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Why the Book of Mormon is the New Covenant – Part 4: The Melchizedek Priesthood

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Introduction

The authors of the Book of Mormon wrote that they kept the law of Moses until Jesus Christ visited them following His resurrection and ascension into heaven. Have you ever wondered how they could have kept the law for over 600 years without priests of the Levitical priesthood officiating over their observance of its many ordinances?

According to their record, the primary authors and ministers identified in the book were of the tribe of Joseph through his son Manasseh. Since Moses spoke nothing about priesthood coming through the line of Joseph in terms of the law, how was it possible then for this initially small group of people, whose history is recorded in the Book of Mormon, to have someone serve in any capacity reserved for the Levitical priesthood?

Equally intriguing are the written accounts in the Book of Mormon of multiple high priests actively serving at the same time. Typically, only one high priest of the Levitical priesthood served in Israel in a given period of time. What then can explain the various references in the Book of Mormon to multiple high priests ministering concurrently?

Nephi, the opening author of the book, provided the answer to these and all such questions when stating his confidence that God always prepares a way for the children of men to accomplish whatever He commands them to do. To keep the law of Moses according to God’s commandments, Nephi’s family would need priesthood serving among them who could lawfully preside in its many observances. They would also need an authoritative record of the law of Moses. How then did God equip them with the necessary priesthood and with a written record of the law by which to keep the law and not stray from it for so long a period of time?

Nephi tells us they obtained both the priesthood and law through faith in Jesus Christ. Beginning with Lehi, Nephi’s father, the Lord raised up high priests among them who were high priests of the holy order of the Son of God, i.e. the Melchizedek priesthood. Like Paul on the road to Damascus, Lehi received a vision from the Lord in which He saw the Messiah and, like Paul, he was led to immediately testify to others of this Messiah and the rest of what he had seen and heard. Thus, we see that the Lord is able to accomplish His work in the same manner throughout every generation of mankind, which He carries out according to the foreknowledge of God on account of their exceeding faith and good works.

Next a record containing the law was obtained through faithful obedience to a command the Lord gave Lehi for his sons. Acting in faith upon this command, Nephi and his brothers, were able to retrieve certain records, known among them as the plates of brass, from Jerusalem and bring them to their father in the wilderness. Both the law and the records of the prophets were written upon this particular set of metal plates, including many of the prophecies of Jeremiah. They also contained the genealogy of Lehi’s forefathers, by which Lehi learned he was a descendant of Joseph, the son of Jacob, or Israel.

Keeping the law of Moses, however, was not God’s ultimate objective for this small remnant of the house of Israel when leading them away from Jerusalem and to a new land. His main goal was to raise up a righteous branch of the house of Israel unto Himself through the line of Joseph. This then was God’s main reason for raising up high priests of the order of Melchizedek to minister among them. In this way, God provided a more excellent ministry than that which could have been provided for them through the Levitical priesthood.

Through this better or greater priesthood, God administered a better covenant by which the people of the Book of Mormon could obey the gospel of Jesus Christ through faith, both before and after the time the law of Moses was fulfilled by Him. As stated in the letter to the Hebrews in the Bible, this change in priesthood required a change also of the law.

In the letter to the Hebrews, we also read that the law was administered without an oath and made nothing perfect. Unlike priests called to the order of the Levitical priesthood, our Lord’s call to be a high priest after the order of Melchizedek was established by an oath declared by the Father when He spoke these words, “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Because of this oath, which is an eternal declaration of God, Jesus Christ is the surety (guarantee or assurance) of a better testament (covenant). This oath expressed perpetually our heavenly Father’s avowed will. Based on this oath, Jesus Christ is able to perfect forever all those who are sanctified by Him. Stated another way, “…he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

From the foregoing references from the letter to the Hebrews, we understand that without this better priesthood and more excellent ministry it brought among them, none of the Book of Mormon people would have become righteous before God. Why? The law simply could not make any of them perfect. Thus, if they had remained under the law of Moses alone, i.e. without the higher priesthood to point them to Christ, they would have inevitably been cut off from His presence by not fulfilling the perfect law of liberty in Christ Jesus.

To God’s honor and glory, however, this was not the case. Nephi, his brother Jacob, and many others who followed after them testified that it was by His grace that God had saved them in His kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ. Thus by faith, God had provided them with the better way.

In this way, the Lord not only vindicated Nephi’s faith – that God always prepares a way for His commands to be accomplished by the children of men – but He also demonstrated His faithfulness as a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God. To borrow words penned by Paul, the Lord gave His people high priests after the order of Melchizedek “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

As a result of the faithful and honest ministry of these high priests, many souls among them were redeemed and went out of this world rejoicing. These words from Hebrews sum up the matter quite well: “…the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us; for after that he had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.’”


Table of Contents
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Introduction …5
The More Plain and Precious Parts …8
Know Ye that Ye are of the House of Israel …10
Even the New Covenant …11
Because of Their Faith …13
A Better Hope, A Better Testament (Covenant) …17
This is My Beloved Son, Hear Him …19
Inasmuch as Ye Shall Keep My Commandments …21
The Very Points of His Doctrine …23
Come Unto Christ and Be Perfected in Him …24
According to The Testimony of Jesus Christ …25

• The Voice of Lehi: …26
• The Voice of Nephi: …27
• The Voice of Jacob: …31
• The Voice of Enos: …34
• The Voice of Jarom: …36
• The Voice of Amaleki: …37
• The Voice of King Benjamin: …37
• The Voice of Abinadi: …46
• The Voice of Alma: …49
• The Voice of King Mosiah: …53
• The Voice of Alma the Younger: …54
• The Voices of Anti-Nephi-Lehi: …70
• The Voices of the Sons of Mosiah: …72
• The Voice of Ammon: …74
• The Voice of Amulek: …77
• The Voice of Chief Captain Moroni: …82
• The Voices of the Sons of Alma the Younger: …85
• The Voice of Helaman, the Sons of Helaman: …87
• The Voice of Nephi, the Son of Helaman: …91
• The Voice of Samuel the Lamanite: …98
• The Voice of Nephi, the Son of Nephi: …110
• The Voice of Mormon: …117
• The Voice of Moroni: …135

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