And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same (Abraham, vs 2)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Synagogues: Places of Worship: Chosen Generation

Alma and Amulek went to preach the gospel among a group of people. The following verses are taken from Alma 32. Remember what Nephi said to do "liken all things unto us".
1 And it came to pass that they did go forth, and began to preach the word of God unto the people, entering into their synagogues, and into their houses; yea, and even they did preach the word in their streets.
2 And it came to pass that after much labor among them, they began to have success among the poor class of people; for behold, they were cast out of the synagogues because of the coarseness of their apparel—
3 Therefore they were not permitted to enter into their synagogues to worship God, being esteemed as filthiness; therefore they were poor; yea, they were esteemed by their brethren as  dross; therefore they were poor as to things of the world; and also they were poor in heart.
These believers were cast out of the place were they went to worship. And are we not supposed to attend all our meetings to be temple worthy? So I hear.

The people ask the following question.
...for they[the priests] have cast us out of our synagogues which we have labored abundantly to build with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty; and we have no place to worship our God; and behold, what shall we do? (vs 5)
Here is what Alma tells the people.
9 Behold thy brother hath said, What shall we do?—for we are cast out of our synagogues, that we cannot worship our God.10 Behold I say unto you, do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your synagogues only?
11 And moreover, I would ask, do ye suppose that ye must not worship God only once in a week? (vs 9-11)
 In verse 12 Alma says "it is well that ye are cast out of your synagogues, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom; ". Even though they had lost their places of worship, it was well for them as it made them humble and learn wisdom. For Alma knew, they could worship God outside these synagogues.

Alma continues on his discourse about Faith. In Chapter 33 he continues talking about places of worship.
2 And Alma said unto them: Behold, ye have said that ye couldnot worship your God because ye are cast out of your synagogues. But behold, I say unto you, if ye suppose that ye cannot worship God, ye do greatly err, and ye ought to search the scriptures; if ye suppose that they have taught you this, ye do not understand them.
3 Do ye remember to have read what Zenos, the prophet of old, has said concerning prayer or worship?
Alma tells them if you think you cannot worship outside of your synagogues than you do err and do not understand the scriptures. What an alarming thing to say. We should apply this to ourselves. Than where di the "attend all your meetings" come from to be temple worthy? Likewise he relates worship with prayer. Is it that worship is a form of prayer not a place? "Meet together oft" with prayer and fasting.

Prayer a form of Worship
Lets see what Alma says concerning prayer and worship.
4 For he said: Thou art merciful, O God, for thou hast heard my prayer, even when I was in the wilderness; yea, thou wast merciful when I prayed concerning those who were mine enemies, and thou didst turn them to me.
5 Yea, O God, and thou wast merciful unto me when I did cry unto thee in my field; when I did cry unto thee in my prayer, and thou didst hear me.
6 And again, O God, when I did turn to my house thou didst hear me in my prayer.
7 And when I did turn unto my closet, O Lord, and prayed unto thee, thou didst hear me.
8 Yea, thou art merciful unto thy children when they cry unto thee, to be heard of thee and not of men, and thou wilt hear them.
9 Yea, O God, thou hast been merciful unto me, and heard my cries in the midst of thy congregations.
10 Yea, and thou hast also heard me when I have been cast out and have been despised by mine enemies; yea, thou didst hear my cries, and wast angry with mine enemies, and thou didst visit them in thine anger with speedy destruction.
Even when they were cast out the Lord still heard their cries, their worship. The enemies were brought under a speedy destruction for casting out the righteous, for it is because of the righteous they were not destroyed (Alma 33:10, Helamen 13).

The lord hears our cries wherever we are. We can worship him in all places and we should do so every day, not once a week. The people in the synagogues had turned to fine apparel, looking down upon those who did not dress "with their sunday best". Do we fall into this same trap? Just because someone does not attend their meetings that they are Less Active. We label people immediately. Thus we are judging them which we are commanded not to do. These are the consequences for a group of people that teach the law of Moses. They constantly label what people "are" by the list of things to do or not to do, and judge anyone different as "unrighteous" or "unwanted" or in need of "rescue". Good thing God looks at the inner heart, not the outward appearance and he cannot be deceived.

