Posts Tagged 'Hard Hearts'

Numbers Chapter 11

03990_000_bible-map-2b (Click here for the original Bible map 2 without emphasis)

At this point in the narrative of the Israelite journey to the promised land, they left the wilderness of Sinai for the wilderness of Paran. They are being led by the Lord, according to his time and way. I imagine that there were those who were not willing to understand that the Lord had reasons for leading them the way He did. Like a child who cries, “Are we there yet?” from the back seat on a long drive, there had to be some who would murmur among the Israelites. We learn in this chapter, what the Lord did to deal with it, or in other words, to teach the Israelites.

1 And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
2 And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire was quenched.
3 And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the Lord burnt among them.

When the Lord heard the complaints of the people, He did not accept it. He was leading them and providing for them, in a way that they should have been grateful for, but they would not see the larger picture in this. I think that the Lord had to deal with these individuals, so they would not cause an uprising rebellion and major apostasy within the camp. The fire of the Lord went through the camp and consumed those who complained. The people begged for Moses to help them, and when he prayed to the Lord, the fire was taken away. Taberah became the name of this area where they camped.

4 And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:
6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
7 And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium.
8 And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.
9 And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.

It talks here about a mixed multitude among them, which may have been others who were not of Israelite blood, or those who were both of Israelite and Egyptian blood. This mixed multitude began to turn to the worldly ways of lusting, which I think means that they began to have strong desires to please themselves. Then the Israelites, being affected by this lusting, began to murmur about the desire for something other than manna to eat. They cried to have the kinds of food they had eaten in Egypt, rather than the same thing day after day. In this complaint, they had forgotten that the Lord was giving them a miracle from heaven, that would give them all that was necessary to sustain their lives. I am one who doesn’t need a lot of variety in my food, but I understand the desire for a change every once in a while. My kids often complain of the food in front of them, or that they want for more. It is a trait of the natural man in us, to want for foods that will bring us greater satisfaction. The miracle of manna would have been a difficult trial for them to experience, even with the amazing blessing that it was. In 1 Nephi 17, Nephi speaks to his brothers when they murmur about him building a boat, which he had been commanded by God to build. He reminds them of the Israelite journey.

30 And notwithstanding they being led, the Lord their God, their Redeemer, going before them, leading them by day and giving light unto them by night, and doing all things for them which were expedient for man to receive, they hardened their hearts and blinded their minds, and reviled against Moses and against the true and living God.
31 And it came to pass that according to his word he did destroy them; and according to his word he did lead them; and according to his word he did do all things for them; and there was not any thing done save it were by his word.

The Lord was watching over them, and blessing them daily. As they hardened their hearts, they were punished and others were reminded of who was leading them. We are imperfect ourselves and I am sure that each of us falls into murmuring at one time or another. Doctrine and Covenants 59:7 teaches us, “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.” We would do well to find ways to remember the blessings of the Lord in our lives.

10 Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.
11 And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?
12 Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?
13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.
14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.
15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.

Moses heard the cries of the people, and was not happy with it. The Lord was angered by the complaints. Moses complained also, that he had to carry the burden of the people. He felt like a father which was expected to care for his own children, but with all the people of Israel. He was not enough to handle this alone. He prayed basically, that he would rather be killed in that moment, then see his own failure in leading the people on his own. He felt incapable of doing the thing that he had been called to do. I know that many feel inadequate to bear their callings, as Moses was feeling. If we become overburdened with our responsibilities, we too can turn to the Lord for help. The Lord will be there to help us with our burdens.

16 And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.
17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.
18 And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the Lord, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the Lord will give you flesh, and ye shall eat.
19 Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;
20 But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?
21 And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.
22 Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?
23 And the Lord said unto Moses, Is the Lord’s hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.

Moses was commanded to gather seventy elders, to help him with the work. Some would need to be called to lead them. Together the seventy would share the burden of leadership with Moses. They would receive a portion of the Lord’s spirit, which had been given to Moses. This is a part of the true organization of the Lord’s church, and it continues in His order of the priesthood even today.

Next, Moses was commanded to prepare the people, because the Lord would provide meat for them for a whole month and it would become disgusting to them. This came because they had murmured and complained against the Lord. Moses questioned how it would be possible to provide that much meat, and if it would require all the flocks they had, to be killed. The Lord responded by telling Moses if he wondered if the Lord was unable to do this thing, Moses would see if he could. This is a reminder to Moses, that all things are possible by God. It is a reminder to us, that the promises of the Lord will be fulfilled because He has the power to do all things.

24 And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the Lord, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.
25 And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
26 But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.
27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.
28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.
29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!
30 And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.

Moses gathered the seventy from the people, as he had been commanded. The Lord came to him, as he had promised, and gave the spirit to the elders. When this was done, they prophesied with the spirit of God. Two of the men, Eldad and Medad, who had received the spirit but instead of going to the tabernacle, they went about in the camp. Moses was told of them by a young man, and Joshua, one who was in the service of Moses, told Moses he should stop them from doing this. Moses told him that He would like it if God would have all people be prophets, and would give them His spirit. If God wanted to impart the power to prophesy on others, He had a reason for it. Who was Moses, or Joshua, to question the workings of the Lord.

31 And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s journey on this side, and as it were a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth.
32 And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp.
33 And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague.
34 And he called the name of that place Kibroth-hattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.
35 And the people journeyed from Kibroth-hattaavah unto Hazeroth; and abode at Hazeroth.

The Lord brought a wind from the sea, which carried quail to the camp. There were so many that they were covering the ground for a day’s journey on either side. They gathered the quail from that day through the following day and divided them in the camp. As they ate, the Lord sent a plague among them. Many died who had lusted for the meat, and the place was called Kibroth-hattaavah for them. Israel then moved from this place, to Hazeroth.

This is a good example of our need to pray and plead for things according to the will of God. When we have been provided for, and yet, we still beg for those things that we do not have, we are deserving of a lesson on gratitude for what we have already. In Alma 29:4 we read, “I ought not to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life”. The Lord has the power to give and take. If our best learning may come from an experience such as this one, the Lord will give us the opportunity to learn. God is good to those who are righteous and faithful. We do not need to have all the things that others have, or that we have even had before, if He has provided enough to sustain us. I am very grateful for the Lord’s hand in my life, and I hope to remember this lesson at those times when I may want for other things I do not need.

