Posts Tagged 'Guilt'

2 Samuel Chapter 24

King David had specific duties as the leader of Israel, in particular, the Lord had given specific direction for how one was to rule His people. At times, the Lord would do something to remind his people of the duties they were not following. This chapter deals with one of those times. It begins:

1 And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
2 For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.
3 And Joab said unto the king, Now the Lord thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?
4 Notwithstanding the king’s word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.

At David’s command, the people of Israel were to be numbered. It reads here, that David was instructed by the Lord to number Israel and Judah, so he sent Joab out to number them. In the footnotes it references 1 Corinthians, which says instead, that Satan provoked David to number Israel (see 1 Cor. 21:1). Joab questioned the king’s command, however he took the captains and numbered the people. The idea that Satan influenced David, makes it so I can see why the Lord would have his anger kindled against Israel. I am not sure what was involved in the numbering of the people, but it reads as if it was hard on the people and should not have been performed simply in order to please the king.

5 And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer:
6 Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtim-hodshi; and they came to Dan-jaan, and about to Zidon,
7 And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beer-sheba.
8 So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
9 And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

Several months later, they returned to Jerusalem and told him that the king had 800,000 men of war in Israel, and 500,000 in Judah.

10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,
12 Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.
14 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.

David’s heart was smitten. I think that this is another way of saying that his conscience got to him, and he felt guilt in his heart over what he had chosen to do. He went to the Lord and confessed his sin in numbering the people of Israel and Judah. He asked for forgiveness. The prophet, Gad, received word from the Lord, that he was to go speak to David. Gad told David that the Lord offered a choice of three things to him. First, seven years of famine to the land, second, enemies who would pursue him for three months as he fled from them, or third, three days of pestilence in the land. David, pled with the prophet, that he and the people be at the mercy of God and not fall into the hands of other men.

It is interesting to me, that the Lord would offer David a choice in his punishment for sinning against him. The people of David would suffer for his choice, but I think that having to choose the punishment, was to be a reminder to David of what he, as their leader, had done wrong.

15 So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men.
16 And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.
17 And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.

The Lord fulfilled his promise of pestilence for three days, and 70,000 men died. An angel was given the responsibility of bringing the destruction upon Israel. David saw the angel, near the farm of a man named Araunah, and pled with the Lord, that the plague would be stopped, and that he and his family would take the consequences instead of the people, because they had not been the ones who had done wrong in this thing.

The Joseph Smith Translation of verse 16 reads, “And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, [the Lord said unto him, Stay now thine hand, it is enough; for the people repented, and the Lord stayed the hand of the angel, that he destroyed not the people]. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.” The Lord stopped the plague, because the people had been humbled to repentance.

18 And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
19 And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded.
20 And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.
21 And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may be stayed from the people.
22 And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.
23 All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee.
24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
25 And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.

The prophet returned to David and told him to make an altar where he had seen the angel. David went to the place, as he had been commanded. When Araunah saw him coming, he greeted him and asked why he had come. David offered to buy his threshingfloor, so that he could build an altar and make sacrifice to stop the plague. Araunah offered his threshingfloor to the king, as well as anything he had that could be used for the offering, including oxen and tools. David would not take it without price. I think he did this because he knew his choice needed to be more of a sacrifice on his part. David bought the threshingfloor and other items from Araunah, built and altar, and offered sacrifice and peace offerings to the Lord. The plague against Israel, was then stopped by the Lord.

We all make mistakes in life. There are going to be those moments when we think of our own wants and desires before others. For a moment, David’s pride led him to make the decision to number the people, which he should not have done. After it was done, he felt the guilt that we so often feel when we have done something we know we should not have done. This guilt, when applied correctly can move us towards repentance and drawing closer to God. David and his people, suffered the consequence of his choice, and then from his guilt, he turned to repentance. Something I am learning more as I get older, is the importance of sacrifice and service in order to make the repentance process complete. David gives us a good example of this. He recognized that he had to personally sacrifice in order to really humble himself towards the Lord. Then, I believe, in more than an attempt to stop the plague, he served the Lord through giving sacrifices and offerings at the altar he had built. Likewise, in the repentance process in our own lives, we will have to sacrifice and serve to have the forgiveness needed for us to change and become better or more like our Father in Heaven. Sacrifice and service are two actions that humble the soul. When we are humble, we are willing to let the Lord help us with His infinite atonement. That is the only way that we will have a lasting change of any kind. I am grateful for the repentance process and for the knowledge that forgiveness is real. The atonement is real and it can free us of the plagues and guilt we bring upon ourselves. This is a blessing that I am eternally grateful for.

Leviticus Chapter 5

So far, the book of Leviticus contains details regarding sacrifices and offerings that were to be given by the Israelites. There were three types of offerings given as sacrifices: sin offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings. Offerings were made for sins that were known as well as unknown, so that they could be forgiven completely and be in harmony with the Lord. The book of Leviticus continues as follows:

1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
2 Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.
3 Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty.
4 Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these.
5 And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:
6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.
7 And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.
8 And he shall bring them unto the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder:
9 And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it is a sin offering.
10 And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him.

It is interesting to read those things they were considered guilty of and needed repairing. In verse one, it sounds like if one heard swearing (making an oath) and did not confess it, then he would bear the sin, or be held accountable for that sin. They sinned if they touched anything considered unclean, unholy, or that would defile their bodies. When they were aware of anything that had brought sin upon themselves, they were to confess that thing to the Lord and bring a trespass offering to the tabernacle. The footnote says the hebrew meaning of this, is a guilt sacrifice. This was a sin offering of a female lamb or goat. If they were not able to bring one of these, they were also allowed to bring two turtledoves or pigeons for a sin and burnt offering. First, the sin offering, which in this case was sacrificed and then had the blood sprinkled on the side of the altar and poured at the bottom of the altar. Then, the burnt offering as the Lord had directed. After the atonement was made by the priest, the person was forgiven of the sin.

