Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Covenant Path

I got an email from the church a few weeks ago with a new activity you can do on your phone. "What is it?! What has my tithing money been put towards today?!" you may wonder. Well, without further adieu, I shall tell you. It is an "immersive experience" with the Tree of Life in Lehi's dream. Of course I had to try the app for myself and upon entering the technological dream - I went straight to the great and spacious building to see what shenanigans were going on there. Heads up, you needn't waste your time - the party was lame.

I did eventually make it to the Tree of Life - with only two clicks I found myself next to Lehi! No mists of darkness to wade through, only a bit of "loud laughter" from some lady having a good time in the G&SBuilding. . Want to see where some of your tithing dollars went this month? Give it a try and see what you think! (link)

What do I wish? I wish the Church would teach you to ask, like Nephi did, to see what Lehi saw and know for yourself. Instead, we put time and money and effort into an "immersive app experience". And what of "angels and visions and dreams"? Those are things only the scriptures speak of now.

I had an experience with Lehi's dream only once. This was my experience and you may have experienced something differently or feel what I saw is inaccurate. That is okay, I am only sharing my experience.

In the dream I was in a large and spacious field of tall golden grass that went on as far as the eye could see - "as if it had been a world"(1 Nephi 8). The sky was dark and I heard great groanings which caused me to turn to my right. I saw I was standing on the edge of a world where a great cliff dropped off into the galaxy and I saw "the river of filthy water". When I looked closely I saw groaning souls flowing like a dark and dirty river.

Like Lehi, I have experienced in sleep, and in wake, the endless wanderings of "following a man in a white robe" (1 Nephi 8) both spiritually and temporally. I'm guessing you have too. I went to General Conferences, firesides, temple sessions, meetings and gatherings hoping to get some piece of knowledge that would propel me further down the path to the Tree of Life. I was continually in a dark and dreary wasteland following people who had no true care for The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6). Only when I cried out to the Lord for saving...only then was I pulled from that slow death of the soul and was brought back to life - by Jesus.

Lehi's dream and Nephi's vision describe, "the Covenant Path." The church is pushing hard to get us to focus on "the Covenant Path." It is brought up at every General and Stake Conference. I feel like the Church's push for "the Covenant Path" is like the story of "The Emperors New Clothes." Everyone is "ooooing and awwwing" over the clothes. We keep talking about the awesomeness of the stitching and the fine fabrics involved but I feel like I'm on the sidelines standing there slack-jawed and squinting - "What clothes? What fabric? What stitching?!" Their "Covenant Path" presents the idea of something desirable but once tried on - leaves you as Adam and Eve - clad in scratchy leaves exposing the ignorance of the wearer.

From the church's website - THIS is the Covenant Path:

Is this really all it takes? Can it be so simple? 

Get baptized
Get the Holy Ghost
Get the priesthood (eaaaaasy ladies - back up...back up. Just the men here - they're "less worthy" so they need it, etc. etc.)
Get endowed
Get married (sorry singles, nothing personal except, well, you're doomed)
Keep going back to the Temple and (drumroll please)

THINK CELESTIAL!!! You have arrived.

I do not believe that this is the Covenant Path that is outlined in the scriptures. "The Covenant Path," as marketed by the church, seems to be the philosophy of men (and committees) mingled with scripture.

The true Covenant Path isn't a step by step. It isn't easy and it isn't filled with a bunch of things you need to "do". It is filled with things you promised to become (Abraham 2:23). Ask Adam, ask Abraham, ask Moses, ask Isaiah, ask Paul, ask John the Revelator, and all those who have been noble and great ones (Abraham 3) who suffered and bore their cross to keep their Everlasting Covenant.

Before we go further - let's clarify what the Covenant Path is. In the scriptures it is called: The Everlasting Covenant. So the Covenant Path is: The Everlasting Covenant. You can use both interchangeably. 

When the Church focus' on their version of "The Covenant Path" it is akin to telling a farmer, after having planted his crop (baptism), to spend all his time and energy getting his barn all cleaned out. "Don't worry about weeds, water, nutrients, growth and harvesting - just get the barn ready for the great "someday" when you'll need to store your grain in here. Let the field take care of itself. Let the harvest take care of itself. What you need is order in the barn." The church does this by focusing on the you things you need to do rather than the things you need to become.

This post is to help remind us of the Everlasting Covenant we made before we were born (Abraham 2:23).

Genesis 9 (JST)

21 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch, that, when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch, which I have caught up unto myself.

22 And this is mine everlasting covenant: that when thy posterity shall
embrace the truth and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy;

23 And the general assembly of the church of the firstborn shall come down out of heaven, and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is mine everlasting covenant, which I made with thy father Enoch.



Jeremiah 32:

38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:
40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.

Ezekiel 16:

60 ¶ Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant....And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD:

Ezekiel 37:

26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.

27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.


Isaiah 61:

8 For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.

10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

11 For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.


2 Nephi 6:

12 And blessed are the Gentiles, they of whom the prophet has written; for behold, if it so be that they shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church, they shall be saved; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children; and for this cause the prophet has written these things.

