The Lord Redeems His Covenant Children
Alma 1 -- Alma 44
Alma 29:1 O That I Were an Angel:
One might wonder if Alma's desires: "O that I were an angel . . . ," involved the process of translation much like Enoch and Melchizedek. According to Cleon Skousen, it served the purposes of God to have large numbers of his early Saints assigned to the role of ministering angels. For this purpose they were trained until they could be quickened or "translated" so that all of the forces of physical deterioration were suspended in them. Their bodies were made subject to a higher set of laws so that earthly or temporal laws no longer had any significant effect upon them (see 3 Nephi 28:19-22).
Around 2,948 B.C. the entire City of Enoch was translated. Concerning them, Joseph Smith wrote:
Now the doctrine of translation is a power which belongs to this Priesthood. There are many things which belong to the powers of the Priesthood and the keys thereof, that have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world; they are hid from the wise and the prudent to be revealed in the last times. Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God and unto an eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters [whom] he held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great fullness as those who are resurrected from the dead." (Teachings of Joseph Smith, p. 170)
Just as the City of Enoch learned to refine itself until its occupants could be translated, so did the people in the great city of Salem who were under the ministry of Melchizedek. Concerning this phenomenal event, the scripture says:
And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven. And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order. . . . And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth. . ." (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:32-34)
[W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, pp. 2304-2305] [See the commentary on Alma 45:18-19]
Alma 29:8 The Lord Doth Grant unto All Nations, of Their Own Nation and Tongue, to Teach His Word:
In Alma 29:8 we find the following:
For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word; yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.
Orson F. Whitney comments in this regard:
All down the ages men bearing the authority of the Holy Priesthood--patriarchs, prophets, apostles and others, have officiated in the name of the Lord, doing the things that he required of them; and outside the pale of their activities other good and great men, not bearing the Priesthood, but possessing profundity of thought, great wisdom, and a desire to uplift their fellows, have been sent by the Almighty into many nations, to give them, not the fulness of the Gospel, but that portion of truth that they were able to receive and wisely use. Such men as Confucius, the Chinese philosopher; Zoroaster, the Persian sage; Gautama or Buddha, of the Hindus; Socrates and Plato, of the Greeks; these all had some of the light that is universally diffused, and concerning which we have this day heard. They were servants of the Lord in a lesser sense, and were sent to those pagan or heathen nations to give them the measure of truth that a wise Providence had alloted to them.
[Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, April 1921, Afternoon Session, 33]
Alma 29:9 An Instrument in the Hands of God:
It is very interesting that the metaphor of being "an instrument" in the hands of the Lord is, with one exception, only used (in Mormon's abridgment of the large plates) in specific descriptions of the conversion and missionary efforts of Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah (see Mosiah 23:10; 27:36; Alma 1:8, 2:30,17:9,17:11, 26:3, 26:15, 29:9, 35:14). We might, therefore, assume that it was Alma who wrote all the accounts of the conversion and missionary labors of himself and also the sons of Mosiah on the large plates. Additionally, we might wonder to what extent any words attributed to the abridger Mormon respecting the conversion story or missionary labors were either quoted or heavily influenced by reading the accounts of Alma on the large plates. Whatever the case, once again we find the authorship of the Book of Mormon to be exactly as claimed by the book and by Joseph Smith. [For some views on this see John A. Tvedtnes, "The Voice of an Angel," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, pp. 311-319]