11 October 2006

Abraham Part IV: Order One of Everything

...continued from Part III:

3) Abraham is ambitious: or some may say, "audacious." Abraham—without qualification (stipulation)—wants to be "a father of many nations" and "a prince of peace." Several questions come to mind, none of which I have answers to: Was this the standard dream for men in ancient times, or was Abraham really thinking big? Was Abraham the exception, or should all of us ask for truly great rewards? What does Abraham mean by "prince of peace"? Was Abraham promised this before or because he desired it?

Alma 29:3 seems relevant:

"But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me."


Robert C. said...

Good questions Brian. I think Abraham's wishing here might be distinguished from Alma's in that:

(1) Being a prince of peace is something that is within the scope of what we've been given to accomplish. I don't need to be different than I am (Alma desired to be an angel, not a human) to be a prince of peace (where I take prince to mean simply one who establishes peace—I think this is a phrase that is used in the OT several times, though I'm a bit too lazy to look it up right now...).

(2) Abraham's desire to be the father of many nations might be viewed as an extension to the commandment he was already given (at least implicitly) through the commandment in the Garden of Eden. In this sense, perhaps Abraham is simply desiring to fulfill God's command (though I think this might be viewed as more similar to Alma's wish, rather than a contrasting type of wish...).

shelleyj said...

Nice post, Brian.

Re Alma, I've always thought he was wrong in thinking he was sinning in his wish. Considering what he desired: to "declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth" (v.2) and to "speak unto all the ends of the earth" (v.7); and the inclusion of his testimony/sermons in the Book of Mormon, it seems that his desire was fulfilled--at least to a far greater degree than he realized at the time. I've taken this as a reminder to believe that God will help us accomplish righteous endeavors, but perhaps not in the way we expect.

BrianJ said...

Robert and Shelley: It's interesting that your comments are somewhat in opposition, yet I agree with both. (Perhaps that is just an indication of how fickle I am.)

Specifically, I am interested in Robert's answer to my question on whether we should all desire like Abraham. You say yes, and I can't disagree (though I have to admit that I also can't bring myself to ask for those things from God---I just lack the faith. It's pretty scarey---to ask for something big---knowing God might hold you to it and all the responsibility/challenges it would entail.)

Shelley also makes a good point about Alma getting the wish he felt was so wrong. Again, I think that is a push for all of us to aspire higher.

BrianJ said...

Any chance either of you will address my other question: Was Abraham promised this before or because he desired it?

Robert C. said...

I think it's worth contemplating either way, and I don't think we can come to a definitive answer (I've been wondering a bit about the power of ambiguity in scripture b/c it forces us to think about various potential meanings, which can oftentimes both contain truth...).

I do think a good case can be made that Abraham had righteous desires a la the 'multiply and replenish' commandment. This seems consistent with 'ask and ye shall receive' verses in other scripture. This gets into really deep theological waters really quickly: What is the purpose of prayer? Does it change God's will? To what extent does it change our will? To what extent does our will affect God's will? To what extent are we supposed to submit our will to God's vs. to what extent our we supposed to figure out what desires are righteous in our own mind and then approach God to see if they are right (per D&C's "study it out in your mind" and the Brother of Jared's experience having to come up with the light-the-rocks plan on his own...). For me, this interpretation offers the most to think about.