Exodus Chapter 10

At this point in the book of Exodus, Moses and Aaron had gone to Pharaoh a number of times, under the direction of the Lord. They had asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, so that they could worship God freely, but Pharaoh was not a believer in the God of Israel. Even though he was shown the power of God through the awesome plagues that Moses and Aaron had brought upon Egypt, he would not allow his heart to be softened. He had promised to let them go multiple times, but had not followed through with his word. The book of Exodus continues as follows:

1 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:
2 And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the Lord.
3 And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.
4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:
5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field:
6 And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh.
7 And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?
8 And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the Lord your God: but who are they that shall go?
9 And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the Lord.
10 And he said unto them, Let the Lord be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you.
11 Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

Again, Moses is told to go before Pharaoh, to tell him to let the people go or be shown more of the power of God. The Lord says that the power of God was to be witnessed so that they could teach their children and further posterity that He is God. Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh in his pride. This time, Pharaoh is warned that if he failed to do what the Lord wanted, a plague of locusts would come to the people of Egypt. The Lord would cause that the locusts would devour everything that had been left behind from the previous plagues. They would be everywhere. Moses did as he was told and then left Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s servants questioned why Moses was still allowed to do these things to do and why he would not let the people go. Moses was becoming a barrier to their progress and they felt something should be done about it. His servants suggest that he allow the men to go. Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and asked them who they planned on taking with them. Moses told him they would take all of the Israelites and their flocks. Pharaoh said if he let them go with their little ones, they would be up to something that was not good, so instead he said they could take the men and go, and then they were sent away from Pharaoh.

12 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left.
13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.
14 And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.
15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.

Since Pharaoh would not allow all the people to go, the Lord told Moses to bring the locusts as he had said to Pharaoh. This he did, and the plague of locusts was very grievous.

16 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.
17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the Lord your God, that he may take away from me this death only.
18 And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the Lord.
19 And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt.
20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.

Pharaoh quickly called Moses and Aaron and again asked that they pray to the Lord to remove the plague. Moses asked the Lord and the locusts were removed to the sea. Again, Pharaoh hardened his heart and did not let the people go.

21 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.
22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:
23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

This time, the Lord had Moses bring darkness on the land, without a warning to Pharaoh. This darkness was thick and could be felt. For three days, the Egyptians were without light, but the Israelites were able to have light in their homes. I can imagine that Pharaoh was aware of the plagues affecting the Egyptians, but not affecting the Israelites. I wonder how this made a man of his stubborn pride feel. I have to wonder if he had moments where he wondered why this was, and perhaps felt something or if he was purely without understanding. The Lord really does give every opportunity for those who have turned to other Gods and Satan, to turn back and do what is right, so that they can earn a just reward.

24 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.
25 And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God.
26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the Lord our God; and we know not with what we must serve the Lord, until we come thither.

Pharaoh told Moses that they could take the children with them, but not their flocks. Moses told him they were to take their animals as well so that they could serve the Lord and sacrifice to Him. They could not have the proper feast without a way to give sacrifice to the Lord.

27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.
28 And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die.
29 And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.

Pharaoh continued to harden his heart and would not allow them to leave. Instead, he cast Moses out from him and told him he would not see his face again, or he would die. I think that Moses went with the knowledge that he would not come to plead with Pharaoh again. I don’t think that this was the last time they saw one another, but Moses would not be coming to ask permission any longer.

As I am studying this now, I have a feeling that these plagues occurred over a much longer period of time, then how it reads. It seems as though one thing happened right after another, but I am guessing that between the hail which destroyed much and these locusts, there was enough time for some of the plants to grow. I feel like I can have a small idea of what that plague would have been like. One year, when I was a teenager, we had a huge number of grasshoppers in my town. They seemed to be everywhere. I would walk home from school and try my best to avoid stepping on them. It was not pleasant in the least. Still I can’t quite imagine them in the number talked of here. Again, I can’t quite imagine what the darkness would have felt like either. I have felt something like a vapor of darkness. Just thinking about it gives me a sense of claustrophobia. Darkness affects us and not in the most positive ways. I am sure this was extremely difficult for the Egyptians to live with for three days, without an understanding of how it could come to an end. I am so grateful for light and the hope it brings.

This is now nine of the ten plagues of Egypt. I cannot begin to understand how the people of Egypt felt. I wonder is some had learned to fear the Lord and turn away from there false Gods. I wonder if most or all of them were so stuck in their ways that they failed to see the power of God for what it was. So many in the world today would blame these things on some coincidence or force of nature, without recognizing the power of God. As a people, we have turned to explaining away miracles and wonders in our lives. The power of God is real. It exists in our lives today. We are not exempt from the same wonders that the people experienced in Moses’ time. He is here for us, just as He was there for them. We need to take a look at our lives and recognize the tender mercies and miracles we have had. If we recognize these things with gratitude in our hearts, there will be plenty more besides. I am so grateful for the Lord’s tender mercies in my own life. I believe that the priesthood power has been restored to the earth and that righteous men of God have been given the authority to use it to further the work of the Lord.

3 Nephi, Chapter 15

Doing what the Savior teaches us to do

“And now it came to pass that when Jesus had ended these sayings he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and said unto them: Behold, ye have heard the things which I taught before I ascended to my Father; therefore, whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day (v. 1).”  I think the most important word in this verse is “doeth”.  When we do what the Savior taught, we have the promise of being “[raised] up at the last day”.  The footnote for the word doeth refers to James 1:22 which reads, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”  Applying the teachings of the Savior into our lives is the only way that we can be saved.

Who fulfilled the law of Moses?

“And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new (v. 2).  And he said unto them: Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new (v. 3).  Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses (v. 4).  Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end (v. 5).  Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled (v. 6).  And because I said unto you that old things have passed away, I do not destroy that which hath been spoken concerning things which are to come (v. 7).  For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me (v. 8 ).  Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life (v. 9).  Behold, I have given unto you the commandments; therefore keep my commandments. And this is the law and the prophets, for they truly testified of me (v. 10).”

Jesus told the Nephites that he had fulfilled the Law of Moses. In the Bible Dictionary, the phrase “Law of Moses”  is defined as the laws given to the children of Israel through Moses.  They had not followed the higher laws, so God gave them these as a replacement.  They included “ceremonies, rituals and symbols” that would help the children of Israel to remember their “duties and responsibilities”.  Over time the law (among the Jews) was changed by man and has since “lost much of its spiritual meaning”.

In Alma 34:13-14 we read, “Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shall there be, or it is expedient there should be, a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled; yea, it shall be all fulfilled, every jot and tittle, and none shall have passed away (v. 13).  And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal (v. 14).”  The prophets had foretold of this, that the law would be fulfilled by the Son of God.  The law was given to Moses by the Lord and only He would have the ability to end it.  The purpose for the law of Moses was to direct the people to the ultimate sacrifice of the Son of God, therefore, there was no longer a need for that law.  Now the law was to be the law that the Savior taught, which was the higher law.

Who are the “other sheep”?

The Savior told the twelve disciples that they were a light to the Nephites (v. 11-12).  He explained to them that God had never commanded Him to let those in Isreal know of the Nephites and their land of inheritance (v. 13-14).  He also explained that it was never commanded to tell them of any of the other tribes of Israel (v. 15).  “This much did the Father command me, that I should tell unto them (v. 16):  That other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd (v. 17).”  He told the Jews that there were others, but not specifically who they were or where they were.  “And now, because of stiffneckedness and unbelief they understood not my word; therefore I was commanded to say no more of the Father concerning this thing unto them (v. 18 ).  But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them because of their iniquity; therefore it is because of their iniquity that they know not of you (v. 19).  And verily, I say unto you again that the other tribes hath the Father separated from them; and it is because of their iniquity that they know not of them (v. 20).”  Because the Jews were stiff-necked, unbelieving, and living their lives full of iniquity, they did not understand what the Savior meant.

