Posted in Jesus Christ, New Testament, Old Testament, Symbolism

The Shadow of Death

This week my pearl among women and I spent a couple of days in Manchester. We visited the Manchester Art Gallery. We saw many wonderful paintings there but the one which most caught my attention was Holman Hunt’s ‘The Shadow of Death’. (I bought a postcard of it to frame for my office). I love its vivid colours and mixture of realism and symbolism.

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The painting depicts Jesus as a young carpenter joyfully stretching his arms after a day of physical work. Hunt said that Jesus:

‘has been hard at work all the day, and the setting sun tells Him the hour for cessation from toil has arrived, that his day’s labour is over. He has just risen from the plank on which He has been working, and is portrayed as throwing up His arms to realise that pleasant sensation of repose and relaxation . . . and in perfect harmony with this physical act, so natural and grateful to every one, the Divine Labourer pours forth His soul in fervent gratitude to His Father that the welcome hour of rest has come.’

Mary, who has been kneeling on the floor rummaging through a box containing the gifts from the Wise Men turns to see Jesus’ shadow on the wall. She is shocked to see that the shadow arms fall on a tool rack on the wall in a way that prefigures the crucifixion.

While Jesus is depicted  as a real, living young man surrounded by wood shavings and the tools of his trade he is also surrounded by symbols related to his divine mission (and ironically, the tools by which he will be killed).

At the top of the picture, a star shaped window recalls the star of Bethlehem. This, together with the gifts of the Wise Men in the large chest that Mary has opened, reminds us that the Nativity, while joyful, is also linked with prophecies of death and suffering. Through the window on the right we see an olive tree symbolising the suffering in Gethsemane.

Holman Hunt also plays with the symbology of conventional representations of the Saviour.  Jesus’ rolled down  clothing calls to mind the crucifixion loin cloth of many traditional depictions of the crucifixion. Above Jesus’ head the arch of a window creates the illusion of a halo. In the shadow on the wall, a lead weight (a carpenter’s plumb bob) is positioned so that it hangs where the heart would be and recalls the ‘sacred heart’ of many religious images. In the bottom right hand corner, a red headpiece reminds us of the crown of thorns.

The window sill at the back of the room appears to hold a scroll (perhaps scriptures prophesying of the Messiah) and two pomegranates. Pomegranates are important Jewish symbols connected with the temple as they were depicted on the hems of the High Priests robes and in temple decorations. Pomegranates also represented righteousness as the Jews believed that they had 613 seeds – the number of commandments in Jewish law.

I think that the painting is a brilliant exposition of the way that Christ’s mission was foreshadowed throughout history and also brings together in one image his divine and human nature.

If you are ever in Manchester take a few minutes to visit the Pre-Raphaelite gallery at the Art Gallery to see this wonderful picture. As a bonus, Holman Hunt’s famous Light of Christ is also exhibited in the same gallery.

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Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, LDS Doctrine, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 23 – More Than One Witness

1. Alma calls the people of Ammonihah to repentance, but they reject him.

Alma 8:10 Wrestling with God

“Wrestling with God? Does God resist you? Do you have to resist him? No, you have to put yourself into position, in the right state of mind. Remember, in our daily walks of life as we go around doing things, we’re far removed…You have to get yourself in form, like a wrestler having to look around for a hold or get a grip, as Jacob did when he wrestled with the Lord. You have to size yourself up, take your stance, circle the ring, and try to find out how you’re going to deal with this particular problem. You’re not wrestling with the Lord; you’re wrestling with yourself. Remember, Enos is the one who really wrestled. And he told us what he meant when he was wrestling; he was wrestling with himself, his own inadequacies. How can I possibly face the Lord in my condition, is what he says.

“…It takes great mental effort to confront the Lord in all seriousness. We do it at various shallow levels, by routine. We have a prayer here because we feel we should. If we’re going to make it really serious, we have to work on it harder…and very few people are willing to do it, but it really pays off because you know exactly what you want and where you stand.” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 47, pp. 301-2)

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Alma 8:11 We do not believe in such foolish traditions

“When we read about the anti-Christs of former days, we marvel at how perverted their thinking became, and we marvel at how successful they were in deceiving men and women. We also wonder why some of the people were so gullible – so easily misled. And with all this marveling and wondering, we tend to niche the anti-Christs in some corner of ancient history and go about our unguarded ways. This is dangerous. It could result in loss of faith; and, in a spiritual sense, it could put us out of existence.” (Carlos E Asay, Church News, 02/22/92, p. 14)

Alma 8:15 Thou hast been faithful

“‘Do your duty; that is best. Leave unto the Lord the rest’ [‘The Legend Beautiful’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow].

“Should there be anyone who feels he is too weak to change the onward and downward course of his life, or should there be those who fail to resolve to do better because of that greatest of fears—the fear of failure—there is no more comforting assurance to be had than these words of the Lord: ‘My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them’ [Ether 12:27].

“Miracles are everywhere to be found when priesthood callings are magnified. When faith replaces doubt, when selfless service eliminates selfish striving, the power of God brings to pass His purposes” (Thomas S Monson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1999).

Alma 8:18 He returned speedily

‘Isn’t that interesting, brothers and sisters? It says, “He returned speedily.” Maybe his earlier experience with the angel caused him not to tarry or question, but to react immediately. But I believe he was motivated by love for the Lord and his desire to be obedient. Alma’s reaction and attitude to this request has been of great strength to me as I strive to serve the Lord.’ (Robert B Harbertson, General Conference, October 1984)

Alma 8:19 Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat?

‘The story of Alma meeting Amulek is intentionally cast to remind the reader of Elijah (ca. 875 B.C.) and Zaraphath, a reminder that Yahweh deals with his children in similar ways, even on different continents. Alma may well have been familiar with this story from the brass plates. Just as Elijah was commanded to enter a city and find someone who would give him food (1 Kgs. 17:8–16), so Alma is commanded to find a person in the same way.

The point of both stories is that the Lord performed the miracle of matching two complete strangers in a strange city when he wanted them to meet. It is not surprising that the sign of that match would involve food, for sharing food is a very intimate experience, an important ritual in virtually all societies. Even in modern America, the invitation to share a meal implies some kind of accepting and well-intentioned relationship.

So it was with both Elijah and Alma. The act of asking for and offering food not only identified both prophet and disciple, but also identified the disciple’s sympathy with the prophet and openness to inspiration. He was not just a charitable person, but a companion in the gospel. This important connection is part of what was symbolized by the offer of food.

Elijah’s story continues with the miracle of the replenishing supplies, a theme not duplicated in Alma’s story. Thus, Alma is not merely a copy of the Elijah story, but a paralleling of the theme from 1 Kings to highlight his divine calling.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

‘When Alma returned to Ammonihah, he asked a stranger, “Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat?” He was surprised by the man’s answer, since he said that he had known Alma was coming – an angel told him in a vision that a holy prophet of God would be coming to his home that day. Sometimes meetings with other people and the intertwinings of our lives in mortality are more than chance – they are heaven-sent blessings. Elder Parley P. Pratt described the “sympathetic affinity” we feel around such people: “In the presence of such persons, one feels to enjoy the light of their countenances, as the genial rays of a sunbeam. Their very atmosphere diffuses a thrill, a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy, to the heart and nerves of others who have kindred feelings, or sympathy of spirit. No matter if the parties are strangers, entirely unknown to each other in person or character; no matter if they have never spoken to each other, each will be apt to remark in his own mind, and perhaps exclaim, when referring to the interview – “O what an atmosphere encircles that stranger! How my heart thrilled with pure and holy feelings in his presence! What confidence and sympathy he inspired! His countenance and spirit gave me more assurance, than a thousand written recommendations, or introductory letters.” (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, p.100-102.) (Jeffrey Marsh, Meridian Magazine)

Alma 9:2 Suppose ye that we shall believe the testimony of one man?

