Alma 13:15

Alma 13: 15:


And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed.”

Abraham, father of the righteous, paid tithe to this Melchizedek. Not the reverse.  


I’ve already commented that I believe Melchizedek (whose name means “king and priest”) was in fact Shem. I believe those who disagree (McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith) base their conclusion on the words of D&C 84:  “Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah;”  (D&C 84: 14). I believe the lineage referred to there is from the fathers who preceded Noah. But Noah was Shem/Melchizedek’s father.


Abraham received the priesthood which had been promised to him by God, from Melchizedek.  He (Abraham) already had the records of the fathers. (Abr. 1: 31.) He already had the promise of priestly authority. (Abr. 2: 6-9.) So the question should be asked as to why Abraham would need to be ordained by Melchizedek when the Lord was speaking directly to him and could have taken care of that directly. It is an important question. It is necessary to understand why the question should be asked and also what the answer is.


First, why would Abraham, who was directly in contact with God, be sent to another to receive the priesthood? What sense does it make the Lord would make him wait and send him to another?  Particularly when Abraham had understanding that stretched into heavens and also possessed the records of the fathers, back to Adam. Why do that?


You should struggle with this question yourself. I feel like I’m robbing you by answering. Nevertheless, Abraham needed to be endowed and Melchizedek was set up to provide to Abraham the endowment. Therefore to receive the ordinance (Abraham was raised by apostates who had not provided that for him), he was sent to Melchizedek from whom he received necessary ordinances.  As long as the ordinances needed to be performed and there was an officiator there to accomplish it, the Lord sent Abraham to Melchizedek.


Abraham also received the accouterments of kingship that descended from Adam. Melchizedek was the reigning high priest on the earth, Abraham was to replace him at his passing, and Melchizedek had awaited the promised successor’s arrival for years.  When at last Abraham arrived, Melchizedek was able to provide ordinances, answer questions, minister as was needed, then turn over the accouterments of kingship and withdraw from this earth.  No sooner had Abraham been prepared than Melchizedek and his city also withdraw to join Enoch’s people.


Second, why were tithes paid to a great high priest who would shortly be translated? What need was there for tithing?


The form the tithing took was not a check or bank draft. It was animals, food and usable material. What was provided would be used in sacrifices, feasts, celebrations and decoration of the temple maintained by Melchizedek. In short, Abraham provided material through his tithing that could be incorporated into the celebrations to which he was invited and from which he derived his own blessing and endowment.  He gave, in turn he received.


Now, if you do not understand the concept of meekness and its importance for one who should hold this holy priesthood, then you do not understand either Melchizedek or Abraham.  Each was a minister who served others. Each was a faithful guide because neither sought to be greater than another. They were great servants, who could be trusted with great authority because they did not seek their own will. They were interested in following the Lord’s will.  Even at the price of great inconvenience and sacrifice to them.  They were willing to sacrifice all things, and were therefore called to the work.

Alma 13:14


 
“Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.”
 
We have named a portion of the priesthood after Melchizedek. (It is not, however, the form which Melchizedek held. That is another topic I am not going to address here now. This area is complete mush in the minds of Latter-day Saint writers and commentaries. I can’t straighten that out on this blog.  I might take it up in a book and go through it methodically there.)

What is important is that the great events of Melchizedek’s time began when people humbled themselves and accepted the teachings of this “high priesthood” holder and were, thereby, saved.  Not only saved but also led into a fellowship which eventually turned into a City of Peace, or City of Salem, or Jerusalem, which was taken into heaven.

This prototype was so influential in the thinking of all who followed, that the high priesthood was named after Melchizedek. Even though he held Patriarchal Priesthood with its associated sealing power, he was the one after whom Melchizedek Priesthood was named in the form it was later transmitted which lacked sealing authority.  (Again, another topic.)

What is important in this verse is the connection between the existence of the one holding this authority (Melchizedek), and a humble people who would accept and follow those teachings.  The result of the combination of the two was that God came and dwelt among them.

This is a pattern that followed the previous pattern with Enoch.  This was the pattern Joseph wanted to return through his teaching and ministry. Joseph wasn’t able to accomplish it. We now hope to see it someday occur in the unfolding history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The most recent book on this subject, now on sale at Deseret Book (unfortunately a red-flag for me) urges the idea that the only Zion we should expect to see will come when the church president allows or directs it to happen.

