Friday, July 31, 2020


Recently, as I read Alma 36, I noticed the curious use of the word, "taste"
Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste...For because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God, and have tasted as I have tasted (Alma 36:24, 26)
Alma is talking about tasting joy. I recalled that I wrote about tasting love a while ago and looked up this old post, quoting King Benjamin.
if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love (Mosiah 4:11)
It's a rather strange use of the word. Of course it is metaphorical, but why the word, taste? I believe that the reformed Egyptian that the Nephites wrote was a variant of the Hebrew spoken language written with Egyptian script. Looking up a possible Hebrew equivalent of the English word or expression in the Book of Mormon has often made sense and given added meaning to the text. So it is in this case. I usually use for that. Sure enough, in Hebrew, to taste, טָעַם (taam), can also mean to perceive and the meaning is literal or figurative. This is just one of many examples of traces of ancient Israelite culture and language in the Book of Mormon. Here is one more verse with this metaphorical use of "taste":
and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? (Alma 32:35)
So the Book of Mormon describes tasting joy, love and light. Another example:
And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus. (Mormon 1:15)
I cannot help but think of the fruit of the tree of life. It represented God's love, it filled those who ate it with joy and it was described as sweet and white. So this makes sense on multiple levels. The metaphorical taste descriptions in the shared quotes might well be allusions to Lehi's dream of the tree of life. But they also make sense linguistically when understanding the possible underlying Hebrew. In fact, I realized that the Old Testament also has some similar uses of the word.
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. (Psalm 34:8)
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. (Proverbs 31:18)
In the example from Proverbs, it is still the Hebrew, "taam" (same as "taste in Psalm 34), but in this case translated into perceive in the KJV Bible.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

"Good works" in association with "faith" and "repentance"

I noticed something interesting as I studied references to "good works" and connected the concept to covenants (part 1 and part 2). In many cases, the mention of "good works" happens in connection with faith and repentance.  The table below demonstrates how these references relate to adjacent mentions of "faith" and "repentance" (or very similar phrases, as indicated below in parentheses)

“Good works”
Mos. 5
7 (“hearts are changed”)
Alma 5
12,13,14 (“change in heart”);
31,32,33,49,50,51,54,56,62 (“repent”)
Alma 7
Alma 13
Alma 26
22 (x3),35,
Alma 37
Hel. 12
3 Ne. 12
Eth. 12

For me, this reinforces the idea that "good works" have to do with the covenant-making ordinances of the gospel (See Articles of Faith 1:4).

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The children of Amulon and his brethren

I don't like to link to anti-church literature here, but suffice it to say that I read an article on one of the more well-known anti-church websites claiming that the Book of Mormon "text is filled with inconsistencies". Having written so much about the numerous examples of internal consistency, I become curious when such a claim is made. Not unexpectedly, the article fails completely to give these examples and it is tempting to write a full rebuttal, but I will not waste my time. But I just want to give one example of the failed critical argument here, because it demonstrates the complexity of the Book of Mormon and provides an example of an apparent weakness turning into a strength.

The article quotes Mosiah 25:12
those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren, who had taken to wife the daughters of the Lamanites, were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would no longer be called by the names of their fathers, therefore they took upon themselves the name of Nephi, that they might be called the children of Nephi and be numbered among those who were called Nephites.
For those who don't remember, Amulon was the leader of the wicked priests of King Noah. They fled the land at King Noah's death and ruled over the people of Alma in the land Helam for a while. Like the verse says, they also kidnapped and married some of the daughters of the Lamanites.

The article comments:
The text does not say that the priests [Amulon and his brethren] had any children when they journeyed to Helam, but by the time Alma escaped, the priests not only had children, but they were apparently mature enough to decide that they wanted to join Alma's group in fleeing to Zarahemla
It also argues that the prophecies of Abinadi about the seed of the priests could not possibly be fulfilled since their children had joined the Nephites in Zarahemla as explained in Mosiah 25:12.

On the surface, it seems that the author has a valid point. But it is based on lack of detailed knowledge of the Book of Mormon text. The author assumes that the children of Amulon and his brethren that we read about in Mosiah 25:12, are children from the marriage with the daughters of the Lamanites. This is not the case. King Noah's priests already had wives and children (and concubines) before they fled the land and captured the Lamanite women. In Mosiah 19:11, we learn that when the Lamanites attacked, King Noah "commanded them that all the men should leave their wives and their children, and flee before the Lamanites". In verse 21 we learn that his priests were among them that had left their families and fled. 