‘The last time Alma preached in Ammonihah, he did it alone. The wisdom of the Lord’s plan to have Amulek provide a second witness now becomes evident. The trap they set for Alma backfired because of Amulek’s testimony, when Amulek had spoken these words the people began to be astonished, seeing there was more than one witness (Alma 10:12). The Lord hereby demonstrates that his wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil (DC 10:43).

The tone of the question asked of Alma implies that the people understood that every word should be established at the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses (Deut 17:6), but they had no real intention of believing the testimony regardless of how many witnesses there were. This demonstrates that they were willfully rebellious, knowing the letter of the law but ignoring the Spirit.’ (Bryan Richards, gospeldoctrine.com)

Alma 9:15 It shall be more tolerable for them

“…one who fails to live up to his covenants tries to hide first by looking for loopholes in the language of the endowment. Brigham Young has commented on the futility and hypocrisy of this procedure; there is no way, he observes, by which one can possibly misunderstand or wrest the language of the covenants, no matter how determined one is to do it. We can rationalize with great zeal-and that is the next step-but never escape from our defensive position.” (Donald W. Parry, Temples of the Ancient World, p. 610)

2. Amulek preaches to the people of Ammonihah.

Alma 10:3 Lehi…who was a descendant of Manasseh

“The Prophet Joseph Smith informed us that the record of Lehi was contained on the one hundred sixteen pages that were first translated and subsequently stolen, and of which an abridgment is given us in the First Book of Nephi, which is the record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage of Manasseh; but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehi’s family, and Lehi’s sons married Ishmael’s daughters, thus fulfilling the words of Jacob upon Ephraim and Manasseh in the 48th chapter of Genesis [verse 16] which says: ‘And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’  Thus these descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim grew together upon this American continent, with a sprinkling from the house of Judah, from Mulek descended, who left Jerusalem eleven years after Lehi, and founded the colony afterwards known as Zarahemla found by Mosiah — thus making a combination, an intermixture of Ephraim and Manasseh with the remnants of Judah, and for aught we know, the remnants of some other tribes that might have accompanied Mulek.  And such have grown up upon the American continent.” (Erastus Snow, Journal of Discourses, vol. 23, pp. 184, 185)

Alma 10:6 I would not hear

‘The difference between this Amulek and the one his listeners thought they knew is that now he will hear. Not only was evidence for Yahweh all around him, but he “was called many times.” Indirectly, he is also telling his audience that they are in his position—meaning that they also are responsible for their disbelief.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 10:10 I know that the things whereof he hath testified are true

‘Amulek adds his personal testimony of Alma and Alma’s message. The message is thus validated by two, one an outsider, the other an insider.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 10:12 More than one witness

;Miraculous things happen when members join with missionaries and share pure testimony with those who are not members of the Church. For example, while many people were touched by Alma’s testimony in the land of Ammonihah, when Amulek stood and added his testimony to Alma’s, “the people began to be astonished, seeing there was more than one witness who testified”  Alma 10:12 The same thing can happen with us today. As we stand together the Lord will help us find many more of His sheep who will know His voice as we unitedly share our testimonies with them.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 2004)

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Alma 10:16-17 Amulek could know of their designs

‘Catching Amulek in a contradiction would let the lawyers discredit Amulek and, therefore, also discredit Alma, thereby defending the status quo against two men who were trying to change it. Alma and Amulek posed a serious threat because they fulfilled a social requirement about two witnesses. Alma alone was easy to dismiss and did not attract the lawyers’ attention.

Amulek “perceived their thoughts,” possibly because he was familiar with them and their tactics and possibly because of the Spirit’s inspiration. In either case, he publicly exposed their strategy, not only countering their approach but serving notice to the assembly that this was not a simple case of the lawyers defending the city. His attack, which associated the lawyers with the devil, invited the people to think twice about accepting the lawyers too trustingly.’ (Brant Gardner, Secnd Witness)

Alma 10:22 The prayers of the righteous

“Our world is now much the same as it was in the days of the Nephites prophet who said: ‘…if it were not for the prayers of the righteous…ye would even now be visited with utter destruction’ (Alma 10:22). There are many upright and faithful who live all the commandments and whose lives and prayers keep the world from destruction.” (Spencer W Kimball, Ensign, June 1971)

Alma 10:32 Now the object of these lawyers was to get gain

‘The people were astonished at the testimony of this second witness (see Alma 10:12), but many of them were not repentant. Among those were the lawyers of Ammonihah, whose object, Mormon tells us, “was to get gain; and they got gain according to their employ” (Alma 10:32). Their conduct shows us a portrait of a group of people more concerned with winning than with being right. Hyrum Smith spoke of corrupt lawyers in March of 1844.
President Hyrum Smith arose and made a few remarks. He compared the lawyers to polliwogs, wigglers, and toads. He said they would dry up next fall. “Those characters, I presume, were made in gizzard making time, when it was cheaper to get gizzards than souls; for if a soul cost $5, a gizzard would cost nothing: like tree toads, they change color to suit the object they are upon. They ought to be ferreted out like rats. You could describe them as you would a hedgehog: they are in every hedge, stinking like the skunk (History of the Church, Vol.6, Ch.10, p.240).
The issue with these lawyers of Ammonihah is not occupation of course, but preoccupation. Any man who believes that his salvation is assured regardless of his conduct (as did these disciples of Nehor), and whose overriding aim is to make money would act as these men acted.’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSliving.com)

3. Amulek contends with Zeezrom and testifies of Christ.

Alma 11:21 Zeezrom

“The account of the dialogue between Zeezrom and Alma and Amulek in the eleventh chapter of the book of Alma provides additional insight into Zeezrom’s worldly self-assurance. He has an audience to play to, and he intends, with his practiced sophistry and cunning, to make a game of his denigration of the two missionaries. After all, the audience is completely prejudiced in his favor, and he relishes the opportunity to add to his reputation among his peers. His questions to Alma and Amulek reflect his courtroom skills. They are designed for entrapment.” (Dean L Larsen, Heroes From the Book of Mormon, p. 113-4)

‘The Book of Mormon proper name Zeezrom may follow a naming pattern parallel to the Hebrew zeh Sinai, “he of Sinai” (i.e., God) (cf. Judges 5:5; Psalm 68:8) and may have the meaning “he of the Ezrom.” Ezrom/Ezrum is a Nephite word mentioned in Alma 11:6, 12, as a unit of silver measure. As a silver measure (which, in Hebrew, is kesep, “silver; money”), it may be the equivalent of money as well, indicating the meaning “he of silver, money,” suggesting Zeezrom’s early obsession with money or his willingness to resort to bribing Alma and Amulek with money to have them deny their belief in God (Alma 11:22). Happily, however, Zeezrom underwent a powerful conversion, forsook his sins, and became, with Alma and Amulek, fervent missionaries and ardent exponents of the faith.’ (Stephen D Ricks, A Nickname and a Slam Dunk: Notes on the Book of Mormon names Zeezrom and Jershon)

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Alma 11:34 Shall he save his people in their sins?

