“Converted Unto The Lord”
Taught By Jeff Stone
July 20, 2008
The above time line is a visual aid to help us clarify where we are at in history and how The Book of Alma was laid out by Mormon. You’ll not the that two time-lines on the left are parallel to each other and take place at the same time.
At about 77 B.C., when both time-lines end, Alma runs into the Sons of Mosiah. At that point, they recount to Alma all that happened to them. This recounting is recorded in Alma 17 – 26. So we the reader sort of push the pause button at the end of Alma 16 as we read Alma 17 – 26.
Also, keep in mind that what we read in Alma 17 – 26 is actually an abridgment by Mormon. Realize that Mormon was abridging what Alma recorded, and Alma recorded what the Sons of Mosiah told him when they ran into each other around 77 B.C. For more details on this record itself, check out lesson 25 from last week.
Once we finish up verses 23, 24, 25 and 26, we will be moving from the two parallel time-lines into the point where the events intersect at the blue circle in the graphic above. At this point in history, we are seeing the stories of Alma and the Sons of Mosiah together at once.
The Ultimate Miracle:
The moment had finally come after 500 years… Lamanites are converted. It began in the last week’s lesson (lesson 25), and it continues with exponential growth in this week’s chapters. We know that King Lamoni and his father have been converted. In Chapter 23, we see that the King sends word out to all that the people are not to harm Ammon, Aaron, Omner or Himni (The Sons of Mosiah).
The Sons of Mosiah were allowed to preach freely amongst the people, and tons of Lamanites were converted. There were mass conversions in seven different Lamanite lands:
- Ishmael (verse 9)
- Middoni (verse 10)
- Nephi (verse 11)
- Shilom (verse 12)
- Shemlon (verse 12)
- Lemuel (verse 12)
- Shimnilom (verse 12)
The converted Lamanites laid down their weapons and became a peaceful people. The Amalekites had only one convert. The rest did not convert. Also the Amulonites did not convert either. By the end of Chapter 23 the Lamanites had become friendly with the Nephites and had taken upon themselves the name “Anti-Nephi-Lehies” to distinguish them from their brethren.
True Blue Conversion:
During our study in Chapter 24, we learn that King Lamoni’s father passes on and leaves the kingdom to his son “Anti-Nephi-Lehi.” During this time, The Lamanites, Amulonites and Amalekites came to attack the newly converted Lamanites (The Anti-Nephi-Lehies).
King Lamoni, His Brother (Anti-Nephi-Lehi), and Ammon all got together to decide how to handle the attack from the Lamanites. Not one of The Anti-Nephi-Lehies would take arms to protect themselves. They did not want to, nor would the king allow it.
In verses 10 through 13, we learn why they would not defend themselves. They were grateful to God that they had been forgiven of their gross sins of murder and other abominations. They knew that if they were to completely show that they had truly converted that they must not murder even in self-defense.
There is a beautiful metaphor in these verses about their swords becoming shining again and free from the stains of the blood of those they have murdered. Take the time to read verses 10 through 13 carefully.
Once the decision was made to not fight back, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, upon seeing The Lamanites coming, went outside and bowed themselves to the ground and prayed to God and allowed themselves to be slaughtered. They did not fight back. The Lamanites murdered 1005 of them. In verse 22, we find that those who were murdered are saved and with God.
In verses 23 and 24, The Lamanites stop when they realize that their brethren do not fight back, and in fact, many of The Lamanites begin to feel sorrow and repent. They then laid down their weapons and began to live amongst The Anti-Nephi-Lehies who graciously accepted them even after The Lamanites had slaughtered 1005 of The Anti-Nephi-Lehies.
Turned Away From the Truth:
More of The Lamanites converted than the 1005 that they slew. Those who converted where actual decendants of Laman and Lemuel. Those who were not converted were mostly Amulonites and Amalekites who were of the order of Nehor. Remember that these people (The Nehors) are Nephites who became corrupt by the teachings of Nehor.
In verse 30, Mormon points out the fact that those who knew the truth (Nehors) and turned away are much worse off and fall deeper and further than those who never knew the truth (Lamanites). The Lamanites were corrupted by their parents and their forefathers. However, The Nephites had the truth, but were lead astray by Nehor and his teachings.
Prophesies Always Come True:
Chapter 25, can be summed up just by reading the heading, so I won’t go into detail for this chapter. However, I do want to point out one thing. Abinadi prophesied to King Noah and Noah’s Priests that they (the priests) would die in the same manner that Abinadi would die. This prophesy comes true in Chapter 25, so make sure you read this chapter.
