Because of His Covenant

May 23
Abraham Sacrificing His Son

I recently stumbled upon a verse of scripture that set me to thinking about the nature of a righteous person obtaining promises from the Lord.

A covenant is a two-way promise between individuals such as a legal contract, or between God and man.

Today, we typically look at covenants with a pretty narrow view like baptism, marriage, and temple covenants are our primary covenants. We look at partaking of the sacrament as a renewal of our covenants and a reminder to always remember Jesus Christ.

Yet in the scriptures we see examples of many other covenants between God and man that were obtained through the obedience and sanctification of individuals who sought specific blessings, which God then honored even at times when those affected by the covenants weren’t worthy of the blessings.

For example, during a time when Israel wasn’t particularly righteous and was led by unrighteous leaders and facing threatening Syrian conflicts, we read how the Lord extended his mercy to them, not because of who and what they were, but because of ancestral covenants.

2 Kings 13:23. And the Lord was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.

There are numerous verses that show the gracious, long suffering nature of God.

Nehemiah 9:31. Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.

Why was God merciful and gracious to Israel? Because righteous ancestors obtained covenant promises that bound God through their righteousness.

These weren’t what I’ll call “standard” covenants. They were extraordinary covenants brought about by the desires of these righteous individuals. They became “highly favored” of the Lord, a phrase that appears several times in the Book of Mormon.

Here’s an interesting thing. When someone is righteous like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the example above, they have power to enter into covenants with God that based upon their obedience, they can require things (in righteousness) from the Lord.

Enos 1:18. And the Lord said unto me: Thy fathers have also required of me this thing; and it shall be done unto them according to their faith; for their faith was like unto thine.

What was this all about?

Enos was fearful for the destruction of the Nephites if they fell into transgression, and knew the Lamanites would destroy their sacred records if given the opportunity. He besought the Lord for a blessing that the Lord would grant protection for the records.

Enos 1:15. Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.

16. And I had faith, and I did cry unto God that he would preserve the records; and he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time.

17. And I, Enos, knew it would be according to the covenant which he had made; wherefore my soul did rest.

There are other examples in scripture, but understanding this is a reality, we should turn to the scriptures to understand what we need to do to be brought into a relationship with the Lord to obtain such righteous blessings by covenant, upon ourselves and our posterity.

So what causes the Lord to favor us enough to make promises that can’t be broken by Him?

Obtaining Status with the Lord

In studying this topic, I started with a search for:

Gracious*

That resulted in 35 verses. Looking closely I saw another related word was delight. There are many instances where the Lord is either delighted by man’s actions, or delights to bless man for their actions, so I did a search for:

Delight*

That had 126 verses and a number of them weren’t really relevant so I narrowed it to verses where a variation of delight and either the word God or Lord appeared.

Delight* and (God or Lord)

That was 53 verses which I then proceeded to study along with “gracious*” verses.

I also reviewed the verses that mention the word:

Favored

Here’s what I discovered:

What does the Lord delight in?

  • Obedience to his voice (1 Samuel 15:22)
  • Exercising loving kindness, judgment, righteousness (Jere. 9:24)
  • Chastity (Jacob 2:28)
  • Mercy (Micah 7:18)
  • A people who come to the knowledge of God and the redemption of Christ (2 Nephi 30:6; Words of Mormon 1:8)

What are we to delight in?

  • The law of God (Psa. 1:2; Romans 7:22-23)
  • Righteousness (2 Nephi 9:49)

How do we show that we delight in the Lord?

  • To trust that he will deliver us (Psa. 22:8)
  • To lift up our face unto God (Job 22:26)
  • To call upon God (Job 27:10)
  • Seek God daily (Isaiah 58:2)
  • Praise God’s holy name (2 Nephi 9:49)

What are the blessings to those the Lord delights in?

  • Obtain a promised land (Numbers 14:8)
  • He made promises to the obedient patriarchs concerning their seed which is how Israel received so many blessings and promises (Deut. 10:15; 2 Nephi 11:5)
  • He sets us as a light to other peoples and nations (1 Kings 10:9; 2 Chron. 9:8; Malachi 3:12)
  • Heals and blesses our land (Isaiah 62:4)
  • Whatever these do shall prosper (Psalms 1:3)
  • Gives us the desires of our heart (Psa. 37:4)
  • Our steps are ordered by the Lord (Psa. 37:23)
  • Blessed (Psa. 112:1)
  • Salvation (Psa. 119:174)
  • God corrects us (Prov. 3:12) (implying if the Lord doesn’t delight in us, he doesn’t correct us)
  • The Lord will cause us to see amazing vistas and feed and prosper us (Isaiah 58:13-14)
  • The Lord will come to his temple (Mal. 3:1-3; 3 Nephi 24:1-3) after he purges and sanctifies his people.
  • Those who hear and hearken to God’s word receive the greatest of all blessings (D&C 41:1)
  • The Lord honors those who serve him in righteousness and truth and fear him, and is merciful and gracious (favored) to them (D&C 76:5)
  • The Lord shepherds them, and are even led by God the Father (Mormon 5:17)
  • Freedom from wars and contention (Alma 48:20)

Warnings

  • Do not rebel against the Lord (Numbers 14:9)
  • Do not fear the people of the land because the Lord is on our side (Numbers 14:9)
  • Do not cheat others (Prov. 11:1)
  • Do not be perverse or unwilling to yield your heart to God (Prov. 11:20)
  • Do not lie but be honest (Prov. 12:22)
  • The Lord doesn’t need sacrifices by the people. He needs righteousness. (Prov. 15:8; Isaiah 1:11)
  • Don’t violate the Sabbath by doing your own pleasures (Isaiah 58:13-14)
  • Don’t have uncircumcised ears so you can’t hearken and don’t delight in the Lord’s word (Jere. 6:10)
  • Those who profess God’s name and don’t hear him receive the heaviest of all cursings (D&C 41:1)
  • It is the wicked who say it doesn’t profit a person to delight in God (Job 34:9)
  • If a favored people fall into transgression they will lose their covenant protection and be destroyed (Mosiah 1:13; Alma 9:19)

For those that delight in the Lord and keep his commandments, he delights to bless and honor them and make covenants with them. The Lord is full of compassion, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. Surely there are a couple things on those lists that we can implement in our lives to bring ourselves into a greater, or more favored, status with the Lord.

We should delight in the Lord and his laws, live them, obtain favor with Him, and enter into covenants that bless us, our posterity, our lands, and nations, that the righteousness of God can shine forth and shower blessings on the people.

 

(Image by rudall30 at 123rf.com)

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About the Author

Oak Norton - Sometimes inspired, sometimes perspired.

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