Continuing on. Zeezrom also made it out to Sidom but lay sick with a burning fever. It says it was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness. He thought Alma and Amulek were no more. That they had been slain because of his iniquity. This and many other sins did harrow up in his mind and having no deliverance, he began to be scorched with a burning heat.
The Connection Between Physical Health and Spiritual Health
“Harrowing” is to be very distressed according to the Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus. I’d like to copy in a quote from the old Book of Mormon institute manual.
“Discussing the relationship between peace of mind and physical well-being, Elder Boyd K. Packer said,
‘I recently asked a doctor of family medicine how much of his time was devoted purely to correcting physical disorders. He has a large practice, and after thoughtfully considering, he answer, not more than 20 percent. The rest of the time I seem to be working on problems that very much affect the physical well being of my patient but do not originate in the body. These physical disorders, the doctor concluded, are merely symptoms of some other kind of trouble.’
There is another part of us, not so tangible, but quite as real as our physical body. This intangible part of us is described as mind, emotion, intellect, temperament, and many other things. Very seldom is it described as spiritual.
But there is a spirit in man; to ignore it is to ignore reality. There are spiritual disorders, too, and spiritual diseases that can cause intense suffering.
The body and the spirit of man are bound together. Often, very often, when there are disorders, it is very difficult to tell which is which.”
Interesting quote right? As I was copying this in, what came to mind was the Word of Wisdom. Not only is it meant to keep us physically safe, I mean healthy, but it also adds to our spiritual health as well. My bishop once told me that exercising would help me fight temptation. And so I began to run in the morning. He was so right! I think if you are physically healthy, there is a good chance you are mentally healthy. That means it is easier to muster up the strength to resist temptation.
One of my companions told me something interesting the other day about this. He was saying that in Africa there are a people who understand this connection between body and spirit in relation to health. They believe, he said, that if you aren’t square with God, no medicine will help you. If you want to get better, you have to be on good terms with God (spiritually fit) and then receive medical care. I don’t know which tribe that is but it would be cool to find out.
Zeezrom hears that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, his heart took courage and he sent for them immediately. Imagine what it would have been like to be Zeezrom at this time. Just feeling miserable. Blaming himself so much that he becomes sick with a massive fever. Then, he hears Alma and Amulek made it out Ok! What joy! I would be praising God for having kept them safe despite all the terrible things I attempted to inflict on them. I’d want to meet up with them. I’d want to see them with my own eyes and apologize and thank them.
The Healing of Zeezrom
When Alma and Amulek receive the message, they go immediately. They find him very sick and low in spirit. Zeezrom stretches forth his hand and asks them to heal him. What a humbling experience. A man who had done much wrong in the sight of God, but who changed once Alma and Amulek began preaching, but whose joy of receiving the gospel was cut short after him and many other believers were cast out of the city. Thinking that was the end thereof, that complete forgiveness was unattainable, becomes sick, probably on the way to dying. But God reaches out to him when Alma and Amulek return. He grasps onto the one chance he has and begs the missionaries to help him. Alma goes to him and says, “Believest thou in the power of Christ unto Salvation?” Zeezrom answer in the affirmative. Alma tells him that if he believes in the redemption, he can be healed. Again, Zeezrom answers in the affirmative. Alma then prays to the Lord to have mercy on Zeezrom and heal him according to his faith. Once that is said, Zeezrom LEAPS up from his bed and begins to walk. This was done all to the great astonishment of the people. News of this went all throughout the land of Sidom.
I think this was a very personal experience for Alma. Maybe that is why it is included in the Book of Mormon. Not many years ago, there was another man going around attempting to cause confusion and delay among the church members. He also had a message come to him, albeit from Heaven, and tell him concerning the errors of his ways. He also felt sick and was comatose for a few days, being racked with all the torment of a damned soul. But like Zeezrom, he latched onto the thought of Christ coming and redeeming people from their sins. It was because of that he was healed and forgiven. I think this entire experience affected Alma personally because it reminded him of his own experience as a young man.
Peter and John were at the temple. There was a man sitting near the gates asking alms of the people going in. Peter and John see him and go over to him. The man, lame since birth, asks for money. What Peter says next is beautiful, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
“Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God.”
I wonder if it was similar to what happened with Zeezrom. I think so.
