Tag Archives: King Benjamin

Answering for sins


I’m still thinking on this topic after last week’s study group. For now I just wanted to record some verses that are getting me/us thinking:

  • 2 Nephi 2:7

    7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

  • Jacob 1:19

    19 And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.

  • Jacob 3:10

    10 Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.

    (also verse 9:Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.)

  • Mosiah 2:28

    28 I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might rid my garments of your blood, at this period of time when I am about to go down to my grave, that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God.

  • Mosiah 29:30

    30 And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.

  • Mosiah 29:31

    31 For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings.

  • Mosiah 29:38

    38 Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.

  • Mormon 9:35

    35 And these things are written that we may rid our garments of the blood of our brethren, who have dwindled in unbelief.

  • Ether 12:38

    38 And now I, Moroni, bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood.

  • Moses 6:54

    54 Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.


“Put them with”


There are lots of places where scriptures are put with other scriptures – it’s a theme and there are meta levels and all sorts of fun.

Small plates + large plates (King Benjamin’s time)

Small plates + abridgment (Mormon’s doing)

Abridgment + Book of Ether (another abridgment) (Moroni’s doing)

Stick of Ephraim + Stick of Judah (as talked about Ezekiel)


A reading of King Benjamin’s speech


God created you; you’re in His debt
God gives you breath and agency, so everything you do is because of Him; you’re in his debt
All he wants is for you to serve Him, and if you do He keeps taking care of you; you’re still in His debt
Also you’re “unprofitable servants”; you’ll never make God a profit over what He expends on you
It’s impossible to pay the debt back.
He doesn’t create you and lend you breath because of what you’ll do for Him, but because He loves you!
He’s not asking for you to pay Him back, or to worry about messing things up and being unprofitable or “not good enough.”
What does God want?
Bless others. And not because it will release us from debt, or prove we’re “good enough.” It can’t, it won’t!
Rather than paying God, pay it forward!
Share the love that God gives to you with others:
“Don’t injure one another, live peaceably.
Don’t let your children go hungry, or naked;
Don’t let them transgress the laws of God, or even fight and quarrel one with another, .
Teach them.
Also, take care care of those that stand in need
Don’t have the beggar petition you in vain, and turn him out to perish.”
And in doing in that we become more than God’s servants, we become the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters.
Or as is said elsewhere in scripture, we are not just servants, we are God’s friends.


Enemy to God


Yesterday during our Sunday School lesson, we talked about Benjamin’s claim that the natural man is an enemy to God. It was an interesting discussion an I want to record a few parts of it:

  • Creation puts us in debt
  • Blessings after serving God put us in debt
  • Could be that we see this as making an enemy. We can never get out of debt. We are permanently owing something and permanently servants.
  • Perhaps the language of enemy and yield is describing a confrontation.
  • That is, we think the only way to get out of debt is to run away from or attack our creditor. If we destroy the person we are in debt to, we are free from the debt!
  • But as we come to God in face to face combat, sword in hand, we have the chance to yield to our enemy. That is, to surrender.
  • If we yield, and we think we are enemies, then we probably think he is going to kill us.
  • But the beautiful thing is that as we put down our swords and wait for our enemy to strike, he instead embraces us, as if we were his child.
  • We realize he doesn’t ever care to have the debt filled. He isn’t holding this over our heads, this isn’t a threat, he doesn’t have us as a servant to make a profit. He knows we are “unprofitable” servants, and he’s fine with that!
  • He is not waiting for us to repay him. He is not waiting for us to make him a profit (that is, we will produce more than he put into us). He is not wanting us to leave so he can pick up someone more profitable. He did this all on purpose, knowing that none of us could be profitable and none can repay the debt. This isn’t for his glory or some sort of spiritual economic investment. It is for us.
  • Instead of paying him back, he wants us to “pay it forward” (take care of poor and needy, take care of your children, etc.)
  • Perhaps this is one difference between God and Satan. Satan did want payment – he wanted all the glory – he wanted God to pay him for saving us. Wasn’t setting up a way to save us because he loved us.
  • By being in God’s service we grow and have joy. By being under Satan, we think we can progress without work…and Satan isn’t looking for work or repayment from us he thinks he would have gotten payment from God himself.

I hadn’t noticed this language of payment and enemy was so consistent in King Benjamin’s speech! It’s quite helpful.


King Benjamin: what information did Mormon add to what Amaleki had written?


Omni:

23 Behold, I, Amaleki, was born in the days of Mosiah; and I have lived to see his death; and Benjamin, his son, reigneth in his stead.

24 And behold, I have seen, in the days of king Benjamin, a serious war and much bloodshed between the Nephites and the Lamanites. But behold, the Nephites did obtain much advantage over them; yea, insomuch that king Benjamin did drive them out of the land of Zarahemla.

