Saturday, August 28, 2010

Alma 50

Whenever a nation is united in its faith in God, it will have more strength, prosperity, peace, and protection. The same goes for other social units whether they are states, towns, or families. There is a power in righteousness that I think we are losing sight of in this day and age. Part of this is because we have become so big as a nation so diverse. With size and prosperity comes liberal attitudes and laziness. We become lazy not only in terms of religious belief and moral principles and standards, but lazy regarding our concern and respect for others. I think this is why our nation is becoming more divided this is what happened to the Nephites in this chapter. One Nephite group, led by a wicked man named Morianton, felt they should have more land and sought to take it from the neighboring city. When they couldn't have it, rather than face the military consequences, they decided to migrate, resulting in their abandoning a key area of defense against the Lamanites. An army, led by Teancum is dispatched by Moroni to stop them. A battle results in which Teancum slays Morianton. The people return to their land and peace is restored.

It's interesting to me that the chief judge, Nephihah, refused to receive the plates and other sacred items from Alma. He isn't criticized for this and it says he was perfectly upright before God. I think this shows that God does not condemn us when we use our free agency and make decisions like this. Unfortunately in the church, if someone refused something, say a calling, there would be others who would raise their eyebrows in doubt concerning the dedication or righteousness of that person. Nephihah's righteousness is not questioned and that's a good lesson for us. Alma gave the plates to his son Helaman. Nephihah passed away and the judgement seat went to his son Pahoran.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Alma 49

The Lamanites come up against the Nephites and are amazed at their fortifications. Seeing that they have no way to take one city they move on to the next only to find the same thing. The Lord always has a better way of doing things than man. When visitors see Welfare Square, Temple Square, or other church sites, they are always amazed at not only how clean and attractive the sites are, but how efficient and effective. Whenever we do something under the Lord's inspiration, it will always be better than what it would have been if we relied on our own ingenuity. I'm not sure why this is such a hard lesson to learn. But I know I too often decide to "go it alone" instead of following the advice to "counsel with the Lord in all thy doings" or "trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thy own understanding." I know that when we bring the Lord into what we do, we'll always do it a little bit better, the path we take will be a little bit straighter, and life will be a little bit better.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Alma 48

You can't read this chapter with admiring Captain Moroni. No doubt he was a
bigger than life hero who is one of those rare ones that we only see every
so often in history. There's no doubt Mormon, who himself became a
commanders of the armies at age 15, had great admiration for him Look at
the adjectives he uses to describe Moroni: perfect understanding, heart full
of thanksgiving, labored exceedingly for the people's welfare and safety,
firm in the faith, a keeper of his oaths, some who if everyone were like
him, the powers of hell would shake and Satan would be powerless over
people. He was a great warrior but did not enjoy shedding the blood of his
enemies. The individuality of Moroni is remarkable. I would think that he
was to the Nephites something like what George Washington was to the people
of his time and to us today, a real hero.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alma 47

Amalickiah is a true despot, a wicked ruler who is only seeking power over whatever people he can. He fails with the Nephites, joins the Lamanites, gets himself in a position that is just below the king, then kills the king and marries the kings widow. It won’t be long until he wants complete rule of all the people, Nephites and Lamanites. This would make a good movie; it’s a pattern that has been seen throughout history. The chapter concludes with a verse that almost seems like a question. The followers of Amalickiah are dissenters from the Nephites and Mormon notes how strange it is that these people were taught the same things as the Nephites, who were Nephites, and yet not long after they left the Nephites, they became in Mormon’s words, more hardened, impenitent, wild, wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites. He states they became indolent, meaning lazy, and lascivious which means they were constantly involved in sexual immorality. Worse of all, Mormon says, they entirely forgot about the Lord. We’re they living this life as an individual in a different society, they would be in jail.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Alma 45

Alma has completed his mission. After giving Helaman responsibility for the church, he leaves the land and is never seen again. I wonder if he was terminally ill or still in good health. Did he know he would soon die and that is why he passed on his responsibilities to Helaman? Or was he so strong a figure he worried that the people would continue to look to him rather than Helaman if he stayed? There could be a number of reasons why he left, but now he confers being high priest of the church on Helaman and tells hims a prophecy which he is not to pass on to anyone. The Nephites have just been through a terrible war, but Alma tells Helaman that in 400 years, there will be such a great war that all of the Nephites will be destroyed except for those who choose to become Lamanites. And the sad thing is, they will be destroyed because they will become such a wicked people. With that prophecy obviously in the back of his mind, Helaman sees growing problems in the church because of the wars, small dissensions to the Lamanites, and other disturbances that Mormon doesn't explain, and so Helaman begins an campaign to strengthen the church. And for good reason as we will see in the next chapter.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Alma 44

Moroni offers Zarahemnah and the Lamanites a chance to survive if they will enter into an peace agreement and promise to not come to war against the Nephites again. If he won't agree, Moroni tells him that they will have no choice but to destroy them if they keep attacking. Moroni testifies that it is the power of God that is supporting them but Zarahemnah denies this and says it is the quality of their weapons. When Zarahemnah refuses to enter into the peace agreement and tries to kill Moroni, one of Moroni's soldiers is able to scalp Zarahemnah and holds the scalp up for the Lamanites to see. This convinces some of the Lamanites to enter into a peace agreement but most won't and the battle begins again. Finally, when the Lamanites are just about to be completely destroyed, Zarahemnah sees he can't possibly survive so he enters into the peace agreement. The number of dead is evidently innumerable. To me this is really simple. If you have to go to war, go with the purpose of defending your land, your family and your freedom. But definitely go with God on your side. The power of faith and unrighteousness is always underestimated and not understood by those who are unrighteous. There is added power given to the righteous and they will always prevail over unrighteousness.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Alma 43

It's obvious that Corianton changes his ways and becomes a strong teacher and missionary. At the beginning of this chapter, and three times later in Alma, the sons of Alma are mentioned as going forth to teach the gospel. They are held up as examples for the people and Corianton is mentioned by name in two of the four passages. With this chapter we begin the war chapters and the one thing that impresses me is how hard the leaders of the Lamanites work to preserve the people's hatred for the Nephites. They appoint Amalakites to be the chief captains because the Amalakites have the greatest hatred for the Nephites. Mormon says this about them in chapter 47: "Now these dissenters, having the same instruction and the same information of the Nephites, yea, having been instructed in the same knowledge of the Lord, nevertheless, it is strange to relate, not long after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent, and more wild, wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites..." So to infect the people and the armies with as great as hatred for the Nephites as possible, the Amalakites are appointed the military leaders.

To me, this hatred of the Nephites and fostering the desire among the people to destroy them is very similar to our situation today. The radical Islamists raise and educate their children to hate western society. It is their religious belief that all non-believers of Islam should be slain and to slay someone who does not believe is a righteous act that preserves a place of glory for them after this life. The only way for the Nephites to defeat them, and the only way we can ultimately win is in verses 45-49 where it states that the Nephites were fighting for righteous reasons, to defend their families, their liberty, their rites of worship, and their church. Most importantly, they relied on God to help them which he did with the Nephites defeating an amy of the Lamanites that was twice their size. Like the Nephites, we would be wise to be wary and to be prepared.