When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, He didn’t introduce Himself as the Creator of the Universe or as the Father of all people. He didn’t say where He lives or what He is trying to accomplish. Instead, He introduced Himself in terms of three of Moses’s ancestors:
I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.Exodus 3:6
He also instructed Moses to tell the children of Israel, “The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:15).
Why would He define Himself in terms of His interactions with other people? Maybe because He wanted to emphasize not only His attributes but also His relationship with us. The children of Israel were familiar with the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and knew that they had made covenants with God, covenants which included promises to their descendants. God was saying, in effect, “I have a relationship with you because I have a relationship with them.”
As Nephi traveled with his family to their promised land many years later, his faith was strengthened by remembering God’s relationship with those ancestors:
He loveth those who will have him to be their God. Behold, he loved our fathers, and he covenanted with them, yea, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and he remembered the covenants which he had made; wherefore, he did bring them out of the land of Egypt.1 Nephi 17:40
King Limhi urged his people to put their trust “in that God in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob” as they sought deliverance from captivity (Mosiah 7:19). The people of Alma were also in captivity at the time, and Mormon explained that “none could deliver them but the Lord their God, yea, even the God of Abraham and Isaac and of Jacob” (Mosiah 23:23). (See also Alma 29:11, Alma 36:2.)
Moroni referenced God’s relationship with these three men as he reminded us that He is a God of miracles. (See Mormon 9:11.)
Jesus added another dimension to this concept. Speaking to the Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the resurrection, He asked why God would introduce Himself as “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” adding, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:32). So when we speak of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we aren’t just remembering people who lived long ago and had a relationship with God while they were on the earth. We are remembering people who are still alive and who still have a relationship with God.
Elder David A. Bednar has taught that our hearts become sanctified as we ponder the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and build our relationships with our ancestors. (See “’Let This House Be Built unto My Name,’” General Conference, April 2020).
The prophet Alma asked us to visualize what it will be like to return to the presence of God and “sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Alma 5:24, Alma 7:25). (Mormon reiterated this concept in Helaman 3:30.) Will we be comfortable in their presence, because we have also been purified by Christ?
President Russell M. Nelson recently taught, “In the house of the Lord, we can make the same covenants with God that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made. And we can receive the same blessings!” (“The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation,” General Conference, October 2021).
Today, I will be grateful for the examples of righteous people who have diligently worked to draw close to God. I will remember that God is willing to enter covenant relationships with His children, and I will be grateful that the blessings He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are also available to us.