‘Zeezrom knows that the Son of God will come to redeem the people from their sins not in their sins. This is obviously a trap. At first, Zeezrom thinks he has his prey tangled in his wicked web but Amulek is not to be confounded, proclaiming that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven…Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins (v. 37). ‘ (Bryan Richards. Gospeldoctrine.com)

Alma 11:40 He shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe

‘There is often a misunderstanding in Alma 11:40—some people have thought that Amulek was teaching that Christ suffered only for those who believe and repent. This is not correct. The scriptures tell us that the Savior “suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children” (2 Nephi 9:21; see also Mosiah 4:7). If mankind will not repent, however, the Savior indicates that “my blood shall not cleanse them” (D&C 29:17). Clearly, what Amulek was intending to convey is the fact that the Atonement in part may go unused when the wicked choose not to repent—not that the Savior only suffered for those who would repent.’ (Bookj of Mormon Institute Manual)

Alma 11:42-43 All shall be raised from this temporal death

‘In the Book of Mormon we find Alma discoursing upon the resurrection of the dead, and also Amulek, and they both testify that the bodies we lay down in the grave will come forth again, that every part will be restored to its perfect frame; both those Prophets declare that every limb and joint will be restored, (Alma 11:42-43,  Alma 40:23) though the body crumble back to mother earth, and the bones—the most solid portions of the human system, will be dissolved and return again to the dust. They declare that the materials will be brought together and reconstructed, that bone will come to its bone, and that the flesh that now clothes these bones, and the sinews and skin which cover the flesh will also be restored. Ezekiel the Prophet, in the 37th chapter of his prophecy, says that bones and flesh, sinews and skin will all come forth and be made out of the dust into a perfect tabernacle, and everything will be restored to its perfect frame; (Ezek. 37:3-10) and so particularly do the Prophets Amulek and Alma discourse upon this subject, that they declare that not even one hair of the head shall be lost. (Alma 11:44,  Alma 40:23)’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)

Alma 11:44 The resurrection of little children

“Joseph Smith declared that the mother who laid down her little child, being deprived of the privilege, the joy, and the satisfaction of bringing it up to manhood or womanhood in this world, would after the resurrection, have all the joy, satisfaction and pleasure, and even more than it would have been possible to have had in mortality, in seeing her child grow to the full measure of the stature of its spirit. If this be true, and I believe it, what a consolation it is … It matters not whether these tabernacles mature in this world, or have to wait and mature in the world to come, according to the word of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the body will develop, either in time or in eternity, to the full stature of the spirit, and when the mother is deprived of the pleasure and joy of rearing her babe to manhood or womanhood in this life, through the hand of death, that privilege will be renewed to her hereafter, and she will enjoy it to a fuller fruition than it would be possible for her to do here. When she does it there, it will be with certain knowledge that the results will be without failure; whereas here, the results are unknown until after we have passed the test.

“Children will come forth from the grave as children, be raised to maturity by worthy parents, and be entitled to receive all of the ordinances of salvation that eventuate in the everlasting continuation of the family unit.” (Robert Millet, Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Life Beyond, pp. 118-9)

4. Alma further explains Amulek’s words and warns against hard-heartedness.

 Alma 12:1 He opened up his mouth and began to speak to him

‘The context for this section is important: whereas in chapter 5 we saw Alma preaching to an audience of people in the city of Zarahemla who were primarily members of “the Church” (i.e., baptized into Nephite religion) but had not been living up to its precepts, here he is in the city of Ammonihah—a city that may have been founded explicitly by people who wanted to have nothing to do with Nephite religion. Alma has already been there to preach, and it didn’t end well; he might not have tried returning had he not been directly instructed by an angel to do so (Alma 8:14–16). On his second visit, he finds a kindred spirit in a righteous Ammonihah resident named Amulek, who agrees to help him in his missionary work. In Alma 12 and 13, Alma offers some of the Book of Mormon’s most important teachings on the judgment day, the purpose of life, and the plan of salvation.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Alma 12:3 Thy thoughts are made known unto us by his Spirit

“Being in charge of the Endowment House, while the Temple was in the process of construction, Heber C. Kimball met with a group who were planning to enter the temple for ordinance work. He felt impressed that some were not worthy to go into the temple, and he suggested first that if any present were not worthy, they might retire. No one responding, he said that there were some present who should not proceed through the temple because of unworthiness and he wished they would leave so the company could proceed. It was quiet as death and no one moved nor responded. A third time he spoke, saying that there were two people present who were in adultery, and if they did not leave he would call out their names. Two people walked out and the company continued on through the temple.” (Spencer W Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness)

Alma 12:9, 10 The mysteries of God

“The Lord has promised to reveal his mysteries to those who serve him in faithfulness. … The Gospel is very simple, so that even children at the age of accountability may understand it. Without question, there are principles which in this life we cannot understand, but when the fulness comes we will see that all is plain and reasonable and within our comprehension. The ‘simple’ principles of the Gospel, such as baptism, the atonement, are mysteries to those who do not have the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. [1953], 1:43).

“Learning the mysteries of God and attaining to what the apostle Paul called ‘the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ’ (Eph. 4:13) requires far more than learning a specified body of facts. It requires us to learn certain facts, to practice what we have learned, and, as a result, to become what we, as children of God, are destined to become.

“…(referring to DC 130:18-19) Note that intelligence is something more than knowledge. And note also the implication that knowledge is obtained by diligence and intelligence is obtained by obedience. Admittedly, the two methods are not mutually exclusive. But we come close to an important mystery of the gospel when we understand that the intelligence God desires us to obtain is much more than knowledge, and it cannot be obtained without obedience and revelation. That is the Lord’s way, and it is far beyond the ways of the world.”(Dallin H Oaks, The Lord’s Way, p. 43)

Alma 12:14 For our words will condemn us

‘This is the state of the hard-hearted who come before God. Because of their hard hearts, they will have done and said things contrary to the gospel, and those actions will condemn them. Alma shows that this condemnation is more a self-judgment than God’s pronouncement. It is the person before God who dares not look upon Him. It is not God who exercises condemnation but the individual.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 12:15 The judgment day

“The judgment day is one of the things that really will be. The ‘future shock’ of that judgment and the events to precede it will be without parallel. The dramatic day described so powerfully by Alma will be a highly compressed and collective moment of truth. This will be the day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess Jesus is the Christ. (Philippians 2:10–11.) No mortals will be standing that day. Those who were cruelly used by the adversary will see that awful reality. Nephi said the unrepentant guilty would ’remember [their] awful guilt in perfectness, and be constrained to exclaim: Holy, holy are thy judgments, O Lord God Almighty—but I know my guilt; I transgressed thy law, and my transgressions are mine; and the devil hath obtained me, that I am a prey to his awful misery.’ (2 Nephi 9:46.) Jesus, who purchased us and who owns us, will require this owning up. They who transgressed divine law will openly admit that their transgressions are their own and cannot be laid at someone else’s door.” (Neal A Maxwell, Things As They Really Will Be, p. 111)

Alma 12:24 A probationary state

“We are being tested every minute of the day by the choices we make, by the reactions we have, by the things we say, by the things we think about. It’s like the ancient Christian doctrine of the two ways, the way to the right and the way to left, whichever they are. You must make the choice, and you may have made the wrong choice every day of your life up until now, but as long as you are here it is still not too late. You can still make the right choice-every minute you can make the right choice. It’s never too late to make the right one…We have a time to repent; ‘therefore this life became a probationary state.’ Well, it can’t be anything else; it’s a time to prepare to meet God. That’s why we need the gospel here.” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Lecture 48, p. 327)

Alma 12:32 God gave unto them commandments

‘It is interesting to note the sequence in the teaching process. Our Heavenly Father first taught Adam and Eve the plan of redemption, and then He gave them commandments.

This is a great truth. Understanding the plan will help people keep the commandments, make better decisions, and have the right motivation.’ (Rafael E Pino, General Conference, April 2015)

Posted in Jesus Christ, Old Testament, Symbolism

Abel – a type of Christ

In a recent post I wrote about Daniel as a foreshadowing or type of Christ. This led me to think about other Old Testament figures who are types of Christ.

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One of these is Abel:

  • Abel was a shepherd.  (Genesis 4:2). Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd.  (John 10:11)
  • Abel presented an offering unto God.  (Genesis 4:4). Jesus Christ presented himself as an offering to God.  (John 10:11)
  • The offering which Abel presented was ‘the firstlings of his flock’, a ‘lamb.’  (Genesis 4:4)
  • Heavenly Father accepted the offering of Abel.  (Hebrews 11:4) Heavenly Father accepted Jesus’ offering: the proof being that He is now ‘seated at the right hand of God.’ (Hebrews 10:12)
  • Though giving no cause for it, Abel was hated by his brother.  (Genesis 4:8). Though giving no cause for it, Jesus was hated by His brethren the Jews. (John 15:25)
  • Satan and Cain conspired in Abel’s premeditated murder, and Abel was delivered by Satan into the hands of a wicked man (see Moses 5:29). Jesus was delivered by Satan into the hands of wicked men (see Luke 9:44) and was crucified as a result of a conspiracy.
  • Just as Abel’s death resulted in the shedding of his innocent blood, so too Christ’s sacrifice and death were accomplished by the shedding of His innocent blood.
Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 22 – Have Ye Received His Image in Your Countenances?

