OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 10
- Abraham emphasizes the importance of marriage in the covenant.
- Esau sells his birthright to Jacob.
- Jacob marries Leah and Rachel in the covenant, and through him the
Abrahamic covenant continues.
A study of this lesson should increase our desire to live worthy of
our birthright blessings and of eternal marriage.
Have you ever spent money or time to obtain something, only to discover
that it was not worth what you had spent on it? A book, a movie,
a dinner out, electronics, etc.
The same thing can happen spiritually. By making unrighteous choices,
we may trade eternal blessings for things of far less value. By living
righteously, however, we can receive all the blessings that Heavenly Father
has prepared for us.
Abraham Emphasizes Marriage In The Covenant - Genesis
Abraham's Servant Seeks A Wife For Isaac
- Abraham had his eldest servant, a man who ruled over all of Abraham's
possessions, swear that he would not take a daughter of the Canaanites
for his son Isaac. The was probably Eliezer (see Gen. 15:2-3). He then
commissioned him to return to his home country and choose a wife, for Isaac,
from among his kindred (24:2-4).
- The servant then asked Abraham what he should do if the woman refused
to come with him? He asked if he should come back for Isaac? (24:5)
Abraham warned his servant not to take Isaac back amongst his kindred.
Abraham said the Lord would "send his angel" before him
- I suppose he wondered if the woman would accept the servant's recommendation
of Isaac on blind faith.
Abraham's servant took ten camels and went to Nahor, near the town
of Haran, in Mesopotamia (24:10).
He arrived in Nahor near the well in the evening, at the time "the
daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water". He asked
the Lord, "And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall
say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall
say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she
that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know
that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master" (24:14).
- Like Abraham, we want our children to marry a righteous young man or
young woman in the covenant. Are we living our lives in such a manner as
to be worthy to have the Lord "send his angel" before
our children in their quest for an eternal companion?
The servant still wondered whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous
- WHAT HAPPENED?
- Rebekah came out to draw water. Rebekah was the granddaughter of Abraham's
brother Nahor. (cont v15)
- Genesis 24:17-20: "And the servant ran to meet her, and said,
Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. And she said,
Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand,
and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I
will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. And
she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto
the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels."
Laban, Rebekah's brother, came out to the well and brought the servant
into their home (24:29-31).
- He then asked Rebekah, "Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I
pray thee: is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in?"
- Rebekah told the servant of her parentage and welcomed the servant
to her home (24:24-25)
- "And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD"
Rebekah returned to Hebron with Abraham's servant.
- A meal was laid before the servant, "but he said, I will not
eat, until I have told mine errand" (24:33).
- The servant then explained who he was and the reason for his journey
from Hebron (24:34-49).
- "...Laban and Bethuel answered and said, "The thing proceedeth
from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is
before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife,
as the LORD hath spoken." (24:50).
- Lest one think that Rebekah had no say in the matter, she was asked
if she would go with Abraham's servant back to Hebron. She responded, "I
will go" (24:57-58).
- It must have been love at first sight, for when she saw Isaac she did
not hesitate, "...and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel"
- "And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took
Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her" (24:67).
Marriage In The Covenant
- WHY WAS ABRAHAM SO INSISTENT THAT ISAAC MARRY A WOMAN FROM HIS KINDRED
RATHER THAN FROM THE CANAANITES, IN WHOSE LAND ABRAHAM AND ISAAC LIVED?
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT WE MARRY IN THE COVENANT?
- Spencer W. Kimball: "Marrying outside the faith has always
been forbidden. For example, the Lord inspired Abraham to marry a near
relative rather than a Gentile. In respect of his son's bride, Abraham
commissioned his servant to go on a long and uncomfortable journey to obtain
a girl of Isaac's own faith." (Miracle of Forgiveness, p240)
- According to Bruce R. McConkie, Abraham had "entered into celestial
marriage" (Mormon Doctrine, p13). Thus the sealing keys were upon
the earth. Isaac could not be married in the covenant unless he married
a righteous woman, one who was prepared for celestial marriage, a woman
of the faith.
- The Canaanites were not a righteous people and had evil practices such
as the worship of Baal and witchcraft, . Not only would the Abrahamic covenant
not be perpetuated through Isaac by marriage to a Canaanite, it is possible
that Isaac could be led into their evil practices.
HOW LONG HAS MARRIAGE IN THE COVENANT BEEN A COMMANDMENT OF GOD?