“And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd (v. 21).”  The Savior explained to the Nephites that they were some of those whom he was trying to tell the Jews about.  “And they understood me not, for they supposed it had been the Gentiles; for they understood not that the Gentiles should be converted through their preaching (v. 22).”  The Jews thought that the Savior was telling them about the Gentiles.  “And they understood me not that I said they shall hear my voice; and they understood me not that the Gentiles should not at any time hear my voice—that I should not manifest myself unto them save it were by the Holy Ghost (v. 23).  But behold, ye have both heard my voice, and seen me; and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath given me (v.24).”  If we do not believe, we will also have trouble understanding the words of the Lord.  It is through our faith that we are influenced by the Holy Ghost, to understand His words.

Helaman, Chapter 16

Why did some Nephites believe Samuel while others did not?

After a lesson or a talk, not everyone has the same opinion of it. Sometimes someone will say they loved it, while another will say that they got nothing out of it.  I had an experience a few months ago on a fast Sunday.  As we partook of the Sacrament I struggled because the taste of the bread to me was sour and it was difficult for me not to focus on it being something I did not like.  I wondered if anyone else felt the same way.  Then during testimonies someone got up and shared what an awesome experience the sacrament had just been because the bread to her had never tasted so sweet and it brought the spirit to her so strongly.  We obviously had two different reactions to the same thing and it led to two different experiences.

“And now, it came to pass that there were many who heard the words of Samuel, the Lamanite, which he spake upon the walls of the city. And as many as believed on his word went forth and sought for Nephi; and when they had come forth and found him they confessed unto him their sins and denied not, desiring that they might be baptized unto the Lord (v. 1).  But as many as there were who did not believe in the words of Samuel were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall; but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows (v. 2).  Now when they saw that they could not hit him, there were many more who did believe on his words, insomuch that they went away unto Nephi to be baptized (v. 3).  For behold, Nephi was baptizing, and prophesying, and preaching, crying repentance unto the people, showing signs and wonders, working miracles among the people, that they might know that the Christ must shortly come (v. 4)—Telling them of things which must shortly come, that they might know and remember at the time of their coming that they had been made known unto them beforehand, to the intent that they might believe; therefore as many as believed on the words of Samuel went forth unto him to be baptized, for they came repenting and confessing their sins (v. 5).  But the more part of them did not believe in the words of Samuel; therefore when they saw that they could not hit him with their stones and their arrows, they cried unto their captains, saying: Take this fellow and bind him, for behold he hath a devil; and because of the power of the devil which is in him we cannot hit him with our stones and our arrows; therefore take him and bind him, and away with him (v. 6).  And as they went forth to lay their hands on him, behold, he did cast himself down from the wall, and did flee out of their lands, yea, even unto his own country, and began to preach and to prophesy among his own people (v. 7).  And behold, he was never heard of more among the Nephites; and thus were the affairs of the people (v. 8 ).”

In this experience, there were two different reactions to the words of Samuel.  Some felt the spirit influencing them and had a change of heart.  These people chose to repent and be baptized.  Others felt nothing but anger towards Samuel.  These people tried to hurt him because they did not like that he was telling them what they were doing was wrong and that he claimed to know what was going to happen in the future.  In Proverbs 29:10 we read, “The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.”  These people were already set on getting rid of Samuel before he spoke from the wall.  They had hardened their hearts and would not allow the spirit to influence them.

Samuel was protected by the spirit of the Lord.  These wicked men were not able to touch him with their arrows or stones.  If it had been the will of the Lord that Samuel be hurt or even killed at this time, to serve His purposes, it would have been so. But in not being able to be hurt, more souls were brought to repentance and baptism.  Then Samuel was able to escape to continue preaching to the Lamanites.  There may be times when we are persecuted and we need to have faith that the Lord’s will, will be done.  We need to stand strong in the face of persecution and follow the guidance of the spirit.  We need to try to be strong like Samuel the prophet.

What was the spiritual condition of the Nephites?

A “Do Not Enter” sign shows us the way we should not go, whereas a “Right Turn Only” sign shows us the way we must go.  The Nephites had been given clear signs to show them which ways they should not go and which ways they must go.

“And thus ended the eighty and sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi (v. 9).  And thus ended also the eighty and seventh year of the reign of the judges, the more part of the people remaining in their pride and wickedness, and the lesser part walking more circumspectly before God (v. 10).  And these were the conditions also, in the eighty and eighth year of the reign of the judges (v. 11).  And there was but little alteration in the affairs of the people, save it were the people began to be more hardened in iniquity, and do more and more of that which was contrary to the commandments of God, in the eighty and ninth year of the reign of the judges (v. 12).  But it came to pass in the ninetieth year of the reign of the judges, there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled (v. 13).  And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled (v. 14).”

Things did not change for the Nephites between the eighty-sixth year and the eighty-ninth year, but signs began to happen in the ninetieth year. The spiritual condition between these years did not change for the better, but became somewhat worse.  And then the prophecies began to be fulfilled.  There were “great signs and wonders” that came to all people of the earth.  The wise men saw angels.  I think that just as Samuel said, the great signs were most likely warning signs to the people, to have a change of heart.  Any who witnessed the signs and did not repent, would be held accountable for it.

“Nevertheless, the people began to harden their hearts, all save it were the most believing part of them, both of the Nephites and also of the Lamanites, and began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom, saying (v. 15):  Some things they may have guessed right, among so many; but behold, we know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass, of which has been spoken (v. 16).  And they began to reason and to contend among themselves, saying (v. 17):  That it is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come; if so, and he be the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, as it has been spoken, why will he not show himself unto us as well as unto them who shall be at Jerusalem (v. 18 )?  Yea, why will he not show himself in this land as well as in the land of Jerusalem (v. 19)?  But behold, we know that this is a wicked tradition, which has been handed down unto us by our fathers, to cause us that we should believe in some great and marvelous thing which should come to pass, but not among us, but in a land which is far distant, a land which we know not; therefore they can keep us in ignorance, for we cannot witness with our own eyes that they are true (v. 20).  And they will, by the cunning and the mysterious arts of the evil one, work some great mystery which we cannot understand, which will keep us down to be servants to their words, and also servants unto them, for we depend upon them to teach us the word; and thus will they keep us in ignorance if we will yield ourselves unto them, all the days of our lives (v. 21).  And many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come (v. 22).  And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people upon all the face of the land (v. 23).  And thus ended the ninetieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi (v. 24).  And thus ended the book of Helaman, according to the record of Helaman and his sons (v. 25).”

