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?