Moroni 7:2-4 – Peaceable followers of Christ become the sons of God – LeGrand Baker

Moroni 7:2-4 
2 And now I, Mormon, speak unto you, my beloved brethren; and it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time.
3 Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.
4 And now my brethren, I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men.

Mormon begins this sermon by addressing his “beloved brethren” and declaring the authority by which he is “permitted to speak.”

2 And now I, Mormon, speak unto you, my beloved brethren; and it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time.

Mormon is the prophet and president of the church. If he needed permission to give this sermon, the only persons from whom he could have received that permission were, as he said, “it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time.”

This asks a very important question: what is there about this speech that the prophet had to get permission to deliver it. The answer, I think, is in the combination of the content of the speech and the audience to whom he addressed it.

The speech is brilliant. On one level it is most appealing to persons who have read the Book of Mormon for the first time. Seminary students and new converts love it because it speaks to their souls. And as we grow in the gospel it continues to speak to us. However, it takes a great reach on my part to begin to understand what it would have meant to the audience to whom it was first given.

The sermon begins by acknowledging his audience as those who “are the peaceable followers of Christ.”

3 Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.

That brings us to some of the Savior’s most fundamental teachings. Many of the Beatitudes are quotes or paraphrases from the Psalms or from Isaiah. They move in a sequence from the first principles, through the temple rites and priesthood responsibilities until we come to verse 8 which says Zion shall see God, and then verse 9 which reads:

9 And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God (3 Nephi 12:9).

The group to whom Mormon addressed his sermon were remarkable because of their “peaceable walk with the children of men.” But they were more than that. It is a simple truth that to understand any quote, part of that understanding must be to know why and to whom it was spoken. Part of the context of any sermon is to know who the audience was. In this case it is a priesthood meeting. We know that because he addresses only “my beloved brethren,” and he did it nine times in these few pages.

Whether he intended to or not (and I believe it was very intentional), his sermon followed the pattern of, and was a perfect commentary on the Beatitude: “blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Because I believe he intended to do that, I also believe that a meaningful context into which to fit that sermon is the sequence of the Beatitudes. Here, I give only their barest outline. I realize that it contains no justifications for the conclusions it draws, however, these apparent leaps of logic are carefully discussed and documented in detail in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, {1}

Outline of the Beatitudes in the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 12:

v. 1 – Jesus gave authority to Twelve –

v. 1b – Follow the Brethren
v. 2 – First Principles – “visited by the Holy Ghost”
v. 3 – Poor in Spirit – endowment for the living – may become kings and priests
v. 4 – Comfort all that mourn – endowment for the dead (Isaiah 61)
v. 5 – Meek – the meek are those who keep their eternal covenants (Psalm 25)
v. 6 – “hunger and thirst after righteousness” – “filled with the Holy Ghost”
v. 7 – Merciful – how to be a king and a priest (Psalm 18:25)

v. 8 – Pure in Heart – Zion shall see God (D&C 97:16-21, 101:16-18)
v. 9 – Peacemakers – called [new name] “children of God” (Moroni 73-4 & 48)

v. 10 – “for my name’s sake” – do become kings and priests
v. 11-12 – “when men shall revile” – endure to the end
v. 13 – “salt of the earth” – missionary work
v. 14-16 – “light of this people” – to be a blessing to the Saints

It takes only a quick look at that sequence to realize that everything one needs to know and do in a whole lifetime is in those verses.

If Moroni 7 is a commentary on verse 9, then its placement in the sequence of the Beatitudes tells us a great deal about its meaning and significance. Then verse 8 may be seen as not only a prelude or introduction to verse 9 but also to Mormon’s sermon. Verse 8 reads simply, “And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Psalm 24 promises the pure in heart will be welcomed into the temple to “receive the blessing from the Lord.”

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation (Psalms 24:3-5).

Similarly, speaking of Zion, the Lord told the Prophet Joseph, “and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God,” then he declared, “for this is Zion—THE PURE IN HEART” (D&C 97:16, 21).

The Beatitude that reads, “And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” is a perfect introduction to Moroni 7.

Mormon began his sermon by addressing his audience in those same terms. He spoke to those who “have obtained [past tense] a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven. [then he added] … I judge these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men.”

If I have understood Mormon’s introduction correctly, and the members of his audience really had “obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord,” then they were not only in a very wonderful, but also in a very dangerous situation. Mormon understood that first hand. In his generation, many of the once faithful Nephites had not only denied the Savior, but had done so with violent furor. However, Mormon’s sermon also testifies to us that even in that environment there were some people who remained faithful, and that their prophet was concerned for their well-being. His message to them was that they must do more than try to avoid evil, but that must also keep their covenants, live as though those covenants were already fulfilled, and love each other and their God. Love—charity—was their ultimate defense against both evil and apostasy, just as it is ours.

The reason this sermon is so dearly beloved by Latter-day Saints in every stage of our spiritual development is because the Spirit testifies to each of us that the love that we give and that we accept from the Savior and from others (hesed) is the ultimate power that brings us back to the Savior and to our Heavenly Father. In this world, as Mormon observed, the fruit of love is peace, and the blessing to those who exude peace is that they may give peace to others—that they are peacemakers. Peace is a product of reciprocated love—hesed. {2}

The Beatitudes do not end with verse 9, but continue until they reach a new height—the “salt of the earth” is sharing the gospel; “light of this people” –is to be a blessing to the Saints—to be a personification of charity. Similarly, Peter’s sequence showing the attributes one must have in order to “make your calling and election sure” concludes with charity, (2 Peter 1:10) as does Mormon’s teachings in Moroni 7. I am convinced that while the priesthood ordinance and covenants are absolutely necessary to secure salvation, the ultimate sealing power (the power that validates the ordinances) is our own ability to give and to receive love.

Our Beatitude promises the peacemakers “shall be called [receive the new covenant-name] the children of God.” Mormon concludes his sermon with the same promise except he is speaking to only men, whereas the Savior was speaking to entire families.

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen (Moroni 7:48).

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FOOTNOTES

{1} Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, pages 646-96 in the edition in this website; and also check the “scriptures” section. The two are not exactly the same. The latter was written after the book was published and so contains a few ideas not in the former. That is especially true with verse 7.

{2} Hesed means “unfailing love based on a prior covenant.” Use the search engine to find more detailed discussions.

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