Friday, July 13, 2012

JST Gen 14:28-40, an Invitation to Understanding

“We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood.  We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere.  We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide.  But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood” (Packer, April 2010 Conference).

“Now Melchizedek was a man of faith who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire” (v. 26).

Now we learn more about a different man who received the name of Melchizedek, meaning king of righteousness.  We see here that he “wrought righteousness.”  Who determines this righteousness?  Are “faith” and “righteousness” inseparably connected?

“And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch” (v. 27).

What does it mean to be “approved of God?”  Can a man or woman find approval in the eyes of men, even good men, and yet be lacking approval from God?  Or do the two necessarily go hand in hand? 

We learn something else here.  Moses teaches us that Melchizedek was “ordained an high priest after” the order of Enoch.  What does he go on to teach us about Enoch’s order?

“It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God” (v. 28).

Enoch’s order is after the order of the Son of God.  This is what we read about in Alma 13.  Alma understood this.  So did Moses.  So did Melchizedek.  So did Enoch.  It appears these righteous prophets knew very well what power it was unto which they were ordained.  They understood their power came from God.  There is no room for any confusion or misunderstanding about it.

Moses teaches here that this “order came, not by man, nor the will of man.”  What does this mean?  It came not by man, “but of God.”  Literally or figuratively?

“And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name” (v. 29).

Well, here, we aren’t left with much of an out.  Does it really mean what it says, that this high priesthood was conferred unto these men “by the calling of his own voice?”  What does that mean?  Is that different than the way a man is ordained an high priest in the Church?  What does it mean to receive God’s own voice proclaiming your righteousness, and conferring priesthood after this order?  Do we see a type or symbol of this anywhere in the ordinances we receive?

“For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course” (v. 30).

Did God “swear” unto Enoch through another man, or “with an oath by himself?”  What power did God’s oath bestow upon the man?

“To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world” (v. 31).

In our day, once again, the armies of nations will be gathered for war.  It is by the very power of this priesthood that comes from God that these armies will be “put at defiance.”  It is by the power of this priesthood that men will be spared, and not utterly wasted at his coming. 

Those after this order “stand in the presence of God” and “do all things according to his will, according to his command.”

“And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven” (v. 32).

What does “translation” have to do with this power?  Was it by this power that Enoch was translated?  And Melchizedek?  Moses and Elijah?  What about Alma?  Was it by some other power?

“And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace” (v. 33).

How did this power, conferred by God’s own voice, aide Melchizedek in obtaining peace in Salem?  What was it about that which he taught that was so effective in bringing people to God? 

“And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch…” (v. 34).

What about Melchizedek’s message caused a city to seek God, and work “righteousness?”  Why did they seek for “the city of Enoch?”  Enoch’s people achieved Zion.  What is Zion?  Do we see it today? 

Know this, if a man is not seeking to establish Zion, he has no power with God.  “For they who are not for me are against me, saith our God” (2 Ne. 10:16).  “Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish” (ibid.). 

“And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest” (v. 37).

What blessing was it that Abram received?  What was Abram seeking (Abr. 1:2)? 

Who are the “fathers?”  What does it mean to “be a father of many nations?”  A “Prince of peace?” 

What does it mean when Abraham says he desired “to receive instructions?”

Ultimately, Abraham “became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers” (ibid.).  Truly, here is a man who’s heart had turned to the fathers.

“And it came to pass, that God blessed Abram, and gave unto him riches, and honor, and lands for an everlasting possession; according to the covenant which he had made, and according to the blessing wherewith Melchizedek had blessed him” (v. 40).

This seems foreign to our understanding of high priests.  We should be asking questions about these things.  Once again, there’s a reason few seem to understand what high priest in the Church means.  Likewise, there are few who understand what high priest in Alma 13 means.  Because the same words are used to describe both, we tend to think they’re the same.  They’re not.  They are different.  Because we think they’re the same we understand neither as we should.

How can we come to an understanding?  What is truth?  God teaches those who come unto Him and ask a question.  If we come to Him with an empty cup, we are humble enough, open enough, to receive answers.  Those who think they have the answers already, remain full, and there remains no room for truth.  


  1. I love this understanding. Thank you for being a voice of truth for anyone seeking. You're teaching concepts the way one of my favorite author teaches. I love that you lead us to the truth through your insightful questions. I add my testimony to the truthfulness of your teaching.

  2. When I read Alma's explanation about high priests, it seemed to me that he was talking about something different than what we have today.

    Thanks, Steve

  3. Dear blog Author:

    Can you enable the followers section of the blog? So people can sign up to read the posts when there is a new one?

  4. I have enjoyed the posts.