Chapter 6 of Alma now! Something incredible happens in verse 1-4. After Alma gives this talk in the Land, the church begins to be cleansed and set in order. I want you to think about that for a minute.
The reason Alma left the judgment seat in the first place was because there was so much wickedness. Not the kind, I imagine, that local leaders could handle, but wickedness that required the prophet himself to come and address the people. And what happens after he is finished? All those who didn’t belong, but who were converted, were baptized, and members were ordained as priests and elders. These then began to establish order in the church. While those that rejected the words were excommunicated. To me, the fact that people lost their membership after he was finished says it must have been an incredible presentation. The spirit must have been so strong. To the point where there was no middle ground after he spoke. You either rejected, and did so hard, or your heart was touched and you became a faithful member. That’s quite something. If I’m not mistaken, this is the event that started Zarahemla being the strong point of the church hereafter. All because Alma was worthy to let the spirit work events that occurred in the Book of Mormon. At the time, he probably didn’t fully recognize the significance of the times.
Traveling to Gideon
After Alma sets up the regulations in the land of Zarahemla, he heads east of the River Sidon to the valley of Gideon. To the city of Gideon. Both being called after the man who was slain by the hand of Nehor. I have already given a thorough account of who Gideon was. I will refer you to an earlier post when I talk about that. I would like to reiterate his importance and respect he had among the people. He had a city and a valley named after him! It’s been about 8 years since Gideon was slain by the sword, assuming it takes a few years to fully build a city, I would venture that the city of Gideon is a fairly new one.
Chapter 7 is according to the record of Alma. Mormon just copy and pasted from the record of Alma.
Verse 1, Alma says that he will attempt to address the people in his own tongue. The thought that came to mind is that the language they were speaking in Gideon was different than Zarahemla. Maybe not entirely, but enough that there was a noticeable difference. I have no proof for that though so ultimately, it is a toss up. The other way I think it could be interpreted is that this is the first time he has been permitted to visit the people and speak to them himself. Therefore he will be able to say what he wants, how he wants. Maybe implying that the words he had spoken before, ahhh never mind. Ok fine. I was just thinking that if Alma sent out magazines like “Ensigns” or “Liahonas” to the people, they didn’t make it or perhaps they were formal messages given to everyone. Maybe this is a more “informal” and personal setting in which he could speak the thoughts of his heart.
I think he is excited to come to Gideon because he has previously had to attend to the duties of the judgment seat and was unable to visit the saints. But now that he has given up the judgment seat, he can now minister to the saints. I like how Alma says he has come in great hopes that the people of Gideon were not in such an “awful dilemma” as the people of Zarahemla. That’s pretty funny. He was probably thinking about it on the trip walking to Gideon. “Whew Zarahemla man. That was a mess. But I’m happy it’s put back together now. On to Gideon. If Gideon is anything like Zarahemla, it’s going to be a long mission.” But, like he said, he had hope that they were better. And it seems like they may have been.
Random tangent: What method of transport was most common during Alma’s time? Because I was thinking maybe if chariots were then maybe he (Alma) could have charioted over to Gideon. But walking is so much cooler. Probably more probable as well. hehe.
Christ is Coming
Back to the actual scriptures. In verse 6, he describes in detail, some of which we didn’t get in chapter 6, what the people in Zarahemla were doing. He lists it. I’ll list it as well.
- Lifted up in the pride of their hearts
- Set heart upon riches and vain things of the world
- Worship idols. Or lack of worship of the true and living God
- Didn’t look forward to a remission of their sins with everlasting faith
The thing that stood out here was the phrase,” True and living God.” The cross reference for that is Daniel 6:26. I just finished this chapter in Daniel. It is a fantastic story. Daniel is thrown into a lion’s den but is not harmed. In response, the king decrees that the people of the realm respect the living god of Daniel. No dead/false god could have done what was done. Lions’ mouths were shut. I add my witness with King Darius that God lives today as he did in times of old.
I think verse 7 is a hidden gem. I’ve never noticed it before. I’ll copy the verse in, it’s good.
“For behold, I say unto you there be many things to come; and behold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people.”
