covenant renewed
This week’s lesson is scheduled for study Feb. 21-27, 2022. Why was the Lord’s covenant renewed, not just once, but twice more with Abraham’s posterity? It is actually renewed with each of us.

Day 1

As you read Genesis 24-27, pay attention to spiritual insights you receive. Pray to know how the principles you find are relevant to your life.

Genesis 24 – Marriage is essential to God’s eternal plan

Spoiler alert! This is my personal opinion, but I’m going to say it anyway. I think we are sometimes out of focus and don’t see the bigger picture when it comes to what this mortal life is all about. I have talked about this in other articles, but I will repeat my feelings again here.

The reason we are all promised a resurrected body, complete with at least some degree of glory, is because we kept our first estate in the premortal world. Those who did not keep their first estate are now here as devils. They chose Lucifer as their master, so when he was evicted from our Father’s presence, they were evicted with him. Only those who followed the Father’s plan for our salvation came to earth in mortal bodies. Just qualifying to get a mortal body guarantees us a resurrected and glorified body. The only question remaining is “how much glory?”

Mortality is the inbetween state. We have only a spirit body on one side of us, and a resurrected body on the other side of us. Mortality is like the cocoon stage for mortals on our way to becoming what we were born to become. But unlike a butterfly, much of the change we need to experience includes preparing to live as celestial people. Celestial people are the only ones in all the universe who are married and have families. Does this explain why one of the first things God instituted on earth was the marriage covenant? Adam and Eve were married/sealed to each other before they ever left the garden.

Marriage on earth fulfills the great commandment to fill (replenish) the earth. It also teaches us what it means to have a spouse and family. This is a big part of how we prepare for the celestial kingdom. True, there are those who never experience marriage in this life, but all who are bound for the celestial kingdom will have the opportunity before their resurrection.

Because marriage is meant to be a celestial institution, and it cannot happen until we at least have a mortal body, this adds weight to why the Lord immediately introduced marriage to our first parents. Marriage not only helps our brothers and sisters to come to earth, but it teaches us the principles of celestial living, i.e. forgiveness, patience, mercy, grace, love, tolerance, etc. Remember, marriage isn’t just about the husband and the wife. Marriage is all about their relationship with each other AND their responsibilities for, and their and relationship with their own children. As far as relationships go, marriage and family is graduate school for the eternities.

Most of our promises and blessings for making and keeping covenants in this life will be fulfilled in the eternities, after our resurrection. But marriage is an immediate need, with much expanded access and greater power and blessings promised in the eternities, but only if we learn how to honor and make holy our commitments here in mortality. For those seeking celestial glory, there is little that is more essential for our growth than what we learn within the relationship bonds of marriage and family. Fortunately, if we don’t get the opportunity to experience these blessings in mortality, we will have a chance before the resurrection. Either way, our focus needs to be on becoming Christlike in our attitudes and behaviors.

Day 2

As you read Genesis 24-27, pay attention to spiritual insights you receive. Pray to know how the principles you find are relevant to your life.

Genesis 25:29-34 – I can choose between immediate gratification and things of greater value.

It is important to remember that the birthright from prophets came in two parts. There was the inheritance part where the (usually) firstborn received all the property of his father, including the responsibilities of caring for the servants and women of the family, then there was the priesthood birthright. The priesthood birthright only existed in the family where the priesthood was a thing. Most families only had the birthright of property to worry about.

When Esau came in from the fields and was faint, we don’t have any idea if he was just low on blood sugar, or if he had actually gone days without food. Either way, he felt close to death, which brings a certain level of desperation. I’m not sure why he couldn’t just come and help himself to the food. For some reason he felt he had to get permission to eat from his brother, Jacob. That is when Jacob set the condition for eating. ‘You sell me your physical birthright, and I will give you the food you want.’

That trade of birthright for a bowl of soup may seem like a really stupid deal, but we weren’t there, so we don’t know the details of what really took place. But Esau honored his place as first born lightly enough that he was willing to swear a covenant to his brother that he would give up his future rights to the family fortune, for a bowl of soup right then.

