Wednesday, December 29, 2010 3 comments

Esteem others as yourself

24 And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practise virtue and holiness before me.
25 And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself. (D&C 38:24-25)
This little bit was given in the context of a commandment to teach one another, and my husband, who was studying the quality of virtue, asked me what I thought practicing virtue had to do with esteeming everyone as oneself and with teaching. In thinking about it, I decided that perhaps it had to do with that saying “it takes one to know one” in that a teacher who practices virtue will be able to see it in his students and believe his students have it too.

We tend to think that others feel the same way about things as we do, so if we are determined and practiced at being virtuous, we will assume others are determined that way too.

For the last few days I’ve been trying to esteem others as myself and I’ve noticed I’ve been more generous and helpful. Instead of seeing requests as interruptions, I’ve thought about those requests as equally worthy as my own concerns, and thought, “If I were them, I would want extra help too, so I will help.” In the last month, I’ve also been in some teaching situations in which I tried to esteem the students as myself and I witnessed that it created an environment of edification that invited the Spirit.

Have you ever heard or seen the saying, “I am third”? It would puzzle me and eventually I realized that it was meant to remind everyone to put God first, others second, and themselves third. I think it is meant to try to encourage the value of self-sacrifice, which is good, but it seems to me that if we esteem others as ourselves, that precludes putting them before ourselves just as much as it precludes putting ourselves before others. It suggests that all of us have needs and that there needs to be a whole lot more negotiating and turn-taking in our lives.

How has esteeming others as yourself blessed your life? Do you have any experiences that you can share?
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 2 comments

Persecution: what goes around, comes around

When Nephi calls the Gentiles on the carpet for their treatment of the Jews, he gives a dire prophecy from the Lord. “…you have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them. But behold, I will return these things upon your own heads; for I the Lord have not forgotten my people.” (2 Nephi 29:5, emphasis added)

Here the law of restoration is declared in force upon all those who persecute the Jews. Those who persecute will be persecuted themselves. Thus we should not be surprised to see atheism persecuting the great and abominable church (and coming in for its own share of blowback persecution as well), extremist Muslims hating the decadence of western civilization, or western civilization coming down hard on the Middle East, where there happens to be a very strong anti-Semitism milieu. That doesn’t make any of it right, of course, but it becomes much less perplexing when we see it as a fulfillment of Nephi’s prophecy of “what-goes-around-comes-around” and take it as assurance that none of this is unexpected by God. (We get a piece of the persecution from both sides, but God strengthens His own, and as long as we turn the other cheek and forgive, we will overcome.)
Monday, December 20, 2010 3 comments

Remembering the ancients’ travails

But thus saith the Lord God: O fools, they shall have a Bible; and it shall proceed forth from the Jews, mine ancient covenant people. And what thank they the Jews for the Bible which they receive from them? Yea, what do the Gentiles mean? Do they remember the travails, and the labors, and the pains of the Jews, and their diligence unto me, in bringing forth salvation unto the Gentiles? (2 Nephi 29:4)
Nephi isn’t afraid to point out the rank ingratitude he’s seen in vision concerning Gentile treatment of the Jews. He saw the anti-Semitism of centuries, labels of “Christ-killer” and other dehumanizing propaganda, the accusations of plotting for world domination, the ghettos, the concentration camps, the suicide bombings, and more. (“…have ye remembered the Jews, mine ancient covenant people? Nay; but you have cursed them, and have hated them, and have not sought to recover them.” (2 Nephi 29:5)) He points out that the Gentiles forget that Jews were also the ones who took the gospel to the Gentiles and who worked so hard to write the word of the Lord.

I think another application of this verse is our tendency to take for granted the efforts of the Saints in the early days of the Restoration. We fault them for failing to live the law of consecration and are we any better? It is a good thing that we tell and retell the stories of their sacrifices and persecutions and victories so that we can remember their travails and labors and pains and diligence to bring the church out of obscurity.

Yet another application of this verse is our tendency to take for granted the efforts of our faithful church teachers. Too often we speak slightingly of the teachers who read the lesson for the first time during sacrament meeting the hour before they have to teach it, and then we fail to recognize teachers who have really put a lot of work into preparation that we don’t see. The verse speaks of the teachers’ “travails,” “labors,” “pains,” and “diligence” in language evoking the difficulty and agony of women giving birth. For diligent teachers everywhere, this metaphorical language strikes a chord, and learners would do well to be aware of it.

