Alma 13:1-18 “After His Holy Order”
Alma seems to have a few interested listeners in Ammonihah, and he continues his teaching by revealing more doctrinal treasures. In the latter days we generally refer to the higher priesthood as the Melchizedek Priesthood, but the Lord has told us that the name used in ancient times was “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God” (see D&C 107:1-4). Similarly, in Alma 13, Alma uses a number of terms, including his holy order, the order of his Son, the holy calling, the high priesthood of the holy order of God, his order, and the high priesthood according to the holy order of God (see verses 1-18). What do you learn from these names for the priesthood?
Alma 13 A Serious Responsibility
Alma’s teachings to the people of Ammonihah are helpful for today’s priesthood holders as they seek to understand and fulfill their responsibilities. Among other things, Alma taught:
- Priesthood holders represent the Lord and should therefore strive to attain Christlike attributes, thus helping others “see” Christ in them (verse 2).
- The ultimate purpose of the priesthood is to help others enter into God’s eternal “rest,” or presence (verses 6, 12-13, 16, 29).
- As priesthood holders faithfully fulfill their responsibilities, they can have “their garments … washed white through the blood of the Lamb” (verses 11-12).
- Priesthood holders are to “work righteousness,” likely referring to teaching, serving, and blessing others (verse 10); and inviting and helping others to repent (verses 13, 18, 21, 27, 30).
- An example for all priesthood holders is Melchizedek, a high priest in ancient times who exercised the priesthood in powerful ways, bringing his people from “iniquity and abominations” to repentance and peace (verses 14-19).
- Alma also set an example as a caring, devoted priesthood holder, declaring to the people: “And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins” (verse 27; remember that Alma himself had come from a life of wickedness into the marvelous light of the gospel).
The people of Ammonihah were steeped in wickedness, and it may seem a little surprising that instead of starting by talking about small steps, Alma invited them to attain the ultimate goal, which is to enter into the eternal rest of the Lord (see verses 12-13). And Alma cited the example of the people of Melchizedek as a people who had gone from wickedness to righteousness (verses 17-18). Alma 14:1 tells us that “many of them did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the scriptures.” People can change!
Think of the priesthood holders who have had a positive influence in your life. What did you observe in their character and their ministries? In what ways have they blessed you or your loved ones?
Alma 14 Reactions to the Prophet
As always, some choose to listen to the prophet’s call to repentance, and some do not. In this case, “many” of the people of Ammonihah accepted Alma’s and Amulek’s message and invitations (verse 1), but “the more part” rejected them and sought to destroy them (verses 2-3). Like so many others throughout the Book of Mormon, they were angry because Alma and Amulek “had testified so plainly against their wickedness” (verse 3). These people—including their chief judge—then abused Alma, Amulek, and their fellow citizens who had believed in their message; even murdering some (verses 4-25). Note that Alma and Amulek were smitten five times by the chief judge and others, demanding them to reply; yet each time Alma and Amulek remained silent, saying “nothing” (verses 14-20). Then, Alma finally prayed to God for deliverance, which came (verses 24-28). We should note their example of humility, submission, and patience. Also, we can ask ourselves how we feel and react when we are called upon to repent.
Alma 14:6-7; 15:3-12 Zeezrom Comes Unto Christ
Again, people can change! Zeezrom went from being “the foremost to accuse” Alma and Amulek (Alma 10:31) to a state of trembling and silence (11:46; 12:1, 7). Then—as Alma and Amulek continued to teach and testify unabashedly—Zeezrom became “convinced” of the power of God and changed his questions from accusatory to sincere (12:7-8). His heart was changing!
In Alma 14:6-7, Zeezrom’s “soul began to be harrowed up” and he felt “the pains of hell.” This is common for those going through sore repentance. In Alma 15:3-12 the process continued, culminating in Zeezrom’s declaration of faith: “I believe all the words that thou hast taught … I believe according to thy words” (verses 7, 9). His newfound faith led to the healing of the “burning fever” in his body, but more importantly it led to the healing of his “burning heart” (verse 3). And, he became a missionary! (See Alma 31:6, 32; Helaman 5:41). Clearly, the Lord never gives up on people, and neither should we.
Alma 15:16, 18 Alma Administered to Amulek in His Tribulations
Although Alma had taught and blessed Amulek’s family (see Alma 8:22; 10:11), apparently most of them later abandoned Amulek and remained among the unrighteous of Ammonihah. Alma 15:16 relates that Amulek was “rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred.” Also, Amulek had been wealthy and influential (see Alma 10:4), but Alma 15:16 tells us that he had “forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God.”
In our day we hear accounts of new converts to the restored gospel being dismissed from their employment, evicted from their housing, and rejected by loved ones, all “for the word of God.” Our modern prophets have called upon us to help and strengthen new converts, as voiced by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“It is not an easy thing to become a member of this Church. In most cases it involves setting aside old habits, leaving old friends and associations, and stepping into a new society which is different and somewhat demanding. With the ever-increasing number of converts, we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’ (Moroni 6:4). It is our duty and opportunity to provide these things.” (Ensign, May 1997, pp. 47-48.)
Alma again provides an ideal example, for Mormon tells us that Alma “took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord” (Alma 15:18).
Alma 16:13-17 The Lord’s Role in Missionary Work
Look for the things Alma and Amulek did as they continued their ministry (verses 13-15), and look especially for the things the Lord did (verses 16-17). As His latter-day work continues forward throughout the world, what things do you see the Lord doing?