Mosiah 2

Mosiah 2-5 The sermon of king Benjamin

There are passages in the Book of Mormon which are so filled with the spirit of prophecy and revelation that they stand as a beacon of truth to all those who read them. Benjamin's sermon is one of those passages. For someone to read these chapters and then discard the Book of Mormon as a farce, fabrication, or imposter is to reject the Lord himself.

I once spoke with a minister who had just finished reading 1 and 2 Nephi. There are many passages in those books which are also filled with the Spirit. Yet, the minister's conclusion was that the Book of Mormon does not carry the same Spirit that the Bible does. This conclusion, of course, was made before he ever read the first verse. The truth is, that if one understands the Spirit of the Bible, one will recognize that same Spirit in the pages of the Book of Mormon, if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ (2 Ne 33:10). Those who reject the message of this sermon will do so because they don't know the Master, For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thought and intents of his heart? (Mosiah 5:13)

"With the exception of the words of Christ himself, no speech in sacred literature, in our opinion, surpasses that of King Benjamin. Delivered at the temple in the city of Zarahemla around 124 BC, this text is a treasure trove in inspiration, wisdom, eloquence, and profound spiritual experience and insight. Little wonder that Mormon saw fit to include this speech as he complied the most significant Nephite records into the Book of Mormon...That oration was a landmark in its own day, and it still stands as a shining beacon of truth and goodness in our day." (John W. Welch, and Stephen D. Ricks, King Benjamin's Speech: Made Simple, p. vii)

 

"Many readers have intuitively sensed the profundity of its message. Elder Bruce R. McConkie found that it contained 'what well may be the greatest sermon ever delivered on the atonement of Christ the Lord.' Milton R. Hunter marveled at King Benjamin, observing that 'perhaps no other teacher except the Master has given a more beautiful, humble sermon.'...

 

"Memorable oratory is dramatic. 'Truly great oratory,' it is said, 'is the result only of a great occasion.' The setting timing, and delivery of Benjamin's speech make it no ordinary, off-the-cuff conversation. His counsel and testimony were delivered in a powerfully dramatic setting that even today attracts the reader's attention and contributes to its literary effectiveness." (John W. Welch, King Benjamin's Speech: Made Simple, pp. 51, 58)

Neal A. Maxwell

"The general substance of the Book of Mormon itself, of course, encapsulates this rich and special sermon, which is like a sparkling, doctrinal diamond that can be approached and appreciated in so many different ways. Surely King Benjamin kept his promise not to 'trifle' with words (Mosiah 2:9), for his was a rich and whole-souled sermon." (John W. Welch, and Stephen D. Ricks, King Benjamin's Speech: Made Simple, p. 4)

Mosiah 2:4 that they might give thanks to the Lord their God

The offering of sacrifice, in addition to being symbolic of the atonement, was an act meant to show gratitude to the Lord (see Lev 7:11-12). After leaving Jerusalem, Lehi offered sacrifice in thanksgiving, he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God (1 Ne 2:7). Benjamin's people follow the same pattern in offering thanks for their blessings. Notice the wisdom of what they are thankful for. They are not thankful that they are a chosen and a holy people, as the Zoramites prayed (Alma 31:18). They are thankful for deliverance from Jerusalem, for deliverance from the Lamanites, for good teachers, and a righteous king. They exhibited appropriate gratitude to the Lord, for in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things (DC 59:21).

Joseph F. Smith

"I believe that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today is the sin of ingratitude....We see a man raised up with extraordinary gifts, or with great intelligence, and he is instrumental in developing some great principle. He and the world ascribe his great genius and wisdom to himself. He attributes his success to his own energies, labor and mental capacity. He does not acknowledge the hand of God in anything connected with his success, but ignores him altogether and takes the honor to himself." (Gospel Doctrine, p. 270 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 204)

 

Mosiah 2:5 pitched their tents...every man according to his family

The nature of the family structure in Nephite culture is alluded to here. Like their Hebrew forbearers, the Nephites gathered in units of the extended family. This can be deduced from the definition of family that is given, his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters. Therefore, a man's family consisted not only of his wife and children but also his grandchildren. This sort of extended family, by design, gives reverence and deference to the elders of society, relying on their wisdom and experience.

Mosiah 2:8 he caused that the words which he spake should be written

King Benjamin goes to considerable effort to make sure that the people receive the message. First he causes a tower to be built so that his voice can project to a larger audience. However, that is not enough. The multitude is too great and they cannot all hear his words. This is unacceptable to Benjamin. He has his words written and delivered to the people. One can imagine that this task alone would be a great amount of work without the benefit of voice recognition transcription software and copy machines. Having done all this, when Benjamin had finished, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them (Mosiah 5:1).

Neal A. Maxwell

 

"So concerned was Benjamin with his major sermon that he sent among the people to see if they really believed in his words. Benjamin was much more concerned over connecting with his spiritual constituency than with his political constituency. He was continually concerned about communicating." (John W. Welch, and Stephen D. Ricks, King Benjamin's Speech: Made Simple, p. 3)

 

Mosiah 2:9 I have not...come up hither to trifle with...words...but that you should hearken unto me

Benjamin's speech is not a state of the union address-where all is rhetoric, self-approbation, and superficial syrup. Benjamin's words have real meaning, requiring real communication, and real commitment. He wants his people to "hearken" to his words.

The word "hearken" is a scriptural word of important doctrinal significance. There are three words concerned with perception of sound. The first is the verb, "to hear." This word implies that the sound is audible but no more. The individual doesn't have to understand the message, agree with it, internalize it or apply it. This aptly describes those who hear the word of the Lord and reject it. Of these Isaiah prophesied, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not (Isa 6:9). The words of James are just as instructive, be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was (James 1:22-24). Another scriptural example is found in the parable of the sower. In that story, the individual who hears but doesn't listen or hearken is likened unto the seed which fell by the way side, When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart (Matt 13:19). See also Ezek 33:31-32, Lu 16:31, and Jn 12:40.

 

The second verb is "to listen." Listening is one step above hearing. It requires effort on the part of the hearer. Effort is exerted to understand the message, the context, the speaker, the audience, and the meaning. It still doesn't require the listener to act on the information received, only to comprehend it and appreciate it. The word listen is not a biblical word, but the concept is found in a few scriptures, let every man be swift to hear (or listen), slow to speak, slow to wrath (James 1:19). He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him (Proverbs 18:13). Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer (Mor 8:8). Again, from the parable of the sower, the one who listens but doesn't hearken is likened unto the seed which fell into stony places, he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended (Matt 13:20-21).

 

Third, the verb, "to hearken," implies that the message is heard, understood, and applied to one's life and situation. It requires action. As faith is more than just belief, hearkening is more than just to hearing or listening. Therefore, It should be no surprise that this is the verb used in the scriptures on 487 different occasions. This verb encapsulates the essence of true religion, to hearken to the word of the Lord. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock (Matt 7:24-25). Again the parable of the sower teaches the principle, But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matt 13:23). Benjamin's desire for his people to hearken is so that they may understand, and...that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to [their] view.

 

Mosiah 2:9 the mysteries of God

 

"The term mysteries of God as used in the Book of Mormon denotes the saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are termed mysteries because they are unavailable to the natural man, not because they are mysterious or difficult to understand. They must be revealed from God through faith and obedience. They are designed to lead God's children to eternal life.

 

"'A mystery is a truth that cannot be known except through divine revelation-a sacred secret. In the days of Paul the important truth that Gentiles were to be admitted to the Kingdom of God without observing the Law of Moses was a 'mystery' (Eph. 1:9-11; Col. 1:25-27). In our day such great truths as those pertaining to the restoration of the Priesthood, the work for the dead, and the re-establishment of the Church are 'mysteries,' because they could not have been discovered except by revelation.' (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, p. 141)

 

"It was their knowledge of the mysteries of God that qualified Nephi to write his record and King Benjamin to preach his sermon. The material between Mosiah 2:9 and 5:15 constitutes a discussion of some of the most important mysteries of God." (Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, p. 154)

 

Neal A. Maxwell

 

"As we see from the content of Benjamin's sermon, the so-called mysteries referred to by King Benjamin are actually the plain but precious things required for salvation and for exaltation: (quotes Mosiah 1:5)." (John W. Welch, and Stephen D. Ricks, King Benjamin's Speech: Made Simple, p. 6)

 

Mosiah 2:11 I am like as yourselves

 

Benjamin is clearly not interested in one-upmanship. He is quick to explain that he does not consider himself a demigod as so many kings have before him. He is on the other side of the spectrum, for he gives the credit for his success to the Lord, exclaiming that he had been kept and preserved by his matchless power. What a contrast from the politicians of our day! They are quick to take credit for things with which they were only marginally associated, and yet Benjamin had been a brilliant politician on military, moral, economic, and legal grounds-all the while giving the credit to the Lord for his success. We should follow his example before taking credit for the successes of our lives.

 

"In this beautiful discourse on humility we find one of the keys to Benjamin's greatness. Humility is not a mental groveling about our worthlessness. We are the children of God and the crown of his creations. True humility is a recognition of our actual position in relationship to God. If we truly sensed our total dependence upon God, as Benjamin did, it would profoundly affect our daily living. It is when we forget our position in relationship to God that we begin to trust in our own wisdom, pursue our own course, abuse our rights, and ignore our blessings." (Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, p. 155)

 

Mosiah 2:14 I...have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you

 

Truly Benjamin is an exceptional king. He was actually willing to work himself to cut taxes. Alma, the younger, was the same kind of exceptional king, Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people (Alma 30:32).

 

Mosiah 2:17 when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God

 

The hymn, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief," was the favorite hymn of the prophet Joseph Smith. It was also the last song the prophet heard before his martyrdom. It tells the story of an individual who helps a poor and wayfaring man. He is fed when hungry, given water when thirsty, given shelter from the storm, and nursed to health after being "beaten nigh to death." The last two verses continue the story:

 

In pris'n I saw him next, condemned

 

To meet a traitor's doom at morn.

 

The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,

 

And honored him 'mid shame and scorn.

 

My friendship's utmost zeal to try,

 

He asked if I for him would die.

 

The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,

 

But my free spirit cried, "I will!"

 

Then in a moment to my view

 

The stranger started from disguise.

 

The tokens in his hands I knew;

 

The Savior stood before mine eyes.

 

He spake, and my poor name he named,

 

"Of me thou hast not been ashamed.

 

These deeds shall thy memorial be;

 

Fear not, thou didst them unto me."

 

After the Lord divides the sheep from the goats:

 

   'Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

 

   For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

 

   Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

 

   Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

 

   When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

 

   Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

 

   And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' (Matt 25:34-40)

 

Dallin H. Oaks

 

"When we think of service, we usually think of the acts of our hands. But, as shown in earlier chapters, the Lord looks to our hearts as well as our hands. He is concerned not only with our acts but also with our motives. One of his earliest commandments to Israel was to 'love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul' (Deuteronomy 11:13).

 

"In order to purify our service to God and to our fellowmen, it is therefore important to consider not only how we serve, but also why we serve.

 

"People serve one another for different reasons, and some reasons are better than others. It has been said that 'the biggest gap in the world is the gap between the justice of a cause and the motives of the people pushing it' (John P. Grier, in Lawrence J. Peter, comp., Peter's Quotations, [New York: William Morrow and Co., 1977], p. 340)." (Pure in Heart, p. 38)

 

Howard W. Hunter

 

"When we understand why we serve we will not worry about where we serve." (BYU Devotional, Sept. 2, 1990 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 201)

 

Mosiah 2:18 ought not ye to labor to serve one another?

 

The most powerful teaching method is example. King Benjamin's ministry is an example of service to his people. Certainly, if the king can serve the subjects, then the subjects can serve the king and each other. This concept was beautifully taught by the Savior when he washed the feet of the apostles:

 

   'He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

 

   After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

 

   Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

 

   Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter...

 

   So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?

 

   Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

 

   If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.

 

   For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

 

   Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

 

   If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.' (Jn 13:4-7, 12-17)

 

Mosiah 2:20-21 if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants

 

Benjamin makes it clear that we cannot give the Lord enough praise, nor can we serve him with sufficient diligence to pay back the debt we owe him. David proclaimed, I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth (Ps 34:1). Can David praise the Lord enough to pay back this great debt? The answer of Benjamin is a resounding, "No."

 

The Savior, likewise taught this principle in a parable, saying:

 

   'But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?

 

   And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?

 

   Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow (think) not.

 

   So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.' (Lu 17:7-10)

 

The greatness of this concept, other than teaching us appropriate humility before our Creator, is that it suppresses the pride of the pseudo-religious and self-righteous, who fail to understand that they are indeed unprofitable servants. No generation exemplified this truth more than the ecclesiastical leaders of Christ's day. Their sense of superiority is overflowing in the story of the gospels. Consider the man who was blind since birth. He was healed by Jesus, then was brought before the Sanhedrin to be interrogated by the religious leaders of the day. The once blind man gave a powerful testimony of the miracle and Jesus saying, Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing (Jn 9:32-33). To insinuate that Jesus of Nazareth was of God was offensive to them, and their answer exemplifies their pride, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out (Jn 9:34). How different is this than the attitude of Benjamin who said, I, whom ye call your king, am no better than ye yourselves are (v. 26).

 

Joseph Fielding Smith

 

"Our Redeemer has done everything that is essential for our salvation, and he has taught us that if we serve him with all our soul, and all our days, yet we are unprofitable servants and have done only that which it was our duty to do. Paul says we were bought with a price, and we are not our own. Our Redeemer has a perfect right to command us, and all that we do is for our own sakes. He can do without us, but we cannot do without him. We are told that we are unprofitable servants, and so we are, if we think of trying to pay our Savior back for what he has done for us, for that we never can do; and we cannot by any number of acts, or a full life of faithful service, place our Savior in our debt." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 15)

 

Neal A. Maxwell

 

"Both premortally and after the astonishing atonement, Jesus said 'Glory be to the Father' (see Moses 4:2; D&C 19:19). What a contrast to those of us unprofitable servants who, after doing a few good deeds, insist on keeping score!

 

"We worry over whether or not our little deed is noticed. We notice the size of the letters on the mortal marquees over the tiny little theaters where our 'own little plot is always being played.'

 

"We continue to be overly concerned with getting mortal credit and over-establishing our worth. As God's children we do have great value and genuine intrinsic, individual worth. Must that intrinsic worth ever be at the mercy of our moods or of extrinsic, ephemeral measuring rods?" (Men and Women of Christ, p. 128)

 

Hugh Nibley

 

"An unprofitable servant is somebody who consumes more than he produces. You can't possibly produce what you consume. You can't produce even a blade of grass. No one can pay his own way in this world. If you say you've paid your own way, you can't. He is 'even supporting you from one moment to another-I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.' So much for being independent. You are dependent on him every minute. You should know that and realize that other people are too. What he wants you to do is to help them. He doesn't need your help." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 28, p. 454)

 

Mosiah 2:24,34 ye are still indebted to him, and are, and will be, forever and ever

 

Benjamin's discussion of our indebtedness to God is by no means comprehensive. When we honestly begin to count our many blessings, the debt becomes astronomical. Benjamin discusses the debt which comes because the Lord has granted us our lives. He discusses the debt which comes when we are given great blessings for obedience. But what about the blessings of the scriptures, restored priesthood powers, and temple covenants? What about the blessings of a free nation, of wise men as leaders of the kingdom of God on earth, of technological advances designed to make our lives simple? We cannot take credit for any of these gifts of God, for none of them came by our righteousness, therefore, of what have [we] to boast?

 

The other debt which the meek are quick to identify is the debt which comes through the great Atonement. How can one begin to count the cost? How can one begin to pay the debt? The words of the hymns resound:

 

"What debt of gratitude is mine,

 

That in his off'ring I have part," (Hymn 187)

 

"I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!

 

Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget

 

No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,

 

Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet." (Hymn 193)

 

Joseph Fielding Smith

 

"Do you think it will ever be possible for any one of us, no matter how hard we labor, or even if we should suffer martyrdom, to pay our Father and Jesus Christ for the blessings we have received from them? The great love, with its accompanying blessings, extended to us through the crucifixion, suffering, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is beyond our mortal comprehension. We never could repay. We have been bought with a price beyond computation. Not with gold or silver or precious stones, 'But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot.' (1 Pet 1:19)" (The Way to Perfection, p. 224)

 

Mosiah 2:25 Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth

 

This phrase may seem harsh and demeaning, but the doctrine is true. This message is to the proud who need to remember that the dust of the earth follows the commands of God better than they do, O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God (Hel 12:7-8).

 

Brigham Young

 

"The animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms abide the law of their Creator; the whole earth and all things pertaining to it, except man, abide the law of their creation....We tame the animals and make them do our drudgery and administer to our wants in many ways, yet man alone is not tamed-he is not subject to his Great Creator. Our ignorant animals are faithful to us, and will do our bidding as long as they have any strength; yet man who is the offspring of the Gods, will not become subject to the most reasonable and self-exalting principles. How often have we witnessed a faithful animal conveying his master home so drunk that he could not see his way or sit up; yet his faithful animal will plod through mud, shun stumps, trees, and bad places, and land him safely at home." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, pp. 246-7 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 205)

 

Mosiah 2:27-28 that I might rid by garments of your blood

 

Benjamin has lived an entire life of service. He has an unending desire to be pure before the Lord. Regarding his own life, he states, I can answer a clear conscience before God this day (v. 15). He still has a couple of things which need to be taken care of before he yields up [his] mortal frame to its mother earth (v. 26). He needs to establish a successor and do it in a peaceful manner, and he needs to testify to the people, as he says, that your blood should not come upon me. This is the tradition of Nephite prophets, to magnify their calling as a watchman on the tower such that the Lord could not hold them responsible for the sins of their people.

 

The watchman on the tower has a responsibility to warn the people of impending danger. Ezekiel taught that the watchman was culpable if he did not fulfill his responsibility, if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand...if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way...his blood will I require at thine hand (Ezek 33:6-8). Jacob echoed these words, 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 (Jacob 1:19).

 

Hugh B. Brown

 

"President John Taylor said on one occasion, speaking to the brethren of the priesthood: 'If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those you might have saved, had you done your duty.'

 

"This is a challenging statement. If I by reason of sins of commission or omission lose what I might have had in the hereafter, I myself must suffer and, doubtless, my loved ones with me. But if I fail in my assignment as a bishop, a stake president, a mission president, or one of the General Authorities of the Church-if any of us fail to teach, lead, direct, and help to save those under our direction and within our jurisdiction, then the Lord will hold us responsible if they are lost as the result of our failure." (CR, Oct. 1962, p. 84 as taken from the BOM Institute Manual, p. 14)

 

Mosiah 2:33 a wo pronounced

 

A "wo" (or woe) is a judgment or punishment from the Lord. This term is used frequently in the scriptures. However, sometimes the "wo" is singular, wo unto the rich (2 Ne 9:30). Sometimes the "wo" is doubled, wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! (Mosiah 3:12). Sometimes, the "wo" is tripled, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth (Rev 8:13).  There is obviously greater punishment implied in a double wo compared to a single wo. And, of course, the triple wo is the worst of all. The triple wo only occurs in the scriptures in four locations, Rev 8:13, 2 Ne 28:15, 3 Ne 9:2, and DC 38:6. The movie, A Christmas Story (1984), provides the best contemporary analogy. In the movie, the difference between the "dare," the "double dare," and the "dreaded triple dog dare" are explained in detail. The triple dog dare is by far the worst of the three and can only be equaled by the scriptural triple wo!

 

Mosiah 2:33 everlasting punishment

 

See DC 19:4-12.

 

Mosiah 2:36-37 open rebellion against God

 

The Book of Mormon explains how and why it is worse to sin against the knowledge of God, for he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation (DC 82:3). That is why the double wo is reserved for those in open rebellion, wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God (Mosiah 3:12). On the other hand, there will be salvation for those who have sinned in ignorance, For behold...his blood atoneth for the sins of those...who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned (Mosiah 3:11).

 

Bruce R. McConkie

 

"Those saints who traverse the path of rebellion ordinarily do so by defying the will of God in lesser things, and then as their consciences and feelings become hardened, increasing rebellion becomes the established order. For a member of the Church to use tea, coffee, tobacco, or liquor is to rebel against the Lord and his law. Wilful absence from sacrament meeting is a type of rebellion; so likewise is wilful failure to pay an honest tithing.

 

"The degree of condemnation attending rebellion depends upon the nature of the defiance and the light enjoyed by the rebel. The Lord's anger is kindled against all the rebellious. (D. & C. 56:1; 63:2.) In due course they shall be pierced with much sorrow (D. & C. 1:3, 8) and cut off from the land of Zion. 'The rebellious are not of the blood of Ephraim.' (D. & C. 64:35-36.)

 

Those who have a perfect knowledge of the truth and who then come out in open rebellion will become sons of perdition. 'That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.' (D. & C. 88:35.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 619)

 

Mosiah 2:38 the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt

 

The punishment of the sinner comes from within. One concept that is repeatedly taught in the Book of Mormon is that the righteous who have fallen away from the truth will be faced with the truth before the bar of God. While looking the Savior in the face, their pangs of guilt will be piercing.

 

'The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.' (Alma 11:43)

 

John Taylor

 

"God has made each man a register within himself, and each man can read his own register, so far as he enjoys his perfect faculties. This can be easily comprehended.

 

"...Let your memories run back, and you can remember the time when you did a good action, you can remember the time when you did a bad action; the thing is printed there, and you can bring it out and gaze upon it whenever you please.

 

"...Man sleeps the sleep of death, but the spirit lives where the record of his deeds is kept--that does not die--man cannot kill it; there is no decay associated with it, and it still retains in all its vividness the remembrance of that which transpired before the separation by death of the body and the ever-living spirit. Man sleeps for a time in the grave, and by-and-by he rises again from the dead and goes to judgment; and then the secret thoughts of all men are revealed before Him with whom we have to do; we cannot hide them; it would be in vain for a man to say then, I did not do so-and-so; the command would be, Unravel and read the record which he has made of himself, and let it testify in relation to these things, and all could gaze upon it. If a man has acted fraudulently against his neighbor--has committed murder, or adultery, or any thing else, and wants to cover it up, that record will stare him in the face, he tells the story himself, and bears witness against himself. It is written that Jesus will judge not after the sight of the eye, or after the hearing of the ear, but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity the meek of the earth. It is not because somebody has seen things, or heard anything by which a man will be judged and condemned, but it is because that record that is written by the man himself in the tablets of his own mind--that record that cannot lie--will in that day be unfolded before God and angels, and those who shall sit as judges." (Journal of Discourses, pp. 77-9)

 

Mosiah 2:38 the demands of divine justice...doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord

 

"Righteousness causes our confidence to 'wax strong in the presence of God' (D&C 121:45), while the wicked pray that they might 'become extinct both soul and body' rather than stand in that presence to be judged of their deeds (Alma 36:15).  The unclean spirit naturally shrinks from the presence of that which is clean.  'Do ye suppose that ye shall dwell with [God] under a consciousness of your guilt?'  Moroni asked.  'Do ye suppose that ye could be happy to dwell with that holy Being, when your souls are racked with a consciousness of guilt that ye have ever abused his laws?  Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.' (Mormon 9:3-4.)" (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 144)

 

Mosiah 2:41 those that keep the commandments...are blessed in all things

 

Genesis 30 explains how the Lord blessed the cattle of Jacob. Joseph of Egypt seemed to have a golden touch, the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand (Gen 39:3). After Job's trial, the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before...So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning (Job 42:10,12). As one of the great ironies of discipleship, the Lord counsels, seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt 6:33).

 

George Q. Cannon

 

"God has, in His mercy and kindness, confirmed the labors of His servants and the counsels they have given by bestowing prosperity and blessing upon all those who have accepted their counsels and have carried them out in the spirit in which they have been given. The Latter-day Saints themselves are living witnesses to this.

 

"The men who followed President Brigham Young and the Twelve Apostles over whom he presided when they left Nauvoo and...laid the foundation of Salt Lake City, they have been the people who have been the most blessed of God and most prospered; they have prospered in their religion, they have prospered in temporal things, and they have been blessed with peace all the day long; while the men who disobeyed that counsel and concluded that they had had enough of this work and of following the counsels of the leading men of this Church (Sidney Rigdon, et al), have had sorrow and difficulty and have not prospered. God confirmed the leadership of these men by bestowing His blessing upon them and upon those who followed their counsels. He delivered them from perils, He delivered them from Indians, He delivered them from famine, He delivered them from pestilence, and prosperity attended their labors, and every settlement that has been formed in these mountains from the day Salt Lake Valley was reached has been attended with similar prosperity...There is the blessing of God; there is the peace of heaven; there is the joy of the Holy Ghost; there are the gifts and blessings that attend the faithful servants and handmaidens of Jesus Christ, in addition to temporal prosperity, before which temporal prosperity fades. I am speaking now of money and that which perishes with money. I have seen the richest people living in the lowliest homes. Why? Because they were rich in their feelings. I have seen the richest men who were poorer than the poorest of earth's sons. Why? Because they did not have that rich feeling. Such a feeling does not belong to riches and earthly prosperity. It comes from the blessing of God. In this respect the Latter-day Saints may be said to be the richest people on the face of the earth. They are rich in that glorious feeling that God gives. You may strip them, as I have seen them stripped, of earthly possessions, and turned loose in a wilderness without a place of security and not knowing where they would find a resting place, and yet they were as happy a people as I ever saw in my life. Destitute of many things that men and women consider essential to earthly comfort, yet they had that which is above price, and which riches cannot bestow, namely, the peace of heaven, the peace of God resting down upon them. And they have been a rich people from that day to the present." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 24, pp. 221-2)