1. Alma teaches the people how they can experience a “mighty change” of heart.

Alma 5:6 Remembrance

“Remembering and counting our many blessings can humble us by reminding us of all the reasons we have to be thankful to God-not just today’s reasons, but those relating to all our yesterdays…If we fail to stir remembrance of blessings received, the human tendency is to say, in effect, whether to one’s God or to one’s fellows, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ Indeed, prophets of the Lord have asked directly whether their people had ‘sufficiently retained in remembrance’ His deliverances and blessings (Alma 5:6-7). It is best to cultivate our ‘remembering’ capacity now and to be guided accordingly, since at judgment day we will have ‘perfect remembrance’ (Alma 5:18). The important theme of remembrance occurs in one form or another in the Old Testament well over two hundred times. It appears in the Book of Mormon dozens of times, too. This parallelism is to be expected, since the Israelites in Palestine observed the law of Moses and the Nephites kept it ‘strictly’ for many years (see Mosiah 13:30; Alma 30:3). Wherever the gospel is, there too is the call to remembrance.” (Neal A Maxwell, A Wonderful Flood of Light, p. 51)

Alma 5:7 Behold

‘Hinneh is the Hebrew word for “lo,” “behold” or “see.” It is used for pointing out persons, things, places and action. Hinneh occurs over a thousand times in the Old Testament Hebrew text. In English usage we consider it unnecessary. “Behold” is used frequently in the Book of Mormon and can be found on almost any page. Its common use gives evidence of a literal rendering of Hebrew into English.’ [Angela M. Crowell, “Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon,” in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 5]

Alma 5:9 Saved

‘To be saved is to be freed from the effects of Adam’s fall, to overcome death and hell, to know a fullness of joy; it is to inherit eternal life. ‘ (McConkie and Millett, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 3:27)

Alma 5:13 ,14 A mighty change was wrought in their hearts

“Disciples are to make for themselves ‘a new heart’ by undergoing a ‘mighty change’ of heart (Ezekiel 18:31; Alma 5:12-14). Yet we cannot make such ‘a new heart’ while nursing old grievances. Just as civil wars lend themselves to the passionate preservation of ancient grievances, so civil wars within the individual soul-between the natural and the potential man-keep alive old slights and perceived injustices, except in the meek.” (Neal A Maxwell, Meek and Lowly, p. 55)

‘Because our goal is to become more like our Savior and to eventually qualify to live with our Heavenly Father, each of us needs to experience the mighty change in our hearts described by the prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon (see  Alma 5:14 Our love for our Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be reflected in our daily choices and actions. They have promised peace, joy, and happiness to those who keep Their commandments.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 2010)

Alma 5:26 Felt to sing the song of redeeming love

‘Alma gets right to the heart of things when he essentially asks his listeners to recall what it felt like to become converted and “sing the song of redeeming love.” If they felt that way once upon a time, he implores, can they feel so now?’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Alma 5:27-30 Sufficiently humble

‘Alma provides his listeners (and us, as readers) with a kind of spiritual checklist of ways to discern true conversion. People who’ve experienced a mighty change of heart try to keep themselves blameless by being humble (verse 28), avoiding jealousy (verse 29), and refraining from mockery of others (verse 30). They feel that if they were to die today, they would die “sufficiently humble” in the knowledge that Christ has redeemed them from their sins (verse 27).’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)

Alma 5:31-33 Repent

‘Alma formally calls for repentance. Repentance is the process by which ungodly characteristics are stripped away and God’s healing hand may touch us. This is a greater call than to simply cease an undesirable act. Alma is not simply saying that they should stop being prideful but that they should repent of being prideful. He is not only saying to stop persecuting, but to repent of persecuting. Where stopping is a physical action, repenting is a spiritual one. There are tremendous differences to the soul between ceasing an untoward act and repenting from it.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

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Alma 5:34 Ye shall eat and drink of the bread and waters of life freely

‘This doctrine is reminiscent of the ministry of the Savior in two instances. First, in the interaction between him and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. To her the Savior said, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water…whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst (Jn 4:10–14). The metaphor of spiritual bread and water given in endless supply by the Savior is particularly appealing for those societies in which the pursuit of physical food and drink is a perennial concern.

Second, the Savior repeated this doctrine when he challenged those Jews who were following him because he fed them the loaves and the fishes. He did not want to be their king because of his ability to provide for physical food. Therefore, he emphasized the spiritual food which he had to give saying, I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world…Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you (Jn 6:51–3). Remarkably, the Lord tells us that the only requirement needed to partake so freely of the bread and water of life is to simply, Come unto me.’ (Bryan Richards, Gospeldoctrine.com)

Alma 5:37 Ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world

“This was all Brigham Young could preach in his last year: ‘fast into idolatry, drifting into the spirit of the world and into pride and vanity…We wish the wealth of things of the world; we think about them morning, noon and night; they are first in our minds when we awake in the morning, and the last thing before we go to sleep at night…We have gone just as far as we can be permitted to go in the road on which we are now traveling. One man has his eye on a gold mine, another is for a silver mine, another is for marketing his flour or his wheat, another for selling his cattle, another to raise cattle, another to get a farm, or building here and there, and trading and trafficking with each other, just like Babylon. . . . Babylon is here, and we are following in the footsteps of the inhabitants of the earth, who are in a perfect sea of confusion. Do you know this? You ought to, for there are none of you but what see it daily. . . . The Latter-day Saints [are] trying to take advantage of their brethren. There are Elders in this Church who would take the widow’s last cow, for five dollars, and then kneel down and thank God for the fine bargain they had made.’ This is the great voice of the economy of Babylon. It does not renounce its religious pretensions for a minute. Many in it think they are identical with a pious life.” (Neal A Maxwell, Things As They Really Are, p. 334)

Alma 5:38 In his own name he doth call you

‘Entrance into the kingdom of heaven requires that we take upon ourselves the name of Christ. Salvation is found in no other name (see Mosiah 5:9–10; Acts 4:12; D&C 18:23–25). The significance of this proclamation is worthy of careful consideration. How is it that the power of salvation is vested in a name? Be it remembered that Christ in his mortal ministry was careful to establish the fact that he came in his “Father’s name” (John 5:43), that all his works were done in the name of the Father (see John 10:25), and that he sought to glorify the name of the Father in all he did (see John 12:28). Thus the Son assumed the name and power of his Father and through the name and by that divine investiture he extended the promise of salvation to all who would take upon themselves his name [by covenant] as he had taken upon himself the name of his Father.