This verse suggests what is needed is: 1) humble people willing to accept teaching from a high priest after the ancient order and 2) a person having that authority who will teach.

What does this do to our current accepted model?

If Zion is to return, how will it return? Will it mirror what the Book of Mormon is teaching here?

Is the church president the one who will bring this gathering to pass?

Is the church president teaching doctrine about the fullness which will bring others into the rest of the Lord?

Has the church president brought a company into the Lord’s presence? Attempted to do so? Taught or written about how that will happen?  (If so, can someone point that out to me so I can read the talk, get the book or watch the video.)

How can I know I would actually have followed Melchizedek and become a part of his city by what I do today?  (I’d like to be among them, you see.)

Staying On Topic

Straying from the topic is a universal defect in the blog/comment world. My goal, and it is a goal I take seriously, is to stay on topic. I don’t wish to offend anyone. I am trying to be very careful and methodical in my discussion of doctrine and the Book of Mormon. I want to keep the topic limited to the scriptures/topics under scrutiny.

There are certainly worthwhile side issues. I just don’t think this is the appropriate blog for them.

Alma 13:13

Alma 13: 13: 

“And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.” 

Think about what you’re reading here.  Alma is essentially declaring himself as one of those possessing this priesthood because he is inviting others to enter into the rest which these people enjoy.  That is, “come, join in the rest of the Lord.”

Alma has just revealed something profound about himself. It is subtle, but nonetheless true. In meekness he has proffered an invitation. He has not set himself up to be admired. He does not consider himself better. He has delivered the invitation to those to whom he is ministering, just as you would expect someone possessing this great, holy calling to do.

All the more remarkable is that he extends this invitation to an unredeemed, critical, reproachful audience of unconverted.  He does not shield them from these great mysteries.
He does not flinch or hold back because it would be to “cast pearls before swine.”  He knows where the line is drawn, for in the preceding chapter they have explained to an audience that there are mysteries withheld from the public.  (Alma 12: 9-11.)  There are things kept from public knowledge and obtained only by heed and diligence. The line involves sacred ordinances, NOT higher knowledge. You give that and you make converts. You withhold it and you blend into the morass of churches who teach merely a form of godliness without any power to save. (JS-H 1: 19.)
It was the same during Christ’s ministry. The line is drawn as sacred events turn to ordinances. They are withheld. NOT the teaching of deep doctrine.
So when we refuse to discuss “mysteries” and limit our correlated curriculum to an approved list of 52 subjects, recycling them endlessly, we are not in conformity with the pattern shown in the Book of Mormon. The “most correct book” condemns us.  But, then again, so does the word of the Lord precisely because we are not following the Book of Mormon.  (D&C 84: 55-57.)
The highest form of acceptance and redemption is to have your calling and election made sure; to be washed and cleansed from sin every whit. Alma is preaching this to unconverted, investigating, potential converts. Today we won’t even permit the subject to be raised in adult Sunday School, Priesthood, or Relief Society meetings because it is considered to be “too sensitive” for the members to consider. Have we, the Gentiles, rejected “the fullness of the Gospel?”  (3 Ne. 16: 10.) Not as long as any of us (like salt or leaven) keep these doctrines alive.
If you want to know about this fullness and how to obtain it, then read the books I have written. That is what they are about. Alma was right!  His message was true!
Let all come and partake. Everyone is invited. No institutional control should be used to prevent your search into this matter.  It is right in the Book of Mormon. Though the institution may be condemned for neglecting it, you don’t need to be.
So, let’s turn to the next verse and see what wonders continue to unfold before our eyes….

Alma 13:12

 
“Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.”
 
If the earlier verse were not clear enough, the point is reiterated again here.  These people are “sanctified by the Holy Ghost” as a result of “having their garments made white.” They are “pure and spotless before God!”
 
This is the reason they can enter His presence.  He has accepted them because just like Him, they are without sin. They were not perfected by their own acts. The earlier reference to their repentance makes that clear. They become pure and spotless before God because they have done what was asked of them to become clean. They have repented.
 