The Nephites made the choice not to be a people of faith.  They decided that they could not believe all of the signs, if they could not see them for themselves.  They refused to believe that seeing the signs they did, meant that all the prophecies would be fulfilled, including the birth of the Savior.  They hardened their hearts still and depended on the wisdom of man instead of faith.  We still have signs and wonders in our modern times.  The Lord has not left us alone.  We have revelations of the spirit given to man all the time.  We too have many who are trying to live by faith in the words of the prophets and with an open heart to the inspirations of the spirit.  But we have many more who will not live by faith, but are only willing to believe what they can see with their own eyes.  This is sad to think, especially since people have so many ways to manipulate what others see.  We have wicked men leading the hearts of the people away from God.  I wonder if we had the same marvelous signs that the Nephites had, how many people today would turn to God, or how many would explain things away and not see them for what they really are.  I imagine it would be hard to change the hearts of many who are living today.

What are some tactics Satan used to harden the hearts of the Nephites?

Satan uses many tactics to harden hearts.  When it came to this time with the Nephites, he appealed to the imaginations of man.   He also stirred “them up to do iniquity continually” and used rumors and contention to harden their hearts (see v. 22 above).  We need to be watchful of his tactics so that Satan does not get a hold of our hearts and lead us away from God.  We can find strength in prayer and scripture study, attending church, having good friends, attending the temple and many other righteous and wholesome things.  We have the power to be stronger than Satan, if we are willing to work each day to live righteously.

Alma, Chapter 23

The conversion of the Lamanites

“Behold, now it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites sent a proclamation among all his people, that they should not lay their hands on Ammon, or Aaron, or Omner, or Himni, nor either of their brethren who should go forth preaching the word of God, in whatsoever place they should be, in any part of their land (v. 1).  Yea, he sent a decree among them, that they should not lay their hands on them to bind them, or to cast them into prison; neither should they spit upon them, nor smite them, nor cast them out of their synagogues, nor scourge them; neither should they cast stones at them, but that they should have free access to their houses, and also their temples, and their sanctuaries (v. 2).  And thus they might go forth and preach the word according to their desires, for the king had been converted unto the Lord, and all his household; therefore he sent his proclamation throughout the land unto his people, that the word of God might have no obstruction, but that it might go forth throughout all the land, that his people might be convinced concerning the wicked traditions of their fathers, and that they might be convinced that they were all brethren, and that they ought not to murder, nor to plunder, nor to steal, nor to commit adultery, nor to commit any manner of wickedness (v. 3).”  What an amazing thing this was.  These missionaries had been through a lot of suffering since they had started this mission.  Now they were being given a free pass to preach to all the lamanites in the land that was under king Lamoni’s father, which was a lot of land.

“And now it came to pass that when the king had sent forth this proclamation, that Aaron and his brethren went forth from city to city, and from one house of worship to another, establishing churches, and consecrating priests and teachers throughout the land among the Lamanites, to preach and to teach the word of God among them; and thus they began to have great success (v. 4).  And thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the traditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the records and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time (v. 5).  And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away (v. 6).  For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren (v. 7).”  These once wicked people, were converted and became righteous until the day they died.  So many souls were effected by the missionary efforts of the Sons of Mosiah and those they were with.  I’m sure the feelings of success greatly outweighed those feelings of hardship they had when they first started their missions.

What are the “weapons of [your] rebellion”?

We read in verse 7, that the Lamanites “did lay down the weapons of their rebellion”.  To fight the Nephites the Lamanites had used weapons of war, such as clubs, sling shots, and swords.  To “fight against God” they had used lying, cheating, stealing, murdering and more.  We use these same types of weapons to rebel against God today.  Anything type of sin that we commit is our rebellion against God, lying, cheating, selfishness, being vain or greedy, gossiping, denying others their freedoms, and many more.

“Now, these are they who were converted unto the Lord (v. 8 ):  The people of the Lamanites who were in the land of Ishmael (v. 9); And also of the people of the Lamanites who were in the land of Middoni (v.10); And also of the people of the Lamanites who were in the city of Nephi (v. 11); And also of the people of the Lamanites who were in the land of Shilom, and who were in the land of Shemlon, and in the city of Lemuel, and in the city of Shimnilom (v. 12).  And these are the names of the cities of the Lamanites which were converted unto the Lord; and these are they that laid down the weapons of their rebellion, yea, all their weapons of war; and they were all Lamanites (v. 13).  And the Amalekites were not converted, save only one; neither were any of the Amulonites; but they did harden their hearts, and also the hearts of the Lamanites in that part of the land wheresoever they dwelt, yea, and all their villages and all their cities (v. 14).  Therefore, we have named all the cities of the Lamanites in which they did repent and come to the knowledge of the truth, and were converted (v. 15).”  Many were converted to the Lord, but the Amalekites and Amulonites were not because they had hardened their hearts.

In Mosiah 25:22-24 we read, “And thus, notwithstanding there being many churches they were all one church, yea, even the church of God; for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God (v. 22).  And now there were seven churches in the land of Zarahemla. And it came to pass that whosoever were desirous to take upon them the name of Christ, or of God, they did join the churches of God (v.23); And they were called the people of God. And the Lord did pour out his Spirit upon them, and they were blessed, and prospered in the land (v. 24).”  The Lamanites had laid down their weapons of rebellion at this time because repentance and faith were being preached to them and they were free to choose if they would accept it and join the church.  Then they had the spirit with them.  These things are what cause us to lead a righteous life and lay down our weapons of rebellion as well, so that we may be known as “the people of God”

Who were the Anti-Nephi-Lehies?

Names are such an interesting thing for parents to choose.  Giving a name is an opportunity to choose something that would be with that person for their entire life.  I am currently going through names to pick one for my child who will come in a few months.  This a fun process, but it really is something that will effect my child in many ways all through life.

“And now it came to pass that the king and those who were converted were desirous that they might have a name, that thereby they might be distinguished from their brethren; therefore the king consulted with Aaron and many of their priests, concerning the name that they should take upon them, that they might be distinguished (v. 16).”  These Lamanites had a change of heart and wanted to be distinguished from other Lamanites.

“And it came to pass that they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies; and they were called by this name and were no more called Lamanites (v. 19).  And they began to be a very industrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them, and the curse of God did no more follow them (v. 20).”  They chose to be called Anti-Nephi-Lehies and these people were industrious and friendly.  They were blessed and I’m sure were a happier people because they had allowed God to guide their lives and had given up their sins.

What a wonderful blessing it is to witness the change in someone’s life when they have accepted the gospel.  To see the burden of guilt and sin lifted off their shoulders and to see them happy to be serving and happy to learn more of the gospel.  There is such a fire that drives new converts, which I wish more of us had in our lives.  Then to witness the same person taking upon themselves more covenants in the temple, is awesome.  The process of learning and growing that can happen for them and for me as I watch them, is great.  I pray that I will notice this change in more hearts and that I can continue to learn and grow as well, so that I can continue to have the peace and joy that the gospel, my Savior, and my Heavenly Father bring to my life.