Ammon is Grateful:
Chapter 26 is the final chapter in the parallel time-line. In this chapter, Ammon is overly excited about the success and joy and works of the Lord amongst The Lamanites. Thousands upon Thousands upon Thousands of Lamanites have converted.
Ammon is so excited that at one point his brother Aaron accuses him of boasting. Ammon’s response was that he was boasting of the efforts of God and acknowledging The Lord’s hand in all of the successful missionary work that they accomplished.
Ammon then spends the next several verses recapping all of the wonderful things that The Lord has blessed them with. Then in verse 36, referring to praising God and being grateful, Ammon says, “Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast.” I love that scripture. The whole chapter is just full of such a great recap of all that has happened in the past few years before The Sons of Mosiah met up with Alma in the wilderness. Please take the time to read Chapter 26.
Merging The Time-Lines:
Chapter 27 marks the beginning of the time-lines coming together. We now will be continuing on with Alma and The Sons of Mosiah working together. At this point, Ammon’s plan is to move the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to safety, so the plan was to take them to Zarahemla. Of course the King basically said, “are you crazy?!” These are the people that The Lamanites have tortured all of these years, and the King was afraid that they would not accept him and his people.
Ammon, of course, said that he would ask The Lord. The King, being truly converted, accepted that if it was The Lord’s will that he would allow the people to move to Zarahemla. The Lord approved, and Ammon told the King and his people to stay put while he went back to Zarahemla to sort of scope out the situation and ask for the support of the people of Zarahemla.
It was during this journey to Zarahemla where Ammon and his brethren ran into Alma who was on his way to Manti. Ammon and his brethren then recount the all that they had done in the past 14 years. Again, Alma chapters 17-26 is Mormon’s abrigement of Alma’s writings of these stories told to him by the Sons of Mosiah. Ammon basically exhausts himself recounting the stories to Alma.
Alma decides to go with the Sons of Mosiah back to Zarahemla, and he takes them to his home. They spoke with the Chief judge and recounted the events of Alma chapters 17-26 to the him. They explain that The Anti-Nephi-Lehies would like to come here to the land of Zarahemla.
The Nephites, being the righteous people that they are, offered The Anti-Nephi-Lehies the entire land of Jershon. Not only that, but they offered to protect the land with their own military. This is just another touching example of true humility and service. Remember that many of the people who will be moving into Jershon have killed family members and friends of those who will be giving them land and protecting them. What an incredible example of true Christ-like love and forgiveness.
Ammon and Alma headed back to The Anti-Nephi-Lehies to tell them the good news. They all came back to Zarahemla and took the land of Jershon, and were overly grateful. They then became known by the Nephites as the Ammonites or the people of Ammon. They were a choice and righteous people who truly served The Lord and each other.
Chapter 28 brings us news of an awful event in the History of the people of the Book of Mormon. During the time that Ammon was going back and forth between Zarahemla and The Land of The Anti-Nephi-Lehies, The Lamanites were watching and following them. They came to Zarahemla and waged a battle that was bigger than any battle that had ever been seen since arriving in the land of promise.
Tens of thousands of The Lamanites were slaughtered and many of The Nephites were destroyed as well. The battle was ultimately won by the Nephites, and The Lamanites fled. In this chapter there is extreme sorrow and extreme joy among the people of Nephi. The sorrow for the loss of their families, but joy in the hope that their murdered family members are now with God.
The final Chapter of this lesson, Chapter 29, Alma bares his soul and prays exuberantly for the ability to preach and cry repentance with “Angelic Zeal.” The only way to get the full effect of this passage is to take the time to read it. It’s a very powerful passage.
This lesson was a bit longer than most and covered a lot of scriptures and a lot of history, a lot of joy and a lot of sorrow. I was greatly moved by the spirit on many occasions as I read these scriptures, as I prepared this lesson and today as I’ve recapped and posted this information online.
There is a lot of power in these few verses. We truly see the absolute complete conversion of a people so wicked that it would seem there is no hope for them. Yet there is hope, and they do convert, and they convert ALL the way. Their actions of burying their weapons in the ground and chosing to die rather than take up the sword again was absolutely moving and touching to me. The sacrifices that they made to convert are incredible.
Then there are the Nephites who offer up their land and their military to protect their former enemies. Again, the true devotion here is absolutely inspiring.
The sorrow of the loss of the Nephites when the Lamanites come upon them, and their joy that their families are now with God is a lesson in hope and faith that we could all learn from. It is my hope that the we will all be inspired by the people of Nephi and the people of Ammon, and truly be “Converted unto The Lord.”