Continuing on with the story. The judges and others come in again to Alma and Amulek, this time smacking them around. They say, “If ye have the power of God, deliver yourselves from these bands, and then we will believe that the Lord will destroy this people according to your words.” The footnote for 24a says sign seekers. That’s exactly what they were. This reminds of when Christ was tempted by Satan. Let me find it in the Bible because Satan asks similar questions. Here it is, I’ll write the questions in
- If thou be the Son of God, command that these stone be made bread.
- If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands, they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
- All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Questions and challenges like these are hard to answer. They can make us feel sad because we don’t know how to act or answer. We can be tempted to follow in the spirit of competition and do just what the devil wants us to in order to “prove” ourselves. Really, it’s a trap. The power of God is not directed by sign seekers. The power of God comes through righteousness. Through righteousness comes power and direction to act in a way that is appropriate. The judges and others all smite Alma and Amulek saying these words.
The Missionaries’ Bonds are Broken
I don’t know the full reason why what happened next happened and when. But I do know that God is over all and his timing is best. After the two missionaries were finished being hit and mocked, the power of God gave them strength to stand up. Alma cried saying,”How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord?” O Lord, give us strength according to our faith, which is in Christ, even unto deliverance.” And they broke the bands. Maybe after the judges had finished hitting them God had seen enough. The testament against the jailers was sufficient. Alma and Amulek’s patience and longsuffering were accepted of the Lord. Now it was time to act. Strength was received, and Alma, perceiving the Lord is near, calls out for more strength, even unto breaking the bands. Their prayers were answered. I think because God works among man according to their faith he had to help Alma and Amulek out. He gave them strength, they recognized that and then they were strong enough to exercise faith. That faith then allowed them to break the bonds.
An Example from Disney and History
When the people saw this, they began to flee for fear of destruction had come upon them. This reminds me of two other instances. One real, and one fake. I will start with the fake. At the end of Disney’s Hercules, the main character, Hercules, goes into a pool of spirits to bring back the spirit of his beloved Meg. Hades tells him that if he is in the pool too long, he’ll turn into a spirit and die. As he is about to die, he reaches Meg. He walks out of the pool with Meg’s spirit and Hades is shocked! He fumbles with words saying, “Th-th-th-this is impossible! You can’t do this, you’d have to be a God!” And then his face gets punched in by Hercules. I imagine when the judges and others saw Alma and Amulek do this, their expression of disbelief could have been similar.
The next instance comes from Joseph Smith’s experience. This was while he was in jail. I’ll copy from the book, “Our Heritage” pages 52 and 53.
“Shortly after the massacre at Hawn’s Mill, the prophet Joseph Smith and other leaders were taken prisoner.
The prophet and others were first taken to Independence, and then sent to Richmond, Ray County, where they were jailed awaiting trial. Parley P. Pratt was one of those with the prophet. He said that one evening guards were taunting the prisoners by telling of their deeds of rape, murder, and robbery among the Latter-Day Saints. He knew that the prophet was awake beside him and recorded that Joseph suddenly stood on his feet and rebuked the guards with great power:
‘SILENCE, ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and hear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT.’
He ceased to speak. He stood erect in terrible majesty chained, and without a weapon; calm, unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked upon the qualing guards, whose weapons were lowered or dropped to the ground; whose knees smote together, and who, shrinking into a corner, or crouching at his feet, begged his pardon, and remained quiet till a change of guards.
Parley the observed, ‘I have tried to conceive of kings, of royal courts, of thrones and crowns; and of emperors assembled to decide the fate of kingdoms; but dignity and majesty have I seen but once, as it stood in chains, at midnight, in a dungeon in an obscure village of Missouri.”
We All Will Have to Endure Persecution
I think there are parallels between Joseph Smith’s experience and Alma and Amulek’s. It’s been so cool to make those connections and makes me appreciate and understand both more fully. I want to add some cross references in now. Mosiah 17:13. This is the story of Abinadi. Verses 10-20 might be better to read. Abinadi was also imprisoned while on his mission. He was also beaten up. Cross reference James 5:10-11. I actually already had it marked. I’ll copy it in.
“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of sufferign affliction, and of patience.
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.”
One more cross reference, Joseph Smith history 1:22.
