3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
4 And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts andblindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.
5 Or in fine, in the first place they were on the samestanding with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—
6 And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—
These verses in Alma 13 have always intrigued me. The notion of foreordination is a difficult one to reconcile with free agency. But LDS doctrine regarding the pre-mortal life makes that much easier. God is not operating from a blank slate when he sent us here. HE has known us for eons and personally knows our needs and how we can be of service to him during this life.
I don’t see Alma’s concept of foreordination as exclusionary. God is willing to give all the blessing and opportunity of priesthood service. But some he does not give the opportunity in this life for various reasons. If someone is bound to reject it, it might be better to never be offered it.
I strongly believe we cannot judge righteousness based on life circumstance. I trust in a loving creator who puts us in the circumstances where we are most needed and where we are most likely to have shaping experiences that direct us back to him. We are all on the path that has been personally crafted in light of our experiences before this life and in light of God’s foreknowledge and his understanding of our character. We need to have faith in him and his plan.
I also love how verse six describes the purpose of the priesthood. It is to help teach and guide others back to the presence of God. That means that there are many who will not be priests, but will still ultimately be able to enter into God’s rest.