Now, measure the effects of their repentance.  It has been so complete, so heartfelt, and deeply prized that they “could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence.” It is this notion that underlies the mistaken idea that once someone’s calling and election has been made sure they are required to suffer for their own sins, because they have knowledge they are redeemed.  This is a twisted view, designed by the adversary to discourage those who might otherwise seek and find.

It is not that the atonement ceases to operate for the redeemed. The atonement continues to cover the on-going sins of these redeemed souls which arise from their foolishness, mistakes, errors of comprehension, and the things they don’t understand yet. Christ does not require them to do what they don’t know is a requirement yet. As the gentle and kind Lord, He will forgive all they do that is wrong, while He reveals through greater light and knowledge a higher path.  As He unfolds to their understanding more light, they can measure their conduct according to that greater light.

 
As they gain greater truth and light they see things how they really are.  Right and wrong are seen differently. What once was “right” is now wrong as greater light and truth is received.  What was once “wrong” is now seen clearly, without all the errors of understanding held before. 
 
The spotlessness is because their heart is right. They WANT to please their Lord. They WANT to be like Him. Sin is not tempting because it is contrary to Him whom they love.
 
The abhorrence they feel at sin is not within them.  It is not the temptations they struggle against. That is not the meaning at all.  It is what they see all about them. The lost souls are the object of their compassion and care. They WANT to have others redeemed and saved from this lost and fallen world. The fruit they tasted is something they desire to share. They WANT many, an exceeding many, to share with them in the hope that can be won by repentance.
They would shout “flee from Babylon” if they thought it would do any good. But shouting does no good among a darkened and benighted people. They may speak the words of an angel to others, but it is up to others to decide whether they will listen. It will be a still, small, quiet pleading they make to others. Within their entreaties will be found the Master’s words.
 
Many may claim to speak in His name, but only these few have the ability to speak with His approval. These are holy men, possessing words of eternal life. In them will be found truths that come from eternity and that will save to all eternity.
 
Only a few will listen. That won’t detract from the power of the message delivered by those who are after the holy order of the Son of God, for their words can save any who will listen.
 
What an interesting chapter we have found here. And we are only a dozen verses into it!  We should press on.

Alma 13:11

“Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.”
If you understand these phrases, this verse clarifies the matter.
Being called into this holy order requires a person to be more than a church member, or a follower, or a believer. They need to be “sanctified.”
“Their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.”  No small feat!

To have white garments is to have the blood and sins of your generation removed from you. To be purified. To be sanctified by the Lamb – removing from you, and taking upon Himself the responsibility to answer for whatever failings you have.

This is not ritual purity. This is purity in fact.

The person described by this phrase is qualified to stand in the presence of God without sin. Clean of all blood and sin – righteous forever. He is Christ’s, and Christ is the Father’s, and all that each of them will be is the same; for we shall see Him as He is, because we will be like Him. To be like Him is to be sanctified.

I can use the words, but I am powerless beyond that. This is more than you think it is. Words are inadequate to explain it. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what great things the Lord has in mind by inheriting these promises. Indeed, to receive an understanding is to cease to be a man and become something else altogether. A stranger and sojourner here, but a resident with God in another condition altogether. It is written by the Lord concerning them: “These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all. These are they who have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn. These are they whose names are written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all. These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.” (D&C 76: 66-69.) 

Such persons are still in this world, but they are also associated with innumerable others who are not present here. Although mortals associate with each other, these individuals obtain a higher order. They connect with a higher plane, because a more sure word has been spoken to them. As a result they belong to an order of holy priesthood. That priesthood is an order without beginning of days or end of years, from eternity to eternity. This new, higher order, when it occurs can be the spark through which heaven itself can return to the earth.

