The oath and covenant of the priesthood


The Lord said, “Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses—for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed—and the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord’s house, whose sons are ye; and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church. 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. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God. And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; for he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; and he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved. But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come. And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you. And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” (D&C 84: 31-44)

There have been a gazillion talks in the church on the oath and covenant of the priesthood. Virtually all of them state the same thing. I have a different take. Here is my understanding of this scripture:

The sons of Moses are the Melchizedek priesthood holders who are sanctified. The sons of Aaron are the holders of the priesthood of Aaron who are sanctified. The Lord explains that “whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods…and…are sanctified by the Spirit…become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and…the elect of God.” (See D&C 84: 33-34.) Also, the elect (chosen) of God is defined as the sanctified.

There has been a day of calling, but the time has come for a day of choosing; and let those be chosen that are worthy. And it shall be manifest unto my servant, by the voice of the Spirit, those that are chosen; and they shall be sanctified; and inasmuch as they follow the counsel which they receive, they shall have power after many days to accomplish all things pertaining to Zion. (D&C 105: 35-37)

So, if we have obtained the two priesthoods but have not been sanctified by the Spirit, we are not the sons of Moses and of Aaron, nor are we the elect.

The Lord said, “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.” (D&C 84: 33)

Most GAs and other speakers interpret the above scripture to mean that if we magnify our calling, we will become sanctified by the Spirit. Then they talk of ways we can magnify our calling so that we can become sanctified. I, however, do not share this view.

The Lord is explaining in this verse how to discern between a faithful priesthood holder who is magnifying his calling, and a faithless priesthood holder who is not magnifying his calling. The key to that discernment is in the last phrase: the faithful ones are sanctified by the Spirit.

Sanctification by the Spirit is always attendant with the powers and gifts of the Spirit. This is why the Lord said that “the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” in D&C 84: 32. This is why the Lord said the chosen “shall have power” in D&C 105: 37.  Sanctification by the Spirit with attendant powers and gifts is the key to determine the faith of the saints or the faith of the priesthood holders. This is why there are signs that follow those that believe on the Lord, so that we may determine who has faith and who does not.

Mormon said, “For behold, thus said Jesus Christ, the Son of God, unto his disciples who should tarry, yea, and also to all his disciples, in the hearing of the multitude: Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned; and these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover; and whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth. (Mormon 9: 22-25)

This is why the very definition of good works, the scriptural definition, is to work by the power and gifts of God, in other words, good works are the work of the sanctified, who are attended with the powers, gifts and fruits of the Spirit and the signs of true believers in Christ. Only the sanctified do good, as they exercise faith as a principle of power, as “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Hebrews 11: 6.) All others are in a state of unbelief, with no attendant powers of heaven to magnify their calling.

Moroni said, “And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief. And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God” (Moroni 10: 24-25)

So, the magnifying of our calling comes from working by the powers and gifts of God, which comes from being sanctified by the Spirit and not the other way around. We first become “sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 27: 20) and are then enabled to magnify our calling by working by the powers and gifts of the Spirit.

Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 16)

Magnifying a calling means making it easier to see. The light we are shining are the good works, which is defined as the powers and gifts of God. So, when we magnify our calling, men can witness the powers and gifts of the Spirit and then turn and glorify God. This is the meaning of the scripture, but before any of this happens, we must be sanctified by the Spirit.

“All they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord” in D&C 84: 35. The expression “receive this priesthood” is defined in verse 33 as those who obtain the priesthoods and who are sanctified, which santification magnifies their calling. The unsanctified do not “receive the priesthood,” they only have the priesthood conferred upon them. Two vital elements must be present for one to “receive the priesthood”: the priesthood must be conferred and sanctification by the Spirit must have happened.

Only the sanctified priesthood holders receive the oath and covenant of the Father. Only the sanctified priesthood holders receive the promised blessings: receiving Jesus, receiving the Father and finally, receiving the Father’s kingdom, which means receiving all the Father hath. And only the sanctified priesthood holders receive the penalty for breaking the covenant and altogether turning therefrom, the penalty being the second death, meaning that they “shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.”

So, what, then, is the covenant of the priesthood? The Lord said, “All those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father.” The covenant is to “receive the priesthood” as defined in verse 33, meaning to obtain the two priesthoods and to become sanctified by the reception of the Spirit unto the renewing of one’s body. If those two parts aren’t completed, you don’t receive the priesthood, nor do you receive (or enter into) the covenant of the priesthood. The covenant is part of the priesthood, it is connected to it, or, as the Lord says, the “covenant…belongeth to the priesthood.” The covenant of the priesthood is received or entered into when you “receive the priesthood.” As a covenant is an agreement between two persons, in this case, between a mortal son of God and God himself, if you keep your end of the agreement, which is to keep receiving the priesthood, or, in plainer words, to continue to possess and use the priesthood in a sanctified state, the Father promises with an oath that you will receive what he says you will receive (all that he hath.)

