They Were Strict in Observing the Ordinances of God – Alma 30:3

3 Yea, and the people did observe to keep the commandments of the Lord; and they were strict in observing the ordinances of God, according to the law of Moses; for they were taught to keep the law of Moses until it should be fulfilled.

In the chapters preceding this verse, the Nephites welcomed a group of people who were being persecuted because of their religious beliefs. As a result of their hospitality, the Nephites were attacked by the enemies of these refugees. Tens of thousands of people died in the resulting battle, but the Nephites were victorious. Mormon describes their emotions in the aftermath of this trauma: “And now surely this was a sorrowful day; yea, a time of solemnity, and a time of much fasting and prayer” (Alma 28:6).
Now, at the beginning of chapter 30, he gives us a description of a righteous people. Among other things, he describes them as “strict in observing the ordinances of God, according to the law of Moses.” Why would he specifically mention ordinances in his description of a righteous people?
Boyd K. Packer pointed out the relationship between three words: order, ordain, and ordinance. He noted that one definition of “ordain” is “to put in order.” One definition of “ordinance” is “arrangement in ranks or rows.” After sharing these definitions, he said:

It is my purpose to fix in your minds so serious an interest in the ordinances of the gospel that you will seek to qualify for each ordinance in proper sequence, to make and keep the covenants that are connected with them, and to make sure that everything in this regard, for you, is in proper order (“Ordinances,” BYU Fireside, 3 Feb 1980).

In the grand scheme, I can see how priesthood ordinances, including baptism and eternal marriage, form markers in our lives which create order from what might otherwise be a chaotic sequence of events. On a smaller scale, I recognize that I need that kind of structure in my daily life. Personal religious habits, including prayer, scripture study, and journal writing, function like the stakes of a tent in my daily life, anchoring me firmly so that the unexpected events of the day don’t overwhelm me or distract me from my long-range goals.
Today, I will remember the power of ordinances and personal religious practices to set my life in order. I will resolve to be “strict in observing” these practices, so that I can have order and stability in my life.

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