Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Judgment and food

How about that for a heading? I'm not quite sure what to make of this yet, but there is a pattern I noticed recently. This is a rather long quote from 1 Nephi 15
27 And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water.
28 And I said unto them that it was an awful gulf, which separated the wicked from the tree of life, and also from the saints of God.
29 And I said unto them that it was a representation of that awful hell, which the angel said unto me was prepared for the wicked.
30 And I said unto them that our father also saw that the justice of God did also divide the wicked from the righteous; and the brightness thereof was like unto the brightness of a flaming fire, which ascendeth up unto God forever and ever, and hath no end.
31 And they said unto me: Doth this thing mean the torment of the body in the days of probation, or doth it mean the final state of the soul after the death of the temporal body, or doth it speak of the things which are temporal?
32 And it came to pass that I said unto them that it was a representation of things both temporal and spiritual; for the day should come that they must be judged of their works, yea, even the works which were done by the temporal body in their days of probation.
33 Wherefore, if they should die in their wickedness they must be cast off also, as to the things which are spiritual, which are pertaining to righteousness; wherefore, they must be brought to stand before God, to be judged of their works; and if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and if they be filthy it must needs be that they cannot dwell in the kingdom of God; if so, the kingdom of God must be filthy also.
34 But behold, I say unto you, the kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God; wherefore there must needs be a place of filthiness prepared for that which is filthy.
35 And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the preparator of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken.
36 Wherefore, the wicked are rejected from the righteous, and also from that tree of life, whose fruit is most precious and most desirable above all other fruits; yea, and it is the greatest of all the gifts of God. And thus I spake unto my brethren. Amen.
Nephi talks about

  • Standing before God to be judged
  • The judgement is based on our works
  • There is a separation of the wicked/unclean/filthy and the righteous (the two ways)
  • It is associated with water, trees and fruit that can be positive or negative, depending on the point above
Standing before God to be judged is a common theme in The Book of Mormon. The connection to works and the two ways is interesting, considering recent posts by Lord Wilmore about works and their covenant connection. I don't know if Nephite prophets had the full understanding about degrees of glory as outlined in D&C 76. But I do think that they were very much aware of the fact that they were a branch of the House of Israel, a covenant people to whom much had been given and from whom much was required ("highly favored"). They also knew about the latter-day remnant that they alrgely adressed and to whom promises had been given. With this focus on covenants, it is all about either accepting or rejecting them.This leads to a heavy emphasis on the concept of "the two ways" in the Book of Mormon, not so much degrees or some middle ground.

When the covenant people one day stands before God to be judged, the important thing is if we kept our covenants (our "works") and this is often symbolized by fruit or water for some reason. In Lehi's dream (that Nephi explains to his brothers in 1 Nephi 15 just quoted) there were two kinds of water, the filthy water and the living waters, representing each of the two ways. There was also the positive symbol of the tree of life. But as we soon shall see, it also has a negative equivalent.

This pattern is something that Alma talks about repeatedly. In Alma 40, we read

21 But whether it be at his resurrection or after, I do not say; but this much I say, that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works...
25 And then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God.
26 But behold, an awful death cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup.
We notice not only the same pattern, but several phrases similar to 1 Nephi 15: "no unclean thing can inherit/enter into the kingdom of God", "stand before God to be judged", "awful hell/death" (marked with bold). Alma seems to have 1 Nephi 15 in mind when speaking to his son. Or perhaps both Nephi and Alma refer to a more ancient idea that is perhaps conveyed more clearly on the brass plates than our current Bible?

It is interesting to note the eating/drinking metaphor showing up again. 1 Nephi 15 talks about the tree of life. Notice how Alma uses the same expression as Lehi, "partake of the fruit", but with negative connotation. This is another illustration of the two ways; the rightous partake of the fruit of the tree of life and the wicked partake of the fruits of their evil works (i.e. broken covenants). With all these connections one may wonder if the filthy water in 1 Nephi 15 and the bitter cup in Alma 40 also are connected or somehow describe the same thing.

Like I said, this pattern is repeated by Alma several times. In Alma 5
15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
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?...
22 And now I ask of you, my brethren, how will any of you feel, if ye shall stand before the bar of God, having your garments stained with blood and all manner of filthiness? Behold, what will these things testify against 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.
and in Alma 42
23 But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.
24 For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.
25 What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.
26 And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery.
27 Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds.
Alma 42 also talks about the tree of life earlier in the chapter.

So what is the connection between judgment and fruit/water? Ask Alma or Nephi. All I have done so far is seeing a pattern and given some thoughts about it. But I will have to study and reflect on this to gain a deeper understanding. In any case, I find it interesting.

Mormon's references to Alma 5

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