Behold, now it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites sent a aproclamation among all his people, that they should not lay their hands on Ammon, or Aaron, or Omner, or Himni, nor either of their brethren who should go forth preaching the word of God, in whatsoever place they should be, in any part of their land.
2 Yea, he sent a decree among them, that they should not lay their hands on them to bind them, or to cast them into prison; neither should they spit upon them, nor smite them, nor cast them out of their asynagogues, nor scourge them; neither should they cast stones at them, but that they should have free access to their houses, and also their temples, and their bsanctuaries.
3 And thus they might go forth and preach the word according to their desires, for the king had been converted unto the Lord, and aall his bhousehold; therefore he sent his proclamation throughout the land unto his people, that the word of God might have no obstruction, but that it might go forth throughout all the land, that his people might be convinced concerning the wicked ctraditions of their fathers, and that they might be convinced that they were all brethren, and that they ought not to murder, nor to plunder, nor to steal, nor to commit adultery, nor to commit any manner of wickedness.
4 And now it came to pass that when the king had sent forth this proclamation, that Aaron and his brethren went forth from acity to city, and from one house of worship to another, establishing churches, and consecrating bpriests and teachers throughout the land among the Lamanites, to preach and to teach the word of God among them; and thus they began to have great success.
5 And athousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the btraditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the crecords and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time.
6 And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working amiracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were bconverted unto the Lord, cnever did fall away.
7 For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren.

Alma, Chapter 15

Can a person become physically sick because of sin?

There are many reasons that people get sick.  In Alma 14:6-7 we read, “And it came to pass that Zeezrom was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his lying words; and his soul began to be harrowed up under a consciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell (v. 6).  And it came to pass that he began to cry unto the people, saying: Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them from that time fort… (v. 7).”

“And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek were commanded to depart out of that city; and they departed, and came out even into the land of Sidom; and behold, there they found all the people who had departed out of the land of Ammonihah, who had been cast out and stoned, because they believed in the words of Alma (v. 1).  And they related unto them all that had happened unto their wives and children, and also concerning themselves, and of their power of deliverance (v. 2).  And also Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness, for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat (v. 3).”

Zeezrom felt physically sick because of the guilt from his sins.  He believed Alma and Amulek were put to death, and it was his fault.  How do we overcome our feelings of guilt?  “And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed (v. 8 ).”  We believe in the Atonement and the power of Christ to redeem us from our sins.  Zeezrom was spiritually ill more than physically ill.  All of us will one day have all of our physical ailments healed in the resurrection.  The greater miracle is having our spiritual sickness healed, because that can bring us greater blessings for eternity.

It is our responsibility to reach out to those souls who may be sick spiritually.  We can pray for them, share the gospel with them, and love them during their times of need.

They went immediately

When we are asked to do something for one another, we don’t always jump right up to go do it.  At times we are selfish and even refuse to help another.  “Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, his heart began to take courage; and he sent a message immediately unto them, desiring them to come unto him (v. 4).  And it came to pass that they went immediately, obeying the message which he had sent unto them; and they went in unto the house unto Zeezrom; and they found him upon his bed, sick, being very low with a burning fever; and his mind also was exceedingly sore because of his iniquities; and when he saw them he stretched forth his hand, and besought them that they would heal him (v. 5).”  Zeezrom responded with faith,when he heard they were alive.  Faith in their priesthood power to heal him.  Alma and Amulek immediately responded to his request.  I think they responded this way, because they were on a mission from the Lord to save souls and this one was in need of saving.  When we are inspired or called by the Lord to do something, we should be quick to respond, just as they were.  When others, who are serving the Lord, ask something of us, we should be quick to respond as well.  Our bishops, stake presidents and other church leaders have been called of the Lord and are doing the Lord’s work.  We should respond quickly to their requests, just as a child should respond quickly to the requests of their parents.

The healing of Zeezrom

“And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation (v. 6)?  And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught (v. 7).  And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed (v. 8 ).  And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words (v. 9).  And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ (v. 10).  And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom (v. 11).  And Alma baptized Zeezrom unto the Lord; and he began from that time forth to preach unto the people (v.12).”

Zeezrom was healed by the power of the priesthood, which is the power of God.  It was through his faith, that this power was able to heal his sickness.  A few years back, my brother was in the hospital with unexplained fluid around his heart.  Our family had a special fast.  We prayed for him a lot.  The next batch of tests that the doctors ran, came back completely free of any fluid.  The doctors were baffled and my family knew that it was by our faith that he was healed.  It was an awesome learning experience for us.  When we have faith, and exercise it through fasting and prayer or through acting upon inspiration, we are blessed.  Sometimes we may not be blessed the way we want to be, but we are always blessed in the way that Heavenly Father knows is best for us.  I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for the power of the priesthood in my life today.

What is the difference between hard and soft hearts?

In verse 4 (see above) we read that Zeezrom’s heart took courage because of Alma and Amulek.  In comparison to the people of Ammonihah where Alma and Amulek had been put in prison, we read, “But as to the people that were in the land of Ammonihah, they yet remained a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people; and they repented not of their sins, ascribing all the power of Alma and Amulek to the devil; for they were of the profession of Nehor, and did not believe in the repentance of their sins (v. 15).”  A hard-hearted person is not willing to change his ways to be a better person.  A hard-hearted person is not willing to be open-minded to the beliefs of another.

We need to have soft hearts.  We can make sure to have our hearts soft by doing many good things.  In 1 Nephi 2:16 we read, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father…”.  We can have a soft heart by praying to God.  In Mosiah 21:15 we read, “ And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens…”.  We can have a soft heart given to us by God.  And in Alma 24:8 we read, “And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts…”.  The spirit can soften our hearts.  I believe that we can gain a softer heart by serving others and being more obedient to the commandments of God also.

Fortification against Satan, death, and destruction

If I knew an enemy was going to attack my home, I would find a place I thought was safe for my children and then grab something I could use as a weapon.

“And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek, Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred (v. 16); Therefore, after Alma having established the church at Sidom, seeing a great check, yea, seeing that the people were checked as to the pride of their hearts, and began to humble themselves before God, and began to assemble themselves together at their sanctuaries to worship God before the altar, watching and praying continually, that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction (v. 17)—Now as I said, Alma having seen all these things, therefore he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord (v. 18 ).  And thus ended the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi (v. 19).”

The people of Sidom wanted to be delivered from the enemy, Satan.  To protect themselves they gathered in church to worship and pray to God.  Prayer is the best weapon we have against any enemy that threatens ourselves or our families.

Almulek chose to follow Alma completely, and lost his friends and family for it.  Alma brought Amulek back to his own house in Zarahemla, to help and strenghten him.

