The third chapter of Mosiah is one of the most important accounts in the Book of Mormon. Like Section 76, the content is delivered by a visionary encounter through the veil with a messge sent by God to King Benjamin. This was between Benjamin and the angel. This is the same pattern as Moroni's nighttime visit with Joseph Smith. In both of these encounters the message was for all mankind.
There is no mistake about the source of the message: The angel told King Benjamin to "Awake" in the same manner the Lord called to Samuel in the night, calling him by name. (1 Sam. 3: 3-4.) The "angel of the Lord" after awakening King Benjamin then "stood before him" to speak the message. (Mosiah 3: 2.)
The angel reiterates a second time for King Benjamin to "Awake"-- and it is not redundant. (Mosiah 3: 3.) It is one thing to awaken from sleep, it is another to awaken to the news given by the angel. King Benjamin needed to awaken to both.
In order to "awaken" to the second, Benjamin needed to "hear the words which I shall tell." Or, in other words, to allow the message from God to enter into his heart. (Id.)
Benjamin merited the audience, and it was given. The angel was to "declare" this message, and it was the king's duty to listen, then hearken, and then declare to others. It was not a negotiation, or a discussion. It was a declaration. Through that process Benjamin will finally awaken to his own salvation. It is in doing the will of heaven that we all draw near to God.
Before delivering the content of the message, the angel characterizes the message in words similar to what Gabriel would declare to the shepherds keeping watch over the flock at night; "I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy." (Id., see also Luke 2: 10.) When angels or the Lord explain His ministry to a prophet, the universal reaction is "joy" at the great redemption provided through the suffering of the Lord. (See, e.g., Moses 7: 47; Isa. 53: 10.) There is always a juxtaposition of the Lord's suffering and universal "joy" at the result obtained from His sacrifice.
King Benjamin is told, like Zacharis would later be told, "the Lord hath heard thy prayers." (Mosiah 3: 4; see also Luke 1: 13.) Both men were seeking the welfare of others. In the case of Zacharias the prayer was for the return of the light of God's countenance to Israel. In the case of Benjamin, it was for his people. They were intercessors in similitude of the Lord who would be the Great Intercessor. Therefore, their prayer was aligned with heaven itself.
In response to Benjamin's prayer, the angel declared the Lord "hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice." (Mosiah 3: 4) When the Lord determines a man's "righteousness" is acceptable before Him, then He redeems that man by parting the veil and bringing him into the company of the redeemed. (See D&C 76: 67.)
Benjamin is not to keep the news of redemption to himself, but he is to "declare unto thy people." We are all required to bear testimony of the truth to one another. (Mosiah 3: 4.) The purpose of King Benjamin bearing testimony is so that others, who receive his testimony "may also be filled with joy." (Id.) Of course, if they refuse to receive and accept the testimony, then they do not share in that joy.
This pattern of the angel appearing in quiet solitude, to the lone witness, is the same as the Lord's dealing with Zacharias, Joseph Smith, Nephi, Enos, Samuel, Joseph F. Smith, Paul, and Elijah; all of whom were then required to tell others of their testimony. The Lord is the same. He acts the same. We tend to impose on Him rules which have never governed His conduct.
This chapter is one of the most doctrinally rich chapters in the Book of Mormon. It is worth careful study.
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