Alma 12: 28-34, LeGrand Baker, Alma’s review of Israelite temple drama

Alma 12: 28-34, LeGrand Baker, Alma’s review of Feast of Tabernacles drama

The thing that strikes me as most extraordinary about Alma’s ‘private’ conversation with Zeezrom is that this is a kind of debate setting, and not the sort of time where Alma would be introducing new concepts that Zeezrom had never heard before. The thing that is remarkable about that is that these chapters are among the ‘deepest doctrinal’ chapters in the Book of Mormon, which means tahat Zeezrom had an amazing understanding of the gospel. Which implies that he had been a student of the scriptures and had gotten off onto some pretty thin ice, or else that the ‘deep’ doctrines Alma was discussing were generally known among the Nephites. In Alma 12, Alma beats Zeezrom with the covenants he has made in this world, in chapter 13 he clobbers him with the covenants he made in the pre-mortal existence. Both chapters say a lot about the intellects of Alma and Zeezrom.

Chapter 12 has focused on the covenants associated with the temple drama of the Feast of Tabernacles. As I mentioned last week, that concluded with the invitation,

34  Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.

But also with the warning:

5   And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.

Before issuing that invitation and that warning, Alma reviewed the most relevant parts of the drama he was referring to. He said,

28   And after God had appointed that these things should come unto man, [that is, at the Council in Heaven] behold, then he saw that it was expedient that man should know concerning the things whereof he had appointed unto them;
29   Therefore he sent angels [don’t know how many. Two or three maybe, perhaps more] to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory. [the object of the angels’ teaching was to teach people how to enter God’s presence.]
30      And they [the people] began from that time forth to call on his name [so the angels taught them how to pray]; therefore God conversed with men [the Father himself spoke], and made known unto them the plan of redemption [‘redeem’ in the Book of Mormon, means to enter God’s presence (Ether 3:13; 2 Ne. 1:15, 2:1-3; Helaman 8:23)], which had been prepared from the foundation of the world; and this he made known unto them according to [that is, these were the methods he used for insturction] their faith [pistis, tokens of the covenants] and repentance [repentance is the very best teacher] and their holy works [‘Holy’ means holy, works are ordinances——the ordinances are also a source of instruction].

31   Wherefore, he gave commandments unto men, they having first transgressed the first commandments as to things which were temporal [‘temporal’ is time related, so he is talking about the commandments associated with linear time.] and becoming as Gods, knowing good from evil [that is very different from ‘good and evil’], placing themselves in a state to act, or being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good——
32   Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption [again, having taught them how to come into the presence of God], that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness [righteousness is zedek which is correctness in temple things, so the second death he is talking about is the state of being without zedek type blessings]; for on such the plan of redemption could have no power [without zedek , one cannot come into God’s presence], for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God.
33   But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son;
34   Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.

 

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