“Enter into the Rest of the Lord”

Lasting conversion requires more than an inspiring Sunday School lesson once a week. We must seek personal spiritual experiences throughout the entire week and then build upon those experiences. Then those experiences in learning and living the gospel help us to find new insight that will make a difference in our lives.

Each and everyone of us desires to enter into the rest of the Lord. It is one of the purposes in our coming here to experience human life. As we press forward in our study with Alma 13–16 we find guidance, doctrine and assurance of the the gospel of Jesus Christ to strengthen us in the hope of finding peace and rest with the Lord.

History and Background

Alma 13 When Alma taught the rebellious people of Ammonihah, they contended with him, asking, “Who art thou?” and questioned his authority. They were in a state of apostasy, having embraced the order of Nehor priestcraft, with its goal of personal gain. In contrast to Nehor’s teachings, Alma taught them about “the high priesthood of the holy order of God,” with its goal to help others repent and enter into the rest of the Lord. He cited the example of Melchizedek, who preached faith and repentance and helped his people live in peace. Alma also taught about premortal existence and foreordination. He concluded his sermon by inviting the people to hearken to his words so they could prepare to enter into the rest of the Lord.

Alma 14 After hearing Alma and Amulek preach, some of the people in Ammonihah believed and repented. Most of the people were angry and sought to destroy Alma, Amulek, and those who believed in their words. Alma and Amulek were arrested, tried, and eventually imprisoned. The wicked people in Ammonihah cast out the men who believed and burned their wives, children, and scriptures while Alma and Amulek were forced to watch. After many days, the Lord delivered Alma and Amulek from prison and destroyed the wicked leaders of Ammonihah.

Alma 15–16 After the Lord delivered Alma and Amulek from prison, they went to preach to the people in the city of Sidom. There they found the believers who had been cast out of Ammonihah, including Zeezrom, who was suffering physically and spiritually because of his sins. When Zeezrom declared his faith in Jesus Christ, Alma healed him and baptized him. Alma established the Church in Sidom, and then he returned with Amulek to Zarahemla. In fulfillment of Alma’s prophecy, the Lamanites destroyed the city of Ammonihah in one day. In addition, the Lamanites captured some of the Nephites from surrounding lands. Choosing to follow Alma’s prophetic guidance, the Nephite armies recovered the prisoners and drove the Lamanites from the land. During a period of peace, Alma, Amulek, and many others strengthened the Church throughout the land of the Nephites.

Part 1: Alma 13:1–19 Priesthood ordinances help God’s children receive redemption through Jesus Christ.

Many people in Ammonihah were followers of Nehor, who taught false ideas about the role of priests. In a study of Alma 13 we learn about the true nature of the priesthood and find a deeper appreciation for all it offers.

And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.

And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.

And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.

4 And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.

Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—

And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—

7 This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things—

Now they were ordained after this manner—being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end—

Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.

10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;

11 Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.

12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

13 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.

14 Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.

15 And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed.

16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.

17 Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness;

18 But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.

19 Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention.

In the Church, an ordinance is a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood. Some ordinances are essential to our exaltation. These ordinances are called saving ordinances. They include baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing. With each of these ordinances, we enter into solemn covenants with the Lord.

Other ordinances, such as naming and blessing children, consecrating oil, and administering to the sick and afflicted, are also performed by priesthood authority. While they are not essential to our salvation, they are important for our comfort, guidance, and encouragement.

Ordinances and covenants help us remember who we are. They remind us of our duty to God. The Lord has provided them to help us come unto Him and receive eternal life. When we honor them, He strengthens us.

You may receive many opportunities to participate in priesthood ordinances. Whenever you have such an opportunity, do all you can to prepare yourself, whether you are performing the ordinance or receiving it. You can prepare by praying, fasting, counseling with priesthood leaders, and studying the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets. If you are a priesthood holder, you should always be spiritually prepared to perform an ordinance. Live a clean, worthy life, and strive to receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. (True to the Faith, 109–10.)

