Firm in the Faith of Christ - Alma 43-44 (Lesson 31 - Part 1)

Read Alma 43
Read Alma 44

We switch gears a little and the record starts to tell us about the wars and contentions among the Nephites and Lamanites. We met for the first time Captain Moroni at age 25. A very patriotic and religious man who was true to all his convictions. He had compassion but was willing to carry out the "work of death" to preserve his people, their freedoms, and their religion.

A Lamanite by the name of Zarahemnah masses an army to overtake the Nephites and enslave them. He strategy is to use Nephite dissenters such as the Amelekites, Zoramites, and the descendants of King Noah's priests as the captains of his armies. This was because the Nephite dissenters were more blood thirsty when it came to killing their former brothers.

The purposes for the Lamanites to fight the Nephites

8 For behold, his designs were to stir up the Lamanites to anger against the Nephites; this he did that he might usurp great power over them, and also that he might gain power over the Nephites by bringing them into bondage.

The purposes for the Nephites to fight the Lamanites
9 And now the design of the Nephites was to support their lands, and their houses, and their wives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies; and also that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires.
10 For they knew that if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites, that whosoever should worship God in spirit and in truth, the true and the living God, the Lamanites would destroy.
11 Yea, and they also knew the extreme hatred of the Lamanites towards their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, who were called the people of Ammon—and they would not take up arms, yea, they had entered into a covenant and they would not break it—therefore, if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites they would be destroyed.

Things of note
  • Lamanites heavily outnumbered the Nephites
  • Nephites wore armor
  • Lamanites were naked except for a loin cloth
  • Nephites will rely on the Lord and his prophet, Alma for strength and guidance
  • Lamanites rely on their own strength and hatred and bloodlust

Below is a map that shows the armies' movements with notes following

click to view a larger image in another window

Lamanite movements marked in red numerals.
Nephite movements marked in blue numerals.

1. Start gathering in the Land of Jershon
2. Lamanites move to Antionum, the land of the Zoramites, to finish gathering with the added strength of the dissenters. Lamanites do not want to face the Nephite army that has gathered in the southern borders of Jershon
3. Lamanites try to hide their tactics and move through the wilderness, marching toward Manti as it is practically defenseless to attack.

1. Gather in the southern parts of the Land of Jershon to battle with the Lamanites. When Lamanites flee, Moroni sends messengers to Alma for prophetic guidance and sends spies into the wilderness.
2. Travels to Manti and hides his armies on the opposite side (the west side) of the Sidon River.

The armies converge at the River Sidon. Moroni sends a portion of his army out as the Lamanites are in the middle of the River. The portion is led by Lehi. The battles ensues, the Lamanites fear the Nephites and their armor. The Lamanites fight fiercely at one point, however, Moroni's and Lehi's troops end up encircling the Lamanites.

Moroni calls for a halt to the bloodshed and offers Zarahemnah a way to leave peaceably:
53 Therefore when Zerahemnah saw the men of Lehi on the east of the river Sidon, and the armies of Moroni on the west of the river Sidon, that they were encircled about by the Nephites, they were struck with terror.
54 Now Moroni, when he saw their terror, commanded his men that they should stop shedding their blood.

This takes us to Alma 44.
The terms that Captain Moroni offer for peace require that the Lamanites lay down their weapons at the feet of Moroni and take an oath of peace failure to take the oath comes with a warning of continued fighting:
5 And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country; yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us—
6 Yea, and this is not all; I command you by all the desires which ye have for life, that ye deliver up your weapons of war unto us, and we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us.
7 And now, if ye do not this, behold, ye are in our hands, and I will command my men that they shall fall upon you, and inflict the wounds of death in your bodies, that ye may become extinct; and then we will see who shall have power over this people; yea, we will see who shall be brought into bondage.

Moroni was clearly a man of spiritual and physical strength.