Too often I’ve taken my teachers for granted, and it was only when I got a church calling to teach primary when I was 18 that I began to appreciate all the great teachers I had. I remember Brother Kuntzelman, who taught me in primary. (When he was released, I seriously considered indicating I was “not in favor as manifested” of the person who was called to take his place.) And Sister Imam and Sister Gallagher who were dynamite primary choristers. And Sister Ellefson, a stalwart adviser in Young Women. And Sister Kearney, with whom I had one-on-one conversations about the scriptures in our 16-18 year old Sunday school class when no one else came. And my mom, who was incredibly influential as my seminary teacher all through high school. And Brother Mortensen, one of my institute teachers, who would blithely fling his tie over his shoulder as a signal to batten down the hatches in preparation for a breeze of speculation forthcoming so that we would know not to take those things as seriously as the other things he was teaching us. And Brother Victor Ludlow who opened my eyes to the meaning of Isaiah. And David R. Seely who taught the Old Testament. And Richard Draper, who opened my eyes to the Book of Revelation and helped me parse Paul better. And Brother Merrill who assigned me to read the first half of the Book of Mormon in two weeks. It would take a long time to name all the good teachers I’ve had in the church. And behind each lesson is so much labor.

How about you? Will you tell me about some of the great teachers you’ve known? What stories of the early Saints have impacted you the most? And what stories of the ancient Jews help you remember and appreciate their travails?
Saturday, December 18, 2010 0 comments

Alma as a type of Christ in the healing of Zeerom

3 And also Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness, for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat.
4 Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, his heart began to take courage; and he sent a message immediately unto them, desiring them to come unto him.
5 And it came to pass that they went immediately, obeying the message which he had sent unto them; and they went in unto the house unto Zeezrom; and they found him upon his bed, sick, being very low with a burning fever; and his mind also was exceedingly sore because of his iniquities; and when he saw them he stretched forth his hand, and besought them that they would heal him.
6 And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?
7 And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.
8 And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed.
9 And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words.
10 And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.
11 And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom. (Alma 15:3-11)
These are the things that make Alma a type of Christ:
  • Alma taught Zeezrom the truth (previously in Ammonihah).
  • Alma suffered because of Zeezrom’s sins (imprisonment, abuse, mocking, etc.), yet he escapes though Zeezrom thinks he is dead.
  • Alma becomes an advocate to God for Zeezrom for healing and salvation on account of faith in Christ.
Thursday, December 16, 2010 3 comments

Observations on Alma 14 and the results of Alma and Amulek’s preaching in Ammonihah

Alma 14 shows the society of Ammonihah is ripe for destruction:
• They condemn holy people (Alma & Amulek) for their holiness.
• They consider good to be evil.
• They cast out the righteous men and stone them.
• They burn the innocent women and children to death.
• They destroy all the sacred records they can find.
• They mock, abuse, and imprison righteous church leaders (Alma & Amulek)

**

The people of Ammonihah burn the women and children and then mock Alma and Amulek saying, “After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?” The people of Ammonihah think that if they subject other people to the penalties they themselves have been warned of, it means the warnings are invalid. It is a twisted sort of reasoning brought on by the pattern of injustice of the judges, who have been working to invalidate righteous authority, and they don’t realize that it seals their doom upon them.

**

The abuse Ammonihah leaders put Alma and Amulek through in prison is extreme. They try to break down their identities and destroy them spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Based upon this, it is amazing that Alma preaches so bravely and courageously afterward. It seems he overcomes it through faith in Christ.

**

While they are imprisoned, they answer the chief judge nothing when he questions them. What more can they say than has already been said? The people had rejected it all, so there was no more to say. It wasn’t fear that kept them quiet.

**

One the last day that Alma and Amulek are imprisoned, the chief judge and many teachers and lawyers mocked them and challenged them to prove Ammonihah would be destroyed by delivering themselves from the bands that tied them. Clearly the judge, the teachers, and lawyers never believed it would happen, but they had not reckoned upon the power and mercy that the Lord extends to His anointed. They sought a sign and they got it, but only to their condemnation. It didn’t cause them to want to repent; it only made them want to remove themselves from the city that they now knew would be destroyed. But it was too late for them. It is significant that it says that “they did not obtain the outer door to the prison.” They die in prison, both temporally and spiritually, while Alma and Amulek come out of this prison whose walls have been rent specifically for them.

