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Alma 13:26

 
“And it shall be made known unto just and holy men, by the mouth of angels, at the time of his coming, that the words of our fathers may be fulfilled, according to that which they have spoken concerning him, which was according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them.”

 
Here is a simple, but compound thought. Alma is saying this:
 
There were “fathers” who recorded words of prophecy.
 
The “fathers” had the “spirit of prophecy which was in them.”

These words of the prophetic fathers promised that “the mouths of angels” will declare Christ’s birth into the world.
 
The declaration of Christ’s birth will come to “just and holy men” by these angels.
 
So, Alma is assured that the promises will be fulfilled.He knows this because the fathers who revealed the promises were trustworthy and had the spirit of prophecy.
 
Now comes the real question: What does it mean that “just and holy men” will be the ones to whom the angels will come and make the declaration?

Is this a description of those who hold the same priesthood as Melchizedek discussed by Alma?  If so, then does access to that priestly order after the order of the Son of God put the possessors into contact with heavenly messengers? Can a person hold that authority and not receive messages from angels from time to time? Who is it among us who begins an address by referring to the angel who visited the them the preceding night?  (See, e.g., 2 Ne. 10: 3; also 3 Ne. 7: 15.)

 
I have to assume that this is the kind of information that would be generally known among faithful followers of Christ’s Gospel.  After all, Alma is speaking to apostates, non-believers and critics who hold a false and abominable religion. One would expect that such things are not really so sacred that they can’t be preached. Why would it be “off limits” to us and be something freely declared as part of a missionary effort in the Book of Mormon?  So assuming it ought to be known, if it is occurring, is this among us? Where? Who has received these angelic messengers? Where are these “just and holy” men who entertain angelic ministers?
 
Or is it that we don’t expect angels, so we don’t entertain them? Perhaps they come and we don’t notice them? Perhaps we are blind that we cannot see, deaf because we will not hear, and our minds are darkened because we will not abide the teachings of the Book of Mormon? What is going on with us, when we compare and measure ourselves against this message from Alma?

Should I be concerned?
 
Is all well?
 
Will we endure sound doctrine?  (Cf. 2 Tim. 4: 3.)

Email addresses

For anyone who has asked for the paper discussing Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse, I need email addresses.  The email addresses will not be published nor used for anything other than sending the paper.
Thanks.  

CM

Alma 13: 25

“And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.” 
This comment is made in expectation that the Nephites will be told by heaven as soon as Christ is born. “. . . we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels . . .”  
Angels declared it to the shepherds near Bethlehem.  (Luke 2: 8-15.)  Alma expected a similar announcement.
“We only wait to hear the joyful news.” He EXPECTED the news to be shared. He knew they would have the announcement. He EXPECTED the angels to declare the arrival. He knew heaven would not leave these people without a herald of the news.
Imagine that. A prophet confident that the Lord will do nothing without first making known to the people His secrets! (Amos 3: 7.)  It is one thing to teach this concept. It is another to live it.  Alma is living it. Therefore angels did come and did make things known to him.
What does it take to have faith like this?

If you do not possess this kind of faith, can you be saved? Moroni taught that the absence of such faith condemns the people who no longer have such things happening among them.  (Moroni 7: 36-37.)

Do we expect the Lord to tell US about things by the mouth of angels before they happen?  Or do we expect the Lord will tell someone inside the bowels of an organization, and we will get some announcement through the prescribed channels, thereby relieving us from obtaining the ministry of angels?  Then why is the visitation of angels an Aaronic (lowest) priesthood key?  (D&C 84: 26.)  This is the right of young people beginning at age 12, mind you.  Should we expect the angelic heralds to come to everyone, 12 year of age or older? Why or why not?
Alma knows it will happen. But he does not know when it will happen. He would like it to have been in his day. It was not. But whether it was to happen in his life or afterwards, he nonetheless had faith, knew angels, awaited the message, and rejoiced at the idea of His coming.
How meek! How faithful! No wonder such a man possessed and knew the details of this holy order from God. No wonder he could teach with authority about it. How great the lesson he has left for any who will take seriously the message he taught.
Faith of this sort should be the common heritage of the Lord’s people. It was never intended that an elite, distant hierarchy would be put between God and His people.  If you are His, then you should KNOW Him. If you do not know Him, then you are not His.  Heed His voice when you hear it. No matter how surprising a place or person from which it may come. If it is His voice, then you have heard Him.

