Tag Archives: Melchizedek Priesthood

What does the Oath promise about the Melchizedek Priesthood?


Months and months ago I did a lot of reading on Hebrews and what it says about oaths and covenants related to the priesthood. I won’t do that research justice today (in part because I’m writing a quick blog post as my children are waking up and ready for breakfast, and in part because I’m sure I’ve unfortunately forgotten most of what I read). But I wanted to record a few things that impressed me as I reviewed Hebrews 5-8 this morning.

In Hebrews, the “oath” seems to mainly serve to guarantee that the position of priest will extend beyond the grave. Aaronic priests under the law of Moses served while they were alive in this world, but there was no promise given that their priesthood would remain after this world. Second, this promise changes the way we receive certain covenants. The author of the Hebrews suggests that certain promises, like those associated with Abraham, were never actually realized under the Law of Moses. But Christ was promised by an oath of the Father, that His priesthood would last forever.

On top of that, Christ resurrected, meaning that his life will last forever.

And even beyond that, Hebrews says He set himself up as a guarantor of the promises (that is, like a co-signer, someone who can fulfill a promise given by another). The idea is that Christ now sits at the side of the Father, and he is a guarantor of covenants and promises. He will make sure that the promises are fulfilled, even when earthly priests can’t quite make that sure.

The Melchizedek priesthood is the priesthood after the order of the Son. Perhaps then, these priests are effective on earth because they are servants according to His position of Eternal Savior, Eternal Son (by the side of the Father), and Eternal Priesthood Holder. By virtue of His position, Melchizedek priesthood holders can do what they do — perform ordinances, promise blessings, be a prince of peace even, because of Christ.

So what does D&C 84 mean by something being according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood? What is according to that? And why does every priesthood holder (who obtains these two priesthoods and becomes renewed) also receive this oath and covenant? Isn’t that just something Christ received?

Well, one possible reading is that like Christ, those who obtain and magnify the Melchizedek Priesthood assignment are promised, like Christ, that their priestly role will continue beyond death. That would make sense of the practice of ordaining deceased men by proxy in the temple before they receive an endowment. These also receive a covenant too, though? Are they the bearers of the covenant — the messengers?

The topic at hand when this language appears is the promise of eternal life, and receiving all that the Father hath. Is this the covenant that a priesthood holder receives as well? The promise that they too can receive all the Father has? But also these verses are talking about those who receive priesthood servants. Is the covenant that anyone can receive all the Father hath? If so, then they, as a human, have that promise extended to them, and also they, as servants, declare that promise to others?

And is that really what the Abrahamic Covenant amounts to, as well? Blessings possible for those of Abraham’s family, but also blessings that they are supposed to declare to everyone not in their family?


Oath & Covenant, which belongeth


I’m still perplexed by D&C 84:39 and what exactly this oath & covenant is. The language is so wonderfully elusive. It simply says that what comes before it is “according to” this oath and covenant, and then that this oath and covenant “belongs” to the priesthood.

In my latest reflections on this verse, I’ve been thinking through Hebrew’s assertion that the Aaronic priesthood does not need to be received with an oath and the Melchizedek priesthood does. If that is the case, then I think the language of “belonging” to the priesthood probably means that an oath & covenant is associated or belongs or is necessary for the Melchizedek priesthood. (That would also mean that “priesthood” here means Melchizedek priesthood.)

What I’ve gathered from the Hebrews Interpretation commentary is that that author is setting up a comparison between Christ as a Melchizedek figure and the current temple priesthood as Aaronic/Levitical. The Aaronic priesthood performs outward rituals that aren’t lasting (they need to be repeated) and their priesthood doesn’t go with them into the grave. But Christ, as a Melchizedek figure, performs rituals that are lasting (that only need to be performed once) and His priesthood does extend past the grave. The reason that last point is important is because when we extend past the grave, He is there as our priest to guide us back to the Father Himself.

The Interpretation commentary isn’t, of course, thinking of Melchizedek priesthood as a Mormon would. We don’t think of Christ and Melchizedek as uniquely holding the Melchizedek priesthood. The commentary gives the sense that Christ, as eternally holding the priesthood, was the last priest necessary. If He still holds it and officiates for us, why would any new priests be necessary? That’s what happens in the Aaronic priesthood, not the Melchizedek.

So, I’ve got to work around that idea when I read D&C 84. I think the section agrees with a lot of what the book of Hebrews says about Aaronic versus Melchizedek priesthood. Except, that Moses and others also had the Melchizedek priesthood. And, also, that they “sought diligently” to use that authority to bring their people into the presence of God while on earth, and not only when they passed beyond into the heavens.