“How do the priesthood and its ordinances help you ‘look forward to God’s Son for redemption’?”

In what ways are Nehor’s teachings similar to the world’s views about power and leadership? Nehor preached what “he termed to be the word of God” while ironically “bearing down against the church” of God (Alma 1:3). First, he taught that priests should become popular and be supported by the people rather than have “to labor with their hands” (Alma 1:3). Second, he preached “that all mankind should be saved at the last day.” With no effort on their part, “all men should have eternal life” (Alma 1:4).

Nehor’s teachings became so popular that many Nephites practiced what he preached: “they began to support him and give him money” (Alma 1:5). His selfish appeal to a life of spiritual ease without the acceptance of personal responsibility for our choices remains a siren call in our world today. Such a call can lure God’s children from the covenant path of following Jesus Christ, with its attendant blessings of repentance, growth, service, and sacrifice.

Despite Nehor’s demise, his influence continued to permeate Nephite culture and politics because of the motives of those who accepted his false doctrines. Nehor’s followers demonstrated a love for “the vain things of the world,” including “costly apparel” and “riches and honor.” They told lies, committed whoredoms, and persecuted believers (see Alma 1:16, 32). (Nehor’s Narcissism: The Influence of a Popular Renegade https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2020/04/nehors-narcissism-the-influence-of-a-popular-renegade?lang=eng)

How are Alma’s teachings different? Alma 13:1–12 Alma 1:3–6

And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.

And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.

Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—

And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest—

Alma spoke of priests after the order of the Son of God, which is the Melchizedek Priesthood D&C 107:1–3. In other words, he spoke of men who held the office of high priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Alma referred to priests who were ordained “after the order of his Son” (Alma 13:1). The phrase after the order of his Son is a reference to the Melchizedek Priesthood. In modern revelation, the Lord stated that before the days of Melchizedek, the priesthood was called “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God. But out of respect or reverence to the name” of God, the name was changed to the Melchizedek Priesthood (D&C 107:3–4). (Book of Mormon Student Manual)

Who is Melchizedek? The high priest Melchizedek holds a place of great respect among Latter-day Saints. Alma noted the importance of Melchizedek when he said “none were greater” (Alma 13:19). Who was this great prophet? Melchizedek lived about 2000 B.C. and was the high priest and king of Salem (Jerusalem; see Genesis 14:18). He was the presiding priesthood authority in his day and was the one Abraham paid tithing to (see Genesis 14:20). When Melchizedek was a child, “he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire” (JST, Genesis 14:26). Although he is mentioned only briefly in the Bible, modern revelation confirms he was a man of great faith. Because of Melchizedek’s righteousness, his ministry foreshadowed the ministry of Jesus Christ and thus became the namesake of the higher priesthood (see Hebrews 7:15D&C 107:2–4). (Book of Mormon Student Manual)

When were Melchizedek Priesthood leaders first called and prepared? Alma 13:2–3

And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.

And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.

The phrases “from the foundation of the world” and “in the first place” in Alma 13:3 refer to the premortal existence. In the premortal spirit world, Melchizedek Priesthood leaders were foreordained—meaning God appointed them “to fulfill specific missions during their mortal lives” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 69; see also Alma 13:3, footnote a).

What about these men in the premortal life prepared them to be ordained as high priests in this life? “Their exceeding faith and good works.” Priesthood holders were called and prepared before the foundation of the world because of their faith and good works.

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 511).

President Wilford Woodruff taught that all of the elders of Israel who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood were foreordained, in addition to the prophets: “Joseph Smith was appointed by the Lord before he was born as much as Jeremiah was. … So I say with regard to Joseph Smith, he received his appointment from before the foundation of the world, and he came forth in the due time of the Lord to establish this work on the earth. And so it is the case with tens of thousands of the elders of Israel. The Lord Almighty has conferred upon you the Holy Priesthood and made you the instrument in His hands to build up this kingdom. Do we contemplate these things as fully as we ought?” (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, ed. G. Homer Durham [1990], 281–82; see also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff [2004], 15).