- Bruce R. McConkie: "Those portions of it (the Abrahamic covenant)
which pertain to personal exaltation and eternal increase are renewed with
each member of the house of Israel who enters the order of celestial marriage;
through that order the participating parties become inheritors of all the
blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." (Mormon Doctrine, p13)
- Spencer W. Kimball: "Plans and decisions relating to marriage
for a Church member should be geared to the goal of exaltation and to a
program for the unborn children who can bring glory to the parents. When
children come into a true Latter-day Saint home, through a marriage sealed
by the Holy Spirit of Promise, into a home where there is peace and contentment,
common ideals and common standards, life has great promise." (Miracle
of Forgiveness, p236-237)
- In a sense, we also live among the "Canaanites" today. The
strength of a righteous spouse is becoming increasingly important, if not
essential, as we attempt to avoid the temptations and evil practices that
HOW CAN WE HELP CHILDREN AND YOUTH PREPARE TO BE MARRIED IN THE TEMPLE?
- Bruce R. McConkie: "Celestial marriage is a holy and an eternal
ordinance; as an order of the priesthood, it has the name the new and everlasting
covenant of marriage. Adam was the first one on this earth to enter into
this type of union, and it has been the Lord's order in all ages when the
fulness of the gospel has been on earth. Its importance in the plan of
salvation and exaltation cannot be overestimated. The most important things
that any member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ever
does in this world are: 1. To marry the right person, in the right
place, by the right authority; and 2. To keep the covenant made
in connection with this holy and perfect order of matrimony -- thus assuring
the obedient persons of an inheritance of exaltation in the celestial kingdom."
(Mormon Doctrine, p118)
- Teach the principles contained in the pamphlet For The Strength
- Spencer W. Kimball provides this strong warning: "Clearly,
right marriage begins with right dating. A person generally marries someone
from among those with whom he associates, with whom he goes to school,
with whom he goes to church, with whom he socializes. Therefore, this warning
comes with great emphasis. Do not take the chance of dating nonmembers,
or members who are untrained and faithless." (Miracle of Forgiveness,
- As parents and youth leaders, set a proper example in our marriage
relationships and by keeping the commandments. How is it possible that
our youth grow up believing the importance of these principles, if we do
not treat them as sacred and important?
Howard W. Hunter: "Let us plan for and teach and plead with
our children to marry in the house of the Lord. Let us reaffirm more vigourously
than we ever have in the past that it does not matter where you marry and
by what authority you are pronounced man and wife." (Ensign, Nov.
Esau Sells His Birthright To Jacob
- READ GENESIS 25:21-23. Rebekah receives a revelation
about her sons.
- WHY WAS THE LORD'S STATEMENT THAT "THE ELDER SHALL SERVE THE YOUNGER"
AN UNUSUAL REVELATION?
- The Principle of the Birthright: At this time in Bible history there
were two birthrights.
- Birthright inheritance:
- The firstborn son had the first right to receive the birthright inheritance.
- This dealt with physical property, such as flocks and herds.
- Unless the father determined otherwise, at his death the physical property
was to be divided into balanced portions equal to the number of sons, plus
one (I don't think my daughters would appreciate this arrangement).
- The eldest son received the double portion. With this he assumed responsibility
for his mother and unmarried sisters.
- He usually served as the social-political leader of the family.
- After the time of Moses, the birthright inheritance automatically went
to the eldest son, regardless of whether or not his mother was the first
or favored wife.
- Birthright blessing:
- This was a spiritual blessing.
- It included the keys of the priesthood and the authority to preside
as the religious leader of the family or clan.
- It did not automatically belong to the oldest son, but fell to the
most righteous. Examples: Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, Nephi.
- WHAT DOES RECEIPT OF THE BIRTHRIGHT BLESSING SUGGEST ABOUT HOW WE BECOME
QUALIFIED FOR GOD'S CALLINGS AND BLESSINGS?
- Even though we may be richly blessed because of the actions of our
forbears, we are not granted callings and receive additional blessings
based on that heritage. We are judged and called on our own merits.
Esau Sells His Birthright
- READ GENESIS 25:29-34. Esau sells his birthright
for a mess of pottage.
WHAT BLESSINGS MIGHT WE AS INDIVIDUALS, FAMILIES, AND A CHURCH BE PLACING
TOO LITTLE VALUE ON?
