05 August 2015

"They Did Impart the Word of God, Without Any Respect of Persons, Continually," Alma 16

Alma 16

In this chapter, there is an account of a war between the Lamanites and the Nephites. It came at the end of a period of elongated peace. Before the Nephites are able to gather sufficient strength to withstand the Lamanite army, the town of Ammonihah is consumed.

Other Nephites are taken captive. Fortunately, their military leader is a man by the name of Zoram who inquires of Alma as to where to go to find those Nephites that had been taken captive. Alma, being possessor of the spirit of prophecy, is able to tell Zoram exactly where to find the prisoners upon inquiry from the Lord. (See verses 4-8)

The people of Ammonihah are destroyed in one day. (vs. 10)

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After the wars are past, the work of the ministry is resumed. Alma and Amulek continued "preaching repentance to the people" together. (See vs. 13)

In verse 14, there is a hidden gem: "And as many as would hear their words, unto them they did impart the word of God, without any respect of persons, continually." (emphasis added) This statement points out the obvious, yet it needs to be pointed out. God is no respecter of person. This profound truth was taught in dramatic fashion to Peter at the home of Cornelius in Ceasarea (see Acts 10:34), and a similar reality was made manifest many centuries earlier to Moses in the Mount Sinai (see Moses 1:10).

These verses in Alma go on to tell of abundant spiritual manifestations which were preparing the hearts of the people for the time in which Christ would come and teach them. The point that is most strongly impressed upon my mind is that they were being prepared. There was a period of spiritual preparation.

I'm drawing a parallel here through what I've seen happen on a personal level with a family that I was very close to. The mother who was righteous was taken in death prematurely because of cancer. The father followed in death because of his wickedness. Then the children that remained began to flourish. Missions have been served, temple blessings received.

Looking back historically though, did spiritual preparations make a difference for the Nephites at the time of his coming? The adversary would have us look past the obvious: when Christ came to the Nephites, everything changed, and there was peace among the people for many, many years. So now in Alma 16, we read here about how the people were being prepared for a period of time that was only about a hundred years away.

The Spirit seems to suggest, though neither He nor I know how soon, that our times are similar or parallel to the Nephites. We may be closer, but only time will tell. The reality is that Christ is coming, and that we do well to prepare His coming.

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The preaching of the word of God among the Nephites at this point in their history had a profound effect in establishing peace among them. So much so that at the end of the chapter, the author describes this effort as "having got the victory over the devil, and the word of God being preached in its purity in all the land, and the Lord pouring out his blessings upon the people," (vs. 21). 

The people were taught that Christ would come among them after His resurrection, which thing gave them great joy. Having the end in mind was a motivating factor for their faith.

The end reality of this is that they did preach the word of God and they were met with success. The same will be true in our days, if we preach the word of God, we will be met with success.