Editor’s Note: much more is available to learn about this topic in Kathy’s latest book The Great Plan of Happiness and The Covenant – Threaded Through Old Testament Times. Pre-order your copy HERE and receive a FREE eBook version while you wait.
How to Powerfully Teach Your Children about Covenants and the Old Testament
Perhaps we can all relate to statements I’ve heard Church members make like, “I’ve studied the scriptures all my life but have never made it through the Old Testament” or “I know the Old Testament is important, but the mining process to find nuggets of truth seems far more difficult than other scripture.” Or “I believe in the God of the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, but I find it difficult to believe in the God of the Old Testament.”
Maybe this is one reason why our current prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has asked us to “make a list of all that the Lord has promised He will do for covenant Israel. I think you will be astounded! Ponder these promises. Talk about them with your family and friends. Then live and watch for these promises to be fulfilled in your own life.” [October 2020 General Conference “Let God Prevail”]
What Prompted Me to Create this Book?
When we studied the Old Testament four years ago, I was called as a Gospel Doctrine teacher. It really made the Abrahamic Covenant come alive for me. I studied the blessings and cursings of this covenant in Deuteronomy and made a list of them to the best of my understanding. I even had them engraved on wooden plaques to hang on the wall of our home.
President Russell M. Nelson has repeatedly emphasized the House of Israel, the Abrahamic Covenant, Children of the Covenant and the Covenant Path. He taught us that we have an important role in the Gathering of Israel and that it is the most important work on the earth at this time. Just recently, as he referred to the upheavals of the last days, he said, “the safest place to be spiritually is living inside your temple covenants!” [Oct 2021 General Conference “The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation” ]
Fire filled my heart to understand as much as I could about the Covenant, the House of Israel, the Gathering of Israel, and our role in it. A new book came out earlier this year by Kerry Muhlestein, PhD called “God Will Prevail”. I saw an article about it on Meridian Magazine and I began to see the thread of the covenant woven from the Pre-Existence through all Eternity! I began to see that it is really all one covenant. Then covenant knowledge and phrases started to pop out everywhere in the scriptures, conference talks, and the temple.
How are our children and youth to grow up understanding this precious and eternal idea?
As I was watching the first Friend to Friend virtual broadcast, the spirit prompted me very strongly to find a way to teach the rising generation about the covenant in a simple way that they can understand. Even though I felt inadequate for the job, I proceeded by just being obedient and my life will never be the same.
I learned more about our all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God and the eternal power of covenants than ever before. I learned that I am not just here to secure salvation for myself and my children. It is an eternal family affair. When we covenant with God, we covenant with all our eternal siblings as well. He will accomplish His Plan and He does it with our help and through covenants.
What is the Covenant?
Testament means “sacred agreement” or “covenant.” The Old Testament, or the “Old Covenant” tells the story of God’s covenant with His children upon the earth, beginning with Adam and Eve. This story is continuously threaded throughout all scripture, the gospel and the temple. People living during Old Testament times had a better cultural understanding of covenant than we do today. It is most helpful to our study to understand more about covenant.
Covenant was introduced in the pre-mortal world when Heavenly Father introduced His children to His loving plan for our progression. Covenant is His best tool to bind (or keep) us in a relationship with Him. The only way we can ultimately inherit all that He has is through covenant. What a marvelous plan! We were all invited to participate in this covenant. Agency is sacred and honored. Because we are here on earth, we know we made that covenant in the beginning. Mortality would be wasted without the covenant.
The House of Israel was also formed in the pre-existence when God called a group of His most valiant children to serve Him. This was not an elite group but a group of worthy volunteers. Their job was to help their brothers and sisters to progress. The Plan of Happiness is a community effort and a family affair. All are invited, and everyone who makes covenant with God becomes part of the House of Israel
Throughout history, God has made covenants with His children. He sets the conditions and offers blessings. We agree to participate or not. These covenants are hand-designed by our all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God for each person, or group of people, according to their needs and preparation to receive. All covenants with God are a continuation of the original covenant. He renews it again later when it is rejected or forgotten. It’s all one covenant with the same purpose “this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” [Moses 1:39] God will ALWAYS keep His part of the covenant. Even when we forget our covenant with Him, He NEVER forgets us.
Acting as one, each member of the Godhead is involved in carrying out the covenant. God, our Father, presented the plan. His Son, Jesus Christ, became our Savior and Redeemer through His atonement and is the Mediator of the Covenant and the God of the Old Testament. The Holy Ghost, the Testator, provides guidance and comfort, especially in mortality without our memory of heaven.
The Old Testament is a treasure that shows the successes and failures of the people’s efforts to maintain their covenant relationship with their God. It also shows God’s magnificent love for them and His endless efforts in their behalf when they strayed. We can learn much from this.
Over the years, and through many translations, parts of the Old Testament writings became distorted or taken out, making it much more difficult to “mine those nuggets of truth.” Our gracious Heavenly Father hasn’t left us in the dark. He has restored and provided additional knowledge through revelation. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ greatly enhances our knowledge of Old Testament times.
When we add restored gospel knowledge about our all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God to Old Testament stories, suddenly we see Him through a different lens. We come to understand that a curse is the opposite of a promised blessing and really is a blessing in disguise to get our attention and return us to a relationship with Him. He is no longer the stern, harsh God we may have thought before. We learn that Adam and Eve received the covenant ordinances of baptism, priesthood and eternal marriage. We come to understand that whenever God had a willing people ready to receive, they had covenants and ordinances available to them.
It is powerful to learn and teach our children covenant stories from the past. These help us remember who we are and the covenant blessings we have available to us. Now is our time. We live in the Last Dispensation of the Fullness of Times. Our generation includes all others.
As baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are the House of Israel! It is our covenant responsibility to reach out and lift our brothers and sisters across the world and help gather scattered Israel on both sides of the veil. We have all the necessary blessings to fulfill our last days missions. We just need to become more aware of and claim them.
This new book, The Great Plan of Happiness and The Covenant is designed for Latter-day Saint families, to help the rising generation come to understand themselves and their all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God like never before. It takes you through the Old Testament stories weaving the thread of covenant and is accompanied by beautiful art on almost every page. May this become a family heirloom to raise your covenant consciousness. May we all become Children of the Covenant.
If you don’t learn anything else new this year from your study of the Old Testament, I pray you learn to see the thread of covenant from the pre-existence all the way through. I pray you see Jehovah, our Savior Jesus Christ, in every chapter. I pray we all learn that the great love of our Heavenly Parents through their covenant plan is our greatest eternal blessing!
This book is designed for Latter-day Saint families, from a restored gospel perspective. I pray it becomes a family heirloom in your home. It is 336 pages, hardbound with beautiful artwork on almost every page. May your covenant consciousness be raised. As Children of the Covenant, may we all come to understand who we are, what we are to do and what blessings are available to us. Then, with our covenant identity in the forefront, we can “let God prevail”, accomplish our last days missions, and together receive all that God has for us.