21 April 2014

Alma 14: Alma and Amulek in Prison

After Alma and Amulek had finished speaking, the response of the crowd was mixed. Some of them believed the speech and began to repent, but the majority of them were angry and wanted to kill them.
And it came to pass after he had made an end of speaking unto the people many of them did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the scriptures. 14.1 
But the more part of them were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek; for they were angry with Alma, because of the plainness of his words unto Zeezrom; and they also said that Amulek had lied unto them, and had reviled against their law and also against their lawyers and judges. 14.2
Instead, the crowd tied them up and brought them before the Chief Judge.
But it came to pass that they did not; but they took them and bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land. 14.4
The people testified against Alma and Amulek, saying that they had made fun of their lawyers, judges, laws and of everyone who lived in their land. The also testified that Alma and Amulek had claimed that there was only one God, and God would send his son among the people, but that his son wouldn't save them.
And the people went forth and witnessed against them -- testifying that they had reviled against the law, and their lawyers and judges of the land, and also of all the people that were in the land; and also testified that there was but one God, and that he should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them; and many such things did the people testify against Alma and Amulek. Now this was done before the chief judge of the land. 14.5 
Every man, woman and child who believed Alma and Amulek's words were rounded up and burned. Alma and Amulek were brought to the "place of martyrdom" and made to watch everyone burn to death.
And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire, and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire. 14.8 
And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire. 14.9
Then Amulek and Alma had this nice little exchange:

AMULEK
How can we watch this? Let's use the power of God to save them from the flames.


ALMA
No, we shouldn't. God needs solid proof to punish these people, and if we stop it then they can't be punished properly. It's a shame that all of these innocent people have to burn to death, but punishing evil people is more important to God than saving innocent ones.

 AMULEK
Yeah, I guess that makes sense. But they might burn us, too, and I don't want to burn to death. 
ALMA
Naah, God won't let us burn. We still have stuff to do for him. 

But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day. 14.11 
Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also. 14.12 
And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not. 14.13

After everyone else is burned, the Chief Judge came to talk to Alma and Amulek. After slapping them around a few times, he asked them "Are you still going to keep preaching? Even after your god couldn't save those people? What do you have to say for yourselves?"
Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone? 14.14 
Behold, ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them because they were of thy faith. And the judge smote them again upon their cheeks, and asked: What say ye for yourselves? 14.15
They kept their mouths shut. (I usually say "thou sayest" in theses situations). The Chief Judge hit them again, and then threw them in prison.
And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek answered him nothing; and he smote them again, and delivered them to the officers to be cast into prison. 14.17

Alma and Amulek weren't treated very well in prison. The Ammonihahites denied them  food and water, and even made them strip naked. Meanwhile they sent all kinds of lawyers, judges, priests and teachers to question them. They didn't answer any of their questions though.
And when they had been cast into prison three days, there came many lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers, who were of the profession of Nehor; and they came in unto the prison to see them, and they questioned them about many words; but they answered them nothing. 14.18 
And it came to pass that the judge stood before them, and said: 0Why do ye not answer the words of this people? Know ye not that I have power to deliver you up unto the flames? And he commanded them to speak; but they answered nothing. 14.19 
And it came to pass that they departed and went their ways, but came again on the morrow; and the judge also smote them again on their cheeks. And many came forth also, and smote them, saying: Will ye stand again and judge this people, and condemn our law? If ye have such great power why do ye not deliver yourselves? 14.20 
And many such things did they say unto them, gnashing their teeth upon them, and spitting upon them, and saying: How shall we look when we are damned? 14.21 
And many such things, yea, all manner of such things did they say unto them; and thus they did mock them for many days. And they did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked; and thus they were bound with strong cords, and confined in prison. 14.22 
And it came to pass after they had thus suffered for many days, (and it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) that the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah and many of their teachers and their lawyers went in unto the prison where Alma and Amulek were bound with cords. 14.23
One day, Alma just couldn't take it anymore. The Chief Judge said to him and Amulek (after hitting them again), that if they can use God's power to break the cords on their hands, then he'll believe them. Then everyone else in the Chief Judge's entourage hits them and says the exact same thing.
And the chief judge stood before them, and smote them again, and said unto them: If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves from these bands, and then we will believe that the Lord will destroy this people according to your words. 14.24 
And it came to pass that they all went forth and smote them, saying the same words, even until the last; and when the last had spoken unto them the power of God was upon Alma and Amulek, and they rose and stood upon their feet. 14.25

Alma cries out to God, asking him how much longer he has to put up with being smacked in the face all the time. God answers by giving him divine power to break the cords. This really scared everyone there, and they start running out of the prison.
And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them. 14.26 
But they were too scared to run properly, and they fell to the ground.
And it came to pass that so great was their fear that they fell to the earth, and did not obtain the outer door of the prison. 14.27a

Then the ground shook, and the prison was split it two, and everyone who had just slapped Alma and Amulek were crushed by a falling wall.

