Chapter 21: The Foreordination of Covenant Israel and Their Responsibilities

Doctrines of the Gospel Teacher Manual, (2011), 75–76


Introduction

  1. Define the terms Jew, Gentile, and Israel using the dictionary in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible.

  2. Conduct a role play of the hiring of people who have acquired the necessary knowledge and have developed the necessary skills to qualify for such positions as cardiac surgeon, chemical engineer, corporate lawyer, or presidential cabinet member. Point out that certain knowledge and skills are required for certain jobs; without them, the job cannot be done. Liken this temporal preparation to the premortal preparation of the family of Israel, who received a premortal calling to take the gospel to all mankind.

Ideas for Teaching

  1. A.

    The people of Israel were a distinct and noble people in the premortal existence.

    1. Read in Supporting Statements A on page 56 of the student manual President Harold B. Lee’s statement concerning premortal Israel’s stature (see Conference Report, Oct. 1973, pp. 7–8; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 5). Read the scripture references from those in Doctrinal Outline A 1 on page 56 of the student manual.

  2. B.

    God reestablished his covenant with Israel in mortality.

    1. Abraham was called before this world was created to be a leader during his mortal existence (see Abraham 3:22–23). He was the father of Isaac, who was the father of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Even though Abraham was the father of many nations (he had many sons), it is through the lineage of Israel that the Lord blesses all nations. The covenant God made with Abraham pertains to all members of the house of Israel and is known as the Abrahamic covenant. Read Genesis 17:3–9. List on the chalkboard the promises God makes as part of the Abrahamic covenant. Read in Supporting Statements B on page 57 of the student manual President Joseph Fielding Smith’s explanation of the ways in which all nations of the earth will be blessed through Abraham’s seed (see Doctrines of Salvation, 3:246). Point out that the Lord has revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith that Abraham’s seed will also be granted the blessing of eternal increase if they are faithful in this life (see D&C 132:28–31).

    2. If the purpose of earth life is to prepare for exaltation, what would be the greatest gifts God could give a chosen people? What blessings did covenant Israel obtain as a result of their premortal righteousness? List the following blessings on the chalkboard, and discuss them:

      1. 1.

        Prophets

      2. 2.

        Scriptures

      3. 3.

        The gift of the Holy Ghost

      4. 4.

        Priesthood and priesthood ordinances

      Explain that these blessings and their attendant responsibilities came to Israel through the Abrahamic covenant (see Abraham 2:6–11). God’s priesthood, covenants, and gospel were the blessings promised to Abraham’s seed and are also the blessings given to covenant Israel. Read in Supporting Statements B on page 57 of the student manual President Joseph Fielding Smith’s statement about the duration of the Abrahamic covenant (see The Way to Perfection, p. 96).

    3. The Abrahamic covenant was renewed with Isaac and Jacob; you may wish to discuss the scriptures listed in Doctrinal Outline B 3 on page 56 of the student manual. The chosen people are called the house of Israel after Israel, a name given to Jacob later in his life. Read Alma 7:25 to show the preeminent role of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The blessings promised to the house of Israel are often called the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, terminology we use today to describe the blessings promised to a couple sealed in the temple.

  3. C.

    Covenant Israel today means anyone who covenants to accept and live the gospel.

    1. During the ministry of Christ in mortality, the gospel was taken to the members of the house of Israel, or the literal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Matthew 15:24). After the Savior’s resurrection, the Apostle Peter was shown in a vision that the time had come to take the gospel to the Gentiles (see Acts 10). Since then, those not of the blood of Israel who accept the gospel by repentance and baptism are accepted into the house of Israel by adoption and are also heirs to all the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant (see Doctrinal Outline C 3 on p. 56 and Supporting Statements C on pp. 57–58 of the student manual).

  4. D.

    As God’s covenant people, Israel has been given a special charge and commission.

    1. Read Abraham 2:6–11, and identify the responsibilities of covenant Israel. (To bear this ministry and priesthood unto all nations of the earth.) Consider Elder John A. Widtsoe’s statement in Supporting Statements D on page 58 of the student manual about our responsibility as God’s covenant people (see Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 400).

    2. If we fail to carry the gospel to all nations, are we still considered a chosen and a covenant people? President Spencer W. Kimball gave us a three-fold charge to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead (see Conference Report, Apr. 1981, p. 3; or Ensign, May 1981, p. 5). How does this challenge enable us to fulfill our responsibility as covenant Israel to bless the families of the earth?

    3. Point out that Genesis 49 and Deuteronomy 33 contain the patriarchal blessings given to the twelve sons (or tribes) of Jacob (Israel). Read and discuss part of the blessing given to Joseph as recorded in Deuteronomy 33:17. List the following symbols on the chalkboard, and explain them:

      1. 1.

        Firstling = firstborn

      2. 2.

        Bullock = domestic ox

      3. 3.

        Unicorn = wild ox

      4. 4.

        Horns = power

      5. 5.

        Pushing the people = gathering Israel

      This verse is being fulfilled in this, the last dispensation, as Joseph steps forward to claim his birthright as the firstborn son, which includes the responsibility of the priesthood. It is by the power of the priesthood that Israel will be gathered and that the saving ordinances will be administered under the direction of the tribe of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh). The ox as the symbol of work, strength, power, and endurance fits latter-day Ephraim, who must carry the heavy burden and tremendous responsibility of taking the gospel to the world.

Conclusion

Why have the prophets continually urged the youth of the Church—especially the young men—to prepare themselves to serve missions to the nations of the earth? Ask the students to consider what they as Latter-day Saints are doing individually to carry the gospel to Heavenly Father’s children.