He Shall Have Claim on Mercy – Alma 12:33-35

33 But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son;
34 Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.
35 And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.
(Alma 12:33-35)

I like Alma’s promise to the people of Ammonihah, which must have been inspired by this passage from the 95th psalm:

To day if ye will hear his voice,
Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest (Psalm 95:7-11)

The author of the psalm reminds Israel of a time when their ancestors were not able to enter into God’s rest—a place where they were secure, where they were at peace and free from anxiety. Why were they not able to receive that blessing? Because they had hardened their hearts and rebelled against God.

Earlier in the chapter, Alma taught the newly repentant Zeezrom that the mysteries of God are only available to people who choose not to harden their hearts. A person with a hard heart cannot understand some things, not because God doesn’t want to teach them, but because they are unwilling to learn.

By the same token, in the passage above, Alma teaches that those who repent and don’t harden their hearts “have claim on [God’s] mercy through [His] Only Begotten Son.” They will therefore enter into God’s rest, while those who harden their hearts cannot enter.

I have to believe that God’s rest is a state of being, not a location.  People with hard hearts will always be anxious. They cannot rest from their worries and doubts, not because God isn’t willing to have mercy on them and give them peace, but because they are unwilling to receive the gift.

Today, I will remember that understanding and peace can only come to me only if I open my mind and heart to receive them. I will choose not to harden my heart. I will choose to repent, so that I may have claim on God’s mercy and may enter into His rest.

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