23 April 2014

Alma 15: The Healing of Zeezrom

In the last chapter, Alma and Amulek used the power of God to escape from prison in Ammonihah. The walls of the prison split open and fell on their enemies, killing them instantly. 

Right after they busted out of the joint, though, they were commanded to go to the city of Sidon. The Book of Mormon doesn't specify who commanded them, but it must have been God because everyone else in the city was either already dead or shaking with fear. 

When they arrived in Sidon, they found their followers who had been thrown out of the city.
And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek were commanded to depart out of that city; and they departed, and came out even into the land of Sidom; and behold, there they found all the people who had departed out of the land of Ammonihah, who had been cast out and stoned, because they believed in the words of Alma. 15.1 
They explained what had happened to their wives and children (they had been burned to death). They also told them about their daring escape. I'm sure that even in their moment of grief, they were pretty impressed with the prison break story.
And they related unto them all that had happened unto their wives and children, and also concerning themselves, and of their power of deliverance. 15.2
 As it turns out, Zeezrom was in Sidon, too. He was sick with a fever that was caused by guilt. He thought that Alma and Amulek were dead, and he blamed himself for their death. When he saw them come into town, he sent a message calling for them to come see him.
And also Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness, for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat. 15.3 
Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, his heart began to take courage; and he sent a message immediately unto them, desiring them to come unto him. 15.4

When Alma and Amulek arrived at Zeezrom's bed, they saw he was in pretty bad shape. He asked them to heal him, and Alma asked him if he believed in Christ's power of salvation.
And it came to pass that they went immediately, obeying the message which he had sent unto them; and they went in unto the house unto Zeezrom; and they found him upon his bed, sick, being very low with a burning fever; and his mind also was exceedingly sore because of his iniquities; and when he saw them he stretched forth his hand, and besought them that they would heal him. 15.5
And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation? 15.6
Zeezrom answered: "Yup! I believe everything you taught me."
And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.  15.7
But that didn't quite do it for Alma. He wanted to make sure, so he asked him again.
And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed. 15.8
Zeezrom probably would have agreed to anything at this point. He answers, again, "Yup! I believe."
And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words. 15.9
Alma asks God to heal him "According to his faith". Apparently Zeezrom's faith passes the test, because he instantly leaps out of his bed. Glory! Alma then baptizes Zeezrom, and from then on Zeezrom preached to the people.
 And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ. 15.10 
And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom. 15.11 
And Alma baptized Zeezrom unto the Lord; and he began from that time forth to preach unto the people. 15.12
Alma established a church in Sidon, and baptized everyone there who wanted to be baptized. Nobody in Ammonihah wanted to be baptized, because they were all still wicked sinners.
And Alma established a church in the land of Sidom, and consecrated priests and teachers in the land, to baptize unto the Lord whosoever were desirous to be baptized. 15.13 
And it came to pass that they were many; for they did flock in from all the region round about Sidom, and were baptized. 15.14
But as to the people that were in the land of Ammonihah, they yet remained a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people; and they repented not of their sins, ascribing all the power of Alma and Amulek to the devil; for they were of the profession of Nehor, and did not believe in the repentance of their sins. 15.15
Amulek had left all of his gold and silver, his house, and his father in Ammonihah. Alma wanted to help him start a new life, so he took him back to his home in Zarahemla. First, though, he made sure that the church was off to a good start, and that the people weren't going to become wicked again. He made sure they were praying enough, and that they were humble... and then Alma and Amulek took off for Zarahemla.
And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek, Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred; 15.16 
Therefore, after Alma having established the church at Sidom, seeing a great check, yea, seeing that the people were checked as to the pride of their hearts, and began to humble themselves before God, and began to assemble themselves together at their sanctuaries to worship God before the altar, watching and praying continually, that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction -- 15.17 
Now as I said, Alma having seen all these things, therefore he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord. 15.18
This all happened in 82 BC (according to the Book of Mormon footnote).
And thus ended the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi. 15.19