25 And it came to pass that I began to be old; and, having no seed, and knowing king Benjamin to be a just man before the Lord, wherefore, I shall deliver up these plates unto him, exhorting all men to come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues, and in the gift of interpreting languages, and in all things which are good; for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh from the devil.

Mormon:

12 And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.

13 And it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against his people. But behold, king Benjamin gathered together his armies, and he did stand against them; and he did fight with the strength of his own arm, with the sword of Laban.

14 And in the strength of the Lord they did contend against their enemies, until they had slain many thousands of the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did contend against the Lamanites until they had driven them out of all the lands of their inheritance.

15 And it came to pass that after there had been false Christs, and their mouths had been shut, and they punished according to their crimes;

16 And after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes; and after there having been much contention and many dissensions away unto the Lamanites, behold, it came to pass that king Benjamin, with the assistance of the holy prophets who were among his people—

17 For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people—

18 Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

I find it interesting how much more focused on the “spiritual” Mormon is than Amaleki. The focus is on the contentions among his own people, and how the prophets helped overcome this. There is “also” a war. And Mormon describes them winning with “the sword of Laban” and also “in the strength of the Lord,” details he adds to Amaleki’s account. And details which make this war similar to other wars Mormon has described in his abridgment. It’s fascinating that Amaleki doesn’t talk about the false Christs, false prophets, false preachers and teachers in the land. I imagine this might be because he had already passed on the records to King Benjamin before that happened? Alternatively, was Amaleki one of the “many holy men” that helped King Benjamin?

One wonders what came next in Mormon’s small-plates account of King Benjamin. It certainly is a great time to talk about his big speech. In fact, it might give some good context for his speech. Here’s a time when they’ve been through war, and made it out; where they’ve been through false information, and made it out; where they’ve had divisions and contentions, and some have dissented to the Lamanites, and what is left is those who have made it out. What a good time to regroup, reconsider, strengthen, and give a vision for moving forward.


Self Reliance (November 2013 YW lesson)


I’ll have to be very quick, but here’s how our lesson went:

We went through King Benjamin’s speech and noted several passages where he talks about our relationship to each other and to God. We made a triangle on the board of “us” “other people” and “God.” Then as we discussed passages or other quotations we drew arrows and wrote words to describe the relationship. In addition to King Benjamin, we talked about Pres. Kimball’s quote: “God does hear us but it is usually through another person that he meets our  needs.” We talked about how God relies on us to help other people (Arrow from God through us to others) and how we can’t think that self-reliance means never receiving help. We added lots of arrows and words throughout the lesson.

Then I told a story about my kids fighting over a water bottle. It was one they were given when we were not at home and the two boys were to share it. They barely used it. We were home having a snack and one boy remembered the water and got it to drink during snack. The other boy remembered that he hadn’t had much so he yelled at his brother for taking too much and yanked it out of his hands! I picked up the water and returned it to the first boy, and picked this brother up and put him on the couch! I explained that we had plenty of water at home and there was no need to be mad or to force his brother to give him water! He could have 300 glasses of water if he wanted!

The point of the story was that if we erase God (or Mom, in this story) from the triangle, then we’ve still got arrows going back and forth between us and others but without any clear picture of what that means. My son forgot that there was any other way to get what he needed except from another person and since he didn’t think asking nicely would work, he resorted to force. How true is it in the real world, that when we forget that God is in charge we resort to fighting, harsh feelings, arguing, gossiping, etc.?

Then a lovely prompting came, and we went back to King Benjamin’s speech and read the part where he says if you always remember your weakness and his greatness you will always rejoice, AND, you will live peaceably and not have a mind to injure one another. I thought that was fascinating. If you remember God is in charge and you are only his servant, you won’t fight!  You won’t, because there is no need when you are relying on God.

Then we looked at the word Self-Reliance again and reviewed everything we had learned. We added above the word self “secret:God”. The weeks before we had talked about becoming Christlike and had read 3 Nephi 12-13 where Christ talks about having a pure heart. We talked about how God seeth in secret, etc. So we brought that back in and said that what matters in self-reliance is our heart, like always. We’ll need others and they need us, but the point is that we are always relying on God. All money or food etc in the world is really God’s. If we’re relying on him, then we’ll have what we need. He might ask us to give a million dollars to someone else, or he might prompt someone to give a million dollars to us. And we have to be okay with it. But, what we can’t do is assume that we want or need something, and that someone else has to give it to us. Then harsh feelings come.

My partner had related that she is in charge of an office and if others don’t do their work she has to still keep things in order. She jumped in here and said that God really was her secret. She couldn’t do it without him. I mentioned that probably to her office staff it looks like she is very self-reliant and on top of things. She laughed and said that was probably true, but they didn’t know her secret. 🙂

So we ended up saying that self-reliance is when it looks like you are content and independent, when in reality, you are depending on God in such a way that you don’t covet or misuse what you have. It’s a secret relationship with God that makes you truly self-reliant.

