2024 Study Summary 22: "THEY WERE CALLEDTHE PEOPLE OF GOD" | Israel Revealed


Mosiah 25–28


Mosiah 25. The descendants of Mulek at Zarahemla become Nephites—They learn of the people of Alma and of Zeniff—Alma baptizes Limhi and all his people—Mosiah authorizes Alma to organize the Church of God. [About 120 B.C.]

Mosiah 26. Many members of the Church are led into sin by unbelievers—Alma is promised eternal life—Those who repent and are baptized gain forgiveness—Church members in sin who repent and confess to Alma and to the Lord will be forgiven; otherwise, they will not be numbered among the people of the Church. [About 120–100 B.C.]

Mosiah 27. Mosiah forbids persecution and enjoins equality—Alma the younger and the four sons of Mosiah seek to destroy the Church—An angel appears and commands them to cease their evil course—Alma is struck dumb—All mankind must be born again to gain salvation—Alma and the sons of Mosiah declare glad tidings. [About 100–92 B.C.]

Mosiah 28. The sons of Mosiah go to preach to the Lamanites—Using the two seer stones, Mosiah translates the Jaredite plates. [About 92 B.C.]

How recurring is the charge of “gathering?”
Alma going out to preach and gather the believing people to the Lord is a repeated theme throughout time. It is a characteristic of the House of Israel to be “gathered home.” In modern times the word “Zionism” is usually connected with the “gathering” of Jews. Some consider coming to Israel as a return to their ancient roots. Some feel it is a religious experience while others gather in a secular sense. Some of the Jews in the diaspora take years to make up their minds to “gather” while others make up their minds quickly. The State of Israel, although not “religious,” sends emissaries throughout the world to gather assist Jews who wish to reestablish themselves in their ancient homeland. These are called a “Shaliach” and they are somewhat similar to the “Mission Leaders” in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who administer the work of “emissaries” called to bring the blood of Israel “home.”

What is “missionizing” by the Jews?
“The movement known as Zionism can be described as the national liberation movement of the Jews. As a formal, fully organized movement, Zionism came into existence only in the last decades of the 19th century, at a time when nationalism had become the dominant political force throughout Europe, but the idea of Zionism — reclaiming Erez Israel (Zion) as the national homeland of the Jews — was then far from being new. Ever since the destruction of the sovereign Jewish state by the Romans in 70 C.E., the Jewish people hoped and prayed for its restoration. From that time onward, the return to Zion became a central theme of Jewish prayer, and even today the Jew, no matter where he is, turns towards the Land of Israel whenever he prays.” “A very important aspect of Zionism was the education of Jews throughout the world towards immigration (aliyah) to Erez (land) Israel. For this purpose, every group in the Zionist Organization set up youth movements which were described as halutzic (from the word haluz, which means a pioneer). These groups also provided practical training for life in Erez Israel. Many even set up training farms to teach the members agriculture.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)

How is conversion like an adoption?
Conversion to Judaism is also a literal adoption into the family of Israel. It involves a religious as well as a cultural change and subsequent involvement. “A convert to Judaism is considered a newborn child, and, from the halakhic (Jewish legal) point of view, he has no father or mother. Thus, if a whole family converts, the children and the parents start their lives as Jews with no legal relationship. Because of this state of affairs, converts are always named as though they were the sons of Abraham, the first Jew. A husband and wife who convert must also have another wedding ceremony in order to be married under Jewish law.” “One of the most frequently mentioned mitzvot (commandment – blessings) in the Torah is to protect the widow, the convert (the Hebrew word ger also means stranger) and the orphan who, like the converts, has no parents. This is because these people are alone in the world they are entering and need help in adjusting to new ways of acting and thinking. This mitzvah also helps to counterbalance any possible prejudice against those who are not Jews by birth.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints generally believe the first “Jew” was Judah, son of Israel (Jacob), who was the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham.