13 Wherefore, they that fight against Zion and the covenant people of the Lord shall lick up the dust of their feet; and the people of the Lord shall not be ashamed. For the people of the Lord are they who wait for him; for they still wait for the coming of the Messiah.

14 And behold, according to the words of the prophet, the Messiah will set himself again the second time to recover them; wherefore, he will manifest himself unto them in power and great glory, unto the destruction of their enemies, when that day cometh when they shall believe in him; and none will he destroy that believe in him...
for the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant people. For thus saith the Lord: I will contend with them that contendeth with thee—


D&C 101

37 Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul.

38 And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.

39 When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men;

Lehi shows us how the Covenant Path/Everlasting Covenant works (1 Nephi 8). That is to say, Lehi reveals to the reader how this life works:

1. We are all dropped into a dark and dreary wilderness.

2. We will all be bidden to follow someone endlessly, going nowhere, getting exhausted. For all that you follow right now, both spiritually and temporally, do they bring you Life? Do you feel refreshed? Do you feel hopeful? Or are you drained and barely hanging on, hoping the next gathering or next revelation or next article or video will provide the answers you were looking for? Perhaps you are following something that appears good (dressed in white) but is leading you nowhere and leaves you feeling empty. Sometimes we can follow something and we feel excited but that feeling wanes until the next gathering or video. This can be a sign that you are not walking in the covenant.

3. Truth seekers will be willing to give up the "man in white"/flesh and will pray for the Lord to save them. If you don't feel to sing the song of redeeming love - don't stop crying out until He blesses you. Ask the Lord who or what you are following right now that is depleting you - who or what is the "man in white" for you? He will tell you. 

Once you leave the man in white then...

4. You will be taken to a large and spacious field and you will now begin to see what is available to you - the Tree of Life/Salvation/Jesus/The Love of God.

5. You will see the iron rod which runs parallel to the river of filthy water (the fact that the iron rod runs so closely to the river of filthy water demonstrates the perilousness of the journey unless you cling to that rod i.e. revelation).

6. You will be given the opportunity to commence on the path but not yet grasp the iron rod. Many people are searching for the path and even begin down the path that leads back to God but - an exceedingly great mist will arise for you and the intent of the mists is to keep you from staying on the path. However - the Lord has told me, "Those who seek Me with all their hearts WILL find Me." If The Lord truly is your hearts desire - you will find Him. If it's not Him, you will not remain on the path but will instead end up wandering down strange roads. In the end - you will have your hearts desire. 

7. If you want the Lord more than anything else - you will press forward and catch hold of the end of the rod (you will be born again/baptism of fire). Persistent prayer and calling out to the Lord for Salvation leads you to catch hold/be born again. 

8. Once you are born again if you continue to press through the mists of darkness it will lead you to:

9. The Tree of Life. Those that arrive fall down [at the feet of Christ] and partake of the fruit of the tree (1 Nephi 8:30).

Those mists of darkness will turn you around. In your journey you will have promptings and visions that will come from the kingdom of darkness. When you experience a vision, dream, an angel or even an encounter with Jesus - it will not always be obvious that it is from the adversary. Remember, Lucifer was the "son of the morning" and was once a Son of God. Discernment isn't between what is right and what is wrong. It is between what is right and what is almost right. 2 Corinthians 11 tells us that Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (v.14). 

I have been deceived by Satan into believing it was Jesus whom I saw. Many years ago I was sitting in a meeting and I don't remember what the speaker was saying but literally out of nowhere I saw, in high definition vision, what I thought was Jesus. His face was in clear and in focus, as was his body. He had light and bid me to feel the wound in his side. I approached and, being unfamiliar with so many things spiritual, I wept silently as I sat in my seat. I had never experienced anything like this. But one thing unsettled me as I felt the wound in his side. It was his face. In all these years I can not forget the expression on his face. I can't describe it other than it was the face expression of someone who was sheepish. The experience left me in awe at the grandeur of power and deeply confused at his visage. It wasn't until many years later that I learned with greater clarity - that Satan can transform into "an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). Knowing this caused me to look at that experience afresh and I realized I had interacted with a powerful demonic entity that day.

Should you choose to commence on the path - expect angels, expect visions, expect dreams. And expect to be deceived by all three. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God...." (1 John 4:4)

Hence the need to continually pray for discernment. 

If you have had spiritual experiences that you weren't 100% sure if they were from the Lord or not, ask Him to interpret what happened. Ask Him what was going on. And then wait and be patient for things to be revealed to you. It took 7 years for me to get the answer about that encounter. Because I was never 100% comfortable with what happened, I held it in reserve until I could understand more. Satan knows the desires of our hearts and he will ever seek to capitalize on them for his gain.

To grasp hold of the iron rod means you desire consecration. That is - you desire to be dedicated to a sacred purpose. Is this the desire of your heart? If so, you must know that consecration comes with a price. The first price is deliverance (born again). The higher price is - spiritual warfare. When you decided to live a consecrated life - hell opens up. Satan and all his demons fear nothing but a holy man or a holy woman. 

