In 2 Samuel 6:1-11 there is a story about Uzzah and Steadying the Ark. The part that gets quoted the most is 2 Samuel 6:6.
2 Samuel 6:6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
Everyone brings out how Uzzah did something that the Lord did not command him to do and was killed for it. Personally I look at it a different way, Uzzah did something that the commandments in the word of God told us explicitly not to do, to touch the ark for if you do you shall die.
Numbers 4:15 … but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. …
It was not that Uzzah did something without being commanded to do that caused him to die, it was that Uzzah (possibly just forgetting about the commandment in the heat of the moment) broke a commandment of God and then received the punishment that was set forth by God for not keeping that commandment.
Many people try to use this story to say we have to wait for the Lord to tell us to do something before we can do it, I don’t agree with that one wit. For starters from my understanding there were other things wrong with the transportation of the ark and no one was killed for these other wrongs, why wait till someone had touched it? In addition lets look at two examples in the Book of Mormon briefly to show why I don’t agree with that assessment.
Alma the elder example:
When Alma the elder was inquiring of the Lord what to do about the sinners in the church (Alma didn’t just wait for the Lord to tell him to do something he was being proactive and as you can see in Mosiah (LDS 26:10) (RLDS 11:116) nothing like this had happened before and thus no word of God to go off of yet), the Lord told Alma he was blessed for multiple things, one being for establishing a church.
Mosiah (LDS 26:14-17) (RLDS 11:121-124)
14 And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying:
15 BLESSED ART THOU, ALMA, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy EXCEEDING FAITH IN THE WORDS ALONE OF MY SERVANT ABINADI.
16 And blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone which thou hast spoken unto them.
17 And BLESSED ART THOUGH because thou hast ESTABLISHED A CHURCH among this people; and they shall be established, and they shall be my people.
As I look through the chapters before this regarding the King Noah and Alma the elder history I don’t see any revelation from God to Alma to establish a church. I have a electronic version of the Book of Mormon that I can search with, the LDS churches index and topical guide can be helpful but they don’t have everything that is relevant. If you don’t have an electronic copy you may want to get something like Eldin Ricks’s Thorough Concordance of the LDS Standard Works it’s great I use it for the Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. But I searched for God telling Alma to start a church, and I did not find one, if I missed the verse please let me know so I can correct my error.
To review part of the Alma the elder’s conversion that relates what I am trying to show. Alma the elder was one of King Noah’s priests. Abinadi was preaching repentance to King Noah’s city and was hauled off to King Noah and the priests. Abinadi preceded to teach repentance to King Noah and the priest’s, one of these priests was Alma the elder. Alma the elder believed in what Abinadi was saying and tried to get King Noah to listen to Abinadi, which got Alma the elder in trouble. Alma the elder fled, and wrote down the word of God that Abinadi had delivered. Alam the elder then started preaching to the people of King Noah what Abinadi had taught. No were in the record does it say it was because God told him to. But those with the love of God are not content with having God’s love and peace themselves they want to publish how others can receive this peace from God also, and that is by keeping the commandments of God. Considering 2 Nephi (LDS 26:27) (RLDS 11:102-103) Alma elder was keeping God’s commandments in persuading his fellow brothers and sisters to repent.
2 Nephi (LDS 26:27) (RLDS 11:102-103) Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and HE HATH COMMANDED HIS PEOPLE THAT THEY SHOULD PERSUADE ALL MEN TO REPENTANCE.
In Mosiah (LDS 18:8-14) (RLDS 9:38-45) Alma the elder baptizes the people and still no revelation from God to do any such act. Yet again Alma the elder is being proactive but with the bounds the Lord had set. Another thing to ponder about regarding this is were did Alma the elder get his authority from? He was a top officer in church that was teaching and practicing abominations (Mosiah (LDS 11:2,20) (RLDS 7:2-5,28-31); (LDS 12:1,7,8) (RLDS 7:45-47,54,55-58)). Abinadi did not lay his hands upon Alma the elder to give Alma the authority to do these wonderful things he was doing after his repentance and conversion to the Lord. What happened in Mosiah (LDS 18:12-13) (RLDS 9:43-44) tells us and coincides with a JST Genesis 14 correction.
Mosiah (LDS 18:8-14) (RLDS 9:38-45)
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
11 And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.
12 And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart.
13 And when he had said these words, the SPIRIT OF THE LORD WAS UPON HIM, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world.
14 And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam were buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit.
JST Genesis 14
26 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.
27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
28 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;
29 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.
Mosiah (LDS 18) (RLDS 9) continues on with other things that Alma the elder was proactive on and did without being directed by God to directly, including ordaining priests Mosiah (LDS 18:18) (RLDS 9:51).
Just in case you want to think that the record doesn’t tell us what the Lord directed the people to do, please read Mosiah (LDS 18:34) (RLDS 9:72) and Mosiah (LDS 23:1) (RLDS 11:1). We have on record the Lord warned Alma the elder but not that He directed Alma in what to do in the other affairs? Which is more important do you think?
Mosiah (LDS 18:34) (RLDS 9:72) And it came to pass that Alma and the people of the Lord were apprised of the coming of the king’s army; therefore they took their tents and their families and departed into the wilderness.
Mosiah (LDS 23:1) (RLDS 11:1) Now Alma, having been warned of the Lord that the armies of king Noah would come upon them, and having made it known to his people, therefore they gathered together their flocks, and took of their grain, and departed into the wilderness before the armies of king Noah.