I’d add more or explain better but that’s the extent of my time this morning. 🙂


Grace in the New Curriculum


Looking at this today:  https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/yw/atonement/grace?lang=eng

I like the initial question to the teacher:

What scriptures and other sources have helped you understand grace? What are you impressed to share with the young women so that they can understand grace?

For me it has been King Benjamin’s speech and Ether 12 that have helped me best understand Grace. Once I got a bit of a picture of things, then Paul became a treat to read and really makes it so clear. But I think I had to get an idea of it first to enjoy Paul the way I do now.

So how would I explain Grace? Hmmm.

Well, I’ll do a bit of uncareful explaining first and see where that goes. Grace means that God loves me first, saved me first, did everything necessary for me first, and I am slowly becoming aware of that and learning to trust that. The “work” I suppose you could say, is shedding the “natural man” that does not believe or trust anything outside of myself, and yielding to the Love of God (or, as Benjamin says, “yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit” – though I suppose that Spirit is communicating this love to us).

Once (or whenever) I feel that Love and really feel it, it is a transforming experience. I feel God’s greatness and my own “nothingness” – but, I feel both at the same time, which means I am completely surprised and amazed at how God wants me and loves me, even in my nothingness. My nothingness is, at the same time, recognized completely, and yet completely irrelevant – it does not matter. My weakness is at the same time the most real or obvious to me as it as ever been, and yet, I realize that God does not care that I am weak. He Loves me and wants me to be with Him, and to be one with Him.

And sometimes, I realize that God wants me to be a part of His work with Him – not as a minor figure, not as say, someone who sweeps the floor and stays in the shadows, but as a real, full participant in His work, with Him. We are, almost, equals in the work of saving souls. When I become one with God, which is His desire, we become one in His work. (All of that could be defined as “Consecration.”)

So I should be a bit more careful now and show how I see this in Ether 12 and King Benjamin.

Ether 12:27:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me

What I really like about Ether 12 is the idea that God gives us weakness to see what we will do about it. My weakness (or weaknesses, as it is usually read though isn’t the word used in verse 27) is not so much a sign that I have failed, but a sign that I need God. Read that again:  is not so much a sign that I have failed, but a sign that I need God. The trick is that we often feel like needing God is failing somehow. But the real lesson of Grace is that it is okay that we are weak, because God’s grace is sufficient for every person on earth. In fact, God gave to mankind weakness through the Fall so that we would be humble and trust God.

The trick is for us is to realize at the same moment that we are really weak, but that God is good (translated: God has already Loved us, in that state, and it has become irrelevant).

I really like that word for this: our weakness is irrelevant.

Not our sins, mind you. Our mortality, the fact that we are tempted, the fact that we make mistakes. That weak-state, that “natural man,” is what was given to us. It is our nature. That means that we are not guilty for that. Original guilt has been overcome! Christ atoned for Adam’s fall! As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive! That is true both for physical and spiritual. God has already overcome the world.

But, so often, sin is an attempt to cover-up for our weakness. Why would we ever lie? Steal? etc? Why be cruel to someone else, take advantage, etc.? I’m not going to do a descent job of psychology here, but there’s something to the idea that when we feel unconditionally loved, we let go of being so petty and selfish. When we think we’re on our own, that there’s no safety net, that if I fail here or there then my life slowly crumbles into something I don’t want it to be, then we’re a lot more likely to sin, whether in big or small ways. Sin is a way of not giving-in to God’s Grace.

This is my interpretation of the finale of the Les Miserables film. What’s the comparison of the barricades to heaven supposed to mean at the end? I think it’s saying that Love – Grace – is the only real Revolutionary force. What actually changes people, countries, etc.? When someone actually realizes they are loved and can love. “To love another person is to see the face of God” are the last words we hear before Jean Valjean walks into “heaven” and the re-written march of the last scene starts playing. There’s something to that I think. When do the people in that film sin? When they feel like God has abandoned them and they are on their own. (Or, when they think they are so good that they don’t need God. To them there is no Grace for the sinner – which also means, when they make a mistake, there is no Grace for them and it is better to simply die than live with sin.) What changes them? Experiences of real, trusting love.)

I’m having a hard time staying focused on interpreting scripture word-by-word here, but the point is that we are all “miserable” or “weak” because we are human. What makes the difference is first whether or not a person recognizes that fact, and second whether or not that person trusts God’s Grace. Because, see, God loved us first, and how we respond to that Love is what makes us sinners or saints. Being weak is not sin. Sinning is resisting His love (and remember, His love implies He wants us to be one with Him – both to receive all that He has and to be a full worker in His Kingdom) and consecrating is embracing that.