**

Alma cried to the Lord “O Lord, give us strength according to our faith in Christ, even unto deliverance.” The Lord answered Alma and gave them complete deliverance:
• They broke the bands that bound them.
• They were freed from their tormentors when the earthquake destroyed the prison and the walls fell so exclusively on the evil men.
• They were freed from the prison, as the earthquake rent the prison walls and no one lived to prevent them from leaving.
• They were freed from the city, as all the townspeople ran away from them, so they could leave.
• Finally, because of the healing power of Christ, they eventually recovered and were freed from the debilitating effects of the abuse that they suffered.
According to their faith in Christ, they were delivered from all these afflictions. This dramatic story of deliverance is meant to remind us that God really does have power to deliver us from anything and everything. He can save in so many ways. He can save us from going through afflictions. He can save us from afflictions as we are in them. He can save us from the negative effects of afflictions. He can save us at ANY STAGE. He can save us through death or He can save us with life. He can save us from committing sin. He can save us from our sins. He uses His power to save in ways that will result in the greatest good for us and others and in ways that preserve our agency. Through it all, we have the challenge of remembering that He can save us in all things.

**

Mormon takes especial care to give us the specific date when Alma and Amulek are delivered from prison. Then in chapter 16, he gives the specific date when all the people of Ammonihah are attacked and slaughtered by the Lamanites.
Deliverance of Alma and Amulek – 10th year of judges, 10th month, 5th day
Destruction of Ammonihah – 11th year of judges, 2nd month, 5th day
We don’t know what was the last month of their Nephite year, but it could be as many as 6, or as few as 2 months later that Ammonihah was destroyed. Still, it seems Mormon wants to point out that destruction came swiftly when they were ripe, to underline that warnings from God should not be ignored.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 3 comments

Motivation to keep sacred records: external versus internal

In 1 Nephi 5 when Lehi examines the brass plates, he finds all kinds of good stuff on them. Something that I noticed with more attention recently was that they also had “many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah” (v 13). I found this interesting because Jeremiah was a contemporary of Lehi and had been put in prison, according to Nephi. What is more odd is that “Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records” (v16). “Kept the records” could mean keeping them secure, or it could also mean adding to them. But Laban does not seem like the type who would be carefully recording Jeremiah’s prophecies, full as they are of imminent destruction. Can we imagine this murderous man studiously laboring, stylus in hand, to engrave the words of Jeremiah?

This puzzled me for a while until I looked at the chronology of the kings as in the Bible Dictionary. I found that Jeremiah began his ministry during Josiah’s reign. It is likely that part of Josiah’s reforms were mandates that prophecies be recorded, and Laban and his fathers were responsible to see that royal command was carried out, so they wrote down many prophecies of the prophets, including Jeremiah’s. But it seems as soon as Josiah died, all motivation for record-keeping ended and the brass plates went neglected in the treasury. The motivation was only external and hadn’t been internalized.

This has some application in my own life. This semester I have taken a seminary preservice institute class and one of the assignments was to write down insights received during daily scripture study. The class ended this week. I could stop writing my insights down every day if I wanted to. But if I stopped, I realize I would be no better than Laban and his family. So I think I must keep on.

I have a better reason for continuing, however. It has been very helpful to me to write the things I have learned without worrying about evaluating them on whether to post them on my blog or not. It has reminded me that I really do learn so much from the scriptures through the Spirit, even if it is little tidbits at a time. It has also reminded me that sometimes when we record what we have learned, in the very act of writing, the Lord gives us even greater insight.
Sunday, December 12, 2010 2 comments

Focus on family leads to the overthrow of King Noah

The Lamanites attack the Nephites in the land of Nephi and King Noah causes all his people to flee. When the Lamanites catch them and begin to slay them, King Noah tells all the men to leave their wives and children behind. Here we begin to see how King Noah starts to lose followers. Some recognize right off that there is wickedness in just leaving their families to save themselves and they stay behind, even while they believe they will die with their families.

