Lesson #11 The Covenant Relationship has three steps.
The first example of Hebrew poetry in the Book of Mormon is a chiasm in the first two verses. It is a seven-part chiasm: knowledge, record, language, learning of the Jews, language, record, knowledge. The center point, which is the most important point, is "learning of the Jews". The Lord is giving us the message at the very beginning of the Book of Mormon that the "leaning of the Jews" will be important to understanding the Book of Mormon. A prime example of the "learning of the Jews" is the tabernacle. The Jews rejected Jesus at Mt Sinai, so He gave them a picture of Himself in the form of the tabernacle. Jesus is the gospel in bodily form and the tabernacle is also a type for the gospel.
The holy place of the tabernacle has already been mentioned. The holy place has three pieces of furniture in it. These three pieces of furniture are a type for the three steps of the covenant relationship. The first piece of furniture in the holy place is the table of show bread. Jesus is called the bread of life. It is symbolic of the new, third principle of the gospelcome unto Me. The Book of Mormon tells us at least 26 times to repent, come unto Me and be baptized. This statement represents the second, third and fourth principles of the gospel. The next piece of furniture in the holy place is the golden candlestick, commonly called the Menorah. It is symbolic of both water and spiritual baptism. The center post is hollow, allowing oil to feed the seven lights. The oil is a liquid, symbolizing water and water baptism. The lights, of course, symbolize spiritual baptism. The third piece of furniture is the altar of incense. The incense represents prayers going up. Jesus prayed over everything and was directed in all that He did. He had the endowment. Covenant people also do whatever they are directed to do. Covenant people have died to self and have Jesus in them (3N 9:23, 30). They too have the endowment. They have given their all and now the Lord is able to give them this kind of power because they will only use it as He directs. The principle of laying on of hands comes after baptism. The altar of incense is symbolic of laying on of hands. This is not for the reception of the Holy Ghost because that was a part of the previous principle. Hands are symbolic of work. This is the kind of work that is directed by the Holy Ghost. This is the fruit. The three steps of the covenant relationship are come unto Me (Christ), where we make a covenant to serve Him and keep His commandments, baptisms, where we first make a public witness of the covenant (Alma 5:27) by being baptized in water and then God responds by giving us the Holy Ghost to guide us and the laying on of hands which symbolizes the good works that are directed by the Holy Ghost, including the endowment.
The seven pieces of furniture in the tabernacle are symbolic of the seven principles of the gospel. It has been said that if there is a finite number of principles of the gospel there has to be seven and not six because seven is symbolic of perfection and six is symbolic of man and of the devil. We have always emphasized what we thought were the six principles of the gospel. We were blinded to the missing principle, come unto Me, which is the first step of the covenant relationship because we rejected the covenant relationship in the early 1830s. The seven principles are even listed in Hebrews 6:1-2. This is a seven-part Hebrew poetry listeach part beginning with "of". "...of the doctrine of baptisms" is two principles and not one. There should be a comma after doctrine, which is the Bible equivalent of the common Book of Mormon phrase "come unto Me". Doctrine means teaching in both Greek and Hebrew. After faith and repentance, we come unto Christ and He teaches us about a deeper committtmentthe covenant relationship. The phrase "come unto Me" is found in the Bible 14 times but in the Book of Mormon at least 46 times.
Another ancient Hebrew type for the three parts of the covenant is the ancient Hebrew wedding. Our weddings have only one part. The three parts of the ancient Hebrew wedding are the betrothal, which was considered a legal marriage requiring a divorce to break, the marriage ceremony and supper and the coming forth of the first child living. Then, and only then, did the wife (symbolic of the church) receive her full inheritance, meaning that if her husband dies, she can retain his name and his inheritance. The child is symbolic of Zion. This means we do not receive our full inheritance until we are a part of Zion.
After faith and repentance, we come unto Jesus as a little child in total submission. This is the first step of our covenant relationship. Then we continue to submit ourselves by going into the waters of baptism. This is supposed to be a public witness of a spiritual covenant made previously (Alma 5:27). Then God does the rest. He baptizes us with the Holy Ghost. This completes the second step. The Holy Ghost directs us in everything and we are obedient. The resulting good works represent our fruit. This is the third step of the covenant. God completes the sixth and seventh principles through resurection and eternal judgement. The seven principles then follow the same pattern as the final seven years, being divided into two three-and-a-half year periods. We do the first three-and-a-half principles, faith repentance, come unto Christ and water baptism and God does the last three-and-a-half.