So now to King Benjamin to try to explain Grace there. I’m looking at a few verses from chapter 4 specifically, though all of his speech  is on this topic too. Here are a few verses:

5 For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state—

6 I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—

7 I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world.

Brief commentary. This part of verse 6 really stuck out to me just now: ” the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord.” Sometimes we think of the atonement as a “fix” to something Adam and Eve messed up. That might not be what we actually believe but sometimes we talk that way. (Or perhaps the opposite is true sometimes too: we don’t talk that way, but we feel that way inside.) Grace – Love – the Atonement was prepared from the foundation of the world – from before Adam and Eve’s fall and before you or I ever made one mistake. And notice, what God wants is that we simply “put [our] trust in the Lord.” Learn of Grace, and trust it. That’s the simple version of the Plan of Salvation. 🙂 What about the rest of the verse – keep the commandments, continue in faith, etc? I think that is a natural outflow of really feeling both God’s greatness and your own nothingness, and giving yourself to it. See these next verses of Benjamin:

11 And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.

12 And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.

13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.

14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry…

If you remember these things and therefore are humble (the right kind of humility – a trusting child-like humility – and not the self-hating kind) then you will “always rejoice” – how wonderous! But more than that. You will “grow in the knowledge of the glory” of God, of that which is just and true. Your mind will “stretch as wide as eternity,” as Joseph Smith put it. And therefore, you will not have a mind to injure each other, you will have a peaceable mind and one that teaches your children naturally. Keeping the commandments is not how we get to God’s Grace, it is a natural outflow of trusting God’s Grace completely. In fact, Benjamin says that it is after we feel the remission of our sins that we live this way. It is NOT, as we sometimes think, a way to live in order to someday feel God’s Grace and the remission of our sins.

If sin can be thought of as resisting Grace and Consecration, then what we usually call “sins” are simply signs or symptoms of not giving in completely to God’s work. I really think those two things have to go together – we feel God’s Love and His desire for us to be “one” with Him, and we respond to that invitation to be “one” by giving up our sins and Consecrating our very hearts to His work. It’s sort of a call-and-response structure.

The lesson also included this suggested analogy:

Draw on the board a simple diagram of a person at the bottom of a pit, with another person standing at the top of the pit, lowering a ladder. Ask the young women what is required in order for the person in the pit to be saved. What is the role of the person at the top of the pit? What is the role of the person in the pit? What does this diagram teach the young women about how the Savior’s grace saves us?

think this analogy will often be used to say that even though the person at top has lowered the ladder, it simply waits there until we climb on it and work our way up to the top. And there is something about that interpretation that feels right, but there is something that feels so wrong! But what, exactly.

I think if King Benjamin were telling this same story, he would emphasize the powerlessness of the person in the pit and the great mercy of the person at the top. Same story, you see, but a different emphasis. The interpretation would be that the person in the pit needs to recognize that they can’t get out any other way and that God has already put a ladder there from before they were even in the pit. What then is the role of the person at the top? To communicate love to the person in the pit after the ladder has been lowered. What is the role of the person in the pit? To recognize there is no other way to be saved from the pit and humbly and joyfully climb up that ladder to be back with the person at the top.

I think I’d add to the story that we’ve collected up all these cool things we’ve found down there in the pit. Maybe some cool rocks or a nicely shaped root. 🙂 Or specks of gold dust or whatever would be of actual monetary value. We have to use both of our hands to climb the ladder, but we don’t want to lose our collection. That is the dilemma: do we leave behind the comforts of the pit for the demands of the world above? Do we empty our hands of our collection and grab hold of the ladder? Or perhaps our dilemma is different: Do we leave our solitude for the demands of unity and companionship? Thus God communicates two things to us: that we are weak and in danger in that pit, and that He loves us and wants us to be with Him.

I think my typing time is coming to an end, so I’ll end with leaving some space for more verses (or talks) as I think of them that have “helped me understand grace,” as the question in the new curriculum put it (and add your own in the comments):

  • Alma 36:11-20. Alma the Younger has an experience where he recognizes, at the same time, God’s greatness (by the shaking of the earth at the voice of the angel!) and his own nothingness. He obsesses about his weakness for days until he finally remembers and trusts what his father had taught him about a Redeemer. He cries out to God, and immediately he feels his guilt and stress leave. Faith leads to remission of sins, right then and there. We might not have an experience with an angel, but all of us can have that experience: when we finally give up obsessing about our sins and trusting God’s Grace.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. These sound a lot like Ether 12:27, now that I read them so closely together. Paul feels like more that his infirmities are shown, the more the Grace and strength of God can be seen. The more we admit that we are weak the more strongly God’s Grace shines right through us to bless others’ lives. Something like that.
  • 2 Nephi 4
  • Alma 26:12
  • Jacob 4:6-7