Sunday, November 8, 2015

Covenants in Ancient Times

 As we read in Genesis 17 we learn a great deal about the patterns after which God  works with His children here on earth. The impact that the covenant the Lord makes with his son Abraham during this chapter has had significant influence on the traditions of the world that we live in today. Abraham was given the law of circumcision as a token of the covenant that was made between God and Abraham's posterity.

Genesis 17:10 - This is my covenant, which ye shall keep between me and you and thy seed after thee; every man child among you shall be circumcised. 

 Through this we are reminded again that the covenants that we make with the Lord require a sacrifice from us. The token of covenants provide a daily reminder of what we have promised and for those not spiritually ready, covenants can seem overwhelming or extreme. However, the pattern is clear and this way is seen from the most ancient of times that God tutors and rears His children by giving them promises or covenants to make, and reminders for us to keep them.

I can imagine how the less spiritually minded young men must have felt when they heard as it states in Genesis 17:11 - 

Genesis 17:11 - And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 

The physical pain of circumcision may have felt unbearable at the time but the promise to be multiplied exceedingly greatly triumphs the token that would be a reminder of great blessings.

The President of BYU, Kevin J. Wortham stated in regards to covenants:

"Making and keeping eternal covenants with God gives individuals the opportunity to complete their faith through action.
“By entering into a promise to do something to demonstrate our faith and then by following up on that promise, we complete our faith, thereby making it a live, operative power in our lives,” he said.
By entering into and keeping gospel covenants, individuals are able to focus on the future, looking forward with strength to meet trials and challenges. Covenants enliven and strengthen faith, giving individuals the eternal perspective they need to overcome their past and present difficulties." ( Covenants Connect Us to Heaven, June 2015 ) 
As I ponder covenants, and our actions to remember them and keep them, I am reminded of the temple garment. When I first went to the temple at age eighteen, I  was spiritually unprepared for this action that I was taking. I did not understand how God works with His children through promises and actions that will symbolize what we have promised. Instead of searching the scriptures, seeking and praying to gain a stronger testimony of what I now find to be beautiful and an enormous blessing; I avoided addressing my feelings. Eventually, continual avoidance of divine guidance that I should have sought cost me a terrible price and I  would then find myself in the position that I wanted to partake in temple covenants and wear the temple garment but I could not do so with out disruption to my marriage of a non-member. Years past in my desires  to return to the temple and eventually the spirit and my desire to follow God and keep my covenants drove me to accept whatever the consequence would be in me keeping my promises to God and going back to the temple, despite the negative comments from my spouse.
My only regret now is that I did not do that sooner. The impact attending the temple every two weeks has had on my life is astounding and undeniable. My capacity to overcome temptation is strengthened. My heart is healed every time I read the scriptures in the temple, as I open the scriptures to exact passages that answer the questions of my heart that have never been uttered from my mouth. My family is directly blessed as I keep my covenants. As I attend, wear the temple garment and keep my temple covenants, the spirit is with me more fully and angels have charge over me. ( D&C 109:22 )
Oh had I known better how the Lord works with His children in providing daily reminder of what we have promised through the garment, yet I do know the Lord works all things for out good. ( Romans 8:28 ) 
The act of  circumcision was one of Abraham's outward reminders of inward promises, along with many others.
I love the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I understand the great privilege that it is to make and keep covenants with my God and Jesus Christ. I only hope that I can share God's ways and patterns with my children and anyone who will read -in order that they may avoid some of the spiritual maturity that I have lacked and that they will know that as they turn to God in scripture study, prayer and temple attendance; with a pure and humble heart God can teach and will teach those whom desire to learn. I love Him, He is my everything. 
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

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