President Spencer W Kimball further taught: “In the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 215–16).

Based on these statements, who was foreordained to specific responsibilities? “the doctrine of foreordination applies to all members of the Church,” including men and women (True to the Faith,70.)

Based on our knowledge of foreordination what are our responsibilities in the Lord’s work? How should we view or approach these responsibilities? Doctrine and Covenants 138:56

56 Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described the responsibilities God’s children have in mortality regardless of their chosen state in the premortal life: “Premortality is not a relaxing doctrine. For each of us, there are choices to be made, incessant and difficult chores to be done, ironies and adversities to be experienced, time to be well spent, talents and gifts to be well employed. Just because we were chosen ‘there and then,’ surely does not mean we can be indifferent ‘here and now.’ Whether foreordination for men, or foredesignation for women, those called and prepared must also prove ‘chosen, and faithful.’ (See Revelation 17:14D&C 121:34–36.)” (Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 21; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 17).

President Harold B. Lee explained that although many were called and foreordained in the premortal life because of their valiance, they must exercise faith and good works during mortality to realize the full blessings of their calling  D&C 121:34:

“God may have called and chosen men in the spirit world or in their first estate to do a certain work, but whether they will accept that calling here and magnify it by faithful service and good works while in mortality is a matter in which it is their right and privilege to exercise their free agency to choose good or evil.

“… I fear there are many among us who because of their faithfulness in the spirit world were ‘called’ to do a great work here, but like reckless spendthrifts they are exercising their free agency in riotous living and are losing their birthright and the blessings that were theirs had they proved faithful to their calling. Hence as the Lord has said, ‘there are many called but few are chosen’” (Decisions for Successful Living [1973], 169).

How has Alma 13 deepened your appreciation for the priesthood?

Part 2: Alma 13 The Lord invites us to enter into His rest.

Alma taught that the priesthood helps us “enter into the rest of the Lord” through ordinances designed to prepare mankind to come unto Christ.

And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest

16 Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.

Why do priesthood leaders teach the Lord’s commandments to the children of men? Priesthood leaders teach the Lord’s commandments to the children of men so they might enter into His rest.

What is the Lord’s rest? the Lord’s rest refers to “enjoyment of peace and freedom from worry and turmoil. The Lord has promised such rest to His faithful followers during this life. He has also prepared a place of rest for them in the next life” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Rest,” scriptures.lds.org). The Lord’s rest can also refer to “the fulness of his glory” (D&C 84:24).

How does obeying the commandments we are taught by priesthood leaders help you to enjoy “peace and freedom from worry and turmoil”? “one goal that most of us share in this life is the desire to achieve true joy and lasting happiness. There is only one way to do this, and that is by being obedient to all the commandments of God. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have voluntarily entered into holy covenants, promising to obey the Lord’s commandments. Willing, righteous obedience leads to celestial life; indeed, there is no eternal progress without it. (Conference Report November 1977 The Blessings of Righteous Obedience Elder Delbert L. Stapley)

President Joseph F. Smith said that entering into God’s rest “means entering into the knowledge and love of God, having faith in his purpose and in his plan, to such an extent that we know we are right, and that we are not hunting for something else, we are not disturbed by every wind of doctrine, or by the cunning craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive. We know of the doctrine that it is of God” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 56).

Identify the characteristics of people who “enter into the rest of the Lord.” Alma 13:3–5, 10

And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.

And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.

Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared

10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;

What would you expect someone’s behavior to be if he or she had entered the rest of the Lord in this life as President Joseph F. Smith described it?

What can we do to experience the rest of the Lord during our mortal lives? After Alma warned the people of Ammonihah to prepare for the coming of Christ Alma 13:21–26, he provided additional instruction on how to enter the Lord’s rest. Alma 13:27–29 

27 And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;

28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;

29 Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.