Thus salvation centers in our accepting Christ as our Savior [by covenant], being born again into the family of the Father through the waters of baptism, and living worthy of all the [covenant] ordinances of the house of the Lord wherein we are endowed with the powers of heaven. Those rejecting such, like the rebellious children in the families of men, will be disinherited from the royal family of heaven and left to seek citizenship in some other kingdom.’ [Joseph F. McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3, pp. 36-37]

Alma 5:45-46 I testify unto you

“Now, after we teach the great plan of the Eternal God, we must personally bear our testimonies of its truthfulness. Alma, after giving a great message to the Saints about being born again and the need for them to experience a ‘mighty change’ in their hearts, sealed his teachings with his testimony in these words…(quoting Alma 5:45-46.).” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report,  Apr. 1987, pp. 84-85)

Alma 5:53-56 Setting your heart upon the vain things of the world

‘Do you understand, do you comprehend, that everything we have is required by God our Father, to be laid upon the altar? Is there anything that is nearer your heart than the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is there anything that stands between you and obedience, perfect obedience, to the will of God, as revealed unto you through the Holy Priesthood? If there is, you must get rid of it. We must humble ourselves before the Lord to that extent that we shall have a greater love of his work, a greater degree of obedience in our hearts to the Holy Priesthood than we now have for the things we so highly value. In no other way can we expect to become the people that God designs we shall be. Every day, it seems to me, the circumstances of the people make more and more apparent the necessity for a complete change in our temporal circumstances. We read in the Book of Mormon that when the ancient Nephites began to increase in means and become rich, as we are now increasing, the Spirit of God began to decrease in their midst. There were some who had property and could clothe and educate their children better than their neighbors. The wealthy could have carriages, horses and fine raiment and other comforts and advantages which their poorer brethren and sisters could not have. In consequence of these things they became divided into classes. The rich were raised up in their feelings above the poor. The poor were humble and meek and sought unto the Lord, in many instances at least. Divisions into classes prevailed, and all the attendant evils connected therewith. They became puffed up in pride, and the Lord suffered the Lamanites to come upon and scourge them, and after wars had wasted away their strength and the magnitude of the destructions which overtook them had abused them, they would begin again to feel after and to humble themselves before the Lord, and to seek for his Holy Spirit to dwell in their hearts. ‘ (George Q Cannon, Journal of Discourses)

2. Alma and the people establish the order of the Church in Zarahemla.

Alma 6:1 He ordained priests and elders

“Book of Mormon prophets gave the title priest to officers known in this dispensation as high priests. That is, they were priests of the Melchizedek Priesthood, or as Alma expressed it, ‘the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son.’ (Alma 13:1-20.) Since there was no Aaronic Priesthood among the Nephites in Alma’s day (there being none of the lineage empowered in pre-meridian times to hold that priesthood), there was no need to distinguish between priests of the lesser and greater priesthoods.” (Bruce R McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 599)

Alma 6:6 In fasting and in mighty prayer

‘In gospel-sharing homes we pray for guidance for ourselves, and we pray for the physical and spiritual well-being of others. We pray for the people the missionaries are teaching, for our acquaintances, and for those not of our faith.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, April 2006)

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3. Alma testifies of Jesus Christ. He encourages the people in Gideon to follow the Savior.

Alma 7:7 One thing which is of more importance than they all

Joseph Smith taught that “the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings, p. 121).

Alma 7:10 Mary

“We cannot but think that the Father would choose the greatest female spirit to be the mother of his Son, even as he chose the male spirit like unto him to be the Savior.” (D. Ludlow, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 863)

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Alma 7:11-12 pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind

“He knows by actual, personal experience, because not only did He suffer pains, afflictions, and temptations of every kind during His second estate, but He took upon Himself our sins as well as our pains, sicknesses, and infirmities. (See Alma 7:11–12.) Thus He knew, not in abstraction but in actuality, ‘according to the flesh,’ the whole of human suffering. He bore our infirmities before we bore them. He knows perfectly well how to succor us. We can tell Him nothing of pain, temptation, or affliction; He learned ‘according to the flesh,’ and His triumph was complete!” (Neal A Maxwell, We Will Prove Them Herewith [1982], 46).

Alma 7:14-16 He shall have eternal life

“Sometimes someone will say: ‘Well, I have been baptized into the Church; I am a member of the Church; I’ll just go along and live an ordinary sort of life; I won’t commit any great crimes; I’ll live a reasonably good Christian life; and eventually I will gain the kingdom of God.’

“I don’t understand it that way. I think that baptism is a gate. It is a gate which puts us on a path; and the name of the path is the straight and narrow path. The straight and narrow path leads upward from the gate of baptism to the celestial kingdom of heaven. After a person has entered the gate of baptism, he has to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, as Nephi expresses it, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men; and if he endures to the end, then he gains the promised reward.” (Bruce R McConkie, Conference Report, Oct. 1950, p. 16)

Posted in Jesus Christ, Symbolism

Daniel – a type of Christ

Until I reread the story of Daniel for a recent Seminary lesson it hadn’t really struck me that Daniel was a type or foreshadowing of Christ.

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Here are some of the ways in which Daniel foreshadowed the Saviour:

  • Both Daniel and Christ were princes of the House of David (Daniel 1:3 and Matthew 1:1)
  • Daniel is without fault, yet is opposed for his godliness by people who didn’t want him to rule over them. They can’t find fault in him, so they change the legal system to make what he already does illegal.  Jesus was tried by a legal system that could not find fault with him, but was threatened with the death penalty anyway. (Daniel 6:4-5 and Mark 14:55-59)
  • Daniel was plotted against by wicked, envious rulers – Christ was plotted against by wicked envious rulers of the Jews
  • Both were tried and tempted (Daniel 1:5-8 and Matthew 4:1-11)
  • Daniel prayed before being arrested, 3 times facing Jerusalem (Daniel 6:10) just as Jesus prayed 3 times in the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives which overlooks Jerusalem.
  • The king wanted to save Daniel (Daniel 6:14)- Pilate believed Jesus was innocent and wanted to save him.
  • The king was forced to condemn Daniel to the punishment of the law (Daniel 6:15) – Pilate was forced to condemn Jesus to the punishment of Roman law.
  • Daniel is not recorded as having said anything in his defence.  Jesus was similarly  silent before his accusers in terms of putting up a defence.
  • There was no way out for Daniel since the law of Medes and Persians was unbreakable. (Daniel 6:15)  The Father’s will was not changed for Jesus – he had to go through with the atonement.
  • They were both strengthened by an angel (Daniel 10:17-18 and Luke 22:43)
  • Daniel was sentenced to death and cast  into a den of lions – Jesus was put into a tomb. Psalm 22, a Messianic psalm, says ‘They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.’
  • A great stone was put on the mouth of the den (Daniel 6:17)  – a great stone was put on the mouth of Jesus’s tomb (Matthew 27:57-65)
  • Daniel was to be torn by the lions – Jesus was torn by scourging and by the cross.
  • At break of day Daniel was alive and lifted out of the lions’ den (Daniel 6:19) – at dawn on the 3rd day the women found the stone rolled away and Jesus had risen from the dead and was alive.
  • Darius sent a message to all nations and languages in his kingdom that men should fear the God of Daniel who saved him from death (Daniel 6:25-27) – Jesus commissioned His disciples to take the message of His resurrection to all the nations of the world.
Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 21 – Alma Did Judge Righteous Judgements

1. Mosiah teaches principles of good government.

‘With the departure of the four sons of Mosiah on a mission, Mosiah was left without an heir to the throne, and he therefore determined to change the Nephite government from kings to judges.  In his explanation to his people, we can find a wonderful discussion of good government.  Consider the following verses and ponder what they teach about the kind of government that “will make for the peace of the people” (Mosiah 29:10).
-[Mosiah 29:11] Appointed “wise men” to positions of leadership. (See D&C 98:10)
-[Mosiah 29:11-14] Established laws that rested on a foundation of the commandments of God and promoted peace, security, and happiness.
-[Mosiah 29:16-24] Since wicked leaders “pervert the ways of all righteousness,” their power was limited.
-[Mosiah 29:25-27] Decisions were to be made according to “the voice of the people.”
-[Mosiah 29:28,29,31] Officials were to be made accountable for their decisions and actions. (See D&C 134:1)
-[Mosiah 29:32] Laws were to provide that “every man may enjoy his rights and privileges.” (See D&C 98:5)
-[Mosiah 29:30,34,38]  “Every man [was expected to] bear his part” and “answer for his own sins.”‘ (Ted L Gibbons, ldsliving.com)
Mosiah 29:13,18 Two kings
Mosiah contrasts two kings – Benjamin and Noah.
Mosiah 29:16-18, 21-23 Consequences of a wicked leader
‘Mosiah described the consequences of having a wicked leader. He cited abuse of power, promotion of iniquity, disregard of law, unjust and immoral practices, and possible perversions of justice as possible or probable consequences. So, Mosiah suggested that the people establish a system of judges to replace the rule of kings.’ (www.neumanninstitute.org)
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2. Alma the Younger serves as chief judge and combats priestcraft.

