Alma 7:22 – LeGrand Baker – awake, arise, and walk, as covenant words
I went home teaching yesterday to a man and his wife who have been my neighbors and friends for more than 20 years. Her 90-year-old father died last week. She told us the circumstances of his death, and made an observation that I have been thinking about ever since. I would like to share it with you.
She said she had been with her father most of the day, and when he was resting well, she slipped out to get a little rest and something to eat. She returned in about an hour to find that he had died. She said, “When I looked at him I hardly recognized him. He didn’t even look like himself.” Then she made this observation that I cannot stop thinking about: “I hardly recognized him because his spirit had left his body. Isn’t it interesting? We look at each other and think we see only the physical person, but we also see the spirit within that body. Isn’t it amazing how much of the spirit we can see, and how unlike that person the body appears to be when the spirit is no longer there.”
It’s like President McKay said, “Every man and every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone; it is not alone what he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person radiates what he or she really is. Every person is a recipient of radiation.” (David O. McKay,“Radiation of the Individual,” The Instructor, October, 1964, p. 373-374)
When the spirit is gone, the body is not what it was before.
Alma 7:22 – LeGrand Baker – awake, arise, and walk, as covenant words
And now my beloved brethren, I have said these things unto you that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God, that ye may walk blameless before him, that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received.(Alma 7:22)
Verse 22 shows that not only Alma, but also the people in his audience are very sophisticated in their understanding of the temple rites and the temple language. Here he unites three concepts in a way that they are not often used together elsewhere in the scriptures. The words are awake and walk.
Once again, please remember that there is no dictionary of sacral code words, so everything I write here is only my personal opinion. I am arriving at my definitions based on a combination of what the Hebrew or Greek words mean and also on the way the English translation of those wards is used in the scriptures.
I would like to examine the uses of awake, arise, and walk, and then return to our verse and observe how Alma uses awake and walk.
Paul uses the words the same way: “arise” brings one to a newness of life; “awake” suggests becoming mentally or spiritually alert after sleep—aware of the light.
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. (Ephesians 5:14. Scriptures that use “arise” to represent the resurrection are Malachi 4:2 & D&C 43:18) The word awake is often associated with the word arise. In some scriptures:
“Awake” suggests an invigoration, an alertness, an aliveness of spirit.
“Arise” suggests an the animation of the physical body—of becoming a new person.
It is sometimes associated with the resurrection. But more frequently in the scriptures word arise was used in conjunction with covenant making, and is used to suggest that one becomes a new person after one has made a new covenant.
Walk suggests ascending the mountain i.e. the temple (receiving the ordinances and making the covenants.) It also suggests living one’s life in accordance with the covenants, laws, and statutes of God.
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One stands to make a covenant, so the word “arise” often denotes making a covenant and later keeping that covenant.
Speaking of the Prophet Joseph, Isaiah said
7 Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nations abhorreth, to servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful [in keeping his covenants]. (1 Nephi 21:7, see Isaiah 49:7)
While it is possible this is a reference to earthly kings, it is far more likely that it is a reference to sacral kings who rise to make and keep their covenants.
One of the best examples of standing to make a covenant is found in a story told in both Kings and Chronicles. King Josiah had ordered a remodeling of the temple. Those working on the project discovered a scroll, and took it to the king.
1 And the king sent, and they gathered unto him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem.
2 And the king went up into the house of the Lord, and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the people, both small and great: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.
3 And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant.(2 Kings 23:1-3, see 2 Chronicles 34:29-33)
At first glance, Alma’s encounter with the angel does not remind one of a covenant, yet, it follows the covenant formula: Alma was commanded to rise, and the conditions of the covenant were given: If he continues to act that way, he will go to hell.
8 But behold, the voice said unto me: Arise. And I arose and stood up, and beheld the angel.
9 And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God. (Alma 36:8-9)
The Saviour at the temple at Bountiful used the same formula:
14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. (3 Nephi 11:14)
He used the same covenant formula when he discussed baptism in this dispensation:
10 But, behold, the days of thy deliverance are come, if thou wilt hearken to my voice, which saith unto thee: Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on my name, and you shall receive my Spirit, and a blessing so great as you never have known. (D&C 39:10)
The Saviour used the same formula when he instituted the sacrament among the Nephites.
1 And it came to pass that he commanded the multitude that they should cease to pray, and also his disciples. And he commanded them that they should not cease to pray in their hearts.