And it came to pass that Zeezrom was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the ablindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his blying words; and his soul began to be charrowed up under a dconsciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell.
7 And it came to pass that he began to cry unto the people, saying: Behold, I am aguilty, and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them from that time forth; but they reviled him, saying: Art thou also possessed with the devil? And they spit upon him, and bcast him out from among them, and also all those who believed in the words which had been spoken by Alma and Amulek; and they cast them out, and sent men to cast stones at them.

Alma, Chapter 12

How secret are our thoughts?

In D&C 6:16 we read, “Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.”  God always knows what we are thinking.  He has given this power to some, to know what others are thinking at times.

In this chapter Alma talks to Zeezrom, “Now Zeezrom, seeing that thou hast been taken in thy lying and craftiness, for thou hast not lied unto men only but thou hast lied unto God; for behold, he knows all thy thoughts, and thou seest that thy thoughts are made known unto us by his Spirit (v. 3);  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 (v. 4)—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 (v. 5).  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 (v. 6).  Now when Alma had spoken these words, Zeezrom began to tremble more exceedingly, for he was convinced 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; for power was given unto them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy (v. 7).”  Alma and Amulek had the power to see Zeezrom’s thoughts.

There are many gifts of the spirit and they come and go as we need them to act on behalf of God.  Alma and Amulek did not always have this gift, but the Lord allowed them to see Zeezrom’s thoughts in order to convince him of the power of God.

Who can know the mysteries of God?

“A mystery is a truth that cannot be known except through divine revelation-a sacred secret.” (The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary)

“And Zeezrom began to inquire of them diligently, that he might know more concerning the kingdom of God. And he said unto Alma: What does this mean which Amulek hath spoken concerning the resurrection of the dead, that all shall rise from the dead, both the just and the unjust, and are brought to stand before God to be judged according to their works (v. 8 )?  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 (v. 9).”  Anyone who is righteously living and willing to make covenants with God, is able to know some of the mysteries of God.  The prophets are definitely able to know these mysteries and are able to share some with us “according to the heed and diligence” that we (the members of the church) give to God.

“And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full (v. 10).”  To have a hard heart is to close ourselves off to God.  Not believing in the words of God or choosing not to obey the words because we think we know better.  To have a hard heart is not allowing the gospel to have a place in our lives.  Those who do not harden their hearts are promised to know the mysteries of God.

“And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell (v. 11).” Those who have a hard heart, lose the knowledge of the mysteries of God, because they are listening instead to Satan.

One of the most amazing things about attending the temple is that I can literally feel my mind open to things about life and eternity.  Common thoughts of gospel principals are connected with each other to make sense of so much more I never would think of otherwise.  It is a blessing that we can all receive as we make those sacred covenants and as we keep them.

How can I purify my thoughts?

“…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 (v. 15).”  We will some day stand before the Lord to be judged.

“And Amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death, and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality, and being brought before the bar of God, to be judged according to our works (v. 12).  Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned (v. 13).  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; 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 (v. 14).”

We will be judged for our words, works and thoughts.  The hardest of the three to control is our thoughts.  Our thoughts have a way of running away with themselves.  They can be influenced in the smallest ways and go places that we would never dare to go physically.  But these can lead to the worst words and actions that we ever say or do.  We need to constantly be trying to purify our thoughts.  Bishop H. Burke Peterson said, “First, we must stop the flow into our minds of . . . vulgar stories, jokes, pictures, conversations, and a myriad of other satanic products. . . .

“Now, assuming we have cut off the flow–not cut it down, but cut it off–the second thing we must do is to develop a filtering system that will cleanse the great reservoir of our mind so that the life-giving thoughts coming from it may again be pure and fit for our use. . . .

“The secret to cleansing our spirit of whatever the impurity is not very complicated.  It begins with prayer every morning and ends with prayer every night.  This is the most important step I know in the cleansing process. . . .

“Secondly, an added refinement will come in the filtering process:  An added measure of spiritual purity, if you please, can be found in a daily study of the scriptures–not long, perhaps but every day. . . .

“Third, feed refreshment to your spirit that comes when you do something good for another that he or she doesn’t expect.  Keep it simple, but do it–daily.  It may only be a cheery hello, a short visit to [someone who is] homebound, a phone call, or a note. . . .

“And finally, pick up a commandment you are still struggling with and give it an honest chance to bless your life.”

I know that as I do these things daily, it becomes harder for my thoughts to go places I do not want them to.  Prayer, scripture study, service, and an honest attempt to be better are truly great ways to protect ourselves from the influences of Satan.  If we can filter the evil out, we can be truly happy and will not feel fear for the day when we will be judged.

Understanding the plan of redemption

“Now, if it had not been for the plan of redemption, which was laid from the foundation of the world, there could have been no resurrection of the dead; but there was a plan of redemption laid, which shall bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, of which has been spoken (v. 25).  And now behold, if it were possible that our first parents could have gone forth and partaken of the tree of life they would have been forever miserable, having no preparatory state; and thus the plan of redemption would have been frustrated, and the word of God would have been void, taking none effect (v. 26). . . . 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 and repentance and their holy works (v. 30). . . Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness; for on such the plan of redemption could have no power, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God (v. 32).  But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son (v. 33);”  I’ve heard this plan also called the plan of happiness and the plan of salvation.

The plan of redemption includes the fact that, Adam fell “by the partaking of the forbidden fruit, according to the word of God; and . . . by his fall, all mankind became a lost and fallen people (v. 22).”  The forbidden fruit was from the tree of life (v. 21) and it gave Adam and Eve the ability to choose to do good or bad.  Had Adam or Eve eaten the fruit again, “. . . there would have been no death, and the word would have been void, making God a liar, for he said:  If thou eat thou shalt surely die (v. 23), so the tree was guarded from them (v. 21).  In order for the plan of redemption to take place, there had to be the ability to die.  Adam and Eve’s transgression was a necessary part to the plan.

The next part of the plan of redemption is the “space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead (v. 24).”  So we have this life to prepare for the resurrection.  We will suffer a “temporal death” or a physical death at the end of this life (v. 25).  Alma says, “it was appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgment, even that same judgment of which we have spoken, which is the end (v. 27).”  So after death, we will be judged.  God gave us commandments that we will be judged by.  God “. . . gave commandments unto men, [Adam and Eve] having first transgressed the first commandments as to things which were temporal, and becoming as Gods, knowing good from evil, placing themselves in a state to act, or being placed in a state to act according to their wills and pleasures, whether to do evil or to do good (v. 31)—”  The punishment for breaking these commandments is a second death or a spiritual death (v. 32).

