The Abrahamic Covenant

God repeated a set of promises to Abraham over and over again. When some of the promises seemed unlikely to happen, God reaffirmed to Abraham that they would all literally be fulfilled.

These promises appear for the first time in Genesis 12:2-3. Here is that passage, as it appears in the King James Version of the Bible, together with the expanded version of this passage found in the book of Abraham, as revealed to Joseph Smith (I have italicized the words in the Abraham passage which don’t appear in Genesis.):

Genesis 12:2-3Abraham 2:9-11
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.

What are these promises?

  1. Abraham would have numerous descendants. In Joseph Smith’s expanded version, we learn that Abraham’s influence would extend beyond his literal posterity: Everyone who accepts the gospel would consider him to be their adopted father.
  2. God would be with him, magnifying those who supported him and protecting him from those who sought to harm him.
  3. He and his descendants would bless everyone. Joseph Smith’s version explains that they would do so by sharing the gospel with families around the world.

God also promised to give Abraham the land of Canaan, just before a famine drove him and his family down to the land of Egypt. He would have to wait for that promise to be fulfilled. (See Genesis 12:6-9, Abraham 2:18-21.)

As Abraham and his wife Sarah grew older with no children, he wondered whether the promise of numerous descendants would be fulfilled. God repeatedly assured him that it would happen. (See Genesis 15:2-4, Genesis 17:18-21.)

God reaffirmed these same promises to Abraham’s son Isaac and to his grandson Jacob (Israel). (See Genesis 26:24, Genesis 28:13-15.)

The Apostle Paul taught that all believers inherit these promises:

If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:29

And the same expansive doctrine appears in the Book of Mormon. “As many of the Gentiles as will repent,” writes Nephi, “are the covenant people of the Lord” (2 Nephi 30:2). And Jesus later says:

If [the Gentiles] will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;

3 Nephi 21:22

President Russell M. Nelson taught:

The gospel net to gather scattered Israel is expansive. There is room for each person who will fully embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each convert becomes one of God’s covenant children, whether by birth or by adoption. Each becomes a full heir to all that God has promised the faithful children of Israel.

Let God Prevail,” General Conference, October 2020

Today, I will be grateful for the promises God made to Abraham, and I will remember that all believers in God can inherit those promises. I will be grateful that God has promised to be with me and my family. I will in turn strive to bless everyone I interact with, and I will encourage my children to do the same.

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