How can we summarize the principle Alma is teaching us: As we respond humbly to the invitation to repent, the Spirit will ultimately lead us into the rest of the Lord.

Part 3: Alma 14 In times of trial and tragedy, we must trust the Lord.

Even when we are trying to be righteous, trials and persecution will come. Alma 14 gives us the opportunity to learn how we can respond faithfully when we or our loved ones are facing hard times.

And it came to pass after he had made an end of speaking unto the people many of them did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the scriptures.

2 But the more part of them were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek; for they were angry with Alma, because of the plainness of his words unto Zeezrom; and they also said that Amulek had lied unto them, and had reviled against their law and also against their lawyers and judges.

And they were also angry with Alma and Amulek; and because they had testified so plainly against their wickedness, they sought to put them away privily.

4 But it came to pass that they did not; but they took them and bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land.

And the people went forth and witnessed against them—testifying that they had reviled against the law, and their lawyers and judges of the land, and also of all the people that were in the land; and also testified that there was but one God, and that he should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them; and many such things did the people testify against Alma and Amulek. Now this was done before the chief judge of the land.

6 And it came to pass that Zeezrom was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his lying words; and his soul began to be harrowed up under a consciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell.

And it came to pass that he began to cry unto the people, saying: Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them from that time forth; but they reviled him, saying: Art thou also possessed with the devil? And they spit upon him, and cast him out from among them, and also all those who believed in the words which had been spoken by Alma and Amulek; and they cast them out, and sent men to cast stones at them.

8 And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire.

9 And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.

10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.

11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

12 Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also.

13 And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not.

14 Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?

15 Behold, ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them because they were of thy faith. And the judge smote them again upon their cheeks, and asked: What say ye for yourselves?

16 Now this judge was after the order and faith of Nehor, who slew Gideon.

17 And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek answered him nothing; and he smote them again, and delivered them to the officers to be cast into prison.

18 And when they had been cast into prison three days, there came many lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers, who were of the profession of Nehor; and they came in unto the prison to see them, and they questioned them about many words; but they answered them nothing.

19 And it came to pass that the judge stood before them, and said: Why do ye not answer the words of this people? Know ye not that I have power to deliver you up unto the flames? And he commanded them to speak; but they answered nothing.

20 And it came to pass that they departed and went their ways, but came again on the morrow; and the judge also smote them again on their cheeks. And many came forth also, and smote them, saying: Will ye stand again and judge this people, and condemn our law? If ye have such great power why do ye not deliver yourselves?

21 And many such things did they say unto them, gnashing their teeth upon them, and spitting upon them, and saying: How shall we look when we are damned?

22 And many such things, yea, all manner of such things did they say unto them; and thus they did mock them for many days. And they did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked; and thus they were bound with strong cords, and confined in prison.

23 And it came to pass after they had thus suffered for many days, (and it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) that the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah and many of their teachers and their lawyers went in unto the prison where Alma and Amulek were bound with cords.

24 And the chief judge stood before them, and smote them again, and said unto them: 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.

25 And it came to pass that they all went forth and smote them, saying the same words, even until the last; and when the last had spoken unto them the power of God was upon Alma and Amulek, and they rose and stood upon their feet.

26 And 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 cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.

27 And it came to pass that so great was their fear that they fell to the earth, and did not obtain the outer door of the prison; and the earth shook mightily, and the walls of the prison were rent in twain, so that they fell to the earth; and the chief judge, and the lawyers, and priests, and teachers, who smote upon Alma and Amulek, were slain by the fall thereof.

28 And Alma and Amulek came forth out of the prison, and they were not hurt; for the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ. And they straightway came forth out of the prison; and they were loosed from their bands; and the prison had fallen to the earth, and every soul within the walls thereof, save it were Alma and Amulek, was slain; and they straightway came forth into the city.

