Saturday, June 29, 2013

014. Silver Sockets: The Tabernacle - Part III

We start with the foundation of the courtyard and tabernacle. How did these structures stand so uprightly in desert sand? The answer to this question begins with a sacrifice that all the men 20 years of age or older in the camp of Israel were commanded to make: a ransom offering of half a shekel, no more, no less. All the materials required to construct the temple were donated through freewill offerings, except for this required silver of the ransom or atonement offering. The silver was melted down and formed into rings for the curtains to hang on and for sockets that the large posts along the courtyard and tabernacle perimeters would be set upon (Chapter 5, 'Made According to Pattern', by C.W. Slemming). See Exodus 30:11-16 and Exodus 38:25-28.
The silver shekels were a ransom for the men who were counted among the army of the camp of Israel, to pay in advance for their sins. They were promised if they paid the offering, that there would "be no plague among them" (Ex. 30:12).  Silver represents redemption, through sacrifice, the price paid for atonement. Sacrifice and redemption are part of the foundation of the plan of salvation. Men were bought and sold with silver: Christ was betrayed for 30 pieces, Joseph sold into Egypt for 20. Christ's work is to redeem us from the fall, to save us from the effects of our sins through faith on His name. He can set us free from the eternal effects of our sins as we believe in Him.
Alma 11:40 "And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else."
The camp of Israel lived for many years in the desert. The tabernacle could not be erected on a foundation of sand. Therefore, the silver sockets became the foundation of the tabernacle. There were 100 sockets, each weighing 125 pounds. Boards were inserted into 96 of them and the other four were for the pillars supporting the veil of the tabernacle. Collectively, this created a foundation weighing 6 tons. The tabernacle and worship in ancient Israel were symbolically founded upon symbols of sacrifice and redemption. They were spiritually kept apart from the sandy soil and foundations of the world, whose philosophies and doctrines are always shifting and changing. The silver sockets allowed the spiritual focus of ancient Israel to remain immovable, strong, and enduring. Likewise, we too should build the spiritual foundations of our lives upon the redemptive and atoning work of salvation wrought by our Savior Jesus Christ.

There is an interesting account in the New Testament that is related to the ransom offering. At the time of Christ the ransom offering was no longer officially required, but was considered a freewill offering, that was expected to be paid annually by all men 20 years of age or older, referred to at that time as the tribute money or temple tax. The amount remained the same, half a shekel. The temple tax had evolved from the ancient ransom offering and its collections now went toward the maintenance of the temple. It was a church tax whose payment was seen as an acknowledgement of God's goodness. However, children of the rulers of Israel were exempt from the temple tax. From Mark 17:
 24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
 25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?
 26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.
 27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.  
A couple of things are worth pointing out here. Peter's hasty response was incorrect. Although not recognized by the rulers and officiators of his day, Christ was of kingly descent, in fact he was a King of Kings, and therefore he was not obligated to pay the temple tax. In verse 26, it says " the children are free". Because the tax was applicable only to the sons of Israel, and Christ was the Son of God the Father, he was exempt. Because of Christ's goodness and his desire not to make offense, he instructed Peter to go for a fish. That the fish had a coin in its mouth is not the only miracle. From pg 51 of "Made According to Pattern" (CW Slemming):
"Among the many species of fish found in the Sea of Galilee is one called the musht, commonly known as "Peter's fish". The male...has a habit of carrying the young in its mouth, and of sucking them in in a time of danger. Sometimes it will carry a stone or other obstacle to keep the young out. The musht has been found to have objects other than stones in its mouth. They are attracted by bright objects, and even coins have been picked up by them."
Here is the miracle: 1) that Christ said, take up the first fish. There are some 40 or more species of fish in the Sea of Galilee of varying population sizes and 2) that the fish would have a piece of money in its mouth that was worth the price of the temple tax for two. Remember, the temple tax originated with the ransom offering, an atonement offering for the sins of those enlisted in the armies of Israel. Christ's miracle here was that he, whether Peter knew it or not, had paid the price for Peter's sins. Soon, Christ would pay the ransom for redemption, in advance, for all of mankind's sins.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

013. "I Am a Lover of the Cause of Christ"

Briefly interrupting the tabernacle series to mark the 169th anniversary of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, both Prophets, Seers, and Relevators. The martrydom at Carthage Jail in Illinois took place at approximately 5pm.

