Let’s move on to chapter 13! I just finished reading the entire chapter. I’m trying to see how best to make the transition from 12 to 13 and see how 13 fits into 12 because it seems as though they are on completely different topics. I think I have it figured out now. Let me explain.
Alma goes a little bit more into detail regarding how God helps mankind prepare to meet him. He calls worthy men to the priesthood to teach and administer ordinances that point the people towards the Savior and his eternal sacrifice. Alma cites Melchizedek as an example of this high priesthood and in the last part of the chapter, invites the people to repent and how the scriptures have been made known unto them. That’s the overview of chapter 13. Now let’s go through it a little bit more in depth and see what can be discovered.
Foreordained and Called in the Beginning
Verse three. We’ll start there. I’ll copy it in because I like it.
“And this is the manner after which they were ordained-being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with an holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.”
That was longer than I expected. Although this verse is referring specifically to high priests, I think the principle that we were called and prepared from the foundation of the earth for our different roles, can be taken universally. Cross reference D&C 127:2. This is Joseph Smith talking about his trials and tribulations. I want to copy it in and then talk about it some.
“And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and the wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life; and for what cause it seems mysterious, unless I was ordained from before the foundation of the world for some good end, or bad, as you may choose to call it. Judge ye for yourselves. God knoweth all things, whether it be good or bad. But nevertheless, deep waters is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulations; for to this day the God of my fathers has delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.”
I really like this verse. I believe that at some time in our life, we’ll all become familiar with perils, whether envy and wrath of men or otherwise. It may seem strange why these perils seem to continue to fall upon us. But like Joseph Smith, I believe we were foreordained for a good cause. Satan attempts to cause us to not achieve that potential. But it’s still up to us if we want to achieve it or not. Whether we experience similar trials of Joseph or not, I believe all of us swim in deep waters at some point in our lives. As Joseph, or maybe it was Emma, who says in the movie, “Better deep than shallow waters”. We all have to learn how to swim. But I think there comes a point in our lives when we have learned to swim, have swum, and can’t go on swimming anymore because there appears to be no land in sight. That’s when you learn that God has the boat, or life jacket–whatever you will–to pick you up and help you along. Everyone has to make the conscious choice to either accept or reject.
Like Joseph Smith and Paul, I can say God has delivered me from all hardships. They haven’t always been when I wanted to, but nevertheless, I have been delivered. We may not see the directions for how long to we’ll be kept in the fires of tribulation, but God does. And he gets all his glory–it is his sole purpose as well–when he molds us into the Celestial being we are and have us return to him.
Must Be Tried in All Things
I’m drifting off topic. We were all ordained to be someone special before the foundation of the earth. But I think in order to achieve those ordinations, we have to learn certain things and pass through certain trials. Just like Joseph did.
Here is an interesting thought. We were all foreordained to do certain things before the foundation of the world right? Was that before or after the war in heaven with Satan being cast out? My next question is to what extent does Satan know our foreordinations? My first thought is that the foreordaining took place after Satan was cast out. Because that would be when ordaining could be done with the righteous that chose to follow God’s plan. If that is the case, then theoretically, Satan shouldn’t have any idea of our foreordinations. I suppose that doesn’t matter too much, though. He for sure knew us in the pre-Earth life and which ones were righteous, valiant, and that were favored of the Lord. That would probably give him reason enough to try and make your life as hard as possible. Just based off who you were in the Pre-Earth days.
Be Prepared for Your Calling
Drifting off topic again…I want to talk a little about being prepared. I’ve just talked about how people were called or foreordained. The cross reference is D&C 138:56. Verse 55 lets us know 56 is referring to the noble and great ones in the spirit world. Verse 56 says that well, I’ll just copy it in. It’s pretty short.
“Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men”
Pretty cool huh? One of my mission companions was telling me that a lot of prophets are of the opinion that in the pre-Earth life, we chose the experiences we wanted to have and the kind of life we wanted. He didn’t have any evidence and I’ve never heard of it before. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Let’s assume for a minute that it is though. In the spirit world we were foreordained to be certain, or rather, fulfill certain roles. Roles such as son, daughter, husband, wife, teacher, bishop, friend, etc..Do you think after we received those ordinations we chose how we wanted to go about achieving them? What experiences we wanted to have to help us fulfill the role to the best possible extent? Maybe we didn’t have all the knowledge necessary to choose the right things. Maybe Heavenly Father and Christ helped us? If there is anything that my mission has taught me, it’s that if you are going to achieve something you ahve to be able to make plans to achieve it. Something like this picking experience seems to fit in pretty well. But like I said earlier, I have no evidence either way. However D&C 138:56 does provide one thing. We received lessons. Maybe we were taught how to fulfill the things we had been ordained to do. Rather than picking and choosing, we were taught things that we needed to know in order to fulfill our purpose. That also fits in with making plans to achieve goals, and this time we have evidence to back it up.
Here is a deep question though. Were Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ the only teachers? Or were there others, who had experienced mortality, teaching as well? I can’t say either way. I think both are possible answers. Which one is correct, is useless speculating. Zero evidence both ways. Food for thought.
