As Alma sees the humble followers and the persecutions that were heaped upon them, he began to be sad. Nevertheless, it says, the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him. What is meant by the Spirit of the Lord not failing him? I think what is meant is that although he was very sorrowful, the Spirit was still with him. It’s hard to listen to the Spirit when you are feeling strong emotions. I think the “very sorrowful” falls under that category. But he was still able to be guided by the spirit and come up with a solution despite these feelings?
Cross reference D&C 49:20. To me, this scripture is saying that the world lieth in sin due to inequality, that is, one man, or many, desiring that which another has. I know it seems a little out of place to throw this in but this is one of the scriptures for footnote 15a. Talking about how the Saints were experiencing an inequality. I think inequality can be re-written as pride. Pride is putting yourself above others. That results in inequality. If you were to take another look at the D&C scripture, you could say that the entire world lies in sin because of pride. If you were to take away all the pride in the world, every sin would cease. Everything evil in the world that happens is a result of someone trying to get ahead of others, put people down, or exalting yourself to judge and condemn others.
A New Chief Judge is Appointed
Alma selects a wise man, Nephihah, and appoints him chief judge according to the voice of the people. It says that Nephihah was selected from among the elders of the church. One of the cross references for verse 16 is Alma 4:7. Looking back over that you can see that Nephihah was one of the people that Alma consecrated to be an elder over the church. He is also one of those individuals who was solely grieving because of the wickedness of the people.
I wonder how this change of leadership impacted the people. It happened by the voice of the citizens. If a majority of the people were wicked, would Nephihah have been chosen? Yes, because those are the exact circumstances under which he was chosen. It says that Alma selected a wise man and gave him power according to the voice of the people. Do you think he brought Nephihah to the attention of the public and asked for a vote on what they thought? I believe there is a possibility it happened like that. The scriptures don’t say anything about a big political campaign. Must have been that everyone liked him. I think that is an important lesson. That even though a city, nation, village, etc…is wicked, they can still make the correct decision. Just because wickedness is the norm doesn’t mean people are opposed and incapable of making right choices. Look at the world we are in today. A majority of the people are wicked. Just because the world is getting worse and worse every day, doesn’t mean that we have to make bad choices. We can still make good ones. And so can other people. It’s living in the world but not of the world for the righteous and probably a good streak for those in the world and of the world that resulted in Nephihah’s appointment.
I always try and do something about the people’s character as I’m going along. It’s speculation so don’t take any of it as doctrine. Cross reference Alma 27:20. This is detailing Alma the Younger’s meeting up with his brethren in the gospel after they are returning from their mission among the Lamanites. The chronology says that it is between 90 and 77 BC. It possibly could be closer to 77 BC. Since Nephihah was appointed the chief judge in 83 BC and he was still chief judge at the time that Alma’s friends returned. In fact, Nephihah reigns for 11 years as the chief judge till 72 BC. Oops. Just kidding. He makes it till 67 BC. Reigning for 16 years total before his son Pahoran becomes chief judge. It says in Alma 50 that Nephihah passed away in 67 BC. Let’s say, just for fun, to give a little idea of what he could have lived through, say he died at the age of 83. That means he entered the judgment seat at 67 years old. It says that Nephihah was a wise man. Old people are considered wise. If he was 67 years in 83 BC, that means he was born in 150 BC. That’s a long time ago. Which means he would have (theoretically) been born the year Abinadi came among King Noah. He was born shortly after King Mosiah II but Alma the Elder was still older than him by 23 years. Nephihah was born the year that king Benjamin began reigning. If Nephihah were born around 150 BC, he probably would have grown up together with Mosiah II, being only four years apart. They lived through wars, possibly fought in them, false prophets, and peace. When King Mosiah II died at age 63, Nephihah lived another 20 years. This is all of course for fun. I have no evidence to prove otherwise. It’s cool for me to see that all these famous people were contemporaries. You have Alma the Elder with the people of Zeniff, and you have King Benjamin, Mosiah II, and Nephihah all in Zarahemla. When Mosiah II was a baby, no one would have thought he would be setting up a new kind of government. When Nephihah was a baby, no one suspected he would become the second chief judge. I feel like Nephihah is the last of the old people. That “MTC” group was King Benjamin, Alma the Elder, King Mosiah II, Nephihah, and Gideon. Now by this point in Alma 4, all but Nephihah are gone. I guess the next group would be Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah II. That’s where we are in the story. That’s all I’ll do on Nephihah for now. As things pop up, I’ll write about him again. One last thing about Nephihah’s “MTC district,” indeed, when the Lord needs a change to come into the world, he sends babies.