But others continue to listen to King Noah and the wicked priests and follow them away from their families. But then something begins to happen in their hearts. Part of it is in the text and part of it isn’t, but the part that is there helps us realize everything that happened.
Now they had sworn in their hearts that they would return to the land of Nephi, and if their wives and their children were slain, and also those that had tarried with them, that they would seek revenge, and also perish with them. (Mosiah 19:19)
Because these people made an oath in their hearts to return to their families, they must have realized soon after they had left their families that what they had done was wrong. After all that King Noah had done during his reign (and his wicked priests) to legitimize evil and whoredoms, the light of Christ was still in them and when they left their families in danger, immediately afterward they began to realize that was wrong to do. And that led to a desire to change and do it right. This led them to the point that they actually made an oath to return to their families.

No doubt they told the king what they had sworn to do. And King Noah, unfettered by any consideration for the legitimate claims that his family could have on him, was opposed to this. He was more worried about his own preservation. Because King Noah opposed their return to their families, it became immediately evident that King Noah was wicked. He was openly standing in the way of them keeping the oath they had sworn. So King Noah had to be removed.

It is interesting that changing their priorities with an oath to focus on family suddenly made it so obvious to the people that King Noah was wicked. Just think how the whole reign of King Noah could have been avoided if they had done such a thing at the beginning of his reign instead of at the end.

I think this lesson is relevant for us today. Anything that stands in the way of us keeping our covenants needs to be removed from our lives. Anything that becomes an obstacle and stands in the way of us doing our duty to our families needs to be removed from our lives.
Friday, December 10, 2010 3 comments

Birth and Rebirth

And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? (Alma 5:14)
When I ran across this verse recently in my scripture study, I was struck by it as I read it thinking of this Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of Christ. How wonderful that my spiritual rebirth is made possible through Christ and His atonement! When I celebrate the birth of Christ, isn’t it a perfect time to examine myself to see if I have been spiritually reborn of God?
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 0 comments

Gifts from God to us

With the Christmas gift-giving season upon us, I decided to do some scripture study about the gifts that God gives to us.

God gives certain gifts to everyone
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Ephesians 4:7-8)
Certain gifts God gives to everyone is their agency, the light of Christ so that they know good from evil, coverage of their sins by the atonement of Christ (conditional upon repentance), and unconditional resurrection.

My parents actually followed this principle in their Christmas gift-giving; there were always a few presents that they gave to each of us alike.
And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. (Eccl. 3:13)
When you think of how Heavenly Father designed our brains so that our bodies can feel satisfied when we eat and drink enough, that is a great gift. He could have made us so that didn’t happen. Also, the satisfaction we feel when we have done a good job at something—that is a gift from God too.

God gives many different gifts according to our individuality
10 And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church.
11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby. (D&C 46:10-12)
Think of all the spiritual gifts that the church is blessed with! Prophecy, visions, healing, faith to be healed, revelation, tongues, interpretation of tongues, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, charity, faith, testimony, belief, working miracles, and so much more!
God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now; (D&C 121:26)
What a fascinating gift the gift of the Holy Ghost is! It is such a special thing the Lord wants us to have.  There are things we learn and things we feel through its influence that are so majestic, so awe-inspiring, so wondrous, that words simply fail to express it adequately, and only someone else who has experienced it too can understand.
Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him. (D&C 20:60)
This made me think about priesthood ordinations in a different way. I hadn’t thought that they were a gift from God. This verse calls it “the gifts and callings of God unto him” which makes me think that gift and calling may be synonymous to the Lord. Even though I don’t hold the priesthood, I have been given callings, and when I think of how they have blessed my life, I see that my callings are gifts to me. My calling as ward organist and choir pianist is a gift of music and my calling as a cub scout den leader is a gift of working with, associating with, and teaching children. I consider all my callings fun gifts and I'm not ashamed to say that I had to grow into the fun-ness thereof.
Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you… (D&C 78:11)
This phrase occurs so many times in the Doctrine and Covenants. Commandments are a gift too, and in so many ways! They are gifts because
  • Learning about them expands and refines our understanding of right and wrong.
  • They represent an opportunity for us to exercise our agency.
  • They present us with a choice to keep them or not.
  • They have blessings attached to them that the Lord wants us to have.
  • Inevitably we learn that we can’t keep the commandments on our own and we need the Lord’s help, so we learn to trust in the Lord.
  • When we follow them we are kept safe from bad things that tend to happen without them.
  • They help us become more like God. Doing them helps us do the things the Lord does.
  • Even if we try to ignore them, inevitably we are brought to a recognition of our need for the atonement of Christ and the necessity of repentance, by which we can discover the joy of our redemption. (And then we still get to keep the commandments!)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God. (D&C 14:7)

And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God. (D&C 46:26)

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Cor. 9:15)
Eternal life is the final gift God wants to give us. We have our whole lives to look forward to it and the Holy Ghost as a down payment of it. Surely there are spiritual gifts we must seek now that will help us prepare for this great gift.