- HOW DID ESAU FEEL ABOUT HIS BIRTHRIGHT COVENANT THAT HAD BEEN MADE
BETWEEN HIS GRANDFATHER ABRAHAM AND THE LORD?
- WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE ACTIONS OF ESAU?
- We sometimes value too little that which is of great worth.
- If we have not developed sufficient spiritual strength, the passions
of the flesh may lead us into temptation.
HOW DO OUR WORDS AND ACTIONS SHOW THE VALUE WE PLACE ON OUR BIRTHRIGHT?
- We are entitled to a spiritual birthright that includes priesthood,
temple blessings, ordinances, revelations, and the potential for exaltation.
HOW DOES WHERE WE MARRY AFFECT OUR ABILITY TO RECEIVE THE BLESSINGS
OF OUR BIRTHRIGHT?
- Neal A. Maxwell: "As we look at the misbehavior we see in each
of us, we see both aberrations and preoccupations. Preoccupations can be
a sign that some things have come to mean too much to us. Though not necessarily
bad in itself, a preoccupation can exercise dominion over us. But whether
obsessions, rationalizations, or preoccupations, each is a diversion. Messes
of pottage (Genesis 25:29-34) respond to the 'now' in us, whereas only
the submissive heart and mind sees eternity's considerations."
(Not My Will, But Thine, p60)
- Consider this passage: "And your minds in times past have been
darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the
things you have received--Which vanity and unbelief have brought the
whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon
the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this
condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even
the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them,
not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written--That
they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father's kingdom; otherwise
there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children
of Zion." (D&C 84:54-58)
- If we do not marry in the temple, by one who has the proper authority,
we do not qualify for the blessings of exaltation and eternal increase
which are part of the Abraham covenant.
Jacob Obtains The Birthright Blessing - Genesis 27
- "...when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim" he
called upon Esau to go hunting and return and prepare him "savoury
meat". Isaac told Esau that he wanted to bless him before he died
This story raises some questions:
- Rebekah overheard this conversation and told Jacob go to the flocks
and obtain "two good kids of the goats" and she would
prepare a dish of savory meat for Isaac. Jacob was to take the meat to
his father and obtain the blessing that Isaac had intended to give to Esau
- Jacob raised some questions about this procedure and his mother responded,
"Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch
me them" (27:11-13).
- Jacob obeyed his mother. He put the skins of goats on his hands and
took the meat into his father and presented himself as Esau (27:14-27).
- Isaac blessed Jacob (27:28-29).
- No sooner than Jacob had obtained the blessing, Esau showed up. After
presenting the meat, Esau requested the blessing. Isaac responded, "Thy
brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing"
- Esau obtained a less desireable blessing from his father and said,
"The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay
my brother Jacob" (27:36-41).
How would you answer these questions?
- Do you think Rebekah was justified in the way she sought to secure
the birthright blessing for Jacob?
- Can a person deceive a patriarch and get a blessing that belongs to
- Was Jacob a deceitful and crafty man?
- Was Isaac blindly favorable to certain children?
- Can one be dishonest and still get a valid patriarchal blessing?
- We may not have the entire story or it may be incorrect. We know that
much of the Bible has been corrupted through its transcriptions and translations.
- Rebekah knew by personal revelation that Jacob was to be the son of
the covenant (Gen. 25:22-23). Jacob reluctantly gave into his mother's
wishes after she told him that she would take the responsibility for what
they were about to do.
- The Bible contains the stories of great and righteous men and women,
but they were not perfect while in mortality.
- Isaac may have been temporarily shortsighted in favoring Esau.
- Rebekah may have had insufficient faith in the Lord to let him work
his will and therefore undertook a plan of her own.
- Whatever the circumstances were, Isaac, holding the priesthood, had
the keys to bind and loose on earth and have it validated in heaven.
- Having learned of the deception, he could have revoked the blessing.
He did not.
- Isaac confirmed his blessing to Jacob later (Gen. 28:3-4) when he conferred
upon Jacob the blessing of Abraham.
Jacob Marries Leah & Rachel In The Covenant
- READ GENESIS 26:34-35. Esau marries outside of
- WHAT DOES ESAU'S CHOICE OF WIVES TELL US ABOUT HIS PRIORITIES?
- HOW DID REBEKAH AND ISAAC FEEL ABOUT MARRYING WITHIN THE COVENANT?
- When they learned of Esau's choice of a wife outside of the covenant
it was a "grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah" (Genesis
- When Isaac blessed Jacob "he gave him a charge, saying, Thou
shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan" (Genesis 28:6).
