When I was first introduced to Christianity in school, I learned about Israel as a covenant people and how they were led into the promised land. It was not until I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that I understood what a covenant is and why Latter-day Saints are called a covenant people.
A covenant is a pact or agreement between God and man, which when kept by us, brings blessings in this life, and ultimately leads toward returning to live with Heavenly Father eternally. As we keep our part of the agreement, God will also fulfill His promises, as the Scriptures taught, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”
From the very beginning, the Lord has made covenants with His children on Earth. Adam and Eve made covenants with God to “be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the Earth.” One of the most notable covenants is between God and Abraham, also known as the Abrahamic Covenant. Abraham received the gospel and was ordained a high priest. Because of his faithfulness, the Lord promised Abraham that through him and his seed, “all the families of the earth [would] be blessed.”
Aren’t we part of the families of the earth? How are we blessed by the covenants made by Abraham in ancient times?
This promise is fulfilled in several ways:
- Through Jesus Christ, our Master and Redeemer, who came through the lineage of Abraham.
- Through the priesthood which was conferred upon Abraham and his descendants.
- Through the scattering and the gathering of Israel.
Due to the scattering of Israel throughout the earth, the blood of Israel was sprinkled among the nations, and thus all nations are also entitled to the promise that Israel will be gathered once again in God’s mercy, on condition of repentance.
- Through embracing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as restored by Prophet Joseph Smith.
The Lord made a covenant with Abraham that after his time, all who embraced the gospel should be called by his name, or should be numbered among his seed, and should receive the Holy Ghost.
“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”D&C 82:10
Those who are not literal descendants of Abraham and Israel must become such, and when they are baptized and confirmed by those with Priesthood authority, they are grafted into the family tree and are entitled to all the rights and privileges as heirs.
When we are baptized and confirmed as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we covenant with the Savior to take upon ourselves His name, to always remember Him and obey His commandments. In return, the Lord has promised that we will have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. We renew this covenant with the Lord as we partake of the sacrament. When we receive temple ordinances, we also make sacred covenants and are promised exaltation for faithful obedience. “By obeying the Gospel, or by adoption through the Gospel, we are all joint heirs with Abraham, and with his seed, no matter whether we are descended from Melchizedek, from Edom, from Ishmael, or whether we be Jews or Gentiles.”
Being a covenant people is a privilege, but also a responsibility. It is a responsibility with great promised blessings. Jesus told the Jews that simply being of the seed of Abraham is not enough for their salvation. Jesus taught, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.”
During the Saints’ migration to the west led by Brigham Young in 1846, they were admonished to travel “with a covenant and promise to keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.”9 They were reminded that their conduct on the journey was as important as their destination, turning this difficult trial into an important shared spiritual experience.10
I received my patriarchal blessing in 2001, ten years after my baptism, and further learned about my own Israel lineage. No matter if our lineage is literal or by adoption, we still have the privilege to receive the blessings promised through Abraham, conditional to our worthiness and faithfulness to the Lord.
I am grateful to have found the restored gospel through the restored Church of Jesus Christ. Truly, understanding the doctrine of being a covenant people has helped me to consistently live the Gospel. The eternal perspective it teaches, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost have had profound impacts in my life. May we always have the guidance of the Spirit to continue our journey as a true covenant people.
 D&C 82:10.
 Genesis 1:28.
 Abraham 2:11.
 Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie (1955), 3:600.
 Joseph Fielding Smith, “How One May Become of the House of Israel,” Improvement Era, October 1923, 1149.
 See D&C 132.
 Parley P. Pratt, Journal of Discourses, v. 1 p.262.
 John 8:39.
 D&C 136:2.
 See Chad M. Orton, “This Shall Be Our Covenant,” in Revelations in Context: The Stories behind the Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants (2016), 308.