Monday, March 27, 2017

Walking in Covenant

God having revealed himself to the Fathers and establishing his sovereignty over all things establishes the covenant relationship.  We are then presented with a choice. Will we accept his rule and pledge our loyalty to him as the center of our faith or will we walk after the will of our own heart?  Having gone down into the waters of baptism we make a formal declaration of our loyalty and our intent to obey the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.  Having made a declaration of our acceptance of him and our loyalty to him, we must then search diligently in the records of the Fathers to identify the promises God made to them and us as the recipients of their record.  

Once we have identified the promises made, the journey really begins. We must lay hold upon the promises-- or in other words we must make a claim for the promises.  God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him. (Acts 10:43) As a covenant relationship is bound by legal terms, we must also make legal requests under the covenant. In other words, we have to ask for the promises to be fulfilled. 

Every year during the Fall Feast of Israel called Sukkot or The Feast of Tabernacles the body of people were called in a solemn assembly at an appointed place.  During this assembly the covenant of God (Torah) from the scriptures was read out loud in the ears of all Israel.  The purpose was so that no year went by where the word of God would not be heard in the ears of all the people.  It was a time when his covenant was rehearsed and the people presented themselves before God to honor him with an affirmation of obedience. 

During this time the priests would literally pray the promises.  Like a servant supplicating to a King or a child to a Father, they acknowledged the Sovereignty of God and requested a fulfillment of his promises to them based on the covenant God made with the Fathers.  In all requests, though, they submitted themselves to his will and authority, "Not my will but they will be done."  They did not ask frivolous items or demonstrations of special effects of God's powers.  Everything was requested to do one thing; to become one (echad) with God and to establish his Kingdom according to his will on earth. 

Making a covenant request or asking God to fulfill his promises is not only possible, but it is commanded.  Consider the Brother of Jared, "O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires." (Ether 3:2)

 As individuals and people, we must ask under the terms he sets out in that relationship.  The first term being that He is God and He is Sovereign.  We can then make a covenant request for his promises or to make promises to us under that relationship.  We uphold his righteous dominion in our submission to him-"Not my will but thy will be done!" We ask in the name of Christ or as it is understood in Hebraic terms, we ask to fulfill his commandments, to establish his kingdom, and to conform our hearts to his image. 

In The Book of Mosiah we see God declaring himself again through his Messenger to King Benjamin who is the servant King to the people in the Land of Zarahemla during a Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) (Mosiah 3:2-3).  His reign and words are reminiscent of Moses and are a type and shadow of Christ who was yet to come. In King Benjamin’s address he confirms the covenant hierarchy and mediation through the Son of God. In Mosiah 3 the covenant hierarchy is established with the Son of God being declared as the Ruler and Mediator of the Covenant.  The people are to consider themselves one like unto another-brothers and sisters and all beggars before the Lord. King Benjamin establishes the people as a covenant people like Moses did with the Children of Israel.  We are shown the opposite example of a righteous body in the story of the corrupt King Noah and his system of priestcraft as a comparison to God’s righteous system through King Benjamin. 

Like the incident of the Golden Calf we are given various accounts of covenant rebellion and restoration to covenant. In the accounts of the Sons of Mosiah, Alma the Younger, Korihor, Nehor, the Zoramites, etc we are shown the rebellion of the people as they attempt to establish and maintain their counterfeit systems as opposed to the society established by God's covenant.   Like ancient Israel who sought to establish their own order through a a golden medium, we are shown similar forms of rebellion and idolatry whether it be priest-craft, lawyer-craft, or king-craft.  Following the inclination of the natural man, the people wanted a god they could manipulate, control, and form after their own image. 

The sin of the Golden Calf occurred when the people took it upon themselves to worship God in a Manner he had not appointed. "behold tomorrow is a feast to YHVH", but God had not declared such a thing at that time. They approached God after the manner of worship in Egypt. The Golden Calf was meant to represent God who had delivered them from Egypt. By engaging in their own self styled manner of worship they expected God to honor it. The sad reality was that they were breaking the covenant and as such were kept out of the presence of God. The tabernacle was taken out of their midst and they were left with the Aaronic priesthood.  This type of idolatry is alive and well today both in and outside the Church.  Like the ancient Israelites many may have good  "intentions" but making an offering to God of that which he has not appointed is engaging in a new form of Golden Calf Worship.

How can you help people who are led only by their emotions and senses and proclaim it to be of God? The Golden Calf and the self styled system of worship was ground to powder in the end and then drunk by those who engaged in the worship. The symbolism is that of a idolatrous/Gentile system being destroyed and drunk by those Israelites who engaged in it. The effects were sickening and deadly to those who engaged in it.

There are many who lift up mortal men such as prophets, apostles, general authorities, Stake presidents, etc and place their words above God and his word.  They erroneously assume that every word from a leader with a title and office is the voice of God himself. In doing so, these same people set aside the revealed word of God being unable to discern between the precepts men and real revelation from the Most High.  In doing so, they are creating a new calf and a new system and then saying behold God this is for you! Accept our self created worship that you have not appointed. 

There are also those who are of the mindset that every fleeting thought and emotion that they have is God telling them what to do.  Like a ship without a rudder these people are tossed to and fro by fickle emotions and deceiving spirits.  Rather than establish themselves upon the Rock of God's word they create their own revelations and then supplant the legitimate word of God with things that are contrary to God's commandments. Those who throw away or belittle God's commandments in light of a spiritual apparition, impression, warm fuzzy, or other manifestation are not only engaging in Golden Calf worship they are placing themselves and their families at risk.

"To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:20 NKJV

The Spirit of God will not instruct or testify to anyone to break the commandments of God. Not all people engage in this kind of behavior, but then again not all people engaged in the worship of the Golden Calf. Our loyalty and faith should be to God and his commandments. The epic of the Golden Calf and the resulting judgments that followed upon Israel left cultural scars that are still present to this day.  The generation that engaged in this "good intention" idolatry died in the wilderness and leaving only two men of that generation to step foot in the promised land.

When we are talking of covenants and entering into covenant with God it is a serious matter.  It is a matter not to be taken lightly.  It is a matter of deep prayer, study, and contemplation.  The seriousness of covenant is far beyond the pathetic definition given by some as a "strong promise".  A covenant with God is a covenant of life with penalties of death for those who enter and then break it.  The ramifications go far beyond the individual even as far reaching as a thousand generations.  Zeal is not enough!  Emotional Warm Fuzzies are not enough! Going along with "the body" is not enough!  Every man and woman of accountability must have a witness from God of the truthfulness of these things. We must test everything.

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