The reason I like this verse so much is because Alma says that the most important thing you can know right now, is that the Redeemer is coming soon. I know this is related to the first advent of the Savior but I think the same can still be said of today. The Savior is coming in the not too distant future to be among his people. What are the implications do you think of knowing this? If Alma says this is the most important, it must imply or mean a lot right? Here is what I think:
If you know that Christ is coming soon, and if you are even slightly a good Christian, you’ll want to prep yourself for his arrival. Why would you want to get ready for his coming? Because you love him? You want Him to be happy and pleased when you meet up? I think so. Granted, that is putting it into the most simple terms possible. You want to live your life in such a way he’ll be pleased when he comes. That’s the reason knowing he is coming is so important. You’ll be looking forward with hope. If you do that, all other little things fall into place. I think a lot of us, myself included, get easily distracted in our preparations. News, social media, books, TV, video games, and other things, if overly indulged in, distract us from remembering. Isn’t remembering the most important word in the Book of Mormon? It is in the dictionary at least. Remember that Christ is coming. Remember there are things that need to be done. Remember that our sojourn on this sphere is limited. Remember who you are. Remember you are a child of God, a celestial being with a divine destiny and infinite potential. Remember, remember, remember.
Lack of Knowledge? Bear Testimony
Verse 8 going on with the goodness! I’ll copy this in as well
“Behold, I do not say that he will come among us at the time of his dwelling in his mortal tabernacle; for behold, the spirit hath not said unto me that this should be the case now as to this thing I do not know; but this much I do know, that the Lord God hath power to do all things which are according to his word.”
I like this verse because very plainly, Alma is saying that he isn’t sure that Jesus will be visiting while he is living. He says that the spirit hasn’t told him. I think that’s cool because it’s a personal experience. The other thing I like about this is Alma pulls a Nephi. When an angel asked Nephi in his dream if he knew the condescension of God, Nephi replied that he didn’t but he knew that God loved his children. Someone probably asked Alma if Christ was going to be visiting them while he (Alma) was yet mortal. He replies that he doesn’t know but what he does know is that God has the power to do all things which are according to his word. He bears his testimony. When asked a question that you can’t answer, always admit you don’t know (if that’s the case) and testify. Because even though you may not have the knowledge or know, you have the faith And faith precedes knowledge.
Come Unto Christ
Next Alma gives a rundown of the mission of Jesus, even giving the name of Christ’s earthly mother, Mary. He then invites them to repent, be baptized, and inherit the kingdom of God. That is, after all, why Christ came and did what he did. I like verse 15, I’ll copy it in.
“Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which doth easily beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that you are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him this day by going to the waters of baptism.”
I like this verse because it says fear not. God isn’t someone to be scared of. Repentance isn’t something to be feared. Lay aside all your problems, all your burdens, all your guilt, and come. Let the Atonement work in your life because it is because of that that we have a chance at being exalted. I don’t think there is a person on this planet, understanding what is being and then rejecting it. Unless they have seared away their God-given conscience and snuffed out the spirit. It seems almost too good to be true, yet it is. You can be free of all your guilt and you can overcome any and all things. I echo again what Alma says, come, fear not, and lay aside all the sins that easily beset you.
Verse 16 is good. I’m sorry I keep copying verses in but they are all so good.
” And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.”
I like how Alma says that the people who are baptized and keep the commandments from that time forward will remember this day. That he said they will have eternal life. There is that word again, remember. Another possible way to look at this is reading it as if Christ or Heavenly Father were saying it. If you are baptized and from that time forth, set out to obey the commandments and try your very best, indeed God hath said, ye shall have eternal life. Why can we make that parallel? Because Alma was testifying through the Holy Spirit. We know that when a man speaks by the Holy Spirit, it can be considered as scripture. And that by the voice of my servants, or me (the Lord) it is the same.
Make Straight His Paths
Alma is telling these things to the people and tells them that he knows they believe him. That is part of verse 17. How did he know? Gift of the Spirit. The gift of discernment. I don’t know how it was for him, but the times in my life wen I have discerned things is through feelings. You feel they are feeling something or thinking something. I can’t explain it. Thinking is too mechanical a way to put it. It just comes to you. Often times, you don’t realize you have discerned something until the person talks.
The fact that people believe him brings great joy to him. As a missionary, you have no greater joy than when people believe you and strive to do what you say. What most people call a “golden” investigator. It takes a missionary to understand just what Alma is describing.
