We only get a limited amount of information about King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon; the first five chapters of the Book of Mosiah are about him addressing the people as he passed the mantle of the kingship of Zarahemla to his son Mosiah. He begins this portion of his sermon by telling the people of the visit by an angel which told him marvelous things of the coming of Jesus Christ and what it all means.
Once again, I shall draw from the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon in order to add historical value and to avoid any copyright issues. In the 1830 edition, we begin on page 160. In the current issue from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is Mosiah 3.
[3:1] And again my brethren, I would call your attention, for I have somewhat more to speak unto you: for behold, I have things to tell you, concerning that which is to come;
[3:2] and the things which I shall tell you, are made known unto me, by an Angel from God. And he said unto me, Awake; and I awoke, and behold, he stood before me.
[3:3] And he said unto me, Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee: for behold, I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy.
[3:4] For the Lord hath heard thy prayers, and hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy.
We have not yet begun to talk on the Plan of Redemption. It is just interesting to point out that King Benjamin was shown the vision by an angel on account of his righteousness. Compounding to his own righteousness, the Lord must have seen an opportunity to teach the people through this righteous man.
[3:5] For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, which was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from Heaven, among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive thier sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases;
[3:6] and he shall cast out Devils, or the evil spirits which dwelleth in the hearts of the children of men.
[3:7] And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death: for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
[3:8] And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of Heaven and Earth, the creator of all things, from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.
[3:9] And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men, even through faith on his name; and even after all this, they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a Devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.
Point 1: Jesus Christ will come to the earth and undergo great suffering even unto death.
King Benjamin was shown in vision the coming of Jesus Christ. However, he was not shown at this point his visitation to the people of the Book of Mormon who were in America, he is instead shown the vision of the coming of Christ to the people in and around Jerusalem. More importantly, he was shown in vision the suffering that the savior would go through-his temptations, his pain, and the great anguish he would experience in both the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. He saw that blood would come forth from every pore of his body as he takes upon himself the price that would be paid to satisfy the demands of justice for those who would believe on him. King Benjamin witnessed his death.
[3:10] And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world. And behold, all these things are done, that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.
[3:11] For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who hath died, not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.
Point 2: The purpose of the sufferings of Jesus Christ is so that he can give us a righteous judgement.
We all experience pain and suffering in this life. It seems that some experience it to greater degrees than others; yet God is no respecter of persons and all must experience the necessary trials to prepare for our eternal destinies (see Dale G. Renlund talk entitled Infuriating Unfairness). Jesus Christ overcame all. His suffering was more excruciating than any one individual could ever imagine — for no living person could bleed through every pore of their body and survive it. Yet he survived it in the Garden of Gethsemane, only to go through it again on the cross. And then on the cross, the Father left him. For he had never before experienced the loneliness of being away from the Father. He had to know what it was like. (Talk by Elder Holland-need reference)
All of this suffering made it so that he, and only he, could judge us with a righteous judgement. He went through all of it. And because he did, he understands. He with his infinite love, can issue us a judgement in righteousness – every one of us. No one else can do this.
Adam with his wife Eve were the first to transgress the law. When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit in the garden, they were made unclean. This resulted in the fall of man where man was removed from the presence of God – no longer able to return to his presence without an atonement, for all man will sin (Romans 3:23).
Point 3. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ satisfies the demands of justice for all who died without the law given to them.
When Mosiah says “his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam”, this is my understood intent of his words. We all fell by the transgression of Adam as we were cast out of the presence of God. This applies to everyone born on the earth.
The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, when applied, satisfies any demands of justice held against man since the fall (the blood will not be applied to those who willfully rebel). This is particularly important for people who never had the law of God taught them in this life. If no law was given, they cannot sin against it. Children are also covered under this same principle. Christ paid the price to satisfy the demands of justice for those who died without the law.
[3:12] But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God: for salvation cometh to none such, except it be through repentance and fait(h) on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Point 4. Those who rebel against God do not partake of salvation. Only by faith on Jesus Christ and repentance can one be saved from their sins.
There is a great difference between a sinner (you and I) and someone who openly rebells against God (hopefully not you nor I). Those who openly rebel against God cannot partake of the atonement – which means that they must pay the price of judgement for their wrong doings. If they will turn to Jesus, acting in faith on him, and truly repent of their evil doings, the blood of Christ will take effect and cleanse them of their sins. Salvation will be theirs.
[3:13] And the Lord God hath sent his Holy Prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceeding great joy, even as though he had already come among them.
Point 5. The Atonement of Christ applies to all striving persons regardless of when they lived on the earth.
King Benjamin taught these principles approximately 124 BC. Christ had not yet come to the earth. However, the principles of salvation apply the same to his people as they would to all who lived after the coming of the Christ.