Alma 1:1 Having warred a good warfare

“King Mosiah had fought against wickedness and battled Beelzebub all his days.  He had been true and faithful to his trust to lead his people in paths of truth and righteousness.  He had passed the tests of mortality.  His salvation was secure.  He was like his colleague on another continent, Paul the Apostle, who said just prior to his death: ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing’ (2 Timothy 4:7-8).” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 3)

Alma 1:3-4 False doctrine

‘Nehor’s words appealed to the people, but his doctrine, while popular to many, was incorrect. As we face the many decisions in life, the easy and popular messages of the world will not usually be the right ones to choose, and it will take much courage to choose the right.’ (L Tom Perry, General Conference, October 1993)

Alma 1:5-6 They began to support him and gave him money

‘All religions are supported by money, but the immorality of it (as Plato shows in the Protagoras and the Gorgias) is when you start giving it to individuals. When you have a line veto that it be used for this [person] or that [project], then you are not giving it at all. If I give money to the church specifying that it can only be used for this, I’m not giving it to the Lord or trusting him at all. I don’t specify what it’s for; I just pay my tithing and that’s that. If it’s misused that’s none of my affair; I’ve done what the Lord requires of me. . . . One might also wonder, What is wrong with winning souls [and money] for Jesus? The answer is that it requires rhetoric. This type of missionary must be a crowd pleaser. Truth tellers are something else, as we learn from Samuel the Lamanite, Abinadi, and people like that. We wouldn’t need prophets at all if they told us only what we wanted to hear. We wouldn’t need the scriptures if they told us only what we wanted.’ [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, pp. 217-218]

Alma 1:8-9 Gideon

‘Gideon was a Nephite patriot who gained prominence in the Book of Mormon during the reigns of King Noah and King Limhi (see Mosiah 19:4–8, 18–24; 20:15–22). It was Gideon who proposed the way for King Limhi’s people to successfully escape from Lamanite bondage (see Mosiah 22:3–9). The Nephites apparently thought so highly of Gideon that they named both a valley and a city after him (see Alma 2:20, 6:7).’ (Institute Student Manual)

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Alma 1:12, 16 Priestcraft

“The Book of Mormon applies this principle (priestcraft) to those who seem to be serving the Lord but do so with a hidden motive to gain personal advantage rather than to further the work of the Lord: ‘Priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion’ (2 Nephi 26:29; see also Alma 1:16).

“Priestcraft is the sin committed by the combination of a good act–such as preaching or teaching the gospel–and a bad motive. The act may be good and visible, but the sin is in the motive. On earth, the wrong motive may be known only to the actor, but in heaven it is always known to God.

“…During my lifetime, I have seen more than a few persons in positions of responsibility in various churches whose activities in the ‘work of the Lord’ seemed to be motivated predominantly by personal interest. The commandment to avoid priestcraft is a vital challenge to religious persons in every age of time.” (Dallin H Oaks, Pure in Heart, pp. 16-18)

‘Focusing on the needs of the students, a gospel teacher will never obscure their view of the Master by standing in the way or by shadowing the lesson with self-promotion or self-interest. This means that a gospel teacher must never indulge in priestcrafts, which are “that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world”  (2 Ne. 26:29) A gospel teacher does not preach “to become popular”  (Alma 1:3) or “for the sake of riches and honor”  (Alma 1:16) He or she follows the marvelous Book of Mormon example in which “the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner”  (Alma 1:26) Both will always look to the Master.’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, October 1999)

3. Amlici seeks to be king but is rejected by the voice of the people.

Amlici

Alma 2:1-7 This was alarming to the people of the church

‘As we face increased pressure to bow to secular standards, forfeit our religious liberties, and compromise our agency, consider what the Book of Mormon teaches about our responsibilities. In the book of Alma we read of Amlici, “a very cunning” and “wicked man” who sought to be king over the people and “deprive them of their rights and privileges,” which “was alarming to the people of the church.”[See  Alma 2:1–4 They were taught by King Mosiah to raise their voices for what they felt was right. [See  Mosiah 29:25–26 Therefore they “assembled themselves together throughout all the land, every man according to his mind, whether it were for or against Amlici, in separate bodies, having much dispute … one with another.” Alma 2:5

In these discussions, members of the Church and others had the opportunity to come together, experience the spirit of unity, and be influenced by the Holy Ghost. “And it came to pass that the voice of the people came against Amlici, that he was not made king.” Alma 2:7

As disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to work together with like-minded believers, to raise our voices for what is right. While members should never claim or even imply that they are speaking for the Church, we are all invited, in our capacity as citizens, to share our personal witness with conviction and love—“every man [and woman] according to his [or her own] mind.”  Alma 2:5

Said the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination [as for a Mormon]; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.

“It is a love of liberty which inspires my soul—civil and religious liberty to the whole of the human race.”

(Robert D Hales, General Conference, April 2015)

Alma 2:16 The chief judge and the governor of the people

‘The Hebrew word shophet, rendered “judge” does not necessarily denote one who “judges,” though this may have been one of the minor duties, but more rightly denotes one who governs. The Book of Mormon reader will note that the judges replaced the Nephite king, so that when Mosiah2 declared to the people that, “I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law” (Mosiah 29:11), he obviously meant more than to have these judges only sitting in a court of law. Indeed, Mosiah 29:41 states that “it came to pass that they did appoint judges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land.” (cf. Alma 4:17) In Alma 2:16 we find that the chief judge was also called “the governor of the people of Nephi.” Moreover, in the same verse (Alma 2:16) we find that Alma, as “chief judge and the governor of the people of Nephi” also “went up with his people, yea, with his captains, and chief captains, yea, at the head of his armies, against the Amlicites to battle.” Thus the judges were leaders of the people in many ways. ‘ [John A. Tvedtnes, Book Review in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4 1992, pp. 225-226]

Alma 2:28-31 Strengthened by the hand of the Lord

‘Previously the Lord had promised the Nephites that He would sustain them against the Lamanites if they were righteous (see 2 Nephi 5:25). Consequently, in the time of their greatest need, the Nephites called upon God and were “strengthened by the hand of the Lord” (Alma 2:28). During the same battle, God “strengthened” Alma with the ability to defeat his enemies, in response to his faith (see Alma 2:30–31).’ (Institute Student Manual)

4. The Church prospers but becomes prideful. Alma resigns the judgment seat to devote himself to the ministry.

Alma 4:2 The people were afflicted

‘During the respite from contentions and wars, the people of Zarahemla nevertheless suffered the consequences of the past year’s contentions and wars. In addition to natural sorrow for their slain loved ones, they suffered directly because of the destruction of their grain due to the army’s maneuvers. Thus, when the war was over, they had an inadequate supply of food for the next year.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 4:3 Every soul had cause to mourn

‘In Alma 4:3 we are informed that because of the war, “every soul had cause to mourn; and they believed that it was the judgments of God sent upon them because of their wickedness and their abominations.”

Now the Nephites are supposed to be the victors here, so why is every soul mourning? And why do they believe their are being judged of God because of their wickedness and abominations? What wickedness and abominations. The answer might lie at the root of the contentions. The reader should not assume that every person who had sympathies for the Amlicites had joined them. There were probably a number of those in the land of Zarahemla who had a desire for many of the things espoused by the Amlicites. This is most likely the nature of their abomination and wickedness. But if “every soul had cause to mourn, what about the righteous Nephites? What was their sin? The answer is noted by Mormon in what they did (implying what they had not done). Mormon writes that the people “awakened to a remembrance of their [covenant] duty” and that “they began to establish the church more fully.” How do you “establish” a church more fully? The answer, at least in part, is that every member becomes a teacher and a missionary. In other words, part of the covenant responsibility of the Nephites was to take that gospel to those who did not understand it well or did not even share in it. To “establish a church more fully” implies that the Nephites finally awakened to their covenant responsibility to share it. This not only involved strengthening those within the church, but teaching those without, thus overcoming the precise ideas espoused by the Amlicites which caused the contention in the first place. In other words, the righteous Nephites repented by sharing the gospel and the unrighteous Zarahemlaites repented by accepting the gospel.’ (Alan C Miner, Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon)

Alma 4:6 Very costly apparel

“Symbols have only the meaning that people give them. Some symbols have been given inordinate value. For many, costly cars, extravagant homes and expensive clothes are symbols of worldly success. In some cases, these tangible objects have been given more meaning than almost everything else.

