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Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Spirit of Elijah

In his old age, God told Abraham, "I will bless thy wife, Sarah, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her." (Genesis 17: 16) Now, this sentence would not be too off the wall, if it wasn't also for the old age of Sarah. She and Abraham had been married for quite sometime; and she, through past experiences, was proven barren. Therefore, when Abraham heard this from the Lord, the scripture records, "he fell upon his face and laughed, and said in his heart, 'Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?'" (Genesis 17: 17; punctuation modernized) In answer, God replied, "Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him." (Genesis 17: 19) Years after the birth of Isaac, God reached out to Abraham again concerning his son saying, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." (Genesis 22: 2) Not much is written in the scripture concerning Abraham's emotional reaction to this request, but it is clear that he loved Isaac. President Thomas S. Monson explained, "How painfully difficult it must have been for Abraham, in obedience to God’s command, to take his beloved Isaac into the land of Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice. Can we imagine the heaviness of Abraham’s heart as he journeyed to the appointed place? Surely anguish must have racked his body and tortured his mind as he bound Isaac, laid him on the altar, and took the knife to slay him. With unwavering faith and implicit trust in the Lord, he responded to the Lord’s command. How glorious was the pronouncement, and with what wondered welcome did it come: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” (Genesis 22: 18)" (Obedience Brings Blessings)

"Abraham rose up early in the morning...
and took... Isaac his son, and clave the wood  for the burnt offering,
and rose up, and went unto the place..."
(Genesis 22: 3
Abraham's sacrifice affected, and is affecting many generations. Through his simple act of obedience we can truly see how the future generations are influenced through even our smallest actions. The ancestors of the generations living now have grown closer to God by looking to their future posterity, and asking about the things to come; among these examples are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. During the time of the coming of Jesus Christ, many prophets have testified, and prophesied of certain events occurring, some within the American continents, because their children would be there. We read, "Behold, I say unto you, Yea, many have testified of these things at the coming of Christ, and were slain because they testified of these things. Yea, the prophet Zenos did testify of these things, and also Zenock spake concerning these things, because they testified particularly concerning us, who are the remnant of their seed. Behold, our father Jacob also testified concerning a remnant of the seed of Joseph..." (3 Nephi 10: 15-17) The prophet who abridged the ancient record of the Americas wrote words from a noble captain named Moroni who expounded further on the love their forefathers had for them,
"Behold, we are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; yea, we are a remnant of the seed of Joseph... Yea, let us preserve our liberty as a remnant of Joseph; yea, let us remember the words of Jacob, before his death, for behold, he saw that a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said, 'Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment. Now behold, this giveth my soul sorrow; nevertheless, my soul hath joy in my son, because of that part of his seed which shall be taken unto God.' Now behold, this was the language of Jacob." (Alma 46: 23-26; punctuation modernized)
"Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved,
 so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God..."
During a meeting with the Mission President, he taught us the effect we have on future generations. Kids, and grandkids raised in the Church grow up with values which will enhance their eternal progression. He, further, introduced us to his grandchildren. But, what about the generations previous? Just because they didn't have the opportunity to live the Restored Gospel, does it mean they are damned? In his training, President Craven said, "Generations look backward as much as it does forward." In other words, the generations prior to us are affected in eternity just as much as the generations after us by the choices we make. If one does not believe this truth, than one does not believe in the atoning sacrifice of the Savior. The effects of Christ's Atonement affect the effects of the Fall of Adam. Christ's actions influenced the future of generations who lived prior to him, as evidenced by some of them being resurrected (Matthew 27: 52-53). It is similar with us, and the process by which our influence affects ancestors is through a knowledge of who our ancestors are, and vicarious ordinances for them. Today, people are wondering, "where did I come from? Where are my family roots?" This desire ties back to a spiritual instinct within each of us. Elder Jeffery R. Holland stated, "we seek ways even in mortality whereby we can unite with our Father in heaven spiritually." We are a part of His family, and He knows each of us, past, present, and future; and in order to fulfill that spiritual desire, we ask the question, "what is my ancestry?" In the Holy Writ, we read, "Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine. And they were also led out of captivity and out of the land of Egypt, by that same God who had preserved them. And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers... And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed... And he prophesied many things concerning his seed." (1 Nephi 5: 14-17, 19) Within this context, the prophet Lehi grew spiritually closer to God by learning more about his pedigree. "Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem... was a descendant of Manasseh, who was the son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt by the hands of his brethren." (Alma 10: 3) Thus, his desire to unite spiritually was, in part, fulfilled by learning of his family, even as God knows them, and so it is the same with us. As the people's hearts are turning to their forefathers, a promise from the Lord comes to mind concerning the last days. "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers..."(Malachi 4: 5-6) This promise was fulfilled April 3, 1836, in Kirtland, Ohio, when Elijah the prophet restored those keys to the Prophet Joseph Smith. (Doctrine and Covenants 110: 13-16)
Since then, the Spirit of Elijah has taken hold of hearts to bring the knowledge of ancestors forth. It has become a widespread hobby. In recent years, this hobby has been enhanced with the growing influence of technology, mainly the internet. Many records have been digitized and made available to the public.
I have been able to see generations fan out, but still have holes to fill.
Websites such as Ancestry.com, myheritage.com, and others have vast collections to grow your pedigree. Familysearch.org has billions of records from over 100 countries, and the largest collection of genealogical and family history resources. Familysearch.org is A non-profit website, absolutely free to the public, It's purpose is to preserve, the stories and history of families. Prior to December 2014, I had only my name, and my parents'. Familysearch.org has helped me gain this wonderful knowledge of my ancestry. Since I began utilizing family history myself, I have seen myself become more aware of spiritual promptings, I have gained a desire to share what I have learned with my family, and want to ask my family more concerning their stories. My invitation to you is to visit familysearch.org to grow closer to your family, and closer to God.

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