I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God because as I have studied and lived the words reveled to him, they have born good fruits in my life...fruits of faith, of knowledge, and of hope. They have helped me come closer to my Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ. Without the works of Joseph Smith, including the Book of Mormon, the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, and the restored knowledge returned to us in the Pearl of Great Price and the Temple ordinances and endowment, we would have so little light and knowledge to guide us.

I may not understand everything that he did or what happened in his life, but I look forward to the day when I can shake his hand, embrace him, and thank him for his faithfulness and sacrifice. He was a devoted servant of our Lord and a "lover of the cause of Christ".

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

012: Relative Positions & Construction: The Tabernacle - Part II

God is a God of order. He plans, organizes, and carries out His purposes. It is our task and opportunity to submit to those plans through obedience to His will. The arrangement of everything in the camp of Israel and the tabernacle was set forth by the Lord, not man. This post will focus on a major overview of the courtyard and tabernacle, their dimensions and features (Chapters 3 and 4, 'Made According to Pattern', by C.W. Slemming). Future posts will delve into the spiritual significance and symbolism of Christ in each aspect of the tabernacle.

When the children of Israel made camp in the wilderness, the tabernacle was to be situated in the center of the camp. The twelve tribes of Israel had their designated positions surrounding the tabernacle, organizing some 1.5 million people. The camp of Israel moved with the Lord's direction, following the pillar of cloud. When He moved, they moved. When the children of Israel broke camp, each tribe (except for the Levites) was charged with carrying a specific part of the tabernacle, whether it be the fence, the tabernacle's components, the furniture, or the sacred emblems. The Levites were charged with the assembly and take down of the tabernacle at each site. Everyone had an important function and responsibility to perform. All that mattered was that each individual performed their function according to his best ability.

The Court: The tabernacle was positioned within a rectangular courtyard 100 cubits long and 50 cubits wide. There are many slightly varying lengths for a cubit, but most are between 18 and 20 inches. The courtyard was bordered by large curtains supported by 60 bronze pillars, with 10 on the East and West sides each and 20 on the North and South sides each. Two pillars were united at each corner. The pillars were buried in the sand using a foundation of bronze sockets into which they were inserted. Each pillar had a silver cap. The pillars were connected using a silver connecting bar which also held silver hooks to hang the curtains. The curtain's pillars were further strengthened by use of cords and bronze tent pegs. On the East side, the entrance, the center four pillars formed a gate from which hung a 20-cubit screen woven of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen thread. The opening or entrance to the tabernacle faced the rising sun, thus should our hearts be directed towards the Son of God. All other curtains of the courtyard were made of white linen. In the court there were two pieces made of bronze or of wood overlaid with bronze. The first was the largest, the bronze altar, which was the great place of sacrifice: 5 cubits square and 3 cubits high. Halfway between the altar of burnt offerings and the tabernacle was the bronze laver, the place of washing for the officiating priests.

The Tabernacle: On the West end of the court stood the tabernacle, 30 cubits long and 10 cubits wide. The tabernacle was constructed of 48 boards, each 10 cubits high and 1.5 cubits wide, having two tenons or feet at the bottom. These feet were inserted into 96 silver sockets, each weighing about 125 lbs. The boards were bound together by 15 bars, five on the North, South, and West sides. These crossbars passed through a series of rings which were joined to the boards. On the East side, five pillars were set into bronze sockets, which upheld a door made of curtains of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen thread. A veil of the same size and materials, but also embroidered with cherubim and hanging on four pillars set into sockets of silver, made a partition between the only two rooms of the tabernacle: The Holy Place (20 cubits long) and The Holy of Holies (a perfect cube of 10 cubits). The roof was made of two parts. The first was a layer composed of 10 curtains fastened together made of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and fine linen thread with cherubim woven in, this measured 28 by 40 cubits and was attached in some manner to rams' skins dyed red. Over and above the first layer were 11 curtains of goat hair, joined together, measuring 30 by 44 cubits, attached in some manner to badger's skins. In the Holy Place were three pieces of furniture, all made of gold or of wood overlaid with gold: the 7-branched candle on the left, the table of showbread with 12 loaves on the right, and the altar of incense directly ahead. One only item stood in the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, with two cherubim and the mercy seat on the outside and a golden pot with manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the two tablets of the covenant inside.