Have you ever known someone who can’t seem to see the future consequences of their current actions? I have a daughter who can’t see past 15 minutes. That inability to see future consequences has caused her no end of sorrow in her life. Who knows what Esau was thinking when he traded something as valuable as being future head of the family away for a bowl of soup.

The scriptures describe Esau’s behavior as despising his birthright. To most rational adults that is certainly what it looks like. Are we ever guilty of choosing an immediate pleasure or relief from suffering over tomorrow’s promised blessings?

How often have you seen someone choose an immediate fling over eternal marriage, or drugs over temple blessings? It appears that the behavior of Esau isn’t so unusual after all. Too often we get caught up in the immediate desires of life and fail to remember all the promises of better tomorrows the Lord has made to us.

Day 3

As you read Genesis 24-27, pay attention to spiritual insights you receive. Pray to know how the principles you find are relevant to your life.

Genesis 26:1-5 – The Abrahamic covenant was renewed through Isaac.

Sometimes we are taught that God can do what He wants, just because He is who He is. But God doesn’t break His own laws. He instituted the law of witnesses before the earth was formed, and He always follows that law when dealing with His children. The covenant was first made in the form we have it when it was given to Abraham. And following the law of witnesses, that same law was given a second time to Isaac. That provides us with two witnesses that God was not just ‘kidding’ when He made those promises to all of Abraham’s posterity, for he repeated that covenant with Abraham’s son, Isaac. And we will see that to solidify the seriousness of His covenant with Abraham’s family, He will give it yet again the third time to Jacob, Isaac’s son. In this way God sets the president for the blessing continuing from generation to generation in that family line.

Day 4

As you read Genesis 24-27, pay attention to spiritual insights you receive. Pray to know how the principles you find are relevant to your life.

Genesis 26:18-25, 32-33 – Jesus Christ is the well of living water.

Okay, this may be cheating, but I have already written about this exact question, so I will just quote that day’s lesson here. This quote is from the commentary on the New Testament from 2019. Here is the link to that lesson. It is Day 5 in that week’s lessons.

The properties of water are probably as close to a celestial element as you can get in a telestial world. Water has properties that bestow life. We may be able to live for three or more weeks without food, but we cannot last more than 4-7 days without water. As a result of how precious water is to our survival, it has come to represent life itself. Here is John 4:14.

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

I confess that I have always puzzled about this verse and what it meant. I believe I was overthinking the wording, and missing the point. It wasn’t until this time that I began to see the meaning of this verse in a new light. Feel free to let me know what you think of my interpretation in the comments below.

Every day the residents of the town would have to go to the well to refresh their supply of water. Without their water they would, of course, become very thirsty, and begin to suffer the ill effects of the lack of water. Water lubricates our joints and nourishes every cell of our bodies. It is absolutely essential for living. If we go for very long without water our body actually begins to shut down one organ after another until our whole body stops functioning, and we die.

Jesus was promising the woman at the well that the water he had to offer her would be “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” I used to think of this in terms of one sip and you are good forever. I now see that I was foolish in such an assumption. Christ’s role as the Redeemer is to deliver to us the gospel of salvation. The gospel includes all the doctrines, authority, and ordinances needed to return us safely back to the presence of our Father in Heaven. This is the water he offers, the gospel (good news) of Christ.

When we accept the gospel it becomes like our own personal well, always there, always full of spiritual sustenance, and able to exalt us. This is the living waters offered to us by Christ. The gospel refreshes our souls and heals our wounds. It brings us energy and spiritual vitality. It is the only way to gain eternal life. So when the woman was told that if she had known who she was speaking with she would have asked of him for his living water, Jesus was saying, if you knew who I was, you would have asked me to teach you the gospel, for in the gospel are the words of life.

I think I am finally one step closer to really understanding this verse.

How do the words of life, the gospel of Christ ensure we will never again thirst?

What thirst is Jesus referring to?

Are we able to offer this same living water to others? If so, how is that done?

How do we worship in spirit and in truth?

How is this true form of worship demonstrated or practiced?

Day 5

As you read Genesis 24-27, pay attention to spiritual insights you receive. Pray to know how the principles you find are relevant to your life.

Genesis 27 – Were Rebekah and Jacob wrong to deceive Isaac?