Bear with me while I go nuclear with the Old Testament to make a point. 

In Leviticus 16 we see the Day of Atonement and we watch Aaron go through a process of sacrifice and we are introduced to Azazel for whom a goat is offered. Medieval Jewish Commentators have identified the Hebrew text of Azazel as referring to a demon. The commentators do not see Aaron the sending of the goat in the the wilderness as honoring Azazel as a diety but as a symbolic expression of the idea that the people's sins and their evil consequences were to be sent back to the spirit of desolation and ruin, the source of all impurity. 

The very fact that the two goats were presented before God, before the one was sacrificed and the other sent into the wilderness, was proof that Azazel was not ranked alongside God, but regarded simply as the personification of wickedness in contrast with the righteous government of God. (link)

The Book of Enoch brings Azazel into connection with the Biblical story of the fall of the angels, located on Mount Hermon, a gathering-place of the demons of old. Here, Azazel is one of the leaders of the rebellious Watchers in the time preceding the Flood; he taught men the art of warfare, of making swords, knives, shields, and coats of mail, and taught women the art of deception by ornamenting the body, dyeing the hair, and painting the face and the eyebrows, and also revealed to the people the secrets of witchcraft and corrupted their manners, leading them into wickedness and impurity until at last he was, at Yahweh's command, bound hand and foot by the archangel Raphael and chained to the rough and jagged rocks of [Ha] Dudael (= Beth Ḥadudo), where he is to abide in utter darkness until the great Day of Judgment, when he will be cast into the fire to be consumed forever. (link)

The whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin.
— Book of Enoch 10:8

Azazel may have been the entity that has appeared to priests and diverted them. Many people who go in the spirit and ascend into higher realms, without the proper consecration, have encountered Azazel and they thought they had encountered the Angel of the Lord. Many people who sought spiritual power and began getting into the realms of the spirit - they found a spirit. Azazel is the principle spirit of the occult and is Satan himself who carries authority, power, and a bit of glory. Azazel may have been the spirit that appeared to Jesus in the wilderness saying..."All the kingdoms of the earth and their glory - are mine. Just worship me." (Matt. 4:8)

The most important quality you can possess in this life is to seek the Lord’s will and to act upon it. Such faith will carry you through the Covenant Path/Everlasting Covenant and ensure that the temptations of Satan never gain a foothold in your heart. 

The Everlasting Covenant Path is a return to the Lord, whom ye seek...He shall suddenly come to his Temple (i.e. YOU (1 Cor. 3:16))...even the messenger of the covenant (i.e. the Everlasting Covenant) whom ye delight in, behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. He will be like a refiners fire, and like a fullers' soap. He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and purge you as gold and silver that you may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. (Malachi 3:1-4)

The time is now. 

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” 
- G.K. Chesterton

29 ...have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.

31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.

32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men. (Moroni 7)

Don't be afraid that you'll be deceived or look like a fool or that you'll make mistakes. You will do all three. Just worry about loving the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and you WILL be led to Him.

"For he has made with me an everlasting covenant." (2 Sam. 23:5). Here is the sweetness of it to each believer. It is nothing for me that He made peace for the world - I want to know whether he made peace for me! It is a small matter that He has made a covenant - I want to know whether He has made a covenant with me! Staying in the boat offers no such assurance. "The LDS Covenant Path" has not given you God's words of your salvation to you personally. Blessed is the assurance that He has made a covenant with me! If God gives assurance of this, then His salvation is yours, His heart is yours, He Himself is yours. He is your God. How sweet in all the uncertanities of life to know that "God's foundation stands firm" (2 Tim 2:19), and to have God's own promise, "I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips." (Psalm 89:34). Knowing you have an Everlasting Covenant with God will cause you to sing the song of redeeming love. 

A prayer:

Oh Lord...We Love You. We worship You. There are none beside You. You are Holy and Wonderful and Lovely and Kind. Do not turn away Your Face from us. We know we are unworthy and Your Holiness is greater than our feeble minds can yet comprehend. But we choose You. Choose us again. Do not turn away from us in our hour of need but remember us, Oh Lord! Remember Your promises and help us remember You. To choose You. Again and again, day in and day out. Be our North Star. Be the beat of our heart. Be the desire of our soul. Strip away anything in our lives that is not You. Destroy those things that have no Life. For You are Life and You are raiment and meat and refreshment. Help us to hunger and thirst only for You. Even if you take the things we love, bless us to still Love you. Even if you deny us the things we most deeply desire, bless us to still desire You. Bless us with Your raiment. Bless us with Your meat. Bless us with Your river of life to flow over us, in us, around us and through us. Bring us to Your throne that we may sing praises to You forever and ever and ever more. You are Holy. You are Pure. You are Righteousness and we Praise You forever...and ever...and ever. 



and Amen

Don't Stop Praying
Matthew West