Seniority in Leadership
Alma doesn’t grant unto Nephihah the office of high priest, but retains it unto himself, so as to continue in administering the affairs of the church. What Alma did seems to be the right thing to do. If you look at the apostles, prophets and other general authorities, most, if not all, are retired from their careers. As such, serve full time in the church, without payment. Kind of like what Alma did. That’s a cool connection.
Alma Leaves on a Mission
What Alma did is go on a mission. He saw what was happening among his people, and through the spirit working in him, he decides to go bear down against the evils in pure testimony. Alma’s mission statement was to preach the word of God so that:
- Stir the people up to a remembrance of their duty
- Pull down all the pride, craftiness, and contentions among the people.
That’s taken from verse 20 in chapter 4. The only thing that Alma is missing is a companion. The Lord has always said to take no thought for food or shelter or other needs because he will always provide for you. As we will see later, Alma meets up with Amulek, who becomes his mission companion.
Why Did Alma Go?
Cross reference Alma 31:5. This gives some insight into why Alma went preaching unto the people to solve this problem of pride, contention, and craftiness. It is because of the word of God, preaching or reading, has a more powerful effect upon people than the sword does. If you want people to become more righteous, increase their spirituality. In Preach My Gospel, under the section of keeping the Sabbath day holy in Lesson 4, it says that when you don’t keep the Sabbath day holy, all aspects of life are negatively affected. If that is true, and I believe it is, then the opposite is true. If one keeps the Sabbath, all aspects of life are positively affected. I know this is specifically talking about the Sabbath, but I believe that it applies to preaching the word of God, as well as reading it. When you do these things, you desire to emulate Him and his qualities. This results in you becoming a better person. As you become better, the contagion of being good can spread. Others will start reading and learning for themselves and pretty soon, all of society is affected for the better.
Final cross reference before moving on. D&C 11:2. God says that his word is sharper than a two-edged sword. Quick background on that. Before, swords were only sharp on one edge, so you had to use the same side to do the hacking. Then, technological revolution! Someone came up with the idea of putting a sharp edge on both sides! So it didn’t matter which way you slashed, it would always cut. In this verse, God is saying that his word is sharper, or more efficient, than a two-edged sword in regards to dividing asunder. There you go. I learned that from the Old Testament Institute Manual.
Review of the Reign of the Judges
Alma delivers himself from the judgment seat and commits himself wholly to the ministry all in the 9th year of the reign of the judges. Let’s end this with a review of the years thus far:
1st year: Nehor, the anti-Christ, comes among the people preaching priestcraft. Is judged and put to death.
2nd year: Much persecution of the saints. Some leave the church while others remain steadfast.
3rd-5th: Generally speaking, peace abounds, but there is no record of this time period.
5th year: Amlici seeks to be king, rebels, and causes a civil war to erupt among the Nephites.
6th year: Nephites recover from the war, turn to God, resulting in a stronger church and many baptisms.
7th year: 3500 people baptized and become church members. That is all that is recorded about this time.
8th year: Church members become more prideful than non-members. Wickedness abounds.
9th year: Alma gives up the judgment-seat to Nephihah and confines himself wholly to preaching the gospel.