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Our God is a God of covenants. God makes covenants and He keeps His covenants.
The scriptures record, preserve, and reveal God’s covenantal nature. God covenanted with our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He promised them property, posterity, and prosperity (see Genesis 12, 15, and 17). He acted through mighty acts of wonder to save our ancestors from Egyptian bondage. At Mount Sinai He invited our ancestors, and by extension all of us, to covenant to be loyal to Him (see Exodus 20 and the Book of Deuteronomy).
God’s recorded relationship with the House of Israel found in scripture shows God consistently and continually acting to be true to His covenant to offer us salvation. And at times He has to allow us to suffer the consequences of breaking covenant with Him.
Isaiah recorded many of these covenantal interactions between God and His people, which Nephi then quoted. In 2 Nephi 26-30, Nephi provides a covenantal interpretation of why Nephi’s words and the words of Isaiah should matter to us. And in so doing, Nephi describes the covenantal nature and characteristics of God.
“For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness.” (2 Nephi 26:23).
God has revealed and preserved His covenants in scripture.
Prophets ancient and modern declare the mind and will of God with the intent that we willingly enter into the presence of God. These things are not hidden from us. As Amos taught, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealed his secret [heavenly council] unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7)
“He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.” (2 Nephi 26:24).
Why does God make, offer, and keep covenants? He wants us to be saved. So desirous is God for us to be with Him, to be as He is that He willingly gave up His life to heal the breach caused as we have broken the covenants God offered us.
“Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.” (2 Nephi 26:27-28)
Everyone has full and equal access to the salvation of God.
He simply asks that we be His people by living in accordance to His will.
“He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. Wherefore, if they should have charity they would not suffer the laborer in Zion to perish. (2 Nephi 26:29-30)
Why is priestcraft such a heinous crime? We does God so strenuously command against it? If we take a covenantal perspective we remember that the purpose of priests and prophets is to reveal God’s covenantal instructions so that we can demonstrate our love and loyalty to Him. If we do not know what our covenantal obligations are, how can we be fully loyal to God? How can we be saved if we do not know the path? If someone reveals covenantal instructions that are different or contradictory than what God has revealed, can we stay on the covenant path? Can we find our way to the Tree of Life? No.
False priests, false prophets, and priestcraft establish alternate paths than the revealed covenant path. They lead us somewhere, but not to God who has no patience for those who would mislead His people. Those who profit from misleading the people of God are set to receive special condemnation from God.
As Nephi concludes at the end of 2 Nephi 26, God does not hide His intentions. God is plain, clear, open, full of charity, love, and salvific purpose for everyone!
“For [the Lord] doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” (2 Nephi 26:33)
Call to action: How are you seeking to understand and live God’s covenant path? What do you learn from the words of Nephi and Isaiah about God’s covenantal nature?
My latest video with Tyler Griffin and Book of Mormon Central focused on 2 Nephi 26-30.