Monday, December 2

FHE - Isaac and Rebekah were Covenant Makers

In preparation for a family trip to the Holy Land in January, we have been using Family Home Evening time to learn about the people and places of the Bible. We will not get through it all in time for the trip, but any effort will be helpful. (I’m still listening and studying a General Conference talk each week on my own – but we’ve shifted focus for FHE for this trip.)

Last week we learned about Abraham and Sarah, so tonight we’ll cover their son Isaac and the distant relative he married, Rebekah. We’d used the Scripture Stories videos to talk about Abraham and Sarah’s life last week so I started my prep there but was disappointed. There’s no scripture story in the reader about Rebekah at the well! I love this story!!! 

Eliezer's prayerful desire to find a Holy Woman for his master Abraham’s son is answered. Rebekah's example of going beyond expected hospitality is inspiring. (Did I blog about our ward's recent Young Women in Excellence evening about the Holy Woman challenge? Probably not, it's lost in the shuffle of my new calling and having family visiting for Thanksgiving. Anyhow, it was an AWESOME evening of testimony from these young women who took the challenge!)

But back to Isaac and Rebekah. Here's a 3 minute cartoon about Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, finding Rebekah for Isaac to marry

The story of Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Esua’s youth, marriage and birth right disputes in a 25 minute Biblical synopsis with good images to help narrate. It is pretty darn great compared to my reading of the account in Genesis 24+.

Primary 6 Manual: Old Testament – Isaac and Rebekah
"Purpose: To teach the children that the same eternal blessings promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can be theirs if they make and honor temple marriage covenants."

I see the scriptures as records of men and women who sought God and God shared his Plan of Happiness with them. God has preserved these records to bless countless generations with a knowledge of how we can seek and know Him, our loving Heavenly Father. It is very instructive that the Bible account shares how these men and women dealt with each other, their extended families and tribes, and with the idolatrous local populations while trying to live in remembrance of their God and duties to Him.

There are faith promoting stories and difficult events in each of their lives. I appreciate seeing how they navigated their time on earth. God worked with them with such love, despite their failings. For heaven’s sake, Isaac lied to the Canaanite king that Rebekah was his sister and gave her to be one of the king’s wives because he feared for their lives! That’s complicated! But the way this was resolved is so beautiful! The Canaanite king could have dealt justly and cruelly with them for their deception but did the most magnanimous thing one could do. Through Isaac and Rebekah, we learn of their struggle with infertility, the blessing of God’s messengers visiting them, their miraculous conception of twins, Rebekah’s difficult pregnancy and giving birth to Esau and Jacob. And that’s nothing compared to the trials of raising twin boys who couldn’t be more different from one another and each parent favoring a different child!

The gospel of Jesus Christ was transmitted to the next generation through Jacob who sought to make and keep covenants with God. Esau did not as we understand in this account because he sough wives of the local populations, not from those who sought to make covenants with God. How were their lives different?

Here are quotes from my study of General Conference that reflect why I loved studying Isaac and Rebekah's lives.

"Decisions determine destiny . . . a pivotal spiritual attribute - Self Mastery . . . the strength to place reason over appetite." Elder Nelson

"Covenant keeping strengthens, empowers, and protects. Keeping covenants is essential for true happiness. Keeping our covenants demonstrates our love for the Savior and our Heavenly Father." Sister Linda Burton

"Priesthood ordinances and covenants . . . arm sons and daughters of God with power, God's power." Sister Carol Stephens

"The key to spiritual protection is reading the scriptures." Elder Packer

Elder Eyring - On a notecard on my GenConf board after studying his talk. "One overarching commandment helps us meet challenges and leads to the heart of a happy family life: Love God with all thy soul and mind. Love thy neighbor as thyself." Matthew 22:35-40

"Shall I falter or shall I finish?" (Job) and "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee!" (Joshua 1:5) shared by President Monson

And Elder Uchdorf - "Come, Join with us! Our daily walk with Jesus Christ leads to peace and purpose . . . joy and eternal salvation."

As I sat in Sacrament Meeting yesterday, I felt prompted to ask Morgan and then Easton why we were here to take the sacrament. Why is it important? We’re here to remember our covenants with God and/or to prepare to make them.  We’re covenanting to remember our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ and try to be like him as we go through our new week. We will make mistakes each week, but this is our chance to reflect on last week, be repentant, and covenant with God to try again. I love taking the sacrament for these reasons. I need it in my life each week and hope my family learns to desire it too.

My life has been blessed by making and keeping covenants of baptism, the endowment, and temple marriage. These covenants remind me to strive to become a better me. They help spare me from being mired in harmful distractions and appetites. I appreciate feeling empowered to direct my life for good. I love knowing that my God is invested in me and is helping me as I seek Him. When Ryan and I have had our struggles, I have leaned on our temple marriage covenant to realign myself. When I can't resolve something with Ryan, I find such strength in knowing we aren't alone in this marriage. We made that covenant with God in His holy house. He is invested in our marriage succeeding and will mediate our difficulties if I turn to Him. I can't change Ryan or my children, I can only work on myself and God will guide me. These have been powerful guiding thoughts for me over the years. I am a covenant making and keeping woman.

Ryan and I are traversing the learning curves of new church responsibilities. Bumpy rides for sure, but it's fun to be growing and learning from our experiences together!