The Book of Mormon – A Covenant Roadmap to Zion (Part 2A)
Words of Mormon, Mosiah, Alma, and Helaman – The Exodus of the Book of Mormon - The Second Pillar of Our Covenant Relationship
From the Words of Mormon to the Records of Mosiah, Alma, and Helaman we find the second pillar of the covenant relationship in the Book of Mormon. The account begins with an exodus of King Benjamin's Father King Mosiah who led a remnant of the Nephites on an Exodus on the eve of the destruction of the Nephites to a remnant of Jacob- The people of Zarahemla.
In fact in the name Zarahemla we are given a key to the understanding of this portion of the covenant treaty. In Hebrew the word zara means seed or children. The portion 'hemla' appears to be a phonetic spelling of the word chaim meaning life. When put together we see these records comprising the portion of God's Covenant that instructs us on the order/patter/image of the seed or the children of life- even the children of Christ.
In The Book of Mosiah we see God declaring himself again through his Messenger to King Benjamin who is the servant King to the people in the Land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 3:2-3). His reign and words are reminiscent of Moses and a type and shadow of Christ who was yet to come. In King Benjamin’s address he confirms the covenant hierarchy and mediation through the Son of God. In Mosiah 3 the covenant hierarchy is established with the Son of God being declared as the Ruler and Mediator of the Covenant. King Benjamin establishes the people as a covenant people like Moses did with the Children of Israel along with his role in the hierarchy established by God for the Nephites as a Servant King. We are shown the opposing hierarchy of the corrupt King Noah and his system of priestcraft as a comparison to God’s righteous system through King Noah.
Like the incident of the Golden Calf we are given various accounts of covenant rebellion and restoration to covenant. In the accounts of the Sons of Mosiah, Alma the Younger, Korihor, Nehor, the Zoramites, etc we are shown the rebellion of the people as they attempt to establish and maintain their counterfeit systems of Sovereignty and Hierarchy as opposed to the pillars of Sovereignty and Hierarchy in God's covenant. Like ancient Israel who sought to establish their own order through a a golden medium, we are shown similar forms of rebellion and idolatry whether it be priest-craft, lawyer-craft, or king-craft. Following the inclination of the natural man, they wanted a god they could manipulate. Here we find King Benjamin’s address which teaches his people how to fulfill the Commandments of God at Sinai. We also see a reiteration of the Commandments of God given at Sinai by Abinadi and a covenant lawsuit against King Noah, his priests, and the people in the Land of Nephi. We find several Exodus accounts in King Mosiah I and in Alma’s people.
The Fall of Adam altered man’s position with God as his Covenant Representative on Earth to build up and establish his Kingdom/righteous dominion over the face of the Earth. To bring man back into a perfect condition with him and once again establish man as his covenant image or representative on earth, God then erects the second Covenant Pillar- Hierarchy and Mediation.
Even as Adam was created to be in the image of God, Christ as the second Adam is also begotten in the image of God. As the image of God on Earth, Christ makes his Father’s kingdom visible to men. He is the covenant representative of the Father in whom the perfect image of the Father resides. As THE SON OF GOD all power and authority is given to him. He is root from which the trunk of the tree of life grows and to which all other branches connect for life and salvation. He is the pinnacle of the Hierarchy established by the Father to which all other delegated authorities account.
Joseph Smith expressed this same principle of covenant hierarchy in the Lectures on Faith:
“There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space—They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;—he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh—and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer, or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be…The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all—the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father—possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father—a Mediator for man—being filled with the fulness of the Mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father: which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments: and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.” (Lectures on Faith 3:2)
OUR FATHER WHICH ART IN HEAVEN--HALLOWED BY THY NAME
As an expression of covenant prayer, the opening of the Lord's prayer could aptly summarize the first pillar of the covenant, "Our Father which art in Heaven may your name be Set Apart."
In Israelite culture a person’s name was more than just a means of identification such as Tom, Dick, or Harry as it is today. A person’s name was a description of who they were-their character and attributes. Like a wife to her husband, the phrase "take upon the name", was an expression that a wife had not only taken on the outward name of her husband but had become "one" with her husband by embodying her husbands love, law, and instructions. The husband prepared a home or "sacred space" for his bride and out of the desire to be one she filled the home with life.
Unlike many of our homes today where the image of God's covenant order has become distorted or abused, God's home or sacred space is a place where love is the rule because his commandments are honored. The rules of the house set up by the husband (God) establish the protective boundaries and defenses that allow his family to grow in strength and righteousness. Without these protective boundaries and defenses predators enter in, defile his sacred space, and his home and children are destroyed.
The Holy or Set Apart Condition of God's Name (his laws, character, and attributes) expresses the awesomeness of our God (YHVH). As He revealed himself to the Fathers-Abraham, Isaac, Jacob-- He also revealed his name to the Book of Mormon Fathers. Because of the love and mercy of God the Fathers prevailed with God because of their trust and loyalty to him. As a result, those promises also extend to the posterity of the Fathers. It is for us to lay covenant claim upon those promises by walking the same path of covenant loyalty that they did.
When we uphold and establish God's covenant pattern or order in our lives by establishing his commandments, his character, and attributes in our lives, we take upon his Name as did the Fathers. When we organize and create the society that exists in Heaven here on Earth we set apart his Name. When the image of God is engraved in our hearts as he engraved his commandments upon tablets of stone, we commence creating the sacred space for his presence to return.
The establishment of God's Kingdom begins and ends with the establishment of his name (laws, character, and attributes). The establishment of the second covenant pillar begins by taking upon the name of the King and becoming one with him by embodying is commandments, character, and attributes. We see an example of this with Moses, "Then the Lord said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord; And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob. I am the Lord God Almighty; the Lord JEHOVAH. And was not my name known unto them? Yea, and I have also established my covenant with them, which I made with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers." (JST Exodus 6:1-4)
We see the same pattern with King Benjamin, "And moreover, I shall give this people a name, that thereby they may be distinguished above all the people which the Lord God hath brought out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I do because they have been a diligent people in keeping the commandments of the Lord. And I give unto them a name that never shall be blotted out, except it be through transgression." (Mosiah 1:11-12)
Even as the name of God (his commandments, character, and attributes) becomes engraven upon the fleshy tablets of our hearts constitutes the establishment of his kingdom both in individuals and a community, rebellion and abandonment of his commandments, character and attributes constitutes the blotting out (the losing of covenant status and the ensuing judgments) of a people.
GOD'S KINGDOM ORDER - THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
Just as the first pillar of God's covenant relationship can be expressed in the phrase, "Our Father which art in Heaven--Hallowed be thy Name." The second pillar of the covenant could be expressed in the phrase, "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done, On Earth as it is in Heaven. The second pillar of God's covenant establishes the order of his house--or Kingdom Order. It is THE PATTERN that all other relationships in God's kingdom are modeled after. Whether it be our spiritual relationship with Him, the relationship of marriage with our spouse, our relationships with our children, or our relationships with our neighbors, all eternal relationships in God's kingdom are smaller or greater copies of this one eternal pattern. By establishing his kingdom pattern God gives us the pattern that every other relationship that exists in his kingdom. The Foundation of this pillar is laid in the deliverance of his people or bride.
The Second Pillar of the Covenant: Kingdom Order and Mediation
The word order often evokes images of organized corporate systems such as are found in the military, a large business corporation, or an organized system of religion. While many have often had four letter word experiences with various systems of order, the idea of order is not a four letter word- especially when it comes to God's Kingdom Order. By establishing the order of God's Kingdom in our lives we establish the conduit through which Heaven and Earth interact with each other. It also establishes the pattern of the Kingdom of God with Christ as King and Mediator of the covenant along with the social order he seeks to establish in his kingdom.
Just as the Book of Genesis establishes the covenant pillar of God's Sovereignty, in the Book of Exodus we see God establishing his Kingdom Order beginning with himself as God,” Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11) We also see the establishment of an order of Judges elected from among the body of the people in Exodus 18. We see Moses established as a mediator between the presence of God and the Children of Israel in Exodus 19. We see the Children of Israel reject the sovereignty of God by attempting to obtain God’s glory and presence through a medium-the golden calf- and the resulting rebellion.
Jesus Christ – Prophet, Priest and King
This Covenant Pillar is erected in our lives when we acknowledge and uphold Jesus Christ as the sole authority from the Father who is in the express image of the Father. Like the royal archway of the temple of God, He is THE PROPHET, PRIEST, AND KING.
He is THE PROPHET because he is THE WORD OF THE FATHER,” For in the beginning was the Word, even the Son, who is made flesh, and sent unto us by the will of the Father. And as many as believe on his name shall receive of his fullness. And of his fullness have all we received, even immortality and eternal life, through his grace. “ (JST John 1:16)
He is THE PRIEST because HE is the fulfillment of the LAW, “And he said unto them: Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new. Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses. Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.” (3 Nephi 15:3-5) As a true priest correctly interpreted and performed the commandments (the definition of fulfilled in Israelite understanding) given by God therefore it has accomplished its purpose.
He is THE KING because ALL POWER AND AUTHORITY HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO HIM IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”
King Benjamin – A Type and Shadow of Christ
Following in the path of the Holy Order of God, King Benjamin serves as an example of a righteous Prophet, Priest, and King who stands in the image of Christ to his People. As a Prophet he delivered the word of God that God declared unto him by a holy messenger to declare to his people. As a priest he correctly interpreted and performed the law (Hebrew: fulfilled the law) among his people. As a King, he exemplified the image of Christ as the Greatest Among Us -and yet the servant of all:
“Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day. Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God. And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?” (Mosiah 2:15-18)
God’s Covenant Hierarchy – Sons and Daughters of God
The institutions of the World and Hierarchies established in the image of men, however well intentioned, are examples of counterfeit covenant constructs whereby men lift themselves above not only one another but above the rightful covenant ruler who is God. As King of Heaven and Earth, God is the Father of All and his covenant subjects are his children:
”And now, these are the words which king Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant. And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5:6-7)
It is the natural man who seeks to lift himself above his brother, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19)
Office and apostleship do not exempt one from the fallen nature. The consistency of man’s fallen nature was found among his own disciples in Jerusalem. Even among his closest disciples we see the covenant hierarchy of the natural man as opposed to the hierarchy of Christ– The Prototype of the Saved Man:
“What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave-For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:21-28)
The establishment of God's Kingdom commences with the deliverance of his people and the proclaiming of his NAME. In declaring the NAME of Jesus Christ, God establishes not only the identity of the King, but also proclaims the commandments, character, and attributes of the King. The citizens of the kingdom in guarding and embodying the commandments, character, and attributes of the King become the children of the King--or the Children of Christ. Establishing the NAME brings forth the blessings of Heaven by erecting the framework of the temple (or sacred space) so that a place may be prepared for the presence of God to inhabit. Abandoning the commandments, character, or attributes of the King constitutes a form of covenant treason or rebellion causing the curses of the covenant to be poured out.
Christ is our King. He is the greatest among us even as he was the servant of all. He who had life within himself gave his life so that those with no life may have life in them. The King and the establishment of his name constitute the foundation of his Kingdom.
Coming Soon - Part 2B
The Framework of the Kingdom Revealed, What does the framework prepare us for? The Types of Covenant Rebellion.