Saturday, November 30, 2019

More thoughts on entering into the rest of the Lord -- New Testament connections

Stisa has been posting some really interesting ideas on the subject of entering into the rest of the Lord, including its temple significance.

This has caused me to study more about this phrase and how it relates to verses in the New Testament.  Here are a few ideas:

(1) Paul quotes Psalms 95 and writes quite a bit about entering God's rest in Hebrews 3 and 4, for example:

1Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. (Hebrews 4, NIV)
(2) The Greek word translated into "rest" in Hebrews 3 and 4 is κατάπαυσις (katapausis). which is described as:

the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells, and of which he has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of life on earth are ended (Source)

(3) This adds context to the words of Jesus:

28 ¶ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Entering into God's rest -- Joseph Smith's quote

“… God has in reserve a time, or period appointed in His own bosom, when He will bring all His subjects, who have obeyed His voice and kept His commandments, into His celestial rest. This rest is of such perfection and glory, that man has need of a preparation before he can, according to the laws of that kingdom, enter it and enjoy its blessings. This being the fact, God has given certain laws to the human family, which, if observed, are sufficient to prepare them to inherit this rest. This, then, we conclude, was the purpose of God in giving His laws to us. … All the commandments contained in the law of the Lord, have the sure promise annexed of a reward to all who obey, predicated upon the fact that they are really the promises of a Being who cannot lie, One who is abundantly able to fulfill every tittle of His word.” --Joseph Smith, 1834

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Entering into His rest, Part 4 - Alma 12 and 13 as temple text

Lord Wilmore has previously noted that Alma 12 and 13 contains a lot of temple related themes. During my study of the concept, "enter into His rest", I have found further evidence of this. The Garden of Eden symbolism is an important part of that. Adam and Eve were in God's presence, but they provoked him by disobeying the commandment about the tree of knowledge. This is "the first provocation" in Alma 12:36 as explained in this post. But these verses in the end of Alma 12 also talk about a second provocation, using language referring to the children of Israel in the wilderness (see this and this post).

Perhaps it's a bit messy with all these references to other posts but one post on this topic would be very large. The point is that there is a clear link between the concept of entering into His rest, the Garden of Eden, Israel in the wilderness and the temple.

To explain this relation further, let us consider the Hebrew word for repentance, "shuv". In the words of a Jewish rabbi:
The word in Hebrew for this is the word שוב (shuv) which quite literally means to return.[...] Repenting in Judaism is more than a feeling. It is seeking the original way. Two schools of thought within Judaism defined such repentance: Some say repentance is to seek the state of the Sinai. Others define it as seeking the state of our primary existence as it was in the Garden of Eden. 
Both Sinai and the Garden of Eden represent God's presence. In Alma 12, a leader in the city of Ammonihah, asks why the way to the tree of life was blocked. Wasn't the whole point that we should live forever in God's presence? Alma explains that God did not want to expel man forever. But this mortal journey, (which can be symbolized by the journey of the Israelites in the wilderness), was a necessary part of the "plan of redemption" (Alma 12:25-26). As Alma explains in this chapter, God wanted us to return and he prepared a way. He then uses the language used in JST of Exodus 34 and Psalm 95, referring to the Israelites, as a warning: Man had already provoked God once in the Garden of Eden. Let us not do it a second time like the Children of Israel by mount Sinai.

We are taught in D&C 84:23-24 that Moses' objective was to return the Israelites to God, consistent with the Jewish idea of "shuv".
23 Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;
24 But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
Moses trying to "sanctify his people" was done by mount Sinai (see Exodus 19). The mountain worked in many ways as a temple, something that is often the case in the scriptures. The temple is the House of the Lord, where we symbolically return to his presence or enter into His rest as well as prepare ourselves for an actual return some day. Psalm 95, which contains the same references to the Children of Israel who did not manage to get up on Mount Sinai nor enter into His rest, is a psalm believed to have been composed and sung by the dedication of the second temple.