The word religion is hardly used in the scriptures. The word used is Worship. After all a religion implies there are more than one belief. There are "many religions' thus differences of beliefs. Many in the last day will say "lo here, or lo there'

Caution given to the Twelve Apostles
The savior said to the twelve.
16 ¶Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 
19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matthew 10:16-20)
Their own places of worship they would be scourged for what they taught. Whenever the truth is taught it brings persecution. Even among those who claim to believe in the truth.

Amulek: Is this All?
In Chapter 34 he gives two more pieces of advice. After talking about the different places one can pray, like Alma had previously said, he says the following.
28 And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith.
This is exactly why Isaiah says their solemn assemblies were an abomination because they forsook these things. He said, if they would do these things, than their solemn assemblies would be acceptable. (Isaiah 1; 58) We should not suffer the begger to put his petition up in vain for are we not all beggers? (Mosiah 3-4)

Charity to All
Next he says, have charity for them that persecute you.
40 And now my beloved brethren, I would exhort you to have patience, and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions; that ye do not revile against those who do cast you out because of your exceeding poverty, lest ye become sinners like unto them;
41 But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions.
Meetings Conducted by the Gift of Tongues 
Things have changed quite a bit in the way meetings are conducted. Now we have correlation tell us which two lessons of a president we will talk about, the stake which fourth lesson on General Conference, and that leaves if we are lucky one lesson a month on the scriptures. The most correct book.

Not to mention talks are assigned ahead of time. Here are some examples of how meetings used to be conducted.
What was meant by "tongues" in this early day is not always apparent. But David Whitmer's comment as related by his brother John to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery suggests that it was not necessarily what today often passes for this gift among various charismatic groups. Whitmer wrote: "Br. David says he can speak in all the tongues on earth. We shall probably begin to worship here [Missouri] in tongues tomorrow" [John Whitmer to Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith, July 29, 1833, LDS Archives.]' 
The manifestation of this gift among the Latter-day Saints became very widespread at this period. Particular mention of this was made in July 1833 by a Jackson County vigilante mob who demanded that the Mormons leave the region. Entire meetings were conducted by speaking "in tongues." Almon Babbit's example was typical: 
"Elder Babbit then stepped upon a large stone that was near [during a baptismal service] and spoke in tongues. . . when he had ceased speaking, he then gave the meaning thereof, which was so beautiful, and so filled with the Spirit of God, that every eye was wet with tears." [Margrette Young autobiography, LDS Archives.] The appearance of this gift decreased somewhat among the Latter-day Saints in the years following the Kirtland era but during the nineteenth century it was a relatively frequent part of LDS Church meetings. [JD 10:324] However, President Young apparently found such exercises somewhat dangerous to the stability of the Church by the time the Salt Lake Valley was colonized. (Source here)
Why did Young feel it was unstable?

Meetings Conducted by the Spirit
And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done. (Moroni 6:9)
When was the last time you even deviated at all from the normal sacrament?

Zion becomes Corrupted:
In 4th nephi they had developed a Zion community. They were living the higher law. Look at one of the first signs of apostasy.
25 And from that time forth they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them.
26 And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ.
27 And it came to pass that when two hundred and ten years had passed away there were many churches in the land; yea, there were many churches which professed to know the Christ, and yet they did deny the more parts of his gospel, insomuch that they did receive all manner of wickedness, and did administer that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.
Why did they build up many churches? Were there not churches before? How did they deny the true church of Christ? How did they deny the more parts of the gospel? Is it enough to not teach it to deny it?

Perverting the Right way of the Lord 
The wicked priests in Mosiah 12.
25 And now Abinadi said unto them: Are you priests, and pretend to teach this people, and to understand the spirit of prophesying, and yet desire to know of me what these things mean?
26 I say unto you, wo be unto you for perverting the ways of the Lord! For if ye understand these things ye have not taught them; therefore, ye have perverted the ways of the Lord.
27 Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise. Therefore, what teach ye this people?
28 And they said: We teach the law of Moses.
If ye understand these things, ye have not taught them thus perverting the right way of the lord. They have denied the more parts of the gospel. Second they had not applied their hearts to understanding the scriptures, therefor they do not understand the more parts of the gospel and are perverting the right way of the Lord.

