The Amalekites and Amulonites stir the rest of the Lamanites who are not converted to the Lord up to anger. It seems that once enlightened, a people cannot leave the Church alone when they choose to leave that light behind and embrace darkness instead. These rebels reject the king of the land (Lamoni’s father who has been converted) and “they took up arms against the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.” (2)
The old king dies, and his son, Anti-Nephi-Lehi, begins to rule just as this movement of wicked Lamanites begins to gain momentum. Ammon and his brethren meet with Lamoni and his brother, Anti-Nephi-Lehi, to decide “what they should do to defend themselves against the Lamanites.” (5)
Their people refuse to take up arms or even to prepare for battle. And the king commands them that they should not. He says:
I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us, and to convince us of the traditions of our wicked fathers.
And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts, that we have opened a correspondence with these brethren, the Nephites.“Alma 24:7-8
He thanks God that “we have been convinced of our sins…” (9) and that He “hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son.” (10)
Soft hearts are a result of the influence of the Holy Spirit. When we truly repent, guilt is taken from us through Christ’s Atonement. He has already paid the price and penalty for our sins. His Atonement is infinite. Even the murders of these Lamanites were erased and their guilt taken away. That is powerful, mighty grace.
And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain—”Alma 24:11
True repentance requires ALL we possess. Remember in the last chapter how the old king came to that point where he was willing to give away all his sins to know God, and was willing to give up the kingdom and everything else he’d acquired in life to have this spiritual change of heart?
This last verse infers that repentance wasn’t a trivial moment for these people. “…It has been ALL that we could do to repent of ALL our sins…and get God to take them away from our hearts…”
Do I give God my ALL?
Now, my best beloved brethren, since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren.”Alma 24:12
They have no desire to fight and stain their swords again,. They have done all this spiritual work and repenting to make them clean. And they want to keep their swords and hearts clean, no matter the cost.
The king praises the “mercy” of God who has made the truth known unto them so that “we might not perish;” (14) He references angels visiting them “that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations.” (14)
Deep in the Earth
The king says they should “hide [their swords] away that they may be kept bright, as a testimony to our God…that we have not stained our swords in the blood of our brethren since he imparted his word unto us and has made us clean thereby.” (15)
He urges his people to bury them “deep in the earth, that they may be kept bright as a testimony that we have never used them…and if our brethren destroy us, behold, we shall go to our God and shall be saved.” (16)
That is true faith and trust in God that comes only through a change of heart, which comes only by sincere repentance, after we give everything we have and are to God.
Deep in our Hearts
Maybe trust in God grows only in proportion to how deeply we bury our weapons of rebellion.
I love how the king said they would bury their swords deep to keep them bright and free of blood. They’d laid them down previously to this, but now, they don’t want to be tempted to pick them up again. They didn’t dig a shallow grave and leave the hilts of their swords hanging out to easily grab when they grew bored or disillusioned by how hard the gospel path became. They buried them deep so they couldn’t pick them up again in a moment of wavering doubt. This showed their firm commitment to their God and the covenants they had made with Him.
True repentance requires us to forsake our sins and lay down our weapons of rebellion and do all that we can not to repeat the same sin. Whatever sin or weakness keeps us from God, we need to figure out how to bury it DEEP so it cannot keep tempting us. As we sacrifice to make this happen, our faith in God will deepen as well.
Repentance leads to Love
These people truly were humbled and full of faith. They were committed to righteousness, not even willing to defend themselves, because that would entail returning to their weapons of rebellion that they’d cast down and buried. They willingly made this covenant with God to show their gratitude to Him for cleansing them.
And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren, they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.”Alma 24:18
Mormon (the historian-prophet who is consolidating these ancient texts) adds additional insight into why they did this:
And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin; and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.”Alma 24:19
Do I seek to love and lift my fellowmen, rather than to tear or cut them down with my words, thoughts, or actions?
Faith in Christ takes away Fear
The Anti-Nephi-Lehies go out to meet their enemies. The enemy who wishes to dethrone their king and kill them. Yet, they did not fear. They did not run or hide. They went out to meet them.
Faith in Jesus Christ is the only thing more powerful than fear.
They had DEEP faith in Christ, because of the covenants they had made and the change of heart He had given them.
The believers fall down in prayer to their God as the enemy attacks.
And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a thousand and five of them; and we know that they are blessed, for they have gone to dwell with their God.”Alma 24:22
How tragic! These people had trusted God, and they were slaughtered in cold blood for it.
Yet, now the miracles begin to happen. God can bring good things about from terrible situations. The guilt the enemy Lamanites feel after slaying their unarmed brethren works on their hearts, cracking them open so that the healing power of God can begin to soften them.
And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war and they would not take them up again, for they were stung for the murders which they had committed; and they came down even as their brethren, relying upon the mercies of those whose arms were lifted to slay them.
And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt that what they were saved.
And there was not a wicked man slain among them; but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people.”Alma 24:25-27
Was it terrible that over a thousand converted Lamanites were slaughtered that day? YES! But was it miraculous how even more of their enemy became converted that day because of what happened? YES!
The converted Anti-Nephi-Lehies were given strength beyond their own that day because of their changed hearts and because they had buried their weapons of rebellion deep in the earth where they couldn’t get them again. And for this show of deep faith, God took those that died that day straight up into his arms. They willingly gave their lives that day, rather than take the lives of their brethren.
God rewarded their deep commitment and love by softening the hearts of others who might not have believed if this tragedy hadn’t happened.
- How deep is your faith in Jesus Christ?
- How deep are you willing to bury those things that keep you from trusting Him completely?
- How deeply do you repent and love God and your fellowmen?
I think we all, if we do a sincere self-check, could find that we could go a little deeper in some way.