Tag Archives: Aaronic Priesthood

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)


Administering the gospel vs. Preaching the gospel?


Thoughts on “administering the gospel vs. preaching the gospel –” that I need to work out before posting a comment as Dews From Heaven…

I think Kim is right that we ought to spend a great deal of time on Joseph’s 4-part list of events. I’m going to copy them here for easy reference:

“Firstly he receiving the testimony from on high”
“Secondly the ministering of angels”
“Thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministering of Angels to administer the letter of the Gospel—the Law and commandments as they were given unto him—and the ordinances”
“Fourthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God [and] power and ordinance from on high to preach the gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit.”

The way he uses “the” (as in “the testimony,” and “the ministering of angels,” etc.) implies that this list is a pattern for how God calls prophets. So first, he receives a testimony or witness from on high; he knows for himself that God is real. Then, angels come ministering. The phrase “ministering of angels” is often given in lists of gifts of the spirit so it’s not surprising to see him say “the” ministering of angels. I did a quick search for “ministering of angels” in the scriptures and I think I could write a whole post thinking through those! How many times is the ministering of angels mentioned after Satan came tempting, or after someone repented of sins, and so forth? Why are the words developed into a phrase? It seems early in the Book of Mormon it isn’t a phrase but the word “minister” is still used in connection with angels. And in 3 Nephi angels minister and then Christ also comes ministering. D&C 7 says that a person will be made as a ministering angel. All sorts of things to work on! 🙂

But anyway, second, he receives angels, or further light and knowledge. A testimony was the important first step, and now we add to that.

Third, we find out another thing that the angels bring to him: the priesthood, which allows him, a mortal, to administer the gospel it was given to him. (Does it follow that the gospel laws, commandments, and ordinances were given to him by the ministering of angels?)

I do like the idea of “administering” the gospel as “giving out” or “distributing” the law, commandments, and ordinances of the gospel. I also like the idea that one administers what one has already received. Also, it makes sense that receiving the priesthood is what allows one to administer what one has received. I don’t know what about that feels so clear, but I like it.

Forth, he receives a confirmation and reception of more priesthood. Why a confirmation? Of what, exactly? We’ll see that word used in D&C 84 but I don’t really understand what we are confirming yet. Confirmation that he is doing the right thing? A confirmation of salvation? And why is it now “a” confirmation and reception instead of “the”? Is it that the first three steps have happened enough in history that his audience would be familiar with them, but the fourth one goes beyond that?

And what is it about preaching that requires such a grand and holy calling? In most churches, preaching is a lesser calling than administering ordinances. But what about separating preaching as in missionary work from teaching in Church settings? In Church settings, the majority of the audience has already received ordinances, whereas when someone is preaching the audience has not received ordinances. Is the role of a preacher to prepare the way for ordinances, and somehow that requires a higher priesthood?? D&C 42:11 is very clear that “it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.” I think this is meant to be separate from teaching, since the verse next few verses go on to talk about how elders, priests, and teachers should teach in the Church. But, they also must teach “as they shall be directed by the Spirit” and can’t teach without it, so my whole idea of the Melchizedek priesthood needing the Spirit more doesn’t really hold up in the end. 🙂

I suppose there might be still something to the idea that administering is more straightforward where as teaching and preaching need the Spirit…


Are storehouses more Melchizedek or Aaronic?


Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

We’re looking at D&C 68 on our Dews From Heaven blog so I’m thinking more about storehouses, bishops, and high priests. I don’t have many answers or insights yet. In fact, I’m just beginning to ask questions!

My initial question is: What is the connection between a bishop/agent and high priest like Melchizedek, who had the great powers of Enoch, and who taught the people, and who was appointed keeper of the storehouse? Melchizedek’s story (at least in JST Genesis 14) seems to connect his work of preaching and his work of receiving tithes, in that they are both necessary for a transformation of a city into a Zion. Why separate them in the latter-days?

I think the answer might come from the time of Moses.

The office of Bishop belongs to the Aaronic priesthood, and specifically to a literal descendant of Aaron. The Aaronic priesthood was given (or at least, was left) when the people refused the greater opportunities that Moses begged them to received. He worked diligently that his people might repent and behold God; in other words (perhaps): he wanted them to become Zion and be translated to God’s home. They refused that, but God left agents over the temple (the Levites). Is that a fair way to say it? The Aaronic priesthood takes care of the temple, but as I think about that, I remember how they received the sacrifices and tithing of the people in order to take care of the temple and themselves and keep a storehouse.

So perhaps the two roles I see Melchizedek having (teacher and storehouse) were divided into to priesthoods only at the time of Moses. And perhaps this was because the people needed to get the one down before they could get the other down (they needed to be able to tithe temporally before they could do and receive more?

I like the reference in Malachi today: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

It’s a sort of “lose your life to find it” logic. If you bring all the tithes to the storehouse, blessings will come. If I understand the D&C right, “all” tithes means anything that you have that is more than what you need. Bring everything you don’t need to the storehouse, and you will be blessed. Your lands will grow food well, there will be enough rain, etc. Give up what you don’t need first, then everything you need and more will be given to you.

Ok so back to Aaronic priesthood. Why is this an Aaronic duty (to receive and manage tithes)? At first I felt like Melchizedek was being replaced by a Bishop. But now I see how Melchizedek’s work could be divided into do kinds of work, and perhaps that’s just what happened with Moses and Aaron. How merciful that God didn’t just take the priesthood and covenant (or knowledge of the covenant, rather) away from the people altogether!

So what does it mean to say we have a Melchizedek priesthood? If I look at Melchizedek as someone who built a city, and we give the temporal work to the Bishop, then I guess what is left is teaching in such a way that people are ready to behold the face of God (see D&C 84). Is that fair? But Aaronic priesthood holders teach too. And women, of course. So it isn’t just that they teach. It could be that they have the responsibility to teach, such that if they do not, they are held accountable. It could be that they can perform the ordinances associated with beholding God. It could be… what? What else?

 


Thoughts from the Joseph Smith manual: John the Baptist


There is so much in the Joseph Smith manual — it’s amazing. So, when I’ve only got a short time to study, I’m going to try to remember to just pick a chapter and read read read.

Today I was looking at the chapter on the mission of John the Baptist. Here are a few random things that stood out to me:

The Holy Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage. It does not confine itself to the form of the dove, but in sign of the dove.

Could the same maybe be the case with Satan in the garden? Was it not that he was somehow in the serpent, or that the serpent talked, but that there was a sign of a serpent along with Satan that Adam and Eve didn’t know about, or some such thing? Who knows. Anyway…

“Our souls were drawn out in mighty prayer,” Oliver Cowdery recalled, “to know how we might obtain the blessings of baptism and of the Holy Spirit, according to the order of God, and we diligently sought for the right of the fathers and the authority of the holy priesthood, and the power to administer in the same.”3

Whoa, whoa. This sounds so much like the book of Abraham! “Power to administer the same” and “right of the fathers”?? I don’t remember noticing that language except really in Abraham or Moses. Certainly, I didn’t expect to see it here, in such an early time in the church. I know this is written somewhat later. I wonder what words they would have used to describe what they were praying for then, at the time. Probably, there are sources I could be using to find out! Oh, if I had the time and patience to do historical research!

Ah, just looked more closely at things. The source on the above quotation is from 1835, the same year that the book of Abraham was translated. Fascinating though. Even if they are retroactively rethinking what it was that they were asking for, that’s still cool.

Okay, well, baby’s waking up and such things, on to the rest of the day! Glad for that manual, though. I didn’t bring out super productive parts of it in this post, but I really think the whole manual is fantastic.