The manual points out a repeating message for the Bible, and that is that because it all happened so long ago, we don’t really have all the details of the stories. Sometimes this makes a story look suspect, but that is only because we are missing the needed context. In these cases it is important that we rely on things we do know. We will have to make assumptions from that point on until the Lord reveals more about these events.

What do we know about the story of Jacob and his birthright saga? We know that Isaac was a righteous man who honored and obeyed God. What we don’t know is how Isaac’s preferences for his sons played out in his family life. We do know that Rebekah received a revelation telling her that Jacob was going to receive the priesthood birthright, so that Esau’s posterity would have to serve, or give deference to Jacob’s posterity. When we see that Isaac, for whatever reason, stated that Esau needed to be given his birthright immediately, notice that the story says that Rebekah only overheard Jacob make that announcement. She wasn’t even consulted or informed ahead of time.

Since Rebekah knew what the Lord wanted, she did what was necessary to have the Lord’s will take place. So we know that she was also a righteous person who honored the Lord. And I say this despite her own preference for Jacob as a person. Evidently the personalities of the two boys were very polarizing in the family. Each parent had a definite preference for a particular son, though I am sure they loved them both equally.

The Blessing

Part of the covenant that God made with Abraham, and had also made with Isaac, was that ANYONE who blessed Abraham or Isaac, He, God would also bless, and anyone who cursed them, God would curse. This is a part of the covenant we all share in. This created an interesting dynamic when Isaac ended up giving Jacob the birthright he intended for Esau. Once the birthright was given, Isaac’s hands were tied. He couldn’t rebuke or curse Jacob, because he had just promised Jacob, in the name of the Lord, that anyone who cursed Jacob would be cursed by the Lord. So what else could Isaac say to Esau when Esau wanted his blessing, but that Jacob “shall be blessed”?

We don’t know why Isaac insisted on giving the priesthood birthright to Esau, even though he was a disobedient son (Esau married multiple Hittite wives, against his father’s express commandment). But we see that once the blessing had been given to Jacob, the issue was considered final, and the subject closed. The prophet had spoken the will of the Lord, just not to the person the prophet thought he we speaking to. The Lord really does sometimes work in mysterious ways.

FHE/Personal Study

Improving Personal Study – Memorize a scripture

Memorizing is a skill that has been a staple of every generation from the days of Adam until about 20 years ago. We had to memorize phone numbers, times tables, poems, passages of stories or plays, scriptures, lists, etc. Memorization was a basic life skill everyone was expected to do well in. Today, information is so readily available at our fingertips that we no longer feel a need or desire to make the effort to spend the time required to memorize anything. This is sad, and is a hurt to us, rather than a help to us.

Here is the quote given in the manual from Elder Richard G. Scott.

A memorized scripture becomes an enduring friend that is not weakened with the passage of time.”

Whether we are memorizing hymns, scriptures, or portions of Conference talks that touch our heart, making that text a part of our memory by memorizing it can greatly bless our life. Years ago I needed something to help me through a tough time. I chose to memorize all verses of the hymn Redeemer of Israel. To this day, when things don’t go my way, or life gets extra challenging, those words I memorized back then come into my mind and give me comfort. I know that what Elder Scott said is true. To this day I am still grateful that I made the effort to memorize that hymn.

One of the blessings of the Holy Ghost is that He brings things back to our remembrance when we need them most. Having things memorized ahead of time just creates a ready library for the Holy Ghost to pull from, because we have already learned the material with focused practice. 

Think what a blessing it would be to have the words of the Savior be able to come into your mind during times of temptation or suffering. How much comfort might you be able to derive if you had carefully made the effort to memorize a few verses from the scriptures that held significance for you. What moves you may not move me. But you are the one who needs the comfort and direction from that bit of scripture, not me, so choose to memorize something that has meaning for you. This is a personal choice we all need to make, for the results will be personal as well. I don’t often make promises to you in my commentaries, but I can in this case. If you will choose a short passage from a conference talk or a verse or two from the scriptures that moves you, your life will be blessed in subtle ways for the rest of your time in mortality and beyond. You will be eternally grateful that you made the effort to make the words of eternal life part of your thinking and memories, for those words will support and bless you forever.

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OT09-2022 – The Covenant Is Renewed

Week 09