Question: In our Isaiah Decoded discussion group last week, we discussed the “New and Everlasting Covenant.” In this week’s reading material of Isaiah Decoded (pages 157-167), God’s “ancient” or “everlasting” covenant is mentioned again (see page 158 about Isaiah 24:5). I would like some clarification about that term. I have always considered that this covenant refers to the Book of Mormon and all other scriptures. However, our moderator believes it refers to the marriage between the Bride of Christ and the Bridegroom. Because the term is also used in the Doctrine and Covenants in regards to celestial marriage, I tend to believe he is correct. Also, as I read other passages of scripture in the Standard Works it seems to be used in terms of a covenant with God. May I ask your thoughts?
Answer: Because God’s covenants apply on different spiritual levels—(1) the (collective) Sinai Covenant on Isaiah’s Jacob/Israel level, the equivalent of the covenant of baptism into the church; (2) the (individual) Davidic Covenant that starts becoming applicable on Isaiah’s Zion/Jerusalem level; and (3) from there on to higher applications of the Davidic Covenant, all the way to Messiah’s Atonement—the covenant concept is somewhat fluid until you reach Isaiah’s celestial level—that of God’s sons/servants. The “New and Everlasting Covenant” is that compound of all aspects of the Davidic Covenant on the celestial level, and that seems to be what Isaiah 24:5-6 refers to when it says we have violated it:
The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants:
they have transgressed the laws,
changed the ordinances,
set at naught the *ancient covenant.
The curse devours the earth,
for those who dwell on it have incurred guilt;
because of it the population of the earth
shall be diminished
and little of mankind remain. (Isaiah 24:5–6)
*Also “everlasting covenant” (berit ‘olam).
This is similar to the great and abominable church’s taking away “many covenants of the Lord” (1 Nephi 13:26), making people beholden to the church rather than directly to God for their own and others’ salvation and exaltation that are obtainable under the terms of the Sinai and Davidic Covenants. Isaiah 24:5-6, however—as with the entire Book of Isaiah—depicts an end-time scenario, and that is how we are expected to apply it to ourselves for our profit and learning.