Where do you find the actual "Oath and Covenant" of the Priesthood?
Who makes the covenant?
Who takes an oath?
Why is it called the “oath and covenant of the Priesthood”?
These and many more questions plagued me the first year I taught Doctrine and Covenants in early morning seminary. I had come to Section 84 where the Lord outlined the beautiful patriarchal order of the priesthood, but still could not find the answers. In Section 84 we are instructed regarding the blessings for obtaining and magnifying the priesthood.
Section 84:33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
It even refers to the “oath and covenant of the priesthood”, but still not a clue is given to what is meant by that terminology. I asked everyone I could find, and believe it or not, the answers I got would surprise you. The funniest one I think I got was, “That is just what they call it!” These questions were never fully answered until I was privileged to teach Old Testament. Among the “sealed portion” of the scriptures, known as the Joseph Smith Translation in the book of Genesis chapter 14, Joseph Smith adds back 15 additional verses that containing the plain and precious truths lost to the world concerning the “Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.”
Some background information leading up to this point: Lot, Abraham’s nephew had just been captured by a league of five kings who were in the surrounding area of Sodom where Lot dwelt. Abraham formed a group of men to go and battle these kings and rescue Lot. With the Lord on the side of righteousness, Abraham who was still at this point known as Abram, was successful and conquered their enemies. He subsequently had received goods referred to as “spoil” because of the conquest. Instead of keeping it for himself, he went to pay “tithes of all” to Melchizedek, the king of Salem. Joseph Smith then adds back this beautiful description of Melchizedek and the priesthood which he holds.
As you read the following verse... look for who specifically makes the oath.
25 And Melchizedek lifted up his voice and blessed Abram.
26 Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.
33 And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace.
34 And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world;
35 And hath said, and sworn with an oath, that the heavens and the earth should come together; and the sons of God should be tried so as by fire.
36 And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.
37 And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God;
38 Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.
39 Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need.
40 And it came to pass, that God blessed Abram, and gave unto him riches, and honor, and lands for an everlasting possession; according to the covenant which he had made, and according to the blessing wherewith Melchizedek had blessed him.
God, who swore by Himself, made the oath. Suddenly the words in Section 84:40 became more meaningful to me, “Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.” His promises are sure, least He cease to be God. He has sworn by an oath, that the covenants entered into are made sure by that eternal power called the priesthood. We are simply made beneficiaries of that covenant by obedience to the terms. The terms He has set are to make Him our God, submitting all that we have to him. If we can do that... the promises are sure.
After all God swore by an oath.