One last thought before moving on. It says that we were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord tolabor in the vineyard. I think we were pretty excited to come. In the pre-Earth life, we had been ordained, we knew sort of what we were doing from the lessons we received, we knew when the Lord wanted us to come. We had a front row seat. We probably watched our teammates as eagerly as any player would who was on the bench, waiting to be put in the game. Then, when God called some players back, he put us in. to go do everything he wanted us to. We were probably excited! Ddin’t want to let God down. Wanted to do our best because now was the time to shine. Thinking of it that way, gets me pumped. I bet while we were waiting for our turn, we continued learning from God, maybe even from the people on Earth. After going to our pre-Earth classes (pre-requisite to earth classes) we’d go home and watch ESPN (Every Single Person Network). You could tune in and watch the history of people. Nahh, it was probably the history channel. but instead of being the history channel of things that already happened, you were watching things unfold.
Why We Are Called
That takes care of the pre-Earth side of the verse. The pre-Earth side, I just came up with, is from “and this is the manner..” to “foreknowledge of God…” talks about those who are called in the pre-Earth life. The next part of the verse deals with why they are called to such on earth? I’ll re-copy in the part of the verse.
“…On account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place, being left to choose good or evil…”
Brain Blast! This whole verse deals with the premortal life! Knowledge just came! Here’s what I noticed. The words, “In the first place.” I think often that phrase denotes, “I’m going to list out reasons why…” or “because”. This is how I’ve always read the verse. “And this is the manner after which they were ordained–being called and prepared from the foundation of God on account of their exceeding faith and good works [because], being left to choose good or evil; therefore having chosen good and exercising exceedingly great faith are called with a holy
“And this is the manner after which they were ordained–being called and prepared from the foundation of God on account of their exceeding faith and good works [because], being left to choose good or evil; therefore having chosen good and exercising exceedingly great faith are called with a holy calling…”
Here’s the brain blast part. In the first place means the first estate or pre-mortal world. That makes the entire verse a lot cooler. I’ll copy in the entire verse this time, with the changes included.
“And this is the manner after which they were ordained–being called and prepared from the foundation of the world, according ot the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; [In the pre-mortal world] being left to choose good or evil; thererfore having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according for a preparatory redemption for such.”
That makes the verse so much cooler! Helps me understand it as well. This verse, when looked at in this light has reference to the pre-Earth life schism between Heavenly Father’s plan and Satan’s plan. We were left to choose good or evil and since we chose good and exercised exceedingly great faith, we earned this holy calling, even the calling of high priest. I think you can also apply it to other callings we receive in life. This verse means that us receiving this priesthood was dependent, at least in part, on things we did in the pre-mortal realm as well as in this life. How cool is that?
Verse 4 I think can be looked at as this mortal life. Verse 3 talked about the pre-earth life and how people were valient there. Verse 4 goes on to say that since that time, they have been called. And the reason they were called was because of their faith. While others would reject the spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, they accepted. It says that if those hard hearted people wouldn’t have been like that, they woul have had just a great privilege.
I wonder how much happens to us? We “lose our privilege” because of the blindness of our minds and the hardness of our hearts. Probably a lot. Humans are rather stupid sometimes. But God is good and he continues to reach out to us with opportunities to grow and gain those privileges at a later date. Granted of course, our hearts and minds change.
My last thought on verse 4 is that it could also be relating to the pre-Earth life as well. I was trying to decide which one was more close to the intent of the author. Honestly, it’s impossible to tell unless you were there. That is frustratnig because of course, one desires to fix a meaning to scriptures. But I suppose that is the beauty of the scriptures. They can mean different things at different times. Not that the meaning changes but that different parts are emphasized so that we gain a new perspective on the verse. The meaning of verse four is that some did not gain the calling due to their faithlessness. Whether or not that is confined to the spirit world or mortal world, doesn’t matter. Personally, I think it’s both. What’s important is that we understand the principle being taught. We can think about the context all we want, but until more evidence is obtained, it’s speculation.
The Same Standing As Our Brethren
Verse five. I think the first part is meant to clarify verse 4. It says, “Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing as their brethren…” Looking at the phrase, “Or in fine.” I think that can be read,” In other words.” And if we apply the, “In the first place.” with the spirit world, I think the verse could be a little mre clear. If you feel it is consistent with the meaing that is. “[In other words] in the [pre-mortal world] they were on the same standing as their brethren.”So if this is an acceptable change of words, then verse 5 is modifying verse 4. That means verse 3 and 4 deal with the pre-earth life. Which is a really cool thought. To summarize it all up then:
In the pre-earth life, we were all on the same standing as our brethren. Meaning we were left to choose between good and evil. Some hardend their hearts and blinded their minds, they lost their faith and lost their reward. While others exercised great faith and shewed forth good works. Thereby being called and ordained to become a high priest of the Melchizedek Priesthood once on earth. Their duty was to teach the commandments of God unto the children of men, that thereby they might entr into His (God’s) rest.
Really, you could say verses 3-9 deal with pre-mortal circumstances or priesthood holders. That’s a cool thought. Verses 10-12 finish the story. Alma tells them that there wre many who were ordained (in the pre-earth life) who became high priests. Why? It says in verse 10. It was becasue of their exceeding faith, repentence, and righteousness before God. And as a result of that, their garments were made clean through the blood of the lamb. They grew to abhor sin. Alma finishes us by saying that there were many, exceeding great many who were made pure and entereed into the rest of God. Implying that it is possible and something desirable.