I am Jason, the son of David, the priest - Yason Bendavid Hakohen. From father to son, generation to generation, a descendant of Aaron, bound to the service of Jehovah and his tabernacle and temple and the arc of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who is Israel. Hear the words of your Lord and God, which I am charged to lay before you.

To those who are young, obey these commandments of the Lord. To those who are old, teach these commandments to your children and your children’s children, that they may know the right path. Keep these commandments and you will be blessed and receive the joy of our Lord.

Covenant Marriage

In the opening chapters of the Book of Mormon, we read the story of Nephi and his brothers striving to get the brass plates that contained the scriptural record. Ultimately, Nephi was ordered to kill one man and deceive another who stood between his family and the plates which are the records of God’s dealings and promises made with their forefathers.

The brass plates, which contained much of what we know as the Old Testament, tell stories of the patriarchs and the covenants God made with Adam and his righteous children. It is through the scriptures contained in the brass plates and the Old Testament, reinforced by further scripture, that we learn of the commandment of marriage within God’s covenant with us. Among the events of the creation, Adam reveals this vital commandment: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

The covenant that God made with Adam and his descendants were later restored to Abraham “who sought the blessings of the fathers” (Abraham 1:2) and he passed them on to his children. “I will make of thee (Abraham) a great nation, and I will bless thee, and will make thy name great, … and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3) These covenants included the marriage commandment to be kept as part of these promises. Whether through lineal descent from Abraham, Issac, and Jacob or through accepting such through baptism, we become the inheritors of these men and their covenants with the Lord God. We are bound by the same promises and the commandment to marry within the covenant.

It is not just where and in what manner we marry that conforms to the covenant commandment, it is just as vital to marry one who is also bound to the covenant. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob show us this important part of marriage within the covenant.

“I (Abraham) will make thee swear by the Lord, … that thou shall not take a wife unto my son (Isaac) of the daughters of the Canaanites… but thou shall go unto … my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.” (Genesis 24:3-4) Abraham’s servant found Rebekah in the house of his kindred and brought her to Isaac to make a covenant marriage and they brought two sons, Esau and Jacob, into their family.

“And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shall not take a wife of the daughters of Cannan. Arise, go … to the house of … thy mother’s father, and take thee a wife … of the daughters of … thy mother’s brother … and God Almighty … give thee the blessings of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee ...” (Genesis 28:1-4) Jacob worked for fourteen years to gain the covenant marriage he desired and was blessed with many children born in the covenant. As a contrast, his brother Esau thought little of the promises God made with his fathers, ignored the commandments, married a Hittite wife, and broke from the Lord and his covenant.

Back in the Book of Mormon, after Lehi had read these stories in the brass plates, his son Nephi recorded this: “...the Lord spake unto [Lehi] … that his sons should take [Ismael’s] daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise. And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that I, Nephi, should return again unto the land of Jerusalem and bring down Ishmael and his family into the wilderness.” (1 Nephi 7:1-2)

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also, my brethren took of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; … And thus had my father fulfilled all the commandments of the Lord which had been given unto him. And also, I, Nephi, had been blessed of the Lord exceedingly.”

In two books of scripture, we see that the righteous children of Abraham obeyed the commandment to marry within the covenant and the fulfillment of the Lord’s promised blessings. How joyous it is to live in times when establishing this covenant with God and receiving these blessings is available to all who meet his requirements and not just through lineage! Everyone in this room can be just as worthy of the blessings of the covenant as Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah.

The Prime Relationship

Staying with Abraham for a moment, there was a situation in the family that highlights what the prime relationship in life and eternity should be. The Lord promised Abraham a large posterity but for a long time, he and Sarah had no children and it was thought that Sarah was barren, so she arranged for Abraham to have a child by her Egyptian handmaid Hagar and Ishmael came into the world. It was thought that such an arrangement would fulfill God’s promise, but as so often happens, the Lord does things in his own fashion and Sarah, in her old age, gave birth to Isaac. The record seems to give some indication of animosity between Hagar, who prided herself as the fertile mother of beloved Ishmael, and Sarah, who was first and foremost the covenant wife of Abraham. Ultimately, Hagar and her son are sent away and the record then concentrates on Isaac, the son born of the covenant union. The important relationship seems to be the covenant marriage between Abraham and Sarah.

We are so often told by secular culture that the highest love should exist between parent and child and in a day of easy divorce where responsibility for a child lasts far beyond many marriages, our telestial legal system and honor code seems to put love of child before love of spouse. It is no wonder that people often desire a perpetual childhood, propped up by doting parents and governments - why leave your parents who are instructed by society to love you more than all else? Of course, this is a perversion of that first commandment to leave your parents and “cleave” to your wife, which is a major milestone in God’s covenant with each of us. We must leave the home of our birth and create a home and family of our own - becoming parents ourselves after the pattern of our Heavenly parents. We must persuade our children to do the same! It must be understood that the relationship between a husband and a wife is supreme, for they are to become “one flesh” and the love and duty to a child is primarily to train them up to also enter into their own covenant marriage union. It is no wonder that much of what we know of Isaac and Jacob have to do with their courtships and covenant marriages - the point is that they were to become mighty patriarchs, not forever to remain only children.

Bring Children into the Covenant

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply…” (Genesis 1:28) Like our first parents Adam and Eve, we are commanded to bring children into this world within our covenant marriages, thus perpetuating the promises of the Lord from generation to generation.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson taught: “The first commandment given to man was to multiply and replenish the earth with children. That commandment has never been altered, modified, or cancelled. The Lord did not say to multiply and replenish the earth if it is convenient, or if you are wealthy, or after you have gotten your schooling, or when there is peace on earth, or until you have four children. The Bible says, ‘Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: … Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. …’ (Ps. 127:3, 5.) We believe God is glorified by having numerous children and a program of perfection for them. So also will God glorify that husband and wife who have a large posterity and who have tried to raise them up in righteousness” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1969, 12).

The First Presidency of Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark Jr., David O. McKay proclaimed this:

By virtue of the authority in us vested as the First Presidency of the Church, we warn our people. …

Amongst His earliest commands to Adam and Eve, the Lord said: ‘Multiply and replenish the earth.’ He has repeated that command in our day. He has again revealed in this, the last dispensation, the principle of the eternity of the marriage covenant. …

The Lord has told us that it is the duty of every husband and wife to obey the command given to Adam to multiply and replenish the earth, so that the legions of choice spirits waiting for their tabernacles of flesh may come here and move forward under God’s great design to become perfect souls, for without these fleshly tabernacles they cannot progress to their God-planned destiny. Thus, every husband and wife should become a father and a mother in Israel to children born under the holy, eternal covenant” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1942, 11–12).

By the command of the Lord through his servants, these are to be the main purposes for our lives: 1) to marry within and according to the covenant, 2) bring many children into the world through the covenant, and 3) teach our children what they can become and how this is to be done in relation to the covenant. As we work to meet these purposes, we invoke the power of God to bless our children and all those around us to move forward with us, coming closer and closer to our Heavenly Father and his eternal life that he desires to share with us.

Conclusion

My dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, Jehovah clothed in flesh and come among us to open the way to exaltation! These truths and commandments are restored to us in these last days and Christ continues to lead us to the greater life and joy to which we are fore-ordained from the foundations of this world. This is his work and his glory and his love for us! I say these things in his name.

I leave you with my priestly benediction and blessing, handed down from father to son, by the command of our God:

The LORD bless you and protect you! The LORD deal kindly and graciously with you! The LORD bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace! (Numbers 6:24-26)
Topic revision: r1 - 2019-07-11 - JasonNemrow
 
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