In this chapter, we see the aftermath of the war and how the Nephites have triumphed, because the Lord delivered them. We will see how quickly the people turn from gratitude to God for saving them, to hard-hearted and refusing to listen to the prophets. If we aren’t careful, we can turn away from God just as easily.
Right after Moroni has given the Lamanites a sounding defeat, the people are humble and grateful.
Behold, now it came to pass that the people of Nephi were exceedingly rejoiced, because the Lord had again delivered them out of the hands of their enemies; therefore, they gave thanks unto the Lord their God; yea, and they did fast much and pray much, and they did worship God with exceedingly great joy.”Alma 45:1
- Are my eyes open to see the ways God has delivered me in my life, when I have turned to Him?
- Do I show Him gratitude for ALL He has given me and delivered me from?
- Do I experience joy in my worship?
Now, let’s try to figure out why the people turn away from this rejoicing and joy to being prideful and hard-hearted just a few years later.
Alma speaks with his son, Helman, asking him if he believes all the things he’s taught him. Helaman answers yes. He asks if he believes in Jesus Christ, who should come. (4) He again answers yes.
It’s like the conversation between Jesus and Peter, when Christ kept asking if he believed in Him and then told him to feed His sheep.
Alma asks if he will keep his commandments, and Helaman says with all his heart (7) Alma prophesies about the future, but forbids him from sharing this knowledge with the people at this time. But he tells him to record the prophesy.
Behold, I perceive that this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief.”Alma 45:10
He tells him about diseases and bloodshed among them “until the people of Nephi shall become extinct—(11) Yea, and this because they shall dwindle in unbelief and fall into the works of darkness, and lasciviousness, and all manner of iniquities.” (12)
That had to be such a sorrowful prophecy to know about his own people. To know that they are spiritually enlightened right now, but in the future they will be exterminated because they will have turned away from this light completely and chosen wickedness. It would’ve been a heavy burden to carry as a prophet.
Alma goes on to tell him that anyone left after that horrible day will be numbered among the Lamanites and become like them, “all, save it be a few who shall be called the disciples of the Lord; [Mormon and Moroni are among this number] and them shall the Lamanites pursue even until they shall become extinct.” (14)
After telling him this, Alma blesses Helaman and his other sons, and also “the earth for the righteous’ sake.” (15) He speaks about the covenant on the land.
Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe…for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.”Alma 45:16
Alma “departed out of the land of Zarahemla, as if to go into the land of Melek. And it came to pass that he was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of.” (18)
Was he translated? Or did he ask to stay on the earth, like the three Nephites, to prepare the earth for the Lord’s first and second comings? We’ll probably not know in this life.
Behold, this we know, that he was a righteous man; and the saying went abroad in the church that he was taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses. But behold, the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself; therefore, for this cause we know nothing concerning his death and burial.”Alma 45:19
The righteous need not fear death.
We shouldn’t let fear plant itself in our hearts about anything, honestly, because fear drives out faith. Fear is a tactic of the devil to sow confusion, chaos, anxiety, and anger in our hearts. Remember the counsel: look to God and live. Don’t skim Facebook and fear for your soul, nation, or political party or anything else. If we are looking forward in faith, we might be concerned with dangerous trends or policies we see taking place in the world, but we won’t let fear make fools of us. We will trust in God and use His tools to fight the battle against good and evil. And His tools do not include hate of any kind, bigotry, pride, selfishness, anger, or other negative traits. So always do self-checks, to see what motivates you. If it’s fear or any other negative emotion, repent and ask God for a change of heart.
The 19th year of the reign of the judges begins. Helaman begins his ministry “that a regulation should be made throughout the church.” (21) He has listened and written down his father’s prophesy about the future of his people. Instead of being hopeless for them though, he is motivated to preach the word of God to them.
Helaman and his brethren go about establishing churches throughout the land, but “there arose a dissension among them, and they would not give heed to the words of Helaman and his brethren.” (23)
Here is our first clue to why they changed from grateful, joyful people to hard-hearted so quickly. They let dissension divide them. Their own opinions or worldviews became more important than anyone else’s (a sign of pride), and they refused to listen.
Do I listen respectfully to others with differing opinons or beliefs today? Or do I shut them down and cause dissension in public, or even private, forums?
But they grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore, they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God.”Alma 45:24
Riches aren’t evil, if we seek them for the purpose of helping build the kingdom of God or helping serve mankind. But wealth can corrupt when we become prideful and selfish. The Nephites at this time lost their grateful hearts as they became more entitled because of money. The sin wasn’t the money, but that they “grew rich in their own eyes.” They stopped listening to the prophets and the word of God. They stopped doing the practices which they had done earlier, when they had been humble and grateful.
Let us check ourselves, to keep from crossing this line in our hearts—from gratitude and humility to pride and rebellion.
- What is something I can do today to be more grateful to God?
- How can I help someone’s day be better today?