Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Alma 13: 17-18

Alma 13: 17-18:

"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;  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."

He was a king over people who had "waxed strong" in both "iniquity" and also "abomination." Keep in mind that "waxing strong" means to be increasingly determined or committed.  "Iniquity" is generally evil practice, but "abomination" involves the religious justification of wrongdoing. That is, something becomes "abominable" when it is motivated out of a false form of religious observance or is justified because of religious error.

The people to whom Melchizedek would minister were not simply in error, they were motivated by a false set of religious beliefs and errors. The result was that "they had all gone astray." They were "full of all manner of wickedness." This was a challenging audience for this man to minister to and try to convert to the truth.

Melchizedek began by "exercising mighty faith" in order to understand the truth and discern the difference between truth and error.  Remember how difficult it is to be taught truth. It is more difficult to learn truth than it is to perform miracles. (3 Ne. 17: 2-7.)  Despite this, Melchizedek was able to set aside all he beheld and through faith acquire an understanding of the truth for himself.  Conferred upon him as part of this education was the priestly authority with which to minister to others.

He "did preach repentance unto his people." This required him to expose the errors, show them they were involved in iniquity and to expose how their religious errors had made them abominable. This preaching is always most difficult because it confronts the audience with a challenge to their mistaken beliefs, and false religion. There is a risk of violence when this happens. People who entertain abominable religious practices are more often moved to violence than to repentance. The Lord was greeted with violence. So was Lehi, Isaiah, Nephi, Samuel the Lamanite, Abinadi, Peter, Paul, Stephen, James, Zacharias and too many others to mention. To their credit, and to Melchizedek's, the preaching resulted in repentance.

The serious errors, iniquity, and abominations of these people did not prevent Melchizedek from establishing a Zion. These people were able to acquire "peace in the land" because of their repentance. As used here, however, peace means more than the absence of violence, it means the presence of the Lord.

The statement that he established peace as the King of Salem (Shalom means peace) and "he did reign under his father" is a play on words. Which "father" is being identified in the statement. Was it Noah, or Gabriel? (A man who would also be translated and have a ministry as the Lord's herald before the birth of John the Baptist and Christ.) Or was the "father" Him would would declare that Melchizedek was "begotten" as a "son of God?" It likely meant both. But it is also likely written this way to let those who do not understand what is being said to read it in a way that conceals the dual meanings. The scriptures are filled with such dual meanings.

What is hopeful for us today, is that no matter how much "iniquity" and religious error we engage in that results in our "abominations" in our pride and foolishness, we still may be candidates to receive something similar to what befell the City of Salem. The first step is to acquire the presence of this priesthood through individual repentance.

We envy these ancients. But we do nothing to try and follow the pattern revealed to us in their course. The Book of Mormon is a course in ancient failure and ancient success. We just do not respect what we have in that volume.

Well, let us press on...


  1. I can imagine that of all the endowments a man might ask of the Savior when the veil has finally been parted, that one of the greatest would be for the opportunity, authority, and power to instruct a "humble people willng to accept teaching." The kind of people who could grow into a Zion society.
    I would beg to be included in the ranks of a group that had the chance to be taught by such a High Priest. How exciting. How wonderful, and what a challenge. May the Lord raise up such a High Priest and keep him safe, and may we all recognize the truth of his teachings.

  2. If the people of Salem can pull it off, so can we!

  3. There's hope for us. Of course, Melchizedek was the King of Salem. That gave him some clout with the people. If the President of the Church did this, we might be more likely to listen. If a High Priest after the Holy Order of the Son of God who comes with Power is an unknown, will we listen? I'm hoping so. We need to get lots of popcorn popped. I want to get popped. Whoever doesn't get popped will get burned in the pan, or be an old maid.

    He tells us to have oil in our lamps. Maybe we can skip this step with an air-popper. :)

    Is the parable telling us that half the Church will be old maids?

