Come, Follow Me: May 11 — 17
This week’s lesson moves forward the inspirational conversion story of Alma the Elder, who influenced may of King Noah’s people to convert to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Abinadi preached to Noah and his priests, it appears that Alma was the only one who was pricked in his heart. He was so moved by Abinadi’s teachings that he decided to defend the prophet. This put Alma’s life at risk since King Noah was very irritated that someone would agree with Abinadi’s rebuke of his wicked ways. The king sent soldiers to pursue Alma, so he fled and went into hiding. Although his life was in great danger, it is obvious that the Lord protected Alma and allowed him to eventually lead many people to the truth.
Imagine what was going on in the minds and hearts of the other priests when Alma first expressed his support of what Abinadi was proclaiming. You might want to role play or write stories around this. Could there have been others who believed but who were afraid to say so? Could there have been another priest who later joined Alma? Could some priests have been afraid to listen because of what they would have lost—their position, family, friends, and even their lives? Could there have been others who consider Abinadi’s words and decided they weren’t true? Others who disbelieved him but felt guilty that Abinadi was killed? These are all fascinating questions to ponder since we have very little detailed information about the exact circumstances.
Verse 1 says that Alma repented and went about teaching the words of Abinadi. Do you think that he learned enough from Abinadi’s testimony to teach the people? Read verse 2. Do you think that Alma had direct communication with God to learn these things? How could his previous knowledge of the scriptures be combined with this new perspective? Do you think some of the verses he had read many times took on a new meaning? Has this ever happened to you as you have been taught by the Spirit?
Alma was so transformed by the teachings of Abinadi, that he wanted others to have the same knowledge. At the risk of losing his life, he taught people in secret and some were willing to listen. This group of about 200 people gathered at the waters of Mormon secretly. What advantage was it for them to meet together in spite of the risk? In verses 8 and 9, Alma talks about what Christ expects from His people. Some people today consider themselves “spiritual,” but they don’t like organized churches. How does having an organized church help us to bear one another’s burdens, mourn with each other, give comfort, and bear witness?
D. Todd Christofferson said the following:
“I realize that there are those who consider themselves religious or spiritual and yet reject participation in a church or even the need for such an institution. Religious practice is for them purely personal. Yet the Church is the creation of Him in whom our spirituality is centered—Jesus Christ. It is worth pausing to consider why He chooses to use a church, His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to carry out His and His Father’s work.”
Elder Christofferson then shared reasons the Lord has organized a Church (see “Why the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 108–11):
Why would King Noah want to stop these things from happening?
In verse 12, Alma begins to baptize the people. Helam is the first to be baptized. When Alma baptizes Helam, he also immerses himself into the water. Why do you suppose Alma did that? What instruction do you think he received from the Lord before doing this? What authority did Alma have? Is it possible to receive authority directly from God? In Joseph Smith History verses 66 to 75 we read about a similar situation the occurred when Joseph Smith baptized Oliver Cowdery. In this incident, however, Joseph baptized Oliver Cowdery and then Oliver baptized Joseph. The same exchange occurred as they ordained each other to the Aaronic priesthood.
Verse 17 states:
And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church.
In verse 18, they begin to organize. Alma had the authority to ordain priests. Look at verse 21. It state, “And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.” How do we “look forward with one eye”?
Verses 23 and 25 discuss the observance of the Sabbath day, set apart so they could gather to teach the people and to worship God. What blessings do we receive for keeping the Sabbath day?
In verse 26 we find that those who preached could not receive support from the people but had to support themselves. This is quite different from the way King Noah’s people were set up.
Starting in verse 27, we see how the members helped the poor. “And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given.” How do we do this in the Church today?
Beginning in verse 31, we see that Noah found out about these gatherings. The members heard that Noah was coming after them. By this time there were about 450 followers of Christ, and they took their tents and families into the wilderness, fleeing the king.
The army of King Noah failed to find Alma’s people. He began to have “unrest” in the land where some people were against him. The people who were for Noah and those who were against him contended with each other, even to violence. Gideon tried to kill the king, but the king mounted the high tower he had built next to the temple (verse 5). While he was up there, he saw an approaching army of Lamanites. Gideon spared his life (verse 8) and the people of Noah fled, with Noah in the lead.
The Lamanites began to catch up and to kill the people in the rear of the escaping Nephites. The King commanded that the men should abandon their wives and children and flee for their own lives. Obviously, the men were faster and were being slowed down by the women, children, and elderly. In verse 12, we see that many men would not obey, but some did and fled with King Noah. The men who stayed behind stopped. Their beautiful daughters pled with the Lamanites for their lives (verse 13).
The Lamanites were charmed and took the people back to their homes. They demanded the life of King Noah, once the people found him, and half of everything they owned every year. Among these people was Limhi, a good man, who was one of Noah’s sons. He didn’t want his father to die, but he was aware of his father’s wickedness (verse 17). Gideon sent men into the wilderness to search for the king. They found the men who had fled, but not Noah and his priests. The men were sorry for what they had done (verse 19). But the king had forbidden the men to return home as they had wanted. For this, the men killed King Noah with fire, just as Abinadi had prophesied. The wicked priests, however, had gotten away.
