This is a short chapter. Ammon and King Limhi and his people discuss plans with the people and get their ideas how to escape.
When I have a problem, I should do the same. Make lots of plans and ideas to discuss before the Lord. I can’t just ask Him to deliver me and hope He magically does. Though He is all powerful and could deliver me and Limhi’s people easily. God seems to want us to invest ourselves in our own salvation, showing and proving to Him that we truly want to be delivered.
Limhi’s people know by hard experience that the sword is no option. They can’t fight their way out of bondage. Running into the wilderness seems their best option. Gideon steps forward with a plan to get the Lamanites drunk. They already do this each night; hence, he decides to exploit this weakness.
The devil will exploit our weaknesses. He remembers us from the preexistence, before he fell, and he knows just where to strike to bring us to our knees. If we are smart, we will drop to our knees willingly in prayer to discover what our own weaknesses are so God can help us strengthen them.
Limhi’s people send more wine as a gift. When the Lamanites are drunk, Ammon leads them out the city gates. After many days they join Mosiah’s people—their original people.
The Lamanites send forth an army to find them, but after two days they are lost in the wilderness.
…Which leads to finding out about Alma’s people that he led away during the time of King Noah, before Limhi became king. So this next chapter is a flashback which will connect into the present by Chapter 24.
When Alma’s people—the believers—escaped eight days into the wilderness, they established a new city called Helam. Once they are settled, the people desire Alma to be their king. That is all they know. But he tells them:
…it is not expedient that ye should have a king. (7) Nevertheless, if it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your kings it would be well for you to have a king.”Mosiah 23:8
He reminds them of the evil a wicked king, like Noah, can bring about in not much time. He admits that “I myself was caught in a snare, and did many things which were abominable in the sight of the Lord, which caused me sore repentance.” (9)
This seems to suggest that godly sorrow can be painful. It causes spiritual anguish, which breaks our hearts so they can be changed. Until this breaking process, God cannot mold us into His sons or daughters.
Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands in bringing so many of you to a knowledge of his truth.”Mosiah 23:10
He suffered much tribulation—being broken—which enabled him to access Christ’s Atonement.
We must delve deep and allow ourselves to feel sore repentance so we can be broken and enabled to access this same power that helps us become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Alma tells them that since God has freed them from both their physical bands and spiritual bands, “I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.” (13) He warns them to trust no man to be their teacher unless he be a just man of God, he teaches them to love each other and avoid contention. He seems to have set up a ecclesiastical leadership.
Therefore they did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness.”Mosiah 23:18
Watching over someone suggests I will know what is happening in their lives.
Am I quick to observe others, not to gather gossip, but to connect the dots and figure out what they need in their lives? Maybe they need physical help, financial assistance, a smile, a listening ear, help watching their kids, an inspiring word, an invitation to serve or connect with others in some way.
Here are some baby steps I take to help me be aware of others’ needs:
- Pray by name for people in my sphere of influence, to know if they need help. Pray to know if there are others I’m not aware of, who might need me.
- Ponder their circumstances. Try to step into their shoes in my mind and discover what they possibly might need, if I were them.
- Prepare to be an instrument in God’s hands by studying His words.
- Act on Promptings I receive, no matter how little they are, so God learns He can trust me. If He knows I will act on small promptings, He’ll be more willing in the future to give me larger promptings.
Alma’s people watch over each other and nourish one another, and “they began to prosper exceedingly in the land.” (19)
But change is coming. That is one certainty in life.
Bad things happen in life
Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.”Mosiah 23:21
Just because we follow God and keep His commandments doesn’t mean we will have an easy life with no troubles. If that was the case, everyone would choose to follow Him, for a promised life of ease or prosperity. It wouldn’t be a test.
Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.”Mosiah 23:22
Mormon inserts his wisdom, saying that Alma’s people are about to be put into bondage and none could deliver them but God, “and it came to pass that he did deliver them, and he did show forth his mighty power unto them, and great were their rejoicings.” (24)
This promised deliverance from trusting in God is what helps His people endure afflictions, pain, or injustices in life. We can experience peace and joy even while we are grieving, suffering, or feeling alone.
Connect back to the present timeline
Mormon gets back to connecting us to Chapter 22, when we left off with that Lamanite army searching for Limhi’s people and getting lost.
Alma’s people are minding their business, working hard to provide for themselves, when this same army comes into their lands and frightens them. They flee to Alma and he “stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them.” (27)
See the contrast between what Limhi’s people did and what Alma’s faithful people do. Limhi’s people took years to humble themselves. They went to battle three times and lost tons of people before being forced to be humble. Alma’s people see trouble and Alma inspires them to change their fear to faith.
I love Alma’s faith. The worst case scenario is happening—their enemies are upon them and they are unprepared to fight them. Yet, Alma urged them not to give into their fears, but to remember God and they would be delivered.
