach the gospel to those around us, and to be a living example of a righteous life. Think baptismal covenant. And do we not have the same covenant and the same blessings promised to us that Abraham had given to him by the Lord?  These are the same promises made to all the worthy priesthood families from the days of Adam on down. Hmmm. Seems like we may be more like Abraham than we thought possible.


Now it is time to pull out your Old Testament and Pearl of Great Price and consider the questions listed in the manual. These questions tell us what set Abraham apart from those around him.

What did Abraham desire and seek after? It is the blessing of the righteous to not just receive blessings from God, but to become a blessing in the lives of others as well. This is what helps to turn us from selfish mortals into godly children of Christ. Think of any covenant you choose, and part of what you will learn is that they all require us to turn outside of ourselves and become a blessing and example of good to other people around us. It is this selfless quality that creates a person who is worthy of Zion, either in their own home, or in a city full of like minded people. Look at what Abraham specifically states in verse two that he sought from the Lord. He wanted to become a blessing in the lives of others. He wanted to be Christlike. And he practiced goodness everywhere he went. Whenever the Lord moved him from one place to another, it almost always mentions that he took not just his own family with him, but all those whom he had won through his own preaching. Everywhere he went the following he moved with him became larger, because he was always preaching of Christ.

That’s enough for me. I’ll let you work your way through the rest of the questions. Just remember that whatever is true for Abraham is true for you and me. The Lord expects us both to be obedient to the covenants we have made. The promised blessings are no different for us than they were for him, and how we achieve those promised blessings is also the same – live the gospel to the best of our ability, exercise our faith in Christ, and love those around us.

Note on Abraham’s patience – He was 62 years old when we first see a promise from the Lord that Abraham and Sarah would have a family of their own. Over and over again in our reading the Lord makes the same promise to Abraham and Sarah about being given the land they were walking on, and that they would become a blessing to the whole world, etc., but Abraham was 99 years old before he was finally promised the one son with whom God would make His covenant. Even though Ishmael was 12 at the time, the Lord told Abraham that Ishmael was not the chosen priesthood heir, Abraham’s son he would have the next year, named Isaac, would be the heir Abraham had been promised for at least 37 years. For almost four decades the Lord promised Abraham over and over again inumerable posterity, but waited almost 40 years before it was time to be fulfilled in the Lord’s reckoning. The Lord did not make this easy for Abraham in any way. Abraham was almost 100 years old by the time he got his promised son.

Day 2

As you read about Abram and Sarai and their family, ponder how their examples inspire you. Record impressions about what you can do “to be a greater follower of righteousness.”

Abraham 2:10-11 – Who is included in the Abrahamic covenant?

Here are they whom the Lord considers to be the posterity of Abraham. In verse nine we learn that Abraham’s posterity will be responsible for bearing “this ministry and Priesthood,” or the gospel of Christ, to all nations. We aren’t told specifically yet who Abraham’s seed will be, just that they will be responsible for carrying the gospel message to the world.

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;

In verse 10 we get one definition of who is considered the “seed” of Abraham. His seed is literally anyone who receives the gospel of Christ.

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;

Read verse 11 then we will talk about it.

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.

Abraham’s physical seed (posterity) appears to carry with them a double blessing. Through his physical posterity the Lord promised Abraham that the blessings of salvation (eternal life) will be made available to all the families of the earth. The rights of the priesthood, and all the blessings that come through having the priesthood in one’s life, are made available to all the world through the physical lineage of Abraham. But that is not the end of it. For the Lord says prior to that statement that through Abraham’s priesthood all the nations of the earth will be blessed as well. In verse 10 the Lord says that those who accept the gospel brought to them through the “seed” of Abraham will be considered Abraham’s posterity. So the seed of Abraham is as much a physical inheritance as it is a spiritual one. In fact, the Lord states that “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee,” and that “this right” (of priesthood) will continue in his posterity.

Have you ever thought of who would bless and who would curse Abraham? Don’t we, who call him our father, whether because his seed brought us the blessings of the gospel or because we are physically his descendents, “rise up and bless [him], as [our] father”? This then brings a double blessing on our heads for blessing Abraham. Those who reject the gospel the seed of Abraham brings them are those who “curse” him. And the Lord takes their curse and turns it upon their own heads.

It appears then that it doesn’t matter if we are physically one of his descendents or adopted into his family because of our acceptance of the gospel of Christ, the Lord still considers us equally a member of the house of Abraham.

Day 3

As you read about Abram and Sarai and their family, ponder how their examples inspire you. Record impressions about what you can do “to be a greater follower of righteousness.”

