Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The New and Everlasting Covenant- Section 132

The “New and Everlasting Covenant” of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way that we gain our exaltation. Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants explains this concept really beautifully. Understanding exactly what the “New and Everlasting Covenant” is is fundamental to our progression in this life and in the life to come. Contrary to popular belief it encompasses much more than the marriage covenant itself. Perhaps the marriage covenant could be viewed as a crowning ordinance required as part of the New and Everlasting Covenant.

One definition of the New and Everlasting Covenant can be found in the guide to the scriptures, as follows:

The fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is new every time it is revealed anew following a period of apostasy. It is everlasting in the sense that it is God’s covenant and has been enjoyed in every gospel dispensation where people have been willing to receive it. The new and everlasting covenant was revealed again to men on earth by Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith. It contains sacred ordinances administered by priesthood authority—such as baptism and temple marriage—that provide for man’s salvation, immortality, and eternal life. When people accept the gospel and promise to keep God’s commandments, God covenants to give them the blessings of his new and everlasting covenant.

Another definition is also given in Doctrine and Covenants Section 66:

2 Verily I say unto you, blessed are you for receiving mine everlasting covenant, even the fulness of my gospel, sent forth unto the children of men, that they might have life and be made partakers of the glories which are to be revealed in the last days, as it was written by the prophets and apostles in days of old.

To speak in terms of the Old Testament, it could be defined as the Abrahamic Covenant renewed once again in this dispensation. It is the order (order being the root word for ordinances) by which we receive all that the Father hath.

To more fully understand the information given in Section 132 regarding the New and Everlasting Covenant, I believe it is important to realize the time period in which the revelation was given. The section heading explains that a written recording of the revelation happened on July 12, 1843, but that the principles taught in the revelation had been known by the prophet Joseph Smith since 1831. That means that this revelation remained in the mind and heart of Joseph Smith for about twelve years.

The written revelation was given at the request of Hyrum Smith, who intended to take it to Emma to persuade her that the direction given in it was from the Lord. This was Hyrum’s attempt to alleviate the friction that the information contained therein caused, between her and Joseph. William Clayton was called to be the scribe, and with Hyrum Smith, in the brick store in Nauvoo, listened as Joseph Smith dictated Section 132 sentence by sentence. Although Hyrum asked if the Urim and Thummim was needed Joseph replied that he could recite it by memory. Given the time period allowed for this revelation to percolate, it is no wonder Joseph knew it so completely, unaided by any means of translation, other than the spirit and his memory. He had received it and it was inscribed in both his mind and heart.

When the revelation was received and recorded, Bishop Newel K Whitney was given permission to copy it in its entirety. He used the resource of his clerk, Joseph C Kingbury, to copy the document, and after proofreading it together, made sure it was exactly like the original. This copy was the one that Brigham Young received in March of 1847, and was adopted as official revelation at a general conference in Salt Lake in August of 1852. The original copy was taken by Hyrum Smith to Emma Smith, who, when she read it, promptly threw it into the fire, and it was destroyed.

Similar to the layout of Section 130, in that it is a compilation of thoughts, Section 132 can easily be divided into at least five different areas of instruction. The first division can be seen to include verses 1 through 40. It is in these verses that the “New and Everlasting Covenant” is really defined. It must be remembered that this portion was, more than likely, received in the early years of the establishment of the Church, way before temple covenants were received or clearly understood and practiced. It could be surmised that while Joseph was involved in the translation of the Old Testament, which later became known as the JST, he formulated the following question:

Section 132: 1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—

2 Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter.

(Some believe that the question could have been asked as early as during the translation of the Book of Mormon, when Joseph came upon Jacob, Chapter 2. I believe that only the mention of David and Solomon alone in that chapter give a greater chance that the inquiry actually occurred during the Old Testament translation as Joseph inquired of the patriarchal fathers’ practice of multiple wives.)

This early inquiry can be likened to someone asking for information contained on page 1001 of the book when they haven’t even read page 1 yet. I believe that is why the Lord required Joseph to teach the basics first before he taught the more comprehensive doctrines contained in Section 132. These basic teachings took over twelve years to accomplish.

The Lord warned:

132: 3 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.

This warning is actually the first step in the progression on the path of the “New and Everlasting Covenant”. One must prepare their heart to receive and then be ready to obey. This preparation of the heart is the sacrifice of individual will to conform to that of the will of the Father. We term this preparation as one of “obedience and sacrifice” also known as the first law of Heaven.

The Lord further explained that He was about to do something for this new fledgling Church, just recently established when He stated:

132: 4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

This “damming” was simply the act of non-progression. Each step, or covenant, that one is required to enter into as they receive the New and Everlasting Covenant allows for progression to the next level of commitment. By not receiving the law, the gift or blessing attached to that law is forfeited, thus progression is halted, and one is damned.

132:5 For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.

Also stated:

Section 130: 20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

In Section 132 we also learn exactly why the New and Everlasting Covenant was given:

6 And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God.

This “New and Everlasting Covenant” is the means by which the Father is glorified. It is the way he is able to accomplish his greatest work. It is the process by which the immortality and eternal life of man is gained.

Moses 1:39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

More to come....


Delirious said...

This is EXCELLENT! I never really understood this all in this way before.

As I have been thinking about this subject over the past week or so, it occurred to me that just like the law of consecration, this law was a "higher" law, and took the right mindset and heart to be able to live it. I've always struggled a little with this law, but after reading what you said about progression, and our being damned in progression by not living the law, my mind has been opened.

Lori said...

Another excellent, informative and easy to understand post. Thank you. Perfect timing for me too. You'll always be my Master Yoda!

Anonymous said...

Why would Emma throw the revelation in the fire? Was it because this revelation was intended to persuade her that eternal marriage to multiple wives was ordained of God as the pinnacle of the new and everlasting covenant as I have heard? Or is there some other reason?