Consequently, the children of Amulon and his brethren were among the people of Limhi, Noahs son, separated from their fathers. They were among the people who were slaves to the Lamanites and finally managed to escape and get back to Zarahemla. In the meantime, Amulon and his brethren, took the Lamanite's daughters as wives and presumably had new children. Abinadi's prophecies about the seed of the priests of Noah was of course directed at them.

Confused yet? Let's try to make an overview:
  1. King Noah and his priests rule in wickedness
  2. The Lamanites attack and the king and his priests leave their families and flee
  3. King Noah's son, Limhi, rules as a tributary monarch in Lamanite captivity
  4. The priests (Amulon and his brethren) kidnap some of the daughters of the Lamanites, marry them and probably have kids
  5. Not long after, they find the people of Alma in the land of Helam and bring them into bondage
  6. The people of Limhi manage to escape and flee to Zarahemla
  7. Alma and his people manage to escape and flee to Zarahemla
  8. In Zarahemla, the children of Amulon and his brethren want to be Nephites and not Amulonites
The critic misses the detail in #2 and assumes the kids from #4 end up in Zarahemla (#8), which admittedly would be strange, but certainly is not the case.

Conclusion: The Book of Mormon is complex! There are numerous such details in the text and it's hard to get a grip on those before you have read it a few dozen times and paid attention. This critic (who seems to be an ex-member) probably spent his youth in Sunday School, Seminary and Institute and had read the Book of Mormon multiple times, but still missed this detail. I don't think that is uncommon. What is uncommon, even remarkable, is that the 23 year old farmer with very little education dictated this text with all these details in essentially one draft without notes or manuscript. He apparently had full control over the details that the critic struggled with, even though the critic had the luxury of actually having the Book of Mormon text in front of them. Of course, I don't believe that Joseph Smith knew these details, I think the text was revealed to him and that the original author, Mormon, in this case, knew the details. But for the critics, this was Joseph Smith's invention, and the criticism backfires when it turns out that the ridiculed young farmer dictates a text so complex that the critics cannot keep track of the details.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Good works and "works of righteousness" in Alma 5 ("Good works" as a covenant symbol, part 2)

In part 1 of this series, we looked at references to "good works" in the Book of Mormon and noted the covenant context often associated with "good works." We intentionally skipped Alma 5, where we find several mentions of "good works" and also the related terms "righteous works" and "works of righteousness."

In this post, we'll look more closely at Alma 5, which I believe will help us firm up this conclusion about "good works" referring to covenants.

"Good works" in Alma 5

"Good works" is found twice in this chapter, as part of a passage very heavily centered on "the two ways."

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.

"Righteous works" and "works of righteousness"

  • Below I'll place a passage that contains each of these phrases in connection with other more obvious covenant symbols. 

16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?
17 Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord in that day, and say—Lord, our works have been righteous works upon the face of the earth—and that he will save you?
18 Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?
19 I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?
20 I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil?
21 I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins.

Later in the same chapter we get two more mentions of "works of righteousness" in a pretty clear covenant context:

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.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Come, Follow Me, July 27 - Aug 2. Alma 39-42: “The Great Plan of Happiness”

As usual, we create a "Come, Follow Me" post consisting of links to blog posts tagged with the chapters for this week. Click on the links below to find additional insight into topics in the chapters for this weeks' lesson.

Some posts, like Intentional parallels between Alma 5-13 and Alma 36-42 and Common themes in 4 BoM sermons, cover all the chapters for this week. Other themes more specific for the individual chapters can be found in the links below. Note that Alma 40 and 42 have more posts than what fits into the pages I linked. Click "older posts" at them bottom of the page for more.

