23 January 2015

"Ye Cannont Be Saved in Your Sins," Alma 11:21-37

Alma 11:21-37

The premise for this very decisive debate between Amulek and Zeezrom, the lawyer, is found in the statement "I shall say nothing which is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord" in verse 22. In same verse, Zeezrom, the lawyer, states that he will pay Amulek six ontis of silver (see previous post) if he denies the existence of God.

Immediately in verse 23 and 24, Amulek makes a very bold set of accusations against the accusing lawyer. Perhaps, I shouldn't be looking at Amulek's statements as defensive accusations though. Rather, remembering that he is speaking by the power of the Spirit, these are statements of truth. (This isn't a name-calling competition.) So when Amulek declares Zeezrom to be "a child of hell" perhaps this is statement of realization, even on the part of Amulek. Maybe, the Spirit of the Lord is giving Amulek the words to say in the very moment that he is saying them, offering both instruction and perspective to Amulek as to why a lawyer would have just offer him so much money to deny God.

So the question becomes an issue of not how could Amulek have become so bold to have made such strong accusations. Rather, I think I am benefited as I read these verses to realize that Amulek was in fact guided by the Spirit of the Lord as he goes on to explain the nature of God, the consequences of sin, and the reality of the Resurrection.

There are a couple of key points of doctrine that are clarified in these verses by Amulek. Notable is the discussion on being saved in sin verses being saved from sin. Zeezrom tries to make it appear that Amulek has power to control God by manipulating his words. Amulek is quick to clarify that it is the word of God that states "no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven," and hence, if one cannot be saved except they inherit the kingdom of heaven, then "ye cannot be saved in your sins." (vs. 37)

16 January 2015

"Behold, Here Are Six Onties of Silver," Alma 11:1-22

Alma 11:1-22

I finally arrive at chapter 11 of Alma. We have at the beginning of the chapter an explanation of the currency of the day among the Nephites. It is laid out as such:

Nephite Coinage Chart
Gold Silver Value
limnah onti (vs.22) Equal to a senine, a seon, and a shum of gold combined, or equal to a senum, an amnor, and a ezrom of silver combined. (7 senines, 7 senums, or 7 days of work) (vs. 10, 13)
shum ezrom 2 seons (4 senines) or 2 amnors (4 senums) (vs. 9, 12)
seon amnor 2 senines or 2 senums (vs. 8, 11)
antion 3 shiblons, which means it should be 1½ senine (vs. 19)
senine senum This is the base measurement from which all other coins are valued. A day's wages for a judge. Also, the worth of a measure of barley and every other kind of grain.(vs. 3, 7)
shiblon half a senum, half a measure of barley (vs. 15)
shiblum half a shiblon (4 shiblums = a senum) (vs. 16)
leah half a shiblum (8 leahs = a senum) (vs. 17)

In verse 20, we learn that the motivation for the lawyers to come out in open opposition to the servants of God is for financial gain. "...Because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness... that they might get money "

What I learn in this exchange that follows and other accounts of the Savior is that money is of no consequence or real value in the kingdom of God. Money has it purpose and significance as a instrument of measurement as to the value of physical work. Money doesn't affect the quantity or the quality of the administrations of the Kingdom of God. It is needed to manage basic needs. But it is of little value beyond that. Yet it cannot be used to replace the work that will heal humanity. Only love and service, which cannot be measured with financial instruments, can do that.

So much of wickedness is justified in this world on the premise of financial gain. "If it makes me money to sustain life, then it must be okay." It seems to be a hardline to cross between the need for financial gain, and the obligation of moral decency. How many of life's ills though, would be resolved, if our hearts and minds weren't so set on needing the next paycheck for survival?

06 January 2015

"The Prayers of the Righteous," Alma 10:13-32

Alma 10:13-32

Immediately upon hearing the testimony of Amulek, some of those that were present saw an opportunity to profit financially from the situation. These were lawyers. The scriptures here detail the motives of those that sought to oppose Alma and Amulek.

Despite being able to manipulate public perception of the Lord's chosen servants according to their training and craft, what these lawyers did not know and what they did not expect was that Amulek was able to discern their thoughts and reveal their wicked intentions.(see vs. 17)

It is then recorded Amulek's response to his discernment of the lawyers' cunning devices and wickedness. What the people don't get yet is that Amulek's response is motivated by discernment. Rather they assume that he is bent on reviling against their written law.

What I find intriguing is that Amulek doesn't start out giving irrefutable evidence of his ability to perceive their thoughts. This doesn't come until much later. He starts out by explaining in more general terms the dangers of their chosen path.
Ye are laying plans to pervert the ways of the righteous, and to bring down the wrath of God upon your heads, even to the utter destruction of this people. (vs. 18)
 In verse 23, Amulek explains that the prayers of the righteous had preserved the people from utter destruction. I know that this is not the only place in the scripture that talks about this particular concept, but the truth of it is well spelt out: "if ye will cast out the righteous from among you then will not the Lord stay his hand." Destruction comes when God has no covenants to keep with His wayward children.

In verse 27, as if he couldn't be any plainer, Amulek says that their destruction is being laid by the paid profession of their lawyers. In other words, what they were paying for was for men to work unrighteousness amongst their people. I find that there is much of commerce and things that we pay for in this life that is unhealthy for us, and some which is plain bad. It is ironic that we pay for our destruction.