29 Now the people having heard a great noise came running together by multitudes to know the cause of it; and when they saw Alma and Amulek coming forth out of the prison, and the walls thereof had fallen to the earth, they were struck with great fear, and fled from the presence of Alma and Amulek even as a goat fleeth with her young from two lions; and thus they did flee from the presence of Alma and Amulek.

What did these people suffer?

When Amulek saw the suffering of the women and children, what did he want to do?

Why did the Lord permit these women and children to be burned? In this verse, the phrase “he doth suffer” means “he allows.” The Lord allowed the people to suffer so their deaths could stand as a witness against the people who killed them. In this specific instance, it was the Lord’s will to allow the people to suffer, however, this is not always the case

What truths about suffering can we learn from these verses? The Lord will bless and reward those who suffer for their belief in Him.  God will hold those who harm innocent people accountable for their actions. 

How can knowing these truths help us when we suffer or become aware of the suffering of others?

What did Amulek say to Alma when he expressed his concerns for those suffering?

How did Alma’s words show his trust in the Lord?

How might you have felt if you had been in Alma and Amulek’s situation and had been forced to witness the suffering and death of these people? Most of us can relate somewhat to the way Amulek felt when he witnessed the suffering of the faithful people of Ammonihah: we “also are pained” Alma 14:10, and we wish we could do something about it.

What principle can we learn from Alma’s example? When we experience suffering and afflictions, we can choose to trust in the Lord.

President Spencer W. Kimball once commented on the many seemingly inexplicable tragedies that happen in the world:

“Could the Lord have prevented these tragedies? The answer is, Yes. The Lord is omnipotent, with all power to control our lives, save us pain, prevent all accidents, … even [protect us] from death, if he will. But he will not. …

“If all the sick for whom we pray were healed, if all the righteous were protected and the wicked destroyed, the whole program of the Father would be annulled and the basic principle of the gospel, free agency, would be ended. No man would have to live by faith. …

“… If we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery. …

“… I am grateful that even through the priesthood I cannot heal all the sick. I might heal people who should die. I might relieve people of suffering who should suffer. I fear I would frustrate the purposes of God.

“Had I limitless power, and yet limited vision and understanding, I might have saved Abinadi from the flames of fire when he was burned at the stake, and in doing so I might have irreparably damaged him. He died a martyr and went to a martyr’s reward—exaltation.

“I would likely have protected Paul against his woes if my power were boundless. I would surely have healed his ‘thorn in the flesh.’ [2 Corinthians 12:7.] And in so doing I might have foiled the Lord’s program. …

“I fear that had I been in Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844, I might have deflected the bullets that pierced the body of the Prophet [Joseph Smith] and the Patriarch [Hyrum Smith]. I might have saved them from the sufferings and agony, but lost them to the martyr’s death and reward. …

“With such uncontrolled power, I surely would have felt to protect Christ from the agony in Gethsemane, the insults, the thorny crown, the indignities in the court, the physical injuries. I would have administered to his wounds and healed them, giving him cooling water instead of vinegar. I might have saved him from suffering and death, and lost to the world his atoning sacrifice. …

“In the face of apparent tragedy we must put our trust in God, knowing that despite our limited view his purposes will not fail” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 14–17, 20).

While serving in the Seventy, Elder Ronald E. Poelman affirmed that, at times, the Lord permits the righteous to suffer when others exercise agency in unrighteousness: “Adversity in the lives of the obedient and faithful may be the consequence of disease, accidental injury, ignorance, or the influence of the adversary. To preserve free agency, the Lord also at times permits the righteous to suffer the consequences of evil acts by others ( 1 Nephi 18:16)” (Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 29; or Ensign, May 1989, 23).