21 April 2014

Alma 14: Alma and Amulek in Prison

After Alma and Amulek had finished speaking, the response of the crowd was mixed. Some of them believed the speech and began to repent, but the majority of them were angry and wanted to kill them.
And it came to pass after he had made an end of speaking unto the people many of them did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the scriptures. 14.1 
But the more part of them were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek; for they were angry with Alma, because of the plainness of his words unto Zeezrom; and they also said that Amulek had lied unto them, and had reviled against their law and also against their lawyers and judges. 14.2
Instead, the crowd tied them up and brought them before the Chief Judge.
But it came to pass that they did not; but they took them and bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land. 14.4
The people testified against Alma and Amulek, saying that they had made fun of their lawyers, judges, laws and of everyone who lived in their land. The also testified that Alma and Amulek had claimed that there was only one God, and God would send his son among the people, but that his son wouldn't save them.
And the people went forth and witnessed against them -- testifying that they had reviled against the law, and their lawyers and judges of the land, and also of all the people that were in the land; and also testified that there was but one God, and that he should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them; and many such things did the people testify against Alma and Amulek. Now this was done before the chief judge of the land. 14.5 
Every man, woman and child who believed Alma and Amulek's words were rounded up and burned. Alma and Amulek were brought to the "place of martyrdom" and made to watch everyone burn to death.
And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire, and they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire. 14.8 
And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire. 14.9
Then Amulek and Alma had this nice little exchange:

AMULEK
How can we watch this? Let's use the power of God to save them from the flames.


ALMA
No, we shouldn't. God needs solid proof to punish these people, and if we stop it then they can't be punished properly. It's a shame that all of these innocent people have to burn to death, but punishing evil people is more important to God than saving innocent ones.

 AMULEK
Yeah, I guess that makes sense. But they might burn us, too, and I don't want to burn to death. 
ALMA
Naah, God won't let us burn. We still have stuff to do for him. 

But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day. 14.11 
Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also. 14.12 
And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not. 14.13

After everyone else is burned, the Chief Judge came to talk to Alma and Amulek. After slapping them around a few times, he asked them "Are you still going to keep preaching? Even after your god couldn't save those people? What do you have to say for yourselves?"
Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone? 14.14 
Behold, ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them because they were of thy faith. And the judge smote them again upon their cheeks, and asked: What say ye for yourselves? 14.15
They kept their mouths shut. (I usually say "thou sayest" in theses situations). The Chief Judge hit them again, and then threw them in prison.
And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek answered him nothing; and he smote them again, and delivered them to the officers to be cast into prison. 14.17

Alma and Amulek weren't treated very well in prison. The Ammonihahites denied them  food and water, and even made them strip naked. Meanwhile they sent all kinds of lawyers, judges, priests and teachers to question them. They didn't answer any of their questions though.
And when they had been cast into prison three days, there came many lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers, who were of the profession of Nehor; and they came in unto the prison to see them, and they questioned them about many words; but they answered them nothing. 14.18 
And it came to pass that the judge stood before them, and said: 0Why do ye not answer the words of this people? Know ye not that I have power to deliver you up unto the flames? And he commanded them to speak; but they answered nothing. 14.19 
And it came to pass that they departed and went their ways, but came again on the morrow; and the judge also smote them again on their cheeks. And many came forth also, and smote them, saying: Will ye stand again and judge this people, and condemn our law? If ye have such great power why do ye not deliver yourselves? 14.20 
And many such things did they say unto them, gnashing their teeth upon them, and spitting upon them, and saying: How shall we look when we are damned? 14.21 
And many such things, yea, all manner of such things did they say unto them; and thus they did mock them for many days. And they did withhold food from them that they might hunger, and water that they might thirst; and they also did take from them their clothes that they were naked; and thus they were bound with strong cords, and confined in prison. 14.22 
And it came to pass after they had thus suffered for many days, (and it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) that the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah and many of their teachers and their lawyers went in unto the prison where Alma and Amulek were bound with cords. 14.23
One day, Alma just couldn't take it anymore. The Chief Judge said to him and Amulek (after hitting them again), that if they can use God's power to break the cords on their hands, then he'll believe them. Then everyone else in the Chief Judge's entourage hits them and says the exact same thing.
And the chief judge stood before them, and smote them again, and said unto them: If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves from these bands, and then we will believe that the Lord will destroy this people according to your words. 14.24 
And it came to pass that they all went forth and smote them, saying the same words, even until the last; and when the last had spoken unto them the power of God was upon Alma and Amulek, and they rose and stood upon their feet. 14.25

Alma cries out to God, asking him how much longer he has to put up with being smacked in the face all the time. God answers by giving him divine power to break the cords. This really scared everyone there, and they start running out of the prison.
And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them. 14.26 
But they were too scared to run properly, and they fell to the ground.
And it came to pass that so great was their fear that they fell to the earth, and did not obtain the outer door of the prison. 14.27a

Then the ground shook, and the prison was split it two, and everyone who had just slapped Alma and Amulek were crushed by a falling wall.

And the earth shook mightily, and the walls of the prison were rent in twain, so that they fell to the earth; and the chief judge, and the lawyers, and priests, and teachers, who smote upon Alma and Amulek, were slain by the fall thereof. 14.27b

Alma and Amulek left the prison without a scratch. No one in town gave them any trouble, because they were afraid of them.