  4. What do you mean, Noah OR Gabriel? I'm with a previous comment... I've always been taught and figured it was common knowledge (what was more shocking was that McConkie and Joseph Fielding apparently did not believe this... add that to my list of "Things that make me go Hmmm about - fill in the blank - but that I won't hold against them) that Shem was Melchizedek (isn't that right in the back of the Lectures on Faith... not like it's obscure) and Noah was Gabriel. What's next? Enoch is Raphael?

  5. Kisi,

    If we use Gideon's army as an indicator, it will be far less than half the people who are "popped." Denver estimated that there are really about 4 million "active" members of the church. The same ratio as the 300/22,000 would leave only about 54,500 or 2 people per ward or branch. Even if you use the number the church gives you, it leaves you with about 7 people per congregation. But don't worry, chances are YOU will be exalted. :)


    PS - That's not to say that eventually half the members won't be popped...

  6. Thanks, Doug.

    And to Anonymous,

    "Was it Noah, or Gabriel?" means, "Was it Noah, that is to say, Gabriel?" Denver is acknowledging that Noah is also named Gabriel.

  7. "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..."

    Looks like he took the chewing out:

    "How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked." [Ps 82:1]

    to heart ... and

    "exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood [government of God] according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent."

    Because they paid attention to the law of saving justice and knew what it meant and took it as their light [Isa 51:4, 7 (NJB)]. None shall rest "until saving justice dawns for her [Zion] like a bright light and her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will then see your saving justice, and all kings your glory; and you will be called a new name which Yahweh's mouth will reveal" Isa 62:1-2 NJB)]


    " ... Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days ... "

    therefore he was called

    first, "by interpretation King of Righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;" [this Melchizedek was] "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually." [Heb 7:2,3]

    It was he, not priesthood which was without beginning ... so aptly demonstrated by the scriptures.

    Hebrews 7:1-4 refers to Melchizedek, who held a priesthood, and how great this man was.

    Got to love Melchizedek!

    PS: I recommend everyone should have a copy of the New Jerusalem Bible [NJB] for their personal use.

  8. I agree with Doug. The virgins with oil will most likely be far less than half of the Church, more like Doug was saying 2-4 per ward, if that. For it takes alot more to be a virgin with oil than most people realize. It is actually very rare today in the Church & hard to find even a few who have such oil.

    I would hope also that some Prophet like unto Melchizedek, could come & turn things around in the Church & help the members all repent. But it seems that the Church may have have it's chance for such repentance but instead rejected the Prophets it has been given.

    It seems that when the calamities start they will be just to quickly cleanse the Church & earth, not necessarily to get people to repent. For as the Prophet says, there is no death bed repentance. Even the wicked can fake a pretty good temporary repentance when calamity & fear strike them.

  9. Denver, this post brings me great joy and hope! If Melchizedek could do it, couldn’t it happen again with us?

    I hear people talk about how far astray we have gone (as members of the church) and I agree. I see it in my own life and all around. But at the same time, I am continually aware of people that are so good, that love people and serve and sacrifice and are trying to improve and be led by the Spirit. We so often just don't know what we're doing wrong. (ie traditions of the fathers.) When I hear people talk of how we’re all so horrible I sometimes remind them that there were “five” prepared/righteous virgins in the parable.

    I suspect that possibly the impetus that will help us be more of what we need to be, as a people, will be persecution and opposition. This will force us to develop the wheat or the tare at the top of the stalk. I want so much, however, to develop that personally before harder trials are upon us as a people. I don’t want to have to be ‘compelled.’ (You know - learn to be humble w/out being compelled to be.)

    Also, I so appreciated the definitions you gave of iniquity vs abomination. It gives me greater understanding as I study.

  10. IC,

    I think once we realize what is really going on here will the true adventure begin. Exciting, glorious and terrible are the times in which we live! We aren't just on the front row watching the the final act take place, but are in truth on stage and have a major role (or at least invited to) in the performance! Oh that we can have the strength to hear and follow the Director's cues!


