I the Lord Am a Jealous God

The Book of Mormon record reemphasizes the importance of the Ten Commandments given by God to the Israelite people. The Nephite prophets who taught their people and recorded scripture drew on a record called the Brass Plates (which were brought from Jerusalem) that contained most of writings of the prophets found in the Old Testament up to 600 B.C., including the book of Exodus containing the Ten Commandments.

Posts for the next several weeks will focus on a section of Mosiah chapter 13 that presents the Ten Commandments in wording very similar to the King James Translation (but with some interesting variations). Words and punctuation in italic show instances where the wording and punctuation is different from the King James version.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of things which are in heaven above, or which are in the earth beneath, or which are in the water under the earth. And again: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” (Mosiah 13:12-14 – Compare with Exodus 20:4-6)

Questions:

-Why does God care if the people who have covenanted to follow Him choose to follow other gods?

-What does the word — that the translators of the King James version of the Bible decided to translate as “jealous” – say about God’s concern and emotions towards those who have proclaimed themselves as His? Would a God without body, parts, or passions be capable of this kind of feeling?

-When the Lord speaks of those who hate Him in these verses, is He referring to those who have received His covenants and the Holy Spirit and then still rejected Him as their God. Or, is he referring to those who hate him merely as an idea or as someone else’s God?

If My People Shall Sow Filthiness They Shall Reap the Chaff Thereof in the Whirlwind; and the Effect Thereof is Poison

God holds those who have the truths of the gospel to a higher standard than those who do not. A people who have God’s commandments and do not live by them reap destruction by their sinful actions.

“…The Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them. And again, he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the chaff thereof in the whirlwind; and the effect thereof is poison. And again he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction.” (Mosiah 7:29-32)

Questions:

-Is it reasonable that God would treat those who know better, and do wrong anyway, differently than those who do wrong without knowing better?

-What do the quick and unequivocal judgments God sends — to His people who know better and choose to do wrong in mortality anyway — say about how much He wants to keep his children awake to eternal consequences?

Remember and Perish Not

For those who have made the commitment to follow Jesus Christ, King Benjamin teaches that uncompromising spiritual watchfulness is required.

“…I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them. 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 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.” (Mosiah 4:29-30)

Questions:

-Is it true that the way we treat light and truth, when they are offered to us, determines the amount of light and truth we will have in our lives (both during our mortal experience and in the eternities)?

There is None Other Salvation Save This

King Benjamin declares the conditions for salvation for those who have received knowledge of the gospel and God’s goodness:

“If the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state—I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—I say, that this is the man [or woman] who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world. And this is the means whereby salvation cometh. And there is none other salvation save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved except the conditions which I have told you.” (Mosiah 4:5-8)

Questions:

-Is there anyway to know the goodness of God and the power of Christ’s Atonement without a witness from the Holy Ghost?

They May Dwell with God in a State of Never-Ending Happiness

After warning of the consequences of rebelling against God and His Spirit (see previous post, Those Who Rebel Against God…), King Benjamin touches on the joy in store for those who whole-heartedly receive God’s commandments and Spirit.

“…I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression. And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” (Mosiah 2:40-41)

Questions:

-How easy is it to be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to one’s spiritual welfare?

-What does it take to “hold out faithful to the end” in keeping the commandments of God?

-Is a state of never-ending happiness possible without an element of progression?

Those Who Openly Rebel Against God Will Endure a Never-Ending Torment

King Benjamin gives a stark warning to those who have the light of the true gospel yet rebel against the Spirit of the Lord.

“…Our fathers…spake that which was commanded them of the Lord; therefore, they are just and true. And now I say unto you my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths, that ye may be blessed, prospered and preserved. I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.” (Mosiah 2:35-37)

“Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.” (Mosiah 2:38-39)

Questions:

-Seeing that Benjamin is addressing those among his people who had been immersed in the gospel from a young age, is this stark warning less applicable to those who weren’t so immersed?

-Is the warning still applicable, to a lesser degree, to those who had lesser light and knowledge in their lifetime and rebelled against it?

-Why can those who rebel against God in mortality stay asleep to their guilt? Why is it impossible for them stay asleep to their guilt at the time of the Resurrection and Judgment?

Ye Are Indebted unto Him

King Benjamin teaches of our reliance on God for everything we have.

“…In the first place he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him. And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast? And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves: I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.” (Mosiah 2:23-25)

Questions:

-How does God see our indebtedness to Him? As a perfect Being with perfect love for His children, would he ever use the indebtedness for anything other than a means for good?

-Is it possible to allow God to lift you to your full potential if you don’t recognize your indebtedness to Him?

He Never Doth Vary from That Which He Hath Said

Benjamin testifies that every promise God makes is kept, including his promise to bless those who keep His commandments.

“…All he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.” (Mosiah 2:22)

Questions:

-Is the typical person’s awareness capable of perceiving all the ways that God blesses him or her?

-Is it typical to look for blessings in a narrow zone of reality and then assume blessings were not realized?

This Is the Last Time I Shall Nourish My Vineyard

Jacob quotes the words of the prophet Zenos (who is not found in the Old Testament but likely had writings in the Brass Plates) regarding the last days before Christ’s Second Coming.

“And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few. And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.” (Jacob 5:70-71)

Questions:

-How many in the world are laboring in God’s vineyard with their might?

-What is the significance of the servants being few?

-Do you believe that Christ’s Second Coming will occur soon?

-Would many reprioritize their life focus is they believed a labor was available to them that would yield eternal fruit?

Whoredoms Are an Abomination Before Me

Jacob is given revelation from the Lord that the Nephites are beginning to rationalize sexual misconduct based on the actions of David and Solomon.

For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. (2 Jacob 2:23-24)

Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. For, if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. (2 Jacob 2:27-30)

Questions:

-Is a society always cursed when the lure of unbounded sexuality is succumbed to and leads to a multiplicity of crass encounters that harm the souls of the participants?

-Were the men who are being called to repentance in the above verses letting their sexual desires overcome their basic decency toward many of the women around them? And, were they using the practice of plural marriage in their culture’s past as a cover for doing so?

-Are there others in the past, besides David and Solomon, who have practiced plural marriage without God’s sanction?

-When has God sanctioned plural marriage? What does the passage above suggest about why He would do so?

-Do you believe God sanctioned plural marriage as practiced by modern-day prophets such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young? Or, do you believe they were acting on their own motivations against God’s will? What do you have for reference in judging their motivations?