Zarahemah's response was to offer his weapons to Moroni but he refused to take the oath as he wasn't willing to keep the oath.

Moroni responds by returning the weapons to Zarahemnah and says, "Behold, we will end the conflict." Moroni wasn't afraid to get the job done. He was fighting for peace and freedom and for his family and religion. If he wasn't able to get them to take the oath then we was going to wipe them out so they wouldn't return.

Zarahemnah is angry and takes his sword back and tries to slay Moroni but another Nephite stops the attack, breaking Zarahemnah's sword and cutting off the scalp of Zarahemnah. Zarahemnah retreats back into the safety of his own troops and some of the Lamanites take the oath while their leaders scalp is waved in front of them on the tip of a sword.

Those who took the oath are free to leave and fighting continues until the Lamanites become so defeated that Zarahemnah and the remaining Lamanites take up the oath and drop their weapons as well.

The dead on both sides were too numnerous to count or bury and were dumped into the River Sidon and washed out to the sea.

Why do you think their are so many accounts of war in the Book of Mormon?

The Great Plan of Happiness - Alma 42 (Lesson 30 - Part 2)

Read Alma 42

I am behind already in my lesson posts. Because of this my current posting here will not be as in depth as I had hoped. This chapter in Alma is full of so many important references and insights and principles of the Plan of Happiness. It was for this reason that I didn't hastily post last week. I wanted to give the chapter a nice going over - now that I am starting to get too far behind I must move on and perhaps touch on this subject some more in the future.

In chapter 42 we find Alma continuing his lessons and counsel with Corianton. He will at the end of this discussion call Corianton to missionary work like Shiblon. It is important to note that in this chapter as well as chapters 40 and 41 Alma is able to use the power of discernment to see what Corianton needed to be taught.

Alma 40:1

1 Now my son, here is somewhat more I would say unto thee; for I perceive that thy mind is worried concerning the resurrection of the dead.

Alma 41:1
1 And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the restoration of which has been spoken; for behold, some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing. And I perceive that thy mind has been worried also concerning this thing. But behold, I will explain it unto thee.

Alma 42:1
1 And now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand—which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner; for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery.

Corianton was at a crossroads - he had already committed a grave sin and he was at the crossroads where he needed to decide if he was going to fully repent or try to justify his actions. Alma taught Corianton about the resurrection, judgement, accountability, and the purpose for this life, the meaning of the atonement, and the eternal nature of the consequences of our actions.

A lot of what is taught in this chapter follows a logical flow and is very similar to Lehi's teachings to Jacob before his death in 2 Nephi 2

Alma points out that the Fall of Adam was part of the plan from the foundation of the world. That because of the Fall we are all carnal and we have been given this life as a time set apart for us to learn and make mistakes and then repent.

We have agency and we are now mortal and spiritually separated from our Father, in other words spiritual and physical death.
7 And now, ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow after their own will.

Now comes the part that is difficult for Corainton - he thinks it is unjust to be punished eternally for mistakes made in this life. Alma begins to teach about justice and mercy. Two eternal forces that are completely at odds with each other. How can God remain perfect by being just and at the same time show compassion by being merciful?

13 Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.

Notice in the above referenced verse that justice must be brought about and the only thing that can stop it is repentance. How is that? How does repentance bring about mercy and fulfill justice's requirements?
15 And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.

In a nutshell Alma simply states that the plan of mercy comes about because of the atonement. That is why it is called the plan of redemption - to redeem something is to pay for it for a price. We are bought through his sacrifice that was infinite and eternal. So Christ paid the price for sin and justice is satisfied if we repent. Repentance is the price we pay to Christ for his redeeming sacrifice. That is the repayment plan if you will.

To answer Corianton's question further about eternal damnation Alma explains that we wouldn't need repentance if there was no punishment. However there is a punishment and the only reason for a punishment is if there are laws. Since there are laws there must be justice. Justice is eternal as the reward for those that partake in the plan of happiness/mercy/redemption is Eternal Life. The converse must be true as well that the reward for not choosing the plan is Eternal Damnation.
26 And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery.

