Thursday, April 30, 2020

Redeemer - kinsman -- Part 1

The Hebrew term for "Redeemer" is the word גואל (goel). It is also used in connection with its cognate - the term גאל (gaal) which means kinsman. The spelling of gaal is the exact same as the verb, "redeem".

In ancient Israelite thought, the kinsman-redeemer was a male relative, who should act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble or need. There are many examples of this in the Jewish Law. See Leviticus 25:25 for instance
If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.
Perhaps the best description of a kinsman-redeemer in the Old Testament is Boaz in the Book of Ruth. He is a wealthy relative of Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, appeals to him as their goel.
And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman. (Ruth 3:9)
As Ruth's goel, Boaz offers her protection, redeems her from her difficult situation as a widow with a widowed mother-in-law to take care of, and marries her. They later bear a son named Obed who becomes the grandfather of David and a forefather of Jesus.

This background is useful to better understand how ancient Israelites would view scriptures describing the Lord as their Redeemer. We find several of those, often with allusions to the Messiah.
I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:14)
This poetic parallelism connects "help" with "redeemer" and "Lord" with "Holy One of Israel".
For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. (Isaiah 54:5 / 3 Nephi 22:5)
Here is another connection between Redeemer and the Holy One of Israel, who Nephi in no uncertain terms says is Christ (see 2 Nephi 25:29). It is also interesting to note that this is the chapter Jesus quotes to the Nephites after having told them about the gathering of Israel and the covenant with them. "thine husband" is a symbol of the covenant relationship between Jehovah and his people. Actually, the underlying Hebrew here is the verb "to marry". "He who espouses/marries you" (is perhaps a better translation) is also "thy Redeemer" and directs our minds to the Boaz and Ruth story.

Another example in Psalms
35 And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. (Psalm 78:35)
Again a poetic parallelism connects redeemer to another word, this time "rock". When the Psalmist multiple times in other Psalms writes about "the rock of my salvation", it should be clear who that rock is. But again, the Book of Mormon removes all doubt.
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation (Helaman 5:12)
So the concept of a kinsman-redeemer is something the ancient Israelites attributed to the Messiah who would come, the rock and the Holy One of Israel. He would be their redeemer. They also believed he would be their kinsman. In light of this it is interesting to see how this word is used in the Book of Mormon. The first time it is used, is by Lehi in 1 Nephi 10:4-6
And he also spake concerning the prophets, how great a number had testified of these things, concerning this Messiah, of whom he had spoken, or this Redeemer of the world.
Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer.
We have just seen that prophets of old testified of a redeemer like Lehi says. But as I have discussed in a previous post, Lehi's view of this redeemer was perhaps quite radical at his time. "Redeemer of the world" is not found anywhere in the Old Testament. They perceived a Messiah who was their kinsman and would redeem them, not the whole world. They did not understand that
as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel. (2 Nephi 30:2)
or that
God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (Matthew 3:7)
This is getting too long for one post so I will split it up and write more about the use of "Redeemer" in the Book of Mormon in part 2 and how it fits with the Old Testament kinsman idea.

Covenant symbols in Alma 17

Every primary-age boy knows the story of Ammon defending the king's flocks at the waters of Sebus by "disarming" the men who come to steal the flocks.

Recently, I went back and read this account and was surprised to see so much covenant symbolism.  Mormon truly was an expert at telling a story in a way that offers layers of meaning.