Alma 13: 24

Alma 13: 24:

 
“For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.”
 
If “angels are declaring it unto many” at the time of Alma’s remarks, why are they not declaring it unto many now?  Are we any less important than they were?  If we are as important, then why are we not hearing of this now?
 
What is the definition of “angels” who are doing this “declaring” to “many?” Was Alma included?  If so, what is it that turns a man from a mortal to ministering angel? Can a mortal become a ministering angel?  How would that occur? What would it require? Can we thereby entertain angels unawares?  (Heb. 13: 2.)
 
If an angel comes to visit with a man, gives him a message, and the man then declares it, are they both made “angels” by this message?  Are “angels” always either deceased or unborn?  If they are, then why did Joseph teach that “there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it?” (D&C 130: 5.) If angels “do belong” to the earth are they still mortal?
 
How would you recognize such a person? Would it be the same way the Lord was known before He showed Himself to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus?  (Luke 24: 32.)
 
If it is the “hearts” which are to be prepared, then does this relate to the disciples “hearts burning within them” as the Lord spoke to them while in the way? Why do His sheep hear His voice? How do they hear his voice?
 
Why is preparing “the hearts” enough to prepare a people to “receive His word?” Is it more important to “receive His word” than to receive His person? Why would that be so?
 
Why are we unable to receive Him in His glory until after our hearts have first “received His word?”

It is more difficult to be taught than to have faith for miracles.  (3 Ne. 17: 2-8.)  Even should you behold the Lord “in His glory” just as the Nephites, it would still be more difficult for you to have the faith to be taught by Him and accept what He has to teach than for Him to perform a miracle.
 
How alike all the generations of men are.  How very relevant, therefore, these words remain for us!

Alma 13:23

 
“And they are made known unto us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored, for we have these glad tidings declared unto us in all parts of our vineyard.”
 
This doctrine contained in the scriptures was understood by this audience. The same audience who was full of iniquity and abominations because of their false religious traditions. It was in “plain terms” in the scriptures, if one doesn’t “wrest” them to their destruction.

To “wrest” means to apply such twisted reasoning that the philosophies of men are mingled with scriptures so that the result is error.

The object of the scriptures is to make matters “plain” and prevent people from “erring” in their effort to follow God.

What is the difference between someone who with their scriptures before them, finds their message sufficiently “plain” and “understood” that they “cannot err,” and someone who has the same set of scriptures and engages in “iniquity” and “abominations” because of their false religious ideas?  How can someone who is religious be certain they are not among those who err, but is instead among those who find holiness and develop faith to repent?

 
How do we know which side of this line we are on?
 
Both sides are religious. Both sides have their traditions and teachings.  Both sides are sincere and following what they believe to be true.  However, one is engaged in “abominations” because of their false beliefs, and the other has entertained angels and received such cleansing that their garments are white before God.  One side does not understand their awful state.  But the other is certain of their promise of exaltation and purity before God.
 
So, how certain are you?  Do you know you are pure before God?  Holy?  Having entered into His holy order after the order of the Son of God?  Or do you entertain some doubt about whether the traditions which you value are actually based on the truth?  Is it possible that you “err” or “wrest” the scriptures as part of your religious tradition?
 
According to Alma, all of this care by the Lord is because they are “wanderers in a strange land.” Meaning that they are in this spot at this time because they have been taken from Jerusalem, the land of their forefathers, and placed in a new, promised land. They have been persecuted and evicted from land by their aggressive cousins.  All of this to stir them up to repentance.  It is God’s care for them, God’s careful tutelage of them, that leads them to receive this profound understanding. They are on God’s errand, and therefore entitled to God’s guidance. God is providing the “glad tidings” which will permit repentance to occur.

So, applying Alma’s teaching to us, we should ask ourselves if we have repented? If we have received a message from angels declaring glad tidings? If we have received what we would recognize as a message from the Lord by someone declaring repentance?  Or do we have a weak tradition which assures us that we are right, while letting us entertain abominable (false, religious-based) errors in our beliefs?
 
