Monday, June 7, 2010

Cite your minds forward

A few days ago I directed you to Alma 13.  I suggested that it be read without preconceptions and you let the words just acquire whatever meaning they appear to have in the chapter itself.  Some of you have begun that process and have raised questions.  I thought I might revisit the chapter to open up a few ideas for those who haven't begun the exercise.
Here's the first verse:
"And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; 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."
Why "cite your minds forward?" Especially since it was talking in the past tense?  Why is this idiom in the verse?  How would Joseph Smith know about this kind of word usage?  (Perhaps this is an indication the text is translated from another language rather than being composed in English.)
Why "the Lord God ordained priests?" Were they ordained by God indeed? Was there another man involved in conferring that authority? Did it necessarily come from God alone? What priesthood is it that is referred to?
What is "after his holy order?" Is this Aaronic? Is this Melchizedek? Or is this something different?  There are three orders of priesthood, the third being "Patriarchal" as explained in Beloved Enos.  Which one is this verse referring to of the three?
What form of priesthood is "after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son?"  Are all three? Or is there one that is distinguished by being uniquely after the order of His Son?
What "things" are these people to "teach.. unto the people?"  Is there something associated with what is contained in the chapter that alone is the province of those possessing the "holy order" to teach?  If so, why is that? 
What is going on here?  Is this deeper doctrine than we normally encounter?  If so, why has it eluded our attention?  If our preconceptions have blinded us to this material, then why would we want to ever read scripture through the blinding lens of the notions we have inherited?  Is this part of the wicked "traditions of our fathers" that the Book of Mormon warn us against?
Oh ye Gentiles..... 
Now I'm missing the weekly Book of Mormon class I taught for so many years. There I could go ahead and discuss all the answers.  My home was too small for the crowds and I wasn't going to export it to a less sacred place where the Spirit would not permit me to teach.  Well, the questions are better than merely giving answers, as I have said before.  If you can learn to ask good questions, then you can go to the Lord and get the answers.  Who knows where that dialogue will lead you.


  1. Wow, this is great (and hard). It's like I'm in school again. I've had certain "study habits" my whole life and now I've got to relearn how to learn. Thanks for the primer!


  2. My wife and I talked about this last night. I don't know much about Hebrew; I do remember Avraham Gileadi once telling us about Hebrew past/present tense being different than English (hope I'm remembering this correctly) Hebrew the future = behind.... the past = in front or forward.

    That being the case, is Alma using Hebrew? This is about 80 years before the Savior right? And 400 years (give or take) after Lehi's family landed?

    I notice "holy order" and "holy ordinance" are mentioned several times throughout the chapter.

    Melchizedek "reigning under his father" in V 18 make me think of the patriarchal priesthood.... father(s) is also mentioned more than once as well.

    This is a good chapter to spend time studying. Thank you Denver.

  3. It's interesting to note that this incredibly profound chapter of scripture -- so profound that we've been misunderstanding it all these years -- was being taught by Alma to people of the city of Ammonihah, people who were so wicked that they were annihilated within about 11 weeks of this sermon. Many people, though, did repent. It was their wives and children who were burned to death.

    Put this into the concept of milk before meat that we are so caught up in.

  4. Chapter 12 sets the stage for a lot of ch 13. Rereading ch 12 helped me get past some stuck points.

  5. Here is an interesting link in regards to the Hebrew idiom.

  6. DKD, There is evidence in the Book of Mormon that the whole thing was indeed written in Hebrew -- which is the language the Nephites knew, and that only the characters they used were reformed Egyptian. See 1 Nephi 1: 2

    2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.

    and Mormon 9: 32

    32 And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the CHARACTERS which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.

    This is much more logical than to believe that everyone who wrote on the plates somehow learned reformed Egyptian. Thus we have the language idioms of Hebrew.

  7. "Cite your minds forward" is an interesting expression because we tend to conceptually represent ourselves facing forward, walking along a timeline into the future. From our standpoint we almost expect Alma to say "cite your minds backward," in reference to a past event. Consider an alternative paradigm, in which man is turned around in the opposite direction on that same timeline, walking backward into the future. Although it's essentially the opposite of our prevailing paradigm, upon closer reflection I think you'll see that it more accurately reflects the subtleties of man's continuous exposure to the past, and ongoing blindness to the future. Because of Alma's peculiar verbiage I've wondered if the Nephite concept of time and man's resultant chronological visibility wasn't the opposite of ours today. If that were true, then might he have been referring to the people of Melchizedek, Enoch, or even to the Pre-Existence?

  8. Doug:

    We ARE in school, but is more like the school of the prophets than like an academic school and the student that excels at this school gets no valedictory accolades but instead the promise recorded in 2 Nephi 31:20.

    Feel free to look over my crib notes.

    (Answers must include scriptural back-up for full-credit)

    Teacher's Question: Why "the Lord God ordained priests?" Were they ordained by God indeed?

    Student's Answer: Several scriptures refer to those "ordained of God". Egs. D&C 50:26-27. Moses 8:19 has the Lord ordaining Noah after God's own order. Oliver Cowdery's charge to the apostles includes this statement. "Your ordination is not full and complete until God himself has laid his hand on you." Taking Alma literally, God ordained these men.