  • Arms are a symbol of an individual's strength (or God's strength). 
  • Flocks represent the spiritual state of people. (Think of all the sheep references in the scriptures, even though these animals weren't sheep.)
  • Scattering/gathering are symbols of our breaking/keeping the covenant. (See 1 Nephi 22:3-5 for "scattering" and 1 Nephi 22:8-12 for "gathering.")
  • The fear of death and weeping is symbolic of the feelings the wicked have when they think about the day of judgment. 
  • Faithfulness to the covenant causes our heart to "swell with joy." (The Hebrew term for "makes me happy" is "makes my heart enlarge."
  • Encircling is a symbol of covenants and divine protection. 
  • Water is a symbol of gospel truth and God's love.
  • A Hebrew root in the name Ammon refers to "faithfulness."
  • "Be of good cheer" is a common saying in divine communications (see Acts 23:11, Matthew 9:2, 3 Nephi 1:13).
  • "According to their own will and pleasure" gets worked into this passage.
  • "Deliver" is a powerful word with reference to the redemption Christ brings us.
  • "Contend" has reference to what the Lord promises those who stay faithful to Him. (See Isaiah 49:25.)
  • "Power" is an obvious blessing on keeping our covenants.
  • Being "in the service of the king" might also be considered a clever word choice in this context.
  • Even a word like "stood" has symbolic meaning, though I'm not including it in this example.

With these symbols in mind, notice how Mormon chooses to tell this story. (I've put covenant symbols in bold.)

26 And after he had been in the service of the king three days, as he was with the Lamanitish servants going forth with their flocks to the place of water, which was called the water of Sebus, and all the Lamanites drive their flocks hither, that they may have water
27 Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways.
28 Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already.
29 Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.
30 And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren.
31 And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: My brethren, be of good cheer and let us go in search of the flocks, and we will gather them together and bring them back unto the place of water; and thus we will preserve the flocks unto the king and he will not slay us.
32 And it came to pass that they went in search of the flocks, and they did follow Ammon, and they rushed forth with much swiftness and did head the flocks of the king, and did gather them together again to the place of water.
33 And those men again stood to scatter their flocks; but Ammon said unto his brethren: Encircle the flocks round about that they flee not; and I go and contend with these men who do scatter our flocks.
34 Therefore, they did as Ammon commanded them, and he went forth and stood to contend with those who stood by the waters of Sebus; and they were in number not a few.
35 Therefore they did not fear Ammon, for they supposed that one of their men could slay him according to their pleasure, for they knew not that the Lord had promised Mosiah that he would deliver his sons out of their hands; neither did they know anything concerning the Lord; therefore they delighted in the destruction of their brethren; and for this cause they stood to scatter the flocks of the king.
36 But Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power; nevertheless they were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they were determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they could not hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him.
37 But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm. (Alma 17)

Notice how these themes and symbols come together:

  • Ammon "term[s]" these men (who are Lamanites) "to be his brethren."
  • The enemies scatter the flocks away from the water because they "delighted in the desctruction of their brethren." 
  • Ammon puts a plan together to gather the flocks again to the waters and have his brethren "encircle" the flocks, then he stands to contend with the enemies with the power of the Lord.
  • The enemies did not know about the Lord's promises.
  • The enemies go from delight, to astonishment, to fleeing. They end up scattered and wounded/dead as opposed to the kings servants and the flocks.

In the following chapters, we see how Ammon's faithfulness and power in this action story carries over into his spiritual power.

I believe this example illustrates a pattern to show us how important our covenants are, which is one of the stated purposes of the Book of Mormon Title Page.  This is more example of a story with multiple layers of meaning.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Alma's teachings on "the word"

Compare Alma 32:28
28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
 with Alma 5:7-9
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.
I'm beginning to understand that giving place/making room/softening our hearts for the word of God to enter, is a key message in the Book of Mormon, not only in Alma 32. When we do, this leads to
  • A swelling/expansion/enlargement. Perhaps it can be interpreted as more room, i.e. the ability to receive more. 2 Nephi 28:30 and Alma 12:9-10 come to mind
  • An awakening from a spiritual sleep
  • A movement from darkness to light
  • Loosening of bands and chains
  • Arising from the dust. An ascension from the ground to the heavenly realms, symbolized by the growth of a tree producing "good fruit"
This is not only based on these two examples but these elements are common themes in the Book of Mormon. Redemption is all about liberating us from this sleep/darkness/chains, but we need to receive his word by making room in our hearts and then start "tilling" it by entering into a covenant with our Redeemer who can help us grow. Interestingly, both the sermons in Alma 32 and in Alma 5 contain lots of tree symbolism and end with partaking of the fruit of the tree of life.
40 And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.
41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.
42 And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
43 Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you. (Alma 32)
62 I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life. (Alma 5)