  11. AV – talking about there only being 2-4 people in each ward who will have oil in their lamps is what I’m talking about when I say that I hear how we’re all (well 98% of us) going to hell in a hand-basket. I almost think sometimes that people get giddy about being the only one who will ‘make it.’ I’ve sometimes heard people talk the same way about their food storage – like they are anxious to see the wicked around them starve. I may be being too harsh – I don’t mean to be. I don’t know? Wasn’t it Pres. Kimball who said that the virgins (wise and foolish) in the parable represented temple recommend holders? That would leave a lot more then 2-5 people per ward. Maybe I’m just being a silly Pollyanna but what you propose just doesn’t sound right to me. Maybe if we’re one of the people who has oil and only 3 more around us do then we weren’t really being a very good steward? I really believe many of us are just off-track in a lot of ways because we want the truth but “don’t know where to find it” and that once they/we hear it we’ll repent.

    Doug – I just know that if I was given a choice of when to come down to earth I would have wanted to live now! It’s all so exciting and wonderful! And yet, I feel like you know something I don’t know. Am I missing something? Am I missing a lot? I must admit I feel so weak and ignorant compared to all of you on this blog but I have to think that the Lord can still teach me and do something with me.

  12. Ic,

    Perhaps it's not the actual number that matters as much as the realization that where we once thought we were in one spot, it turns out we were in another. But notice that with Gideon's army it started at 22,000 and was reduced to roughly half. But from there it was cut again significantly to the 300. That might be saying something.

    Also, I'm just some tall guy in the back of the class taking notes with the rest of y'all. I love the input everyone is giving (including yours). I can't say I know something more than the next person. But I do like to ask questions. Hmmmm, if this blog is like a classroom, then what does that make you and me?


  13. Ic,
    I am not giddy or anxious for anyone to suffer or be destroyed, nor am I sure that I won't be too. But I am anxious for Sodom to be cleased because I am just so disgusted at what I see everywhere around me & the blind apathy in the suffering of especially children among those who know better, the LDS. You say we would repent if we just had the truth, well, we have no excuses, we have all the truth we need, but no one seems to want to hear it or study it or if they do they don't seem to want to do much about the evil around them.

    The prophets in the BOM seem to indicate a time in these last days when 'everyone',except a few will have become deceived by the philosophies of men & support or do evil & break their covenants. I believe he is speaking of near 100% of the Church. So I don't think we should be surprised if it has come true. I believe that scripture is fulfilled & I myself find I am deceived many times too when I rely on men & not Prophets & the Spirit.

    I can't find hardly 5 people who really believe in & stand up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope I am just not looking in the right places. For that is unbelievable & worrisome to me. I realize how easy it is to be decieved & to think you are righteous when you are actually doing great evil. I know I need to do better & I wonder how can I remain strong & valiant when no one around me seems to either.

    But there is a way, & that would be to hold fast to what the Prophets say & keep our covenants no matter what & live carefully & purposely so that we have the Holy Spirit as our guide. That is not easy, for me either. But I know that if we don't, we will surely be decieved & fall. I question myself every day & pray I will catch myself if I am deceived to do wrong.

    Everyone I know around me who is doing evil, thinks they are righteous & wonderful or at least profess to be. There is a plague of blindness happening all around us. So it is very sobering to say the least, seeing how hard it can be to see when we go astray.

    When they talk about half of the virgins being ready to meet Christ, that means half of those who are truely righteous. That number seems to be very small today. It doesn't mean half of all temple recommend holders, for many of them may not be really worthy. From what I see I believe the number to be very small for those who are righteous & then only half of them will have the Spirit enough to be ready. How can I even think I will be one of them, but whether I am or not, I believe it will only be a rare few who meet Christ.

    Our awful situation today can be unbelieveable, & even frightening, that maybe everyone has fallen, except a few, but it is possible to still be one of the few if we truely desire to.

  14. How important it is for us all to be a light to others. People simply do not know that which they do not know or understand. I didn't know things today were so out of order until I really dug into studying the gospel on my own. I too use to think all is well. I believe the Lord will come thru for us, if we truly dilegently seek Him and his truths.


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