In the plan, we needed the ability to repent of our sins through Jesus Christ, our savior (v. 33).  “Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest (v. 34).”  We have the ability to choose one of two options laid out for us in this plan.  If we “. . . harden [our] hearts [we] shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; therefore [our] iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon [us]  . . . according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of [our] souls; therefore, according to his word, unto the last death, as well as the first (v. 36).”  We can choose to do evil and not repent, in which case our punishment is a permanent separation from God after this life.  On the other hand we can choose to “. . . 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 (v. 37).”  This rest is the blessing that comes with the glory of the celestial kingdom.  In D&C 84:24 we read, “. . . they should not enter into his rest . . . which rest is the fulness of his glory.”  And in D&C 14:7 we read, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.”

I want to live my life in a way that will allow me to have this blessing.  In order to have that I must accept Alma’s challenge (see verse 37 above).  I must keep my heart soft to the things of God and obey the commandments, so that I can enter into His rest.

Now Zeezrom, seeing that thou hast been taken in thy lying and craftiness, for thou hast not lied unto men only but thou hast lied unto God; for behold, he knows all thy athoughts, and thou seest that thy bthoughts are made known unto us by his Spirit;
4 And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very asubtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us, to brevile us and to cast us out—
5 Now this was a plan of thine aadversary, 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.
6 And behold I say unto you all that this was a asnare 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 bchains, that he might chain you down to everlasting destruction, according to the power of his captivity.
7 Now when Alma had spoken these words, Zeezrom began to tremble more exceedingly, for he was convinced 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 aknew the thoughts and intents of his heart; for power was given unto them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy.

Mosiah, Chapter 26

Hard hearts vs. soft hearts

“Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers (v. 1).  They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ (v. 2).  And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened (v. 3).  And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God (v. 4).  And now in the reign of Mosiah they were not half so numerous as the people of God; but because of the dissensions among the brethren they became more numerous (v. 5).  For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church (v. 6).”

They could not understand the words of the prophet or scriptures (word of God).  They did not believe the things their parents taught, the resurrection, or coming of Christ.  They would not be baptized, join the church or pray.  The rising generation had a heart of a stone.  This a common thing among those not willing to turn to God.  Nephi had a soft heart, when his brothers, Laman and Lemuel had hard hearts.  This was because Nephi did not depend on his own understanding of things, but turned to the Lord and relied upon the spirit.  The children in this chapter would not pray, and so they had hard hearts.  Because of their hearts being hard, they would not be baptized, join the church, believe in the gospel, or want to understand the word of God from the scriptures or the prophet.  And because of this they were sinners and persuaded others to leave the church.

In 1 Nephi 2:16 we read, “… I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.”  When we can feel ourselves being separated from God by a hard heart and a lack of faith, we need to pray.

What can prayer do for you?

“And it came to pass that they were brought before the priests, and delivered up unto the priests by the teachers; and the priests brought them before Alma, who was the high priest (v. 7).”  The people who were committing sins within the church, were brought to Alma.

“Now king Mosiah had given Alma the authority over the church (v. 8 ).  And it came to pass that Alma did not know concerning them; but there were many witnesses against them; yea, the people stood and testified of their iniquity in abundance (v. 9).  Now there had not any such thing happened before in the church; therefore Alma was troubled in his spirit, and he caused that they should be brought before the king (v. 10).  And he said unto the king: Behold, here are many whom we have brought before thee, who are accused of their brethren; yea, and they have been taken in divers iniquities. And they do not repent of their iniquities; therefore we have brought them before thee, that thou mayest judge them according to their crimes (v. 11).”  Alma did not know what to do, so he tried to delegate the problem to king Mosiah.

“But king Mosiah said unto Alma: Behold, I judge them not; therefore I deliver them into thy hands to be judged (v. 12).”  King Mosiah returned them to Alma, because Alma was to be the judge over them.

“And now the spirit of Alma was again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God (v. 13).  And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him (v. 14) …”  Alma turned to God through prayer to find the solution to the problem.

When we have problems, we too should turn to the Lord in prayer.  Their are times in our lives when our judgement may be clouded by what is happening to us right at that moment, but the Lord can see the bigger picture of our lives.  He knows and wants what is best for us because he loves us.  When we turn to him, he will help us to find the right way.  Sometimes it may not seem this way, because answers come in many different ways, but He will always answer and help us to become better through it.  I have gone to the Lord for answers many times in my life.  I don’t think that the answers have ever just come to me, the way that it did for Alma, but as I look back on them, I realize that they came.  Usually, my answers have come in the form of help from someone else.  If I am willing to accept it, I am truly blessed and humbled by the experience.

There is an hour of peace and rest, / Unmarred by earthly care; / ’Tis when before the Lord I go / And kneel in secret prayer.

The straight and narrow way to heav’n, / Where angels bright and fair / Are singing to God’s praise, is found / Thru constant secret prayer.

When sailing on life’s stormy sea, / ’Mid billows of despair, / ’Tis solace to my soul to know / God hears my secret prayer.

When thorns are strewn along my path, / And foes my feet ensnare, / My Savior to my aid will come, / If sought in secret prayer.

[Chorus]  May my heart be turned to pray, / Pray in secret day by day, / That this boon to mortals giv’n / May unite my soul with heav’n.

What blessings came to Alma that can come to you?

“… the voice of the Lord came to him, saying (v. 14):  Blessed art thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi (v. 15).  And blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone which thou hast spoken unto them (v. 16).  And blessed art thou because thou hast established a church among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people (v. 17).  Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine (v. 18 ).  And because thou hast inquired of me concerning the transgressor, thou art blessed (v. 19).”

Alma was blessed for baptizing the people, for having faith in the words of Abinadi, for establishing a church of Christ, and for asking what the Lord wanted him to do with those who sinned.

“Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep (v. 20).”  Because of these things, Alma was promised to have eternal life, which is the greatest gift that God can give to us.  This doesn’t mean that Alma was perfect at this point.  It meant that if Alma continued to do these things for the people (or hold up his end of the covenant) that God would bless him after this life with eternal life.  We have the same promise as Alma.  If we are baptized, continue to have faith in the gospel and prophets, help the church go forward and pray continually to the Lord, we too can have eternal life.

Do we want to be sheep?

Since I was a little child, I have always loved giraffes because they stand so high above everything and look so graceful and dignified (most of the time anyway).  “And he that will hear my voice shall be my sheep; and him shall ye receive into the church, and him will I also receive (v. 21).”  When I think of things through the gospel, I want to be part of His sheep.  I want to follow the Savior, who is the shepherd.  “For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive (v. 22).  For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand (v. 23).  For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand (v. 24).”

If we are His sheep, we are forgiven, called His, and will have eternal life with Him.  In John 10:14-15 we read, ” I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine (v. 14).  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep (v. 15).”  Then in verses 27-28 we read, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (v. 27):  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (v. 28 ).”  The Savior has given everything for us, even His life.  He promises us everything if we listen and follow him.

Today, we hear often that being sheep is not a good thing.  That when we are sheep, we are not choosing for ourselves and that we are not free.  Those who are against the church, often call believers in the gospel, sheep.  I think that I will see this a bit differently now.  I want to be one of the sheep in the Lord’s fold.  I’d much rather follow Him, than the alternative.

