24 November 2014

Alma 32: The Most Precious, Sweet, White, Pure Fruit

Alma and his brethren went among the Zoramites, and started to try to convert them. They preached in their houses, synagogues, and even in the street. After a lot of work, they started to have success, but mostly just with the poorer Zoramites. They were easy targets, because they weren't allowed in the Zoramite synagogues on account of the "courseness of their apparel". I've never heard of a church with such a strict dress code! 
And it came to pass that they did go forth, and began to preach the word of God unto the people, entering into their synagogues, and into their houses; yea, and even they did preach the word in their streets. Alma 32.1 
And it came to pass that after much labor among them, they began to have success among the poor class of people; for behold, they were cast out of the synagogues because of the coarseness of their apparel— 32.2
Not only were they poor "as to the things in the world", they were also poor in heart.  Luckily, Alma was there to help. While he was preaching to others on the hill Onidah, the poor people started gathering around the hill, too.
Therefore they were not permitted to enter into their synagogues to worship God, being esteemed as filthiness; therefore they were poor; yea, they were esteemed by their brethren as dross; therefore they were poor as to things of the world; and also they were poor in heart. 32.3 
Now, as Alma was teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah, there came a great multitude unto him, who were those of whom we have been speaking, of whom were poor in heart, because of their poverty as to the things of the world. 32.4
The poor people asked Alma what they should do. They wanted to worship their God, but they weren't allowed into their synagogue. The same synagogue that they had built with their own hands! Alma was pretty happy to hear this, because it meant that they were ready to hear his preaching.
 And they came unto Alma; and the one who was the foremost among them said unto him: Behold, what shall these my brethren do, for they are despised of all men because of their poverty, yea, and more especially by our priests; for they have cast us out of our synagogues which we have labored abundantly to build with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty; and we have no place to worship our God; and behold, what shall we do? 32.5
And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word. 32.6
Alma stopped preaching to the other people, and focused on the poor newcomers. He started off asking why they thought that they could only worship in the synagogue, and why only once a week? Then he goes on and on. The main thrust of his argument is that one has to humble oneself in order to truly know God. Luckily for his audience, they were already pretty humble.

And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word? 32.14 
 Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed—yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty. 32.15 
 Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe. 32.16

He throws a little reference to the late Korihor, by explaining the difference between faith and proof.

 Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. 32.17 
Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. 32.18

Alma also gives us this puzzling line. I think the only person who knows what he is talking about is Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof.
Behold, I say unto you, that it is on the one hand even as it is on the other; and it shall be unto every man according to his work. 32.20b

But then Alma gets to the heart of his sermon. You see, the Word is like a seed. If you make a little space for it in your heart, and give it a chance, and believe in it a little bit, then it will grow and you'll start to believe in it a little more. As you convince yourself more and more, you'll be more and more convinced. Wouldn't this convince you? 

Eventually the seed will swell within your breasts, and when you feel these swelling motions, you'll know that it's a good seed. 
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. 32.28 
Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge. 32.29
In case you have any doubt that any of this is real, this next verse should clear things up for you. Here are the cliff notes. It's real because it's light. Whatever is light is good, because it is discernible. So since the light is good, it's good. After you taste the light is your knowledge perfect? Of course it is. 
O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? 32.35
Alma continues in this fashion for some time. The only other interesting part is verse 42, where a little bit of the Book of Mormon's racism comes out again. Alma is describing how good the fruit of the tree of faith is going to taste, and he describes it as: "sweet above all that is sweet, white above all that is white, and pure above all that is pure". Oh boy! 
And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. 32.42

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