The Church is Established in Sidom
Alma baptizes Zeezrom and establishes a church in Sidom. He consecrates teachers and priests to baptize unto the Lord any who were desirous. There were many and they flocked in from all the region round about Sidom and were baptized. Wow! What a magnificent event. It says that people flocked in from all parts of Sidom to be baptized. I wish I knew where this was in relation to the land of Melek (where Ammonihah is located). That’s the other thing. The members LEFT the land of Melek. They went to a different land completely. Still west of the river Sidon though. It seems then that they all could have traveled far. Maybe not, Ammonihah could have been near the border of the land of Melek and Sidom.
I wish we had more record of cities or the people of Sidom. All we get is that is where the Ammonihahites went after being driven out of their city and that Alma and Amulek established a church there with many many people being baptized.
The People of Ammonihah Were Past Feeling
Meanwhile…back in Ammonihah.
The people remained hard-hearted and stiff-necked. They didn’t repent of their sins and ascribed all the power of Alma and Amulek to the devil. They were of the profession of Nehor and did not believe in the repentance of sins. This must have been hard on Alma and Amulek. They gave it everything they had and the people are still being stubborn. I think I may understand, at least in part, something of which they felt. As a missionary, when people tell you no, or to go away, you feel sad because you know what they are throwing away. You know how much it has blessed your life and your only desire is to bring that to someone else.
Why did the people say that Alma and Amulek worked by the power of the devil? My personal thought is that is all they knew. It was the only logical niche that the citizens could place Alma and Amulek in. They were being hard-hearted, unrepentant, and used to being influenced by Satan. Therefore, they were open to his suggestions. Maybe the priests of Nehor had done miracles before. Perhaps the inhabitants of Ammonihah attributed miracle working to Nehorism. What I’m trying to say is that they were so used to Satan that the fact that Alma and Amulek could have been sent by God or done wonders in his name did not even cross their mind. They were past feeling as it were. Because of that, they were labeled as men possessed by devils. That is a dangerous point to be at. When you begin labeling good as bad and bad as good and you think that men of God–leaders in the church–have gone astray, into dark and forbidden paths. My friend, you are in the wrong boat. You aren’t going to Heaven, the land of the free the home of the brave. You are going to Hell, the land of the enslaved and home of the cowards.
The fact that they didn’t believe in repentance of sins shows just how far past feeling they were. They were of the opinion that whatever a man or woman did, was of no consequence and that anything they do is fine. I don’t understand how that can be considered a thought. Everyday life proves that is wrong. I hit my sister, mom gets mad. I work, I get money, I put fire to the wood, it burns. In essence, they are denying the spiritual side of all the physical laws they agree with. This reminds me of something a senior couple missionary said in a talk a few weeks ago. He talked about a civil law and a spiritual law. He has noticed throughout his mission here in Malaysia, that people are very good at wearing their helmet when riding a moped. Almost without fail, people have a helmet on. Why? It is because they know that if they get caught, the consequences are severe or if there is an accident, the results could be lethal. He talked about one of his favorite stories in the Old Testament. it is the Lord supporting Israel with manna. he gave them two rules. The first, only take enough for yourself and your family. If you take more, it will spoil. Second, on Friday, take enough for Saturday (the Sabbath) because manna ain’t gonna be there on the Sabbath. Within the first week, people broke both these rules. They would take more than was needed, and it would spoil. But then they get used to taking enough that when the Sabbath was near, they expected food to come on the Sabbath. Therefore they only took enough for Friday. The result was the family went hungry. He pointed out that those two commandments were easily kept yet people broke them. He asked why it was so hard to keep the spiritual law when we know, just like the children of Israel knew, it was going to be ok? That the Lord would provide the manna.
Then he went back to the moped example. How did Malaysians remember to put their helmet on? Do they hang it on their moped so they know every day to put it on? He said, every week we have a reminder to put the spiritual helmet on. The sacrament. It reminds us to remember Him every day. Do people put their helmet next to their bed? Why not put the scriptures next to your bed as well? Perhaps a loved one says don’t forget your helmet, as they out the door. Why can’t they have the same person help them with remembering to pray or to read the scriptures? It was a really fantastic talk.