How challenging is it to convert to Judaism?
“A potential convert (or proselyte) is first questioned by a court (bet din) of three rabbis. They usually begin by trying to persuade him to give up the idea of joining a nation which has been, and today still is, severely persecuted. If the candidate still affirms sincerely that he is ready to ‘accept the yoke of the commandments,’ he or she must undergo a period of instruction in Judaism, in its laws and practices. After thorough study, when he understands the mitzvot and is ready to begin his life as a Jew, the candidate is ready for the rituals of conversion.” “For both males and females, the bet din Jewish religious court) oversees their immersion in a ritual bath (mikveh). Males must undergo circumcision. If the man has already been circumcised a symbolic drop of blood is drawn, and the proper blessing said. In Temple times a convert was also obligated to sacrifice a burnt offering of cattle or two young pigeons.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.) “. . . there have been instances of converts suffering persecution and death for their loyalty to Judaism, especially at the hands of Christians in Europe during the Middle Ages. The zeal with which the Church fought ‘Judaizing’ cannot be justified by the small but steady number of conversions that actually took place. There was no real threat to Christianity, but the Church could not accept the fact that any Christian could find value in a religion it claimed to have supplanted. Persecution by Church authorities caused converts to flee to places where their background was not known.” “Most conversions in the United States today occur because of a planned marriage where one of the partners is not Jewish. While Orthodox and Conservative conversions require circumcision and immersion, Reform Rabbis insist only on training in Judaism and a declaration of faith by the convert. They also allow children under confirmation age to be converted with their parents if they declare that they will raise the children as Jews.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)

Who is a Jew?
“‘Who is a Jew’ is a very controversial political issue in Israel. The Law of Return was amended in 1970 to extend citizenship to the partners, children, and grandchildren of mixed marriages who were not Jews according to halakhah (Jewish legality). This was done mainly to allow the immigration of thousands who were fleeing persecution in the Soviet Union. Although considered citizens by the civil authorities, they are not regarded as Jews by the Rabbinate and therefore they and their children cannot be married and divorced in Israel. To help these people, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, in 1971, established two schools on Orthodox kibbutzim where prospective converts can undergo intensive courses in Judaism. (A famous proselyte is): Ruth, the Moabite, the great-grandmother of King David, who’s descendent is prophesied to be the Messiah of the House of David . . .” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)

How Jewish does the Book of Mormon appear to some?
Throughout the Book of Mormon, various “Jewish” customs can be recognized such as the several gatherings or holy convocations in biblical precedents. From the Bible accounts, these include Pesach (Passover) in the spring, Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) in the fall, Shavuoth (Pentecost – giving of commandments) at the beginning of summer as well as Yom Kippur, (Day of Atonement). It is likely that the gatherings mentioned in the Book of Mormon may coincide with these holidays. The instructional themes given in those times are similar to those given in General Conferences today. The history of forefathers is reviewed and lessons using contrasts and opposites are used for teaching effects. This is a typical Hebrew way of expression. As an example, Mosiah 24:8 speaks of joy and the next verse speaks of sorrow. Verse 10 speaks of giving thanks and the next one describes pain and anguish. In verse 12 there is a parallel in taking on a new name and becoming “citizens.” Verse 15 shows similarity to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint conferences in modern times. Verse 20 strikes a familiar chord to Moses dividing up responsibilities per Jethro’s counsel. Verse 23 tells us that the people took the name of the Lord upon them.

Whose name do I take upon myself?
Conversion in Judaism as well as becoming a child of the covenant (circumcision for males, a hands-on blessing for females) includes the Jewish custom of getting a “new name.” To highlight taking the name of the Lord upon us, let me share a recent discovery of some small metal plates discovered in a stone box in Jerusalem dating to 600 B.C. that had scripture verses on them. They are displayed in the Israel Museum and contain the words of a priestly blessing. “Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:23-27) Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is preceded by ten days of repentance and seeking forgiveness. This is in anticipation of being able to receive the “priestly blessing” of taking the Lord’s name upon oneself and being in tune with the mind of the Lord. The scriptural reading at this holy time is the book of Jonah. He was tormented in the belly of a great fish for three days and three nights. In the Book of Mormon, Alma was tormented for three days and three nights until he recognized the atonement. He became tuned into the mind of the Lord and took the Lord’s name upon himself.

How do the Urim and Thummim function?
The account of Mosiah 28:13 speaks of two rims of a bow with two stones, the Urim and Thummin, used to know the mind of the Lord. The late General Authority, Patriarch, Eldredge G. Smith (1907-2013) once spoke of the prophet Joseph Smith (1805-1844), describing the Urim and Thummin as two triangular stones connected by silver bows. One was pointing upward; the other was pointing downward. Detractors of Joseph Smith spoke of them being “magic spectacles.” The use of these special revelatory stones has been repeated throughout time. It is a distinctive gift of revelation given to the House of Israel. Described in previous discussions, the most original Hebrew meanings of the words Urim and Thummin are simply, yes and no. The Prophet Joseph Smith’s scribe, Oliver Cowdery (1806-1850) attempted to use them in translating and was instructed: “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me. (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9) A recent and popular definition identified in the seal of Yale University are the words “light and truth.”

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