Gideon and the men discussed what had happened, with Gideon telling these husbands and fathers how their families had returned home. Look at verse 24. It says they had a ceremony. What kind of ceremony do you suppose they had? Can you make one up that feels logical?
In verse 26, we see that Limhi was made king by the people. He swore to the Lamanites that his people would pay the tribute. The Lamanites guarded the Nephites but they had peace for two years.
In Mosiah 20, some daughters of the Lamanites had gathered to sing and dance. The priests of Noah kidnapped them. The Lamanites assumed they had been taken by the people of Limhi and sent their armies against them. Limhi, however, saw them coming from the tower (verse 8). They had a great battle and the people of Limhi began to defeat the Lamanites. They found the Lamanite king among the dead, but he was still alive (verse 12). He was brought to Limhi and Limhi wanted to know why they had attacked. It was Gideon who suggested that it was surely the priests of Noah who had kidnapped the young Lamanite women.
Limhi and Gideon told the Lamanite king the story and he believed them. The Lamanite king went before them to pacify his people. What went right with these negotiations? How do they show that one’s enemy can be reasoned with?
After a while the Lamanites lost patience. They had made an oath not to kill Limhi’s people, but they persecuted them and made their burdens heavier. Their afflictions were so bad, the people wanted to go in battle against the Lamanites. King Limhi finally agreed, but their armies were badly defeated and many were killed. They tried again, and even a third time, but they were always defeated.
Finally, the people humbled themselves to the dust (verse 13) and cried to the Lord for deliverance. But the Lord was slow to answer their prayers. Look at verse 15 and find out why. When the Lord slowly began to bless them, why didn’t he give them everything they asked for? How did God choose to bless them (verses 16 – 18).
Look at verse 23. Why was the king so worried about being outside the walls of the city? When the king found out that Ammon and his friends were from Zarahemla, why was he overjoyed? In verse 25, we see that the king had tried to find Zarahemla, but the men he had sent had gotten lost. What did they discover instead (verse 26)? How might the history of the Nephites and the Lamanites have been different if the Jaredites had not destroyed themselves?
The searchers had found a Jaredite record engraved on metal plates, but no one could read them. How did Ammon know that Mosiah would be able to read them?
Ammon and his friends were very sorrowful when they heard the history of Limhi’s people?
In verse 33, why was there no one to baptize Limhi’s people?
Gideon was the one who came up with a plan to deliver Limhi’s people (verses 1 – 9). Did the plan work (verses 10 – 16)? How much noise would there have been for all the people and their herds, wagons, and little children to escape past the Lamanites? Do you think the Lord helped to keep the Lamanites asleep? Ammon was able to safely lead the people to Zarahemla. What did the people of Zarahemla do when they arrived?
Fleeing King Noah, the people of Alma had established a camp in the wilderness. Once settled, they wanted Alma to be their king, but he refused. Read verses 7 – 16. Alma explains why the people should not have a king. In verse 17, we see how Alma consecrated their spiritual leaders. What does it mean to be consecrated?
In verse 21, why does the Lord “chasten” us by trying our patience and our faith? Does “chasten” mean to discipline or to punish, or does it mean something else? What is the Lord hoping we will do (verse 22)?
While the people were going about their farming and herding, they were attacked by Lamanites. The people fled to the city of Helam, which they had built. Alma led his people in praying for help. Subsequently, Alma realized their best option was to deliver themselves up and became tributaries of the Lamanites. These Lamanites actually tricked Alma. They said Alma and his people would go free if they showed the Lamanites the way back to the land of Nephi. Alma showed them, but the Lamanites set Amulon (a former priest of King Noah) over them. Amulon had reached that position through a fascinating series of events. When the Lamanites found Amulon and the priests, who had kidnapped the Lamanite women, they would have been killed except for the pleadings of the daughters of the Lamanites whom they had taken as wives. Following this bargain, the Amulonites agreed to join with the Lamanites.
Amulon increased with favor among the Lamanites and was given charge over the lands of Shemlon, Shilom, and Amulon, as well as Helam. Laman was the major king. The wicked priests became teachers in all these lands (verse 4) and began to teach the language of the Nephites. But these priests taught nothing about God, the Law of Moses, or the words of Abinadi (verse 5). Starting in verse 6, we see that the Lamanites prospered in certain worldly ways. What did they achieve? Were they righteous?
Why did Amulon hate Alma (verses 8, 9)? The people of Amulon began to cry unto God because of their afflictions. Begin in verse 13—how did God bless them? In verse 16, we see the word patience again. Why do you have to be humble to be patient? What does it mean to “wait on the Lord”? God heard them and promised to deliver them.
Just like Limhi’s people, Alma’s people prepared to escape with everything they had, including their animals. This time, God caused a deep sleep to come upon the guards. After their escape, what did the people do (verse 21)? Why is giving thanks so important?
After 12 days of travel, the people of Alma reached Zarahemla (verse 25). How did Mosiah receive them?