The Blessings of Being Righteous

Chapter 9! The headnote to the headnote of this chapter informs us that chapter 9-14 are from the record of Alma, not Mormon. I think chapters like these are so cool because Mormon probably just stuck them in word-for-word. He was moved upon by the spirit and put them in like this because they are so important.

I was thinking about how much of the Book of Mormon is abridgment and how much is word-for-word until the Book of Mosiah starts. At which point, it changes to the third person because Mormon is telling the story with quotes from what people said. Then you get the record of Zeniff. That is Mosiah 9-22. This is just inserted in. You don’t get a personal account of things again till Alma. Alma 5 has a lot of what he says. Nearly the entire chapter is quoting him. However, the headnote to the headnote doesn’t say that it is according to his own record. It isn’t till you get to Alma chapter 7 that you get writing from Alma’s own record inserted in. And not again till chapter 9-14. If you read the Book of Mormon by who is talking/writing, it makes it a lot more interesting.

Alma and Amulek Begin Preaching

Alma takes Amulek with him and begins to preach unto the people. As I was reading this entire chapter and as I first read this post, my thought was, “Where’s Amulek?” You don’t hear anything from him till chapter 10, where he begins speaking. If Alma was the first one to talk (he was the senior companion after all) it must have been like one gets up to say something and then Amulek gets up to talk. I don’t think it was both at the same time like it is today. Nevertheless, there were still two witnesses and both did talk.

I guess you have to put yourself in Amulek’s sandals for a moment. He is a recent convert of the prophet. He is traveling with the prophet. As a recent convert, if you were called upon to preach to the people of your city that it would be destroyed if they didn’t repent, would you be a little intimidated? YEAH! I’ve been a member all my life and I think it would be scary. You would have to have a lot of faith to carry out that assignment. And Amulek delivered. But wait! We are talking about Alma now! We will get back to Amulek in the next chapter.

The People Cross Examine Alma

The people ask Alma, “Who art thou? Suppose ye that we shall believe the testimony of one man, although he should preach unto us that the earth should pass away?”I’ll start at the beginning. Who art thou? It says that Alma entered into the city of Ammonihah by the southern gate. Shouldn’t the people know who he is already? I mean, after all, the last chapter it was the inhabitants who told him he was Alma the high priest of the church in Zarahemla. This could mean two things. Like so many other times, I don’t think it’s a matter of which one, but rather a combination of both. I think they could be asking, “Who are you?” in the sense of who do you think you are to tell us to repent? But I think it could also be a possibility that in fact, they don’t know who Alma is. Ammonihah is probably a large city and the fact that he entered through the southern gate was probably so no one would know who he was.

By the Mouth of Two or Three Witnesses

Cross reference Deuteronomy 17:6. This is the cross reference for the testimony of one man. This scripture is pretty much saying that it is impossible to condemn a man to death based on just one witness. There have to be two or three witnesses to be condemned to death. That’s Hebrew tradition. It doesn’t really apply here too much (Alma is not being tried.) but I think the principle of witnesses is still relevant. You need more than one witness for someone to believe you. That’s why the gospel is preached by missionaries in pairs, that’s why there are two books of scripture, witnessing of Christ (Bible and Book of Mormon..soon to be three fingers crossed!). That’s why there are always a president and two councilors. We still follow this tradition in the church. We may not realize it because we have grown up with it and it’s natural. But when you learn the origin of things we do and who we are, the gospel becomes that much cooler.

The Earth Will Pass Away

The final thing I wanted to write about was Alma teaching the people that the Earth would pass away. In verse three, it says the people didn’t understand him because they didn’t know that the Earth would pass away. I know the Earth will pass away but I’m not sure I understand what Alma is trying to say about it. There was no cross reference at the bottom. If you read on in verse 4 you can see that Alma told the people that they didn’t believe. My guess is that Alma connected the passing of the Earth with the passing of Ammonihah if they didn’t repent. It’s just a guess. Alma’s prophecy was fulfilled 4 years later. the entire city was destroyed by Lamanites in a single day. Not a single soul was left alive.

I also want to relate the people not believing Alma when he said the Earth would pass away, to things we may believe. Ammonihah was in Nephite territory. The church was available there. I’m sure there were church members in Ammonihah even if they were inactive or less active. Perhaps the people didn’t believe because they didn’t understand the scriptures. When it comes to prophecies, I think the hardest part is to believe because we don’t have the benefit of hindsight. People always try to make connections. Prophecies, unless you have sufficient knowledge, can’t have connections made. Then whatever it comes to pass and then you make the connection of what it meant but by then, it’s too late.

