Alma 36:2 – LeGrand Baker – “always remember”
I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions (Alma 36:2)
One of the most frequent admonitions by the Book of Mormon prophets is that we “remember.” As it is spelled here, it means to recall to mind, but if it is spelled this way: “re-member ; ”then it means to reinstate something as a part of what it once was. That may be a stronger and more accurate way of looking at the words of the prophets: to reinstate one’s covenants as a part of one’s Self—to always re-member!
“Remember,” or some form of the word, is used in the Book of Mormon almost 200 times. A good many of those are promises that the Lord will remember his covenants, and others remind us that we must remember ours. Still others assert that it is not enough to simply call to mind that we made covenants, but the admonitions are to re-commit ourselves to the covenants we once made, that they may be a vital part of our present attitudes and actions. In the sacrament prayers, the one for the bread is a weekly new covenant that we will “always remember him.” The one for the water is an assertion that we keep that covenant and “do always remember him.”
Among the most important covenants we make in our odyssey through linear time are the ones we made in the Council in Heaven. In one of the most beautiful of the Psalms the author defines the “meek” as those who keep those eternal covenants. It reads: (Psalms 25:9.)
9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. …
12 What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.
14 The secret [the Hebrew word here is sode, meaning the decisions of the Council in Heaven] of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant (Psalms 25:12-14. There is a full discussion of Psalm 25 in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, 525-42.).
Most of the covenants we make here are a remembering of the ones we made before. Those covenants included not only the generic ones that applied to everyone, but some had to do with only ourselves: personal, specific assignments to be fulfilled while we are here. The problem is that even though we accepted those responsibilities then, when we were fully cognizant, now we do not remember them. One of the major functions of the Holy Ghost— and one of the promises that make it most valuable to us— is that it teaches us those covenants, and teaches us how to fulfill them, just as the time comes that we should fulfill them (but usually not before). The Saviour said to his apostles,
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:26-27).
It is significant that when Jacob spoke at the newly constructed Nephite temple, some of his most memorable words began with the charge to remember the event he was about to describe:
41 O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.
42 And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them (2 Nephi 9:41-42).
It is equally significant that in somewhat the same context King Benjamin made a very similar admonition to the saints that were gathered at the temple:
12 I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you (Mosiah 5:12).