18 February 2014

Alma 8: Alma, the Door-to-Door Salesman

After finishing up in Gideon, Alma returned to his home in Zarahemla to rest. A year or so later he decided to go preach in Melek. Melek was in the West, across the Sidon river, on the edge of the wilderness.
And now it came to pass that Alma returned from the land of Gideon, after having taught the people of Gideon many things which cannot be written, having established the order of the church, according as he had before done in the land of Zarahemla, yea, he returned to his own house at Zarahemla to rest himself from the labors which he had performed. 8.1 
And it came to pass in the commencement of the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, that Alma departed from thence and took his journey over into the land of Melek, on the west of the river Sidon, on the west by the borders of the wilderness. 8.3
Alma was very successful in Melek. People came from far away to hear his sermons, and he baptized just about everyone in the vicinity of Melek.
And he began to teach the people in the land of Melek according to the holy order of God, by which he had been called; and he began to teach the people throughout all the land of Melek. 8.4 
And it came to pass that the people came to him throughout all the borders of the land which was by the wilderness side. And they were baptized throughout all the land; 8.5
When he decided his work was done in Melek, Alma traveled north to the city of Ammonihah. Unfortunately for Alma, Satan had already beat him there. The people there had hard hearts and wouldn't listen to Alma's teachings. They called his religion "foolish traditions".
So that when he had finished his work at Melek he departed thence, and traveled three days' journey on the north of the land of Melek; and he came to a city which was called Ammonihah. 8.6 
Now Satan had gotten great hold upon the hearts of the people of the city of Ammonihah; therefore they would not hearken unto the words of Alma. 8.9 
Nevertheless, they hardened their hearts, saying unto him: Behold, we know that thou art Alma; and we know that thou art high priest over the church which thou hast established in many parts of the land, according to your tradition; and we are not of thy church, and we do not believe in such foolish traditions. 8.11
Alma tried really hard to convert the Ammonihahites. He "labored much in the spirit" and even tried "wrestling with God in mighty prayer," but nothing worked. (What a waste of a good God-wrestle! He didn't even get a new name or anything...)

The Ammonihahites knew that Alma wasn't chief judge anymore, and that had no real power over them. Even back then people understood the value of separating church and state!
Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance. 8.10 
And now we know that because we are not of thy church we know that thou hast no power over us; and thou hast delivered up the judgment-seat unto Nephihah; therefore thou art not the chief judge over us. 8.12
Then they got rude. They spit on Alma and kicked him out of the city. He decided to travel north and try his luck in the city of Aaron.
Now when the people had said this, and withstood all his words, and reviled him, and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city, he departed thence and took his journey towards the city which was called Aaron. 8.13
On his way he was stopped by an angel of the Lord. The angel told him to return to Ammonihah and try again. Yea, he told him to try again (see verse 16). The angel told him that the people of Ammonihah would eventually destroy his people unless they were converted.

The angel made no promises about his luck, but Alma obeyed and ran back to the city. He snuck in through the southern entrance.
And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying: 8.14
Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you. 8.15
And behold, I am sent to command thee that thou return to the city of Ammonihah, and preach again unto the people of the city; yea, preach unto them. Yea, say unto them, except they repent the Lord God will destroy them. 8.16    
For behold, they do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of thy people, (for thus saith the Lord) which is contrary to the statutes, and judgments, and commandments which he has given unto his people. 8.17  
Now it came to pass that after Alma had received his message from the angel of the Lord he returned speedily to the land of Ammonihah. And he entered the city by another way, yea, by the way which is on the south of the city of Ammonihah. 8.18
Alma was getting hungry (an hungered) so he decided to take his chances and ask someone there to feed him. He got lucky and ran into a nice guy named Amulek who took him in and fed him. He ended up staying with Amulek for "many days" before getting his nerve up to speak to the people.

And as he entered the city he was an hungered, and he said to a man: Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat? 8.19  
And the man said unto him: I am a Nephite, and I know that thou art a holy prophet of God, for thou art the man whom an angel said in a vision: Thou shalt receive. Therefore, go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food; and I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house. 8.20
And it came to pass that the man received him into his house; and the man was called Amulek; and he brought forth bread and meat and set before Alma. 8.21 
And it came to pass that Alma ate bread and was filled; and he blessed Amulek and his house, and he gave thanks unto God. 8.22 
And after he had eaten and was filled he said unto Amulek: I am Alma, and am the high priest over the church of God throughout the land. 8.23  
And behold, I have been called to preach the word of God among all this people, according to the spirit of revelation and prophecy; and I was in this land and they would not receive me, but they cast me out and I was about to set my back towards this land forever. 8.24
But behold, I have been commanded that I should turn again and prophesy unto this people, yea, and to testify against them concerning their iniquities. 8.25  
And now, Amulek, because thou hast fed me and taken me in, thou art blessed; for I was an hungered, for I had fasted many days. 8.26  
And Alma tarried many days with Amulek before he began to preach unto the people. 8.27
In the meantime, the situation in Ammonihah was just getting worse and worse. The people there were more wicked than ever. Alma was spoken to again by the angel, and the angel told him to recruit Amulek to help him preach to the people--and to get started and quit dilly-dallying.
And the word came to Alma, saying: Go; and also say unto my servant Amulek, go forth and prophesy unto this people, saying -- Repent ye, for thus saith the Lord, except ye repent I will visit this people in mine anger; yea, and I will not turn my fierce anger away. 8.29
So they started preaching. This time Alma wasn't letting himself get pushed around. The spirit gave them the power to break bands (like Samson), escape from dungeons, and not be killed. They didn't show off their powers right away, though. First they waited until they got thrown in prison, and then they escaped, so they could show the Lord's power.
And they had power given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them; nevertheless they did not exercise their power until they were bound in bands and cast into prison. Now, this was done that the Lord might show forth his power in them. 8.31 
And it came to pass that they went forth and began to preach and to prophesy unto the people, according to the spirit and power which the Lord had given them. 8.32
 I bet everyone was pretty impressed.

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