Alma pleads with his son to take this lesson and make a change and to realize that he can't deny justice:
30 O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.

Please feel free to post comments and ask questions.

The Great Plan of Happiness - Alma 40-41 (Lesson 30 - Part 1)

Read Alma 40
Read Alma 41

In Alma 40 we find Alma continuing his discussion and counsel with Corianton. Alma sees that Corianton is unsure about the resurrection of the dead. This is important as Alma is trying to teach Corianton to be chaste and to not be boastful and to repent. Corianton needs to get a clear understanding of the Plan of Salvation. So Alma tells Corianton that when we die we will remain in either Spirit Paradise or Spirit Prison.

12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.
14 Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.

Alma explains that the Resurrection is a literal reunion of body and soul to a perfect state. Corianton as well as many people in our time, did not fully grasp this principle.
23 The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.

Alma alludes to the fact that judgement follows the resurrection when he states:
25 And then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God.
26 But behold, an awful death cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup.

This is a basic principle that we sometimes take the knowledge of for granted. There are many who doubt or lack understanding of this principle - even Alma's son did.

In the following chapter Alma continues to expound to Corianton the need for the Atonement.

Alma first points out the fact that God is Just. Because He is just we must be judged. Do we fully uinderstand for what we are judged? If it is solely our actions then we are all in the gall of bitterness because we make mistakes and commint sin on a daily basis. Truly we are judged for our DESIRES and actions. This doesn't mean that we say 'well I want to be good'. Judgement will be upon true and sincere desires and how we acted upon those desires. Did we repent? Did we try? Or are we just lying to ourselves and pretending to care? If we desire to do good then many of our works will be for good. If we desire to be sinful and evil then many of our actions will be evil. Judgement looks at the actions and the desires and weighed accordingly.
3 And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.
4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—
5 The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.
6 And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.
7 These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil.

The next verse is important, simple, and to the point. Basically what God says is what is - you can't changed it, and that their is the same opportunity for all mankind to return to God via the plan.
8 Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved.

Alma again tells his son to stop committing sinL
9 And now behold, my son, do not risk one more offense against your God upon those points of doctrine, which ye have hitherto risked to commit sin.
10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.

Now if wickedness never was happiness then why are we all so drawn to it? What is there about it that makes us feel 'good'? What is happiness anyway? I can tell you that a search on wikipedia isn't going to provide much insight into the happiness that is referred to here by Alma.

In 2nd Nephi, Lehi tells us that without righteousness there would be no happiness. Tell me then why is happiness hinged completely upon righteousness as Alma and Lehi teach us? I am leaving this open for discussion.

Give Ear to My Words - Alma 38-39 (Lesson 29 Part 3)

Alma 38
Alma 39

Today's post will complete Lesson 29.

In Chapter 38 Alma is teaching and testifying to his son, Shiblon. Much of what is written here repeats what Alma said to Helaman. He tells Shiblon:

1 My son, give ear to my words, for I say unto you, even as I said unto Helaman, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence.

Alma also recounts his own conversion story and testifies of the truthfulness of Christ's Atonement much like he did when speaking with Helaman.

Alma finds great joy in Shiblon's desire for righteousness and spreading the gospel, even to the point of being put into bonds and beings stoned. Alms points out that the it is the Lord that has delivered him.

Alma tells Shiblon to continue his missionary work and give him some advice:

10 And now, as ye have begun to teach the word even so I would that ye should continue to teach; and I would that ye would be diligent and temperate in all things.
11 See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength.
12 Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness.
13 Do not pray as the Zoramites do, for ye have seen that they pray to be heard of men, and to be praised for their wisdom.
14 Do not say: O God, I thank thee that we are better than our brethren; but rather say: O Lord, forgive my unworthiness, and remember my brethren in mercy—yea, acknowledge your unworthiness before God at all times.
15 And may the Lord bless your soul, and receive you at the last day into his kingdom, to sit down in peace. Now go, my son, and teach the word unto this people. Be sober. My son, farewell.