And the earth shook mightily, and the walls of the prison were rent in twain, so that they fell to the earth; and the chief judge, and the lawyers, and priests, and teachers, who smote upon Alma and Amulek, were slain by the fall thereof. 14.27b

Alma and Amulek left the prison without a scratch. No one in town gave them any trouble, because they were afraid of them.

And Alma and Amulek came forth out of the prison, and they were not hurt; for the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ. And they straightway came forth out of the prison; and they were loosed from their bands; and the prison had fallen to the earth, and every soul within the walls thereof, save it were Alma and Amulek, was slain; and they straightway came forth into the city. 14.28 
Now the people having heard a great noise came running together by multitudes to know the cause of it; and when they saw Alma and Amulek coming forth out of the prison, and the walls thereof had fallen to the earth, they were struck with great fear, and fled from the presence of Alma and Amulek even as a goat fleeth with her young from two lions; and thus they did flee from the presence of Alma and Amulek. 14.29










19 April 2014

Happy Jesus-in-Hell Day!

When I was a believer, I was always puzzled by the phrase "He descended into hell" in the Apostles' Creed. It just seemed strange to me. What was a nice guy like Jesus doing in a place like that?

But I guess Jesus did some time in hell; it says so right in the Bible.
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. Acts 2:31
Luckily he took some really cool pictures.

Here's a black and white photo of a very tall Jesus meeting Adam and Eve as they come out of their demon-mouth house.


And here's one, on Saturday night, after Jesus put on his transparent robe.


Jesus, in a hurry to meet the ladies of hell.


Another photo of Jesus hanging out with Adam and Eve.


The sermon from hell.


And here's Jesus Sunday morning before heading back to the tomb.

18 April 2014

Alma 13: Melchizedek--None were greater

In this chapter, Alma continues his speech to Zeezrom and people of Ammonihah who have gathered. He told them all about the holy priests that were ordained directly from God, and how some people listened to the priests and some didn't. The priests were holy, dedicated, and wise...

He goes on for quite a while about this, without saying much of substance. The only real interesting thing he says about the priests in the first 10 verses is this: "Their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb". That must have been some special blood. 

And this is the manner after which they were ordained -- being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such. Alma 13.3 
And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren. 13.4 
Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb. 13.11
Then we get to a more interesting part. Alma brings up Melchizedek, who apparently was in the same order of priests that he had been speaking so highly of before. (Remember Melchizedek from Genesis 14.20? He was the lucky priest that got 1/10 of Abraham's booty in exchange for one little prayer.)
Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever. 13.14  
And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. 13.15
Luckily, we are going to get to learn more about him than we did in Genesis. According to Alma, Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem. His people had become wicked, but he saved them because of his "mighty faith". He established peace in the land, and even became known as the "prince of peace".

Also, note that he reigned under his father (who, according to Hebrews 7:3, he didn't have.)
Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness; 13.17 
But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father. 13.18
He must have been some priest/king, because apparently he was the best there ever was (or will be).
Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention. 13.19
 Something similar is mentioned about Melchizedek in Hebrews:
Melchizedek...Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God. Hebrews 7.1-3
But enough about Melchizedek. It's time to repent! Alma gets back to his core message, and even urges them not to procrastinate.
And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance13.27 
But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; 13.28
And that's it. Except everything else he said, which I guess wasn't important enough to chisel into the plates.
And Alma spake many more words unto the people, which are not written in this book. 13.31






17 April 2014

Guess what book replaced the Book of Mormon as the #1 book on the list of life-changing books

Yesterday there was an article in the Deseret News entitled, "The Book of Mormon claims No. 1 spot on list of life-changing books." It was great news for the Salt Lake City newspaper, a paper owned an operated by the LDS Church.

Here are some excepts:

The Book of Mormon climbed to the top of a list of life-changing books from BestBookRead.com Wednesday, April 17, thanks to user votes and social media interaction.
...
On Wednesday, the Book of Mormon claimed the No. 1 spot on the list with help from a blog post by LDS Media Talk.

The post, published April 11, prompted readers with the question "How has the Book of Mormon changed your life?" Readers were encouraged to vote for their life changing-book at BestBookRead.com.

After the post, the Book of Mormon went from No. 25 on the list to No. 1, with more than 4,000 votes.

"This is an example of what Latter-day Saints can do when we stand for what we believe and we share it with others," reads the post from LDS Media Talk.

Before the post on April 11, the Book of Mormon ranked #25, with 235 votes; five days later it ranked #1, with more than 4000 votes. As the author of the #1 generating post said, "This is an example of what Latter-day Saints can do when we stand for what we believe and we share it with others. If you haven’t voted for it yet, just visit BestBookRead.com."

The joy at LDS headquarters in SLC was short-lived, however. The Book of Mormon has fallen to #4, following #3 "How to Kill Yourself." The new #1 is "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler.

(The Bible, by the way, is #36, just barely beating "Porn Star 1" by one vote.)

16 April 2014

Alma 12: "This is the thing which I was about to explain..."

After Amulek shut Zeezrom up, Alma hopped on the soapbox and continued preaching. A crowd had gathered, and he wanted to take full advantage.
Now Alma, seeing that the words of Amulek had silenced Zeezrom, for he beheld that Amulek had caught him in his lying and deceiving to destroy him, and seeing that he began to tremble under a consciousness of his guilt, he opened his mouth and began to speak unto him, and to establish the words of Amulek, and to explain things beyond, or to unfold the scriptures beyond that which Amulek had done. 12.1
Now the words that Alma spake unto Zeezrom were heard by the people round about; for the multitude was great, and he spake on this wise: 12.2
He continues to give Zeezrom a hard time, and call him an agent of the devil.
Now Zeezrom, seeing that thou hast been taken in thy lying and craftiness, for thou hast not lied unto men only but thou hast lied unto God; for behold, he knows all thy thoughts, and thou seest that thy thoughts are made known unto us by his Spirit; 12.3 
And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very subtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us, to revile us and to cast us out -- 12.4
Now this was a plan of thine adversary, and he hath exercised his power in thee. Now I would that ye should remember that what I say unto thee I say unto all. 12.5 
And behold I say unto you all that this was a snare of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people, that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might encircle you about with his chains, that he might chain you down to everlasting destruction, according to the power of his captivity. 12.6
By this point even Zeezrom was convinced. He began trembling (a universal sign of guilt in the Book of Mormon),  and started to ask some real questions to Alma. Zeezrom asks about the resurrection of the dead, and if everyone is brought before God for judgment after their death.
Now when Alma had spoken these words, Zeezrom began to tremble more exceedingly, for he was convinced more and more of the power of God; and he was also convinced that Alma and Amulek had a knowledge of him, for he was convinced that they knew the thoughts and intents of his heart; for power was given unto them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy. 12.7 
And Zeezrom began to inquire of them diligently, that he might know more concerning the kingdom of God. And he said unto Alma: What does this mean which Amulek hath spoken concerning the resurrection of the dead, that all shall rise from the dead, both the just and the unjust, and are brought to stand before God to be judged according to their works? 12.8


Alma answers him in very vague terms, basically saying that some people get to know the mysteries of God, and some don't. The better you behave, the more you get to know, and the worst-behaving people are punished by receiving less and less knowledge of God, which is a vicious cycle that ends up sending them into the jaws of Hell. Seems fair.
And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. 12.9 
And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. 12.10 
And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. 12.11 
Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned. 12.13
Zeezrom also asked whether people are judged by their works or not. Alma answered that God judges people by their works, their words, and even their thoughts. On the judgment day a person will not be found faultless, and they would be happy to let a mountain fall upon them rather than look upon God and be judged. Indeed.
For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence. 12.14
Alma then gives a nice description of Hell:
Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will. 12.17
When Alma was done speaking, the people were astonished. Or most of them, at least. There was still one doubter among them. His name was Antionah, and he was their chief ruler. He said:
"What do you mean, that people can live forever? Didn't God place cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the Garden of Eden, so that our parents couldn't eat from the tree of life and live forever?"
Now it came to pass that when Alma had made an end of speaking these words, the people began to be more astonished; 12.19 
But there was one Antionah, who was a chief ruler among them, came forth and said unto him: What is this that thou hast said, that man should rise from the dead and be changed from this mortal to an immortal state that the soul can never die? 12.20 
What does the scripture mean, which saith that God placed cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the garden of Eden, lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever? And thus we see that there was no possible chance that they should live forever. 12.21
 Alma said: "Oh yeah, I was getting to that."
Now Alma said unto him: This is the thing which I was about to explain, now we see that Adam did fall by the partaking of the forbidden fruit, according to the word of God; and thus we see, that by his fall, all mankind became a lost and fallen people. 12.22
Then he explains how the fall of Adam was all part of the plan, because people would have been miserable if they lived forever in the Garden of Eden, because they wouldn't have the proper "predatory state", and then redemption wouldn't have been possible. It all makes sense if you really think about it (or if you don't think about it very hard).
And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been possible for Adam to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death, and the word would have been void, making God a liar, for he said: If thou eat thou shalt surely die. 12.23 
And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead. 12.24 
Now, if it had not been for the plan of redemption, which was laid from the foundation of the world, there could have been no resurrection of the dead; but there was a plan of redemption laid, which shall bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, of which has been spoken. 12.25 
And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state; and thus the plan of redemption would have been frustrated, and the word of God would have been void, taking none effect. 12.26
But behold, it was not so; but it was appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgment, even that same judgment of which we have spoken, which is the end. 12.27

Then Alma finishes the way he usually does, with a call to repentance.
And now, my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, yea, according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of your souls; therefore, according to his word, unto the last death, as well as the first. 12.36 
And now, my brethren, seeing we know these things, and they are true, let us repent, and harden not our hearts, that we provoke not the Lord our God to pull down his wrath upon us in these his second commandments which he has given unto us; but let us enter into the rest of God, which is prepared according to his word. 12.37