Alma 39
Alma 40
Alma 41
Alma 42

Friday, July 24, 2020

Heaven and earth -- Part 2

In part 1 we considered how the pairing of heaven and earth in scripture comes from an ancient Israelite tradition and signifies God's power and major events in his dealings with his children. An important part of that is his desire that we enter into covenants with Him. In Alma 7:9 that I quoted in part 1, the covenant term, "walk in his path", (that Lord Wilmore has recently written about, see here and here) is coupled with the heaven-earth dualism. There are many other examples of covenant terms appearing together with heaven-earth, like Mormon 9:11
But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. 
or Helaman 10:7
Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven
or 1 Nephi 22:9
And it shall also be of worth unto the Gentiles; and not only unto the Gentiles but unto all the house of Israel, unto the making known of the covenants of the Father of heaven unto Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
There are several aspects of this heaven-earth pairing and covenant relation.
  • When a covenant is entered into or renewed, both heaven and earth serve as witnesses. This was the backdrop for Deuteronomy 32:1, for example, quoted in part 1. See also D&C 128:2-7, where Joseph Smith explains the book-keeping both on earth and in heaven when ordinances are performed.
  • A covenant is between a person on earth and a God in heaven. Covenant making unites the two. See for instance the verse just quoted from 1 Nephi 22. The Father of heaven blesses the people on earth by enabling them to ascend to His heavenly home through covenants.
  • The major events listed in part 1, are all part of God's plan for his children and the covenant established "before the foundation of the world". The creation, the atonement, the restoration, etc. are all part of this and involve both heaven and earth. 
This realization made me think of the story of King Lamoni and see his dialogue with Ammon in a new light. I will try to explain as I go through some of those verses.
And Ammon said unto him again: Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth? (Alma 18:28)
The heaven-earth coupling in the scriptures is often related to creation. This supports the idea of heaven-earth as a covenant symbol, because creation and covenant seem to originate from the same root, as Lord Wilmore has previously explained. See this post for an introduction and several other posts for more detail.

So in a sense, Ammon is asking King Lamoni if he is familiar with the covenants of God. Lamoni answers that he is not
And he said: Yea, I believe that he created all things which are in the earth; but I do not know the heavens. (Alma 18:29)
King Lamoni only knows about the earth/man/physical things. But since he is unfamiliar with heaven/God/spiritual things, he cannot make the connection between the two. The purpose of a covenant is to unite the two and bring them together. King Lamoni is not yet ready to do that. He needs to know about the heavens first. So Ammon explains.
And Ammon said unto him: The heavens is a place where God dwells and all his holy angels. (Alma 18:30)
Ammon is familiar with the heavens. He has even been visited by one of those "holy angels" as recounted in Mosiah 27. That chapter focuses on Alma but we know that Ammon was in the group. It is also interesting to see how Mormon describes the consequence of the angelic visit at the end Mosiah 27.
36 And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.
37 And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.
In verse 37, Mormon quotes Isaiah 52 coupled with the term "blessed". This happens several times in the Book of Mormon and "blessed" seems to be referring to the Abrahamic covenant ("in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed"). See this post for details.

After having been visited by an angel, Ammon became "blessed" by entering into a covenant. After that he also became an angel/messenger (those two words have the same Hebrew root), a publisher of peace whose feet are on a mountain, according to Isaiah 52. The mountain is where heaven and earth meet. It is also often used as symbol of the temple where covenants are made. Lord Wilmore has written several posts about angels and used the phrase "see an angel, be an angel", as several stories in addition to Ammon show this pattern. Here is one example (see point 4). As for Ammon, Mormon includes this detail:
Now when Ammon and his brethren saw this work of destruction among those whom they so dearly beloved, and among those who had so dearly beloved them—for they were treated as though they were angels sent from God to save them from everlasting destruction—therefore, when Ammon and his brethren saw this great work of destruction, they were moved with compassion (Alma 27:4)
Notice how Ammon and his brethren were considered "angels sent from God" to the Lamanite converts. The exact same phrase that is used about the angel who once appeared to Ammon and his brethren.
And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God. (Mosiah 27:15)
So Ammon sees an angel, enters into a covenant as a result and becomes an angel to help others entering into the covenant, signified by the unification of heaven and earth. As Ammon goes on to teach Lamoni and his servants, he explains about those major events that I listed in part 1: The creation, the fall, the atonement and the whole plan of redemption. Lamoni and his servants believe and are converted. Mormon relates:
34 And behold, many did declare unto the people that they had seen angels and had conversed with them; and thus they had told them things of God, and of his righteousness.
35 And it came to pass that there were many that did believe in their words; and as many as did believe were baptized; and they became a righteous people, and they did establish a church among them.
See what happened to the Lamanite converts? They too learned about "the heavens" as they saw angels who told them "things of God". Now they were ready for the heaven-earth connection, the first covenant of baptism. Later, we learn that they also made a covenant pertaining to their use of weapons (see Alma 24:18).

