As Alma continues his missionary travels, he meets up with the sons of Mosiah journeying back home from their super long mission to the Lamanites. These are his childhood friends, and they have come full circle from wickedness to righteousness, like him.
“Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.” (2)
Friendship becomes stronger when bonded through righteousness. I love the sound understanding part. That comes from searching, not just reading God’s word.
The sons of Mosiah had also “given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.” (3)
They had been teaching among the Lamanites for 14 years. No wonder Alma was astonished and so exceedingly happy when he saw them. Their 14 years hadn’t been easy as they served the Lord, which is important to remember for our lives. Just because I am doing God’s will, doesn’t mean life will go smoothly.
…For they had many afflictions; they did suffer much both in body and in mind, such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, and also much labor in the spirit.”Alma 17:5
Now this chapter goes back in time to tell about the sons of Mosiah’s experiences they’ve had with the Lamanites, since they left right before the reign of the judges began. They had taken some other missionaries with them “and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth…” (9)
This is the sign of a true servant of God. They want to do what God wants, not what they want. God comforts them, which is how He blesses us. We still have afflictions and trials, but God gives us comfort and peace that everything will work out in the long run, if we trust Him.
God tells them to “be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.” (11)
When we handle trials with patience, cheer and trust in God, our example can help others handle their hardships and come unto Christ.
The sons of Mosiah and their friends split up when they enter Lamanite lands. They trust that God will unite them once their work is done.
And it came to pass that the hearts of the sons of Mosiah, and also those who were with them took courage to go forth unto the Lamanites to declare unto them the word of God.”Alma 17:12
In chapter 15’s post last week, we discussed how to take courage, so we can better leap to obey God’s commands. The sons of Mosiah definitely needed courage to make this huge leap in their lives.
And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.”Alma 17:14
I can’t imagine how scary this would have been. But the sons of Mosiah truly loved their neighbor (and in this case, their enemy). That gave their hearts courage to do as the Lord had prompted them to do.
Their desires were “that perhaps they might bring them unto repentance; that perhaps they might bring them to know of the plan of redemption.” (16)
Ammon blesses each of the missionaries before they go their separate ways, then he leaves to go to the land of Ishmael. Immediately, he is taken and bound, as any Nephite would be who trespassed. (20)
Connections & Relationships
The king of this land is named Lamoni. He is a descendent of Ishmael. He asks Ammon if he wants to dwell in their land, and Ammon answers in the affirmative and says, “yea, and perhaps until the day I die.” (23)
This had to have flattered the king, but Ammon was probably quite sincere, since he had no clue how long he would have to labor to bring souls unto Christ.
Lamoni is pleased with Ammon’s answer and offers him one of his daughters as wife. Ammon declines and tells him he will be his servant.
He is put over the king’s flocks. I like how Ammon patiently served without worrying about preaching right away. He is making connections and relationships first. Those are important to have in our own life.
How can I better connect with my family? With my neighbors? With my community?
After Alma works three days as a shepherd, some rebel Lamanites come to the waters of Sebus, where he and the other shepherds water the flocks, and scatter the sheep. Plundering seems to be a way of life to the Lamanites, a way to get gain. The other servants panic, knowing they will be killed for losing the king’s flocks.
Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.”Alma 17:29
Missionary work requires patience. Ammon served while he waited, and when an opportunity to save them arose, he recognized it as a blessing from God and took advantage of it, to win their hearts.
We must serve our neighbors and friends so we win their hearts also. When troubles arise, we must train ourselves to recognize God’s hand and step forward to help save them, whether that be physically, mentally, socially, or spiritually (through Christ).
Be of Good Cheer
Ammon gives the panicked, weeping servants great advice, enabling them to change their circumstances. He tells them to “be of good cheer.” (31) He also invites them to help him search for the lost sheep and gather them back together. In this manner, he teaches them to help themselves first. Don’t just give up and despair.
“And they rushed forth with much swiftness” and did gather their flocks again. (32)
Sometimes though, even when we do all that we can to change our circumstances, we cannot deliver ourselves from trials or bondage. The rebel group returns in greater numbers, which frightens the servants again.
Alma doesn’t despair though. He changes tactics and tells them to surround the flock and he will contend with their enemy.
The rebels don’t fear Ammon, because there is only one of him and many of them. They suppose they can easily slay him.
Ammon trusts in God and defends himself and his fellow-servants. He “began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power…” (36)
Their anger keeps them from surrendering. They put their slings away and pull out the clubs to come at him in full attack.
But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword.” (37)Alma 17:37
He slew six with his sling, but he slew only their leader with his sword. Then he cuts off many arms. After the rebels flee, Ammon “returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king.” (39)
Ammon made connections by offering to stay with the Lamanites and serve the king. He made connections when he helped his fellow servants gather up the flocks the rebels had scattered and by protecting them when the rebels came back to do more mischief. He wasn’t in this just for himself. He was in it to serve and connect with others, hoping for an opportunity eventually to connect on an even deeper level to bring them to Christ.
Do I connect with others? Are my motives pure for doing so, like Ammon’s?