Alma 12 discusses the Garden of Eden, the fall, the atonement, the "plan of redemption" and a return to God's presence, all temple related themes. But in addition, it makes specific reference to language related to Mount Sinai and Psalm 95 composed for temple worship. Then, in Alma 13 it goes on to explain how the priesthood is essential for helping God's children to enter into His presence.
And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest
The plan of salvation can be summarized quite simply: We start in God's presence, take a necessary journey away from Him to learn and progress but always with the aim of returning; through the atonement and through the covenants and ordinances of the priesthood. This is what the temple is all about, this is apparently what God through Moses tried to offer to the Israelites and this is what Alma is explaining to the people in Ammonihah. When we look closely, the temple is a prevalent theme in the Book of Mormon, although not referenced explicitly very often.

Devilish Details in the Book of Mormon -- Part 4

In today's post we'll finish the devilish details series by looking at the words associated with the Book of Mormon's description of the devil by looking at the effects of following him.

As a reminder, each word on this list is followed by the number of times it appears in the text and then by the number of times it appears in the same sentence with the word "devil." In each case I also cite a notable example.

Part 4
Effects of following the devil:


subject* -- 37, 4

8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. (2 Nephi 9)

20 I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil? (Alma 5)
damnation* -- 17, 3

10 Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil—
11 If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation (Mosiah 16)


28 Therefore, prepare ye the way of the Lord, for the time is at hand that all men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been—if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the power and deliverance of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the power and captivation of the devil. (Alma 9)

fire -- 104, 1

27 And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Mosiah 26)

hell -- 55, 6

23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. (2 Nephi 28)

cast out -- 213, 1

25 I say unto you, Nay; except ye make our Creator a liar from the beginning, or suppose that he is a liar from the beginning, ye cannot suppose that such can have place in the kingdom of heaven; but they shall be cast out for they are the children of the kingdom of the devil. (Alma 5)

captivity --

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. (2 Nephi 2)





Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Entering into His rest, Part 3

The name, Noah, comes from pre-Israelite tradition and sounded to Israelite ears like the Hebrew, "nuach", which means "rest". Both in the Old Testament and in the Book of Mormon, there are word-plays based on this name and meaning. In the Book of Mormon, King Noah and his priests, "rest" their bodies while they make the people labor (see Mosiah 11:11). Considering the previous blog posts on "entering into His rest", we can approach this story from a different angle.

As demonstrated in part 1, the "rest" in the Old Testament was linked to the promised land or inheritance. Lehi's group had arrived at the promised land and Zeniff, the father of King Noah, had even taken possession of the land of their first inheritance. But King Noah got it all wrong. The rest in the promised land was not a rest for the physical body, it was only symbolic for a rest of the soul in heaven. Noah rested too soon and in the wrong way. Compare with Mormon who got it right in Moroni 9:6
And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God
Take note, King Noah!

Devilish Details in the Book of Mormon -- Part 3

Part 3
Description of the devil or those who follow him:

The series continues, today we'll look at words that describe the devil and those who follow him.  The first number is how many times the word (or related variants) show up in the Book of Mormon text.  The second number is how many times the words shows up in the same sentence with "devil."

evil -- 114, 13

4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—
5 The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh. (Alma 41)

carnal -- 19, 5

3 For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil. (Mosiah 16)

sensual -- 2, 2

10 Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state. (Alma 42)


sin -- 280, 5

13 And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men. (Alma 28)

rebellion* -- 52, 1

5 But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God. (Mosiah 16)


angry* -- 166, 1 (2 Nephi 33:5)

5 And it speaketh harshly against sin, according to the plainness of the truth; wherefore, no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil. (2 Nephi 33)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Entering into His rest, part 2

Part 1 of the note on entering into the rest of the Lord is found here. As stated there, entering into his rest is mentioned frequently in the Book of Mormon. We have already seen several examples in Alma 12 and 13 in recent posts. Other examples include
Alma 16:17
That they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving, and go on to destruction, but that they might receive the word with joy, and as a branch be grafted into the true vine, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord their God.
Alma 57:36
and I trust that the souls of them who have been slain have entered into the rest of their God 
Alma 60:13
therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God
3 Nephi 28:3
Blessed are ye because ye desired this thing of me; therefore, after that ye are seventy and two years old ye shall come unto me in my kingdom; and with me ye shall find rest.
Moroni 7:3
Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.
What is this "rest" anyway? The teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are not compatible with the idea of heaven as a resting place if we understand that as something related to laziness. We talk about God's work and glory, missionary work in the spirit world, etc. But several Book of Mormon verses also make it clear what kind of "rest" is meant.
Alma 40:12
paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow
Alma 34:41
a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions
2 Nephi 24:14/Isaiah 14:14
And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall give thee rest, from thy sorrow, and from thy fear
This sounds like a place where I want to be. The "rest" is also defined in D&C 84:24
But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.