For those who believe in the Book of Mormon and say well this doesn’t apply to us today because the church has already been restored and I’m part of that church. Think again. This is also one example in the Book of Mormon of multiple churches of God not knowing of each other and operating independently of each other, without even focusing on were Abinadi came from and were he got his authority from. God did not tell Alma the elder wait until someone from Zerahemla to baptize you and the people God gave his permission for Alma the elder to baptize. There is the church of God/Christ that was just organized with Alma the elder Mosiah (LDS 18:17) (RLDS 9:49-50), and church of God/Christ that was in Zarahemla Mosiah (LDS 7) (RLDS 5). After these true followers of God learned of each other they did join together into one church Mosiah (LDS 25:13) (RLDS 11:90) but before that there was two completely independent churches of God/Christ functioning for a time.
Mosiah (LDS 9:1,3) (RLDS 6:1-2,6)
1 I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers’ first inheritance, and having been sent as a spy among the Lamanites that I might spy out their forces, that our army might come upon them and destroy them—but when I saw that which was good among them I was desirous that they should not be destroyed.
3 And yet, I being over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land, and started again on our journey into the wilderness to go up to the land; but we were smitten with famine and sore afflictions; for we were slow to remember the Lord our God.
Mosiah (LDS 18:17) (RLDS 9:49-50) And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church.
Mosiah (LDS 7:1,6) (RLDS 5:1,7)
1 And now, it came to pass that after king Mosiah had had continual peace for the space of three years, he was desirous to know concerning the people who went up to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi, or in the city of Lehi-Nephi; for his people had heard nothing from them from the time they left the land of Zarahemla; therefore, they wearied him with their teasings.
6 And Ammon took three of his brethren, and their names were Amaleki, Helem, and Hem, and they went down into the land of Nephi.
Mosiah (LDS 25:13) (RLDS 11:90) And now all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi.
Through out the history of Alma the elder I just gave a summary of I see Alma the elder being proactive in doing things according to God’s word that he already had.
As Alma the elder established a church I think it is important to see how the scriptures define church.
Mosiah (LDS 26:22) (RLDS 11:126-130) For behold, THIS IS MY CHURCH; WHOSOEVER IS BAPTIZED SHALL BE BAPTIZED UNTO REPENTANCE. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive.
And just in case you might think this definition of church in the Book of Mormon does not apply today, the Lord reiterates it again in the recorded revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants.
Doctrine and Covenants (LDS 10:67-69) (RLDS 3) (Kirtland 36)
67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.
69 And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
On top of that here is a good article that goes into a few of the biases of the Kings James Bible translators had one of them was using the word church instead of assembly of believers Beware of Translator Bias.
I find it encouraging that the way the Lord defines church in His word is the same way that the ancient followers did it. After all God’s ways do not change.
Alma (LDS 7:20) (RLDS 5:34-35) I perceive that it has been made known unto you, by the testimony of his word, that he cannot walk in crooked paths; NEITHER DOTH HE VARY FROM THAT WHICH HE HATH SAID; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round.
On another note I find it sad considering God’s definition of church that there is a group that I would say they are ashamed to say that they are starting a church, no matter what they say about it they don’t want to say they are starting a church, I would interject again because of the fear of man.
There is much in these chapter of Mosiah we should learn from. I cover another aspect of these chapters in another post you may like to read.
Alma the younger example:
Alma the young the son of Alma the elder went on many missions. In Alma (LDS 31:5) (RLDS 16:82) we are told the reason why he went on that mission.
Alma (LDS 31:5) (RLDS 16:82) And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—THEREFORE ALMA THOUGHT it was expedient that they should TRY the virtue of the word of God.
First we are being reminded that the word of God has the most powerful effect upon the mind of people and the word THEREFORE is used to connect that principle to as the reason why Alma wanted to TRY the virtue of the word of God to make the situation better.
1828 Webster’s Dictionary Therefore
THEREFORE, adverb ther’fore. [there and for.]
1. For that; for that or this reason, referring to something previously stated.
I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
He blushes; therefore he is guilty.
3. In return or recompense for this or that.
What shall we have therefore? Matthew 19:6.
Another key word in Alma (LDS 31:5) (RLDS 16:82) is THOUGHT. Alma was not told by God to go on this mission, Alma had hope that going on a mission would accomplish his goal (see Lectures on Faith 1:11).
Lectures on Faith 1:11 … Was it not the hope which you had, in consequence of your belief in the existence of unseen things, which stimulated you to action and exertion, in order to obtain them? …
In summary I believe the problem is not doing things according to the patterns set forth in the scriptures and not keeping the commandments that is the problem, not the fact some are trying to do something before the Lord told them to do it.
Doctrine and Covenants (LDS 58:26) (RLDS 58) (Kirtland 18) For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
Alma (LDS 60:14) (RLDS 27:30) And now behold, I say unto you, I fear exceedingly that the judgments of God will come upon this people, because of their exceeding slothfulness, yea, even the slothfulness of our government, and their exceedingly great neglect towards their brethren, yea, towards those who have been slain.
Not to keep drilling the idea in, but it is all over the scriptures, including the greatest missionary stories in the Book of Mormon.
Mosiah (LDS 28:1,3,5,6,8) (RLDS 12:1-2,5-6,9,10,12)
1 Now it came to pass that after the sons of Mosiah had done all these things, they took a small number with them and returned to their father, the king, and DESIRED OF HIM that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites—
3 Now THEY WERE DESIROUS that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.
5 And it came to pass that THEY DID PLEAD with their father many days that they might go up to the land of Nephi.
6 And king Mosiah went and INQUIRED OF THE LORD if he should LET his sons go up among the Lamanites to preach the word.
8 And it came to pass that Mosiah granted that they might go and do ACCORDING TO THEIR REQUEST.