Thursday, December 16, 2010

Observations on Alma 14 and the results of Alma and Amulek’s preaching in Ammonihah

Alma 14 shows the society of Ammonihah is ripe for destruction:
• They condemn holy people (Alma & Amulek) for their holiness.
• They consider good to be evil.
• They cast out the righteous men and stone them.
• They burn the innocent women and children to death.
• They destroy all the sacred records they can find.
• They mock, abuse, and imprison righteous church leaders (Alma & Amulek)

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The people of Ammonihah burn the women and children and then mock Alma and Amulek saying, “After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?” The people of Ammonihah think that if they subject other people to the penalties they themselves have been warned of, it means the warnings are invalid. It is a twisted sort of reasoning brought on by the pattern of injustice of the judges, who have been working to invalidate righteous authority, and they don’t realize that it seals their doom upon them.

**

The abuse Ammonihah leaders put Alma and Amulek through in prison is extreme. They try to break down their identities and destroy them spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Based upon this, it is amazing that Alma preaches so bravely and courageously afterward. It seems he overcomes it through faith in Christ.

**

While they are imprisoned, they answer the chief judge nothing when he questions them. What more can they say than has already been said? The people had rejected it all, so there was no more to say. It wasn’t fear that kept them quiet.

**

One the last day that Alma and Amulek are imprisoned, the chief judge and many teachers and lawyers mocked them and challenged them to prove Ammonihah would be destroyed by delivering themselves from the bands that tied them. Clearly the judge, the teachers, and lawyers never believed it would happen, but they had not reckoned upon the power and mercy that the Lord extends to His anointed. They sought a sign and they got it, but only to their condemnation. It didn’t cause them to want to repent; it only made them want to remove themselves from the city that they now knew would be destroyed. But it was too late for them. It is significant that it says that “they did not obtain the outer door to the prison.” They die in prison, both temporally and spiritually, while Alma and Amulek come out of this prison whose walls have been rent specifically for them.

**

Alma cried to the Lord “O Lord, give us strength according to our faith in Christ, even unto deliverance.” The Lord answered Alma and gave them complete deliverance:
• They broke the bands that bound them.
• They were freed from their tormentors when the earthquake destroyed the prison and the walls fell so exclusively on the evil men.
• They were freed from the prison, as the earthquake rent the prison walls and no one lived to prevent them from leaving.
• They were freed from the city, as all the townspeople ran away from them, so they could leave.
• Finally, because of the healing power of Christ, they eventually recovered and were freed from the debilitating effects of the abuse that they suffered.
According to their faith in Christ, they were delivered from all these afflictions. This dramatic story of deliverance is meant to remind us that God really does have power to deliver us from anything and everything. He can save in so many ways. He can save us from going through afflictions. He can save us from afflictions as we are in them. He can save us from the negative effects of afflictions. He can save us at ANY STAGE. He can save us through death or He can save us with life. He can save us from committing sin. He can save us from our sins. He uses His power to save in ways that will result in the greatest good for us and others and in ways that preserve our agency. Through it all, we have the challenge of remembering that He can save us in all things.

**

Mormon takes especial care to give us the specific date when Alma and Amulek are delivered from prison. Then in chapter 16, he gives the specific date when all the people of Ammonihah are attacked and slaughtered by the Lamanites.
Deliverance of Alma and Amulek – 10th year of judges, 10th month, 5th day
Destruction of Ammonihah – 11th year of judges, 2nd month, 5th day
We don’t know what was the last month of their Nephite year, but it could be as many as 6, or as few as 2 months later that Ammonihah was destroyed. Still, it seems Mormon wants to point out that destruction came swiftly when they were ripe, to underline that warnings from God should not be ignored.

3 comments:

Kimberly said...

When I was at BYU my Book of Mormon professor had an interesting theory about Amulek.

When Alma first meets him Amulek greets him and invites him into his home, which seems to indicate he had a family. Then when the women and children are being burned Amulek desperately wants to save them perhaps indicating his family was among those dying.

Finally, after they leave Ammonihah Amulek comes and lives with Alma thereafter.

His theory was that Amulek had a family, but that his family was killed in the fire. It makes his faith even more admirable and powerful viewed that way-but like I said it's only a theory.

Michaela Stephens said...

Kimberly, it is entirely possible.
Also, Alma 15:16 says of Amulek "he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred." We don't know for sure whether "kindred" meant extended family or immediate family. However, if "kindred" meant extended family, that might support your professor's theory; an antagonistic extended family may have banded together with his father to repudiate and destroy Amulek's immediate family.

DRC said...

I think this passage can help us to understand the type of faith we require and give us strength in affliction. For Alma and Amulek their redemption came when the Lord helped them escape the persecution. For those that were burned, they were received up into glory. The Lord releases us from the trials when and how he sees fit.

Finally, I like the story of Zeezrom, who softened his heart and recevied the spirit and changed. Showing even the most hardened hearts can change through the spirit.