Devilish Details in the Book of Mormon -- Part 2

The devil is a very common topic in the Book of Mormon.  In yesterday's post, we looked at names for the devil used in the Book of Mormon.  Today's list contains words that describe Satan's tactics.

Part 2
Description of the devil's ways:



lie -- 41, 7

42 Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God. (Alma 30)
subtle -- 3, 1

4 And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very subtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us, to revile us and to cast us out-- (Alma 12)

cunning -- 22, 2

29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—
30 And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out. (Helaman 3)
10 But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil. (3 Nephi 21)

deceive -- 14, 1

18 And he spake plainly unto them, that he had been deceived by the power of the devil. And he spake of hell, and of eternity, and of eternal punishment. (Jacob 7)

flattery* -- 21, 2

22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (2 Nephi 28)

device* -- 4, 2

42 Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God. (Alma 30)

snare* -- 12, 1

13 And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men. (Alma 28)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Entering into His rest, Part 1

The scriptures sometimes use the phrase "enter into His rest" or similar. We have discussed several passages containing this phrase in recent posts and there are many more, especially in the Book of Mormon. But let's start with the Old Testament. "Rest" is mentioned several times in Deuteronomy and is always associated with the promised land or inheritance. Consider these examples:
Deuteronomy 3:20
Until the Lord have given rest unto your brethren, as well as unto you, and until they also possess the land which the Lord your God hath given them beyond Jordan
Deuteronomy 12:9
For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the Lord your God giveth you.
Deuteronomy 25:19
Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it
Joshua 1:13
Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.
There are many examples of something physical described in the Old Testament which also carries a spritiual meaning or symbolic value that is pointed out in the New Testament or in the Book of Mormon. This is no exception. Entering into the Lord's rest is not discussed much in the New Testament, except a lengthy part of Hebrews chapter 3 and 4. The Book of Mormon is using this phrase a lot and we will see some examples in part 2 of this post. In both cases it is clear that the "rest" is dwelling in God's presence and the inheritance or promised land is our heavenly home. This life is the journey. Perhaps the symbolism has lost some power in this age where travelling is much more comfortable. In Biblical and Book of Mormon times, the traveler had more need of rest when the destination was reached. The story of the Israelites serve as a warning to all of us. They hardened their hearts and did not enter into His rest in the promised land. If we harden our hearts, we will not enter into His rest in heaven.

This is certainly the idea in Alma 12 that has been quoted several times recently. Alma 12:36 is a bit hard to understand, especially the meaning of the terms marked in bold.
And now, my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, yea, according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of your souls; therefore, according to his word, unto the last death, as well as the first.
This is my interpretation: Earlier in Alma 12, Alma talks about the fall of Adam and Eve. The "first provocation" refers to the disobedience in the Garden of Eden. It resulted in the "first death". Because of that, we are now travelers in the wilderness of this telestial world. By means of the atonement and the priesthood (important themes in Alma 12&13) we are able to enter into his presence/rest again. But if we harden our hearts and provoke God again like the children of Israel did (the "last provocation"), we will not enter into his presence but suffer the last/second death.

Devilish details in the Book of Mormon -- Part 1

I'm currently building lists of words associated with the devil.  I do this by reading verses containing direct references to the devil and looking for words which show up consistently in connection with these verses.  Below is a list of words at least sometimes related to the devil, how often they show up in the Book of Mormon, then how many times they show up together with "devil" (within the same sentence) as well as some notable references if that specific connection interests you. Reading through these verses reminds how common this theme is in the Book of Mormon.