Yesterday, my companion shared with me a part of an ensign article from March 2015. It is called, “Stand as Witnesses of God.” By Dallin H. Oaks. In it, he talks about the beliefs of Korihor, an anti-Christ, and what they mean. I know we aren’t to Korihor yet in this commentary but this is good. In the article, he quotes two observations, “When it comes to moral issues there are no universally objective right or wrong answers, no inappropriate or appropriate judgments, and no reasonable or rational ways to which to make moral distinctions that apply in every time, in every place, and to every person.” That was in relation to Korihor’s philosophy and it is the sam was Nehor’s. Later on, he quotes from the 1973 human manifesto and it’s rejection of, “Traditional moral codes” and “traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience.” It then says, “We can discover no divine purpose…for the human species…humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us, we must save ourselves.”
It shocks me that someone can even think like that. Everything declares there is a God. Evidence of God is all around us. How can you not see it? As I said earlier, how can you deny the spiritual side of all the physical truths you agree with?
Amulek Lost Everything
Amulek gave up all his gold, silver, precious things that were in Ammonihah for God and his word. He was rejected by people who were once his friends, also by his kindred and his father. How difficult! I think I would get over the money and precious things but to be rejected by your kindred and your own father! That would be so rough! Those are people you have grown up with and you love. And then to have them turn against you and hate you for trying to follow God. That’s hard.
I’ve had trouble with that teaching people here. On my mission, people would know the church is true. They were getting answers to their prayers and feeling the spirit. But they didn’t have the courage to leave their church because their family and friends back in their hometown might tease them or shun them or fight with them. It’s a hard decision to make but should you make it, the blessings come.
Skip forward two verses. I think Amulek was feeling down about having witnessed everything he did. It says that Alma took Amulek back to Zarahemla with him and ministered to him in his afflictions and strengthened him in the Lord. Was Amulek going through a lot quickly? Yeah! Review his life over these past few chapters. Goes from being a successful businessman with wealth to a recent convert missionary who is then mocked, made fun of, tied up, forced to watch friends and acquaintances be burned alive, thrown in jail, walked out of jail while it’s collapsing around them, and cast out of his hometown. It’s been rough. I think it was a good thing that Alma took him back to Zarahemla with him and did this.
There are some good scriptures I have to go along with this. Luke 14:33. This is Jesus speaking. I’ll copy in the verse.
“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
I think it was Joseph Sith who said something like, “A religion that does not demand everything of you, has not power to exalt you.” C.S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity (at least I think it was that book) said something along the lines of, “I want you. Give me your whole being. I will take out the bad and make you into who I want you to be.” That was the thought pattern anyway. The requirement to give everything is doubtlessly daunting. As imperfect being it is difficult to give ourselves 100 percent to God all the time. But we should at least put forth the effort to do it. While acknowledging the great task of consecrating everything there is an ever greater promise and reward awaiting us should we follow through and persevere. The scripture I want to copy in is Matthew 19:29. it reads:
“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”
I really like this scripture. It brings me great comfort. Any and all losses will be made up to you. We know through Joseph Smith also that anyone who loses a child will have the chance to raise that child in the Millenium to full stature. The plan of salvation and Atonement of Jesus Christ make up for it all. How glorious is that? I think it’s superb.
The Church in Sidom Thrives
Backtracking back to verse 17. It gives a report on what the results of the church being established in Sidom were. They began to humble themselves, their pride was checked, they began to assemble and worship God at their sanctuary, they prayed and watched continually so that they might be delivered from Satan, death, and destruction. Pretty much the opposite of what happened in Ammonihah. I wonder if Alma and Amulek thanked them. I like to think so, “Thanks for actually listening to us, God bless you, faithful people.”
This ends the 10th year of the reign of the judges. You know what that means right? Review time!
- 1st Year: Nehor the Anti-Christ comes, He is judged to death.
- 2nd Year: Much persecution of the saints. Some leave the church.
- 3rd-5th year: No record of this time but generally peace abounds.
- 5th year: Amlici seeks to be king. Starts a civil war.
- 6th Year: Nephites recover from the civil war, turn to God, resulting in a strong church and many baptisms
- 7th Year: 3500 people baptized and become church members.
- 8th Year: Church members become more prideful than non-church members. Wickedness abounds
- 9th year: Alma gives up the judgment seat to Nephihah. Confines himself to preaching the gospel. Teaches in Zarahemla and Gideon
- 10th year: Alma preaches in Melek and Ammonihah. Picks up a missionary companion and they go through a lot. Church established in Sidom and begins to be strong.
Thanks for reading. I’m going to take a break from the reign of the judges for now. I’ve decided to do them in 10-year increments. Turn in next week for another installment of the Book of Mormon (not from Reign of the Judges timeline.)