Thursday, July 9, 2020

The harvest of the Sons of Mosiah

I was surprised to find that, except for quoting Isaiah, the word 'harvest' is only found twice in the Book of Mormon. The first time is in Alma 17:13, when the Sons of Mosiah are going on a mission to preach the gospel to the Lamanites.
13 And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken.
The second time is when Ammon is looking back on their mission, rejoicing in their success in Alma 26. They did meet again at the close of their harvest and Ammon is referring to their harvest in verse 7. In verses 5-7 he uses agricultural imagery that seems to be drawn from ancient Israelite culture.
Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted.
Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them.
But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his; and he will raise them up at the last day.
Similar metaphors are found in Joel 3:13
Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
and Micah 4:12
But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.
Notice also how Ammon says that the sheaves shall be gathered when the storms and whirlwinds come. These are ancient Israelite metaphors associated with scattering. For instance, in Zechariah 7:14
But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not.
See also similar statements in Habakkuk 3:14 and Isaiah 41:16 for instance. Ammon argues that since the sheaves are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, they will be gathered when the winds come, instead of scattered like Israel of old. Ammon certainly knew of the Lord's promises to the Lamanites pertaining to the latter-day gathering, in addition to making a case for the converts at his time.

Another connection I noticed is a few verses later in Alma 26, where Ammon describes the change that happened to the Lamanite converts.
13 Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?
14 Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.
15 Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work.
The language is very similar to Alma-2's description of the change that happened to the "fathers" of the Nephites in Zarahemla
Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.
And now I ask of you, my brethren, were they destroyed? Behold, I say unto you, Nay, they were not.
And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved. (Alma 5)
At this point, Ammon had met Alma again and might have even read the account of his preaching in Zarahemla. Still I sense use of symbolism that is much older and speculate about similar content and a common source on the brass plates, even though I have no other evidence to back that up. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

"Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true."

And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?      
-Alma 5:45

Alma-2 teaches many things in his sermon to the people at Zarahemla, found in Alma chapter 5.  In verses 43-51, Alma gives us a pretty succinct explanation why he knows the things he is teaching are true. In this same passage He describes Christ as "full of grace, and mercy, and truth."

I'd like to dive into these verses to outline a few things we can learn from this passage.

I noticed this passage in a new light as I recently studied the connections between mercy and grace. Verse 48 is one of four verses which reference both "grace" and "mercy." Each of these four verses occur in the context of covenants. I realize this is another topic of study which ultimately points to becoming one with God. (See this study on the connections between the Father and the Son for similar findings, part 1 and part 2.)

The grace of Jesus Christ is the only means of becoming one with God the Father. Covenants are the only way to fully access that grace. Covenants are made as we lay down our old ways (repentance) and take His name upon us. The ministry of angels is all about making these things known and available in our lives (not to mention calling us to assist in the work of angels in the process). This work is therefore a key component of God's mercy.  He sends angels (heavenly and earthly) to testify of these things in order to help His children come to know of these truths by the power of revelation through the Holy Spirit of God. Part of coming to know is developing a desire to join in the covenant and then keeping the commandment to declare the glad tidings.

What does this have to do with the witness given by Alma-2 in Alma 5:43-51? Let's look at the passage and I'll highlight the components described above:

43 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should hear me, for I speak in the energy of my soul; for behold, I have spoken unto you plainly that ye cannot err, or have spoken according to the commandments of God.
44 For I am called to speak after this manner, according to the holy order of God, which is in Christ Jesus; yea, I am commanded to stand and testify unto this people the things which have been spoken by our fathers concerning the things which are to come.
45 And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
46 Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.
47 And moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true, even so according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me, which is also by the manifestation of the Spirit of God.
48 I say unto you, that I know of myself that whatsoever I shall say unto you, concerning that which is to come, is true; and I say unto you, that I know that Jesus Christ shall come, yea, the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth. And behold, it is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world, yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name.
49 And now I say unto you that this is the order after which I am called, yea, to preach unto my beloved brethren, yea, and every one that dwelleth in the land; yea, to preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again.
50 Yea, thus saith the Spirit: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand; yea, the Son of God cometh in his glory, in his might, majesty, power, and dominion. Yea, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, that the Spirit saith: Behold the glory of the King of all the earth; and also the King of heaven shall very soon shine forth among all the children of men.
51 And also the Spirit saith unto me, yea, crieth unto me with a mighty voice, saying: Go forth and say unto this peopleRepent, for except ye repent ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of heaven.