2 And he commanded them that they should arise and stand up upon their feet. And they arose up and stood upon their feet.
3 And it came to pass that he brake bread again and blessed it, and gave to the disciples to eat.
4 And when they had eaten he commanded them that they should break bread, and give unto the multitude.
5 And when they had given unto the multitude he also gave them wine to drink, and commanded them that they should give unto the multitude.
6 Now, there had been no bread, neither wine, brought by the disciples, neither by the multitude;
7 But he truly gave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink.
8 And he said unto them: He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.(3 Nephi 20:1-8)
The covenant is in the last verse.
In a revelation given through Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, in December, 1835, the Lord tied the word “arise” directly to keeping one’s covenants.
3 And arise up and be more careful henceforth in observing your vows, which you have made and do make, and you shall be blessed with exceeding great blessings. (D&C 108:3)
In a revelation given in Far West, Missouri, the Lord employed the full range of the words:
2 Let them awake, and arise, and come forth, and not tarry, for I, the Lord, command it.(D&C 117:2)
Later, he used the a similar sequence of ideas in the covenant formula:
103 And again, verily I say unto you, if my servant Sidney will serve me and be counselor unto my servant Joseph, let him arise and come up and stand in the office of his calling, and humble himself before me. (D&C 124:103)
In another revelation given through Joseph Smith at Far West, the Lord uses “arise” but in place of “awake” he says, “and shine forth”
5 Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations (D&C115:5)
To “shine forth” is not substantially different from Isaiah’s to “sing” in the following early example of the use of the combination of “awake” and “arise.” Taken out of context it is about the resurrection, but in context it is part of the words of a song that declares, “Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us” (v. 12) Everything in the song it speaks of a spiritual awakening, so one is left unsure whether this is a prophecy of the resurrection or a symbolic representation of the newness of life one experiences after one repents. In either case, “arise” represents a newness of life, and “awake” is the quickening of the soul. In the phrase “awake and sing, “sing” is the defining word.
19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)
Lehi uses these representations of spiritual invigoration and physical resurrection to invite his sons to come out of their state of apostate darkness.
14 Awake! and arise from the dust [as in receiving a newness of life], and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return; a few more days and I go the way of all the earth. (2 Nephi 1:14)
Moroni uses Lehi’s words in somewhat the same way. This verse is found in a series of verses designed to evoke one’s recollection of the drama associated with the cosmic myth.
31 And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled. (Moroni 10:31)
Both of the above are drawn from Isaiah 51 & 52 where Isaiah contrasts “thou hast laid thy body as the ground” with “awake…aries…put on thy beautiful garments.”
Isaiah’s words are:
23 But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over. (Isaiah 51;23)
1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.
2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.(Isaiah 52:1-2, see 2 Nephi 8:23-25)
When the Lord quoted those same words in the Doctrine and Covenants he tied them to covenant making and covenant keeping.
14 For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.
15 Therefore, I give unto you this commandment, that ye bind yourselves by this covenant, and it shall be done according to the laws of the Lord. (D&C 82:14-15)
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“Walk” is often used to denote keeping one’s covenants.
There are two Hebrew words (Strong 1980, 3212) that are translated “walk” in the Old Testament scriptures I have quoted below, but they both have the same meaning: to go, walk, come, leave, die, live, manner of life (fig). In all of these instances the meaning suggested by their contexts is also the same: “manner of life.” In these contexts, “walk” means to receive the ordinances and covenants, or to live according to the ordinances and covenants one has received.
Here are some examples:
15 And he [Jacob] blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day.
16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. (Genesis 48:13-16)
Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. (Exodus 16:4)
17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him,…
20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.(Exodus 18:17, 20)
In Leviticus, which is the handbook for the Aaronic Priesthood, to “walk” means to live according to one’s covenants.
1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the Lord your God.
3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God.
5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 18:1-5)
2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.
3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. (Leviticus 26:1-4)
In his great farewell speech to the Israelites, Moses reviewed the Ten Commandments, then concluded with this covenant.
32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess. (Deuteronomy 5:4-33)
Throughout this great sermon, Moses reiterates the covenant. He uses “walk in his ways” to indicates one must keep one’s covenants.
6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
7 For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; (Deuteronomy 8:4-7)
Moses taught the Israelites what it meant to “walk in all his ways.” The Saviour later paraphrased this, and called it the first and great commandment.
