Fascinating D&C 84…


And the sons of Moses, according to the Holy Priesthood which he received under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro;

Are they sons according to, or because of, the Holy Priesthood? Being his heir to the priesthood makes you a type of son? Or will the “sons of Moses” do something according to the Holy Priesthood?

Why why why why is there a separate chain of priesthood authority that runs from Abraham’s time to Jethro? That is so fascinating to me! I read the Bible and I assume that all of God’s work was going on through Abraham, Issac, and Jacob’s line. The whole Book of Mormon project is to unite Gentile and Israel – those seem to be the only two groups in the world. But here we have a covenant, non-Israelite group with the priesthood. And not only that, that group has the very Melchizedek priesthood that is passed on to Moses and so forth. Crazy! 🙂 The Bible really is the story of one covenant people!

And Jethro received it under the hand of Caleb; And Caleb received it under the hand of Elihu; And Elihu under the hand of Jeremy; And Jeremy under the hand of Gad; And Gad under the hand of Esaias; And Esaias received it under the hand of God.

Here too, we find that God started a chain of priesthood authority. Esaias was blessed by Abraham (next verse) but he didn’t receive the priesthood from Abraham. Amazing!

Esaias also lived in the days of Abraham, and was blessed of him—

What kind of blessing are we talking about, I wonder?

Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah; And from Noah till Enoch, through the lineage of their fathers; And from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man—

And this is a detail we don’t get from Genesis or even the Book of Abraham. Abraham was not only blessed by Melchizedek, he received the priesthood from him. And the Bible sees Melchizedek as without father or mother, which, while I assume doesn’t mean literally, I had sometimes taken that to mean that he received the priesthood straight from God and not because of his lineage. But, here it says he did receive it through the lineage of his fathers! Yikes! 🙂 Abraham does say he held the right belonging to the fathers, which came down from the fathers, though his immediate fathers didn’t believe. Maybe he was related to Melchizedek? Or, he wasn’t, but he knew Melchizedek was related to this line of fathers?

Also, I can’t understand why this chain goes back to Abel, when the Book of Moses suggests that Seth became the new priesthood line. But I don’t think there are enough details to riddle that out, so I’ll let that one go.

Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.

Two thoughts here. One, the description of the priesthood being without beginning of days or end of years is similar to Kim’s discussion of priesthood in the Alma 13 posts. Two, what do we make of the priesthood that continues in the church of God in all generations? Is the emphasis on “in the church” or “in all generations”? Whenever there is a church, then there is priesthood? and this is true in every generation in which there is a church established? Or, somewhere on the earth there is always a church established in which the priesthood can be preserved? Jethro is an interesting example of that, perhaps. As well as the Nephities having the priesthood at times when those in the Old World did not (it seems). Other thoughts on this?

And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.

The impression I’ve gotten in the past is that the Lord came up with the idea to invent a “lesser” priesthood when the Israelites rejected the higher priesthood. I think before that it was all just “priesthood” in a full, sealing-power-and-all sense. Israel rejects this, but at the same time is a covenant people with the possibility of working on the Abrahamic Covenant again, and God finds a way to keep them a covenant people even in their weakness. I don’t know if that’s at all right, but it’s the sense I’ve had in the past.

Verse 18 here may or may not challenge that reading. We have “confirmed a priesthood” on Aaron, but there’s nothing that gives me a sense whether this is a new idea or a priesthood order that has always existed. That’s a good way to put it — the priesthood power had always been there, and the ordinances, but the sense I’ve had in the past was that a new order was created with certain responsibilities.

This verse does point out the existence of this order going forward: “continueth and abideth forever.” Whether it’s absorbed into the higher priesthood at some point is just pure speculation, as far as I have come across.

If I’m correct (that’s a big “if”), then we have a  “new” but “forever” scenario, which is similar to the phrase the “new and everlasting covenant.” I’m not suggesting that they are the same thing at all, but I’m curious about a similar construction. I’ve wondered about those words “new” but “everlasting.” I suppose I should have thought about this as I do the Aaronic priesthood: created at a certain point but going on forever. But as I’ve studied the new and everlasting covenant it seems to me that it is a restoration of the covenants given to Abraham. So it’s not a new thing, is it? Maybe it’s a new embodiment of those covenants? Later in D&C 84 we’ll get a phrase I really like — “covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you.” It isn’t a covenant that has been newly created, but newly made again. It’s like renewing the loan of a library book — things are back as if you had just checked it out for the first time. That’s the way I personally like to think of the phrase “new and everlasting covenant.”

But coming back to Aaron and his sons: from what you’ve read in scripture and elsewhere, do you think that the Aaronic priesthood order was created new at that time, or that it was already in existence?

 

(Similar post & thoughts on these same verses here: https://whatimthinkingabout.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/initial-reactions-to-dc-84-6-18/#comments)

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