Hey guys, so within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints you might hear talk about something called the “Abrahamic Covenant.” In this episode, we’re going to talk about what this covenant is to Latter-day Saints, and why it’s so incredibly important. There are a ton of scriptures that apply to this subject. We won’t read them all here, but we’ll put references up on the screen throughout the video, which you can pause to read if you’d like. Let’s do it!
Alright, so at its core, a covenant is a promise. In the Old Testament and in Latter-day Saint scripture, we learn about a very important, multifaceted covenant that God made with the Old Testament patriarch, Abraham, because of his faithfulness. God also promises to renew that covenant with Abraham’s descendants. It’s renewed with Abraham’s son, Isaac, and Isaac’s son, Jacob. We’re going to simplify the promises made to Abraham by dividing them into 3 categories, the 3 Ps: Promised lands; Posterity; and Priesthood-slash-Gospel.
God promised Abraham’s descendants a promised land for them to inherit. It’s what everybody is singing about in The Prince of Egypt. Following this covenant pattern, at different times, God has also promised different lands to different peoples. Abraham was also promised an innumerable posterity, numbered “as the dust of the earth,” through which, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. And indeed, all the nations of the earth have been blessed through a descendant of Abraham by the name of Jesus Christ. But in another way, that promise is still being fulfilled today as the family of Abraham takes the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, which brings us to the third set of promised blessings: That Abraham’s posterity would have access to the priesthood of God and the gospel, which they would be responsible for sharing with the world.
Kent Jackson pointed out that “Since the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when gospel blessings have been on earth they have been made available through the house of Israel.” This is one reason why Christ in the New Testament tells the Samaritan woman that “salvation is of the Jews.” In this sense, Abraham’s posterity is a “chosen” people. Not chosen in the sense that God loves them more or that they are better than anyone else. They are “chosen” for service; chosen to be workers, to bring the gospel to the world.
Now, in the New Testament, as the time comes for the gospel message to be opened up to the Gentiles, we see something important happen. Paul teaches that “if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Literal lineage no longer mattered — It didn’t matter if you were a Jew or a Gentile — if you accepted Christ and His gospel, you became part of the covenant family of Abraham and an heir to the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, as long as you stayed faithful: Promised lands, posterity, and access to the priesthood and gospel. Latter-day Saints believe that after a period of apostasy, this covenant was renewed by God once again through Joseph Smith as part of the Restoration.
Today, as in New Testament times, as you accept the gospel, you become part of the family of Abraham, regardless of what your literal lineage is. But how do the promised blessings, the three Ps, apply to us today? Anciently, Israel was promised that they would inherit Canaan as a “promised land.” Today, one way we can think about this is that each of us is promised the opportunity to inherit the Celestial Kingdom of God after this life as our “promised land.”
Concerning posterity we read in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Abraham received promises concerning his seed … both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars … This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham….” In other words, you’re promised an eternal family, following the pattern of God’s family.
And of course, we believe that within our faith is found the third “P,” the priesthood of God, and as authorized administrators of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Latter-day Saints take missionary work very seriously. As heirs of the Covenant it is our responsibility, as it was anciently, to bring the gospel to the world.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said it well: “What, then, is the Abrahamic covenant? It is that Abraham and his seed (including those adopted into his family) shall have all of the blessings of the gospel, of the priesthood, and of eternal life.” The Abrahamic Covenant is the glue that binds the gospel story together.
- The first book of the Old Testament establishes the Abrahamic Covenant.
- The first verse of the first book of the New Testament ties Jesus Christ to Abraham.
- The title page of the Book of Mormon explains that one of the purposes of the book “is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord…”
- Joseph Smith’s first recorded revelation (from the September 1823 visit of the angel Moroni) references the Abrahamic Covenant: “I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet … And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers….”