Gift of Invisibility

Verse 7 says that the people stood forth to lay their hands upon him but did not. At first, I thought this was similar to what Jesus often did. He walked through crowds unnoticed when people wanted to lay hold upon him. Gift of invisibility it is. I thought that was what Alma did. But he doesn’t run or walk away. He continues talking with boldness. I think it was more of an Abinadi setting. They couldn’t lay their hands on him. Maybe he was shining as well?

How to Prosper in the Land

In verse 13, Alma talks about one of the main messages of the Book of Mormon. If you obey God and keep his commandments, you will prosper in the land. However, if you don’t, you will be cut off from his presence. It’s so simple. Yet people have a hard time remembering this one little thing. I think it’s like the snake on the staff of Moses, if you look towards it, you will be healed. Lots of people didn’t, and they died. Of course, the staff and serpent were merely a type that pointed to the real Savior of all ailments, Christ Jesus. If you look to Christ and follow him, you will be healed, you will prosper, you will be taken care of. And people can’t believe it because life with its complexities must require a more elaborate solution. There is no way that one man could be the solution to everything. And they are right in a sense. But Jesus was more than a man, he is the son of God. He had the power to take up his life and lay it down, he walked the paths of Palestine, healing the lame and curing the sick. He performed an act of love no other being could accomplish, a matchless atonement for the sins of mankind. He lived a perfect life of love, patience, kindness, long-suffering, and many other exemplary  qualities. It is the same being through which worlds are and were created. he whose purpose is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life. What man could do this? No one could.

If God, being so great, can do all these things, creating worlds, healing people, performing the Atonement. What makes you think he will not keep his promise to prosper you so long as you keep his commandments. He will keep his promise. He’s done it for me already. He’s done it for millions of others as well. And he’ll continue to do it forever.

The Lamanites as a Case Study

Alma uses the example of the Lamanites as a people who have not kept the commandments of God and have reaped the consequences. I think this is a powerful example because the Nephites of Ammonihah know of the Lamanites and their current state. And here is Alma saying that the Lamanites’ condition is because of their disobedience to the commandments. And if the people of Ammonihah don’t shape up, bad things are heading their way.

In fact, from verse 14-23 Alma tells them why the Lamanites would be better off than them if they fail to repent. The reason being because the Lamanites are only disbelieving because of the traditions of their fathers. They have never had a chance to learn the gospel. They have grown up believing that the Nephites are bad etc..The Lamanites are still on the neutral ground. The Ammonihahites have been preached the gospel, had good and evil laid before them and having chosen to enlist in the service of the enemy of God, Satan.

Alma makes a prophecy. He says that the Lamanites’ days will be prolonged in the land so that they might not always remain in their state of ignorance. That they will learn of God, realize the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers and call upon God. And he says that many of them will be saved because God is merciful unto all those who call upon his name. One of the best lessons I learned while studying Isaiah was the concept, rather fact, of dual fulfillment. Prophecies are oftentimes brought to pass multiple times. Usually at a date close by and far away. An example is Babylon falling. Babylon the city did fall. Babylon the church of Satan will fall. Both facets are correct. With that being said, verse 17 has a dual fulfillment. Towards the end of the Book of Mormon, many Lamanites did come to a knowledge of the incorrectness of their fathers’ traditions and were converted. Insomuch that there were more righteous Lamanites than Nephites! I believe the second coming to pass of this prophecy is evidenced by the great success of the gospel being preached to the natives of the Americas. many of Lamanite descent have come to a knowledge of the gospel and have embraced it and now call upon God.

Cross reference Enos 1:13. Enos also desired the Lamanites to be preserved and that what would later become the Book of Mormon would be preserved so that the Lamanites could come to a knowledge of the gospel and be saved!

