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September 30, 2013

Eternal Marriage and the Abrahamic Covenant

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ryan Best @ 4:47 pm
Temple marriage is the crowning ordinance of the gospel here in mortality. Because of the significance of temple marriage and temple ordinances in general, we ought to understand the doctrine of eternal marriage and appreciate how the Lord has restored these blessings during our dispensation.
When the Prophet Joseph Smith was seventeen years old, he was visited by the prophet Moroni, who taught Joseph that the long-anticipated return of the prophet Elijah was about to occur and that he would “plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and [that] the hearts of the children [would] turn to their fathers” (Joseph Smith History 1:39; emphasis added).
The way in which this scripture was quoted to Joseph Smith emphasized that the Lord was about to restore very specific and important covenants that the he had made to “the fathers” during past dispensations of the gospel. Who are “the fathers” referred to in this scripture? What were those promises the Lord would soon restore to the earth as part of the gospel in the last days?
According to Elder Bruce R. McConkie, the “fathers” mentioned in Malachi are specifically Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Studies in Scripture, Vol. 3: Genesis to 2 Samuel, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, 52). In sending Moroni to quote that important passage of scripture to the young prophet, the Lord was not merely making a generic statement regarding the importance of genealogy, though that is certainly part of the message. The Lord was specifically referring to those remarkable promises he had made with these three ancient patriarchs.
The blessings referred to in that marvelous prophecy are the covenants and promises known as the Abrahamic covenant, which the Lord personally made with that ancient patriarch. Those same blessings were subsequently extended to Isaac and then to Jacob. The Lord assures the Saints that if they are “Christ’s [followers], then are [they] Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29).
Years later, the Lord sent the prophets Elias and Elijah to commit their vital priesthood keys to the Prophet Joseph Smith. On April 3, 1836, in the recently dedicated Kirtland Temple, the unidentified prophet Elias appeared to Joseph and Oliver and “committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham” into their hands, “saying that in [them] and [in their] seed all generations … should be blessed” (D&C 110:12).
In connection with the appearance of Elias, Elijah came to “plant in the hearts” of Joseph and all the Saints those wonderful privileges and blessings which had been offered to the righteous prophets and patriarchs of past dispensations.
Regarding these marvelous revelations to Joseph and Oliver, Elder McConkie said the following:
God came to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob and he said to each of them in turn that in them and in their seed all generations should be blessed. And he said the same thing to Joseph Smith in modern times; he said exactlywhat he said to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…. Joseph Smith was being told that he was going to receive the kind of blessings that Abraham received….
This is the promise of eternal increase…. Everyone in the Church who has been married in the temple has received exactly the same promise that God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Everyone who is married in the temple and who keeps the covenant has the assurance that he or she will have eternal increase [and] that his [or her] posterity will be like the dust of the earth and the stars of heaven in number (Ibid. 60; emphasis original).
It is remarkable to consider the tremendously significant appearance of Elias and Elijah to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Through his Prophet, the Lord has restored the unsurpassed privileges and blessings of eternal marriage and the astonishing potential of eternal increase. The Lord has endowed us with the holy priesthood and with all the blessings that attend the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Lord spoke anciently with the prophet Abraham, and said, “In thee … and in thy seed … 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” (Abr. 2:11; emphasis added). He has renewed these promises with us in this last dispensation: “This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham …. Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved” (D&C 138:31-32).
By: Alan Stout

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