Come, Follow Me: July 20 — 26
In verse 1, Alma declares a law of God that God has given to His chosen people in their chosen lands—that they will prosper if they are righteous and be swept off if they are wicked. Heavenly Father declared the same thing to His Old Testament prophets, and Lehi’s family left the Holy Land just as his people were about to be swept off for their wickedness.
In verse 2 (and verses 28 – 30), Alma counsels Helaman to remember the captivity and deliverance of their fathers. While the Jews had always used the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt as their touchstone story, the Nephites by now had added several more testimony-building deliverance stories. What were they and what do they show about how God hears and delivers us? Why is it so important that we tell and retell these stories? Do you have any deliverance stories in your own families? Are they testimony-building for you?
Look at verse 3. Alma wants Helaman to trust God. The word “faith” in Hebrew—emunah—actually has a meaning more like trust. How do we show that we trust the Lord? In verse 4, Alma begins to explain to Helaman, who is still young, how he knows these things. Alma talks about being “born of God.” To be born again is necessary for every Christian. When we are born again of the Spirit, we become new people, always desiring to do good.
For most of us, this is a gradual process as our conversion deepens, but for Alma it was sudden. Alma explains how he and the sons of Mosiah had been trying to destroy the church. Note in verses 6 – 10 that Alma and the sons of Mosiah all fell to the earth when the angel appeared. Alma was commanded to arise. When he stood up, the angel recited verse 9 and Alma fell to the earth again and couldn’t speak or move for three days and three nights.
Look at verse 11. Alma says he was racked by “eternal torment.” But his suffering only lasted for 72 hours. Why does he call it “eternal torment” then? This article explains how “eternal hell” can be temporary. What caused Alma’s suffering during this three days? Was he in a place with fire and brimstone? See verses 12 – 16. Look at verses 17 and 18. How did Alma invite an end to his suffering? How does this experience remind you of what Joseph Smith went through in the Sacred Grove?
What happened to Alma when he called upon Jesus Christ for deliverance? Look at verses 18 – 22. The sons of Mosiah were also converted and born again but they didn’t have the same experience as Alma. Discuss your ideas on why their experience was different.
Beginning in verse 24, Alma tells Helaman why he has received great joy since his conversion experience. Did this joy just come down from heaven upon him? Or did he work for it? See verses 24 – 27.
Alma commands Helaman to take and preserve the scriptures. The Nephites knew that their scriptures would only last for hundreds of years if they were engraved on metal plates and then protected from those who wanted to destroy them (the Lamanites). But they did also write their scriptures on more perishable materials so the people could read and share them. The next time (or this time) you read the Book of Mormon watch for the times those scriptures are mentioned. Look at verse 3. What are the plates of brass? Look at verses 4 and 5. Why did the Lord want them to be protected?
In verses 6 – 12, Alma talks about how small and simple things can bring to pass great things. What are the small and simple things and the great things Alma talks about? Has this happened to you and your family? What small and simple things in your own history have brought about great things. A good example of what kind of story a family can have is the story of John Howland, the ancestor of Joseph Smith. You might want to read this story together.
In verses 11 and 12; and 14 – 20, Alma says he doesn’t know the future of the scriptures they are keeping on metal plates. The Lord guided the Book of Mormon prophets, especially Mormon, in what they should write and how they should organize their writings. God did this so we would have the scriptures we need when we need them. But the Book of Mormon prophets didn’t always understand why; they were simply obedient. Many of these prophets hoped the Lamanites would be converted in the future by reading these scriptures.
In verse 21, Alma begins to talk to Helaman about the 24 plates that held a record of the Jaredites. Alma counseled Helaman to show the people how wicked the Jaredites became and how it destroyed them. In verse 23, Alma talks about preserving the interpreters which can be used by righteous prophets to interpret scriptures written in unknown languages. Mosiah had used these interpreters to translate the Jaredite records.
In verses 27 – 32, Alma says he does not want Helaman to publish the Jaredites’ secret oaths, which came from Satan. Alma then teaches Helaman of the qualities he will need to have to be righteous and blessed of God. What are they?
In verses 37 – 47, Alma talks about the Liahona, which is to be kept with the metal plates and the interpreters. How did it work? How is it a type for our own faith? (See verses 43 – 45.)
Alma gives counsel to his son, Shiblon (Alma 38):
Alma begins by telling Shiblon that he will prosper in the land if he is righteous (verse 1). Read verses 2 – 4. What kind of youth is Shiblon? Why does Alma have high hopes for him? Why is “steadiness” an important trait? What kinds of trials had Shiblon already been through? How did he bear them? What does it look like to bear trials with patience?
In verse 5, Alma talks about trusting God, and then in verse 6, Alma tells Shiblon about his personal conversion. Do you have a conversion story? Even if you were born into an LDS family, you still have to be converted. Does Alma’s conversion story strengthen your testimony?
In verse 9, Alma says there is no other way to salvation but through Christ. Alma then goes on to tell Shiblon what kinds of traits he should nurture in himself. What are they? Is this good advice for us, too?