Kim and I are working on Alma 13. I want to spend some time sorting out a tangent here before I post it on our blog.
Alma 13:2 says that the priests were “ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.” I have been so obsessed with the word “manner” that I didn’t think to look much at the words “look forward.”
I did a quick search and here are the other places in the book of Alma where that phrase shows up in relation to Christ :
Alma 4:14Looking forward to that day, thus retaining a remission of their sins; being filled with great joy because of the resurrection of the dead, according to the will and power and deliverance of Jesus Christ from the bands of death.
Alma 5:15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?
Alma 7:6 But behold, I trust that ye are not in a state of so much unbelief as were your brethren; I trust that ye are not lifted up in the pride of your hearts; yea, I trust that ye have not set your hearts upon riches and the vain things of the world; yea, I trust that you do not worship idols, but that ye do worship the true and the living God, and that ye look forward for the remission of your sins, with an everlasting faith, which is to come.
Alma 13:2 And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
Alma 13:16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.
Alma 25:15 Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them.
Alma 30:16Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so.
I suppose I could just drop all of my confusion right now and read it thus:
And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, and [this idea of ordaining priests was set up so that they could teach, and they taught about Christ so that] the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
That would be really, really nice to drop all of my confusion about “manner.” Otherwise, I start getting all tangled. “Manner” sounds so specific to me, like it is describing a ritual. They were ordained in this “manner” sounds like “here’s what their ordination looked like.” Also, this “manner” is supposed to teach the people in “what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.” If I get really specific on the first manner, then I feel like I need to do the same with the second. And the second seems connected to the first, so then they both feel like they need to be specific, and maybe even the same thing! But I can’t make sense of that and so I get dizzy and start over.
But this part about “look forward to his Son” might help me to stand back up and not get dizzy over and over again. Looking forward sounds like an act of faith. The other verses in Alma use it that way. Looking forward means seeing something in the future now, that of course you can’t see or prove. That’s what chapter 30 is arguing about. But that implies that the other chapters are using this phrase that way — it means faith. The word “look” means to see spiritually, to try to actually see it as if it had already happened. That’s a great Book of Mormon idea, isn’t it? Live as if Christ has already come.
Live as if Christ has already come. Is that the “manner to look forward to his Son for redemption?” Even if it is, I think it’s probably a good reading to say that how they learn of this is simply teaching, teaching, teaching. The first manner may simply be “this was the idea set up so that there are teachers.”
But Priests are more than teachers. The perform ordinances. They baptize. In Alma’s time, they perform the rituals of the Law of Moses. That was Kim’s reading of this — they are Aaronic priests who perform those ordinances that point their minds forward to Christ. That’s a great reading but I still want to think of this as Melchizedek priesthood — but maybe I’m stretching the text too far here.
OR maybe we can think of this in terms of the temple? I don’t know what to do about the endowment and the Nephites. Were they endowed? The “rest” of the Lord includes new white clothes, or something like that. Nephi talks about passing through a veil and singing praises. They must have had something of what we have. And I think our own endowment is a preparation for the real endowment, the actual calling and election, being made kings and priests, queens and priestesses. So maybe they didn’t have the preparation one, but they must have had the ordinance of the real, second endowment. Isn’t that the whole point of Alma’s talk of entering in to the rest of God? and isn’t that his answer to Antionah that yes, Adam and Eve could pass by the angel? This is too connected to the temple and specifically to the second endowment/real endowment that I have to assume Alma had that ordinance and was trying to share it with others. (Like Moses in D&C 84:23 — “Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God.”) And this must have been how Melchizedek and Enoch got their whole cities translated — I assume everyone in the city had been sanctified and beheld the face of God — ie, had their calling and election made sure — ie, entered in to the rest of the Lord?
If that is connected to what Alma is saying about the priests, how exactly is it connected?
And also, what connection does it have to Moses 58 and 59?
And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost.
And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen.
What is the “holy ordinance” if not the endowment/second endowment? And I love the word “confirmed.” A confirmation comes to guarantee or seal something that has already been promised. I wonder how to read this. He had heard about the possibility of salvation, and then had an ordinance making that calling and election sure? Or at least an ordinance teaching the possibility? (our endowment.)
Lots to think about, but I think it’s true. I really think there is a lot of connections running through scripture. I realize that different people thought about things in different ways. But I think that if the purpose of the priesthood from Adam to the end is to bring people into God’s presence, then I think that basic and holy ordinance had to exist with Adam, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Peter James & John, Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Moroni, etc. So it seems to me. And Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc. What else are the keys of the kingdom, but to connect earth and heaven, to open the door for people to be in God’s presence? What else could they be?
So it seems to me. So, where does that leave me with Alma 13:2? Could the manner in which they were ordained refer to the endowment? I guess the first question is, could the endowment be called an ordination? It is an ordinance, and I agree that the words we use now aren’t always the words used by everyone throughout time for things. I could see it if we read it this way:
And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, [through the endowment which calls them as kings and queens, priests and priestesses, that thereby they might have the future promises confirmed on them so clearly] that thereby [they could teach those promises with clarity, and] the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
That’s a lot of work squeezed into that verse, but it might be right. It might.