26 August 2014

"Who is God?" Alma 9:1-6

Alma 9:1-6

There is a very interesting pattern that is illustrated in these verses, and sets up the wickedness of this town. In just the first six verses of this chapter, the one thing that these verses illustrate clearly is that the people of Ammonihah do not have a relationship with God. That is the cause of their wickedness.

Hand in hand with with their failure to have any sort of relationship with God also comes a lack of knowledge of the truth and that which is true. This is hugely significant because it was on a foundation of error and  antagonism, or even animosity, towards God, that the people of Ammonihah had set themselves up for destruction.

The footnote on the question "Who is God, that sendeth no more authority than one man... ? " (see vs. 6) causes me to see that their questions of disbelief are on par with Cain, king Noah, and the Pharoah of Egypt. That kind of hard-heartedness demonstrates wickedness to its fullest extent. Though not mentioned anywhere in these verses, this kind of hardness of heart is what the Savior faced at sundry times throughout his ministry and at the time of his death.

13 August 2014

"The Spirit and Power Which the Lord Had Given Them," Alma 8:29-32

Alma 8:29-32

After many days, the word of the Lord came to Alma: "Go; and also say unto my servant Amulek, go forth and prophesy unto this people, saying—Repent ye, for thus saith the Lord, except ye repent I will visit this people in mine anger; yea, and I will not turn my fierce anger away."

In subsequent verses, we learn that Alma and Amulek accomplished this commandment of the Lord through "the spirit and power which the Lord had given them." (vs 32) So it is, that those that go about the work of the Lord when called of the Lord to do so, they are empowered to do it through the influence of the Holy Ghost. In other words, they are endowed with power, or they have power given them. Verse 31 takes pains to explain the evidence of that power, in that they weren't able to be confined or thrown in dungeons, nor could anyone kill them.

Now later in the account we learn that Alma and Amulek were thrown into prison (and verse 31 makes reference to this), and after many days, power was given to these two stricken men to break the bands and leave the prison unharmed. The full account says this: "the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ." (Alma 14:28).

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It is through this power and influence of the Holy Ghost that Alma and Amulek were able to do what they did. Though this short group of verses does not address it, the importance of qualifying for the blessings and powers of heaven cannot be under-emphasized and becomes apparent in accounts such as these.

Finally, though it is stated throughout, for me it is worth noting that this spirit and power comes from the Lord. The Lord has standards that qualify his servants for his power. It is for this very reason that obedience is such an important part of the Gospel of Christ. Seldom am I able to effectively testify of this to others; perhaps spelling this out for myself may help me to do so for others as well.

01 August 2014

"I Know that Thou Art a Holy Prophet of God," Alma 8:19-28

Alma 8:19-28

On the surface, this is a fairly simple exchange wherein Alma returns to Ammonihah by a different way and is taken in by Amulek. There are a couple of notes on these verses that I find significant. Of Amulek, it was required to exercise the Christ-like virtue of compassion and to feed the hungry. That may seem an insignificant side note given that he had also received direction and inspiration from an angel to entertain Alma, and yet I think this is at the very core of why the angel appeared to Amulek, and not someone else.

When Alma returns to Ammonihah, he is hungry. We later learn that Alma had actually been fasting for many days. (vs. 26) Upon petitioning an unknown stranger, Amulek identifies himself to Alma as a Nephite and goes further to say that he knows Alma to be a prophet of God.

Near the end of these verses, we learn two notable points in this story: 1) that Alma did not immediately return to the task of preaching the gospel, but spent some time in the house of Amulek, and 2) that the people of Ammonihah increased in their wickedness. I suppose that the time spent with Amulek was a period of prepartion for Amulek. This was accomplished in receiving gospel instruction but probably also afforded Amulek a period of time to become intimately acquainted with Alma on a personal level as a human being and as a servant of the Almighty. That the people increased in wickedness is not a mute point, but rather the catalyst for the Lord's judgments against these people.

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It seems to me that Alma is a strong type for Christ in these verses, meaning the things that Alma does and says in these verses are as if it had been Christ there ministering. Such is the calling and assignment of prophets. The words of Doctrine and Covenants 1:38 seem applicable here: "...whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." If Christ had been there, in pre- or post-mortal glory, the people of Ammonihah would have been utterly destroyed, because they wouldn't have been able to stand His presence.

As I consider it, it seem that glory must have been cloaked in our Lord's mortal ministry, so that others could stand to be in his presence though imperfect and sinful.  Without Christ present to minister to the people, there is a void between God and man that is only able to be filled by a prophet: a mortal being who has qualified himself to have the favors of heaven bestowed upon him. How important then is this particular assignment. What a dramatically significant blessing this is to have prophets living amongst us!