To others looking in from outside, these are words without meaning, or definition. To those who hold this priestly position, these words are a perfect fit. The gulf between the two positions is so great that even a common vocabulary won’t make meanings connect.
We proclaim we “have the truth” but we do not preach it. We claim to have authority, but we have no power to redeem and exalt. We pretend it is unlawful to preach mysteries, yet Alma is preaching the deepest doctrines to the non-converted. If we preach the truth, it will attract those whose lives are empty. Why would they join us if what we offer is as trite and superficial as the false religions they already believe?
Is there no need to cry repentance to this generation with power and authority? With the tongue of an angel? To cry out as the Book of Mormon declares the message to the non-believing and skeptical? 
It does raise some troubling concerns as we claim to be the “true church” but do not act the part as shown in these scriptures. How are we justified in masking the fullness, hiding the mysteries, putting away deep doctrine that will save, and still proclaim that we are the “only true and living church upon the earth?” Does “living” require us to create sons and daughters of God who are “come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn?”  If so, why do we hear so little about it in our day?
I suppose our audacity springs from our history? If we have lost something vital that conflicts with our current understanding of the history that GUARANTEES us that we are perfect, and that we cannot be misled, then we wouldn’t want to acknowledge that. Thank goodness for these guarantees. It does let us relax a bit, doesn’t it? Broad and wide are the guarantees we have inherited. We don’t need to worry about that narrow and strait fringe who rummage about in the mysteries.

Alma 13:10

Alma 13: 10:

Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;”

Immediately following the formula, the explanation continues that “many” were able to become ordained as such “high priests of God.” But the way they did this was through several specific actions.
They had “exceeding faith.” What do you suppose “exceeding faith” means? Why not “faith?”  What is the difference between “faith” and “exceeding faith?”

They went through “repentance.”  So we know they made the same kinds of mortal mistakes as we do. They experience the bitter and then are able to prefer the sweet. They knew what it was like to feel the bitterness of hell, because they felt the sting of sin. So they repented. These great souls are NOT perfect, after all! They “repented” because they didn’t do it right the first time. What a refreshing idea. They weren’t fake. They didn’t feign virtue.  They had failing. They were filled with life, made errors, and needed to repent. They were not immune to the circumstances of this fallen world.

More importantly, do the terms “exceeding faith” and “repentance” go together? That is, do you necessarily have to possess “exceeding faith” in order to become one who fully “repents?” If so, why? How is it done? This may be an important clue to the process of “keeping the second estate” and “proving” that you are ready to move on.  Perhaps it is in this manner that some will then have “glory added upon their heads forever,” (Abr. 3: 26) and in another cycle of existence and eternal progression then also join in the ranks of those belonging to the “holy order after the Son of God.”

These called persons are, despite everything, “righteous before God.” God measures differently than do we. Being “righteous before God” may not mean the same thing we think “righteous” means. We want outward signs, symbols, dress, grooming and conformity. God looks at the intent of the heart.

Interestingly, they “choose to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish.” What do you suppose that means? First, they “repent,” then they “work righteousness.” Because of this, they do not “perish.”  So do these things all go together? Can a person “repent” but then not “work righteousness?”  Does a person have to  “repent” and “work righteousness” in order to not “perish?”   

Alma 13:9

 
“Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.”
Several things about this formulation are interesting.  Most interesting is the closing declaration, “And thus it is.  Amen.”  It is iconic.  It is as if the statement were an authorized, serious message, intended to be accompanied by the requisite formalities to let the reader know that this is serious stuff.  This is “most holy.” This is not just a passing description. It holds terrible, eternal significance.  So the material that preceded it holds important keys to understanding. Important warnings and knowledge. Perhaps, as a result of the concluding punctuation, we should be very, very careful about the words that preceded it.  [This is why I’m conducting this exercise.]
 
Now look at the beginning-
 
“Thus they become…”  These individuals have become something.  The “high priests” about whom this material has been written have been in the process of becoming something holy from before the foundation of the world. This is pre-earth or pre-mortal existence stuff. The history, or background leading up to finding a holy high priest in mortality is eons in the making. It goes back to before this world had been reorganized.
 
“..high priests forever…”  This priestly authority and holy order is not mortal. It is without beginning in this mortal phase of existence.
 
Now comes the formula of the authority: “after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth.” Look at it in pieces.
 
-After the order of the Son
 
-After the order of the Only Begotten of the Father
 
-After the order of Him who is without beginning of days or end of years
 
-After the order of Him who is full of grace
 
-After the order of Him who is full of equity
 
-After the order of Him who is full of truth.
 
What does it mean to be “begotten” of the Father?  (Psalms 2: 7.)
 