The overview provided here is intended to highlight the progression that one passes through as one enters the tabernacle and continues on until reaching the Holy of Holies. It represents our individual journey back to heaven and an abode with our Heavenly Father: sacrifice, purification, knocking on the door, bread of life, light of life, the holy spirit, and passing through the veil to enter the holy presence of the Lord.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

011. Made According to Pattern: The Tabernacle - Part I

While in the wilderness, the children of Israel were commanded to construct a portable tabernacle. We learn in Exodus (25:8) that the reason for constructing the tabernacle was because the Lord wanted to dwell among His people: "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

There are patterns in the tabernacle, in every detail of its construction, that testify of Christ. Many of the objects, details, and rites of the tabernacle seem very foreign and removed from our current modes of worship, yet they contain many great truths that are just as relevant today as they were four thousand years ago. Approximately 50 chapters in the Old and New Testaments contain details about the tabernacle.

In the 1930s, a Christian theologian named C.W. Slemming published a series of short books on the tabernacle, the feasts and sacrifices, and the garments worn by the priests who administered in the tabernacle and how everything associated with the tabernacle and its functions symbolized Christ. These books are an almost forgotten treature-trove of enlightening information and in the next series of blog posts, I will make an effort to summarize these works, also applying a latter-day saint perspective. The first of these books is entitled "Made According to Pattern" and is focused on the specifications of the tabernacle and the materials used in its construction.

What is a Tabernacle?

A tabernacle is a temporary dwelling place. The Hebrew word for tabernacle, mishkan, primarily means a residence, and also a dwelling place, habitation, tent, or temple. The children of Israel used the temporary tabernacle for over 400 years, until the Temple was built. Our mortal bodies are referred to as tabernacles, which is fitting as they are only temporary abodes or dwelling places for our continually existing spirits. The tabernacle was not a church. The term for church, ekklesia, means "that which is called out" and refers to a community of people called out for a special purpose, and not a building. "The church is a called-out company of people who meet together temporarily in a tabernacle until, by and by, they meet God and take up their abode with Him forever" (p. 15). The Book of Mormon contains several accounts of inspired individuals (eg, Lehi, Alma) who were called out of their present apostate surroundings, gather together in a community of like-minded believers (the church), and seek the Lord through use of temporary shelters, places of worship, altars, and congregations with the goal being becoming one with God. Christ made His temporary abode both within the dessert tabernacle (Old Testament) and in a body of flesh (New Testament). "The God who dwelt in the tabernacle and the temple in the old dispensation found an abode in Christ during his life on earth" (p. 15). Now, Christ holds a permanent, exalted position at the right hand of His Father. We too have the promise of immortality and exaltation through the merits of Christ.

How was the Tabernacle Made?

The Lord ordered every specific of the tabernacle, in fine detail. He set forth the pattern, Moses lead the children of Israel to follow that pattern. Terms such as "after this pattern", "according to pattern", or "unto the pattern" are common in the Lord's communications to Moses regarding to the construction of the Tabernacle: "According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it" (Exodus 25:9). And: "And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount" (Exodus 25:40). By way of parallel, the same language is used frequently in the Doctrine & Covenants when the Lord is describing to Joseph Smith the specifications for the Temple. There are also many parallels between the revelations to Moses regarding the tabernacle and to John the Revelator's writings in the Book of Revelations. The materials used in the construction of the tabernacle came from the people of the camp of Israel themselves, as freewill offerings. Everyone contributed in whatever way they could. They were not a completely egalitarian group of individuals, there were rich and poor among them. The rich gave of their wealth and the poor gave of their time and skill to help construct the tabernacle, Exodus 15:
 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
 3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,
 4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,
 5 And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,
 6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,
 7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.
As the children of Israel were commanded to give of their best, their all, to help build this abode for the Lord to come dwell among them, we too should give our all, our best, to make our hearts, our tabernacles, a place where the spirit of the Lord can dwell. We will review the significance of all these materials used in the construction of the tabernacle, how they testify of or symbolize Christ, and what  each means to us as disciples of Christ.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

010. Rising Generations

The scriptures contain several accounts of children who choose a spiritual path opposite to that of their parents. The shift takes place in both directions. Some children of righteous parents rebel and become unrighteous (e.g., Cain, Laman and Lemuel, Lucifer). Sometimes, such rebellious children realize the error of their ways, repent, and return to paths of righteousness (e.g., Alma the younger, the sons of King Mosiah, the prodigal son). However, there are also examples of children of unrighteous parents who choose a path of righteousness (e.g., Abraham, perhaps Alma). Examples of this latter case are more rare in the scriptures, but it is a remarkable thing when someone born to or raised by unrighteous parents is able to recognize the errors of that path and choose to mark for themselves a path of righteous living.

There are two instances in close proximity in the Book of Mormon (in Mosiah 25 and 26) in which entire "rising generations" choose to follow a path opposite spiritually to that of their parents: the children of the wicked high priests lead by Amulon and the people of Zarahemla under King Mosiah.

The Children of the High Priests of King Noah
King Noah had personally appointed a quorum of high priests who were favorable to his inclinations for wickedness. They were men acquainted with religion, but who were more interested in the things of this world and their own welfare than in the salvation of others. They had indulged in abominations and idolatry and, because of their examples, had lead many into similar errors. In 148 BC, the prophet Abinadi testified against their sins and ultimately sealed his testimony against them with his martyrdom. Three years later, in 145 BC, these priests escaped the collapse of King Noah's government following an invasion by the Lamanites. They abandoned their families and fled into the wilderness. The priests remained together and subsequently kidnapped a group of Lamanite young women who became their wives with whom they had children. Fast forward almost 25 years through a series of events whereby these priests eventually came into favor with the Lamanite leadership and were appointed charge over Nephite lands occupied by the Lamanites. Following the departure of the people led by Alma from the land of Helam whereby they joined the Nephites in Zarahemla led by King Mosiah, there is an interesting event recorded in Mosiah 25:12:
"And it came to pass that those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren, who had taken to wife the daughters of the Lamanites, were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would no longer be called by the names of their fathers, therefore they took upon themselves the name of Nephi, that they might be called the children of Nephi and be numbered among those who were called Nephites."
These children of the priests of Noah were likely in their 20s at this time (somewhere near 121 BC). They had come to a realization that their fathers were wicked and had rejected their conduct as sinful. Despite the power and status that their fathers wielded, their children could see the unhappiness and lack of love in their father's hearts. It is hard to indulge in wickedness, yet be loving and kind with members of your own family. The unfortunate captivity of the people of Helam, however, had provided a powerful contrast for these children of the wicked priests. They had observed the Christlike conduct and submission of the people led by Alma, who endured hardships and persecutions at their hands of their fathers. They could see the peace and happiness of the people led by Alma, despite the hardships and trials they faced. This is further evidence that the Lord indeed works in mysterious ways, and His purposes are not often known in the moment. However, great things can come to pass when we put our trust in Him and seek to know and follow his will, including the conversion of the children of one's oppressors. Indeed, the children of these wicked priests did not want this kind of life for themselves and decided that they would join with the righteous Nephites, turning their backs to their fathers and rejecting even their very names.

The Children of the People of God in Zarahemla
In 124 BC King Benjamin gathered his people together to testify to them concerning the Savior and His atonement. He taught his people so powerfully and persuasively that the entire populace became born again and made a covenant with God to always keep His commandments, as is recorded in Mosiah 5:2, 5:

 2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. 5 And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.