“I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase, and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create bitter perseuction; and this was common aong all the sects–united to persecute me.”
I think these verses teach us of the responsibility we have to follow in Christ’s restored church. We will all, inevitably have to suffer for our beliefs at some point in our life. More likely, it will be multiple times and for various amounts of time. We all know the story of Abinadi, we know the story of Joseph Smith; Did they forsake when the oven got hot? Nope. They stayed true to the end, whatever end that was. They lived for the gospel and they died for it. I love what it says in James. We count them happy which endure. When we endure or continue to live the gospel despite adverse circumstances, we receive blessings and peace of mind. All of which bring happiness. We know Joseph’s life, he was a happy guy. Even though he had a lot to do all the time. He was happy at work and at home. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings happiness. We are meant to be happy. Heavenly Father gave us this beautiful world to make us happy. To draw us closer to him. I wish we had more scriptures of prophets such as Abinadi, Alma, and Amulek and what they were like at home. I think they would have been happy. Playing with their kids, loving their wives, and being a good husband. We count them happy which endure.
The Prison Walls Came Tumbling Down
The fear of the judges and priests was so great that they fell to the earth. The earth began to shake and crumble. The judges and priests did not obtain the outer door of the prison before being crushed. In fact, Alma and Amulek were the only ones that walked out of the prison alive.
Imagine for Yourself
People came running by multitudes to see what had happened. They see a collapsed prison and Alma and Amulek walking away from it. The fear of the people is so great they flee from the missionaries’ presence. I want you to imagine what this could have been like. Close your eyes and have someone read you this so that you can imagine with greater clarity. You are a citizen of Ammonihah. A few days or weeks ago you heard of two men being thrown in prison for preaching the destruction of the city and wickedness of the people. You live on the other side of the city, away from where the men were teaching. Nevertheless, it created quite a stir among the people. As you go about your business in town, it seems like that is all people talk about. You heard these men tried to overthrow the government and incite rebellion by claiming the judges and priests of the city were wicked. And when other citizens, also of their faith, tried to defend these men, a riot broke out. Many rebels were driven out of the city and the others were burned alive. You are surprised. Never did you think something like this could happen. As you continue to chat with a vegetable stand owner about the recent events, the ground rumbles and you hear in the distance a great noise. You turn towards the noise, along with everyone else around you. You run over towards it to see what happened. As you approach, you can see a great dust cloud and a fallen structure amid a gritty scene. Two men are seen walking away from what used to be the prison. You struggle to connect how these men who had been blaspheming the city only days ago could make a prison come down. They are naked, dirty, and scruffy looking. As you attempt to piece together the situation, a wave of fear sweeps over the people and they flee. That same wave sweeps over you as you realize this may not be the end of the destruction these men have planned for the city. You flee back home.
Interesting little exercise right? Can you see that by shifting your point of view in regards to history, good things can seem bad? Luckily, we know this scriptural account is true. And from the right point of view.
Scriptural Accounts of Prisons Falling
There are many scriptural accounts of prisons breaking or prisoners being set free. Look at Acts 12. Peter is put in prison and an angel fetches him in the middle of the night to let him escape. Two cools things that happen in this story are the shackles automatically fall from his wrists and the gate to the jail opens of its own accord as he is leaving. Pretty cool huh?
Another cool one is Acts 16. Paul and Silas are put in prison but an earthquake shakes the prison until all the doors are open and everyone’s bands are loosed.
Also Helaman chapter 5. Nephi and Lehi are put into prison. The same ones that Ammon and his brethren were put in when they came to the people of Limhi (interesting thought: it was the same prison that King Noah used when he put Abinadi in.) We all know this story. That prison came down as well.
I’m going to keep going. The three Nephites. After they were translated, they were later thrown into prison and it says that prisons could not hold them because they were rent in twain. That is 3 Nephi 28.
4th Nephi talks about how the disciples of Christ that tarried with the members, were tossed into prison but by the word and power of God, those prisons fell as well, being rent in twain. That’s five examples, and I’m sure there are more stories of prisons being unable to hold righteous people. Turns out this type of disturbance is more numerous than I thought in the scriptures.
That’s it for today’s post. Next installment will include what happens to Alma and Amulek after they leave Ammonihah. Be sure to tune in and subscribe to my blog updates!