President Joseph F. Smith explained: “It is true I am weak enough to weep at the death of my friends and kindred. I may shed tears when I see the grief of others. I have sympathy in my soul for the children of men. I can weep with them when they weep; I can rejoice with them when they rejoice; but I have no cause to mourn, nor to be sad because death comes into the world. … All fear of this death has been removed from the Latter-day Saints. They have no dread of the temporal death, because they know that as death came upon them by the transgression of Adam, so by the righteousness of Jesus Christ shall life come unto them, and though they die they shall live again. Possessing this knowledge, they have joy even in death, for they know that they shall rise again and shall meet again beyond the grave” (Conference Report, Oct. 1899, 70).

Part 4: Alma 15:16, 18 Discipleship requires sacrifice.

Alma established the Church in Sidom, and many were baptized. The people of Ammonihah remained hard-hearted and unrepentant despite the divine power Alma and Amulek had displayed. Alma brought Amulek, who had been rejected by his family and friends, to his home in Zarahemla. There, Alma “did administer unto [Amulek] in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord”

16 And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek, Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred;

17 Therefore, after Alma having established the church at Sidom, seeing a great check, yea, seeing that the people were checked as to the pride of their hearts, and began to humble themselves before God, and began to assemble themselves together at their sanctuaries to worship God before the altar, watching and praying continually, that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction—

18 Now as I said, Alma having seen all these things, therefore he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord.

What did Amulek give up? What did he gain when he embraced the gospel? Alma 34:8Ether 12:12–13

8 And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

12 For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.

13 Behold, it was the faith of Alma and Amulek that caused the prison to tumble to the earth.

Amulek forsook “all his gold, and silver, and his precious things … for the word of God. He was then rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred.”

Why was Amulek willing to make such sacrifices? He was a respected person in Ammonihah, that although he, too, had hardened his heart, an angel of the Lord had appeared to him and told him that Alma was a prophet of the Lord. Amulek bore his testimony and preached the gospel to them. He taught them about repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, about the blessings they would receive for being faithful and righteous. He also taught them about the importance of prayer, of humbling themselves before God and asking Him to bless not just themselves but their fields (crops), their flocks (animals), and the people around them. (Book of Mormon Story: Alma and Amulek www.churchofjesuschrist.org)

Why are we willing to do so?

How can we follow the example of Alma, who “strengthened Amulek in the Lord”?

Part 5: Alma 16:1–10 The words of the prophets will be fulfilled.

Alma 16 gives examples of someone who trusted a prophet and people who did not. Alma pleaded with “great anxiety” from the “inmost part” of his heart for the people of Ammonihah to repent. As their prophet, Alma warned them to repent or be utterly destroyed “from off the face of the earth”. The Lord has promised to fulfill all the words of his prophets.

And it came to pass in the eleventh year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, on the fifth day of the second month, there having been much peace in the land of Zarahemla, there having been no wars nor contentions for a certain number of years, even until the fifth day of the second month in the eleventh year, there was a cry of war heard throughout the land.

For behold, the armies of the Lamanites had come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land, even into the city of Ammonihah, and began to slay the people and destroy the city.

And now it came to pass, before the Nephites could raise a sufficient army to drive them out of the land, they had destroyed the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, and also some around the borders of Noah, and taken others captive into the wilderness.

Now it came to pass that the Nephites were desirous to obtain those who had been carried away captive into the wilderness.

Therefore, he that had been appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites, (and his name was Zoram, and he had two sons, Lehi and Aha)—now Zoram and his two sons, knowing that Alma was high priest over the church, and having heard that he had the spirit of prophecy, therefore they went unto him and desired of him to know whither the Lord would that they should go into the wilderness in search of their brethren, who had been taken captive by the Lamanites.

6 And it came to pass that Alma inquired of the Lord concerning the matter. And Alma returned and said unto them: Behold, the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti. And behold there shall ye meet them, on the east of the river Sidon, and there the Lord will deliver unto thee thy brethren who have been taken captive by the Lamanites.

And it came to pass that Zoram and his sons crossed over the river Sidon, with their armies, and marched away beyond the borders of Manti into the south wilderness, which was on the east side of the river Sidon.

