Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Remembering the Captivity and Deliverance of Our Fathers

In Alma’s advice to his son Helaman, he starts out with this bit:

2 I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.
3 And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day. (Alma 36:2-3)
I’ve always thought it a little peculiar that Alma wanted Helaman to remember the deliverance of his fathers from captivity. It made me wonder why that was so important. I noticed Alma also preached to the people in Zerahemla in Alma 5, asking if they had sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of their fathers and that God had delivered them.
Eventually I realized the reason for this. Sooner or later, we will get ourselves into some sort of predicament—spiritual or temporal—in which we will be stuck and we can’t fix it ourselves, and we will need the Lord to stretch out His mighty arm and save us. And when that salvation happens, we need to remember it FOREVER, remember His mercy and power and let that motivate us to love and serve God ever after.

Alma the Younger had his own experiences with deliverance, a spiritual one from hellish torment, and a physical one from the prison of Ammonihah and the cruel leaders who mocked and abused him. In both cases, he was stuck, and only God could deliver him. This meant so much to him, but he couldn’t exactly universalize these experiences when preaching to others—“remember my captivity and that the Lord delivered me”—because it wouldn’t resonate as strongly. But exhorting his son and others to remember the captivity of their fathers would be better because the Nephites would have various family stories they handed down, stories of leaving the land of Nephi with Mosiah I, or escaping from King Noah, or escaping with Gideon and King Limhi from the Lamanites. These stories would also be added to whatever personal experiences they’d had with the Lord delivering them from physical and spiritual captivity.

How does remembering that captivity and deliverance help us? Remembering our captivity reminds us of all the difficulties we labored under, all the afflictions and so on. It strengthens our resolve to never put ourselves in that position again, to fight any tendency to slide back into that state. It causes us to remember the great mercy of God in delivering us out of that captivity and strengthens our resolve to serve Him and testify of Him.

So, take some time to remember your deliverance today and how the Lord has blessed you.