These are troubling questions. Worth careful, solemn and ponderous thought.  Perhaps even prayerful thought where we ask the Lord if these things are not true.  And if we ask with real intent, He may make the truth known to us.  At least that is what He has said through past messengers. I see no reason why it would not work for us.  It’s at least worth a try, isn’t it?

Powerful teachings from Alma. But then again, one should expect nothing less from a true messenger bearing a holy order of power and authority after the order of the Son of God.  A weak and vacillating voice telling us all is well and we’re going to be fine just seems wrong by comparison.  At least I would think so. 

Alma 13: 21-22

Now we see this startling continuation in Alma 13: 21-22:
“And now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words unto them, he stretched forth his hand unto them and cried with a mighty voice, saying: Now is the time to repent, for the day of salvation draweth nigh; Yea, and the voice of the Lord, by the mouth of angels, doth declare it unto all nations; yea, doth declare it, that they may have glad tidings of great joy; yea, and he doth sound these glad tidings among all his people, yea, even to them that are scattered abroad upon the face of the earth; wherefore they have come unto us.” 
Now we get to some things which the record does not fully disclose, but does allow those with eyes to see behold it.  Be careful how you respond to this, because some correct answers are not going up if they cross a line.  But think of the answers to these questions: 
Why does he “stretch forth his hand?” What does that signify? 
In what way would that become significant, even a sign that he is a true messenger? 
Why does he now “cry with a mighty voice” to make the call? 
What is a “mighty voice?” Is it distinguished by volume or is there something more and quite different about it?  Importantly, it is not “loud” but instead “mighty.” Is that significant? How? Why?
What does it mean that “the Lord, by the mouth of angels, doth declare it?” Who is really speaking? Who is He speaking through?  What person is delivering the message?  How is Alma identifying himself in this “mighty cry” he makes?
Who are these angels sent to all nations? 
What is the difference in this statement by Alma and the others who can speak with the tongue of angels?  (2 Ne. 31: 13-14 and 2 Ne. 32: 2.) 
If one should possess such a right or commission, then whose words are they actually speaking? 
Why do His sheep hear HIS voice?  Even when spoken by another man or empowered priestly minister?
What does Alma actually say about his own authority as he delivers this warning? What can Alma lead you to inherit if you will heed his counsel and warning?  How can we know he is a true messenger sent by the Lord? 
If the Lord sends these messages and messengers to all His people, have they been sent to us? If so, where would we be able to find them and hear their message? How are we to know they are true ministers? Should I just trust that some institutional office and office holder is a guaranteed place in which to locate such a true minister?  If it is always that convenient, why hasn’t the Lord implemented that system before, instead of letting people have their free agency and permitting them to make mistakes? Why did the Lord allow Eli, Caiphus and Annas become High Priests? Why didn’t He come up with this neat system before?  [Clearly our system makes it so much easier. It throws God’s fairness into question, since He made is so much harder for earlier Israelites to figure out where the truth was being proclaimed. I think the Lord must owe them an apology.] 
Well, more can be said, but I leave it to you to reach your own conclusions about this startling comment coming from a true messenger. It makes one wonder why we’ve been missing it, as it has been before us for so many years.