What does it mean to be a “son” of the Father?  (1 John 3: 1-3.)
 
What does it mean to be full of “grace?”  (D&C 93: 11-20.)
 
What does it mean to be full of “equity?”  (Proverbs 2: 9.)
 
What does it mean to be full of “truth?”  (D&C 93: 24.)
 
This is interesting. What are we to make of such “holy” men who are “high priests after the order of the Son of God?”
 
Do you think we make a man such a thing by sustaining him in Ward, Stake and General Conferences?  Can we make one of them at all?

If we never realize who they are, does that mean they don’t exist? Does it mean they weren’t ordained before the foundation of the world?

 
If they come, minister in obscurity, never hold high office and never have a single building at BYU, BYU Hawaii or BYU Idaho named after them, are they any less?
 
Does our recognition of them make them any more?
 
Are they here to be recognized? Are they here just to teach so that others may be brought back to God by learning His commandments and enter into His rest?
This is quite different than what I’ve been told in Gospel Doctrine class. It is beginning to look and feel a lot like what Joseph Smith was saying right at the end in the Nauvoo period.  I wonder why we neglect this today?

Alma 13:9

 
“Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.”
Several things about this formulation are interesting.  Most interesting is the closing declaration, “And thus it is.  Amen.”  It is iconic.  It is as if the statement were an authorized, serious message, intended to be accompanied by the requisite formalities to let the reader know that this is serious stuff.  This is “most holy.” This is not just a passing description. It holds terrible, eternal significance.  So the material that preceded it holds important keys to understanding. Important warnings and knowledge. Perhaps, as a result of the concluding punctuation, we should be very, very careful about the words that preceded it.  [This is why I’m conducting this exercise.]
 
Now look at the beginning-
 
“Thus they become…”  These individuals have become something.  The “high priests” about whom this material has been written have been in the process of becoming something holy from before the foundation of the world. This is pre-earth or pre-mortal existence stuff. The history, or background leading up to finding a holy high priest in mortality is eons in the making. It goes back to before this world had been reorganized.
 
“..high priests forever…”  This priestly authority and holy order is not mortal. It is without beginning in this mortal phase of existence.
 
Now comes the formula of the authority: “after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth.” Look at it in pieces.
 
-After the order of the Son
 
-After the order of the Only Begotten of the Father
 
-After the order of Him who is without beginning of days or end of years
 
-After the order of Him who is full of grace
 
-After the order of Him who is full of equity
 
-After the order of Him who is full of truth.
 
What does it mean to be “begotten” of the Father?  (Psalms 2: 7.)
 
What does it mean to be a “son” of the Father?  (1 John 3: 1-3.)
 
What does it mean to be full of “grace?”  (D&C 93: 11-20.)
 
What does it mean to be full of “equity?”  (Proverbs 2: 9.)
 
What does it mean to be full of “truth?”  (D&C 93: 24.)
 
This is interesting. What are we to make of such “holy” men who are “high priests after the order of the Son of God?”
 
Do you think we make a man such a thing by sustaining him in Ward, Stake and General Conferences?  Can we make one of them at all?

If we never realize who they are, does that mean they don’t exist? Does it mean they weren’t ordained before the foundation of the world?

 
If they come, minister in obscurity, never hold high office and never have a single building at BYU, BYU Hawaii or BYU Idaho named after them, are they any less?
 
Does our recognition of them make them any more?
 
Are they here to be recognized? Are they here just to teach so that others may be brought back to God by learning His commandments and enter into His rest?
This is quite different than what I’ve been told in Gospel Doctrine class. It is beginning to look and feel a lot like what Joseph Smith was saying right at the end in the Nauvoo period.  I wonder why we neglect this today?

Alma 13:8

Alma 13:8

 
“Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—”
 
The manner of such person’s ordination is described but-
 
What does it mean to be “called with a holy calling?” Is there something about the nature of this “calling” that is different from an interview and being “found worthy of advancement in the priesthood” as we commonly see?  What is a “holy calling” anyway?  Why does this kind of priestly calling get described exclusively as “holy” by its nature?  Is there some contact with God required (who is the source of all holiness) as part of this “holy calling?”
 
