Alma 36:3-4 – LeGrand Baker – Alma teaches about invulnerability

Alma 36:3-4 – LeGrand Baker – Alma teaches about invulnerability

3 And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.
4 And I would not that ye think that I know of myself—not of the temporal but of the spiritual, not of the carnal mind but of God (Alma 36:3-4).

Perhaps the most overreaching covenant we make, or have ever made, with God has no name in LDS literature. That necessitated that Stephen and I finding a name for it when we wrote Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord. The name we chose was “the covenant of invulnerability.” These verses describe it perfectly. It is not that we will not experience troubles and afflictions, it is that neither those trials, nor the people who cause them, will have the power to prevent us from

Many of the psalms that contain versions of that blessing conclude with a promises of military invulnerability.{1} There were two kinds of enemies in their world. One challenged the earthly concerns of kingship’s responsibility for personal and national peace and security. The other (a holdover from the previous world) challenges the powers of one’s righteousness and priesthood. The contexts of the seeming military blessings in this and other psalms suggest that the intent of the blessing was to give the assurance that the Lord guaranteed that no power on earth or in hell could prevent one from keeping one’s premortal covenants, and from enjoying the blessings derived therefrom. It was a promise that even though the king (who was dressed in sacred clothing; empowered by truth, meekness and righteousness) might find himself surrounded by enemies whose intent was to destroy him, he would remain invincible to their ultimate power until his covenants were fulfilled and his mission accomplished.

These promises of invulnerability are usually found in those psalms that speak of the king’s approaching God.{2} It is not a promise that one will not have difficulties, even great difficulties, but rather it is a reminder of the covenant made in the Council that God is the guarantor that one will have the power to fulfill one’s eternal covenants. An excellent description of the power of this covenant is Alma’s testimony:

3 …I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.
4 And I would not that ye think that I know of myself—not of the temporal but of the spiritual, not of the carnal mind but of God (Alma 36:3-4).

That covenant of ultimate invulnerability is the golden thread that runs through the entire ancient Israelite temple drama, as it is also fundamental to the apostate and apocryphal versions in the cosmic myth: the assignment is impossible and only the intercession of the heavens can make a path through the obstacles that would otherwise prevent its fulfillment. The obstacles and the impossibility of the task are ever-present but then so is the guarantee that the Father will fulfill his part of the covenant. It is embodied in the Abrahamic covenant.{3}

11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal (Abraham 2:11).

It is the same guarantee as the prayer that concludes the first chapter of Ephesians, after Paul reminded his readers of their premortal relationship with their Father in Heaven, and of the covenants and instructions they received before they left home.{4}

Nephi’s testimony is that if God gives instructions they are in accordance with eternal covenants, and God’s part of that covenant is that he will override the obstacles that would prevent him from keeping his part of the covenant.

8 And it came to pass that when my father had heard these words he was exceedingly glad, for he knew that I had been blessed of the Lord (1 Nephi 8).

Lehi also understood the truth and power of God’s promise of ultimate invulnerability. He recognized that Nephi’s assurance was not just the expression of a boy’s unschooled trust, but that Nephi had in fact “been blessed of the Lord.”

FOOTNOTES

{1}Some important examples are Psalms 2, 21, 45, 110. Psalm 21 is the king standing before the veil of the temple. It concludes with a promise of invulnerability. Not all “war psalms” are that kind of concluding blessing. Eaton identifies several psalms “that reflect warfare: 7; 11; 17; 27; 3 1; 35; 40; 42-3; 44; 54; 55; 56; 59; 60; 62; 63; 66; 69; 70; 108; 109; 140; 141; in several others the military aspect is not brought out but can reasonably be assumed: 5; 16; 2.8; 142; 143.” (Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms,130.)

{2}A splendid example of the covenant of invulnerability is found in the code that describes the animals in the veil ceremony of Job 40:1–42:5.

{3}The covenant of Abraham is first given in what appears to be a kind of veil ceremony in Abraham 1:16-19. The promises made to Abraham and his descendants include: 1) the promise of land (Abraham 2:6; Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 15:9-14); 2) the promise of posterity (Abraham 2:9; Genesis 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 17:2; 18:18; 22:17; 3) the promise of priesthood blessings ( Abraham 1:3-4; 1:18; 2:11); and 4) the promise of salvation (Abraham 2:10). The covenant of invulnerability is found in the words, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; (Abraham 2:11, see Genesis 12:11-3). See Stephen D. Ricks, “The Early Ministry of Abraham (Abraham 1 and 2),” in Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., The Pearl of Great Price (Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985), 219-20.

{4}At the conclusion of Paul’s discussion of the covenants we made with God in the premortal world (Ephesians 1:1-14), Paul prays that his readers may know three things:

First, “what is the hope of his calling.” Calling is a verb, thus it is God’s calling—his premortal assignment—to the Saints.

Second, “and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” That is, what great blessings await those who keep their covenants.

Third, “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.” (v. 18-20 and on to v. 23)

In other words, Paul’s prayer concludes with the hope that we will know that the Father has also promised us that he will enable us to fulfill our covenants if we are faithful to the instructions of the Holy Ghost.

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