Alma 13:19-20

Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention. Now I need not rehearse the matter; what I have said may suffice. Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction. 
The “many before him, and also … many afterwards” in this sermon is not just a reference to believers, but to those who held this “holy order after the Son of God.”  It it a reference to those who were made clean and pure by their repentance. It is those who, having been called by the Lord, chosen to this holy order, having their calling and election secure, hold power as a result of this relationship with God.
But none of these, before or since, (at the time of the writing by Alma) who held authority were greater than Melchizedek.  As a result, he merited particular mention to identify those who held the holy priesthood after the order of the Son of God. It was merited because his example and his ministry illustrated perfectly what the “holy order” was intended to accomplish. It is designed to save others.
It was not to exalt the man.
It was not to bring attention to the man.  It was not to amass praise or a following.
It was not to make the man a ruler over others. It was not to gain control or domination.
It was not to subjugate or force compulsive obedience upon the souls of men.
It was to serve and exalt those to whom he ministered.  His greatness was derived by the fruit of saved, exalted souls whom he saved.  There is no record of a single sermon preached by Melchizedek.  We have evidence of the following things he did with his authority and power: 
-He received tithes from Abraham. (Alma 13: 15.)
-He ordained Abraham.  (D&C 84: 14.)
-He saved an entire population from iniquity and
abominations, and converted them to the truth.  (Alma 13: 18.)
-He made those he converted qualified to behold the Lord’s presence.  (Alma 13: 11.)
-He performed a form of ceremony with Abraham involving breaking bread and wine.  (Gen. 14: 18-19.)
He served. He blessed. He produced exalted souls.  He was not great by what he received, but by what he did with what he received to bless and exalt others.
We would see this if we understood the scriptures. We would not be following a false tradition wherein men are famous, celebrity-like, fawned over, held up to acclaim and given the authority to exercise control over men. This is a false model that the Gentiles follow, and not the way in which true priesthood holders operate. (Matt. 20: 25-28.)  No-one possessing power from heaven will do this.  (D&C 121: 36-37.)
Now, if you make this mistake and follow in this false tradition, it will be to your own destruction.  Alma has warned you.  
What a marvelously relevant book this Book of Mormon is for our own day!  It is almost as if they saw our time, knew what we would struggle with, and had teachings designed to let us see the error and repent. I truly believe that we can get closer to God by abiding the precepts of the Book of Mormon than we can from any other book!  Joseph Smith was right.

Denver’s books – in case you haven’t read them yet

Someone mentioned in a comment (I don’t remember who or which) that they had not read Denver’s books nor did they know how to get them.  

For anyone that applies to – here you go . . . Happy reading.

Alma 13: 17-18

Alma 13: 17-18:

“Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness;  But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.”

He was a king over people who had “waxed strong” in both “iniquity” and also “abomination.” Keep in mind that “waxing strong” means to be increasingly determined or committed.  “Iniquity” is generally evil practice, but “abomination” involves the religious justification of wrongdoing. That is, something becomes “abominable” when it is motivated out of a false form of religious observance or is justified because of religious error.

The people to whom Melchizedek would minister were not simply in error, they were motivated by a false set of religious beliefs and errors. The result was that “they had all gone astray.” They were “full of all manner of wickedness.” This was a challenging audience for this man to minister to and try to convert to the truth.

Melchizedek began by “exercising mighty faith” in order to understand the truth and discern the difference between truth and error.  Remember how difficult it is to be taught truth. It is more difficult to learn truth than it is to perform miracles. (3 Ne. 17: 2-7.)  Despite this, Melchizedek was able to set aside all he beheld and through faith acquire an understanding of the truth for himself.  Conferred upon him as part of this education was the priestly authority with which to minister to others.

He “did preach repentance unto his people.” This required him to expose the errors, show them they were involved in iniquity and to expose how their religious errors had made them abominable. This preaching is always most difficult because it confronts the audience with a challenge to their mistaken beliefs, and false religion. There is a risk of violence when this happens. People who entertain abominable religious practices are more often moved to violence than to repentance. The Lord was greeted with violence. So was Lehi, Isaiah, Nephi, Samuel the Lamanite, Abinadi, Peter, Paul, Stephen, James, Zacharias and too many others to mention. To their credit, and to Melchizedek’s, the preaching resulted in repentance.

The serious errors, iniquity, and abominations of these people did not prevent Melchizedek from establishing a Zion. These people were able to acquire “peace in the land” because of their repentance. As used here, however, peace means more than the absence of violence, it means the presence of the Lord.

The statement that he established peace as the King of Salem (Shalom means peace) and “he did reign under his father” is a play on words. Which “father” is being identified in the statement. Was it Noah, or Gabriel? (A man who would also be translated and have a ministry as the Lord’s herald before the birth of John the Baptist and Christ.) Or was the “father” Him would would declare that Melchizedek was “begotten” as a “son of God?” It likely meant both. But it is also likely written this way to let those who do not understand what is being said to read it in a way that conceals the dual meanings. The scriptures are filled with such dual meanings.

What is hopeful for us today, is that no matter how much “iniquity” and religious error we engage in that results in our “abominations” in our pride and foolishness, we still may be candidates to receive something similar to what befell the City of Salem. The first step is to acquire the presence of this priesthood through individual repentance.

We envy these ancients. But we do nothing to try and follow the pattern revealed to us in their course. The Book of Mormon is a course in ancient failure and ancient success. We just do not respect what we have in that volume.

Well, let us press on…