There is so much repetition here I am confident a pattern was intended, using principles of Hebrew rhetoric that I haven't been able to make sense of yet.  This much is clear -- these basic principles of the ministering of angels -- the preparatory gospel -- are very central to Alma's message here. This can be contrasted with Alma's next sermon in Gideon, where the people were already keeping their covenants, More about that in a future post.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Further thought on joy

I wrote about some things a found while studying about joy in the Book of Mormon. I noted how the worldly joy was described sometimes but only the "spiritual" joy could "fill" you or make your joy "full". The verb "fill" has been discussed before and I included a reminder in my last post. A Jewish rabbi suggests that the underlying Hebrew for the adjective, "full" in this context, comes from the Hebrew, "shalem" (see the rabbi's comment to verse 7). It can be translated as complete, safe/at peace or even designate a covenant relationship (see item 3 under Brown-Driver-Briggs in the "shalem" link).

We looked at some examples of joy being full in the previous post. Another interesting one is in Alma 26.
10 And it came to pass that when Ammon had said these words, his brother Aaron rebuked him, saying: Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting.
11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
Notice how Ammon tells his brother in essence that his joy is not just a worldly joy that he uses to boast, but his joy is full, implying that it is the kind of joy that he has in his God. It is the kind of joy that is complete, brings peace and comes from a covenant relation with Him.

Another thing I have noticed is that joy is often associated with works/fruit relating to the gathering of Israel/missionary work. Recall in the previous post that the works of men in 3 Nephi 27 gave joy "for a season". But the joy of the disciples in 3 Nephi 28 would be "full". What was the difference? They would be engaged in the work of bringing "souls of men unto me" (3 Nephi 28:9).

Alma says that
the Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors (Alma 36:25)
Enos says something similar.
I must preach and prophesy unto this people, and declare the word according to the truth which is in Christ. And I have declared it in all my days, and have rejoiced in it above that of the world. (Enos 1:26)
Perhaps this idea initially is inspired by Zenos' allegory.
and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit (Jacob 5:71)
Notice the common elements with Alma 36: labor and joy in the fruit. Zenos' allegory in Jacob 5 repeats this phrase, "joy in the fruit", three times. As we know, the allegory is about Israel and their covenant relation with God, the Lord of the vineyard.

A summary of learning points from this post and the last:

  • Joy is used in the scriptures, both to describe a temporal and spiritual condition
  • When describing a spiritual condition, one is often filled with joy or the joy is full. The possible underlying Hebrew for both words has richer meaning than the English words and includes a sense of completeness and connects to ordinances and covenants.
  • The joy that fills you is typically joy "in God" or connected to the Spirit. Joy and Spirit are even used interchangeably at times.
  • Joy is also often associated with fruit/works, referring to missionary work or the gathering of Israel
In other words, if we want real joy and use the Book of Mormon as our guide, we lay aside temporal things and focus on entering into a covenant relationship with God that "completes" us and invites his Spirit into our lives. Then we labor to bring other souls into that same relationship.

Edit: How could I ignore Alma 29? It summarizes the learning points beautifully
13 Yea, and that same God did establish his church among them; yea, and that same God hath called me by a holy calling, to preach the word unto this people, and hath given me much success, in the which my joy is full.
14 But I do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is more full because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi.
15 Behold, they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; and how great shall be their reward!
16 Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy.
A few notes from this scripture:

  • The difference between " my joy is full" and "my joy is more full" doesn't make much sense in English and hints at the underlying richer Hebrew meaning of the word, as discussed.
  • "Brought forth much fruit" is used again as metaphor for the gathering of Israel through missionary work and is only found in Alma 29 outside of Zenos' allegory, where the expression is repeated 3 times.
  • The "separation [...] from the body" illustrates the previous point made of a spiritual joy, not worldy/physical.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Joy

I have studied a bit about joy in the Book of Mormon. We are all familiar with the verse in 2 Nephi
men are, that they might have joy (2 Nephi 2:25)
Perhaps this statement by Lehi on the small plates, became familiar for later Book of Mormon prophets too? At least the word 'joy' appears in the Book of Mormon 121 times, more than any other book of scripture. Here are a couple of things I learned.