Thursday, July 23, 2020

"Good works" as a covenant symbol, part 1

If you read this blog regularly, you know I'm really interested in finding covenant symbols. After studying Alma 5 recently, and then studying some related verses, I became convinced that "good works" and "works of righteousness" mean more than just helping an old lady across the street. "Good works" is a covenant symbol.

I base this conclusion largely on context -- so many of these references happen in connection to other more obvious covenant symbols. It is true that in other cases, the context is more ambiguous, but I'm having a hard time finding a mention of "good works" or "works of righteousness" that clearly refers to "doing nice things."

Below I'll list the nine references to "good works" in the Book of Mormon that don't occur in Alma 5.  The two examples from Alma 5 will be discussed after that (in part 2), along with the references to "works of righteousness" also in that chapter. Along the way, I'll point out related covenant symbols associated with these references.

"Good works"

Mosiah 5

Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen. (Mosiah 5:15)

This entire chapter centers on covenants. In verse 5, the people declare:

...we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days...
The context here is important. A few verses prior to verse 15, King Benjamin says:

I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

He then offers a chiastic form emphasizing the need to "know the name by he is called" with an emphasis on belonging to the Lord and not someone else, since
[a man] will not even suffer that [an ass that belongs to his neighbor] shall feed among his flocks, but will drive him away, and cast him out. I say unto you, that even so shall it be among you if ye know not the name by which ye are called.
"Therefore," he continues, "I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his..."

In other words, King Benjamin desires his people to always abound in good works so that they may know the name by which they are called.

Alma 7

"Good works" shows up twice in this chapter, once in verse 24 and again in verse 27, but the preceding context is important, as was the case in Mosiah 5.

In this chapter we find Alma-2 speaking to the righteous people in Gideon. He praises their righteousness and invites them to "walk after the holy order of God": you believe these things? ...yea, I know that ye believe them...because your faith is strong concerning...the things which I have spoken, great is my joy.

I perceive that ye are in the paths of righteousness...I perceive that ye are making his paths straight.

And he doth not dwell in unholy temples; neither can filthiness or anything which is unclean be received into the kingdom of God...

I have said these things unto you that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God, that ye may walk blameless before him, that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received. (Alma 7:17-22)

After this, we get a list of attributes Alma desires for them:

Interestingly, he does not command them to "abound in good works."  Instead, he tells them to "see that [they] have faith, hope, and charity, and then [they] will always abound in good works." The good works part is a secondary effect of their faith, hope and charity. We'll come back to this concept later.

After this, several very unmistakable covenant symbols are invoked, including a second mention of "good works":

25 And may the Lord bless you, and keep (see Numbers 6:24) your garments spotless, that ye may at last be brought to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the holy prophets who have been ever since the world began, having your garments spotless even as their garments are spotless, in the kingdom of heaven to go no more out (see Revelation 3:12). ...
27 And now, may the peace of God rest upon you, and upon your houses and lands, and upon your flocks and herds, and all that you possess, your women and your children, according to your faith and good works, from this time forth and forever. (Alma 7)

It is also noteworthy that the very next verse mentions "establish[ing] the order of the church":

1 And now it came to pass that Alma returned from the land of Gideon, after having taught the people of Gideon many things which cannot be written, having established the order of the church...

Alma 13 

This example shows up in the context of the holy order with clear covenant connections:
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. 

Alma 26

22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.

Alma 37

33 Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
34 Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.

Helaman 12

23 Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved.
24 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.
25 And I would that all men might be saved. But we read that in the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord;

3 Nephi 12

16 Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Ether 12

3 For he did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed, saying unto them that by faith all things are fulfilled—
4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

There you have it, aside from Alma 5, which will be discussed in part 2, these are all of the references to "good works" in the Book of Mormon.  As you can see, a connection to covenants is easy to establish for most of these references.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Heaven and earth -- Part 1