The Blessings of Righteousness

Verse 20-22 describe the blessings that the Nephites have received from the Lord. I’ll list them:

  1. Highly favored of the Lord
  2. Have had all things made known unto them according to their faith, desires, and prayers
  3. Visited by the spirit of God
  4. Conversed with angels
  5. Spoken unto by the voice of the Lord
  6. Having the spirit of prophecy
  7. Having the spirit of revelation
  8. Having the gift of tongues
  9. Having the gift of preaching
  10. Having the gift of the Holy Ghost
  11. Having the gift of translation
  12. Having been delivered out of the land of Jerusalem
  13. Saved from famine and sickness
  14. Waxed strong in battle
  15. Been brought out of bondage
  16. Kept and preserved until the present time
  17. Become rich in all manner of things

Here you have 17 miracles or gifts from God. All of which are “Greater in worth than all the treasure on treasure island (paraphrasing Walt Disney).” Just look at the first one. Being highly favored of the Lord. That alone is precious. What more could one ask for than to be thought highly of the most supreme being in all the universe?

I want to go over cross references for those on the list with them. For having all things made known unto them is a mission of the prophets. That is what the footnote says. Everything these people know has come from prophets. That is how God reveals truth to his people.

Visited By the Lord

Visited by the spirit of the Lord has two references I would like to use. First, Mormon 1:15. When he was 15 years old, he was visited by the Lord and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus. that is a beautiful verse to me. I’m reminded of another boy who was of a similar age who saw Jesus. Can you guess who? When I read the verse in Mormon, I thought of the attributes of God. His goodness, his love. I think that is the quality people remember the most about Him. The love he has for other people. It’s because of that love that people can and do change. How amazing would it be to live among the people and have the main thing they remember about you is how good you were and how much you loved others? If only I was at that point.

The second scripture is Exodus 3:16. This is the chapter when the Lord appears to Moses through a burning bush. Another example that God visits his children. If he visited prophets during Moses’ time, during Alma’s time, during Mormon’s time, and during Joseph Smith’s time, surely he continues to visit people. I think it’s true. He hasn’t paid me a personal visit yet. I’m sure he visits with the prophets, though.

Gift of Preaching

I like how it mentioned a few gifts of the spirit here. I think people have heard prophecy, revelation, speaking in tongues, but the last 3 I believe we don’t hear too much about. Nevertheless, they are just as real and valid as any other spiritual gift. Originally, I was just going to talk about the gift of preaching, but the more I thought about it, the more unique the gift of translation and the gift of the Holy Ghost seem. I’ll start with preaching, though. I know some missionaries who have this. they are very good at talking to people and teaching in a way that can be understood. I think the cool thing about this gift is that it covers all types of teaching styles. There isn’t one good, perfect way to teach. The gift of preaching can be for any teaching style.

Gift of the Holy Ghost

The Gift of the Holy Ghost is something everyone receives once they are baptized and confirmed. But I think it could be a spiritual gift that some people are more naturally in tune with than others. I have no evidence to back that up, that is the thought I had. Take it or leave it.

The Gift Translation

I had a cool thought about this. This, of course, applies to translating records of ancient scripture with a Urim and Thummin. But the thought I had was that it also applies to any language. I think some people are better at translating languages than perhaps speaking them. I’m not saying I have this gift but I have felt that translating to or from languages in writing has been easier than speaking them. More so from the language to English. Maybe in that sense, I have the gift. Spiritual gifts are such a wide topic with varying degree of intensity. When it comes to spiritual gifts, I feel like even the scriptures barely scratch the surface. I think it’s something we might have wait till the next life or Millenium to understand and capitalize on fully.

The cross reference for the gift of translation refers to Mosiah 8:13 and 28:17. At least, those are the ones I want to use. The first is Ammon telling King Limhi that King Mosiah can translate the Jaredite Record. The second is telling that King Mosiah actually did translate the Nephite plates. I think that Mosiah 8:13 points out an interesting aspect of being a seer that I had never before noticed. If you aren’t commanded to look in the Urim and Thummin and try to look at things you ought not to, you shall perish. I don’t know exactly what that means. Just don’t do it unless you are told.

Another cool thing from Mosiah 8:13. Ammon is assuring King Limhi that King Mosiah can translate the records. Which means, King Mosiah must have translated things before. We have no record of that in the scriptures. Was he translating records from….I don’t even know. Maybe linguistical drift over the past couple hundred years required a Urim and Thummim to translate from previous prophets? I don’t know.