"Filthy still"

The phrase "filthy still" shows up twice in the Book of Mormon, twice in D&C 88, and once in the book of Revelation.  As I was studying this phrase, I noticed that each and every use of the term is associated in some way with judgment, especially the final judgment.

2 Nephi 9

15 And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God.
16 And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.
17 O the greatness and the justice of our God! For he executeth all his words, and they have gone forth out of his mouth, and his law must be fulfilled.

Mormon 9

13 And because of the redemption of man, which came by Jesus Christ, they are brought back into the presence of the Lord; yea, this is wherein all men are redeemed, because the death of Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection, which bringeth to pass a redemption from an endless sleep, from which sleep all men shall be awakened by the power of God when the trump shall sound; and they shall come forth, both small and great, and all shall stand before his bar, being redeemed and loosed from this eternal band of death, which death is a temporal death.
14 And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still.

D&C 88

35 That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.
36 All kingdoms have a law given; ...

102 And another trump shall sound, which is the fourth trump, saying: There are found among those who are to remain until that great and last day, even the end, who shall remain filthy still.

Revelation 22

10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Poetic parallelism in the structure of Alma 5

Sometimes I make summaries of Book of Mormon chapters to get a better overview and understand the main message. As I attempted this with Alma 5, I noticed a pattern in the second half of the chapter. It looks like this:
  • Call to repentance
  • Tree imagery
  • Sheperd/sheep imagery
  • Alma's calling and testimony
This sequence is repeated twice, making up a form of poetic parallelism. Here is an outline.

A. Call to repentance (v.32-33)
B. Tree imagery (v.34-36)
C. Sheperd/sheep imagery (v.37-42)
D. Alma's calling and testimony (v.43-49)
A'. Call to repentance (v.50-51)
B'. Tree imagery (v.52-56)
C'. Sheperd/sheep imagery (v.57-60)
D'. Alma's calling and testimony (v.61-62)

It also seems that certain keywords or expressions connect the pairs. Such as
A. "repent"
B. "bringeth not forth good fruit"/"hewn down and cast into the fire"
C. "hearken unto the voice of the good sheperd"
D. "command(ed)"

It's a long quote, but by showing the whole passage and highlighting the listed elements, we see this pattern clearly
32 Yea, even wo unto all ye workers of iniquity; repent, repent, for the Lord God hath spoken it!
33 Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.
34 Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely;
35 Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire
36 For behold, the time is at hand that whosoever bringeth forth not good fruit, or whosoever doeth not the works of righteousness, the same have cause to wail and mourn.
37 O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice!
38 Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.
39 And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil.
40 For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.
41 Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd, and he doth follow him; but whosoever bringeth forth evil works, the same becometh a child of the devil, for he hearkeneth unto his voice, and doth follow him.
42 And whosoever doeth this must receive his wages of him; therefore, for his wages he receiveth death, as to things pertaining unto righteousness, being dead unto all good works.
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 people—Repent, for except ye repent ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of heaven.
52 And again I say unto you, the Spirit saith: Behold, the ax is laid at the root of the tree; therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire, yea, a fire which cannot be consumed, even an unquenchable fire. Behold, and remember, the Holy One hath spoken it.
53 And now my beloved brethren, I say unto you, can ye withstand these sayings; yea, can ye lay aside these things, and trample the Holy One under your feet; yea, can ye be puffed up in the pride of your hearts; yea, will ye still persist in the wearing of costly apparel and setting your hearts upon the vain things of the world, upon your riches?
54 Yea, will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another; yea, will ye persist in the persecution of your brethren, who humble themselves and do walk after the holy order of God, wherewith they have been brought into this church, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and they do bring forth works which are meet for repentance
55 Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them?
56 And finally, all ye that will persist in your wickedness, I say unto you that these are they who shall be hewn down and cast into the fire except they speedily repent.
57 And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people;
58 For the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled.
59 For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.
60 And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.
61 And now I, Alma, do command you in the language of him who hath commanded me, that ye observe to do the words which I have spoken unto you.
62 I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life.
In the end, there is even a little hint of the sequence starting over again, but it ends with the tree of life, which also was the start of the tree imagery sequence in verse 34.

