What do you know about the priesthood? Do you have any desire to learn more about the power and authority which God has given to men to act for Him on earth? President Boyd K.Packer explained that men who “exercise priesthood authority properly” do what God “would do if He were present.”
One of the best ways to learn about the priesthood is to study the scriptures. Studying the scriptures involves more than just reading. In order to understand scriptures, we can learn and apply scripture study skills? There are numerous scripture study skills that we can use to learn more about priesthood or any other topic found in the scriptures. We can deepen our understanding of the scriptures by using the aids available to us.
One of those study aids is the Bible Dictionary. Studying the topic “Melchizedek Priesthood” (pp. 730-731), we can learn much about the Melchizedek Priesthood: Melchizedek Priesthood is the higher or greater Priesthood, as compared with the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood. By turning to the suggested reference, we learn the reason why the greater Priesthood is called the Melchizedek Priesthood (Doctrine and Covenants 107:1-3). Melchizedek was a great high priest. Before his time the priesthood was called “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.” The name was changed to Melchizedek in ancient times to show “respect or reverence” for the name of God and “to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name.”
The Bible Dictionary tells us where we can find the Melchizedek Priesthood mentioned in the scriptures (Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 2:17-18; 3:1; 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11, 15, 17, 21). It tells us that Adam and the patriarchs and prophets in every dispensation had the Melchizedek Priesthood until Moses and the greater Priesthood were taken from the earth (Doctrine and Covenants 84:6-17).
We learn in the Bible Dictionary that the “Aaronic Priesthood is not a different priesthood; rather, it is the lesser portion of the priesthood, dealing with the introductory ordinances and the preparatory commandments (Doctrine and Covenants 84:18-28).” We learn that Jesus Christ “restored the Melchizedek Priesthood to the Jews and began to build up the Church among them. However, it was lost again by apostasy, and was taken from the earth.”
We learn from this same source that Peter, James and John “literally came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the spring of 1829 and conferred this power and authority upon them (Doctrine and Covenants 27:12-13). Later, Moses, Elias, and Elijah gave them further keys by which these brethren could use the Melchizedek Priesthood in additional ways (Doctrine and Covenants 110).”
The Bible Dictionary also tells us that the “president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the president of the high or Melchizedek Priesthood, and by virtue of this position, he holds all the keys that pertain to the kingdom of God on the earth. This office or calling is held by only one man at a time, and he is the only person on the earth at that time in whom all the powers and keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood are functional” (Doctrine and Covenants 81:2; 107:2, 22, 64-66, 91-92).
Another scripture study aid we can use to deepen our understanding of the scriptures is the footnotes at the bottom of each page in the scriptures. The footnotes give added meaning to some of the words and suggest other places to go to find more information, such as the Topical Guide or other references. A related study skill is to look in a dictionary to determine the meaning of unknown or unfamiliar words, such as betimes, pricks, or unfeigned.
Sister Joy Sunders Lundberg shared a story about a missionary who used the priesthood to bless his grandmother and himself (“The Priesthood: God’s Gift of Love,” Ensign, February 1993, p. 15)
“Recently a missionary nearing the end of his mission was having a difficult time feeling the spirit of his work. One day his mission president received a call from the elder’s mother. `My eighty-year-old mother is dying,’ she said. `She lives about an hour away from where my son is serving. Would it be possible for him to give her a blessing?’ His grandmother was not a member of the Church but was a woman of faith.
“The president concurred and sent another missionary from the mission office with the missionary. When they arrived at the hospital, the elder and his grandmother lovingly greeted each other and visited a short while. Then he said: `Grandmother, I understand you’d like me to give you a blessing. Before I do, would you say a prayer so we can have the Spirit present for the blessing?’ She accepted the invitation and recited the Lord’s Prayer.
“The young man said, `That was beautiful, Grandmother. Now I wonder if the Lord would want you to ask for what you want.’ Then he took her hand and tenderly taught her how to pray. With that she offered a humble, sincere prayer from her heart, thanking Heavenly Father for her family and her blessings and asking him to be with them as the elder gave her a blessing.
“Tears flowed freely as she finished. Her grandson’s companion anointed her, and her grandson sealed the anointing. He blessed her that through the influence of the Holy Spirit, she would gain greater knowledge of God and feel the truth of the gospel in her heart. He blessed her that she would desire to read the Book of Mormon and that she would feel peace and joy for the remainder of her mortal life.
“After the blessing he gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and asked her to read it. She promised she would. She began reading the Book of Mormon and lived in peace, free of pain, until she passed away three weeks later. There was no question that through the use of the priesthood, the power of God had been manifested, resulting in blessings for the grandmother and also for the young man, who served the remainder of his mission with enthusiasm.
“Grasping even a glimpse of the glory of God’s priesthood can and does change men and women. Those who gain such an understanding want to be better people, serve with full heart and capacity, and love as Christ loves.”
I am grateful for scripture study aids and for their assistance in learning more about the priesthood. I encourage you to develop and use skills to study the scriptures in order to learn about many topics including the priesthood. I know you will be blessed for your efforts in deepening your understanding of the scriptures.