17 November 2012

Mosiah 2-6: The King's Speech

In the last chapter, King Benjamin waxed old, selected his son Mosiah to succeed him, and gathered all of his subjects to hear his speech so he could rid his garments of their blood.
And it came to pass that after Mosiah had done as his father had commanded him, and had made a proclamation throughout all the land, that the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them. Mosiah 2:1
I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might rid my garments of your blood. 2:28
But there were just too many of them. They had multiplied exceedingly. There were so many, in fact, that they couldn't be numbered or fit in the temple, so a tower had to be erected so that everyone could hear King Benjamin's exceedingly boring speech.
There were a great number, even so many that they did not number them; for they had multiplied exceedingly and waxed great in the land. 2:2
For the multitude being so great that king Benjamin could not teach them all within the walls of the temple, therefore he caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them. 2:7
Mosiah goes on for five chapters, saying all the usual stuff: Jesus is coming and everyone must pre-believe in him or be tortured forever in hell.
If he ... dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment. 2:33
Mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment. 2:39
A state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls. 3:25
Their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. 3:27
And Mosiah isn't just making stuff up. An angel of the Lord visited him and told him all about Jesus (who would be born in another 120 years or so). This is the umpteenth time Jesus is prophesied in great detail in the Book of Mormon. It's almost as though the whole thing was written using language that mimicked the King James Version of the Bible by someone living in nineteenth century America.

But we do learn a few new things about Jesus.

He will suffer so much that blood will come out of every pore of his body. And he is not only the Son of God, he is also the Father of heaven and earth.
The things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God. And he said unto me: Awake; and I awoke, and behold he stood before me. 3:2
For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that ... the Lord Omnipotent ... shall come down from heaven among the children of men. 3:5
He shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men. 3:6
And lo, he shall suffer ... blood cometh from every pore. 3:7
He shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth ... and his mother shall be called Mary. 3:8
When King Benjamin quit speaking, everyone in Zarahemla fell down.
And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them. 4:1
And they all spoke in unison the following words:
O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men. 4:2
When the crowd was finished with their speech, the king started speaking again.
And king Benjamin again opened his mouth and began to speak unto them, saying......... 4:4-30
After King Benjamin's speech, he sent his officials out to ask the people if they believed the stuff he told them.
It came to pass that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them. 5:1
He didn't need Nate Silver to do the analysis.

Everyone believed everything he said and they all cried out together, "Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken to us...."
And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. 5:2
And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things. 5:3
And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy. 5:4
And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God. 5:5
And, by golly, those were just the words King Benjamin hoped they'd say!
These are the words which king Benjamin desired of them. 5:6
Then King Benjamin broke into one of his boring speeches again.
And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ........ 5:7-15
After King Benjamin finally finished speaking (God, I hope he's really done this time), he decided to make a list of all the born-again Christians. It turned out that everyone had been saved, except for maybe the little children -- 120 years before Jesus was born!
King Benjamin thought it was expedient, after having finished speaking to the people, that he should take the names of all those who had entered into a covenant with God. 6:1
And it came to pass that there was not one soul, except it were little children, but who had entered into the covenant and had taken upon them the name of Christ. 6:2
Benjamin made his son Mosiah king and appointed priests to instruct the people. Mosiah walked in the ways of the Lord and everything was peachy in Zarahemla, just like it was when his dad was king.
King Benjamin ... consecrated his son Mosiah to be a ruler and a king ... and also had appointed priests to teach the people." 6:3
And it came to pass that king Mosiah did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe his judgments and his statutes, and did keep his commandments in all things whatsoever he commanded him. 6:6
And there was no contention among all his people for the space of three years. 6:7

1 comment:

Eric said...

As I see it, the main point of King Benjamin's long-winded sermon is that Christ’s magical blood atonement will reverse Adam’s magical fruit transgression (3:16) mostly for unlucky-in-life kids (2:34) and counterfactually righteous grown-ups lucky enough to die ignorant (3:11)

For the rest of us it's awfully tough going since it only works if we regress into childlike helplessness (3:19), drop all pretense of self-esteem (2:25), count our lives as chronic debts (2:23-25), that we must try to pay off by begging (4:20) and blindly obeying nepotistic (1:9) self-serving (2:28) proxy kings who traffic in cheap threats (2:33, 3:25) and empty promises (2:22).

All this casts KB’s famous line,

“when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God,” (2:17)

in a dim dehumanizing light. Indeed, if this imaginary blood-besotted god (3:15-18) was actually real, I hope I’d have the courage to say:

“Hey man, back off! Let us express our goodness without insinuating yourself into every benevolent instinct by distracting us with threat-enforced faith and blind obedience (1:11). Stop demanding we bounce every compassionate act off you. And we don’t need your name (5:9) to distinguish us (1:11) - that just divides us to the point we end up killing each other. Good grief! Let us grow up (3:19) - and call off your self-righteous prophet-kings (2:11-16) who like going around taking names. (6:1)”