Some Do's: be diligent, temperate, bold, bridle passions (note that passions are bridled like a horse, thus like a horse can be controlled so can passions), be filled with love, pray for forgiveness, pray on behalf of others.

Some Don'ts: don't have pride, boast, be overbearing, be idle, pray like Zoramites (ie pray or do good things to be noticed by men- don't be a hypocrite).

In Chapter 39 Alma begins to speak (read counsel) with his son, Coriantumr. This discussion is going to go differently than the first 2 sons. Primarily because Coraintumr has committed fornication with a harlot, Isabel, and so forsook the ministry among the Zoramites. Oh no.

1 And now, my son, I have somewhat more to say unto thee than what I said unto thy brother; for behold, have ye not observed the steadiness of thy brother, his faithfulness, and his diligence in keeping the commandments of God? Behold, has he not set a good example for thee?
2 For thou didst not give so much heed unto my words as did thy brother, among the people of the Zoramites. Now this is what I have against thee; thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom.
3 And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel.
4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted.
5 Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?

Alma is plain here telling his son that he has been taught better and shown better, there is no excuse for the behavior. He is also plain in stating that sexual sins are of the worst kind and that murder and denying the Holy Ghost are the only sins that are worse. How can we as parents handle this sort of situation? Even though Alma was diligent and righteous and so were Shiblon's older brothers, Shiblon still fell. This is to be expected, though like Alma it grieves us. What can we as parents learn from Alma's example?

So far we have a few things. Confront your child and speak plainly, don't mince your words or excuse their actions. Come out and say "Look we taught you better, you have had good examples in your life. This hurts us deeply to see you do this thing. It is wrong what you did in the eyes of the Lord..."

I am going to bullet point how Alma approaches the rest of the conversation and then we can see some good teaching points

  • It is for your own good that we talk about this even if it hurts

  • God knows everything we do and we cannot hide from it

  • Our sins testify against us before God

  • Repent and forsake your sins

  • Counsel with others for help

  • The Lord has commanded me (your parent) to to tell you to do good

  • Use all your might, mind and strength to do good and to reconcile the harm you have caused others

  • Don't seek after vanities of the world (ie popularity, looking cool to your friends, etc)

Alma will continue talking to Coriantumr in the next few chapters and that will be discussed in the next lesson. We can all learn from Alma how to testify. teach, and counsel with our children.

Give Ear to My Words - Alma 37 (Lesson 29 Part 2)

Alma 37

I didn't mention it in my last post so I will here. Please read the chapter being discussed either before hand or while you are reading this post; it will help immensely in understanding it. You can use your own scriptures or simply click the link at the beginning of the post...on to the discussion of Alma 37.

In this chapter Alma continues to teach Helaman repeating a few times earlier teachings for emphasis - primarily to obey the commandments and you will prosper in the land. This chapter also has Alma passing down a few very sacred duties to his son.

In the first few verses we read that Alma is entrusting Helaman with the care of the plates that have been handed down since Lehi and Nephi. Alma takes the time to explain that by such little things can great things be accomplished. Hindsight is 20/20 - we know how important the plates are now but it is hard to say how trivial they may have seemed to people in Alma's time. Alma certainly saw contemporary importance to his people as he points out that the words on the plates had been used to teach his own people and that they were used when the sons of Mosiah preached to the Lamanites bringing many converts.

6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
7 And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.
8 And now, it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls.
9 Yea, I say unto you, were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on these plates, Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer.
10 And who knoweth but what they will be the means of bringing many thousands of them, yea, and also many thousands of our stiffnecked brethren, the Nephites, who are now hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities, to the knowledge of their Redeemer?

