25 May 2012

"Concerned... About His Own Life," Mosiah 19 - Part 1

Mosiah 19

Chapter 19 appears to be mostly a historical account of the events that transpired in the land of Nephi after Alma and the people of Lord had left the land. However, this chapter also details the partial fulfillment of words of Abinadi. Where Alma and his people were able to escape the wrath of God's judgments, King Noah experiences both an internal and external collapse of his kingdom.

Among the remainder of the people, there arises Gideon, "an enemy to the king," who has vowed to slay him. At the very moment that Gideon would have done so, the King also discovers that the Lamanite forces are within the borders of their own lands. Placed in this situation of peril, we discover the true character of King Noah. The author of this text (probably Mormon) even goes so far as to point this out, "And now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life;" (vs 8).

What follows this observation is the vain attempts of King Noah to flee the destruction and death that he had sealed upon himself through his own corrupt and indulgent living. When placed in a moment of dire crisis, Noah is anything but kingly in the most noble sense of the word. When the Lamanites attack, he commands his people to flee, he himself being one of the first to start running (vs 9). Then seeing that their women and children were causing them to lag, the king commands the men to leave them behind. Fortunately, there were some at this point that saw the utter cowardice of the king in this decision and these stayed with their women and children, though the possibility of death was eminent.

Those that chose to follow the king, once the immediate threat of Lamanites had passed, realized what King Noah had caused them to do. This caused them to revolt and put King Noah to death by fire. This brought to pass the fulfillment of the Abinadi's prophecy, "ye shall suffer, as I suffer, the pains of death by fire," (Mosiah 17:18).

The more interesting point of this passage though is the revelation of character, or lack of character demonstrated by Noah in the moment of crisis. Sin is cloaked in a thousand shades of acceptance when life is easy. Few are willing to open the mouth against such behavior when everything appears to be going well. But indolence and a glutenous lifestyle can never bring true happiness, or more importantly, develop the character traits necessary to withstand hardship and crisis. Only a change of heart and faith in Jesus Christ can bring the needed character traits to stand strong, selflessly when all else is failing.

09 May 2012

"All This Was Done in Mormon," Mosiah 18:30-35

Mosiah 18:30-35

This first verse is a beautiful passage of scripture. It has reference to the significance of a location to one's spiritual conversion. Something of a nostalgia is recognized in these verses. This is akin to people when they find out that I served as a missionary in Costa Rica. When I am asked if it was beautiful, I can wholeheartedly  reply "yes" it was. Yet the sights and sounds that I am referring to have little touristic value. In my mind are the dirty roads of impoverished developments, the small homes of willing investigators, and the overcrowded buses where testimonies where shared. These are the things that make this land so beautiful to me, for the very same reasons as are recorded in verse 30, "how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer."

There is something about living and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ that enlivens the senses so that where one lives at the time of such experiences is remembered fondly.

The remainder of these verses deals with their exiting from the place of Mormon because "Alma and the people of the Lord were apprised of the coming of the king’s army"  (vs 34). There is a footnote on the word "apprised" which leads to another passage (Mosiah 23:1) that explains that Alma was warned of the Lord that armies of King Noah were assembling against them.

This forced exodus causes a head count to be taken. Approximately 450 individuals were in the company. This is no small gathering, and a reminder that God does not want to save only a small number of his children. As many as will come, may eat and drink freely of the waters of salvation.

07 May 2012

"They Did Walk Uprightly Before God," Mosiah 18:23-29

Mosiah 18:23-29

These verses continue with the commandments that Alma gave to the priests with whom he organized the church after their baptism. (I find in these commandments keys to their prosperity and access to the blessings of the Lord.)

Alma commanded them to observe the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. That is a good distinction and this is good doctrine. It is a simple way in which we are reminded every week that we are not our own. Coupled with this commandment is also a reminder that every day we should give thanks to the Lord their God.

Then the priest are commanded to "labor with their own hands for their support," (vs 24).  There are other verses throughout the Book of Mormon that support this doctrine. Alma the Younger defends this point before several anti-Christ characters later on. (see Alma 1:3, 26; 30:32) But this point that the priests are to provide for their own needs is an unique and compelling doctrine. To separate any financial considerations from the duty to preach the word of God is a point of doctrinal empowerment.What is your motivation to preach the word of God if there is no financial compensation for so doing?

The last three verses of this grouping outline their approach to community welfare. Those that have possessions in abundance should give of that which they have. Those who had but little, should give only a little. Those who were found lacking, should be recipients of the generosity of others. This order of welfare is the reality of the way things are and the way things ought to be. It almost gives poverty a purpose, if that makes any sense. If all were rich, or if all were well to do, then there would be no need to learn the lessons of giving to others, nor would the poor learn the humility required to receive such blessings.

05 May 2012

"Thus They Became the Children of God," Mosiah 18:18-22

Mosiah 18:18-22

The topic of becoming the children of God is addressed in these verses. These verses contain a string of commandments that are given to the group that was baptized at the waters of Mormon. Then half way through there is this insightful observation about the reason behind the commandments, "And thus they became the children of God."

This has to all be taken in the context that this was initiated by the covenant of baptism. These commandments were the means by which God was blessing his children to help them become the children of God. Additionally, Alma organized priests, now that the covenant was in place, "to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." (vs. 18)

It is interesting to note that the set of commandments that are listed in verses 19 to 21 are directed towards the priests who were commanded to preach unto the people. Those commandments included to teach only the words of the holy prophets, to preach only repentance and faith on the Lord, and then this set of instructions:
...There should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.
This was the commandment given to the priests to be given to the people. The priests were given the responsibility or the duty to see to the fulfillment of this commandment. It strikes me that we can't look forward with one eye, having our hearts knit together in unity unless we are taught the principles of truth.