Part 1
Names of Satan:


devil* -- 100


Satan -- 26, 0


15 For behold, saith the prophet, the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned. (1 Nephi 22)

monster -- 5, 2 

19 O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel! For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment. (2 Nephi 9)

angel -- 139, 3 

17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. (2 Nephi 2)

enemy -- 19, 1

5 But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God. (Mosiah 16)

serpent --  14, 2 

3 For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil. (Mosiah 16)

adversary -- 5, 0 

24 And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction. (1 Nephi 15)

evil one -- 7, 0 

4 O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world! (Helaman 12)


* -- indicates I also used other forms of this word in my search


Sunday, November 24, 2019

A surprising find in the Joseph Smith translation of Exodus

In my previous post, I speculated that the end of Psalm 95 and Alma 12 were based on an earlier lost source. To my surprise, after researching the topic a bit further, I found support from the Prophet Joseph Smith. Here is the JST of Exodus 34:1-2

And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two other tables of stone, like unto the first, and I will write upon them also, the words of the law, according as they were written at the first on the tables which thou brakest; but it shall not be according to the first, for I will take away the priesthood out of their midst; therefore my holy order, and the ordinances thereof, shall not go before them; for my presence shall not go up in their midst, lest I destroy them.  But I will give unto them the law as at the first, but it shall be after the law of a carnal commandment; for I have sworn in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my presence, into my rest, in the days of their pilgrimage. Therefore do as I have commanded thee, and be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me, in the top of the mount.
The italic text is the additions by Joseph Smith. The bold parts are the ones that demonstrate a clear link to Alma 12 and 13. The bold text in verse 2 is the statement perhaps referred to in the end of Alma 12, Psalm 95 and Jacob 1 that I cited in my previous post. Alma 13 links this to the priesthood or God's holy order, just like the JST of Exodus 34:1. It seems to be saying that the Priesthood is the means to lead God's children into His rest. With that in mind, compare with D&C 84:18-24

the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God. And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.
This is starting to make a lot of sense.

Chiasmus in 1 Nephi 3:16-22

Nephi uses patterns of repetition throughout his writings.  Here is an great example of chiasmus in a passage in which he persuades his brothers to gather their precious things from the land of their inheritance in an effort to get the plates:

16 Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; therefore let us go down to the land of our father’s inheritance, for behold he left gold and silver, and all manner of riches. And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord.
17 For he knew that Jerusalem must be destroyed, because of the wickedness of the people.
18 For behold, they have rejected the words of the prophets. Wherefore, if my father should dwell in the land after he hath been commanded to flee out of the land, behold, he would also perish. Wherefore, it must needs be that he flee out of the land.
19 And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers;
20 And also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time.
21 And it came to pass that after this manner of language did I persuade my brethren, that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God.
22 And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things.

Here is the same passage again with the key words only, to highlight the pattern:

go down...land of our father’s inheritance...gold and silver...riches
the commandments of the Lord.
the words of the prophets
preserve language 
preserve words
mouth of all the holy prophets
the commandments of God.
went down...land of our inheritance...gold, and our silver...precious things.









Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Book of Mormon quoting Psalms


In Jacob 1:7, we read
Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter inas in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness.


Jacob is referring to the text in Psalm 95, which reads

Harden not your heartas in the provocationand as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

(For other references to Psalms by Jacob, see here).

We see the same language again in Alma 12:33-37

33 But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son;
34 Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.
35 And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.
36 And now, my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, yea, according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of your souls; therefore, according to his word, unto the last death, as well as the first.
37 And now, my brethren, seeing we know these things, and they are true, let us repent, and harden not our hearts, that we provoke not the Lord our God to pull down his wrath upon us in these his second commandments which he has given unto us; but let us enter into the rest of God, which is prepared according to his word


The language is definitely related to Psalm 95, but Alma says this is God calling “on men, in the name of his Son, saying:…”. It does not seem that the original source of this statement is David. Perhaps David and Alma are referring to an earlier source, one that is now lost but existed on the Brass plates? This is of course just speculation. But we see some additional linked themes that are not part of the text in Psalms, such as men being called by God to teach these things to his children and the mercy/atonement that comes through the Only Begotten Son. These, along with not hardening our hearts and entering into his rest are all prevalent themes in the last part of Alma 12 and first part of Alma 13.