Then we have the description of their ordination. What does it mean to be “ordained with a holy ordinance?”  Does our practice of laying on hands, conferring the Aaronic Priesthood and ordaining to the office of Priest answer to this description?  What is the “holy ordinance” that is done to confer this priesthood? 
 
Can we automatically rule out the entirety of Aaronic and most of the Melchizedek priesthood offices when we see the words: “taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order?”  Is there some office we are aware of which is appropriately described as “taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order?” Think about that for a moment.
 
If this is a “holy calling” and it results in the person receiving it “taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order” isn’t this something perhaps quite different from what we do to disseminate the priesthood?  And if all the Aaronic Priesthood and most of the Melchizedek Priesthood offices are not what we would appropriately call “the high priesthood of the holy order” then are we talking about either of these two commonly held priesthoods anyway?
 
Then we have the interesting addition that the “calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end” for those involved. That is, without reference to mortality. It was held before coming here, it will endure after leaving here. It is “endless” in the sense it comes “from eternity to eternity” as set out in the preceding verse.
 
This is potentially quite different from the manner in which we practice priestly ordinations in the church today. I suppose that some will want to confine all this description to our practices.  They are free to see it in that way if they choose.  I’m just asking if it is more likely that the words have a different meaning than we have associated with them before.  If that is possible, then perhaps we ought to be asking the Lord to inform us more about the matter, rather than presuming we already possess what is being described here.
It may just be that our hopes for some great, eternal reward hinge upon getting to the bottom of this matter. It may just be that God’s control over and involvement with the “holy calling” and “holy ordinance” of having the “high priesthood after the Son of God” is immediate and direct.  It may be that this “holy ordinance” will only come from that God who employs no servant at the gate, but is Himself the gatekeeper.  (2 Ne. 9: 41.)  Wouldn’t that be wonderful.  Think about it – no flawed process.  No fooled bishop or stake president letting someone obtain an office for which they are completely unsuited.  It sort of makes sense.

Alma 13:7

The record continues in Alma 13: 7:

 
“This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things—”
 
Now we encounter comments that everyone seems to use about this priesthood.  It is “without beginning of days or end of years.”  It is “from the foundation of the world.” 

It is “prepared from eternity to eternity.”

 
When did eternity end and mortality begin?
When does mortality end and eternity begin again?
 
What does the phrase “from eternity to eternity” really refer to?
 
Do we pass “from eternity” then back “to eternity” as part of this mortal experience?

What went on before, back in the first “eternity?” We read elsewhere of this peaceful existence during “millennial” conditions, which end with rebellion, disputes and a war.  Was Satan loosed in an earlier eternity after some season of peace to stir the hearts of men to anger one with another?  (See Rev. 20: 7-9.)  Was he cast out to hell, or the Telestial Kingdom, where we presently reside?  What went on?  How often would the Lord have gathered us as a hen gathers her chicks, but we would not be gathered?  (I suppose His asking and the lack of an answer implies a great number.)

 
What is it about what went on before, in the earlier “eternity,” that allows God to possess His perfect “foreknowledge of all things” now?
 
What is this strange doctrine and the implications which flow from them?  Was Joseph Smith trying to tell us this in the later Nauvoo talks?  (Maybe we should read them again…)
 
How is one to take it all in? How is the priesthood tied to this prior eternity? Why do we get side-tracked into the subject of “from eternity to eternity” when we learn about this endless priesthood which is without beginning of days or end of years?
 
What is really going on?  How can we learn of the truth?  Is there no prophet who can declare it to us?
 
The suspense is killing me. I’m hoping to get answers. I’m hoping you want them too. I’m confident if you ask the Lord, He will answer you.  He intends to pour out knowledge upon the heads of the Saints.  If we will stop making others accountable for what we learn, and go to Him to receive what He offers, by the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of all things.  I read that somewhere… But the words are mine, now.

Alma 13: 5-6

“Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared— And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—”


So there wasn’t some great advantage for these people who hold actual priestly authority. We learn that “in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren.”  Where was that “first place?”  Is it also “from the foundation of the world” referred to earlier?
What does it mean that they were “on the same standing with their brethren” while in that first place?
What was it about these who receive authority that qualified them to receive the “holy calling” from the foundation of the world?  What does it mean that they “would not harden their hearts” in the first place? If they didn’t do it then, will they do it now? 
Is foreknowledge about these individual’s qualifications based on prior performance? Can you determine that since they did not harden their hearts in the first place, they will not begin to harden their hearts now?

