23 July 2015

"Alma... Did Administer Unto Him in His Tribulations," Alma 15

Alma 15

This chapter addresses something that I feel that I am not very good at: ministering to the sick and the poor. The story of Zeezrom also concludes in this chapter, he (having been taken gravely ill) being the key player to whom Alma administered to. (Side note: In times past, my wife and I have also discussed this chapter as evidence of how sin and one's mental and emotional state can have a direct impact on the physical well being of an individual.)

After Alma and Amulek's miraculous deliverance from the prison at Ammonihah, they were commanded to leave that town. (vs. 1) At Sidom, many of those who believed the preaching of Alma and Amulek had resorted there, and at Alma's arrival they learned of the fate of the wives and children, and also their own miraculous deliverance.

The first case study in this chapter is Zeezrom. Zeezrom is fully convinced that Alma and Amulek were no more and that their destruction rested fully upon his own shoulders. The mental and spiritual anguish that Zeezrom was passing through caused him to be taken sick with a burning fever. "And they found him upon his bed, sick, being very low with a burning fever; and his mind also was exceedingly sore because of his iniquities;" (vs. 5)

When Zeezrom learns of Alma and Amulek's arrival at Sidom, suddenly redemption becomes an option, and he calls for them immediately. I love the conversation that follows:

And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?
And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.
And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed.
And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words.
And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ. (vs. 6 -10)
 A healing miracle occurs in verse 11, where Zeezrom immediately is healed and he "leaped upon his feet, and began to walk." Such are the miracles of those who worthily act according to their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Alma asks Zeezrom if he believes in the power Christ unto salvation (speaking in the long term it seems to me), and then he affirms that if Zeezrom believes in the redemption of Christ he could be healed. Zeezrom acknowledges the truth of Alma's words, and then Alma heals him "according to his faith which is in Christ." Christ is the only name under heaven by which men can truly be saved and healed of their weakness and wickedness.

Subsequently, Zeezrom is baptized and becomes a minister to the people.

The second case study of ministering and succoring the poor and needed is that of Amulek. We learn in verse 16 that Amulek had literally "forsaken all... for the word of God." We learn that Amulek had also been rejected by his own friends, his father and kindred (other family members). The scriptures here say nothing about Amulek's wife or his children, but back in Alma 10:11, he said, "For behold, [Alma] hath blessed mine house, he hath blessed me, and my women, and my children, and my father and my kinsfolk; yea, even all my kindred hath he blessed." The scriptures are quiet on the point of what happened to his wife (or wives) and children. Perhaps we can reasonably assume that they were 1) among those that were cast into the flames, or 2) among the disbelievers. I tend to think that they were among the martyrs, but it is a mute point for speculation. I only address the question here to help illustrate the reality that Amulek was literally alone in his new faith, stripped of everything familiar to him: both his personal belongings and all friend and family relations.

In this context, what Alma does with Amulek is all the more touching. "therefore [Alma] 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." (vs. 18, emphasis added)



14 July 2015

"According to Our Faith Which Is in Christ," Alma 14

Alma 14

This is a most painful account of discipleship and the potential cost of such. Alma's ability to discern impression of the Spirit in the midst of such opposition is notable, because it instructed him when to act and how to act. It also gave him hope for those who were taken from this life prematurely.

There is also a great deal to learn here about justice and the judgments of God. How incredibly patient is God with his children! Slow to execute judgment unto destruction, even against his wicked children who would murder the innocent.

"...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," (vs. 11).

In my mind, it seems that sometimes mortal judgments are executed to prevent the wicked from sinning further. Sodom and Gomorah comes to mind when the Savior said "But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." (Matthew 11:24)

Yet, on the other hand, for the wicked leadership of the people of Ammonihah, a double condemnation seems eminent. Verse 11 goes on to state: "...the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day."

----

Woven throughout these chapters is the conversion of Zeezrom, and here in chapter 14 we learn that he "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;" (vs. 6).  The reality of his situation caused him to be "harrowed up under a consciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell."

In the next verse, we learn that this was a turning point for Zeezrom, so much so that he became a vocal defender of Alma and Amulek.

----

I read yesterday elsewhere about the power that is extended to us according to our faith in Jesus Christ. The account of Alma and Amulek's miraculous deliverance at the end of this chapter is one such example of faith. As Alma and Amulek rise to their feet, after having suffered many days in prison and in verbal and physical assault from the chief rulers of the land, Alma cries out: "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," (vs. 26, emphasis added).

05 July 2015

"By the Mouth of Angels," Alma 13:20-31

Alma 13:20-31

Alma now brings all this message home, by declaring repentance to the people of Ammonihah (vs. 20).

Vs. 22 - This verse is an interesting reminder of the work of angels in preparing the way for salvation to be ministered among all nations.

Vs. 23 - The Nephites had it different than the Jewish nation. Amongst the Nephites the terms of salvation were plain to be understood. This privilege was extended to them because of their being made wanderers in a strange land. Sacrifice frequently brings spiritual advantages.

Vs. 24 - All the land of the Nephites (and even the Lamanites, I would suppose) were being prepared through the ministering of angels for the time of Christ's coming, that the people would be prepared to receive his word.

I find it curious that Alma, the spiritual head of the Church during his time, was made aware of this ministering from beyond the veil -- as if efforts were being coordinated between heaven and earth. How much we don't know! I feel that in a sense the same is true in our time. How much must the angels be working during our time to prepare the hearts of men for the message of Christ.