A footnote in Quentin L. Cook's last General Conference talk led me down the rabbit hole. He refers to another conference talk by Ezra Taft Benson in October 1986. They both quote Moses 7:62
And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; 
and truth will I send forth out of the earth
This poetic parallelism involving both heaven and earth has pretty clear traces of ancient Israelite religion. Compare with another poetic parallelism in Deuteronomy 32:1
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak! 
And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!
(The bold parts are just highlighting the parallelistic pairing, in addition to heaven/earth). A similar statement is found in Isaiah 1:2 and there are many other examples of scriptures involving heaven and earth. Most well-know, perhaps, is the very first verse in the Old Testament. We can also read the verse before the first quote, Moses 7:61
but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth
Those who have followed this blog for a while can probably guess what comes next. Not surprisingly, we see many examples of this heaven and earth pairing in the Book of Mormon too. There are way more examples than I can include here, so let me just share a few.
in this ye have sinned, for ye have rejected all these things, notwithstanding so many evidences which ye have received; yea, even ye have received all things, both things in heaven, and all things which are in the earth, as a witness that they are true. (Helaman 8:24)
Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth. (Alma 7:9)
Nevertheless, not my will be done; but if God shall smite thee, let that be a sign unto thee that he has power, both in heaven and in earth; and also, that Christ shall come. (Jacob 7:14) 
In trying to better understand where this is coming from, I found the following quote on this website
The purpose of the Jewish people—the objective of all Jewish history—is the marriage of heaven and earth. While many spiritual seekers and virtually all religions seek to escape the confines of the flesh and climb heavenward, the Jew is charged with a far more profound calling: first create peace, then build a bridge, and finally marry heaven and earth.
This "marriage" of heaven and earth is not foreign to those familiar with LDS theology. Joseph Smith said
This earth will be rolled back into the presence of God, and crowned with celestial glory (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.181)
The earth itself becoming celestial is one manifestation of this "marriage". But let's go back to the first quote from Moses 7. Ezra Taft Benson commented on what Enoch saw: To summarize his interpretation:
  • "righteousness will I send down out of heaven": The Father and the Son appearing to the boy Joseph and further revelations and manifestations, many of which are recorded in the D&C
  • "truth will I send forth out of the earth": The Book of Mormon plates buried in the earth, coming forth and being translated
So the D&C/modern revelation and the Book of Mormon coming from heaven and earth, respectively, unite as tools in the beginning of the latter-day gathering of Israel. The next phrase in Moses 7:62 explains the purpose: "To bear testimony of mine Only Begotten."

This is consistent with another verse in the Book of Moses
And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me. (Moses 6:63)
Going back again to Moses 7:62: So President Benson taught us that heaven and earth united at the commencement of the dispensation of the fullness of times. Interestingly, when we read the next few verses we realize that the latter-day gathering not only begins with but also culminates in a heaven-earth "marriage". The New Jerusalem will be built on earth and the City of Enoch, which was taken to heaven, will meet them. Then, as written in Revelation 21 and Ether 13, there will be a "new heaven and a new earth". We also read about the city of Enoch
And it came to pass that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth; and he beheld, and lo, Zion, in process of time, was taken up into heaven. And the Lord said unto Enoch: Behold mine abode forever. (Moses 7:21, edited in, hat-tip to Lord Wilmore)
Based on the many scriptures I have shared so far, I have come to realize that the heaven-earth pairing is often done in conjunction with major events in God's plan for his children. For instance
  • The creation (1 Moses 1:1)
  • The first coming of Christ (Alma 7:9 as quoted. See also e.g. Mosiah 3:8)
  • The restoration (Enoch 7:62 as quoted and discussed)
  • The millennium (Ether 13:9)
Perhaps inspired by Lord Wilmore's (the other blogger) mission to find covenant related themes in the Book of Mormon, I see how this definitely fits in such a line of thought. More on that in part 2.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Come Follow Me resources for July 20-26: Alma 36–38: “Look to God and Live”

This week's Come, Follow Me lesson covers Alma 36-38.  Below you will find links from related posts from this blog to supplement your studies:

Alma 36 -- Joy, Crying out to God for Mercy (a pattern), Zion and Beautiful Feet, etc.

Alma 37 -- A curse for our sakes, The brightness of the scriptures, Past/Present/Future symbolism, The Word of God, etc.

Alma 38 -- Internal consistency in Alma's words to Shiblon, A note about the usage of Psalms, Messengers and angels, similarities to Alma 7 (also here), intentional parallels, etc.

"...the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved." (Part 2)

This post is part 2 of a series.  Part 1 is here, where I gave a brief overview of how "walk" is used in other books of scripture to signify faithfulness to a covenant.

Almost without exception, the word "walk" is used in a covenant context in the Book of Mormon.  Let's start with the exceptions:

  1. In Mosiah 3:5, King Benjamin prophecies of Christ working miracles, including "causing the lame to walk."
  2. 4 Nephi 1:5, the disciples of Jesus perform miracles, including "caus[ing] the lame to walk."
  3. Ether 15:28 -- "when the men of Coriantumr had received sufficient strength that they could walk"

Obvious Covenant connections:

Most of the uses of the word "walk" fall into this category.  I've included associated covenant language/symbols in highlighted bold italics when applicable.

