Blessings and Cursings in the Abrahamic Covenant

Jun 13
Abraham's Journey

There is no blessing in the scriptures that was intended for one person alone. Every blessing is available to every person through the righteous application of the principles behind the blessing.

The first step is always identifying the blessing.

The second step is identifying the doctrine and principles that bring about the blessing.

The third step is petitioning the Lord for the blessing by pray and living those principles that bring about the blessing.

The fourth step is following the promptings of the Spirit which guide us into the receipt of the blessing.

The fifth step is claiming the blessing through the trial of our faith that will come prior to receiving the blessing. It’s a test to see how badly we want the blessing.

This trial doesn’t have to be something we might regard as fearful such as Abraham being sacrificed by his father. It can be as easy as looking to the brass serpent on a pole in an act of faith to heal us. It might be so easy we brush it off as irrelevant and ineffective. I shudder to think how many blessings in life I’ve missed because I failed to follow a simple prompting.

The sixth step will come below.

There is something interesting in the story of Abraham and a verse that has fascinated me since I was a teenager. I’ll get to that verse, but we will start with Abraham’s story as we continue in the theme of covenant blessings.

Abraham was a descendant of Noah through Shem. The genealogy is in Genesis 11 if you want to read it, but in short, the lineage of Shem was a priesthood lineage. However, somewhere along the line, Abraham’s fathers departed from the right way and turned to idolatry (Abr. 1:5-7).

Abraham had access to the records of his genealogy, which also contained a knowledge of the creation and the right of the priesthood (Abr. 1:31). As a result of his identifying this blessing that was available to him (step 1 above), he identified the doctrine and principles surrounding the blessing and sought for it (steps 2 & 3).

Abr. 1:2. And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God,

I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.

As we see in this verse, all the way through his language is that of seeking and desiring the blessings he has identified as available to him.

  • Greater happiness and peace and rest (the rest of the Lord)
  • Blessing of the fathers
  • The right to be ordained to administer the gospel
  • Possess a greater knowledge
  • Be a greater follower of righteousness
  • Be a father of many nations
  • Be a prince of peace (peacemaker)
  • To receive divine instructions
  • To keep the commandments of God

He ends by declaring the result of his quest, as he is writing this record in retrospect, by becoming a rightful heir and high priest in the priesthood order belonging to the fathers.

In this record of Abraham, we have the first use of the term “high priest” as recorded chronologically in scripture. The next instance is under the law of Moses in Leviticus 21:10 where a high priest was to receive anointing oil upon their head and be consecrated to wear the holy garments.

If Abraham was familiar with the term and received that blessing, it is logical that all the way back to Adam there was an ordination available to be a high priest and we can infer that the method of ordaining a high priest was the same.

Paul identifies Jesus Christ as our “great high priest” (Hebrews 4:14-15) and states that

“every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.” (Hebrews 5:1)

Adam offered sacrifices prior to the law of Moses. It is an eternal law, but with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the new sacrifice isn’t in the slaying of animals, but in the slaying of our own animal, our carnal, instinctual nature also known as the natural man. Jesus taught this new sacrifice was to be identified as having a broken heart and contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:20) which is a constant attitude of repentance and humility.

Abraham knew this from the records he had. We have no clear verse in the Bible that tells us the formula for coming to this knowledge and station, but we do have it in the Book of Mormon.

The prophet Ether wrote:

Ether 4:15. Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind,

then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.

The formula starts with our action in rending the veil of unbelief which if we fail to do, we remain in our awful state of wickedness, not believing the promises of God apply to us so we never seek for the great blessings available to us such as what Abraham sought.

Do we desire these things? If not, we have hardened our hearts and remain in a state of wickedness.

When we succeed in breaking through and rending the veil of unbelief, then we can know with a perfect knowledge as Abraham did that the covenants of the fathers are legitimately available to anyone who seeks them because we will receive them in the same way.

When Abraham persevered and succeeded in passing the trials uniquely appointed to him, the Lord came to him and declared many blessings upon him. We sometimes refer to these as the 3 P’s: priesthood, posterity, and property (or prosperity). However, there are other blessings promised to Abraham which aren’t directly encompassed in these.