“All ages are affected by symbols, but the young are especially vulnerable. Lacking maturity and good judgment, some young people choose their friends by using certain fashion symbols as criteria. They look for specific labels on shoes, shirts and jackets. If ‘right’ labels aren’t there, they are hesitant to consider forming a friendship…Too young and immature to see how shallow their thinking really is, they inflict emotional wounds on others and, at the same time, deprive themselves of what could be rewarding associations.

“Without a good sense of self-esteem, the young often bring pain upon themselves as they agonize over what’s in fashion and whether they can afford it. To them, fashion labels are more important than function, fit or even comfort.

“The very young aren’t the only ones who lack perspective. In some circles, friends and associates become symbols that individuals have been accepted in a particular social class. Unscrupulous individuals feign mutual interests, use flattery, compromise beliefs and principles, and turn away from those who could be true friends. Their ulterior motive is to be accepted by those who might help boost their careers or social lives.” (Church News, June 23, 1990)

Alma 4:9-10 Set their hearts upon riches

‘It is small wonder that the church faltered when its newest members had become even more worldly than non-church-men. No longer driven to humility by the famine, they had ceased to see anything in the church of value. However, it will also become clear that, while these newly converted might logically have been the first to succumb to the temptations, they were not the only ones to begin to prefer the trappings of wealth. For all of these status-aspiring church-men, riches and prestige were more easily obtained outside the church, since it officially frowned on such accumulations.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)

Alma 4:15-18 Delegation

“I pray that we may each of us sense our responsibility in the world and in the Church, and that we who have responsibility for any part of the work may learn to delegate detail as occasion requires and trust these men, our brethren, and these women, our sisters, to do their part in pushing forward the things that need to be done, and to feel a sense of responsibility as concerns carrying forward this work.” (Richard L Evans, Conference Report, Oct. 1949, p. 42)

Alma 4:19 Preach the word of God

‘In this period of Book of Mormon history there were men who had great political power, but used it righteously and did not seek for more power. Seeing the unrighteous actions of the people, Alma relinquished his position as chief judge, the political head of state, in order to “go forth among his people . . . that he might preach the word of God unto them” (Alma 4:19).’ (Institute Student Manual)

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Restoration of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods

MormonBloke

Here is a definition of electricity:

 ‘A fundamental form of energy observable in positive and negative forms that occurs naturally (as in lightning) or is produced (as in a generator) and that is expressed in terms of the movement and interaction of electrons.’

Do you understand that? I understand most of the words individually but I don’t have a clue what the whole sentence means. I take electricity for granted – I expect that when I press the light switch that the light will come on but I have no idea how it works. I DO know that my life would be very different if we could not use electricity. Our modern society and way of life would not be possible without electrical power.

I am told that electricity functions according to certain laws, or principles, and that failure to follow those laws can result in loss of electrical…

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Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2016

Gospel Doctrine 2016 – Lesson 20 – My Soul is Pained No More

1. Limhi’s and Alma’s people join Mosiah’s people in the land of Zarahemla.

‘At the end of Mosiah, the Nephite nation consisted of the Mulekites, the Nephites of Zarahemla, the people of Limhi, the people of Alma, and the children of the Amulonites (see Mosiah 25:12). These five groups became one group under the leadership of king Mosiah II, son of Benjamin. But there were not so many of the people of Nephi and of the people of Zarahemla as there were of the Lamanites; yea, they were not half so numerous (Mosiah 25:3).

The decision of Limhi and Alma and the Amulonites and the Mulekites to join the people of Mosiah is instructive. They had a desire, I suspect, to associate with people led by a prophet of God. They wanted the fellowship of disciples of Christ. The request of the people of Limhi for baptism shows their commitment to this concept.’ (Ted L Gibbons)

163D-Image Mosiah Before People

Mosiah 25:5 Did read and did cause to be read

‘The phrase “did read, and caused to be read” is significant. It suggests that large numbers of people were beyond the reach of Mosiah’s voice and that messengers had to be sent to read the information to outlying gatherings. Why did Mosiah read the accounts of Limhi and later of Alma? We struggle today with information overload, forgetting that the ancient world was typically bereft of both information and entertainment. Reading these records was not only an important means of communicating important information about the new neighbors but also a form of entertainment. The excuse to gather and to hear something new would have been a popular diversion from the daily tasks of survival.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Cultural Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 25:7-11 Reaction to the reading of the records

‘The people of Zarahemla responded in a variety of ways to these records. They were filled with wonder and amazement, rejoiced that their brethren were free, sorrowed for their slain brethren, gave thanks to God for delivering Alma’s people from bondage, and anguished over the sinful state of their Lamanite brethren.
Their responses demonstrated their charity because they felt such sorrow for their sinful brethren and such gratitude for God’s blessings.’ (Neumanninstitute.org)

Mosiah 25:17 Baptism

‘This verse is an important marker in the development of Nephite religion. As background, Limhi is the son of Noah, the son of Zeniff, a Nephite from the city of Nephi who came to Zarahemla with Mosiah1, then led his people back to the land of Nephi. Mormon views Zeniff as a “good” Nephite, which, for Mormon, means someone who follows Yahweh’s commandments. Although Noah apostatized, Limhi was apparently faithful. His people, despite a period of apostasy while Noah ruled, had been raised in the Nephite religion and had returned to it by the time they fled to Zarahemla. Thus, Nephites who had known of baptism since the time of Nephi1(and who had already requested it, Mosiah 21:33) are now being baptized.

According to a modern interpretation, they are being rebaptized after having fallen away. In their own context, however, Alma is introducing baptism with a new meaning. For Alma, baptism (for the first time) symbolizes a covenant rather than a cleansing. Rather than being only an individual action that effects the remission of sins on a personal level, Alma’s baptism also introduces the newly baptized person into a congregation. Ancient religion was part of the entire community. Alma’s baptism is a way of making a religious covenant distinct from the political covenant that binds them. Alma creates churches.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Cultural Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 25:22 They were all one church

“‘The Church is the same wherever you go!’ I grew up hearing this from returning vacationers and from missionaries reporting their missions.  And I understood what they meant.  They didn’t mean that the same hymns were sung elsewhere- though they were- or that everyone used the same lesson manuals, or that everyone thought the same.  They meant the gospel felt the same wherever they went. This resulted from the presence of the Holy Spirit, which is the universal way we recognize the things of God.  It’s the same when you learn something new or see something from a new slant, and suddenly it all makes sense.  You know it’s right, because it feels right and is consistent with other glimpses of truth that you’ve had.” (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 105)

2. Many Church members are led into sin by unbelievers.

Mosiah 26:1 Our rising generation

‘In these perilous times, as our youth are faced with this increased adversity, we can learn from others. In the armed forces, particularly in all the navies throughout the world, every seaman understands one phrase that is a clarion call for immediate help, no matter what he is doing or where he is on the ship. The call is “All hands on deck.” Many a battle at sea has been won or lost by the response to this call.

We—as members of the Church, leaders of youth, anxious fathers, and concerned grandfathers—all need to respond to the call for “all hands on deck” as it pertains to our youth and young single adults. We must all look for opportunities to bless the youth whether or not we are currently closely associated with them. We must continue to teach and fortify fathers and mothers in their divinely declared roles with their children in the home. We must ask ourselves constantly if that extra sporting event, that extra activity or errand outside of the home is more important than families being together at home.