What if your whole family got amnesia except you?

The manual presents the following imaginary situation:  “One day you walk home from school and find the house is locked when you get home.  You try your key and it doesn’t work.  You then ring the doorbell and your mom answers, but instead of welcoming you in she says, ‘Who are you?’  Your brothers and sisters are all there, but no one seems to know you.  You try to explain that you live there, but they just look at you as if you are crazy.  It seems as though your whole family has got amnesia.  They finally tell you to stop playing silly games and just go find your own house.”  What an interesting thing to think about.  How would I feel in this situation?  I think that I would be frustrated and at a complete loss for making them understand.  Probably the feeling of helplessness would come over me.

“And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me (v. 25).  And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed (v. 26).  And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (v. 27).  Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice, the same shall ye not receive into my church, for him I will not receive at the last day (v. 28 ).”  Those who did not know the Lord in this life, will not be known by the Lord after it.  Then they will experience eternal helplessness, knowing that they were wrong to believe and live they way they did in this life.  They will live in torment with those who chose to follow Satan.

Who are we to forgive?

“Therefore I say unto you, Go; and whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also (v. 29).  Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me (v. 30).  And ye shall also forgive one another your trespasses; for verily I say unto you, he that forgiveth not his neighbor’s trespasses when he says that he repents, the same hath brought himself under condemnation (v. 31).”  When we repent, the Lord forgives our sins.  He will forgive us as often as we repent.  We need to forgive those who trespass against us and then repent.  If we choose not to forgive them, will be condemned for not forgiving.

We learn more about this in D&C 64:9-11, “Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin (v. 9).  I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men (v. 10).  And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds (v. 11).”  Again, if we choose not to forgive, we are condemned with the greater sin.  We have been told to forgive everyone who trespasses against us, even those who are not sorry for what they have done. I think that sometimes it is even better to forgive those who are happy to have hurt us, because they are not hurting from what they did.  When we do not forgive, we carry around baggage of anger and resentment, while they are living happy and without another thought of what was done.  Our life becomes controlled by those feelings and we cannot progress.  When we forgive them, we leave those feelings at the feet of the Savior and we can move on with our lives.

Why were the names of some “blotted out”?

When someone is excommunicated from the Church, their names are removed from the records, as if they were never a member.  “Now I say unto you, Go; and whosoever will not repent of his sins the same shall not be numbered among my people; and this shall be observed from this time forward (v. 32).  And it came to pass when Alma had heard these words he wrote them down that he might have them, and that he might judge the people of that church according to the commandments of God (v. 33).  And it came to pass that Alma went and judged those that had been taken in iniquity, according to the word of the Lord (v. 34).  And whosoever repented of their sins and did confess them, them he did number among the people of the church (v. 35); And those that would not confess their sins and repent of their iniquity, the same were not numbered among the people of the church, and their names were blotted out (v. 36).”

Those who would not repent, were no longer numbered in the church and were “blotted out” or excommunicated.  Those who repented, were allowed to continue in the church.  This has to be done, so that the church can progress along with the people in it.  “And it came to pass that Alma did regulate all the affairs of the church; and they began again to have peace and to prosper exceedingly in the affairs of the church, walking circumspectly before God, receiving many, and baptizing many (v. 37).  And now all these things did Alma and his fellow laborers do who were over the church, walking in all diligence, teaching the word of God in all things, suffering all manner of afflictions, being persecuted by all those who did not belong to the church of God (v. 38 ).  And they did admonish their brethren; and they were also admonished, every one by the word of God, according to his sins, or to the sins which he had committed, being commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things (v. 39).”  The church was able to grow and be strong when those who did not want to repent were removed from it.  This same process must be done today and for the same reason.  The Lord’s work will go forward and those who try to prevent it, will be stopped.

Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the awords of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did bnot believe the tradition of their fathers.
2 They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.
3 And now because of their aunbelief they could not bunderstand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened.
4 And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the achurch. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their bcarnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God.
5 And now in the reign of Mosiah they were not half so numerous as the people of God; but because of the adissensions among the brethren they became more numerous.
6 For it came to pass that they did adeceive many with their bflattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be cadmonished by the church.

1 Nephi, Chapter 14

Find the “if-then” promises

If then statements include:  

  • If we hearken to the Lamb of God, then He shall manifest himself to us in word and power and take away our stumbling blocks
  • If we harden not our hearts against Christ, then we shall be among the seed of Lehi and the House of Israel and shall be blessed in the promise land forever, with no more captivity and to be no more confounded.
  • If we harden our hearts against Christ and work wickedness, then we will be in captivity like Satan and have destruction both temporally and spiritually.

These promises apply to us today.  We need to hearken to Christ and make sure we do not harden our hearts against Him.  I look forward to the blessings promised if I follow Christ.

Why Are There “Two Churches Only”?

There is only one true church and all others are not the true church.  No matter what sect or denomination, all other churches are “perverted” in some way and therefore they belong to the great, abominable church and not the church of God.

How the Saints Can Defeat the Great and Abominable Church

The saints are few because of the wickedness of the abominable church.  Multitudes will fight against the few saints.  The saints will have the power of Christ with them as they are scattered over the earth.  The saints will be armed with righteousness and the power of God.  The Lord will always be more powerful than the wicked, no matter how many there are.  There are blessings in numbers, and if we stand together with the Lord, we will not fail.

Nephi sees the mission of John the Apostle

Who was the man Nephi saw in vision?  The man Nephi saw in his vision was John, who wrote Revelations in the New Testament (v. 20, 27).

What was the book Nephi beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew?  The book Nephi saw was the Bible (Footnote refers to the revelations written by John).

What did the angel say about the things that were written in the book?  The things written were many, just and true, plain and pure, most precious and easy for all men to understand (v. 23).  

Why was Nephi forbidden to write all the things he saw?  Nephi was told not to write the rest of what he saw, so they would come forth at the right time and because John would write them down (v. 25). 

Others have seen what Nephi saw.  Where are their writings?  They wrote them in the scriptures, which were sealed and are probably found in the sealed portion of the plates that Book of Mormon came from, which were not translated (v. 26). 

When will we get those purer accounts?  At the second coming, the new dispensation of time will begin, which is probably when we will be ready to see these sealed writings.

Nephi closes with His testimony that what he saw was true and what his father saw was true (by the testimony of two witnesses).  We are not ready to know all that Nephi saw, because we are not able to follow all he has given us so far.  We need to use the scriptures and truly adhere to them, before we will be ready to receive that additional knowledge.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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Currently I am studying the The Old Testament. I will be studying from the LDS - King James Version of the Bible (see link below). I am studying along with the book, Scripture Study for Latter-day Saint Families: The Old Testament by Dennis H. Leavitt and Richard O. Christensen.

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