Alma 38:8-9, LeGrand Baker, Light and Truth

Alma 38:8-9, LeGrand Baker, Light and Truth

8 And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.
9 And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.

In these verses Alma sums up some of the most profound testimonies of the Savior found anywhere in the scriptures. Alma does it so succinctly that two things are evident: 1) He is fully aware of the intent of the similar testimonies found in our modern scriptures, and 2) those concepts required no explanation to his son. Therefore it is apparent that these most profound doctrines were taught and understood by Book of Mormon prophets and the people.

Each time the Savior introduced himself he used that same phrase. He said, “I am the light and the life of the world (3 Nephi 9:18, 11:11).

12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8:12).

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

John’s testimony is similar:

9 The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men (D&C 93:9).

Abinadi’s testimony to Alma is an explanation of that phrase:

9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death (Mosiah 16:9).

The doctrine that he is the life and the light of the world is much older than the Book of Mormon text.

In the Bible, the origin of all physical things began with the words, “Let there be light.” From the light, came all else. Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews recalls:

The heavens were fashioned from the light of God’s garment. …The light created at the very beginning is not the same as the light emitted by the sun, the moon, and the stars, which appeared only on the fourth day. The light of the first day was of a sort that would have enabled man to see the world at a glance from one end to the other. Anticipating the wickedness of the sinful generations of the deluge and the Tower of Babel, who were unworthy to enjoy the blessing of such light, God concealed it, but in the world to come it will appear to the pious in all its pristine glory. {1}

The Lord’s revelation to the Prophet Joseph is very explicit about that, and foreshadows the best scientific thinking of our time. He explained that the light of Christ is:

11 …the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—
13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things (D&C 88:7-13).

Whether one approaches it from Einstein’s theory or the string theory, matter is energy. In the scriptures that energy is called “light.”

When I was a young man astronomers taught that the universe was a vacuum except for those placed where we could see visible light, and that the light “that filled the immensity of space” was the light of the stars that traveled through that vacuum at amazing speed. Now astronomers teach that the universe is filled with “dark energy” and “dark matter.” They are “dark” because they are not visible, but in fact they are completely transparent and as is shown by the fact that visible light passes through them without restraint.

According to observations of structures larger than solar systems, as well as Big Bang cosmology…. dark matter accounts for 23% of the mass-energy density of the observable universe. In comparison, ordinary matter accounts for only 4.6% of the mass-energy density of the observable universe, with the remainder being attributable to dark energy. From these figures, dark matter constitutes 83%, (23/(23+4.6)), of the matter in the universe, whereas ordinary matter makes up only 17%. (From Wikipedia)

My simplistic way of understanding that is that just as ordinary energy/photons/matter of our visible universe is made of the Savior’s light. The dark energy/matter of the universe is also made of his light, but the latter’s properties make it imperceptible to our senses and even to our sophisticated scientific instruments.

Psalm 36 says it differently, and perhaps even more beautifully. As you read this psalm, remember the definition of hesed: “unfailing love, loyal love, devotion. Kindness, often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship.”{2}

5 Thy mercy [hesed], O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.
7 How excellent is thy loving-kindness [hesed], O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.
9 For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.
10 O continue thy loving-kindness [hesed] unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart (Psalms 36:5-10).

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ENDNOTES

{1} Louis Ginzberg, trans. Henrietta Szold, The Legends of the Jews, 7 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1937), 1:8-9.

{2} John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson, The Strongest Strong’s, Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), Hebrew dictionary # 2617.

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