The war ends, and the Nephites return to their families. They have lots of dead to bury, fields to repair, and lots of work to do. The Amlicites had marked themselves with red in their forehead to distinguish themselves from the Nephites.
Isn’t it interesting how those who rebel against God many times choose to mark themselves in some way, figuratively bringing a curse upon their own heads, so they aren’t numbered, or recognized, as God’s people?
Now the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the word of God when they began to mark themselves in their foreheads; nevertheless they had come out in open rebellion against God; therefore it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them.Alma 3:18
The irony here is beautiful. Even when the wicked try to thwart God, they end up fulfilling His prophesies anyway.
Mormon now gives us the lesson from this story:
Now I would that ye should see that they brought upon themselves the curse; and even so does every man that is cursed bring upon himself his own condemnation.”Alma 3:19
One of my favorite hymns says:
- Know this that every soul is free,
- To choose his life and what he’ll be;
- For this eternal truth is given,
- That God will force no man to heaven.
We receive many trials and hardships, because mortality is a test to see which side we will choose. But there are many times we bring hardships upon ourselves through dumb choices we make. God won’t force us to get it right. He has given us our agency—a great blessing.
I always tell my kids that we are free to choose what we do with our life, but we don’t get to choose the consequences.
This scripture shows it brilliantly—that many times we bring curses upon ourselves through deliberate or naïve actions that go against God’s will. He still loves us, but consequences are based on eternal laws that can’t be changed. It’s like me as a parent wanting the best for my kids. I set rules to keep them safe, but they can choose to disobey. If they run into a street in front of a car, they might get hurt. That’s a consequence. I hope they won’t do that and that they’ll listen to me and choose wisely, but I can’t force the best upon them, as much as I’d sometimes like to.
The Nephites think their bad times are over, but then another army of Lamanites come. Life can knock us down like this. We get through one trial and start to breathe easy, then another one hits us square in the face.
Alma is already inflicted with a wound (22), so he doesn’t lead them to battle this time.
But he sent up a numerous army and slew many of the Lamanites, and drove the remainder of them out of the borders of their land.”
After this second victory, they “returned again and began to establish peace in the land; being troubled no more for a time with their enemies.”Alma 3:23-24
“For a time” sticks out to me here. We are always going to have to fight the adversary in this life. He will not stop attacking us. But we will have moments of peace and no trouble ‘for a time.’ Savor those times and thank God for them. He is the Giver of peace.
All this hardship happened in one year—the fifth year of the reign of the judges. Thousands of people were killed and would be judged by God according “to the spirit which they listed to obey, whether it be a good spirit or a bad one.” (26) For we receive our “wages” from whatever spirit we choose to follow. (27)