Therefore they hushed their fears, and began to cry unto the Lord that he would soften the hearts of the Lamanites, that they would spare them, and their wives, and their children.”Mosiah 23:28
The devil loves to stir up fear. The world is full of it. Media loves sensationalism, reporting about disasters, killing sprees, anarchy, immorality, loss of faith. Politicians and other leaders use fear to control. It’s easy to fall prey to fears if we’re not aware. But this verse shows that we must exercise faith enough to hush our fears, and put our energies into calling upon God in faith.
Faith and fear can’t coexist with each other.
Now a twist in the plot is revealed. This army had been chasing after Limhi’s people and became lost. But they stumbled upon the wicked priests of king Noah instead. Somehow, Amulon, their leader, charms his way into favor with the Lamanites by using their wives (who they’d kidnapped from the Lamanites earlier). Amulon’s people join the Lamanites and then stumble upon Alma’s people next.
The Lamanite leader promises Alma that if they show them the way back to their land, they will let them go. But this is a lie (the Lamanites are good at that in this section).
Alma does as they agree, but the Lamanites do not keep their end of the bargain.
But they set guards round about the land of Helam, over Alma and his brethren.”Mosiah 23:37
They then return to their land, grab their families, and return to glut themselves on ‘free labor.’ As if it wasn’t bad enough that Alma and his people have lost their liberty suddenly, “the king of the Lamanites had granted unto Amulon (the snake) that he should be a king and a ruler over his people, who were in the land of Helam.” (39)
Alma and his people’s lives have just turned dire. They are in bondage to a wicked man who hates them (because he was a priest with Alma once and wants revenge).
This account jumps straight to Alma’s people’s affliction, but they had all those years of peace while Noah’s and Limhi’s people were in bondage to the Lamanites and fought three wars, before Ammon and his group finds them. Alma’s people might have enjoyed 15-20 years of peace after they escaped King Noah, before this captivity happens.
Amulon, the snake, is very manipulative. He gains favor from king Laman and has his brethren appointed teachers to teach the Lamanites his language. This is a good thing, but Amulon doesn’t use it for good.
And they were a people friendly one with another; nevertheless they knew not God; neither did the brethren of Amulon teach them anything concerning the Lord their God, neither the law of Moses; nor did they teach them the words of Abinadi.”Alma 24:5
But they taught them how to write so they could correspond with each other and carry out business.
And thus the Lamanites began to increase in riches, and began to trade one with another and wax great, and began to be a cunning and a wise people, as to the wisdom of the world, yea, a very cunning people, delighting in all manner of wickedness and plunder, except it were among their own brethren.”Mosiah 24:7
This shows why Amulon gained favor. The things he taught helped the Lamanites become rich, so the king makes him king over three lands—Alma’s people among them.
Amulon begins to “exercise authority over Alma and his brethren, and began to persecute him…” (8) for “he was wroth with him.” (9) He lays tasks on their shoulders, and Alma’s people immediately turned to God.
Compare and contrast this to Limhi’s people, who tried to solve it themselves three times through war.
And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions [the people of Alma] that they began to cry mightily to God.”Mosiah 24:10
Amulon commands them not to pray, and he puts guards over them to kill whoever they find supplicating God, but that can never stop the righteous.
And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.” (12)Mosiah 24:12
They do not suffer long—compared to Limhi’s people—before the Lord “came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.” (13)
I love how God comforts them immediately by telling them He will deliver them. That knowledge buoyed them up to bear their burdens with more cheer.
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.”Mosiah 24:14-15
Their afflictions weren’t taken away ASAP, but they were made light. Their physical abilities were strengthened, and they became cheerful and patient, waiting on the Lord to deliver them in His time.
The Lord seemed to be testing them a little, and when they prove their faith and patience with their good attitude, He tells Alma that He will deliver them the next day—very specific—and He will go before them.
Alma and his people prepare by gathering all their possessions and flocks together.
And in the morning the Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon the Lamanites, yea, and all their task-masters were in a profound sleep.”Mosiah 24:19
Limhi’s people had to get their guards drunk after suffering loss from battle and being humble over many years.
Alma’s people suffer for a much shorter time and are delivered by miraculous means. God’s hand has been visible from the strength He gave them to bear their burdens placed upon them by taskmasters to putting the whole Lamanite and Amulonite force to sleep in the morning (not night!).
They head out a day’s journey into the wilderness and then stop to pour out their thanks to God for delivering them.
- Am I aware of how God delivers me, and do I acknowledge His mighty hand in my life when He does?
- How can I cultivate more gratitude for God?
This study in contrasts between Limhi’s and Alma’s people shows that God will always deliver us when we turn to Him, even if we’ve rebelled and gone away from Him. But Alma’s story shows that life can be so much more joyful when we don’t purposely leave the path. Bad things might still happen, but God immediately blesses us, instead of letting painful consequences of our actions teach us.