Lord Wilmore has already posted a bit on hard hearts recently. I will post some more on “entering into His rest” later.


I used to think that biblical quotes in the Book of Mormon almost exclusively started with something like “hear the words of Isaiah”. But there is a lot weaved subtly into the text.

Book of Mormon references to Enoch's Vision?

Noel Reynolds points out numerous examples of intertextual connections between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses.  I find many of these examples to be very interesting.

Consider this description of the earth's reaction to Christ's death of the cross in Enoch's vision:

55 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Look, and he looked and beheld the Son of Man lifted up on the cross, after the manner of men;
56 And he heard a loud voice; and the heavens were veiled; and all the creations of God mourned; and the earth groaned; and the rocks were rent; and the saints arose, and were crowned at the right hand of the Son of Man, with crowns of glory; (Moses 7)

In Nephi's grand vision, just a few verses after he sees Christ lifted up on the cross (1 Nephi 11:33), we get this description of the earth:

4 And it came to pass that I saw a mist of darkness on the face of the land of promise; and I saw lightnings, and I heard thunderings, and earthquakes, and all manner of tumultuous noises; and I saw the earth and the rocks, that they rent; and I saw mountains tumbling into pieces; and I saw the plains of the earth, that they were broken up; and I saw many cities that they were sunk; and I saw many that they were burned with fire; and I saw many that did tumble to the earth, because of the quaking thereof. (1 Nephi 12)

Nephi later describes the death of the Savior (1 Nephi 19:10), immediately followed by a description of the changes that would take place on the earth at that time:

11 For thus spake the prophet: The Lord God surely shall visit all the house of Israel at that day, some with his voice, because of their righteousness, unto their great joy and salvation, and others with the thunderings and the lightnings of his power, by tempest, by fire, and by smoke, and vapor of darkness, and by the opening of the earth, and by mountains which shall be carried up. 12 And all these things must surely come, saith the prophet Zenos. And the rocks of the earth must rend; and because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the Spirit of God, to exclaim: The God of nature suffers. (1 Nephi 19)

Later, at the time of Christ's death, we find this description:

9 And it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was in the morning, and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend, and the dreadful groanings did cease, and all the tumultuous noises did pass away. (3 Nephi 10)

What does all of this mean? To me it means that not only is the Book of Mormon internally consistent relating to prophecies of Christ, in many cases it is also consistent with other books of scripture.

Nephi was clearly a student of the brass plates. It is very possibly those plates contained extrabiblical prophecies which were quoted by Nephi. Mormon also under the significance of Nephi's words and made sure to document the events at the time of Christ's visitation in a way that confirmed the fulfillment of prophecies.

From an authenticity standpoint, all of this is interesting to me because of the order of dictation...Joseph translated 3 Nephi 10 prior to 1 Nephi, and the Moses text did not come until late 1830. This means he not only would have needed to remember these 5 unique terms during the translation process, he would also need to retain that on his memory for an additional 18 months or so.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Little children "are whole from the foundation of the world."

Here is another example of intertextual connections between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses.

Compare these words of Mormon:

8 Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; ... 12 But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism! (Mormon 8)
...to this verse from the Book of Moses:

54 Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world. (Moses 6)
Compare also:

46 But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten; (Doctrine and Covenants 29)

Hat tip: Noel Reynolds.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Laman and Lemuel go nuclear with their murmuring against Nephi

Noel Reynolds makes a really interesting connection between the Book of Mormon and the Book of Moses which greatly enhances our understanding of a portion of Laman and Lemuel's complaining against Nephi:

38 Now, he says that the Lord has talked with him, and also that angels have ministered unto him. But behold, we know that he lies unto us; and he tells us these things, and he worketh many things by his cunning arts, that he may deceive our eyes, thinking, perhaps, that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness; and after he has led us away, he has thought to make himself a king and a ruler over us, that he may do with us according to his will and pleasure. And after this manner did my brother Laman stir up their hearts to anger. (1 Nephi 16)

Compare this with a description of Satan in the Book of Moses:

4 And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. (Moses 4)

If Reynolds is correct and the Book of Moses (or something like it) was found on the brass plates, Laman and Lemuel were intentionally comparing Nephi to Satan.  Bold.