Being Delivered Out of the Land of Jerusalem

Here is a cool gem. It said that they were delivered out of Jerusalem  (verse 22 in Alma 9). Well, in 2 Nephi 1:4 it informs us that Lehi actually saw in a vision that Jerusalem had been destroyed. I’d read that verse only a few minutes before and I didn’t catch that till just now. Looking over the chronology in the Bible Dictionary, it puts the capture of Jerusalem in 587 BC. According to the time period in the first book of Nephi, it puts their arrival in the promised land about 589 BC. If that is true, Lehi would have had his vision 2 years after having reached the promised land. The time of Lehi’s death is put somewhere between 588 and 570 BC. If Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BC, a more likely time of death would be between 587 BC-570 BC. Just a cool thought. I can go into it more when I do the Reign of the Kings notebook after I finish the Reign of the Judges.

Being delivered out of bondage time after time refers to Mosiah 27:16. This is when the angel has appeared to Alma the Younger and is asking him to remember the captivity of his father. Specifically, his own father’s captivity in the land of Helam and how good the Lord has been in delivering the people from bondage. That’s just an example of the bondage Alma was talking about to the people of Ammonihah. Maybe some of the people there were with Alma the older in bondage?

Being Rich in All Manner of Things

The last part I want to talk about in relation to the specific blessings the Nephites have received is rich in all manner of things and how God fulfills that promise to everyone. I think back when I was a kid. We didn’t have much. My mom was divorced, had three kids, was going to school and working multiple jobs. We still obeyed the commandments, paid tithing, and went to church. God kept his promise. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land. We weren’t rich but I had everything I needed and even some things I wanted. Eventually, mom got married, we got a nice house, welcomed four more siblings into the family and were all sealed. Yes, there were rough times. Times we almost didn’t make it. But we still kept the commandments. Since leaving on a mission, mom and pops have bought a new house with animals, pool, playground, and a few other things. Again, the Lord is keeping his promise. The spiritual side has also increased. As we have gained more, we have also learned more about the gospel. God will fulfill his promise. I think people get so caught up in the fact that they won’t prosper, that they lose sight of what is really important. They become workaholics. Chasing the destination of “enough money” as it draws further and further away from them the faster they run. As I have said before, the formula is simple, keep the commandments and you will prosper.

Leaving Neutral Ground

Now for verse 23. Alma says that if the people, who have received these blessings, should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them. This is because once you learn the truth, see the light and partake of the blessings, you left the neutral ground. Can’t go back now because you know where right and wrong both are. If you are following Heavenly Father, you aren’t following Satan. Once you reject light consciously, it doesn’t go limbo. Light becomes blackness. That’s why the apostate Nephites were so bad. They sinned willingly against the light. The Lamanites didn’t know better because it was just a tradition. When people leave the church, they hand the reigns back to God and instead take the reigns of Satan’s horse and buggy and go for a devilish ride down Dreary Lane.

I just had a thought. Did the Lamanites, generally speaking, as a whole ever know the truth? I think so. Where is it that it says the Lamanites were more righteous than the Nephites? Then you look at the end of the Book of Mormon and all the Lamanites annihilate the Nephites. So in the end, it was no more just tradition of their fathers, but of willful rebellion? I think I need to read the Book of Mormon through and through again.

The People Want to Toss Alma and Amulek in Prison

Skipping down to verse 31-32. When Alma finishes speaking, the people are mad at him and want to cast him into prison. Alma had said the people were hard-hearted, stiff-necked, lost and fallen. It was true, and the people knew it. Truth pierces the soul. But they didn’t like it. Satan stirred their hearts up and that’s why they wanted to toss him a prison.

I’m trying to put myself in Alma’s shoes. Or sandals. It must have been lonely, and hard to get up in front of those people and say those things and then have the people reject him. I know a little bit about rejection as a missionary. It makes you sad when people say no.

Cross reference 2 Nephi 25:28 and Mosiah 3:14. Nephi spoke of the hard-heartedness of the people and Mosiah of the children of Israel’s. Two examples of God chastising his people. God loves everyone. He wants the best for all. he knows that if people continue on their wicked path, they will lose heaven. that is why he sends prophets and others to make them aware of their state and call them to repentance.

Amulek Begins Preaching

Verse 34. After Alma stops preaching, Amulek gets up and begins. It says that not all the words of Amulek are written down but some of them are written in this book . We get chapter 10 and 11 of Amulek’s words. I wonder how much more he said that was not included in this book?

Thanks for sticking with it! Amulek’s teachings will be in the next post!

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