What about the “atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared” made them qualified? Did they accept Him there? Did they soften their hearts there toward Him? Are they capable of having redeeming faith in Him here because they first acquired it there? 

Is all this necessary to have preceded ordination here? If it was not acquired there, can an ordination here have any effect?
What, then, do those who qualify do? What does it mean “to teach his commandments unto the children of men?”
Is there something different between teaching commandments on the one hand, and “that they [who are taught] also might enter into his rest” on the other hand?  Are the two linked together?  Is it necessary to both “teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest” to show such priestly authority?  That is, can anyone, regardless of their true ordination to authority teach commandments? But does it take something more, some higher ordination in order to bring those taught “to enter into His rest?” If so, what is the difference? How can you recognize such teachings if they are ever put on display?

Did Joseph Smith exhibit such powerful teachings?

Did Enoch?
Did Melchizedek?  Abraham?  Elijah?  Elisha?  Nephi?  The Brother of Jared?  Enos?  Others?
Do we see that today? If so, where? Does anyone have the audacity to presume they can bring another soul back to the Lord’s rest?  Maybe Joseph Smith’s comment on this point is appropriate:  ““The things of God are of deep import and time and experience and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind O man if thou wilt lead a soul into salvation must search into and contemplate the darkest abyss and the broad expanse of eternity, thou must commune with God.” (DHC Vol. 3, p. 295.)  I’d like to meet such a man. They seem to be rather infrequent residents of this fallen world….
I’m only asking those questions which arise in my own mind as I read these words.  You’ll have to figure out your own answers.

Alma 13:4


“And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.” 

The result of what went on before is the reason for the ordination or calling.  That is, “thus they have been called.”  Meaning that all of what went into the earlier experiences i.e., being left to choose between good and evil, and having chosen good, having “faith” and good works, is the reason for their ordination. These souls are not novices. They are not getting authority here for the first time. They come with power from beyond this earth, bringing it with them to this earth. They qualified before and elsewhere.  

All of this is “on account of their faith.” All things are obtained through faith. That is explained in the Sixth Lecture, quoted here.  Faith is a principle of power. It is capable of making things happen. There must be a connection between faith and power; between faith and priesthood. 

Others reject the Spirit of God and, therefore, do not have this power.  These others may claim to have authority, but they do not really receive power from the Spirit of God.  They are animated by a different source.  

What, then, causes someone who has a little authority “as they suppose” (they don’t really have it, you see), to attempt to use that pretense to control and dominate others?  The answer is contained in revelations already in print. It is their pride, their insecurities, the need to control, to be praised and celebrated, the need to gratify their vain ambition. These are character flaws. They cover up these flaws by claiming to have priestly authority from God.  (D&C 121: 34-44.)

They are the world’s Pharaohs, not the world’s Abraham’s. Their hearts are hard, their minds blind.  

They do not hear the Spirit of God, and therefore none of the powers of heaven are with them.

This was/is their choice. They could have had the same privilege.  But, alas, they prefer instead their own aggrandizement. They prefer monuments built with their names engraven on them. There is no message of truth and hope coming from them. Their words (the only things which really endure), will fall to the ground unfulfilled.  They will not be remembered.  They will return without a saved soul.

What stunning doctrines we have stumbled upon here!  I’m getting worried about things as I look about. This Book of Mormon is alarming…