The promises to Abraham are as follows:

Genesis 12:1

  • The Lord would lead him to a chosen land

Genesis 12:2

  • Would make him a great nation
  • Would bless him
  • Would make his name great
  • Would make him a blessing to others

Genesis 12:3

  • Would bless those that bless him and curse those that curse him
  • Would bless all the families of the earth through Abraham (missionary work, and Jesus Christ would come through his lineage)

Abraham 1:18

  • The Lord would lead him by His hand (divine guidance into performing greater works of righteousness which Abraham sought above in Abraham 1:2)
  • The Lord would put his name upon Abraham, even the Priesthood (It seems that to have the Lord put his name upon us, or to take his name upon us, is synonymous with receiving a fullness of the priesthood which is a blessing available to those that make the effort to go to the Lord’s temple.)
  • The Lord’s power would be over Abraham (Divine protection? A 4th “P”?)

Abraham 1:19

  • As it was with Noah it would be with Abraham
  • But, through Abraham’s ministry the Lord’s name would be known in the earth forever (Noah had obtained the priesthood and was a high priest but it would be through Abraham that the world knew the Lord’s name, the “Abrahamic covenant,” and “the children of Abraham,” not the “Noah covenant” or “the children of Noah”)

Now the one thing that was a curiosity to me since I was a teenager, was the phrase that the Lord would bless those that bless Abraham, and curse those that curse him.

I think at least part of that answer is found in Abraham 1:26 when we read of the first Pharaoh of Egypt. He was the son of Egyptus who was a daughter of Ham who was cursed as pertaining to the priesthood.

Abraham 1:26. Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.

As noted above, today we regard the covenant of Abraham because it was upon Abraham that the Lord made the covenant anew. Yet in Pharaoh’s day which preceded Abraham, it could have been known as the covenant of Noah, or perhaps Pharaoh may have noted in the records the righteousness that flowed from the principles of the gospel and in spite of the fact that he was denied the priesthood in this life due to his lineage, did everything within his power to live righteously and establish a righteous order. I have no doubt the Lord blessed him greatly for these efforts and this example and rewarded him justly in the heavens.

This may be what it means that those who bless you will be blessed and those who curse you will be cursed. It’s not about pronouncing a blessing or cursing on someone like “I bless you Abraham” or “curse you Abraham.” Pharaoh was blessing his fathers by trying to follow their righteous examples, in spite of not having the priesthood, by seeking to establish a righteous order after the pattern these men of God established. As a result, Pharaoh was blessed with the blessings of the earth and of wisdom, even though he could not claim the priesthood in this life.

This verse indicates to me that we bless Abraham when we also seek to renew the covenant with God again in our own lives. When we do, there is one final step Abraham mentions which is essentially step 6 in the pattern above.

Abraham 1:31. But the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs, concerning the right of Priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands; therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day, and I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me.

The sixth step then is to write the things God does in our lives for the benefit of our posterity.

Abraham only knew to seek for the blessings of God in his life because he had the written records of his fathers who obtained those blessings and recorded them.

It seems that from Noah to Abraham, there is very little written except about Shem who is probably Melchizedek. This gap and the apostasy of Abraham’s fathers left a terrible vacancy in the earth of God’s priesthood and power to bless the lives of his children.

Thus Abraham, like Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5) and others, was chosen as one of the great and noble sons of God (Abraham 3:22-23) to be born into Terah’s line with a mission to break the chain of apostasy and begin a fresh line of righteous seed through whom the earth would benefit forever.

And thus we see it is our privilege to renew the covenant in our own lives by following the pattern of Abraham. Acquiring a knowledge of these blessings; seeking diligently; following the dictates of the Spirit in our lives to put away our desires and kill the carnal animal within us to obtain a broken heart and contrite spirit; obtain the blessed favored status; and record for posterity the righteousness of the Lord in not being a respecter to persons but one who blesses all who seek him diligently.


(Featured Image by Jozsef Molnar, 1880used with permission)


About the Author

Oak Norton - Just trying to share a love of the scriptures with others.