Now is the time, brethren, when in every action we take, in every place we go, with every Latter-day Saint young person we meet, we need to have an increased awareness of the need for strengthening, nurturing, and being an influence for good in their lives.’ (Ronald A Rasband, General Conference, April 2006)

‘The challenge of conveying the testimonies of the fathers to the hearts of the children confronts every generation. But some generations seem to have handled it better than others. Many Nephites must have agonized when they saw their children make some of the same mistakes and suffer some of the same consequences as their parents.’ (Ted L Gibbons)

Mosiah 26:4-6 And they were a separate people

‘The rebellious youth started out as a comparatively small group, but contention and quarreling began developing inside the Church so that the rebellious youth used it as an excuse to greatly increase their numbers. Furthermore the rebels began recruiting others into their ranks and convincing them that the gospel with its strict rules of righteousness were really vain imaginations of their elders who just wanted to get power over them.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 26:7-10 He caused that they should be brought before the king

‘As charges began to be brought against these rebels, the Church didn’t really know what to do with this dissident group. Alma knew he could preach, but could he punish? What action should be taken against these rebels who were literally tearing the Church apart? He finally decided to take the problem to the king. Perhaps it was a civil matter and the punishment for wrongdoing should be handled by the king.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 26:29-30,32 Church discipline

‘The Lord told Alma to forgive the people who had sinned if they confessed and repented, but that those who refused to confess and repent should be excommunicated from the Church.
Confession is an important step in the process of repentance because we cannot feel godly sorrow, ask forgiveness, make restitution, or choose to live righteously if we refuse to admit our mistakes or evil choices.’ (Neumanninstitute.org)

Mosiah 26:31 Forgive one another your trespasses

“Remember that we must forgive even if our offender did not repent and ask forgiveness…Do we follow that commandment or do we sulk in our bitterness, waiting for our offender to learn of it and to kneel to us in remorse?…No bitterness of past frictions can be held in memory if we forgive with all our hearts.” (Spencer W Kimball, Conference Report, Oct. 1949)

Mosiah 27:1-3 Equality

‘We like to think that all men are created equal but whenever anybody is being persecuted and discriminated against because of race, religion or membership in a legitimate organization, the principle of equality is being violated. This was happening to a disgraceful extent among the people of Zarahemla. The king’s proclamation declared that this persecution, inhumanity and inequality must cease.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)

3. Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah are visited by an angel.

‘Among the youthful unbelievers tormenting the Nephites were the son of Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Alma gets special attention in the verses of Mosiah 27, although we may assume that he acted in almost every affair with the support of the King’s sons and a few others. Notice the descriptions of the wickedness of this man:

(27:8) very wicked

(27:8) an idolatrous man

(27:8) he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities

(27:9) he became a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church

(27:9) he was guilty of stealing away the hearts of the people

(27:9) he caused much dissension among the people

(27:9) he provided a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over [the people]

(27:10) he was going about to destroy the church of God

(27:10) he was seeking to lead astray the people of the Lord

(27:11) he was going about rebelling against God

(28:4) he and his companions were the very vilest of sinners(Alma 36:14) he had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction’ (Ted L Gibbons)

Mosiah 27:8 Alma the younger

“Imagine the influence he had on other young people. He was the son of the head of the Church, and his companions were the sons of the king. They were talented young men with the appeal to attract many followers. Imagine the pride in Alma’s heart as many followed him, doing ‘after the manner of his iniquities.’ Because of the power of his words and his ability to attract many, it would have been difficult for him to change the course he was pursuing to the course the Lord would expect, without a real earth-shaking event. Of course, the Lord had a major event in mind for him.” (L Tom Perry, Heroes From the Book of Mormon, p. 99)

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Mosiah 27:14 Also the prayers of his servant, Alma

‘The Book of Mormon reminds us that even the prophet Alma had to bear the burden of having a rebellious son. But Alma was blessed with covenant-keeping brothers and sisters in the gospel who were deeply converted unto the Lord and had learned what it meant to bear each other’s burdens. We are familiar with the verse in Mosiah that speaks of the great faith of Alma’s prayers in behalf of his son. But the record states that “the Lord … heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma.”’ (Linda K Burton, General Conference, October 2013)

Mosiah 27:19 Now the astonishment of Alma was so great that he became dumb

‘Alma2’s similarity to Saul/Paul is clear in the physical incapacity that resulted from the visitation (Acts 9:8). Contrary to Saul, however, Alma2 is completely debilitated. His companions are functional, able to carry him to assistance. Saul was only blind, but Alma2 was dumb and so weak that he was “carried helpless.” That he was “laid” before his father indicates that he was too weak even to sit.

This physical weakness apparently resulted from a spiritual struggle, which he recounts later. Perhaps he was so preoccupied with the internal that his body was unable to cope with the external. Whatever the cause, his condition clearly stemmed from his experience with the angel.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Cultural Commentary on the Book of Mormon)

Mosiah 27:24 I have repented of my sins

‘I have been asked the question, ‘Isn’t it depressing to have to review the sins and transgressions of people involved in such difficulties?’ It would be if I were looking for sins and transgressions. But I am working with people who are repenting. These are sons and daughters of God who have made mistakes—some of them very serious. But they are not sinners. They were sinners in the past but have learned through bitter experience the heartbreak that results from disobedience to God’s laws. Now they are no longer sinners. They are God’s repentant children who want to come back to Him and are striving to do so. They have made their mistakes and have paid for them. Now they seek understanding, love, and acceptance” ‘(in Conference Report, Oct. 1985).

Mosiah 27:25 All mankind …must be born again

“The experience of each individual who is really born again is similar to this experience of Alma and the sons of Mosiah, although it may not be so dramatic. The effect upon each person’s life is likewise similar. No person whose soul is illuminated by the burning Spirit of God can in this world of sin and dense darkness remain passive. He is driven by an irresistible urge to fit himself to be an active agent of God in furthering righteousness and in freeing the lives and minds of men from the bondage of sin.” (Marion G Romney, Conference Report, Oct. 1941, p. 89)

Mosiah 27:28 Wading through much tribulation

‘Unless we are careful, the apparent simplicity of this spiritual rebirth may confuse us. Alma, wicked as he was, did not have an interview with an angel, sleep for three days, and then announce his conversion. He said this of the experience his soul had while his body lay unmoving, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God (Mosiah 27:28, emphasis added). Does that sound easy?’ (Ted L Gibbons)

Mosiah 27:29 The marvelous light of God

‘Transgression brings pain and sorrow. But there is a way out of “the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity”.  If we will turn to the Lord and believe on His name, we can change. He will give us the power to change our lives, the power to put away bad thoughts and feelings from our hearts. We can be taken from “the darkest abyss” to “behold the marvelous light of God”. We can be forgiven. We can find peace.’ (James E Faust, General Conference, October 2007)

4. Alma and the sons of Mosiah dedicate themselves to preaching the gospel.

Mosiah 27:35 Striving to repair all the injuries

“After a man has repented, will his faith and repentance bring the forgiveness of sins through the atonement? Are these all the conditions required? No. You may confess your sins; but if you never make restitution to the persons you have wronged, your confession will be of no service.” (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 263)

Mosiah 28:1-3 They could not bear that any human soul should perish

‘My prayer is that you will have joy in your priesthood service throughout your life and forever. I pray that you will develop the bravery and love for Heavenly Father’s children that led the sons of Mosiah to plead for the chance to face death and danger to take the gospel to a hardened people. Their desire and their bravery came from feeling responsible for the eternal happiness of strangers in danger of eternal misery.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, April 2009)

Mosiah 28:7 Two promises

‘Notice that this verse contains two promises. First, that if Mosiah would let his sons go among the Lamanites, they would convert many souls. Second, in spite of the extreme danger to which they would expose themselves, their lives would be spared and his sons would be delivered out of the hands of the Lamanites. With these two assurances, Mosiah moved forward.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)