For our weekly study group coming up this Saturday, we are each looking at Helaman 10:4-11. Here are my study notes so far:
1. Nephi has power among “this people.” A very specific boundary for his new gift.
2. God tells Nephi that what he says will happen, seeming to give Nephi the decision. Then He tells him what to say, in fact using one of the same phrases from giving Nephi this gift:
10 And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.11 And now behold, I command you, that ye shall go and declare unto this people, that thus saith the Lord God, who is the Almighty: Except ye repent ye shall be smitten, even unto destruction. (Chapter 10)
3. It seems the “sealing power” as we call it is not the authority to declare whatever you think should be done, and it will be done. There is something of that in it, but when Nephi himself uses this power, he actually asks God that it be done, rather than simply declaring it:
4 O Lord, do not suffer that this people shall be destroyed by the sword; but O Lord, rather let there be a famine in the land, to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God, and perhaps they will repent and turn unto thee.5 And so it was done, according to the words of Nephi. And there was a great famine upon the land, among all the people of Nephi. (Chapter 11)
So, yes, it was done, according to the words of Nephi. And also, God does say that Nephi will not ask contrary to His will. Does that mean, though, that Nephi will have all the same ideas as God? Or does it simply mean he will actually ask? He will ask, but in now greater faith?
Does the problem come not so much that we ask for things contrary to God’s will, which we don’t know, but that we almost demand it, rather than ask it? Hmm. This plays off my reading of Matthew 16. There, it seems that Peter understands that it is his job to figure out what to do and then declare it. But when he tells Christ to not go and die, he gets in big trouble! Is this part of the problem – not asking, but deciding and declaring without asking? Pride? Moses getting water from the rock – another story to look at here.
(See also Matthew 16 – Peter & the sealing power)