26 August 2012

"I, the Lord God, Do Visit My People in their Afflictions," Mosiah 24:8-15

Mosiah 24:8-15

This group of verses deals with the captivity of the people of Alma under the rule of Amulon in the land of Helam. For context, Alma and Amulon at one point in history where fellow high priest under the wicked reign of King Noah. Alma repented of his wickedness, fled from the king, and eventually moved on with a group of believers to establish the land of Helam where they were found presently. Amulon, on the other hand, narrowly escaped his own death by running deeper into the wilderness when King Noah was burned at the stake. He and the remainder of those wicked priests went on to kidnap a group of Lamanite daughters, causing war between the Lamanites and the people of Limhi (King Noah's righteous son), and now in a cruel twist of events, Amulon has won favor with the Lamanites so that upon discovering the land of Helam, Amulon is made to rule over the people of Alma.

Bondage would have been hard enough under the Lamanites, but to have their appointed ruler hold a personal grudge against them for their desires to follow God, this became a difficult circumstance for the righteous. One that would cause some of lesser faith to simply say "where is your god now? "

However, so great was the faith of the people of Alma that the Lord was able to use them for a great and noble witness that "I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions." (vs. 14)

When faced with adversity, the people of Alma turned to their God in prayer. Because of this, they received this direction from the Lord: "Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage." (vs. 13) Covenants bring blessings of peace and assurance during times of adversity.

There is a second part to this communication with the people of Alma for in the meantime. "And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage;" (vs. 14) It seems to be in the designs and purposes of God, that sometimes he calls upon his children to endure hardship, not entirely for their own sakes, but so that they can be used to stand as witnesses before men, that God indeed is with his people who become so by covenant.

14 August 2012

"The Language of Nephi Began to Be Taught," Mosiah 24:1-7

Mosiah 24:1-7

This is to me a very interesting group of verses. We have here the account of Amulon and the other former priests of King Noah and their subsequent rise in power among the Lamanite people. What is interesting about this situation is not the quest for power among these wicked men, but rather how it is that the Lord was able to use them as instruments of preparation without them knowing it. In saying this, what we might be tempted to conclude is that there needed to be this wickedness in order for righteousness to move forward. I would have to say that is not so. In no way, shape, or form was the salvation of God obtained by these wicked priest through their wickedness. Nor, interestingly enough, was it obtained for their children or their children's children.(Alma 24:14)

However, what does come to mind here is that scripture that states: "Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;" (Doctrine and Covenants 3:3) Without them knowing (and much to their own condemnation for not knowing), these priests were preparing the Lamanite people to be able to understand the word of God when it would eventually be preached to them by Ammon the missionary and his brethern some 20 years later.

The ability to communicate, to read and write, is fundamental to receiving the Gospel. It is in fact perhaps the very reason why we are  given that ability and why every technological advance in communication has been given us (many times without us knowing it), so that eventually the Word of God can be communicated to every individual the world over.

In the equity of God's plan, every individual must be given an opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not they believe the word of God.

11 August 2012

"They Hushed Their Fears," Mosiah 23:25-39

Mosiah 23:25-39

The purpose of these verses was summarized in the title of the previous post, "the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people," which is found in verse 21. In these group of verses we find the details of what is in my mind an extraordinary trial of faith on the part of Alma and also his people. I find myself this morning also asking: What is it about the order or economy of heaven that makes this this particular episode so noteworthy?

For after a period of establishment in the land of Helam where the people of Alma had been exceedingly prosperous in their daily affairs, suddenly the appearance of the Lamanites within th borders of the land cause a great fear to arise in the hearts of the people of Alma. I appreciate how it points out that Alma "went forth and stood among them" to quiet their fears by reminding them to place their faith in the Lord. (see vs. 27)

The people of Alma respond to this invitation of faith by exercising the power of prayer. The Lord's immediate answer to this is a softening of the hearts of the Lamanites so that there was no war. Yet the result of this appears to be an unconditional surrender to the Lamanites.(see vs. 29) Depending on how one would look at the situation, one might argue that things got worse at this point instead of better. It is often hard to see the hand of the Lord at moments such as these.

The remaining ten verses of this chapter is then a bit of back story on how the Lamanites came to find the people of Alma in what appears to be "entirely by chance." What these verses do explain though is how absolutely ironic this twist of events has become. For in their capture by the Lamanites, they were also now being governed by one Amulon, a cohort of Alma's back in his days of wickedness in King Noah's court. (see vs. 39)

Test of faith? Immensely so. For they had now come full circle, and arguable from the skeptic's perspective, their faith in God had done them no good. They had been brought them right back to where they had started, almost -- in bondage to a wicked ruler who would suppress their faith in God.

There is something about economy of heaven that affords us these periods of ups and downs and complete reversals that cause us such amazing growth. Without them, it would seem that we could not manage to obtain the blessings of heaven that God would extend to us. Perhaps I will keep with this theme throughout the next chapter as well.

01 August 2012

"The Lord Seeth Fit to Chasten His People," Mosiah 23:19-24

Mosiah 23:19-24

There are footnotes on the word "chasten." I've found the reference in Deuteronomy 11:1-8 speaks directly to me.

Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm...

But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did.
Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; (vs. 1,2,7,8)
The admonition to be diligent in all commandments is particularly more applicable to those who know and have witnessed the power of His almighty hand.