    Q:What priesthood is it that is referred to? What is "after his holy order?" Is this Aaronic? Is this Melchizedek? Or is this something different...Patriarchal?
    Which one is this verse referring to of the three?

    A: The JST of Genesis gives the answer. In this multiple choice question, it IS the priesthood order in which "every one ordained to this order and calling...(has) power to" do mighty miracles including "to stand in the presence of God." As Elder Packer pointed out in the last conference address it is neither the Aaronic Priesthood nor the Melchezidek Priesthood which we now hold in which every man has priesthood power. I choose choice 3.

    Q: What "things" are these people to "teach.. unto the people?"

    A: (I hope to get partial credit for this partial answer). They are to teach "these (temple) ordinances" which bring to mind the great and last sacrifice of "the Son of God" that the people might "look forward to (Christ) for a remission of their sins". (Alma 13:16)

    Will there be a make up quiz? Can I earn extra credit?

  9. Denver (this is just for you),

    I don't know how to describe what I'm feeling. It's as if I've entered a room with familiar sights and smells, ancient in nature... but I can't quite conjure up the memory. I know it's a joyful one, though. Deja vu doesn't describe it, because it is fulfilling in the same moment as being reminiscent. It seems very much like a dream I had a few months ago, which had to do with a test everyone was taking, but as it turns out, they thought the assignment was one thing, but it really was another. Sorry, I'm not great at eloquent descriptions.

    But I wanted to say, that I appreciate your method of teaching. I am starting to see how you answer questions, in conjunction with the Spirit. It feels like for me, this chapter of Alma is very significant to what I've been seeking and pondering. I can't imagine how I've skipped over it for years. More study ahead (or is it behind?).


  10. My daughter explained to me last night that the Jewish/Hebrew way of describing time (at least anciently) was that we are looking forward into the past as we walk blindly backward into the future. So Alma's description of "cite your minds forward" into the past is exactly right, and Joseph Smith could have never known this. Neat, no?

  11. The appearance of the linear nature of time and the perception of cause and effect is simply a trick of the mind to create the illusion of predictability and control. Your consciousness flickers in and out of myriad dimensions. The appearance of causality is a thread you weave through your perceptions to imagine yourself continuous, to conceive of yourself as more than the collection of your thoughts from one moment to the next. In truth, you are pure consciousness, thought forms made manifest in a grand and glorious dream. The linear concept of time enables you maintain the illusion that the physical plane is progressive, that life comprises a sequential parade of events, one leading into the next. Again, you look for evidence to support this perception of the world as a constant reinforcement, refusing to perceive the indicators of the deeper truth.

  12. Denver (or anyone else),
    I have a few questions on the phrase "these commandments" used in this verse, what is that referring to?
    My thoughts are it references "these his second commandments" referred to in Alma 12:37, which references what was given us after the "first provocation" 12:36...what is the first provocation?
    I see it could possibly refer to multiple things: A: the children of Israel rejecting coming into the Lord's presence when Moses tried to bring them into his presence-see the footnoted verses-Heb 3:8 and Jacob 1:7, B: since we are in the Book of Mormon I understand they rejected the Lord and the righteous had to be led out-see Omni 12-13, C: Adam having transgressed the first commandments-see Alma 12:31 was given additional commandments-verse 32 OR D: does this refer to premortality where the third part rejected the Lord and entered into the first death-Alma 12:36, or E: some combination of the above...any insights would be appreciated.

  13. Krichens commented: "children of Israel rejecting coming into the Lord's presence when Moses tried to bring them into his presence"

    What are the things the people failed to live? Think of the things Enoch taught to get a wicked people into the presence of God and have his city translated and taken up to come back later. Think of the things Joseph was being taught to implement back to the earth, the very things this church was commissioned to maintain and establish in the world for it's advancement. Clearly he was being tutored to restore all things necessary to help us to come into God's presence by living certain truths and orders. Think of the ways that have been carried on from babylon, greece, egypt, rome into our own nation and churches that distract us from entering there in. What is distracting us from fullfilling the measure of our spiritual creation in this abode?

    This reminds me also of the fact that Moses obtained his teaching and priesthood from Jethro, who was not part of the Israelite priesthood movement. Jethro was from Keturah, one of Abraham's 3 or more plural wives, not thru any of the 12 tribes. But his priesthood and teachings were good enough to bring Moses (also a polygamist) into the presence of God and to lead Israelites and help some (70 or so) to stand physically before God face to face. Interesting. What prejudices do we hold today? What if some priesthood group outside our gentile group came to set us back in full priesthood order (opening the heavens, manifesting a true zion people and places)? To go back to living the things necessary to make it easier for us to "enter His presence" in this life. Not that it still cannot be done now... but it sure is easier having leaders and friends in the church loving and impelementing celestial truths. We have the knowledge. It's all in the scriptures. The knowledge of these things have been restored to us again in the 1800's. Where are we heading?

  14. Anonymous said: "What if some priesthood group outside our gentile group came to set us back in full priesthood order (opening the heavens, manifesting a true zion people and places)? To go back to living the things necessary to make it easier for us to "enter His presence" in this life."

    Read D&C 49: 8 and 86: 8-11. : )


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