Saturday, November 12, 2016

History of early Genesis priesthood ordinations

D&C 107 is a great section about priesthood. I once tried to summarize it down, and it was virtually impossible. Recently I was reading v40-52 and noticed some interesting things I hadn’t seen before.

40 The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.

41 This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:
42 From Adam to Seth, who was ordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years, and was blessed by him three years previous to his (Adam’s) death, and received the promise of God by his father, that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth;
43 Because he (Seth) was a perfect man, and his likeness was the express likeness of his father, insomuch that he seemed to be like unto his father in all things, and could be distinguished from him only by his age.
44 Enos was ordained at the age of one hundred and thirty-four years and four months, by the hand of Adam.
45 God called upon Cainan in the wilderness in the fortieth year of his age; and he met Adam in journeying to the place Shedolamak. He was eighty-seven years old when he received his ordination.
46 Mahalaleel was four hundred and ninety-six years and seven days old when he was ordained by the hand of Adam, who also blessed him.
47 Jared was two hundred years old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam, who also blessed him.
48 Enoch was twenty-five years old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam; and he was sixty-five and Adam blessed him.
49 And he saw the Lord, and he walked with him, and was before his face continually; and he walked with God three hundred and sixty-five years, making him four hundred and thirty years old when he was translated.
50 Methuselah was one hundred years old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam.
51 Lamech was thirty-two years old when he was ordained under the hand of Seth.
52 Noah was ten years old when he was ordained under the hand of Methuselah. (D&C 107:42-52)

These verses tell us how the priesthood was handed down from father to son, which tells us that ideally it is part of righteous families.

I noticed that the men were ordained at many different ages: 69, 134, 87, 496, 200, 25, 100, 32, 10…. It shows that ordination is not something that comes at a certain age, but with maturity and faithfulness. Today, our church seems to tie it to ages-- 12, 14, 16, 18, but ultimately faithfulness is the deciding factor, as judged by the bishop. (Ordination to elder probably requires an interview with the stake president, but I’m not sure about that. Someone correct me?)

Another thing I notice is that many of those who were ordained in these verses received it from Adam. Adam ordained Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah. It is possible Adam did it because he was the presiding authority at that time and the fathers deferred to him.  (Anyone with additional insight on this may chime in too.)

I also notice little stories about the spirituality of these men. For instance, Seth tried very hard to be just like his father Adam, and he succeeded such that people could only distinguish them by age. Think what that would be like to have a child so carefully copying you. Some things you might not recognize were wrong unless you saw him doing it too, so you’d have to repent pretty quick, lest you lead theme deeper into error.

There’s also a story in v45 about God calling Cainan in the wilderness when he was 40, and he met Adam while journeying to Shedolamak, then was ordained when 87. That story is interesting because it shows us Cainan felt spiritual impressions and obeyed them and evidently felt that meeting Adam was what the Lord wanted him to do. I suppose he progressed over 42 more years to the point that Adam felt he was ready for ordination.  Sometimes divinely orchestrated meetings with a priesthood holder can change the course of our lives, and perhaps this meeting with Adam was one of those.  It also shows it can take time for people to become worthy and ready for the priesthood. But once they are, surely their power is no less valid than any other priesthood holders.  Looked at it that way, Cainan’s story could be an inspiration to men in the church who might be ashamed of not progressing. 

The way these stories are so spare, it makes me wonder what formative spiritual experiences of ours could be distilled down into a verse.


Rozy Lass said...

Cleon Skousen's old classic book "The First 2000 Years" has some nifty insights to this very subject. My Dad had us read it when we were young to prepare for reading the Old Testament. You may enjoy it too.

Matthew Shepherd said...

The Bishop is the man with the keys of the Aaronic priesthood. The Stake President holds the keys of the Melchizedek priesthood in the stake, so he has to interview and approve the ordination to elder or high priest.

As far as the ages thing goes, you are right and wrong:the Adamic priesthood that was handed down is now known as the Melchizedek priesthood. The offices in the Melchizedek priesthood are given only when you receive a calling that requires it so the ages vary a great deal.

Third, all of the ages listed, other than the 496 age are within the first quarter of their maximum age, so they would still be considered young men.

Michaela Stephens said...

Thanks for the book recommendation, Rozy Lass.
Thanks for the clarification Matthew Shepherd. Also, interesting point about them being still "young men."