At the end of verse 19, Alma applauds the people for “making His paths straight.” This is more of a historical note rather than a commentary. I learned the following from the institute manual. I have read so many of them I don’t remember which. But this is what it said about making paths straight. Back in the old days, in the Middle East, Near East, all those East places, when kings or very important people would travel, there would always be people to go before the procession to prepare the way. They would make paths straight, clear paths, and otherwise make the long journey a pleasant and enjoyable one. Lay out carpets etc….So what Alma is telling these people is a compliment. They are preparing the way for the Lord to come. Not just to come into the world, but into their lives.
Do These Things
In closing, Alma exhorts the people to do a bunch of things. I will list them:
- Be humble
- Be submissive and gentle
- Easy to be entreated
- Full of patience and long-suffering
- Being temperate in all things
- Being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times
- Asking for what you need from God spiritually and temporally
- Always return thanks for that which you receive
- Have faith
- Have hope
- Have charity
Blessings for all of these: Always abound in good works.
I want to talk about this list a bit because I think this is wonderful. There are also a lot of cross references, and we will be using those later as well. But first, what does “entreated” mean? According to the dictionary, entreated means to ask earnestly. That doesn’t seem like a good definition. It is hard to connect that in the context of this scripture. The best I can think of is easy to ask things of. That is a good quality but I feel like there has been a slight linguistical drift over the centuries. I thought perhaps looking it up in Indonesian would help. The word choice is “senang menurut.” Which, if it has the same meaning as it does in Malay, means easy to follow. I think that implies being a good example. Another good quality to have. The Malay translation of the same scripture is “Ramah-Tamah” which means friendly. Which is also a good attribute to have? What I really need is an 1830 dictionary. Then I can get a good definition.
Concerning this list, I think all these things are definitely possible to do. We maybe can’t do them perfectly, but I think God still wants us to try our best to follow them. I really like the blessing that comes from doing these things. Always abounding in good works. If you are abounding (plentiful in the dictionary) in good works, then you will be well on your way to eternal life. People will be able to trust you and you will be successful in life.
Three Important Relationships
Something cool I just noticed, is that this advice covers three areas: yourself, God, and others. Just like the 10 commandments. All three relationships are discussed.
- You: Humble, submissive, gentle, easy to be entreated, patient, long-suffering, temperate, keeping the commandments at all times.
- God: Asking from God what you need physically and spiritually, giving thanks for all that you receive.
- Others: Giving thanks for all that you receive.
I like how the longest part relates to things you can do personally. It’s true. Every person has to work out his or her own salvation. But also, if you want eternal life you have to develop those qualities for yourself. I know I just said the same thing in tow different ways but you get the point. Like the brother of Jared, God tells us what we need to do, we come up with how we are going to do it, then ask Him to bless our efforts. Also, what we pray for, quality wise, he will give us opportunities to exercise that quality. If I pray for patience, God will allow circumstances to occur in which we need to be patient.
Time for a cross reference! Go to proverbs chapter 18:12. “Before destruction, the heart of men is haughty (proud), and before honor is humility.” Hati-Hati (be careful in Malay) of pridefulness. I like this verse. Simple. Straight to the point. The most honorable people don’t seek for it. Honor is not something you seek. Honor is something only others can bestow upon you. It is not something you bestow on yourself.
Even though verse 24 of Alma 7 is very short, the scripture linked to it in the footnotes are long. All three are discourses on charity. The one in Moroni is well known, as is Corinthians 13. However, the one in Ether is equally important, albeit probably less known. There is a little part of the Ether verse that talks about faith. There is something I never noticed before. It says in Ether 12:31.
“For thus didst, thou manifest thyself unto thy disciples; for after they had faith, and did speak in thy name, thou didst show thyself unto them in great power.”
The aspect of faith that I learned here is that you have to not only have faith but also have to speak in the name of God. You have to have faith in him but enough to outwardly exercise that faith, trusting that God will back your words up. Once you do that, God will show himself in great power. To me, that is the point when faith becomes a principle of power. No longer is your faith something you are “cultivating” inside of you. Now it is being used to call down the powers of Heaven because you have faith something will come of it.
Thanks for sticking with me through this long post! Hope you enjoyed it! Leave you thoughts and questions below and I’ll be sure and answer!