1 And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.
2 And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.
In the prior chapter, Alma described the predicament we face, being subject to both physical and spiritual death. He taught the people of Ammonihah that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome both kinds of death. Then he explained how prophets fit into the plan: God saw that His children needed to understand how to overcome death, so He sent messengers to teach them. As long as they remained teachable and didn’t harden their hearts, they could receive a remission of their sins through the Atonement and enter His rest.
In this chapter, He talks about the role of priests. Not only did He send messengers to teach us, He also ordained priests to help us worship Him in an organized way. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, an early meaning of the word “order” in English was a “body of persons living under a religious discipline.” The 1828 Websters Dictionary gives many definitions of “order,” including a “methodical arrangement of things,” a “settled mode of operation,” a “command,” and “government or discipline.”
To create order is to “ordain” (from the Latin ordinare – “put in order, arrange, dispose, appoint”). A tool or mechanism to put things in order is an “ordinance” (from the present participle of ordinare – roughly: “ordaining”).
As Alma teaches in the passage above, priests are ordained to instruct and direct people so that they know how to be redeemed by the Savior. The priesthood enables God to organize His disciples, so that they can worship Him together in an organized way.
Priests are humans who represent the Savior. As Elder Boyd K. Packer taught, “When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present” (“The Power of the Priesthood,” General Conference, April 2010). So priests not only provide guidance, they also act as substitutes for the Savior. As we interact with them, we prepare for the time when we will interact with Him.
Today, I will remember the role of the priesthood in God’s plan of redemption. I will be grateful for the opportunity I have to participate in priesthood ordinances, which give order to my life and which show me how to receive the grace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ.