covenant path
Week 18 is scheduled for study April 25-May 1, 2022. We are quick to see Israel’s flaws in keeping to their covenant path. This week we mainly discuss covenants and how well we keep on our own covenant path.

Day 1

Not every meaningful principle in the scriptures can be highlighted in these outlines. Listen to the Spirit to help you focus on the truths you need.

Exodus 24:1-11 – My covenants show my willingness to obey God’s law.

Reading these verses caused me to start wondering what it was the Lord originally commanded them to do in order to worship Him properly. There isn’t just one way that we can worship Him. God has commanded His children to worship Him in several ways since the beginning. Adam built altars and offered up animal sacrifices, but he wasn’t living the law of Moses. So what was it the children of Israel were supposed to do? While I don’t think we will know the specifics to this question anytime soon, I believe we can be confident that whatever they were commanded to do involved recognizing the Christ that was to come in all that they did. Doing all things in his name has been the consistent directive since the days of Adam and Eve.

The table below has the reasons for why doing things in Jesus’ name has always been so important to the children of Adam. Please note that in the verses being quoted from the manual (Moses 5:4-9) I have slipped in a verse from one of the footnotes that helps move the narrative forward. It is Alma 42:9.

And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.

Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death. (Alma 42:9)

And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.

And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.

Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.

And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.

Verse 4 shows us that Adam and Eve were physically shut out of God’s presence. When they called upon Him they heard His voice coming from the direction of Eden, but they were no longer allowed to see His face.

The verse from Alma reminds us that it is “expedient” or necessary that we be redeemed from this physical separation from God, which is our spiritual death.


Verse 5 tells us that to the end that we can be able to return to God, He has given us commandments. Their commandments had to do with the offerings they made on the altars they built. The laws they were commanded to live were the same as our laws (in that all laws focused on turning to Christ), but they were commanded to worship in a way that only those who lived before the life of Christ were to worship. After the life of Christ the people obeyed the commandments by offering up their hearts upon a symbolic altar, not a physical altar, to show their obedience to God’s commandments.

Verse 7 tells us that their commandments to offer sacrifices was a likeness (similitude) of the sacrifice Christ would make for the sins of all mankind.

Verse 8 tells us that we are to do all that we do in the name of the Son forevermore. That commandment has never changed, even though the name of Christ has been removed from the Old Testament. They knew of Christ.

Finally, in verse 9 Adam and Eve are told that “as many as will” or ‘as many as are willing’ can be redeemed from their sins and return to God. This is the reason for the commandments God has given to His children from the days of Adam to the end of time itself.

This may seem a little round about, but all of this is to say that what God has us doing is what He had ancient Israel doing. They made covenants and offered sacrifices on altars of stone, while we make covenants and make sacrifices of our hearts to God through the promises we make to Him, and in the way we live our lives. Both we and ancient Israel worship in the name of Christ, and all of our covenants focus on him and the atoning sacrifice he made for one and all. In this way ancient Israel and the modern Saints are the same. Both of us are fulfilling the commandments of the Lord and worshiping Him in the name of Jesus the Christ.

Today’s lesson asks the question whether we are willing to obey God’s law. We have the record before us to see how quickly ancient Israel abandoned their covenants (over and over again). How is my personal track record with the covenants I have made? Am I being faithful to what I have accepted from, and promised to God?

Day 2

Not every meaningful principle in the scriptures can be highlighted in these outlines. Listen to the Spirit to help you focus on the truths you need.

Exodus 32-34 – Sin is turning away from God, but He offers a way back.

Let’s examine Exodus 32:1 for a moment. The children of Israel are feeling abandoned by Moses. He brought them to the foot of the mountain, gave them God’s commandments, which they agreed to, but then Moses disappeared up the sides of the mountain. It has now been a long time since he left (remember the 40 day and 40 nights expression for a long time). They don’t know if he is alive or dead, while meanwhile they are sitting doing nothing in the middle of a wilderness with no leader in sight.

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

What is this “go before us” business? Remember that in Egypt, their gods were represented and placed before the people everywhere. If they weren’t the monumental giants of statues, they were little carvings that adorned their homes and were in their markets. They were everywhere. In the wilderness, Israel had a cloud that led them in the daytime and then turned into a pillar of fire to give them light at night, but no images of a god were anywhere in sight. They knew they were headed to the Promised Land where they were supposed to fight all the current occupants, and since Moses had “abandoned” them, they wanted something to carry before them to represent their God. This appears to be the reason they approached Aaron and demanded the golden calf.

This all makes me wonder just how much the Israelites really understood about the God they were supposed to be worshiping. At this point, despite all the miracles Jehovah had done for them, they still acted like this current God was really no different from the gods they had while in Egypt. Their spiritual eyes were not opened to what they were really dealing with. That may have partially been because they weren’t seeking the Spirit to help them understand. They were still trying to grasp heavenly things with the mortal mind.

