Alma asks the people to “cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.” (1)
He reminds them of the priesthood of God that they once had and have rejected. This priesthood is explained here:
Because of His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power and authority to redeem all mankind. To make His atoning power accessible, He has delegated a portion of His power and authority to men on earth. This delegated power and authority is called priesthood. It permit priesthood holders to help Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in Their work—to bring about the salvation and exaltation of God’s children. It does so because it provides His children the opportunity to receive the blessings of the Savior’s atoning power.”Dale G. Renlund 2017
He talks about high priests and that everyone could have this “great privilege” (4) if they didn’t blind their minds and harden their hearts against God.
Thus, this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared.”Alma 13:5
The priesthood is eternal and organized under Christ’s direction.
Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish.”
Therefore, they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.”Alma 13:10-11
Jesus Christ is central to the plan of redemption. We cannot save ourselves, no matter how many good works we do. We need Him. And he uses His righteous followers to bring others to Him to be saved. Dale G. Renlund compares the priesthood to a rocket. The opportunity to benefit from the Savior’s atoning power is compared to the payload that a rocket delivers.
We need the Savior’s atoning power so that we can be reconciled to Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ broke the bands of physical death, allowing resurrection for all. He offers forgiveness of sins, conditioned on obedience to the laws and ordinances of His gospel. Through Him, exaltation is offered. The opportunity to benefit from the Savior’s atoning power is creation’s most important payload.”
“We have the priesthood so that we can help Heavenly Father’s children be relieved of the burden of sin and become like Him. Through the priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest in the lives of all who make and keep gospel covenants and receive the associated ordinances. This is the way each of us comes unto Christ, is purified, and is reconciled to God. Christ’s atoning power is made accessible through the priesthood, which delivers the payload.”Dale G. Renlund
Alma talks about the results of keeping priesthood covenants with God. After receiving this high calling and “being pure and spotless before God, [they] could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence.” (12)
Alma pleads with the people again to grab onto God’s mercy. He talks about the high priesthood and men being called because of their exceeding faith and good works.
And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.”Alma 13:13
What is the rest of God? How would it feel? I don’t imagine it like a physical nap. I imagine God’s rest is joy that comes from doing His work—bringing about the eternal salvation of mankind.
Alma says that the priesthood sanctifies whoever repents and honors their covenants with God. Sanctification, which comes only through Christ’s atoning power, makes us pure and worthy to enter into God’s rest. The priesthood was set up “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.” (16)
Covenants between us and God are vital parts of our progression back to Him. In the same talk by Dale G. Renlund, he paraphrases the English playwright Robert Bolt about how important covenants are:
…a man makes a covenant only when he wants to commit himself quite exceptionally to a promise. He makes an identity between the truth of the promise and his own virtue. When a man makes a covenant, he is holding himself, like water, in his cupped hands. And if he opens his fingers, he need not hope to find himself again. A covenant-breaker no longer has a self to commit or a guarantee to offer.”Dale G. Renlund
Our first covenant we make with God is that of baptism by one holding His priesthood authority. We covenant to take upon us Christ’s name, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. In return, God promises to give us His Spirit to always be with us.
- If you’ve taken this baptismal covenant upon yourself, do you treat that promise between you and the Lord exceptionally? Is your identity and virtue, like Robert Bolt said, linked to the truth of that covenant, as shown by your actions and desires?
- If you haven’t taken made this covenant with God yet, what is holding you back?
Alma talks about how angels declare repentance unto people. And he says repentance is “glad tidings of great joy.” (22) Repentance prepares “the hearts of the children to men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.” (24)
Repentance prepares us to make sacred covenants with God so we are prepared to stand before Him someday, because ALL of us will.
Alma was excited for Christ to come.
Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.”Alma 13:25
Do you feel the same anticipation? Or does the thought of God’s Second Coming fill you with fear?
The key to what we feel has much to do with the state of our soul and the covenants we have made or yet have to make.
I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance.”Alma 13:27
He wants them to humble themselves by calling upon the name of the Lord, “and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering.” (28)
Priesthood ordinances and covenants prepare us spiritually to meet our Savior in the future, to stand before Him with confidence (not fear or guilt), knowing our hearts are pure and our hands are clean—because of Him.
- Am I keeping my covenants with Him with increasing precision and devotion?
- How can I do better?