Interestingly, this would also suggest that Laman and Lemuel knew the scriptures well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

More on "hard hearts"

With the help of my little brother, I built a tool to allow me to search the text of the Book of Mormon in some interesting ways.  I'm excited to share some of the results on this blog.

There are 91 sentences in the Book of Mormon that contain both "hard" and "heart." Notably in Alma 12, Alma-2 talks about hard hearts in 5 consecutive verses:

33 But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son;
34 Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.
35 And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.
36 And now, my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, yea, according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of your souls; therefore, according to his word, unto the last death, as well as the first.
37 And now, my brethren, seeing we know these things, and they are true, let us repent, and harden not our hearts, that we provoke not the Lord our God to pull down his wrath upon us in these his second commandments which he has given unto us; but let us enter into the rest of God, which is prepared according to his word.

Alma 12 and the first nine verses of Alma 13 were orignially part of the same chapter.  It is interesting to me that Alma-2 admonishes his audience (a group of struggling-to-believe Nephite men) not to harden their hearts and then proceeds to discuss the "Holy Order" to which they are called in the following verses:

1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.
2 And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
4 And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.
5 Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—
6 And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—
7 This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things—
8 Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—
9 Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.

Specific references to Abinadi's prophecy

Another example of internal consistency in the Book of Mormon is found in Alma 25:10-12. 
10 For he said unto them: What ye shall do unto me shall be a type of things to come.
11 And now Abinadi was the first that suffered death by fire because of his belief in God; now this is what he meant, that many should suffer death by fire, according as he had suffered.
12 And he said unto the priests of Noah that their seed should cause many to be put to death, in the like manner as he was, and that they should be scattered abroad and slain, even as a sheep having no shepherd is driven and slain by wild beasts; and now behold, these words were verified, for they were driven by the Lamanites, and they were hunted, and they were smitten.
Mormon recounts in much detail the words of Abinadi and their fulfillment. Compare with: 

Mosiah 13:10
But this much I tell you, what you do with me, after this, shall be as a type and a shadow of things which are to come.

Mosiah 17:15
Behold, even as ye have done unto me, so shall it come to pass that thy seed shall cause that many shall suffer the pains that I do suffer, even the pains of death by fire; and this because they believe in the salvation of the Lord their God. 

Mosiah 17:17
Yea, and ye shall be smitten on every hand, and shall be driven and scattered to and fro, even as a wild flock is driven by wild and ferocious beasts.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A hard heart leads to a lack of understanding.

Lately I've been thinking about these verses from Alma 12:

9 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
Part of "giving heed" to the word is having a teachable heart.  The Book of Mormon teaches us very clearly that a hard heart can prevent us from understanding the word of God and that a thankful and open heart can lead us to a better understanding of God's word.



3 For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought. (1 Nephi 15)



14 And his brethren were wroth with him because they understood not the dealings of the Lord; they were also wroth with him upon the waters because they hardened their hearts against the Lord. (Mosiah 10)



32 ...I say unto you, Nay, they did not all understand the law; and this because of the hardness of their hearts; for they understood not that there could not any man be saved except it were through the redemption of God. (Mosiah 13)



3 And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened. (Mosiah 26)



20 But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. (Alma 33)


11 And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery; 12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people. (Alma 48)


33 And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed. (3 Nephi 19)


All of this leads us to a passage in 3 Nephi 11 which takes on more meaning in this context:

3 And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
4 And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.
5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.
8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven;

These were good people who had survived tremendous darkness and destruction and had gathered at the temple.  They knew they had witnessed the signs of Christ's coming, and yet they still didn't understand the voice (despite its penetrating power) until the third time they heard it, after they had opened their ears, pointed their eyes to heaven to look "steadfastly" whence the sounds came.  Only then did they see the Savior.

Perhaps there are metaphorical lessons for us to learn from this.  It is not enough to feel the Spirit. We must take certain steps in order to be truly prepared to experience the power of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Mormon's references to Alma 5

Alma 6 is a short transitional chapter between sermons in Alma 5 and 7, where Mormon moves from quoting Alma's words on the plates of Ne...