8 And they came upon the armies of the Lamanites, and the Lamanites were scattered and driven into the wilderness; and they took their brethren who had been taken captive by the Lamanites, and there was not one soul of them had been lost that were taken captive. And they were brought by their brethren to possess their own lands.

9 And thus ended the eleventh year of the judges, the Lamanites having been driven out of the land, and the people of Ammonihah were destroyed; yea, every living soul of the Ammonihahites was destroyed, and also their great city, which they said God could not destroy, because of its greatness.

10 But behold, in one day it was left desolate; and the carcasses were mangled by dogs and wild beasts of the wilderness.

What were the different attitudes of the people of Zoram and People of Ammonihah toward the prophet Alma?

What does Alma 16:2–3, 9–10 show concerning the words of Alma as a Prophet?

What truths can we learn from Alma’s prophecy about the people of Ammonihah and his instruction to the Nephite military leaders? The words of the Lord spoken through His prophets will always be fulfilled.

How can understanding this truth help us have confidence in the words of the prophets?

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that we need continuing divine direction “adapted to the circumstances” of the people in this dispensation. He also taught that “we are differently situated from any other people that ever existed upon this earth” and, therefore, need unique revelation and direction. “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 1:9). (History of the Church, 2:52; see also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 195)

In an 1883 revelation given through President John Taylor the Lord promised that He would continue to bless the Church with revelations:

“I will reveal unto you, from time to time, through the channels that I have appointed, everything that shall be necessary for the future development and perfection of my Church, for the adjustment and rolling forth of my kingdom, and for the building up and the establishment of my Zion” ( James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [1965], 2:354).

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded Latter-day Saints that constancy and change in the Church are both dictated by revelation: “There will be changes made in the future as in the past. Whether the Brethren [the prophet and apostles] make changes or resist them depends entirely upon the instructions they receive through the channels of revelation which were established in the beginning.

“The doctrines will remain fixed, eternal; the organization, programs, and procedures will be altered as directed by Him whose church this is” (“Revelation in a Changing World,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 16).

President John Taylor spoke of the need for present-day revelation as part of the Lord’s true religion: “We believe that it is necessary for man to be placed in communication with God; that he should have revelation from him, and that unless he is placed under the influence of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he can know nothing about the things of God. … Whoever heard of true religion without communication with God? To me the thing is the most absurd that the human mind could conceive of. I do not wonder, when the people generally reject the principle of present revelation, that skepticism and infidelity prevail to such an alarming extent. I do not wonder that so many men treat religion with contempt, and regard it as something not worth the attention of intelligent beings, for without revelation religion is a mockery and a farce. …The principle of present revelation then, is the very foundation of our religion” (Discourse by Elder John Taylor,” Deseret News, Mar. 4, 1874, 68; emphasis added; see also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor [2001], 158–59).

What are we doing to show Heavenly Father that we have faith in the words of the living prophets?

Conclusion

You used your agency in the pre-earth life to make righteous choices and to prepare for mortality. As a result of your premortal righteousness, further blessings and opportunities have been prepared for you in mortality, upon condition of your continued faithfulness. Note that Alma emphasized our need to be sanctified in mortality and to prepare for the ultimate goal of entering “into the rest of the Lord” In order to accomplish this we need to gain greater understanding and testimony the priesthood and its purpose for all the children of God, we need to remember our purpose and ability for facing trials and tribulation, and that discipleship requires sacrifice. In doing so we will find we will find peace and comfort and as we continue to weekly strive to increase our knowledge and commitment we will enter into the rest of the Lord.

Resources:

Book of Mormon Student Manual

Book of Mormon Institute Manual

Teachings of the Living Prophets Manual

Ensign

Conference Reports

Church History

Teachings of the Presidents of the Church

Discourese of John Taylor

Discourses of Wilford Woodruff

True to the Faith

Guide to the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s