- "And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of
the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such
as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life
do me?" (Genesis 27:46)
- WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE ISAAC AND REBEKAH PLACED SUCH STRONG EMPHASIS ON
MARRYING WITHIN THE COVENANT?
- They understood the eternal importance of marrying within the covenant.
- They knew the effect a marriage outside of the covenant would have
Jacob Seeks A Wife
- "And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him,
and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan"
Jacob took his journey to Haran and arrived at a well in a field (29:1-2).
- Jacob was then sent by his father to Pandanaran to take a wife "of
the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother" (28:2).
While Jacob was conversing with the men, Laban's daughter Rachel came
with the sheep (29:6-9).
It must have been love at first sight, for shortly after they met,
"...Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept"
(29:11) and "...Jacob loved Rachel" (29:18).
- He inquired of the men there for Laban the son of Nahor (29:4-5).
"And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto
him but a few days, for the love he had to her" (29:20).
- When Jacob went into Laban he said: "I will serve thee seven
years for Rachel thy younger daughter." (29:18)
- Laban agreed to Jacob's proposition.
- I have wished I could work out such a deal with future sons-in-law.
Five daughters could make me a rich man. On the other hand, in today's
climate, I could end up supporting those daughters the rest of my life.
At the end of seven days, Jacob was allowed to marry Rachel, but he
had to serve another seven years for her (29:27-28).
- At the end of the seven years Jacob went to Laban and asked for Rachel
- That night Rachel's sister, Leah, went into Jacob (29:23).
- When Jacob discovered the deception he went to Laban, just a bit upset.
Laban replied: "It must not be so done in our country, to give
the younger before the firstborn" (29:25-26).
Laban gave Zilpah to Leah as a handmaid and Bilhah to Rachel as a handmaid.
It is from these four women, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah that the
twelve sons of Jacob or Israel were born and thus the beginning of the
twelve tribes of Israel.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM JACOB ABOUT HIS EFFORTS TO MARRY IN THE COVENANT?
- It says in v31 that the Lord saw that Leah was "hated"
by Jacob. The Hebrew word used here is sahnay which may convey the
idea of "loving less".
- There is no price too great in order to marry the right person in the
- President Hinckley tells of a family who joined the Church in Australia
and then sold all their possessions so they could travel to New Zealand
and be sealed as a family. The father of this family said: "We
could not afford to come [to the temple]. Our worldly possessions consisted
of an old car, our furniture, and our dishes. I said to my family, 'We
cannot affort not to go. If the Lord will give me strength, I can work
and earn enough for another car and furniture and dishes, but if I should
lose these my loved ones, I would be poor indeed in both life and in eternity'."
(Be Thou An Example, p138)
- READ GENESIS 28:10-22. Jacob dreams of a ladder
reaching to heaven.
- WHAT PRINCIPLE IS TAUGHT IN JACOB'S DREAM OF THE LADDER?
Jacob said that "...this is none other but the house of God,
and this is the gate of heaven.... And he called the name of that place
- Marion G. Romney: "When Jacob traveled from Beersheba toward
Haran, he had a dream in which he saw himself on the earth at the foot
of a ladder that reached to heaven where the Lord stood above it. He beheld
angels ascending and descending thereon, and Jacob realized that the covenants
he made with the Lord there were the rungs on the ladder that he himself
would have to climb in order to obtain the promised blessings--blessings
that would entitle him to enter heaven and associate with the Lord."
(Ensign, Mar. 1971, p16)
- Joseph Smith: "Paul ascended into the third heavens, and he
could understand the three principal rounds of Jacob's ladder -- the telestial,
the terrestrial, and the celestial glories or kingdoms,..." (TPJS
- Is not each modern temple "the house of God" or "the
gate of heaven"?
- Marion G. Romney: "Temples are to us all what Bethel was to
Jacob. Even more, they are also the gates to heaven for all of our unendowed
kindred dead. We should all do our duty in bringing our loved ones through
them." (Ensign, Mar. 1971, p.16)
What are we willing to do, to sacrifice, to obtain the great blessings
of marriage in the covenant and the covenant birthright? We have talked
about the sacrifice Abraham was willing to make. If we are to obtain the
blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, we need to be willing to make the
sacrifices of the "now" so that we can have a glorious eternity.
In the end, is it really a sacrifice?
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