When those are combined, what do we make of D&C 84:39? The previous verses talk about coming into the presence of God and receiving what God has. This sounds similar to what Hebrews says Christ can do because He is a high priest forever. (Because He is still our priest after death, He can take us to God Himself in the true temple — that is, in Heaven.) If that idea is what D&C 84 has in mind, then this idea is being applied to any person with Melchizedek priesthood. Those who receive God’s servants who have this priesthood can also enter into God’s presence. And this promise is according to oath & covenant of the priesthood, which promises this priesthood will last forever.

Maybe?


D&C 107 thoughts, after re-reading D&C 84 blog comments


I re-read everything we’d written at Dews From Heaven on D&C 84’s verses on lineage, and then now I am working through D&C 107. I’m noticing some interesting things!

  • We noticed before that sometimes the priesthood goes through “lineage of his fathers” and sometimes there is a list of names. Well! In D&C 84 and in D&C 107, Melchizedek seems to be a sort of changing point. It appears that previous to Melchizedek the priesthood always went father-to-son, but with Melchizedek something changes. It is with him that the name of the priesthood gets changed too. Is this because a “church” organization had developed that was different than family? (D&C 107 says the church called the priesthood after Melchizedek.) Does D&C 84 point out that Esaias was blessed by Abraham but not necessarily ordained, because Melchizedek was the leader of the church and Esaias would have been ordained by him? (or by God, I guess, as D&C 84 says)
  • In D&C 107, verse 40 sounds like it is picking up from verse 3 in a way. The “order” of this priesthood sounds like it is referring to the “order of the Son of God.”
  • what about “blessed” referring to “chosen seed”? In D&C 107 ordination and blessing seem to be two separate events or actions. What does blessed refer to? Just a blessing of counsel — or something specific? What about being blessed as in being sealed into the family line? What about blessed as in what Abraham sought after – the blessings of the fathers, and the right to administer the same?

————-

  • I think I was a bit to hasty with the idea of “father to son.” D&C 107 and D&C 84 complicate that idea. D&C 84 just says “lineage of his fathers” and D&C 107 says that Adam himself ordained most of the patriarchs. I have to remember that Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah were all alive together at the same time! And each of those men were ordained by Adam himself. So, that being the case, there isn’t really a problem with one list going back to Abel and one back to Seth. Both were ordained of Adam, just like at least six others within “the lineage of the fathers.” In other words, I was confused by there being two different fathers passing the priesthood on to their own sons and somehow this being one family line. But rather, I see that Adam ordains — the father, the patriarch ordains his sons. And grandson. And great-grandson. And great-great-grandson. 🙂 And so this really isn’t a
    “passing on” anyway. It is an inclusion in a group (a priest-hood). So maybe D&C 107’s reference to father to son might simply mean patriarch to descendants?

Quick thoughts on D&C 84:19-24


19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.

20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.

Why “therefore”? I think it’s saying that the Melchizedek Priesthood has the keys of the mysteries and of the knowledge of God, therefore, when you receive an ordinance of the gospel through the Melchizedek priesthood, that ordinance contains something of those mysteries and knowledge? Or, they have the key that open those doors, and they way they help others through those doors are by the ordinances?

21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

I was trying to figure out how the word “godliness” was being used here, and I finally thought to do a search. I found this scripture in 2 Timothy and I’m almost positive D&C 84 is referring to it: “2 Timothy 3:5 “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”) I think that’s got to be the reference! I’m excited to keep thinking that through.

22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;

24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.

Search for “godliness” and “power” had just a few references: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/search?lang=eng&query=godliness+power&x=0&y=0


Question on 84:17


The question I have comes from verse 17. It says that the Melchizedek Priesthood “continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.” What do you make of the two phrases “in the church” and “in all generations”?

1) Does the priesthood continue in all generations (is always on the earth) and there is always a Church with men to hold it? That doesn’t seem to be the right reading, given our understanding of “the Apostasy.” On the other hand, the idea that the men from Esaias to Jethro kept the priesthood on the earth and that it was then given to Moses has me wondering! Are there always people somewhere, lost to the knowledge of the world, who have the priesthood? But, on the other hand, Peter, James, and John returned to give the Melchizedek Priesthood to Joseph Smith. So that would seem to suggest that there weren’t other people living on the earth who held that priesthood. But who knows! Maybe there were but God did it that way for some purpose He had. I’m open to about anything right now!

2) Does the priesthood continue in all generations if and when there is a Church organized on the earth? This is the more standard reading of course. This could be why the rest of the verse points out that the priesthood is without beginning or end; it is important to remember that while it is only manifest when a Church is organized, it exists all the time.


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…