12 September 2014

"How Soon Ye Have Forgotten the Commandments of God," Alma 9:7-13

Alma 9:7-13

After the people's contest of Alma's authority, he immediately turns around and "boldly testif[ies]" against them.

After a very striking accusation of their wickedness, Alma gives the reason for the accusation directed towards them:
  • They had forgotten the traditions of their fathers (which were righteous traditions).
  • They had forgotten to keep the commandments of God. 
He then goes on to list five instances of God's kindness and mercy towards their ancestors and specifically towards them as a people. Alma draws a very strong case for God's mercy and long-suffering from their nation's family history.

Then in verse 12, Alma returns to his original theme of repentance and this time with a strong warning of destruction if they did not repent. What's interesting about these words is that if one goes beyond the superficial, these are fundamental statements of profound truth:
  • "Behold, now I say unto you that he commandeth you to repent; and except ye repent, ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God."  The wicked perceive this to be a chastisement of behavior, but this is actually a statement of fact. Only the penitent, humbled soul can receive the blessings of God's kingdom. (see Matt 5:3,5,10 )
  •  "But behold, this is not all—he has commanded you to repent, or he will utterly destroy you from off the face of the earth; yea, he will visit you in his anger, and in his fierce anger he will not turn away." I wonder actually how much love was required of Alma to make such a bold statement as this in such a hostile environment. 
Alma actually quotes Father Lehi in the following verse as the grounds for making that statement:
"Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land? ...Inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord."(vs.13)
It is easy for the natural man to read these verses and assume hostility in the words of Alma, but I have to believe that they are not hostile words spoken by Alma here. Rather, Alma is motivated by love and concern for this people, even in their stubborn state of disbelief. How much more compelling become these statements when I realize that these are the words of a charitable heart!