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Dear Gramps,

President Ezra Taft Benson and others have told stories of how they were mobbed as missionaries in the early 20th century.  My question is, why did they not raise their arm to the square and command them in the name of Jesus Christ to disperse or back off?  Doesn’t Satan and those under his control have to yield to worthy priesthood commands in the name of the Lord?  Or perhaps a better question is, why does Satan have to yield, but those evil people in mortality DO NOT have to?





Dear Robert,

In order to answer your question, I will start with a rhetorical question for you.

Why did Alma and Amulek not raise their hand to save the people of Ammonihah…men, women and children, from being killed by fire?

Amulek upon seeing this horrific scene, asked a question not unlike yours, and Alma gives the answer.  In Alma 14, we read:

 9 And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.


 10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.


 11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.


 12 Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also.


 13 And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not.


One thing we must keep in mind is that we are all given agency here on earth.  If all Priesthood holders held their arm to the square in all circumstances, that takes away the agency of those whose desire it is to cause evil.  Heavenly Father knew that there would be vile and evil things that would happen to even those people who are righteous.  It saddens Him greatly that some choose this path.  But he did allow agency. That was part of the plan.

Remember Robert when the Savior counseled us to become as little children.  Perhaps part of the reason for that counsel was to remind us to be humble, and in that humility accept that Heavenly Father sees a greater picture than we, as mortals, do.  As mortals we want to save everyone from pain and suffering, but remember that was Satan’s plan.  Heavenly Father with His foreknowledge chooses when it is best to rescue, and when it is best to stay His hand.  Our part is to humbling accept His will, of course, that is not always easy, but we don’t have do it alone.  The Savior is there to strengthen and guide us.  As Paul said:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13






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