Alma 13:3



“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.”
It is too much!  Too great of words for men to possess! Consider what they refer us to.
Called and prepared FIRST! From the foundation of the world!
So here priesthood has its beginning before this world even was organized.  There is a necessary link between those hallowed days and power here. No person has authority here unless it was first obtained there.
How was it obtained first – before the foundation of the world?
It was because of the foreknowledge of God. And what was God’s foreknowledge based upon? Their “exceeding faith and good works!”
How can a person have “faith” when they stand in the presence of God? Do they now have knowledge? This was before the mortal estate, right?  If so, then how can there be faith? What good works were involved?
Then, too, the “faith” and the “good works” were done as a result of the person having been “left to choose between good and evil.”  Now this is surprising! You mean that before Adam partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (i.e., before the foundation of the world) that some people had already obtained a knowledge of good and evil, been tempted, exhibited good works and acquired faith?  How so?  When and where did they do that?  What does that tell us about them?  Is this why Joseph said there were “sons of God who exalted themselves to be gods before the world was made?”  (TPJS p. 375.)  When and where and how did they do this?  And was this required for any person to be able to claim they now have priestly authority here?  Or is it only those who have the “holy order after the Son of God?”  Is there something about these men’s “holy calling” that distinguishes them from others here?  If so, what is it?  Who are these men?  Are they always going to be from unlikely sources and places, so that people can know how to recognize the Lord?
Then, too, we have them in a class of people who had been through a “preparatory redemption” already. What does that mean? What does it imply?  How did they qualifiy?  How long have these souls been working on the process of redemption and thereby qualify through their faith and good works to hold authority in this estate?  Who are they?
Oh, now my head is spinning.  Can this doctrine really be true?  Why do we know so little about it?  Why did Joseph talk about it, but we have simply nothing to add?  Indeed, we deny it exists….. why is that?
This is certainly an interesting chapter.  Fearsome and interesting.  What a threatening, terrible, majestic, holy and challenging book this Book of Mormon turns out to be after all.

Alma 13:2

Continuing with Alma 13: 2:
 
“And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.”
 
Now this is important stuff here. We are really being told something quite amazing. Look at these words!
 
To be “ordained after the order of his Son” it must be done “in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.” Did you get that?
 
Think about these words carefully.
 
The “manner” must be in a way which will let people know or understand how to “look forward to His Son for redemption.”
 
So, let’s clear away the institutional garbage that surrounds our thinking.
 
Christ WAS NOT ordained by being sustained by a congregation.
 
Christ WAS NOT ordained by having hands laid upon Him by another man.
 
Christ DID NOT carry a credential with Him or a certificate of priestly authority.
 
Christ WAS NOT part of the established priestly hierarchy.
 
We have no record of His ordination at all. We only have established, priestly class officials asking Christ about where He got His authority from. And we have Christ simply refusing to answer their question.

Christ showed that He in fact held priestly authority by His demonstration of power.  More importantly, He taught profound truths with such passing simplicity and convincing prose that His message necessarily came from a higher source. 
In word and deed He put on display His power and authority.
 
But what is the verse in Alma speaking about?  How does one become “ordained” in such a manner that people learning of it will then know how to look forward (or back) to the Savior and understand His redeeming power?
 
Do they put on display, by the words and precepts they speak, the profound simplicity and convincing prose of the angels themselves?  Are they able to show their ordination by speaking words of eternal life, as He did?
 
How does this “ordination” acquire or show redeeming power?
 
How can obtaining authority by ordination to this priesthood be something which will let people know their Lord better?
 
What is really going on for those who hold actual priestly authority, being ordained in the required manner?  Do they acquire more than administrative authority from an institution? Do they receive power from on high?  Can you get it anywhere other than from on high? Is this why the power of the priesthood is inseparably connected with the powers of heaven? What have we Saints been doing?  Practicing? Holding ourselves forth to possess?
 
Where can we get this ordination after the order of the Son of God?
 
Forget what you’ve been taught. Read the Book of Mormon and remove the condemnation under which this people labor. Really study its words. They are alien to your prejudices and presumptions.  But they ARE in fact the words of life. You really can get closer to God by abiding its precepts than through any other book!  Amazingly, this is one of the very precepts which necessarily forces you to draw closer to God!
 
What a marvelous work and a wonder! Will the wonder never cease?  (Only if you reject it.)  It is a font of living water which constantly renews and floods forth more and new information endlessly, until at last we are also caught up in the visions of eternity and know our Lord. Then we needn’t ask another to know the Lord, for all shall know Him.
 
I labor to help you know Him; to bring you to Him. The primary means to accomplish that remains the Book of Mormon.  But only if you actually let it speak to you and reveal its many hidden secrets.
 
I’m only asking questions here.  You’ll have to figure out the answers.