Fullness of joy / filled with joy


Joy is often describing a spiritual condition, something that is found in Christ and his gospel, rather than in the world. But Book of Mormon authors seem aware that there are different types of joy, but only one that "fills" you. In Helaman 5:44, we read
they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.
It is interesting to me that Mormon explains what kind of joy that filled them. The worldly joy is also used in the Book of Mormon, like the joy of the Lamanites in Alma 55:9 when they would receive more wine. But it distinguishes between that worldly joy on one hand and "that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory" on the other. Consider 3 Nephi 27:11
But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return. 
The joy that comes from the works of men is temporary and nothing that "fills" them. Later in that chapter, Jesus says that
my joy is great, even unto fulness (3 Nephi 27:30)
In the next chapter, Jesus gives a promise to his disciples
And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one (3 Nephi 28:10)
Another example
But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever. (2 Nephi 9:18)
There are many other examples to support this observation: In the Book of Mormon, 'joy' can be used to describe temporal and spiritual happiness. But only the righteous are filled with joy. This filling can happen on earth and give them a taste of the lasting fullness of joy they can receive in the kingdom of God.

On that note, I will include a reminder that the Hebrew word for 'fill' can also be translated as complete, accomplish, endow, consecrate or ordain.

Joy and light/spirit


Joy is often connected with light and spirit, and a contrast to darkness and a wicked/evil spirit. Consider these examples
And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! (Alma 36:20)
he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul (Alma 19:6)
And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy. (Alma 22:15)
See how the Spirit and joy are used interchangeably in Alma 19:13-14
Now, when he had said these words, his heart was swollen within him, and he sunk again with joy; and the queen also sunk down, being overpowered by the Spirit.
14 Now Ammon seeing the Spirit of the Lord poured out according to his prayers upon the Lamanites, his brethren, who had been the cause of so much mourning among the Nephites, or among all the people of God because of their iniquities and their traditions, he fell upon his knees, and began to pour out his soul in prayer and thanksgiving to God for what he had done for his brethren; and he was also overpowered with joy
One final example from Mosiah 4:3
And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Grace, Mercy, and the "holy order of God"

My last few posts have centered on the concepts of mercy (here and here) and grace (here). In this post, I'll begin to connect the two concepts.

We find "mercy" and "grace" in the same Book of Mormon sentence 4 times:


53 And behold how great the covenants of the Lord, and how great his condescensions unto the children of men; and because of his greatness, and his grace and mercy, he has promised unto us that our seed shall not utterly be destroyed, according to the flesh, but that he would preserve them; and in future generations they shall become a righteous branch unto the house of Israel. (2 Nephi 9)

5 And also my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers; yea, my soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death. (2 Nephi 11)

48 I say unto you, that I know of myself that whatsoever I shall say unto you, concerning that which is to come, is true; and I say unto you, that I know that Jesus Christ shall come, yea, the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth. And behold, it is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world, yea, the sins of every man who steadfastly believeth on his name. (Alma 5)


25 And now for this cause, that ye may not be destroyed, the Lord has sent his angel to visit many of his people, declaring unto them that they must go forth and cry mightily unto this people, saying: Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is nigh at hand;
26 And not many days hence the Son of God shall come in his glory; and his glory shall be the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering, quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers. (Alma 9)


There is a clear covenant context in each of these passages -- Jacob's praise of "the covenants of the Lord" and "Christ's condescensions" as well as His promise to "preserve them" as a "righteous branch unto the House of Israel" in 2 Nephi 9; Nephi's delight in the covenants of the Lord in 2 Nephi 11; Alma-2's mention of ministering angels in Alma 9 (see this post for more details about how that connects to covenants -- Mormon explains it in Moroni 7:29-32.)


A few important points jump out at me as I study these passages:


  1. God would not be a merciful God, nor would we have access to grace, were it not for the "great and eternal plan of deliverance from death."
  2. That plan includes Christ's atoning sacrifice and resurrection, but also includes other features of the Gospel: "covenants" and divinely appointed messengers declaring repentance and providing access to the ordinances through which we bind ourselves to God.
  3. The "holy order" spoken of by Alma-2 is a key component of bringing about the mercy of God through grace.
My next post will go into more detail about this holy order, using Alma-2 as a great example of how the "great and eternal plan of deliverance from death" brings about mercy and grace.

Monday, June 29, 2020

What is required of us to access grace?