  1. Mosiah 6:6 -- "king Mosiah did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe his judgments and his statutes, and did keep his commandments in all things whatsoever he commanded him."
  2. Mosiah 7:19 -- "...lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God, in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, and caused that they should walk through the Red Sea on dry ground..."
  3. Mosiah 18:29 -- "they did walk uprightly before God..."
  4. Mosiah 23:14 -- "trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments."
  5. Mosiah 26:37-38 -- "they began again to have peace and to prosper exceedingly in the affairs of the church, walking circumspectly before God, receiving many, and baptizing many...walking in all diligence..."
  6. Mosiah 29:43 -- "Alma did walk in the ways of the Lord, and he did keep his commandments."
  7. Alma 1:1 -- "king Mosiah having gone the way of all the earth, having warred a good warfare, walking uprightly before God..."
  8. Alma 5:27, 54 -- "Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? ...will ye persist in the persecution of your brethren, who humble themselves and do walk after the holy order of God ... ?"
  9. Alma 7:9 -- "Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight..."
  10. Alma 7:20 -- "he cannot walk in crooked paths;"
  11. Alma 7:22 -- "I have said these things unto you that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God, that ye may walk blameless before him, that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received."
  12. Alma 25:14 -- "they began to be a righteous people; and they did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe to keep his commandments and his statutes."
  13. Alma 41:8 -- "Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved."
  14. Alma 45:24 -- "But they grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God."
  15. Alma 53:21 -- "Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him."
  16. Alma 63:2 -- "...he was a just man, and he did walk uprightly before God; and he did observe to do good continually, to keep the commandments of the Lord his God;"
  17. Helaman 3:20 -- "he did walk after the ways of his father, insomuch that he did prosper in the land."
  18. Helaman 6:33 -- "they did begin to keep his statutes and commandments, and to walk in truth and uprightness before him..."
  19. Helaman 12:5 -- "how slow to walk in wisdom's paths!"
  20. Helaman 15:5 -- "they do walk circumspectly before God, and they do observe to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments according to the law of Moses."
  21. Helaman 16:10 -- "the lesser part walking more circumspectly before God."
  22. 3 Nephi 24:14 -- "Ye have said: It is vain to serve God, and what doth it profit that we have kept his ordinances and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts?" (This belongs here...this Malachi 3 passage has direct reference to keeping covenants.)
  23. 4 Nephi 1:12 -- "they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God,"
  24. Ether 6:17 -- "they were taught to walk humbly before the Lord; and they were also taught from on high."
  25. Ether 9:23 -- "...Coriantum did walk in the steps of his father, and did build many mighty cities, and did administer that which was good unto his people in all his days."
  26. Ether 10:2 -- "Shez did remember the destruction of his fathers, and he did build up a righteous kingdom; for he remembered what the Lord had done in bringing Jared and his brother across the deep; and he did walk in the ways of the Lord; and he begat sons and daughters."
  27. 1 Nephi 16:3 -- "if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God"
  28. 1 Nephi 16:5 -- "they did humble themselves before the Lord; insomuch that I had joy and great hopes of them, that they would walk in the paths of righteousness."
  29. 2 Nephi 33:9 -- "But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation."

Anbiguous Covenant connections:

  1. Mosiah 2:27 -- "walking with a clear conscience before God."
  2. Mosiah 4:15 -- "teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness"
  3. Mosiah 4:26 -- "that ye may walk guiltless before God"
  4. Mosiah 11:1-2 -- "Noah ... did not walk in the ways of his father...he did walk after the desires of his own heart."
  5. Alma 15:11 -- "Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk;" (I place this here for good reason: immediately prior, Zeezrom states he believes according to Alma's words and Alma prays for mercy for him; then after he "began from that time forth to preach unto the people.")
  6. Helaman 3:37 -- "he did ... walk in the ways of his father."
  7. Helaman 13:27 -- "But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth"
  8. Mormon 8:36 -- "I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts;"
  9. Ether 6:30 -- "Orihah did walk humbly before the Lord, and did remember how great things the Lord had done for his father..."
  10. Moroni 7:4 -- "because of your peaceable walk with the children of men."
  11. 2 Nephi 4:32 -- "I may walk in the path of the low valley..."

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