What should we want?

Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given; (D&C 46:8, emphasis added)

And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing. (Moroni 10:30, emphasis added)

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2)
Even if I were to have the best blog in the world and do all I’m asked to do at church.. Even if I were superwoman (which I’m not) and could move mountains, if I don’t have charity, I’m nothing. Hmm. I think I need to pray more for charity.

Things to remember about the gifts God gives us
Thou shalt be diligent in preserving what thou hast, that thou mayest be a wise steward; for it is the free gift of the Lord thy God, and thou art his steward. (D&C 136:27)

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (1 Timothy 4:14)

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. (D&C 88:33)

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)
We learn from these scriptures:
  • to be diligent in preserving our gifts from God
  • to not neglect our gifts from God
  • to receive and rejoice in our gifts from God
  • and to give to others liberally like God has given us
What other scriptures do you know of that tell of the gifts that God has given us? Will you share them? What gifts from God are you feeling particularly thankful for right now? What is something you are doing to diligently preserve a gift from God?
Friday, December 3, 2010 1 comments

Alma 1 Comparison between fruits of priestcraft and fruits of true faithfulness; also the church’s defense against persecution

Alma 1 is an interesting chapter. I went through it today and at first I saw it as a series of unrelated events—“Nehor teaches false doctrines, establishes a church, introduces priestcraft, and slays Gideon—Nehor is executed for his crimes—Priestcrafts and persecutions spread among the people—The priests support themselves, the people care for the poor, and the Church prospers” (chapter summary).

But as I got toward the end of the chapter, I began to realize that the chapter actually sets up a contrast between the faithful people of the church and the people outside the church involved in priestcraft.


















































People who practiced and embraced PriestcraftFaithful church members

Preached false doctrine (v3-4, 7, 16)

(Ex: Nehor contended to lead Gideon and others away from the church)

Spoke the word of God (v7,26)

(Ex: Gideon withstood Nehor with the word of God)

Preached for riches and honor (v16)

Imparted the word of God freely (v20)

Teacher no better than the learner and vice versa (v26)

Lifted up in pride (v6, 32)Showed humility (v20)
Contending sharply, persecuting with all manner of words (v7, 20)No persecuting anyone in or out of the church (v21)

Preachers not laboring with their hands

supported by the people (v3, 5)

Preacher and learners all laboring with their hands for their own support (v26)
General idleness (v32)Diligently returned to labors after hearing the word of God (v26)
Wearing costly apparel (v6, 32)

Clothes neat and comely,

Not wearing costly apparel (v27)

Indulged themselves in all manner of wickedness (sorceries, idolatry or idleness, babblings, envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes; persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, murdering, etc.) (v32)Steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments (v25)
Envying, thieving, and robbing (v32)Imparted their substance liberally to all, having no respect to persons (v27, 30)
Babbling, envying, strife, murdering (v32)Had continual peace notwithstanding suffering persecutions (v28)

I think that Alma observed these characteristics as he saw them and that Mormon thought these observations important to include because it shows very well that false doctrines really do have an impact on how people live their lives and that it isn’t a good one.

Nehor’s doctrine had a bad influence on Nephite society, which led to the church suffering much persecution. According to Nehor’s doctrine, every priest and teacher had to be popular and had to establish a following. Undoubtedly this led to many people teaching to try amass a following, then trying to steal followers from each other and from the church. Because they felt popularity and material support legitimized a teacher rather than actually teaching the truth, in their view, priests and teachers in the church who didn’t have large followings and who weren’t paid for their preaching weren’t really legitimate and could be dismissed and denigrated. Further, free preaching destroyed priestcraft, so they had a material interest in discouraging free access to the word of God.