After entrusting Helaman with the plates, Alma again reminds Helaman to obey the Lord adding that if he doesn't he will be 'cut off from his presence'. Alma also states again that the purpose of keeping the plates is a wise purpose to the Lord and reiterates how the plates have already been useful in converting Lamanites. He reminds Helaman that the Lord has promised to preserve the plates for future generations and that the Lord has promised to take care of those that follow his counsel. Alma also gives Helaman a warning that this important calling can be taken from him if he falls into iniquity and that Satan does not preserve those that follow him:
14 And now remember, my son, that God has entrusted you with these things, which are sacred, which he has kept sacred, and also which he will keep and preserve for a wise purpose in him, that he may show forth his power unto future generations.
15 And now behold, I tell you by the spirit of prophecy, that if ye transgress the commandments of God, behold, these things which are sacred shall be taken away from you by the power of God, and ye shall be delivered up unto Satan, that he may sift you as chaff before the wind.
16 But if ye keep the commandments of God, and do with these things which are sacred according to that which the Lord doth command you, (for you must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever ye must do with them) behold, no power of earth or hell can take them from you, for God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words.
17 For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers.
18 For he promised unto them that he would preserve these things for a wise purpose in him, that he might show forth his power unto future generations.

Alma exhorts and commands Helaman to be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord. I have lost count of how many times he has done this in the last 2 chapters. This is Alma's good son if you will. The next 2 chapters Alma will be talking to his other sons. Why do you suppose Alma is repeating this so often to a son that is already obedient? Why do our modern prophets repeat the same lessons to us time after time?

Helaman is also entrusted with the 24 Plates and the Urim and Thummim, calling them interpreters. The 24 plates are the history of the Jaredites that were brought to the Americas during the Tower of Babel fiasco. These plates are a dark contrast to what has been written in the Plates of Nephi. These are a people that fell into secret works and combinations. Helaman is told to preach only holiness to the people and keep the dark secrets from the people. Alma demonstrates to Helaman that this promised land is also a cursed land. It is important for us to remember that every blessing is a 2 sided coin - rather it always has a cursing to go with it. Secret combinations will later cause the downfall of the Nephites as well and we are heavily warned of them in the latter parts of the Book of Mormon. We are told that they will be abundant in the Last Days.
Note that Alma tells Helaman 3 times to keep the secret oaths safe and to teach the people to have "everlasting hatred" to sin:
27 And now, my son, I command you that ye retain all their oaths, and their covenants, and their agreements in their secret abominations; yea, and all their signs and their wonders ye shall keep from this people, that they know them not, lest peradventure they should fall into darkness also and be destroyed.
29 Therefore ye shall keep these secret plans of their oaths and their covenants from this people, and only their wickedness and their murders and their abominations shall ye make known unto them; and ye shall teach them to abhor such wickedness and abominations and murders; and ye shall also teach them that these people were destroyed on account of their wickedness and abominations and their murders.
32 And now, my son, remember the words which I have spoken unto you; trust not those secret plans unto this people, but teach them an everlasting hatred against sin and iniquity.

Helaman is told a few times that the land is curse to any that work in darkness:
28 For behold, there is a curse upon all this land, that destruction shall come upon all those workers of darkness, according to the power of God, when they are fully ripe; therefore I desire that this people might not be destroyed.
31 Yea, and cursed be the land forever and ever unto those workers of darkness and secret combinations, even unto destruction, except they repent before they are fully ripe.

Helaman is commanded to preach faith, repentance, meekness, and to rely on their faith in Christ to withstand temptations, to "never be weary of good works", and again counsels Helaman to learn wisdom in his youth (must be kind of important).

Helaman is given charge of the Liahona, the name given to the compass that was given to Lehi. This Liahone worked by faith and diligence to keeping commandments. Alma understands this to be an object lesson of spiritual matters and teaches that like following a compass is easy but because of the easiness we may get slothful. He compares it to the Israelites that wouldn't 'look and live' when attacked by the serpents:
44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.
45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
46 O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.
47 And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell.