This post continues my series on the connections between mercy and grace.  First, I'm studying each concept separately.  See my previous posts about mercy here and here. In this post, I'll present some thoughts on what the Book of Mormon teaches about grace.

As I studied the 27 times where "grace" appears in the Book of Mormon, one of the first questions I asked was this:


What is required of us to access grace?



Here's a summary of what I found. In the passages below, I've placed actions taken by the people who received grace in bold/italics:

  • they were baptized in the waters of Mormon, and were filled with the grace of God. (Mosiah 18:16)
  • And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God. (Mosiah 18:26)
  • Yea, and all their priests and teachers should labor with their own hands for their support, in all cases save it were in sickness, or in much want; and doing these things, they did abound in the grace of God. (Mosiah 27:5)
  • I have come having great hopes and much desire that I should find that ye had humbled yourselves before God, and that ye had continued in the supplicating of his grace, (Alma 7:3)
  • And may God grant, in his great fulness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works. (Helaman 12:24)
  • ...my grace is sufficient for the meek....my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; (Ether 12:26)
  • ...seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. (Ether 12:41)
  • I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end. (Moroni 8:3)
  • Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. (Moroni 10:32)
  • Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember...it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved. (2 Nephi 10:24)

Here is the same list, stripped of all the other parts of those verses:

  • they were baptized
  • the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support
  • labor with their own hands for their support
  • humbled yourselves before God
  • continued in the supplicating of his grace
  • that men might be brought unto repentance and good works
  • the meek....humble themselves before me
  • ...seek this Jesus
  • through the endurance of faith on his name to the end.
  • come unto Christ
  • be perfected in him
  • deny yourselves of all ungodliness
  • love God with all your might, mind and strength
  • reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh;
  • remember...it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved

That is pretty powerful advice on how to seek grace!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The creation account in Alma 32

I posted on allusions to the creation account in the Book of Mormon and based much of it on David Bokovoy's article. The main theme in his article is to show Biblical creation themes in Alma 32 in particular. This is particularly interesting considering previous posts on this blog on symbolism involving Alma 32. I will summarize the parallels between the creation account and Alma 32 from Bokovoy's article and then try to frame it in the context of previous posts on related symbolism.

  • The basis for the allegory is "the word". In the creation account, God speaks. The prologue in John's gospel focuses on the "word" that was "in the beginning" and thereby draws on the creation account too, as has long been noted by commentators. The word, "word", is used 22 times in Alma 32. (See also Mormon 9:17)
  •  This one goes deeper, but I'll try to make it short and just refer to the article for details: In Alma 32:28, the word "enlightens" and Alma 32:35 states that "light is good". Similarly, in Genesis 1:4, "God saw the light, that it was good". John 1 also brings up the topic of light (see verse 5).
  • Alma 32:31: "every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness". Compare with Genesis 1:11: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself,"
  • Alma 32:37: "let us nourish it with great care".  "let us . . . ," seems to parallel the divine language of creation in Genesis 1:26: "Let us make man in our image . . .". 
  • The "fruit tree yielding fruit" in Genesis 1 is exemplified in the tree of knowledge and the tree of life in Genesis 2. In Alma 32, the seed that is planted can grow into a tree and the tree of life is mentioned specifically, linking thematically to the Garden of Eden.
  • The Hebrew, samah, that is used in Genesis 3:18, is translated into “bring forth” in the KJV, but literally means to “spring up”. In Alma 32:41, Alma talks about the seed becoming a tree “springing up unto everlasting life”.
  • In Genesis 3:24, "[God] drove out the man" from the garden. In Hebrew, the verb translated as “drove out” (gāraš) literally means “to cast out”. Alma seems to play on this theme, as he uses this in conjunction with the Zoramites (Alma 32:12, 24), the seed (v.28) and the growing tree (v.38).
With all these references to the creation and Garden of Eden story, there is no doubt that Alma is creating an intentional parallell. In addition to the points summarized above from Bokovoy's article, we have posted similar connections on this blog before without realizing the full spectrum of references to the creation. For example:
  • This and this post explain how the growth from ground/dust to tree/fruit symbolize the ascension from (natural) man to God. Alma 32 relates to this growth.
  • This post explains how the preface to the creation account in the Book of Abraham also links to Alma 32 through the concept of using available room/space/place for creation
  • This post explains how "tilling the ground" from Genesis 3 also links to Alma 32 and covenants. It also contrasts the "make room" and "cast out" themes.
Even though it is cool that links between the creation and Alma 32 that we have found and posted on this blog, also are found independently by a scholar much more knowledgeable than us, this is not the point of the post. But with this link established, the point is to examine what this all means. A couple of years ago, Alma 32 was one of my favorite chapters and I thought I had the symbolism pretty much figured out. Then I realize there are layers upon layers and I love the chapter even more. 