These people lived in righteousness for many years. Then, between 120 and 100 BC, there was a spiritual rebellion among the "rising generation" whereby many left the church of God and became its persecutors. Mosiah 26:1-4 reads:
1 Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers. 2 They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ. 3 And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened. 4 And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God. 
These children of the people of King Mosiah were young, perhaps in their 20s as well. Although they were infants or small children at the time of King Benjamin's address, the majority undoubtedly were raised in families that believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. For some reason that is not fully explained, they did not believe in the faith tradition of their fathers and rejected it. They lacked faith and humility and were not converted in the same way their parents were. In fact, they rejected their parents beliefs to the degree that they became "a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after." How heartbreaking this must have been for these righteous parents, to raise them up in the ways of truth and light, only to have them reject it en masse, eventually growing to outnumber those who remained faithful. Verse 5 provides a small clue as to the reason for the acceleration of their apostasy:
"And now in the reign of Mosiah they were not half so numerous as the people of God; but because of the dissensions among the brethren they became more numerous."
Dissensions among "the brethren", of the church, presumably lead to further decay in the integrity of the church in its ability to maintain the rising generation among its ranks. Again, we are not clued in to the nature of those dissensions. In any case, this dissenting generation begins to persecute and even work to destroy the church itself. Unable to reign in the level and spread of apostasy through priesthood channels, Alma turns to the head of the government, King Mosiah, to do something to defend religious freedoms. A ban on persecutions is set forth (both from those within and without the church - see vs. 2 and 3). Likely seeing this move as a threat to free speech, some members of this rising generation became more entrenched in their hatred toward the church and elect to use their time and means in targeting it for destruction. By name the Book of Mormon lists one of Alma's sons, named Alma, and four of the sons of King Mosiah as the church's chief persecutors.

What is it that leads us to reject or rebel against the ways of our parents, in either direction? Why do some children rebel and some do not? My own parents are not greatly religious. I have chosen to follow a different path, yet my sibling has not. What makes the difference? I am grateful for the records of these contrasting rising generations and the lessons that can be extracted from them. I think it is remarkable that individuals like the children of the wicked priests, or Abraham, and countless others have had courage enough to do their best to honor their parents (thus keeping the commandment), yet chose for themselves who they would serve, sometimes at great personal cost (Mark 10:28-31).
 28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. 29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. 31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

009. He Trieth Their Patience & Their Faith

Chapters 23 and 24 in the Book of Mosiah contain a richness of insight into the trials we experience in this life. They describe the account of the people of the Lord, lead by Alma, who flee the lands of King Noah, establish their own city, are then oppressed by the Lamanites, are subsequently delivered, and then join the people of King Mosiah in the land of Zarahelma. 
Alma and His People Departed into the Wilderness by Minerva Tichert
Upon reaching safety in the wilderness, the people desired that Alma should become their king. Alma agrees that having a king would be a good method of governance, but only if kings were always righteous. Having just escaped the oppressive and unrighteous dominion of King Noah, these righteous people, and most accutelty Alma himself, knew of the trechery and dangers posed by an unrighteous king. Wicked kings are very hard to remove and lead many people to do wickedly as they follow their example and leadershipAlma thus declined their nomination, offering these words of wisdom:
"...for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another." Mosiah 27:3
As this statement suggests, we ought to treat one other equally in the sense that no one is better than anyone else in the sight of the Lord. Alma then teaches "that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them" (verse 15). They are to treat others as they themselves would like to be treated. They are to love and not be angry nor harm one another, and they are to treat everyone in a similar way, regardless of physical appearance, background, connections, education, former social status, or position. They are the Lord's people, they have dedicated themselves to Him. They have consecrated their lives to His service and worship. This should resonnate with those endowed in the holy temples. This teaching is similar to something that was received in the Doctrine & Covenants, section 38, verses 24-27:

24 And let every man esteem his brother as himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me.
 25 And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.
 26 For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?
 27 Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.
Perhaps these people were also striving to live the law of consecration. In any case, because of their righteousness, they were greatly blessed and prospered. They build up a city called Helam. They were hard-working and industrious. They were likely very happy to have a place of their own, free from the wickedness and idolatry of King Laban's kingdom, where they could worship the Lord and live in peace and beauty (..."they came to a land, yea, even a very beautiful and pleasant land, a land of pure water" verse 4). However, it wasn't long until the Lamanites caught wind of this prosperous city, came upon it, and occupied it. The people of Helam were placed under heavy burdens and their freedoms were constrained. 