Genesis 12:1-3; 13:15-16; 15:1-6; 17:1-8, 15-22; Abraham 2:8-11 – The Abrahamic covenant blesses me and my family.

One of the lessons we quickly tend to forget is that whatever God told Abraham, He says to each of us. We read in the scriptures how the Lord repeated the covenant He made with Abraham to his son, Isaac, and then again He repeated the same covenant to Isaac’s son, Jacob. Because the Lord established this same covenant with each of the subsequent generations of Abraham, the Lord came to be known as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Depending on how long your family has been in the Church, you could make your own list of those with whom the Lord has made this same covenant. My family has been in the Church for many generations now, but if I just go back two generations I could say I worship the God of Paul, Richard, and Kelly, for the covenants we have made with God are no different than those made by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the promised blessings are just as sure when each of us keeps His commandments.

We have the same covenants they were given, so we should identify ourselves in that privileged line of covenant makers/keepers. Remember that the Lord promised Abraham that the rights and promises of His covenant with Abraham would continue forever. His was an eternal covenant, not just an earthly covenant. When you read the first question in the manual from today’s lesson, don’t think about what the Lord was telling Abraham, but consider that this is also what He has promised to you, personally. We will all become the founders of nations as those of our posterity accept the gospel of Christ and spread throughout the earth blessing the lives of all God’s children.

Remember that when this covenant was first given to Abraham, he was still childless, and remained childless for decades longer before he got his first child, Ishmael. It was another dozen years before Abraham was finally given the child the Lord promised to be the beginning of his covenant Priesthood line. Abraham didn’t live to see his posterity become great. He remained faithful to his covenants with the Lord because the Lord’s promises were mostly of the sort that would be given after mortality. This is one of the things that makes Abraham such a man of faith. He was promised whole countries would be the inheritance of his posterity, none of which he ever lived to see happen in mortality. Can we be just as faithful?

Continue looking at each of the questions the manual asks. Remember that what makes us different from the rest of the world is that the covenants we have entered into with the Lord are celestial in nature. They are designed to act as blessings to all those with whom we come into contact. The ability to be a blessing in the lives of others was what Abraham was seeking when he sought the Lord. This is what the Lord gave him for his personal obedience to the commandments. It was as a blessing in the lives of others that Abraham finally pronounced his prayers answered and his soul satisfied.

FHE/Personal Study

Genesis 13:16; 15:2-6; 17:15-19 – God’s promises vs. Abraham’s reality

One of the most difficult things we have to face in mortality is when we have to wait for the Lord to fulfill His promised blessings. God never fulfills His promises too soon or too late, but always in the proper time. For example, when the Lord told Abraham that his descendents would receive the land of their inheritance, He told Abraham that his posterity would have to wait more than 400 years to receive it. Why? Because the people who were currently living in the land wouldn’t be ripe in their iniquity until then, and the Lord needed Abraham’s posterity to wait until the “right” time to be blessed in killing those who currently lived in the land of their inheritance. This meant that Abraham’s seed had to live 400 years as slaves until the promises to their forefather could be fulfilled.

Despite all the promises made to Abraham about how mighty his posterity would be, how numberless his descendents, and how many kings would come from his own line of posterity, Abraham was not to live to see any of it happen in his own lifetime. He died still wandering from place to place, having fulfilled the will of the Lord in all things his whole life. He died still exercising his faith in Christ that all the promises made to him would be kept, even if he didn’t personally see any of those promises fulfilled while he lived in mortality. Such was the faith of Abraham. He saw the future and treated it as though it had already come to pass. This was the same kind of faith required of the Book of Mormon prophets who taught of Christ and His atonement as though it had already happened.

We all have things in our own life that don’t seem to be measuring up to the promised blessings we feel we should be receiving. We may not have found the companion we assumed we would find so we could marry when we were “supposed to.” Perhaps we married and have had confidence in our ability to have children, but nothing has happened yet. The clock is ticking, our bodies are aging, and we are afraid we will never have the children we feel is our due in this life. Sometimes we feel like everything is going like clockwork only to have a spouse die or become permanently debilitated, changing our possible blessings in mortality. There are so many possibilities. The Lord knows us. He knows our needs, what we should be doing right now, and how to challenge us with those things that will create within us the greatest faith. Many of the trials He may need to give us will feel overwhelming. This is where we need to learn to see our blessings and the fulfillment of our covenant promises as sure, even if they aren’t fulfilled in this life. The Lord’s love for us is not lessened by such delays. We just need to learn to rely on His timing and His wisdom to teach us the lessons we need to learn according to God’s timing and method. In this way, many of us will face some of the same challenges of faith Abraham himself faced.

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OT07-2022 – To Be a Greater Follower of Righteousness

Week 07