It is becoming clear to me that Alma 32 is a creation account. How? When God saw that there was room, he spoke and created the world. The whole purpose was to give man a chance to develop and become like Him. In order to achieve that, we have to go through a similar process. When the word of God finds a place in our heart, a creation process can start. We can practice becoming Gods by participating in this creation. Just like God planted a garden and let the tree of life grow there (Genesis 2:8-9), we can plant God's word in our hearts and grow a tree of life.

It is important that we practice and learn to become Gods by participating in this creation and growth.
22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. (Genesis 3)
When step one in becoming Gods, knowing good and evil, was achieved, step two (living eternally) could not follow immediately. Rather then just "put forth his hand", man was to till the ground and learn to become a creator and a gardner himself and produce his own tree of life, just like God had created, planted a garden and grown the tree of life (see Genesis 2:8-9). When we make room in our heart for the word of God, (the word that initiated all creation), then we can learn to be creators too and grow our own tree of life. As we discussed in the previous post, God has already shown in the creation account what his word can do. This means we can fully rely on the power of the word to grow the tree in us as long as we nourish it. When nourishment of the word has resulted in a tree of life to us, the purpose of being cast out of the garden and till the ground has been fulfilled. The way to the tree of life is not blocked anymore and we can freely participate of its fruit. This is what Alma 32 is teaching us.

I know I have been referring to these things a lot lately and am repeating myself at this point. But seeing all the connections to the creation account adds another dimension to the symbolism in Alma 32. I used to think about Alma 32 as a chapter on faith. It still is, but there is so much more. It is a chapter about creation and learning to become as God, among many other things.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Mercy is associated with...

I'm studying references to "mercy" in the Book of Mormon.  In my last post, I looked at 5 references to "the arm of mercy."

In this post, I've compiled a list of attributes mentioned in association with mercy.  I've noticed that God's "mercy" is often mentioned in a list of other attributes. Before you look at this list, ask yourself which attributes you might think are most often connected with God's mercy.

In the list below, I've highlighted attributes which show up in more than one list, and italicized attributes which only show up once.


Passages containing lists about attributes of God which include mercy


"through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things" (Mosiah 5:15)
"
by the mercy and power of God" (Alma 5:4)
"
have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them?" (Alma 5:6)
"
the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, and mercy, and truth." (Alma 5:48)
"
if it had not been for his matchless power, and his mercy, and his long-suffering towards us" (Alma 9:11)
"
the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering," (Alma 9:25)
"
who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men?" (Alma 26:16)
"
he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation" (Alma 26:35)
"
that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also" (Alma 42:15)
"
let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart" (Alma 42:30)
"according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ" (3 Nephi 26:3)
" the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord" (Mormon 2:12)
"his justice and mercy" (Mormon 6:22)
"may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life" (Moroni 9:25)
"thy power, and goodness, and mercy" (1 Nephi 1:14)
"through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah" (2 Nephi 2:8)
"the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God" (2 Nephi 2:12)
"O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace!" (2 Nephi 9:8)
"his greatness, and his grace and mercy" (2 Nephi 9:53)
"his justice, and power, and mercy" (2 Nephi 11:5)
"he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy" (Jacob 4:10)


Mercy is associated with...

  • justice x 8
  • long-suffering x 7
  • grace x 5
  • wisdom x 4
  • power x 3
  • truth x 2
  • equity x 1
  • patience x 1
  • understanding x 1 
  • goodness x 1
  • greatness x 1
  • holiness x 1
  • hope of his glory x 1
  • sufferings and death x 1
  • merits x 1
  • the showing his body unto our fathers x 1

Conclusions


Should we be surprised that God's mercy is most often associated with His justice? Or that long-suffering, grace, wisdom, power, and truth show up more than once on this list? I'm not sure any of those findings surprise me too much. It seems that studying each of these concepts in more detail would likely enhance my understanding of His mercy, too.  

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