12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)
There is no instance in the five books of Moses where the word “walk” is used with any meaning other than to perform the ordinances of the temple, to keep God’s commandments, or to keep one’s covenants. But in Joshua, the word “walk” has a new connotation. The first thing one does to create sacred space is to measure and define its boundaries. “Walk” is sometimes used to denote measuring by stepping off, or pacing. An example is in the beginning of the story of Job, where Satan tries to claim this earth as his own by “going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:7-8) Similarly, before Joshua brought the children of Israel into the promised land, he first sent in spies with these instructions:
And the men arose, and went away: and Joshua charged them that went to describe the land, saying, Go and walk through the land, and describe it, and come again to me, that I may here cast lots for you before the Lord in Shiloh. (Joshua 18:8. Also in Psalms 48 to walk is to designate sacred space.)
The notion of covenant making and covenant keeping is not lost in this use of “walk,” for when one designates sacred space (in this instance Joshua is going to divide it among the tribes by casting lots), there is an implicit covenant that one will keep God’s commands so the space will remain sacred. Joshua made that covenant explicit when he later instructed three of the tribes:
But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Joshua 22:5)
Near the end of king David’s reign, he made his son Solomon his successor to the throne.
1 Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying,
2 I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;
3 And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:
4 That the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel. (1 Kings 2:1-4)
God appeared to Solomon at the beginning of his reign and promised him both wealth and wisdom. This is part of that account:
5 In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
6 And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day…
13 And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
14 And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days.
15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants. (1 Kings 3:5-15)
Solomon’s building the Temple was the necessary to his keeping that covenant:
9 So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar.
10 And then he built chambers against all the house, five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar.
11 And the word of the Lord came to Solomon, saying,
12 Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:
13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.
14 So Solomon built the house, and finished it.(1 Kings 6:9-14)
Before delivering the dedicatory prayer of the Temple, Solomon thanked the Lord for keeping his covenants with David:
22 And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven:
23 And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:
24 Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him: thou spakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day.
25 Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David my father that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as thou hast walked before me.
26 And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. (1 Kings 8:22-26)
Then Solomon dedicated the Temple:
54 And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
55 And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,
56 Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
57 The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:
60 That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.
61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day. (1 Kings 8: 54-61)
The Psalms where the words of the ancient Israelite temple ceremony. One of the most beautiful, and certainly the most famous, is the 23rd Psalm, which reviews the entire ceremony. If one reads the word “walk” to mean keeping one’s covenants notwithstanding the pressures of this world, the entire psalm takes on a new level of meaning. This psalm, like other examples of the cosmic myth, is divided like a three act play.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
[Then comes act 2—the lonely, dreary part]
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and [act 3] I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Psalms 23:1-6)
Another of my favorites is Psalm 82. This is the charge given to the members of the Council in Heaven by Elohim. The Hebrew word translated “judgeth” means the same as the English “judge.” It means to condemn, exonerate, or to choose—as in judging an apple pie contest. The phrase that they “walk in darkness” means the people know neither the ordinances nor the covenants. There are three voices in this psalm. the first is that of the narrator or chorus (as in a Greek play), the second is Elohim who gives instructions to the members of the Council, and the third is that of the members of the Council who make a covenant that they will follow God’s instructions. Here also, standing is an important part of their covenant making.
[The narrator says]
God standeth in the congregation of the mighty;
he judgeth [chooses] among the gods.
[Elohim, the Father of the Gods, then gives these instructions to the members of the Council in Heaven who are preparing to come to the earth. The word “persons” in verse 2 means faces, as in appearances, or facade. God is telling the members of the Council that when they go to their second estate, they must not judge people by their appearances.]
How long will ye judge unjustly,
and accept the persons [faces] of the wicked?
Defend the poor and fatherless:
do justice to the afflicted and needy.
Deliver the poor and needy:
rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
They know not, neither will they understand;
they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
I have said, Ye are gods;
and all of you are children of the most High.
But ye shall die like men,
and fall like one of the princes. [that is, fall in battle, like Abinadi]
[The Council then covenants that they will do their part so God can accomplish his purposes.]
