Moving on with the story. The next part that Alma begins to expand on is about judgment. About how our words, works, and thoughts will all condemn and will cause us to feel guilty.
In a book I once read, a woman (not LDS) described her out of body experience/near death experience. The book is called, “What’s on the Other Side?” She said that she went to the spirit world and said she had just what is described in Alma 12:14. She had a perfect recollection of everything she had done in her life and how it had affected people around her. I believe she only mentioned bad things she had done, snide remarks, and how guilty she had felt knowing that it had hurt someone’s feelings deeply. If that is how it really is, I would imagine the opposite is also true. Every good thing you’ve done you remember and how it affected people for the better. If both of these are true, we are going to be having a very emotional time in the next life. Happiness and sadness both. Probably to a degree we’ve never felt before. Alma says in this state, we’d wish we could command the mountains to hide upon us. But we can’t hide. We have to stand before God and acknowledge his glory, power, mercy, and that all his judgments are just. That he has the power to save and redeem those that repent and believe on his name.
No Need to Fear
I think it’s easy to look at this scripture and start to fear the Resurrection and Judgment because we are all perfectly aware of our imperfection. That perhaps God is going to rain down hail fire and brimstone because of our actions. Maybe that’s true with some people, the bad ones and the rebellious ones that won’t listen. But I feel for the majority of us, it won’t be that way. For sure we’ll be an emotional wreck. I mean, we’ll remember everything. Pre-Earth, Earth, we’ll be shocked at how well we remember Christ and Heavenly Father. We’ll probably be a little overwhelmed because we were so used to Earth life, coming back to the spirit life would be a change. I imagine I’ll be crying. Crying because of how stupid I was on earth, crying because I have to face judgment for my stupidity. Crying because I’m back home. Crying because….that’s all I can think of right now. I haven’t reached that phase of my life so I can write to everything. Here is what I think will happen.
Christ will put his arm around us as we are sobbing and take us into a room with Heavenly Father. In there, we will have an “interview” with them both. Undoubtedly we’ll be crying and we’ll feel the love they both have for us. Then we’ll decide where we want to go. Maybe we are too harsh on ourselves. I think that’s when mercy will be extended. Or maybe we talk ourselves up too much. Justice! Either way, whatever happens, will be both merciful and just. I also like to think during that interview Christ and Heavenly Father will express how much they missed us. That will mean so much!
Sons of Perdition
Alma talks a lot about the second death and the consequences that follow those who fall under the category of Sons of Perdition. The reason Alma is speaking so harshly is because the entire city of Ammonihah is wicked. If anything is going to change, Alma and Amulek have to hit a home run with the ball of reality. Their reality, as the missionaries see it, ain’t so good.
I want to focus for a moment on verse 18. I’m not sure I understand it all the way. Let me start with the beginning and see if I can work my way through. It is as if there had been no redemption made because they are not redeemed according to the justice of God. That part is easy. They (the Sons of Perdition) will be resurrected however, they won’t receive glorification of any sort. No Celestial, Terrestrial, or Telestial kingdom for them. Therefore, it is as if no redemption had been made. Brain Blast! Just figured it out! The last part was what I was having trouble with. It says they cannot die, seeing as there is no more corruption. I was confused on what is meant by corruption. The pure intelligence flowed into my brain. Perhaps a better word is decay. They cannot decay since there is no more decaying of the body. There you go. God helped me understand the scriptures. As they say in Malaysia, Boleh (can)!
Moving on. The chief ruler of the people, Antionah, comes forth and asks some very good questions. If he’s the chief ruler of Ammonihah, Alma and Amulek are attracting quite a crowd. This is the first and only recorded account of this guy in the scriptures.
One question is asked. Alma’s answer takes up the next chapter and a half. The question is, “What does the scripture mean which saith that God placed Cherubim and a flaming sword on the east of the Garden of Eden, lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life, and live forever?” Then he adds the commentary, “And thus we see that there was no possible chance that they should live forever.”
Cherubim and the Tree of Life
Before I jump into that question and answer, I have a thought. Isn’t Cherubim plural? If so, that means that God placed multiple angels on the border of the Garden of Eden. The next puzzle is that flaming sword is singular. If Cherubim is plural, why not multiple swords of fire? Multiple thoughts:
- Cherubim is actually singular. Case solved.
- There is only one sword of fire, even though multiple angels. Who gets the sword this time?
Neither of these answers satisfies me. The main principle here is that the Garden was guarded so they couldn’t return. Let the details of the nitty-gritty events take care of themselves. While we are on the topic of the Tree of Life for a moment, I’d like to present a thought from one of my companions. We were talking about the Tree of Life one day and he suggested the Tree of Life had a sphere of influence. That was what kept everything alive forever. That’s why good plants sprung up spontaneously. So when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they were still immortal as long as they were in the Garden. Since they had eaten of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they no longer qualified for the presence of God. They couldn’t progress. They were now in a state of limbo. If they had eaten of the Tree of Life, that would have permanently solidified that limbo state. Therefore God put Cherubim there to make sure they didn’t eat it. And God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden so they could progress, learn, and have a chance to return to God’s presence. Since they left the sphere of influence of the Tree of Life, the full effects of mortality settled in. Thoughts on this?
Going back to Antionah’s question. What he is asking is why are you saying that we shall live forever when clearly in the scriptures it says that God placed Cherubim to guard against Adam and Eve living forever? How you answer? I’m not sure I could answer. I don’t know enough to be able to link those two topics together and answer the question. I guess that’s why we have the scriptures right? To answer questions like these. Those are the most valuable chapters, when people ask questions. Often, the questions are the ones we have.
The answer Alma gives takes up many verses. I’ll go through them in a “chronological” sort of way and attempt to make what he is explaining more clear. Read verses 25-27 first. These are explaining the Plan of Salvation was thought of and put into effect before the foundation of the world. If it hadn’t been, God’s purposes would have been frustrated. Look at verse 25-27. Part of the plan was to have temporal death, followed by judgment. Now go to verses 23-24. Since Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, temporal death came into play, therefore judgment too. Now Earth life became a probationary state to prepare to meet God. To prepare for an endless state. After the Resurrection.
After this, read 28-37. God saw that it was expedient to teach Adam and Eve about the plan so they could prepare. So he sent angels down to teach them the Plan of Salvation. After which, Adam and Eve began calling upon God. God also gave them commandments after teaching them. They needed to obey, repent, and humble themselves in order to receive a remission of their sins and enter into God’s rest (not experience the 2nd death, which is spiritual death, away from the presence of God.) And live forever with God.
Antionah’s question was a question of physical death vs. spiritual death. That’s why Alma explained how temporal death came into being and spiritual as well. That was a really good answer! I don’t I could have pulled that out on the spot.