Looking to God requires that we have faith and hope or in others words we look and see the path and hold onto the iron rod so we can live or reach the tree of life.
The path is the way (faith), the iron rod is the truth(hope), and the tree is the love of God or charity, demonstrated by the ultimate sacrifice through Christs Atonement.
John 14:6
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Alma 38:9
And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.

Give Ear to My Words - Alma 36 (Lesson 29 Part 1)

In Alma 36, Alma is speaking to Helaman giving fatherly advice to his son. I want to disect and discuss. This is frequently the method that I use in teaching and studying the scriptures.

1 My son, give ear to my words; for I swear unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.
2 I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.
3 And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.

First Alma, in verse 1, invites his son to listen: Give ear to my words. Alma then promises Helaman that if he keeps the commandments he will prosper in the land.

In verse 2 we are reminded that gratitude is a great way to remain humble. And a great way to remember the Lord and his works is to look at the past. Yet another good reason to read the scriptures: remembrance -> gratitude -> humility -> prayer -> blessings ->rinse and repeat.

The third verse Alma is again beseeching Helaman to listen to him; after all he is young and you can save yourself a lot of problems if you listen when you are younger. Older persons can learn to live the gospel just fine, but a lot of pain and anguish can be avoided if you learn in your youth.

Alma learned the hard way and he recounts the visit he and the sons of Mosiah had with an angel while they worked hard at destroying the Church. The angel spoke with a thunderous voice so much so the earth shook and they fell to the ground. They are told to stop their work against the Church of God and Alma recounts this:

12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.

Alma describes vividly the pain he was experiencing. So much so that he wished he never existed becoming "extinct both soul and body". Clearly Alma wants his son, Helaman, to avoid any degree of pain. He is trying to get a message across and he continues to tell of his experience from that point.

Alma remembers during this horrifying experience the teachings of his own father about Christ and his atoning sacrifice that was to take place, making repentance a possibility. He then cries out to Christ pleading for mercy. This is what the plan of salvation is all about. Mercy vs Justice. You decide. See 2 Nephi 2:27 Alma could have stayed in his pain and anguish. He could have let Satan bring him down and tell him that the Atonement couldn't help him now. He could have quit and felt unworthy of the Lord's help. But he didn't - he cried out for help. And help came.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

What a marvelous experience this must have been - such a contrast to what he had been experiencing! He then sees God upon his throne surrounded by concoures of angels. Alma LONGS to be there. Compare that to his previous desire to cease to exist before having to appear before God and be judged! The effects of repentance can be immediate. Alma then comes to and rises up and exclaims that he has been born of God.

Alma labors all his days to save his people and to teach the word of God. The Lord supports him in all his afflctions:
27 And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me.

Remember Alma is still teaching Helaman. He is telling him and us that bad things happen to good people, but if you trust in the Lord he will deliver you. He adds to his testimony the testimony of their fathers. Reminding us again to: Read the Scriptures -> Hope -> Faith / Trust in the Lord -> Blessings ->Rinse and Repeat.

Alma continues talking to Helaman in Chapter 37 and that will be discussed shortly. In this short lesson Alma has taught us the following:

  1. Learn the gospel - it will keep you safe, bring you to remembrance of God, bring hope and faith
  2. Repent - Take advantage of the Atonement, don't let the despair prevent you from calling out for Christ's help
  3. Teach our own children
  4. Teach those around us of the plan of salvation - it is a great way to obtain repentance.
  5. Trust in the Lord - he will deliver you.

I look forward to any questions and comments.


I decided to expand my blogging horizons. To that effect I started my second blog. This blog will focus on teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I will focus (at least in the beginning) on publishing blogs that relate to the current lesson in the Gospel Doctrine class that I teach in the Acacia Ward.