Israel didn’t understand, but even when they did understand, they were quick to turn away. They were obedient when their prophet was right in front of them acting as the go between for them and the Lord, but as soon as he was out of sight, and they had to rely on their own spiritual staying power, they crumbled. We learn in some of the other verses in this reading assignment (check the footnotes) that there were plenty of proofs of God’s power and might. They had ample evidence of His expectations of them, yet they still set their own conceits, their own wisdom before God’s commandments, and for this reason they were punished.

How often do each of us, in our own way, demonstrate that we are so much like our spiritual ancestors, ancient Israel. We put our own desires before the Lord, our own will before Christ’s, and our own lusts before his call for our purity? Israel was indeed punished that day. We are told that more than 3,000 men died by the swords of the Levite priests that day. Moses sought forgiveness for Israel and pleaded with the Lord to forgive them. This is one of those instances where the life of Moses was a physical likeness of the life of Christ. For we all turn from God at some point, and it is Christ’s atoning sacrifice that allows for our forgiveness.

Even as Moses pled with the Lord for Israel’s forgiveness, so Christ pleads for each of us. But no matter how much the Savior may want us to be forgiven, ultimately, our forgiveness is up to us. Are we willing to keep his commandments and live the life he has told us is required to receive the forgiveness he so willingly offers us? We are promised by the prophets that as many times as we are willing to return to Christ and promise once again to keep his commandments, that he will forgive us. So in the end, if we leave mortality in a state of rebellion, that is on us, not God. For God is always merciful. He has promised to forgive us, as he put it, seventy times seven.

Day 3

Not every meaningful principle in the scriptures can be highlighted in these outlines. Listen to the Spirit to help you focus on the truths you need.

Joseph Smith Translation, Exodus 34:1-2 – What was the difference between the two sets of stone tables Moses made?

The difference between the two sets of stone tables is two fold. Firstly, the Lord made the first set, and wrote His law on them for Moses to take to the people. Secondly, after the first set of tables were broken by Moses, the Lord made Moses make his own set of tables and carry them up the mountain. The Lord still wrote the law on the tables of stone for the people, but this time the law Moses was to deliver the people was without the Melchizedek priesthood. It was a law of carnal commandments to prepare the people for the day they would be able to live the higher law, which was when Jesus ministered personally on the earth.

Here is the JST (Joseph Smith Translation) of Exodus 34:1-2. The text in italics is the text added or altered by Joseph Smith.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two other tables of stone, like unto the first, and I will write upon them also, the words of the law, according as they were written at the first on the tables which thou brakest; but it shall not be according to the first, for I will take away the priesthood out of their midst; therefore my holy order, and the ordinances thereof, shall not go before them; for my presence shall not go up in their midst, lest I destroy them.

But I will give unto them the law as at the first, but it shall be after the law of a carnal commandment; for I have sworn in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my presence, into my rest, in the days of their pilgrimage. Therefore do as I have commanded thee, and be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me, in the top of the mount.

So the first set of stone tables included the higher priesthood and higher ordinances of that priesthood. The second set only held the ordinances of the Aaronic priesthood. This means they might have had baptism, since that is an Aaronic priesthood ordinance, but they could not have had the gift of the Holy Ghost, since that is a higher priesthood ordinance, and only Moses had that higher priesthood. I recommend reading The Covenant and Symbolism of Baptism.

FHE/Personal Study

Exodus 32:1-8 – How can we remain on the path?

In the manual this topic is designed as an activity for the family to enjoy. You create a path through the house or outside then, as you slowly walk that path, you discuss things that could divert your attention and cause you to step off the path. I see this as a great visual for what really happens to us in life.

The thought occurred to me that sometimes when I am tempted to step off my covenant path, that which tempts me has nothing to do with the covenants I’ve made. So why would something completely unrelated be a temptation at all? As an example, if I have set as my goal to be faithful in my church attendance, but I get caught up in local politics, what happens when important meetings are held on the Sabbath that will determine who will be representing my party or what will be discussed at the next meeting? Do I miss Church in order to be a participating member in influencing the local politics, like the prophet recommends?

What if I have promised myself that I will attend the temple twice a month, which happens to be in my same town? All goes well for a while, until I have needs arise that I feel is very pressing, so I don’t go to the temple that day. Interestingly enough, something else comes up that was unplanned, and I miss the next scheduled time as well. Now I’ve missed an entire month of temple attendance, and the old adage applies – out of sight, out of mind.

These are just two examples, albeit weak ones, where things that are completely unrelated to what I have chosen to do to get closer to God, lure me away from my chosen path. This same principle applies to daily prayer, scripture study, doing good for others, staying close to my family members, etc. What I am seeing here is a pattern that requires regular review and decision making. I need to be constantly watching and thinking about the choices I make each and every day to see how that choice will impact my spiritual life. It may require constant decisions and prioritizing to keep the spiritual side of life at the fore of my priorities.

Satan and the world are so good at being subtle. We need to become consistent in our choices to always put God and His work first in our life. We may find it easy to point the finger of scorn at ancient Israel for so quickly stepping off their covenant path, but are we just as quick to recognize how quickly we, ourselves, tend to step off our path?

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OT18-2022 – My Presence Shall Go With Thee

Week 18