Arise, O God [the word is elohim, meaning the gods], judge the earth:
for thou shalt inherit all nations. (Psalms 82:1-8)
One can insert Psalm 82 into Abraham 3: 23 without breaking the cadence of the story:
And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth [chooses] among the gods…… [He gives instructions, then the members of the Council covenant that they will do their part so God can accomplish his purposes. They say:] Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations. And God saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
Here are a few lines from other psalms.
Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth:
unite my heart to fear thy name. (Psalms 86:11)
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk,
O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. (Psalms 89:15)
I will sing of mercy and judgment:
unto thee, O Lord, will I sing.
I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way.
O when wilt thou come unto me?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. (Psalms 101:1-2)
In the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s Temple, there stood the great throne of God. One either side were two cherubim whose eagle wings overarched the throne. At the end of the coronation ceremony, after he was anointed, the king sat upon this throne to show that he was a legitimate son and heir of God and could serve as God’s representative on the earth. Isaiah refers to those ordinances when he writes:
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
The Lord placed those words in a covenant setting when he said to the Prophet Joseph:
18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
19 And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
20 And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen. (D&C 89:18-21)
Nephi used the symbolism of “walk” and “path” to mean keeping one’s covenants. Here is just one example.
8 I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.
9 I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation. (2 Nephi 33:8-9)
Mormon used “walk” in the same way it is used in the Old Testament.
5 And king Benjamin lived three years and he died.
6 And it came to pass that king Mosiah did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe his judgments and his statutes, and did keep his commandments in all things whatsoever he commanded him. (Mosiah 6:5-6)
Here is Mormon’s description of king Noah’s apostasy:
1 And now it came to pass that Zeniff conferred the kingdom upon Noah, one of his sons; therefore Noah began to reign in his stead; and he did not walk in the ways of his father.
2 For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness. (Mosiah 11:1-2)
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Returning to Alma 7:22
“Awake” is a command to be spiritually animated, to be alert and aware, to sing.
“Arise” suggests a newness of life. As when one makes a new covenant, one receives a new name, and thereby becomes a new person. ,
“Walk” suggests the same idea as path and way. It is the steps (ordinances and covenants by which one climbs the “mountain” (temple). Then, after one comes out of the temple, “walk” is the word that connotes one’s living according to those ordinances and covenants. “Walk” may also denote measuring in order to define sacred space.
And that brings us full circle to the words of Alma to the people of Gideon:
9 But behold, the Spirit hath said this much unto me, saying: Cry unto this people, saying—Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth…..
19 For I perceive that ye are in the paths of righteousness; I perceive that ye are in the path which leads to the kingdom of God; yea, I perceive that ye are making his paths straight.
20 I perceive that it has been made known unto you, by the testimony of his word, that he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round.
21 And he doth not dwell in unholy temples; neither can filthiness or anything which is unclean be received into the kingdom of God; therefore I say unto you the time shall come, yea, and it shall be at the last day, that he who is filthy shall remain in his filthiness.
22 And now my beloved brethren, I have said these things unto you that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God, that ye may walk blameless before him, that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received. (Alma 7:9, 19-22)
To emphasize the significance of Alma’s words, let me structure verse 22 a little differently:
And now my beloved brethren, I have said these things unto you
that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God,
that ye may walk blameless before him,
that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received. (Alma 7:9, 22)
In verse 22, where Alma combined the meanings of the words “awaken,” “walk,” and “walk” he was calling on a remarkable precedent. It seems to me that the phrase, “that ye may walk blameless before him,” is a reference to keeping their covenants. The Lord gave a similar commandment to Zion’s Camp:
And this shall be our covenant—that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord. (D&C 136:1-6)
I suspect that in the next phrase, “that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received”, “walk” has a somewhat different meaning: it is about ongoing priesthood responsibility. The precedent for this use of walk is found when the Lord gave the Holy Land to Abraham for a home for his family—forever. Within the promise is the instruction that Abraham should “walk through the land” to designate it as sacred space. It is a key to the meaning of the Abrahamic Covenant.
14 And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes [i.e. become alert, as in awake], and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.(Genesis 13:14-18)
Alma’s words, “that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God … that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received,” suggests to me that he was calling their attention to the same charge that the Lord had given to Abraham: “ Lift up now thine eyes… Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it” to make it sacred space.
If Alma were calling on the Lord’s words to Abraham as the precedent for his appeal to the people of Gideon, the command would have been this: “that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received”—that you may make your homes and your community sacred space.