The church went through a whole lot of persecution because of this. And some of the church couldn’t resist giving back as good as they got. But most of them hung in there.

The chapter lists several things that the faithful people of the church did:
  • They lived by a strict rule that none of them would persecute anyone whether in or out of the church.
  • They stood steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments.
  • They left their labors to hear the word of God and then they diligently returned to their labors.
  • They imparted of their substance to anyone who stood in need.

These sound like a list of good things that everyone should do, and they are, but I also started to see that there was a strategic quality to them that helped them cope with and dampen the persecution they suffered.

Living by the rule that none of them would persecute anyone whether in or out of the church helped minimize the amount of persecution that occurred. It meant that they could have a place of safety if they were among church members. It also meant that retaliatory persecution from the outside would be negligible.

Steadfastly keeping the commandments helped prevent any outsiders from persecuting out of a sense of having been wronged.

Leaving their labors to hear the word of God and then diligently returning to their labors meant that there would be far fewer idle moments around outsiders and less opportunity for persecution to occur. If outsiders thought labor was beneath them, then members would be safe while laboring as outsiders would avoid work.

Imparting of their substance to anyone who stood in need helped minimize the want that would drive priestcraft adherents on a rant to try to draw followers and their money. If those needs were provided for, they couldn’t complain and rail as much. (Also, refraining from wearing costly apparel prevented them from becoming a target of envy.)

The result of these strategic efforts was this:
28 And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions.
29 And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need….
31And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church. (Alma 1:28-29,31)
How amazing that even in persecution, they began to have “continual peace” and were prospered to such an extent! Surely these principles were given as revelation from God through the prophet Alma (the high priest) to help them in those difficult times. I’m sure the principles the Nephite members followed are applicable today as well.

Will you share with me a time when you were able to achieve peace during persecution?
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 0 comments

King Mosiah let them go

1 Now it came to pass that after the sons of Mosiah had done all these things, *they took a small number with them and returned to their father, the king, and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites— ….
5 And it came to pass that they did plead with their father many days that they might go up to the land of Nephi.
6 And king Mosiah went and inquired of the Lord if he should let his sons go up among the Lamanites to preach the word.
7 And the Lord said unto Mosiah: Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites. (Mosiah 28:1,5-7)
I used to wonder why Mosiah took so long to decide to let his sons go teach the Lamanites. (After all, I knew how successful they would be on their mission because I had read all about it.) It took me a while to realize that King Mosiah seems to have been against letting them go, which is why his sons pled for many days on the issue. I realized King Mosiah had some very good rational reasons for not wanting them to go. He was worried they would lose their physical or spiritual lives, or even both. Up to this time, attempts to convert the Lamanites had been unsuccessful. Further, there was the saying given to Nephi that any who departed from the Nephites to join the Lamanites or who mingled their seed with the Lamanites would be cut off from the presence of the Lord like the Lamanites had been. Having seen his sons become so miraculously converted, Mosiah was extremely apprehensive that if his sons went among the Lamanites, they would be pulled down and turn like a dog to its vomit or fall victims to their hatred. I’m sure we can understand his view.

When his sons continued to plead for many days, Mosiah went to the Lord about it, seeking for revelation. I think that is admirable that he humbled himself to do that. The answer Mosiah got perfectly addressed all these concerns. In response, the Lord said, “Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites.” (Mosiah 28:7)

Mosiah took courage from this answer and lets them go. What comfort it must have been to have that promise that they would have eternal life.

If we notice subsequent events, it turns out that Mosiah’s obedience to this revelation becomes a great sacrifice; because he lets them go, he never sees them again in the flesh, and he dies about a year afterward. How he must have prayed for his sons in that year! How he must have yearned after them. I imagine that once released from his mortal body, his spirit must have rejoiced to finally see his sons’ progress among the Lamanites and must have watched every development with eagerness.

What does this story mean for us today? Undoubtedly the Lord knew of all the missionaries and parents of missionaries in the last days and prepared this little bit in the Book of Mormon to comfort parents as they sacrifice contact with their sons and daughters out in the mission field. I think it also can be a comfort to parents to help them trust the Lord to deliver their sons and daughters from harm. And for those few parents whose sons and daughters are killed, there is additional comfort in that promise of the Lord to Mosiah, “they shall have eternal life.”

To all you parents of missionaries, I salute you for your sacrifice!