Alma 12:16-18, LeGrand Baker, Alma’s predictions of Zeezrom’s fate.

Alma 12:16-18, LeGrand Baker, Alma’s predictions of Zeezrom’s fate.

Alma 12:16-18
16 And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die a spiritual death; yea, he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness.
17 Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will.
18 Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.

Everyone agrees that the cheapest way to prove something out of the scriptures is to take a phrase or a verse out of context, and pretend it says something its author did not intend it to say. But sometimes we do that unawares, because we just don’t know the context. Dealing with these verses presents one of those kinds of problems. So, I wish to try to lay some background, then try to deal with the contextual problem. I hope it is needless to say that I do not expect to solve the problem, only just describe it. Translated, that means that I readily admit that haven’t the foggiest idea what I am talking about !

There are some phrases that Alma uses that sound very much like others we have no problem understanding. For example:

And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death;…Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will … they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.

However, there are others that do not seem to square with what we think it is easy to understand. For example: (oops! Some are the same ones)

then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die a spiritual death; yea, he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness…. they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.

Not long ago I pointed out that the Book of Mormon often uses the word “redeem” to mean to be brought into the presences of God. Some are brought back (redeemed) only long enough to be judged, and then they must leave again. Others are brought back to stay forever (redeemed), as in these examples. The first example talks about the judgement. The second tells that the wicked cannot stay in the Lord’s presence; and the third is the testimony of Lehi—one who is redeemed for ever.

16 Yea, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death—that spiritual death; for all mankind, by the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both as to things temporal and to things spiritual.
17 But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord. (Helaman 14:16-17)

26 But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection. (Mosiah 15:26)

15 But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love. (2 Nephi 1:15)

The next set of scriptures deal with those classes of persons who will remain eternally outside the presence of God — that is, who do not enjoy redemption in the eternities. Both scriptures are from D&C 76:

109 But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;
110 And heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever;
111 For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared;
112 And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end. (D&C 76:109-112)

These people are not sons of perdition, but they have merited the telestial glory. The telling phrase here is “but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.”

Part of the statement that describes the sons of perdition reads:

33 For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;
34 Concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—
35 Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.
36 These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—
37 And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power (D&C 76:33-37)

The phrase we are concerned with is, “the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power.”

Now to return to Alma’s words to Zeezrom:

16 And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death

That seems to identify Zeezrom as a son of perdition – which would mean that he has seen and denied the Saviour

which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die a spiritual death; yea, he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness.

That implies that the spiritual death Alma is talking about is the preclusion of temple’s sealing blessings—a fate that awaits anyone who is not in the Celestial Kingdom.

17 Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will.

That sounds like they are going to be with Satan forever.

18 Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice

That may mean, “ but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.”

So my conclusion is that I don’t know what fate Alma was threatening Zeezrom with.

Actually it all comes down to an even more interesting question: Had Zeezrom been so righteous in the past that he was now qualified to become a son of perdition? Or was he one who would ultimately inherit only the Telestial kingdom because he fell into the category of “liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. (D&C 76:103)

My answer is: “I do not known!” If the former, then Zeezrom’s repentance is one of the truly great stories in the scriptures. If the latter, its still a really good story.

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