It seems so unfair, they were a righteous people who had just recently followed the Lord into the wilderness to escape wickedness. They were not doing anything wrong. Did they forget the Lord? Were they being punished? There is no indication that these people had fallen into sinful behavior. What happened? The following verses provide an answer:

 21 Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.
 22 Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people.
 23 For behold, I will show unto you that they were brought into bondage, and none could deliver them but the Lord their God, yea, even the God of Abraham and Isaac and of Jacob.
 24 And it came to pass that he did deliver them, and he did show forth his mighty power unto them, and great were their rejoicings.
The Lord permitted this to happen. He allowed His people to be taken into bondage to try their faith and their patience. So that they would know that only He can deliver them and save them, no matter how prosperous or independent they were. Of course, this was greatly alarming to these followers of Christ. Why hadn't God warned them to flee like he had done before, or do something to prepare them for the siege that was about to occur? Why hadn't He protected them? 
27 But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them.
 28 Therefore they hushed their fears, and began to cry unto the Lord that he would soften the hearts of the Lamanites, that they would spare them, and their wives, and their children.
 29 And it came to pass that the Lord did soften the hearts of the Lamanites. And Alma and his brethren went forth and delivered themselves up into their hands; and the Lamanites took possession of the land of Helam.
This is an amazing example of faith, humility, and perspective. These people were afraid, but they did not murmur nor curse their maker. Their fears, which come from the adversary, were "hushed" as Alma reminded them of the larger perspective of what was unfolding. As they trusted in the Lord and cried unto Him, they gained peace that everything would be in the Lord's hands and that He would deliver them. It did not mean that it would be easy, however. As described in Mosiah chapter 24, the people of Helam were subjected to great afflictions and harsh treatment. They were overseen by a former colleague of Alma's, a wicked High Priest named Amulon, who, because of his former connection with Alma, was especially cruel to these people. They were even threatened with death for praying for relief vocally:
 10 And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
 11 And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
 12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
But the Lord did not forget His people, nor the covenants that they had made with Him. He heard their prayers:
 13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
 14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
He promises to deliver them out of bondage and also make their burdens light. He will visit them in their afllictions, at their time of greatest need. However, through their afflictions, these people were transformed into 1) witnesses of the power of God unto deliverance and 2) individuals who cheerfully submitted with patience to the will of God. 

First, deliverance. There are certain trying experiences that all of us who choose to follow the Lord will have in this mortal experience. They will be gut-wrenching, difficult, and even unexplainable situations. They will be individually designed to test the very things that might be blocking us from progressing. We may fall. We may be unjustly accused or misunderstood. It will seem so unfair or unexplainable. The only way out will be to maintain a focused faith on the power of the Savior to deliver us from whatever trial we may have. We will come to realize, and likely again and again as these people of Helam demonstrate, that the ONLY way to survive is to have faith on the Lord and call upon His name. I have had a few of these sorts of experiences in my life and I testify that having faith on the Savior was the ONLY way I got through them. His power is real. He is real. He will not forget those who have covenanted with Him. He keeps His part of the bargain. He does not give less than he promises, he delivers us, literally. He visits us in our afflications and will save, He is truly the Savior of the world.
 16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.
Second, submitting to the will of the Lord. The peoples' will's became wrapped up in the Lord's will. Eric Liddell, the Scottish missionary who refused to run in the Olympics on a Sunday (story made famous by the film Chariots of Fire), died at the young age of 43. His last words were "It's complete surrender", in reference to how he had given his life to God. That is what the Lord wants from us, the surrender of our will to His. These mortal experiences are designed to teach us just that. The righteous also have trials to push them further to have total dependence on the Lord. Why? That is the pattern. Christ performed the Father's will perfectly. We must perform the Lord's will. That is the only way we can be saved. He will show us the way back to the Father, but we must surrender. The voice of the Lord came to comfort these people, twice. He loves all His children, and He comes to deliver those who submit to His will in meekness and humility. These people were then delivered through miraculous means:
 23...for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it were the Lord their God.
 22 And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God.
When you face a trial, know that it is an opportunity for you to deepen your faith in the Lord, to develop patience, and to become a witness of the power of the Lord to deliver you. He will.