Awful was their state for not understanding the scriptures. They had wrested the scriptures at their own salvation

Alma Chapter 31 explains why Alma and Amulek preached among the people I will post out two reasons.
10 Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation.
11 Yea, in fine, they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances; therefore, for this cause, Alma and his brethren went into the land to preach the word unto them.
Thinking we Are Righteous 
21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand. 
22 Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.
 Fine Apparel
28 Behold, O my God, their costly apparel, and their ringlets, and their bracelets, and their ornaments of gold, and all their precious things which they are ornamented with; and behold, their hearts are set upon them, and yet they cry unto thee and say—We thank thee, O God, for we are a chosen people unto thee, while others shall perish.
This is why Alma and Amulek went to preach unto them that perhaps they may bring them unto the truth. Those that listened were those that were poor, or those that were compelled to be humble because of their afflictions.

He who Exalteth Himself shall be abased.
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified ratherthan the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14)
We are all sinners. None of us are better than anyone else.

Called a Choosen Generation 
 Why is that the "chosen generation" among them were actually those that were wicked? Why was it that the Lord came among the chosen people (Jews) and called them His people, yet they were the 'more wicked part" of the world?

Was it so the Lord could teach them, even those who are most wicked are still considered to be His people? If only they will repent?
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (2 Peter 1:9)
For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. (Deuteronomy 14:2 )
The chosen generation are those that are being called out from darknes into his marvelous light. Its up to us, the choosen generation to accept that light and not reject it. Or will we be like those on the Rameumpton and explain, bless us for being a chosen generation (when we are really wicked) and the others are not.

The Jews are the More Wicked Part 
3 Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.
4 For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God.
5 But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified. (2 Nephi 10:3-5)
Interesting enough those that have the gospel preached among them, were the more wicked part of the world. Yet in 2 peter they are the "chosen generation". Perhaps this is what the Lord deems to be the "chosen generation"?

Is this why the Book of Mormon testifies against us, not to our righteous as Gentiles, for we(LDS) are identified with the Gentiles, of not our righteous but abominations before the Lord?

Many are Called few are Chosen
  • I have made a covenant with my chosen: (Ps. 89:3)
The Lord reminded this chosen generation, the Jews, what was required to be truly Chosen. Baptism was not enough, going to church was not enough, observing the law of moses was not enough. For they had omitted the weightier matter of the law. In fact no outward ordinance is enough. Nothing we can do is enough, but there is still one thing we can offer him that he will accept. Our heart, might, mind, and strength.
They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. (John 8:39)
Ask yourself how do you become chosen?  What lack I yet? Seek and ye shall find. If you don't cast the seed out by your unbelief (Alma 32).

1 comment:

  1. The house of Israel is a "chosen people", not because they are righteous, because time and time again they reject their God. They are chosen because God is giving them special attention in this eternal round. He is trying to save them from going to the potter's wheel and starting over again.

    Out of all God's creations, he brought together those that were not progressing in light and brought them here to give them special attention. He would do his own work and come and work amongst this group himself. And most importantly, he would do it again and again.

    You’ll notice that the Lord clearly goes down into the vineyard more than once.

    Jacob 5
    15 And it came to pass that a long time passed away, and the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor in the vineyard.

    29 And it came to pass that a long time had passed away, and the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor again in the vineyard.

    72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.

    3 Nephi 10 also shows his constant work with the house of Israel. You'll notice:

    How oft have I gathered you
    How oft would I have gathered you
    How oft will I gather you

    and YE WOULD NOT

    4 O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.

    5 And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.

    6 O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.

    In our day he will set his hand the second time to recover his people.

    Isaiah 11
    11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

    Jacob 6
    2 And the day that he shall set his hand again the second time to recover his people, is the day, yea, even the last time, that the servants of the Lord shall go forth in his power, to nourish and prune his vineyard; and after that the end soon cometh.

    2 Nephi 6
    14 And behold, according to the words of the prophet, the Messiah will set himself again the second time to recover them; wherefore,
    HE WILL MANIFEST HIMSELF UNTO THEM in power and great glory, unto the destruction of their enemies, when that day cometh when they shall believe in him; and none will he destroy that believe in him.

    2 Nephi 25
    17 And the Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men.

    2 Nephi 29
    1 But behold, there shall be many—at that day when I shall proceed to do a marvelous work among them, that I may remember my covenants which I have made unto the children of men, that I may set my hand again the second time to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel;