Many people believe Alma’s words and begin to repent and search the scriptures. “But the more part of them were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek. (2) This wicked mob bind the two missionaries and take them before their chief judge and accuse them of blasphemy and other false charges.
Zeezrom has experienced a change of heart and “was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his lying words; and his soul began to be harrowed up under a consciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell.” (6)
He is experiencing godly sorrow—a necessary step in repentance that leads to good change. He pleads guilty and tells the people that Alma and Amulek are innocent, “spotless before God.” (7) But the crowd spits on him and casts him out. They also round up any other men who believe and cast them out and send men after them to stone them.
This chapter shows the horrible danger of mob mentality. Hatred and lawlessness feed into violence that increases with exponential ferocity. After stoning the men, 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 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.” (8)
Mobs become terrifying quickly. No religious freedom. No personal freedom to believe any other way than what the mob dictates. If we allow our freedoms to be taken away, this is the kind of life we can expect from those who steal the right of leadership. This kind of mentality isn’t merciful, even to the very most innocent in the population (women and children).
Poor Alma and Amulek are made to watch this massacre of those who believe in God.
And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.”Alma 14:10
He knows God can deliver these righteous innocents, but Alma says that the Spirit won’t allow him to save them at this time, but that God “receiveth them up unto himself, in glory…” (11).
Amulek and Zeezrom both accepted Alma’s invitation to come unto Christ and were required to sacrifice and suffer almost unbearable adversity because of their choice.
Following God does not necessarily mean we won’t suffer. This life is still a testing period. But when we do cast our lot in with Christ, and carry His cross in a figurative sense, He will bless us, whether in this life or the life to come. His promises are sure to those who love and follow Him.
We can take heart from examples from scriptural history. Paul said:
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, /nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8:38-39
And when an innocent Joseph Smith suffered many deprivations in Liberty jail and called out to God in agony of soul, this is what God answered him:
And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.Doctrine & Covenants 122:7-9
After the righteous women and children and their scriptures are burned, Alma and Amulek are subjected to torture and brutal interrogation for many days. But they answer their tormentors nothing (18), as Jesus did during His trial before Pilate and Caiaphas. They are mocked, starved, and demeaned, and confined to prison with strong cords.
Surely, this had to be a trying time. An angel had told Alma to return to the city, and this is what happens? No help. No success. The people he converted have been cast out of the city or burned! Amulek had finally answered the call of the Lord, and he is rejected by his family and people and loses everything—his status, his wealth, his home, his very freedom! What faith it would’ve taken to endure this abuse and loss without becoming bitter and doubtful.
- How strong is my faith in Jesus Christ?
- Am I willing to endure the crosses of the world, the taunting and persecution others will heap upon me because I have chosen Christ as my Lord?
- Am I willing to sacrifice all, as Alma and Amulek did, for the cause of Christ?
When the chief judge and the other lawyers come again to accuse and mock the pitiful prisoners, God tells Alma enough is enough.
Alma cries out, 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.” (26)
The prison falls down and kills everyone in it…except Alma and Amulek. They walk out of the rubble, unscathed, unscratched, because “the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ.” (28)
This story shows that believers in Christ will still suffer. Some might suffer even unto death. Some might be cast out and rejected by those who were once their friends. Some might suffer unimaginable demeaning and persecution.
But God will deliver His people. Those that die for Him, He receives unto Himself in glory in the next world. Those that are cast out, He comforts. Those who endure suffering, He provides strength and inner healing.
To the world, who cannot see with spiritual eyes, it might seem that God is not answering or hearing the cries of His believers. But to those who truly see, deliverance comes. Sometimes, it is in the courage to keep going forward, one step at a time. Sometimes, that deliverance is felt as an inner peace that is beyond human comprehension.
But deliverance always comes.
God has promised it.