I have shown that ancient Near Eastern emperor–vassal covenants are helpful in understanding the workings of the Sinai and Davidic Covenants. On a parallel with those ancient models, God acts in the role of emperor and his people or King David and his heirs act in the role of vassals. But there is a third ancient Near Eastern model, one that is helpful in understanding a covenantal brotherhood. Kings sometimes made “parity covenants” among themselves in which they formed a brotherhood of equals that looked out for each other’s interests.
We find a pattern of just such a covenant in a revelation received by the prophet Joseph Smith: “Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:133).
In this sacred one-for-all-and-all-for-one paradigm, it is imperative that each member of the brotherhood “walk in all the commandments of God blameless” and “in thanksgiving” before God and one another lest they bring on its members a covenant curse that would otherwise fall only on the offender. Their motivation to walk blameless before God, in other words, increases exponentially in order that greater covenant blessings might come upon all, enabling them to accomplish far more than they could have accomplished individually.
Indeed, this covenant model forms the end goal toward which the Sinai and Davidic Covenants serve as stepping-stones. Like the Sinai Covenant, the parity covenant between equals is a collective covenant. Like the Davidic Covenant, it is a covenant of savior kings—the kind of spiritual kings and queens whom Isaiah predicts will restore the house of Israel before the coming of Jehovah to reign on earth. Resembling the “Fellowship of the Suffering of Christ” in the book, Visions of Glory, these savior-kings prepare the way for his coming.
Of course, apostate groups and secret combinations are known for exploiting scriptural models for their own pernicious purposes. Satan’s expertise has ever been to corrupt and pervert what is sacred in order to draw people into relationships that lend them a feeling of belonging from which they may gain a false sense of self-identity. As Jesus warns, however, though they may “have joy in their works for a season . . . by and by the end cometh and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return” (3 Nephi 27:11).
Instead, the parity covenant among God’s end-time servants fulfills Isaiah’s prophecies of a class of Israel’s watchmen who “see eye to eye” (Isaiah 52:8; 62:6), who suffer shame and humiliation at the hands of “brethren who abhor you” (Isaiah 61:7; 66:5), but whom God blesses with an eternal priesthood, an everlasting covenant, and an endless posterity (Isaiah 61:6–10). Sealed with the Father’s name written on their foreheads, they “bring as many as will come to the Church of the Firstborn” (Revelation 14:1; Doctrine & Covenants 77:11).
In other words, these “firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb” who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Revelation 14:4) attain the spiritual stature of Israel’s ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; of persons who minister in the priesthood after the holy order of God such as Melchizedek and Moses; and of translated beings such as John and Nephi the son of Helaman. And they attain it within a covenantal framework typifying the “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) God intended his people to become by living his higher law.