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Abraham’s grandson Jacob was traveling in the wilderness. One night during his travels he settled down for a good night’s rest, using rocks for his pillow. Perhaps it was because he was sleeping on the most uncomfortable bed ever that Jacob had a particularly vivid dream or vision that we know as Jacob’s Ladder.
In this vision, Jacob saw a ladder on the ground that stretched all the way up into heaven. At the top of the ladder was the Lord and along the ladder, there were angels ascending to heaven and descending down to earth. The Lord spoke to Jacob and made the same covenant with him that He’d made with Jacob’s father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham.
In the morning Jacob sanctified this location, renaming it Bethel (which means “the House of God), and made a covenant to follow God’s will.
Now that’s all very nice, but what in the world does it mean, and what does it have to do with you?
You see, Jacob’s ladder wasn’t just a crazy dream brought on by using rocks for pillows. It was a heavenly vision that taught the importance of making covenants with God.
Elder Marion G. Romney explained it this way: “Jacob realized that the covenants he made with the Lord there were the rungs on the ladder that he himself would have to climb in order to obtain the promised blessings—blessings that would entitle him to enter heaven and associate with the Lord. …”
So the ladder was a symbol to help us picture the covenant path back to our Heavenly Father, and each rung on the ladder was one of the covenants Jacob– and all of us– have to make to be worthy to live with God.
But let’s back up a little. You might be wondering: what is a covenant and why are covenants required?
First, what is a covenant? A covenant is a sacred promise made between God and His children.
Second, why are covenants required?
God explained the reason to the the prophet Moses when He said, “For behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). In other words, the point of everything that God does— including asking us to make covenants– is to prepare us for eternal life– or life with God.
But how do covenants prepare us for life with God? Why can’t I just be a good person who DOESN’T make covenants and still make it back to Him?
It’s kind of like the path to becoming a doctor. Each college class a medical student attends, each test they take, each year they practice their skills under the supervision of a licensed doctor, helps them become perfectly qualified to be a doctor someday– someone you would trust to perform surgery on you!
How would you feel if you were about to have surgery and the doctor said, “I didn’t bother with medical school! I decided to just figure it all out on my own!” I bet you wouldn’t want them coming at you with a scalpel because they wouldn’t be properly trained and prepared!
In the same way, we can’t be prepared for life with and like God without the education He provides us through covenants. God’s schooling requires that we make covenants with Him that slowly, over time, teach us how to become like Him.
For example, in your Baptism 101 class (aka when you were baptized), you learned more about how to:
As you have continued practicing what you promised to do during Baptism 101 you have become more like God.
In your Temple Endowment 101 class (aka when you make temple covenants) you will learn how to:
As you keep practicing what you learn in your Temple Endowment 101 class you will gain:
Can you see how God’s education of making and KEEPING covenants prepares you for life with God?
As you make covenants with God, remember to keep those covenants, and receive God’s blessings of increased spiritual power, you are on your way to the ultimate advanced degree: Life With God.
(Temples Covenants and Ordinances)
Covenants and Ordinances