[3:14] Yet the Lord God saw that his people were a stiffnecked people, and he appointed unto them a law, even the law of Moses.
[3:15] And many signs, and wonders, and types, and shadows shewed he unto them, concerning his coming; and also Holy Prophets spake unto then concerning his coming; and yet they hardened their hearts, and understood not that the law of Moses availeth nothing, except it were through the atonement of his blood;
Point 6. The law of Moses does not provide salvation.
The law of Moses was given to the children of Israel because of their stubbornness at accepting Gods will for them. He intended to give them the law of God, something like what Christ taught in the Sermon on the Mount. But the people were not ready. So have gave them a lesser law they could follow. This Law of Moses was full of types and shadows of the coming of Jesus. Additionally, the Jews were given many signs and wonders, and the prophets all taught of the coming of Christ – either directly in their teachings or through types and shadows.
[3:16] and even if it were possible that little children could sin, they could not be saved; but I say unto you, they are blessed: for behold, as in Adam, or by nature they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins.
[3:17] And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given, nor no other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
[3:18] For behold, he judgeth, and his judgement is just, and the infant perisheth not, that dieth in his infancy; but men drinketh damnation to their own souls, except they humble themselves, and become as little children, and believeth that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent:
[3:19] for the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been, from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever; but if he yieldeth to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man, and becometh a saint, through the atonement of Christ, the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
Point 7. If children could sin, the Blood of Christ would atone for them.
Since children cannot sin, they will be saved in the Kingdom of God. The atonement through the blood of Jesus Christ has them covered.
Point 8. The natural man is an enemy to God. Solution: Humble yourself as a little child so that salvation can come to you.
The natural man seeks after the pleasures of the world. The pleasures result in sin. We must break the cycle and not seek after the pleasures of the flesh, the lusts for riches, and all other unrighteous and unholy activities. We must break the cycle and become humble.
What a marvelous doctrine to know that children are covered by the atoning blood of Jesus. We are told to become like them. As a child is innocent, they listen and believe in the goodness of their loving parents. They are meek, submissive, humble, and patient. We too need to become like a child and put off the natural man. We need to believe that salvation can only come through believing on the name of Jesus. And we need to submit ourselves to doing the will of the Father.
[3:20] And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come, when the knowledge of a Saviour shall spread thoughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
[3:21] And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent;
[3:22] and even at this time, when thou shalt have taught thy people the things which the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, even then are they found no more blameless in the sight of God, only according to the words which I have spoken unto thee.
Point 9. We are to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that no one will be found blameless.
The time will come that the knowledge of the Savior will spread throughout all the land. The purpose is so that all will stand blameless, having the opportunity to believe and follow, or reject and rebel. Those who are taught are blameless, they must make a choice. By having the gospel of Jesus Christ in ones life gives joy and happiness. By not teaching, you are denying others the blessings that they should be able to enjoy. Everyone need the opportunity to maximize their own potential. This can only happen if they truly understand the gospel, they embrace it, and live the life that God desires them to live. By teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, you are teaching them how to have joy.
When will that time come?
Chapter 3:20 states that the time shall come, when the knowledge of a Saviour shall spread thoughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. When that time shall be is shown to us by John the Revelator in the Book of Revelation 11:15. In this portion of the Revelation, John describes the history of the earth in chronological order beginning with Chapter 6 at the opening of the seals and ending with Chapter 11. Nevertheless, we get to look forward to a time of many wars covering the earth. After the wars end, the kingdoms of the earth will embrace that Jesus Christ is Lord. Rev. 11:15 states as follows:
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
This shall be the day when King Benjamin’s prophesy shall be fulfilled.
[3:23] And now, I have spoken the words which the Lord God hath commanded me.
[3:24] And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgement day; whereof, they shall be judged, every man, according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil;
[3:25] and if they be evil, they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord, into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore, they have drunk damnation to their own souls.–
[3:26] Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them, than it could deny that Adam should fall, because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever.
[3:27] And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. Thus hath the Lord commanded me. Amen.
Point 10. The penalty for rejecting the Savior is an awful view of our own guilt and experiencing the torment which is as a lake of fire.
If an individual has chosen to reject the savior, the time will come that they will have to suffer for their own sins.
I like the description given in Doctrine and Covenants Section 19 of the Lord speaking to Martin Harris commanding him to repent.
15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink
If we reject the Lord, we will suffer for our own sins in the same manner in which Jesus did in the garden and on the cross. It is not something I desire to see of any one.
Another important point made by King Benjamin is that “mercy could have claim on them no more forever.” The implications of losing mercy forever is such a great loss to the rebellious person. Christ has given us a gift. All we have to do is accept it.