Parallelism is an ancient Hebrew poetic form often used to emphasize a point. Alma does so by repeating the same concept twice but with different words to teach various aspects of the topic. I haven't looked too deep into it yet, but I think it can be worthwhile to just compare the paired passages and learn from Alma that way. This is what is so great about the Book of Mormon. You can study it in so many ways and learn something new even after having already read it a few dozen times.

"Every Good Thing" and the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.

Stisa posted about this phrase back in July, connecting "every good thing" with "faith, hope and charity." I agree with his assessment.  In light of recent discoveries I've made in my study, I'd like to take this concept one step further and suggest that "every good thing" is making reference to the temple covenant.

The phrase "every good thing" shows up six times in the Book of Mormon, in ten consecutive verses of Moroni 7 (the color code scheme I am using will make sense a little later in this post):

19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.
20 And now, my brethren, how is it possible that ye can lay hold upon every good thing?
21 And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing.
22 For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.
23 And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come.
24 And behold, there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them.
25 Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.
26 And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.
27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?
28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.

It's really hard to summarize these words, since so many themes are swirling around each other. Here's my attempt:

Those who exercise faith and cleave to every good thing (all of the covenants) given to them by ministering angels will become a child of Christ and lay hold on every good thing (all that the Father has).

This is the oath and covenant of the priesthood, using different words!

33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
40 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.
41 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.
42 And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.
43 And I now give unto you a commandment to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life.
44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. (D&C 84)

As if to underscore this point even further and make it even more clear that "every good thing" is a reference to making and keeping our covenants, compare verse 22:

22 For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing. (Moroni 7)

...with verses 31-32:

31 And the office of their ministry (i.e., the ministry of angels) is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.
32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men. (Moroni 7)

I posted quite a bit about "the Office of the Ministry of Angels" recently. (Overview of seven-part series here.)

This is a very exciting discovery for me. Once again, we see that an expression with a pleasant ring to it ("every good thing") is actually a symbol of our covenants, mercifully hidden beneath the surface layer of meaning.

Moroni takes one more step to make this connection abundantly clear in the final verses of the Book of Mormon:

30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.
31 And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.
32 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.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Moroni 10)

Below is my summary of Moroni 7:19-28 again.  I hope I've convinced you this language is pointing us to the covenant.

Those who exercise faith and cleave to every good thing (all of the covenants) given to them by ministering angels will become a child of Christ and lay hold on every good thing (all that the Father has).

Also relevant are the words given to Joseph Smith in June 1829, probably around the same time he was completing the Book of Mormon translation:

6 Seek to bring forth and establish my Zion. Keep my commandments in all things.
7 And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God. (D&C 14)

I genuinely wonder what these words (D&C 14, Moroni 7, and Moroni 10) meant to Joseph Smith in 1829.  How much did he understand about what was to come?  Mormon and Moroni seem to understand very clearly what the temple covenant really means, but this does not seem to have been made explicit to Joseph Smith until the revelation of D&C 84 in 1832, and the earliest temple of the restoration was still 4 years away at that time (and the endowment was about ten years away).

This is all very interesting. If Joseph Smith was the author of the Book of Mormon, he was working an incredibly long con!

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...