Alma 12:7-8, LeGrand Baker, Zeezrom’s response

Alma 12:7-8, LeGrand Baker, Zeezrom’s response

Alma 12:7-8
7 Now when Alma had spoken these words, Zeezrom began to tremble more exceedingly, for he was convinced more and more of the power of God; and he was also convinced that Alma and Amulek had a knowledge of him, for he was convinced that they knew the thoughts and intents of his heart; for power was given unto them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy.
8 And Zeezrom began to inquire of them diligently, that he might know more concerning the kingdom of God. And he said unto Alma: What does this mean which Amulek hath spoken concerning the resurrection of the dead, that all shall rise from the dead, both the just and the unjust, and are brought to stand before God to be judged according to their works? (Alma 12:7-8)

Ordinary people cannot know what another person is thinking. However, the Spirit can make one privy to other people’s thoughts. Since Mormon was not there, it is very unlikely that he, as the historian, knew such intimate details of the story unless he had access to a more full account of Zeezrom’s testimony than what he has given us. That is very likely. It is also possible that Mormon is reminding us of the message in a psalm that was sung during the Feast of Tabernacles temple drama:

11 The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. {1}
12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law; (Psalms 94:11-12)

That is a two edged statement, for it not only tells us what God knows, but it also tells us what God does with what he knows. As in the case of Zeezrom, he teaches, initiates experiences, and helps us to understand. He does this in accordancee with covenants we and He made together before the foundation of the world.

Whenever our pre-mortal covenants are mentioned in the scriptures, there is also the promise that the Lord will insure that we have sufficient ability and opportunity to fulfill those covenants. That promise is always given to the prophets during a sode experience. As, for example, in the case of Jeremiah, the Lord said,

5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7 But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.
9 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. (Jeremiah 1:5-10)

But not only do the prophets have this promise of unfettered opportunity for success, but each of us has a similar promise. Isaiah wrote of that promise when he addressed, in prophecy, those of us who were to come in the last days to assist in the gathering of Israel. Speaking in first person, representing those who were assigned to participate in the gathering of Israel, he wrote,

1 And again: Hearken, O ye house of Israel, … the Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. [covenant]
2 And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword [the word of God is priesthood power {2}]; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me [ordination], and made me a polished shaft [anointing {3}]; in his quiver hath he hid me;
3 And said unto me [the assignment]: Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified….
5 And now, saith the Lord—that formed me from the womb that I should be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him—though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.
6 And he said: It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth. (1 Nephi 21:1-6)

One of the phrases that is most relevant to our purpose here is, “in his quiver hath he hid me.” The prophets are not hidden. They make their pronouncements for all to hear. It is the ordinary people who go about the business of living and keeping their covenants who are hidden from the world. Isaiah may well have been referring to a similar promise in the 31st Psalm.

19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!
20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. (Psalms 31:18-20)

One of the best examples of this promise is in the first chapter of Ephesians, where Paul says

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings [pre-mortal blessings] in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love…
11 In whom [the Father] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory [the Father], who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom [the Saviour] ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (See Ephesians 1:1-23)

Paul goes on to explain that our having been “sealed by the holy Spirit of promise” was a guarantee that we will have the power to fulfill our covenants, unless we choose not to do so.

Another Old Testament example is the 45th Psalm which was enacted as a part of the drama’s depiction of events in the Council in Heaven.

The blessing given to the king and queen in Psalm 45 was extended by implication to all the people who participated in the Feast of Tabernacles drama:

The blessing was given to the person designated to become king of Israel. He was promised wonderful things, concluding with a promise of invulnerability that is couched in military phrases.

3 Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.
4 And in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things.
5 Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; whereby the people fall under thee.
The blessing to the queen, his wife, is essentially the same without the military connotations.
10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house;
11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.
12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift [shows obeisance]; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour. [the queen will be a judge among her people]

Neither of those blessings include anything about their future family. That blessing was reserved until the couple join each other in the last two verses of the psalm.

16 Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.
17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.[eternal marriage] (Psalms 45:1-17)

Psalm 82 is another psalm that represented events that took place during the Council in Heaven.

The first verse is a narrator explaining what is happening on the stage.

1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
Then the Father gives instructions to the members of the Council in Heaven:
2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?
3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
7 But ye shall die like [other] men, and fall [in battle] like one of the princes.

The members of the Council respond: {4}

8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations. (Psalms 82:1-8)

In each of those scriptural discussions of our pre-mortal covenants and fore-ordinations, there is the promise that the Lord will divert anything that would prevent us from doing what we came to this earth to do. For the enormous majority of us, that means our quietly expending our resources and our energies to support the growth of the Kingdom. What God will not do is force us to obey.

In our story, the two men who face each other in this debate are excellent examples of that principle. Alma had been told by an angel that he must either repent or suffer the pains of hell—that is, the angel gave Alma the option, but it was Alma who made the choice. Now Zeezrom is having a similar experience—but it is Alma, rather than an angel, who is delivering the ultimatum.

Both men responded the same way. They chose to suffer the pains of repentance rather than the pains of hell—but they could have chosen not to repent, gone about life as before, and refused to believe what the consequence would be. We do not have much information about Zeezrom immediately after this experience, except that it nearly killed him. Alma blessed him to recover his health, and he was baptized. (Alma 15) Later he was a missionary companion to Alma and Amulek. (Alma 31:6, 30)

Not all of us will have as dramatic a conversion experience as these two men, but many latter-day converts have had as complete a change in the direction their lives were going. For each of us, throughout our life’s experience, we remain free to do and believe what we will. In our egotism we tend to equate “truth” with whatever we choose to believe, and “falsehood” with whatever we do not choose to believe. But truth is truth, and is independent of our belief. Whether we believe a true thing or not does not impact its validity, but our believing or not believing sets the course of our lives. Embracing truth brings freedom—absolute freedom—for it unites our power with the blessings God has given us that we can succeed in our earthly mission. Embracing and defending a falsehood restricts our ability to know, uses up our energy to become, and leaves our covenant responsibilities, and their attendant blessing unfulfilled.

In the end, each one of us will have to say, as Alma and Zeezrom were able to testify, that the Lord gave us all the opportunities requisite for our knowing and keeping our eternal covenants.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ENDNOTES

{1} Paul’s paraphrase of this psalm might almost be read as a commentary on Zeezrom’s thinking.

18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. (1 Corinthians 3:18-21)

{2} In Paul’s description of the whole armor of God, we find “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17)

{3} An arrow is polished with olive oil to keep it from warping.

{4} The phrase, “arise, O God” as translated in the King James Version reads, in the Hebrew, “arise O elohim (plural, gods).” (One stands to make a covenant, as in 2 Kings 23:1-3) The word “elohim” is the proper name for the Father of the Gods, and it is also the plural form for “ordinary” gods. An example is in the first verse of our psalm, which reads, “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” Both “God” and “gods” are translated from the same Hebrew word, “elohim.” The last verse of Psalm 82 would be more internally consistent if its translation showed that it was spoken by the Father to the members of the Council, so that it reads, “Arise, O gods, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.” When read that way, that last verse becomes the covenant that comes at the conclusion of the instructions the Father gives to the members of the Council—and a covenant with the promise of success.

This entry was posted in Alma. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply