Sunday, June 15, 2014

Vision Three

Commentary on Alma 12 and 13 

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(Satan’s plan is to contend, no matter what the topic… because contending leads to captivity. You can never escape his captivity by contending) 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. 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.

Now when Alma had spoken these words, Zeezrom began to tremble more exceedingly, for he was convinced (God DOES want us to be convinced. Faith is not believing something without seeing evidence for it) 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; (his words and works made it easy to him to witness of his thoughts and intents) for power was given unto them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy. (The spirit of prophecy is knowing one’s heart and if it is aligned with God).

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. (Experimenting, searching. In other words, we only come to know the mysteries if the desire of our hearts is the same desire as God. So obeying a commandment is following the mysteries of God).

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; (these are the three witnesses to the desires of our hearts) 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. (If we know Christ, our desires will have changed along with our heart. His desires will be our desires. The witnesses to this will be our words, our works and our thoughts).

(King Benjamin) But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments (know the heart) of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.

But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save EVERY MAN that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance. (The “fruit” is a changed heart, which will be reflected in our words, thoughts and deeds. This is the indication of whether or not we know God).

(Alma) And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.

(Christ) A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. (based on the desires of their hearts, aligned with God) Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

And they began from that time forth to call on his name; therefore God conversed with men, and made known unto them the plan of redemption, which had been prepared from the foundation of the world; and this he made known unto them according to their faith (belief that what they were hearing was the plan) and repentance (changing their hearts and looking to the Lord) and their holy works (having changed, following the desires of their hearts, which were now aligned with God).
Therefore God gave unto them commandments, (this is the gift of knowing God’s heart, or a desire to follow the mysteries of God) after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil

(Ammon): And it came to pass that when Ammon arose he also administered unto them, and also did all the servants of Lamoni; and they did all declare unto the people the selfsame thing—that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil.

(Bro of Jared): O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires. (Notice the significance. A commandment calling upon God to receive desires from Him.)

(King Benjamin): 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. (Their desires changed).

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; (so opening our hearts leads to entering the rest of the Lord) therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, (the first time around, presumably before birth where we became as children) 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.

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. (It appears that our current mortal existence is our “second chance” to come to know the heart of the Lord.)

And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; (part of the “first provocation,” or before this current mortal experience) and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption. (The way that they were ordained is indicative of how we receive redemption from the Lord.) 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; (Their exceeding faith and good works is how we receive redemption. For the high priests, this must have been before the first provocation, because it was from the foundation of the world) in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called (so these high priests are among us?) with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such (they came to the first provocation and the second provocation already redeemed?).

Or in fine, in the first place (before the first provocation?) they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts (or those who would come to know God’s desires), being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; (their hearts had been changed to the desires of God’s heart) and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, (as evidenced by our thoughts, words and actions… or the desires of our heart) that ye may also enter into that rest. Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order (this means that Melchizedek was part of the first or second provocation, and that the high priests are possibly in the same realm with us now) which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.

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. Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, (so tithing, in the way Abraham paid to Melchizedek is a type for how the Lord gives a remission of our sins. If I recall, Abraham brought it to Melchizedek because they were throwing a celebration for him. What I get out of this is that by sharing in the bounty that we are given, we are brought to redemption. The purpose of being here is to get ready to throw a big party!) that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.

But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, (when did he exercise this 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.

Now I need not rehearse the matter; what I have said may suffice. Behold, the scriptures are before you; (apparently, all this is contained in the Brass Plates) if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction.

What does this have to do with the Gentiles, you ask? I believe that having given us all these gifts of the Spirit, (the Spirit being "poured out" upon the Gentiles) the heavens are waiting to see what fruits come out of it. We have seen the fruits of the Church, and there are watchman who point it out. But when OUR desires align with God’s, then I think we will receive the greater things… because we will want to use the many gifts we have to bring to the House of Israel, not to further our own cause or missionary work, or to bring ourselves closer to God just for the sake of being in His presence. It is clear that it is the Lord’s desire to restore His children to a knowledge of who they are, and that the Gentiles are the means of doing that. So if the desire of my heart isn't anywhere but that, then He will say that He knew me not, because my words, thoughts and deeds will reflect what my true intent was. Based on results, we can see one’s true desires.

Charley was excited as he approached the great Room. He knew something sensational was about to take place. A large group of friends and family was assembled, waiting for what seemed like forever. They could all feel the energy in the air (and maybe even magic!) Somewhere in the distance, a church clock began striking ten, signifying that it was time to start. Very slowly, with a loud creaking of rusty hinges, the great wooden doors of the concert hall began to swing open. To the left and right of him he saw the mass making their way to the seats. It was a huge auditorium that extended so far that there was no end in sight!

Charley sat down in anticipation of what was going to happen next. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt that there had been much preparation and build-up to what was about to take place. For a few moments, the crowd assembled and buzzed with eagerness, as if a plane full of kids who had never flown before was just getting ready for take-off.

Suddenly, the congregation began to grow quiet, signifying that something had occurred. Sure enough, when Charley looked up he saw a woman slowly walking towards the center of the stage. The group had become so silent that you could hear the lady's heels click as she made her way across the planks of wood. Finally, she arrived at the midpoint and stopped. What was she going to say?!

As it turns out, she didn’t say one single word. Rather, she bent over and grabbed a handle from her feet, bearing a white movie screen. She pulled it over her head, and then something seemed to take hold of it and open it even further, until it extended almost to the upper stage lights. With that, she looked at the crowd, smiled, and moved off the stage, disappearing behind the curtains.

The lights went down and there was a collective gasp, as this was totally unexpected. After a couple of seconds, an image was projected onto the screen. Charley couldn't say what the picture was, but it looked like a close-up of some sort of plant or leaf. Oddly enough, there were a few black circles of various sizes dispersed over the image. Charley heard someone behind him declare, “Hey, I think we’re supposed to count the dots!”

The noise changed to that of people unzipping bags and pulling out note pads and writing utensils. Charley decided that he had better do the same (although he couldn’t say why) and managed to find what he needed to settle in for what seemed like a very odd test. Everyone around him, without exception, busied themselves counting all the dots on the image. Just as Charley was circling the number he had determined was the sum, the image changed.

Now Charley saw something similar to the first picture, except it looked like it was zoomed out a bit and had about twice as many dots as the one before. Feeling hurried, he sped up his counting.  Every few seconds the slide would change and more and more dots would appear. After a dozen or so slides, Charley looked around and everyone was still counting. Some were comparing notes, others were deep in concentration, bouncing their fingers in the air. Many were on the verge of tears, (obviously frustrated), but still they counted.

Finally, Charley said to himself, “There’s no way I can even guess how many dots are there!” and gave up counting them altogether. As he did so, Charley looked again at the image (which by now had thousands and thousands of dots on it). He started to see beyond the dots to perceive what the big picture was in the background. The more he looked past the dots, the more they started to fade away. Then the thought hit Charley, “Wait a minute, no one told us that we were supposed to count dots. One person just assumed that and everyone blindly followed!”

Just then, the dots moved out of the picture in a blur, and what Charley saw (or more like experienced) was a panoramic scene of a beautiful snow-capped mountain range swimming in a vibrant blue sky. The foreground revealed a green park covered in trees and children laughing with glee. He saw a family having a picnic, and all seemed to be utterly blissful. This wasn’t just a static slide, or even a video. Charley could “feel” the dimensionality of it – the vividness of the colors; the expression of love from the people; the selflessness of nature, offering up her beauty.

Charley was left a little remorseful that he had wasted so much time counting, and had missed out on seeing what was behind the dots in previous scenes. He did, however, anticipate the upcoming images, now that his view was void of obstructions. As he looked to the screen, something strange and amazing happened. Charley was somehow inside the picture! He turned around and saw where he had been a moment before: the audience. The image being projected was the large group still arduously recording the blobs of black, but they didn’t seem to be able to see Charley. Below this side of the screen was banner that read, "The greatest of secrets are hidden in the most unlikely of places!"

He was now free to move about the scenery, exploring all the wonderful things therein (which reached as far as the eye could behold: north, south, east and west). He hoped that others would soon see past the dots and join him in this exciting journey. Truly it was a magical auditorium and the adventure more breathtaking than he could have ever imagined! He shouted to no one in particular, "I think it's the most wonderful place in the whole world!"

As he looked around, Charley thought to himself, "Never, never again will I doubt something that no one is sure of to begin with."