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Whereas Adam and Eve were the parents of the human race, Abraham and Sarah were the parents of the faithful. Like Adam and Eve, whose faith was so great that they were able to approach God in mighty prayer and receive his assurance of a Savior and plan of salvation for their family,[i] Abraham and Sarah also had great faith as they approached God in mighty prayer and received the promises of the new and everlasting covenant and the perpetual rights to priesthood for their family.
They received the promise that the Savior would come through their lineage and, that through the combined ministries of the Savior and their family, the children of Adam and Eve could be blessed with the Covenant.
Abraham and Sarah’s heritage was Zion, and Zion was what they desired to reestablish as a legacy.[ii] Reading the records of his fathers, Abraham knew that he had a right to the priesthood and therefore was of the heritage of Zion.[iii] For the purpose of placing the priesthood power to become Zion into Abraham’s hands, the Lord guided him to Melchizedek, whose people were Zion-like.[iv]
Later, Melchizedek and his people in Salem were translated and taken from the earth, as had been Enoch and his people. Then, we assume, Abraham and Sarah were left behind as the surviving Zion people on the earth. Through them, the Lord would perpetuate the new and everlasting covenant.
The new and everlasting covenant comprises all gospel blessings, including eternal marriage and eternal posterity. The familial right to this Covenant was given to this wonderful couple. Because we are literally their children, or adopted into their family by baptism, we are heirs to their blessings. Abraham received the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant, the priesthood, temple blessings, and eternal marriage in an unbroken chain from Melchizedek back to Noah, to Enoch, to Adam.
Of Abraham, Elder McConkie wrote,
He was called by the Lord to “be a father of many nations.” To him the Lord said: “I will establish my covenant [the gospel covenant] between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.” (Genesis 17:4, 7.) “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:18), meaning that all who thereafter believed what Abraham believed and lived as Abraham lived would bless themselves through the everlasting gospel covenant. The Lord promised Abraham, “Thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee,” the Lord promised Abraham, “that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations.” This is the very thing the seed of Abraham is commencing to do in these last days. “I will bless them [all nations] through thy name,” the Lord continues, “for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father.” Even the believing Gentiles shall cleave unto Abraham, account him as their father, and be adopted into his family. “And I will bless them that bless thee,” saith the Lord, “and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) 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.” (Abraham 2:9–11.)[v]
Has there ever been such a promise? If we are faithful, we, the children of Abraham, receive the blessings of Abraham. “The seed of Abraham shall take the gospel and the priesthood to all nations, and those who accept the divine word shall become as though they too were the chosen seed.” Abraham’s children “have a right to hear the gospel, and if they accept it, to receive the priesthood, to have their own family units continue everlastingly so that they with Abraham shall have eternal life.”[vi] When the Lord establishes Zion in the life of a person, family, or priesthood society, He does it through the ministry of Abraham’s authorized children.
Adam and Eve and Abraham and Sarah are our models. At various points of the temple experience, we see them exemplified. We see them as they seek for and secure blessings for themselves and for us, their children. When we set out on our journey to find redemption, we are like Adam and Eve, who set the example for that experience. When we kneel with our sweethearts at a temple altar to be married for eternity, we assume, then follow, the example of Abraham and Sarah, receiving all the blessings that were given to them in the same culminating temple ordinance. These blessings define and exalt Zion people.
Abraham knew something about the priesthood that we need to know. He knew that achieving the celestial kingdom was not possible unless he took someone with him, and he knew that taking someone with him was not possible without the priesthood. Therefore, he diligently sought the priesthood so that he could bless others: “I sought after the right,” he said, “whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same.”[vii]
Blessing other people, we are taught, results in one of the highest attainments of joy: If we cry repentance, the Lord says, “How great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”[viii] Abraham knew that the priesthood offered him “greater happiness and peace and rest,”[ix] and rest, of course, is the fulness of the glory of the Lord.[x]
Abraham spared no effort or expense in seeking the blessings of the priesthood. His quest required that he move away from a wicked environment,[xi] a quest every Zion person must make. In seeking the priesthood, Abraham exemplified these qualifications and desires:
- He had been a follower of righteousness.
- He had a desire to become a greater follower of righteousness.
- He had a desire for great knowledge.
- He had a desire to possess a greater knowledge.
- He had a desire to become a father of many nations (an eternal father).
- He had a desire to become a prince of peace, like Melchizedek and the Savior.
- He had a desire to receive instructions from God.
- He had a desire to keep the highest revealed commandments of God.
Abraham was, by birth, a rightful heir to the priesthood, as we, his children, are. That he had to qualify for his appointment to the priesthood by desire and righteousness should be a lesson for all of us. Abraham’s journey to receive the priesthood took him from Ur to Hebron to Salem, where he finally met Melchizedek, the only man on earth who had the keys to confer upon him the holy priesthood and its blessings.
Now Abraham’s faith, faithfulness, patience, and endurance were rewarded. He was ordained a high priest, and his authoritative minis- try began. We, who are Abraham’s children, have been commanded to do likewise: “Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.”[xii]
Now ordained and empowered, having covenanted to be obedient to “every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God,”[xiii] to sacrifice all things,[xiv] and to remain faithful in the Covenant, Abraham received blessings that every worthy priesthood holder might expect to receive: a revelation of the Creation and all the works of God; an endowment of divine knowledge and power; a specially proffered gift; and God’s setting him apart for a special commission.
Abraham’s journey in the priesthood would lead him to coronation; he would become a king and a priest unto God forever, and he would be set in his kingdom by the ordinance of eternal marriage. Because the priesthood temple ordinances are also available to the daughters and adopted daughters of Abraham, worthy women also may qualify to receive these blessings. This is the priesthood journey of our parents, Adam and Eve and Abraham and Sarah, which journey is symbolized in the sacred setting of the temple.
Our journey to celestial glory is like theirs. Every power in the priesthood, every covenant, ordinance, instruction, and honor, even the privilege of eternal marriage and entering into the patriarchal order of the Gods—everything that was given to these, our parents, is offered to us if we, too, desire, qualify, sacrifice, and endure.
In both Adam’s and Abraham’s examples, we see the ultimate blessing of the priesthood: to stand in the presence of God. Of Adam, it is recorded: “Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing. And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel.”[xv]
Centuries later, Abraham wrote: “I, Abraham . . . prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared unto me.” In that vision, the Lord declared, “I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot; I say to the mountains—Depart hence—and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly. My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.”
When the vision had ended, Abraham exclaimed, “Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee.”[xvi]
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[i] Moses 5:6–12.
[ii] Hebrews 11:9, 16.
[iii] Abraham 1:2–3, 31.
[iv] Clark, The Blessings of Abraham, 136–41.
[v] McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 36.
[vi] McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 37.
[vii] Abraham 1:2.
[viii] D&C 18:15.
[ix] Abraham 1:2.
[x] D&C 84:24.
[xi] Abraham 1:1.
[xii] D&C 132:32.
[xiii] D&C 84:44.
[xiv] Smith, Lectures on Faith, 6:7.
[xv] D&C 107:43-53, emphasis added.
[xvi] Abraham 2:6-8, 12.
Dick ThordersoosnDecember 18, 2014
Keith WigglesworthDecember 17, 2014
As a patriarch of the Church, I just wanted to thank you for an excellent and informative article. Too often when I have members coming for their blessing, and I have to spend a lot of time explaining the background to a patriarchal blessing. I am thinking I will send this article with the appointment letter, with your permission, so that the Patriarchal blessing when given, is then more meaningful at that time.