And Alma and Amulek came forth out of the prison, and they were not hurt; for the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ. And they straightway came forth out of the prison; and they were loosed from their bands; and the prison had fallen to the earth, and every soul within the walls thereof, save it were Alma and Amulek, was slain; and they straightway came forth into the city. 14.28 
Now the people having heard a great noise came running together by multitudes to know the cause of it; and when they saw Alma and Amulek coming forth out of the prison, and the walls thereof had fallen to the earth, they were struck with great fear, and fled from the presence of Alma and Amulek even as a goat fleeth with her young from two lions; and thus they did flee from the presence of Alma and Amulek. 14.29










19 April 2014

Happy Jesus-in-Hell Day!

When I was a believer, I was always puzzled by the phrase "He descended into hell" in the Apostles' Creed. It just seemed strange to me. What was a nice guy like Jesus doing in a place like that?

But I guess Jesus did some time in hell; it says so right in the Bible.
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. Acts 2:31
Luckily he took some really cool pictures.

Here's a black and white photo of a very tall Jesus meeting Adam and Eve as they come out of their demon-mouth house.


And here's one, on Saturday night, after Jesus put on his transparent robe.


Jesus, in a hurry to meet the ladies of hell.


Another photo of Jesus hanging out with Adam and Eve.


The sermon from hell.


And here's Jesus Sunday morning before heading back to the tomb.

18 April 2014

Alma 13: Melchizedek--None were greater

In this chapter, Alma continues his speech to Zeezrom and people of Ammonihah who have gathered. He told them all about the holy priests that were ordained directly from God, and how some people listened to the priests and some didn't. The priests were holy, dedicated, and wise...

He goes on for quite a while about this, without saying much of substance. The only real interesting thing he says about the priests in the first 10 verses is this: "Their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb". That must have been some special blood. 

And this is the manner after which they were ordained -- being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such. Alma 13.3 
And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren. 13.4 
Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb. 13.11
Then we get to a more interesting part. Alma brings up Melchizedek, who apparently was in the same order of priests that he had been speaking so highly of before. (Remember Melchizedek from Genesis 14.20? He was the lucky priest that got 1/10 of Abraham's booty in exchange for one little prayer.)
Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever. 13.14  
And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. 13.15
Luckily, we are going to get to learn more about him than we did in Genesis. According to Alma, Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem. His people had become wicked, but he saved them because of his "mighty faith". He established peace in the land, and even became known as the "prince of peace".

Also, note that he reigned under his father (who, according to Hebrews 7:3, he didn't have.)
Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness; 13.17 
But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father. 13.18
He must have been some priest/king, because apparently he was the best there ever was (or will be).
Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention. 13.19
 Something similar is mentioned about Melchizedek in Hebrews:
Melchizedek...Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God. Hebrews 7.1-3
But enough about Melchizedek. It's time to repent! Alma gets back to his core message, and even urges them not to procrastinate.
And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance13.27 
But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; 13.28
And that's it. Except everything else he said, which I guess wasn't important enough to chisel into the plates.
And Alma spake many more words unto the people, which are not written in this book. 13.31






17 April 2014

Guess what book replaced the Book of Mormon as the #1 book on the list of life-changing books

Yesterday there was an article in the Deseret News entitled, "The Book of Mormon claims No. 1 spot on list of life-changing books." It was great news for the Salt Lake City newspaper, a paper owned an operated by the LDS Church.

Here are some excepts:

The Book of Mormon climbed to the top of a list of life-changing books from BestBookRead.com Wednesday, April 17, thanks to user votes and social media interaction.
...
On Wednesday, the Book of Mormon claimed the No. 1 spot on the list with help from a blog post by LDS Media Talk.

The post, published April 11, prompted readers with the question "How has the Book of Mormon changed your life?" Readers were encouraged to vote for their life changing-book at BestBookRead.com.

After the post, the Book of Mormon went from No. 25 on the list to No. 1, with more than 4,000 votes.

"This is an example of what Latter-day Saints can do when we stand for what we believe and we share it with others," reads the post from LDS Media Talk.

Before the post on April 11, the Book of Mormon ranked #25, with 235 votes; five days later it ranked #1, with more than 4000 votes. As the author of the #1 generating post said, "This is an example of what Latter-day Saints can do when we stand for what we believe and we share it with others. If you haven’t voted for it yet, just visit BestBookRead.com."

The joy at LDS headquarters in SLC was short-lived, however. The Book of Mormon has fallen to #4, following #3 "How to Kill Yourself." The new #1 is "Mein Kampf" by Adolf Hitler.

(The Bible, by the way, is #36, just barely beating "Porn Star 1" by one vote.)