The final verses that are often quoted (43 and 44 of section 84) are not the covenant of the priesthood, as many will proclaim. The covenant is found in verse 33. The oath is found in verse 38. Verses 43 and 44 are a warning and a commandment, as the Lord has just finished explaining that the sanctified priesthood holders can receive the second death if they break and altogether abandon the covenant and also that those who do not “receive the priesthood” are also in big trouble, as they have no oath or promise of the Father. So, the Lord is giving very helpful instructions to those who haven’t received it, yet, and to those who have received it already, namely, “to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life…[and]…to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.”

Next Priesthood article: Let the Aaronic Priesthood Do Home Teaching and Let the Elders Administer the Sacrament

Previous Priesthood article: Discharging Priesthood Duties

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

The law of tithing (part four)


Continued from part three.

Inevitably, when talking about the blessings that come from paying tithing, a speaker will quote the following scripture:

Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3: 8-12)

In fact, so pervasive is the use of this scripture, that I’ve heard tithing talks where it is the only scripture used. It is practically a guarantee that these verses are quoted, even if D&C 119 is never mentioned, at all. We are taught on every level, that Malachi contains the expected blessings that come from paying tithing. But does it?

Normally, the Lord puts the blessings that come from obedience to a law in the same area as where the law is stated. For example, the modern charge to keep the Lord’s day (Sunday) holy is found in D&C 59: 9-14. Then in verses 15-19 of the same section the Lord details the expected blessings to be received upon obeying this law:

And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth; yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards; yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. (D&C 59: 15-19)

Likewise, the Word of Wisdom, written in D&C 89, contains the promised blessings that will be received, blessings that are enumerated in the very same section:

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen. (D&C 89: 18-21)

The revelation on tithing, section 119, follows the same pattern. Written in the 6th verse of the revelation are the promised blessings that come from obeying this particular law:

And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you. (D&C 119: 6)

The purpose and blessing of living the law of tithing, then, is to sanctify the land of Zion (or stake of Zion) unto the Lord, that his statutes and his judgments may be kept on the land, and that it may, indeed be a land of Zion (or stake of Zion) unto us. That is the stated blessing. That is the stated purpose. Sanctification of the land upon which we live.

Additionally, the Lord mentions two penalties for not living the law of tithing. One is mentioned above in verse 6, namely, that the land of Zion upon which we live (or the stake of Zion to which we pertain, see verse 7) will not be a bona fide land of Zion and will not be a bona fide stake of Zion. In other words, it will be the land of Zion in name only, having no sanctification and hence no power. “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (JS—H 1: 19.) And the unsanctified stake of Zion in which we live will also be a stake of Zion in name only, with no godly powers attending it.

The second penalty for not living the law of tithing is mentioned in verse 5:

Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you. (D&C 119: 5)

There are only two punishments a religious society can inflict upon its members: disfellowship or excommunication. (See D&C 134: 10.) Regardless of whether this particular penalty means excommunication or disfellowship, we currently inflict neither penalty upon non-exempt people who do not pay tithes.

All of this brings me to the following questions: Why do the leaders never mention the Lord’s stated purpose and blessing of the law of tithing, found in D&C 119? Why do the leaders never enact the penalties associated with non-payment of tithes for those who are not exempt? And why is Malachi 3: 8-12 the scripture of choice when talking about the importance of tithing and the promised blessings upon the people who obey this law?

I have my own ideas as to why I think the leaders speak the way they do in relation to tithing. But they are only ideas, speculation. I do not know the real answer, but I still find it awfully strange that this section is virtually avoided.

Now, one last thing. Malachi 3: 8-12 is talking about a different law of tithing, which existed under the Mosaic law, which has absolutely no relation and nothing to do with our present law of tithing, found in D&C 119. This was a tithing known as the “whole tithe,” which in our KJV of the Bible is translated “all the tithes,” which was collected once every three years, stored at home, and used to feed the Levites and the poor. For a detailed understanding of Old Testament tithing, visit the following online web page:

The Truth About Tithing—Old Testament Perspectives

The blessings associated with that particular law of Moses were specific to that people, just as the blessings associated with our D&C 119 law of tithing are specific to our people. Why the mix-up by our priesthood leaders?

Admittedly, the language of Malachi 3: 8-12 is so powerful, that it is natural for a person (who wants to instill a desire in people to pay tithing) to lay hold on it and assume (and teach) that it applies equally to the law of tithing stated in D&C 119. In my own opinion, though, I find the blessing of D&C 119: 6 quite appealing, as I desire that my land is sanctified.

In conclusion, I want to bring one more thing to your attention. I quoted Malachi 3: 8-12 and D&C 59: 15-19 in their entirety because both promised blessings appear similar and I wanted to show the similarities. The Lord promised his latter-day saints “the fulness of the earth” for keeping his day holy. He essentially promised the same thing to the ancient Jews for paying the mosaic “whole tithe” law. Why do we need to resort to a law of Moses blessing when we have already been promised the same things for fulfilling a law of Christ? It is strange, indeed.

Previous Tithes and Offerings article: The law of tithing (part three)

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist