If I could ask them one question about
the Church’s Book of Mormon, Come Follow Me, Lesson 24
For June 15-21, 2020
If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand devout believers better, I might ask:
“Why are Book of Mormon prophecies so … prophetic?”
Things to consider:
- The Lamanites take some Nephites captive, and the chief captain of the Nephite army wants to get them back but doesn’t know where they are, so he asks the high priest of the Church, Alma, where he should go to save them (Alma 16:1-5).
- “And Alma returned and said unto them: Behold, the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti. And behold there shall ye meet them, on the east of the river Sidon, and there the Lord will deliver unto thee thy brethren who have been taken captive by the Lamanites (Alma 16:6).
- And, the story goes on to explain that it happened just as Alma foretold. Think about that. This is a military issue, not an ecclesiastic matter, and Alma just tells it like it would later be.
- Also, do you remember how Alma dealt with Korihor? Korihor demands a sign and Alma tells him he’ll be struck dumb as sign. As Alma had declared, Korihor could not talk from that point on. Talk about boldly rebuking with prophetic utterance (Alma 30:48-50).
- But wait, I think the contrast to modern prophecy is even sharper than that. Do you remember Ammon the missionary? You know, the one who served king Lamoni and cut off the arms of a bunch of guys trying to scatter the king’s flocks (Alma 17:37-39). Later in Ammon’s mission, he gets this prophecy direct from the Lord:
“Get this people out of this land, that they perish not; for Satan has great hold on the hearts of the Amalekites, who do stir up the Lamanites to anger against their brethren to slay them; therefore get thee out of this land” (Alma 27:12).
- And, how about the story of Nephi, son of Helaman, who prophecies who the murderer of the chief judge is and likewise gets to the evidence of who the murderer is by his amazing powers (Helaman 8-9, and thanks to Redditor Lodo_the_Bear for reminding me of this story)? Talk about amazing and to the point revelation!
- Now maybe I’m just deaf to the amazing, bold, specific, and accurate prophecies of modern prophets. Can you think of any that compare to the incredible ability of Book of Mormon prophets? (Just a suggestion: If you bring up a prophecy that is on one side or the other of a prophecy/un-prophecy combo, you may be making my case for me. For example, I’d probably take it as a concession if the modern prophecy you bring up is either the blacks being denied temple ordinances/priesthood or the proclamation undoing those bans.)
Other observations about this lesson’s reading:
- Foreknowledge seems a lot like predestination (Alma 13:3).
- Again, God seems able but unwilling to prevent evil (Alma 14:10-11 and Alma 14:26, see also If I Could Ask …, Lesson 23), and the Church’s material for this lesson admits God sometimes allows evil and sometimes intercedes (manual, lesson 24).
- Goats and lions are not necessarily anachronistic (Alma 14:29).
- Correction made to annotation! Because I may have been wrong, I deleted the following annotation from Alma 16:11.
I don’t think this [corpses in a shallow grave stinking so badly for many years] makes any sense. If the putrefaction process were proceeding quickly enough to produce such a stench, I believe it would have decomposed the bodies relatively quickly. In addition this stench would have attracted scavengers for miles and miles, and they would have expedited the decomposition and removal of the stench.
- While digging into this deeper, I discovered corpse decomposition is even more complex than I had suspected, but I could not determine if my annotation quoted above was right or wrong, so I can’t justify the assertion. If anybody has an expert opinion, please let us know.
- If you’re interested in corpse decomposition, here’s some morbid reading at site 1, site 2, and site 3.
If you could ask believers questions about the scriptures for this lesson, what would you ask?
Have fun studying!
If I could ask them one question, Lesson 24