11 But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering.
12 Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: it is a sin offering.
13 And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest’s, as a meat offering.

If an animal sacrifice was not possible, the individual was to bring a tenth of an “ephah” of flour as the sin offering. The priests took a handful to burn on the altar and after atonement was made by that offering, the person was forgiven. Then the remaining flour was part of the meat offering for the priests to eat.

14 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
15 If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering:
16 And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.

The Lord told Moses that those who sinned in the laws of the Lord, in ignorance, were to bring a trespass offering of a unblemished ram as well as payment in silver. The person was to make recompense for the sin and add a fifth more, which would be given to the priest. Then the priest would make an atonement for the person, with the offered ram. Then the person would be forgiven.

17 And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.
18 And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him.
19 It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the Lord.

Anyone who sinned against the commandments of the Lord, even if he did not know it, he was guilty and was to bring a ram for a trespass offering. The priest would make an atonement for the individual for those sins he was ignorant of, and he would be forgiven.

I know that I do not fully understand all the description of sins in this chapter. I think I may understand more over time. In the meantime, we learn in the bible dictionary, that trespass offerings were a type of sin offering. It also says that the offerings were in a specific order. In the entry for sacrifices we read, “It is noteworthy that when the three offerings were offered together, the sin always preceded the burnt, and the burnt the peace offerings. Thus the order of the symbolizing sacrifices was the order of atonement, sanctification, and fellowship with the Lord.” There is wisdom in the order of this. When we repent, we seek for the cleansing power of the atonement in our own lives. Then it is through the blood of Christ, that we are sanctified. This gives greater meaning and purpose to partaking of the sacrament and symbolically taking in the blood of Christ. Finally, when we are clean and sanctified, we find ourselves in harmony with the Lord and are more fully capable of doing His will.

Alma, Chapter 15

Can a person become physically sick because of sin?

There are many reasons that people get sick.  In Alma 14:6-7 we read, “And it came to pass that Zeezrom 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 (v. 6).  And it came to pass that he began to cry unto the people, saying: Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them from that time fort… (v. 7).”

“And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek were commanded to depart out of that city; and they departed, and came out even into the land of Sidom; and behold, there they found all the people who had departed out of the land of Ammonihah, who had been cast out and stoned, because they believed in the words of Alma (v. 1).  And they related unto them all that had happened unto their wives and children, and also concerning themselves, and of their power of deliverance (v. 2).  And also Zeezrom lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness, for he supposed that Alma and Amulek were no more; and he supposed that they had been slain because of his iniquity. And this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat (v. 3).”

Zeezrom felt physically sick because of the guilt from his sins.  He believed Alma and Amulek were put to death, and it was his fault.  How do we overcome our feelings of guilt?  “And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed (v. 8 ).”  We believe in the Atonement and the power of Christ to redeem us from our sins.  Zeezrom was spiritually ill more than physically ill.  All of us will one day have all of our physical ailments healed in the resurrection.  The greater miracle is having our spiritual sickness healed, because that can bring us greater blessings for eternity.

It is our responsibility to reach out to those souls who may be sick spiritually.  We can pray for them, share the gospel with them, and love them during their times of need.

They went immediately

When we are asked to do something for one another, we don’t always jump right up to go do it.  At times we are selfish and even refuse to help another.  “Now, when he heard that Alma and Amulek were in the land of Sidom, his heart began to take courage; and he sent a message immediately unto them, desiring them to come unto him (v. 4).  And it came to pass that they went immediately, obeying the message which he had sent unto them; and they went in unto the house unto Zeezrom; and they found him upon his bed, sick, being very low with a burning fever; and his mind also was exceedingly sore because of his iniquities; and when he saw them he stretched forth his hand, and besought them that they would heal him (v. 5).”  Zeezrom responded with faith,when he heard they were alive.  Faith in their priesthood power to heal him.  Alma and Amulek immediately responded to his request.  I think they responded this way, because they were on a mission from the Lord to save souls and this one was in need of saving.  When we are inspired or called by the Lord to do something, we should be quick to respond, just as they were.  When others, who are serving the Lord, ask something of us, we should be quick to respond as well.  Our bishops, stake presidents and other church leaders have been called of the Lord and are doing the Lord’s work.  We should respond quickly to their requests, just as a child should respond quickly to the requests of their parents.

The healing of Zeezrom

“And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation (v. 6)?  And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught (v. 7).  And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed (v. 8 ).  And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words (v. 9).  And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ (v. 10).  And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom (v. 11).  And Alma baptized Zeezrom unto the Lord; and he began from that time forth to preach unto the people (v.12).”

Zeezrom was healed by the power of the priesthood, which is the power of God.  It was through his faith, that this power was able to heal his sickness.  A few years back, my brother was in the hospital with unexplained fluid around his heart.  Our family had a special fast.  We prayed for him a lot.  The next batch of tests that the doctors ran, came back completely free of any fluid.  The doctors were baffled and my family knew that it was by our faith that he was healed.  It was an awesome learning experience for us.  When we have faith, and exercise it through fasting and prayer or through acting upon inspiration, we are blessed.  Sometimes we may not be blessed the way we want to be, but we are always blessed in the way that Heavenly Father knows is best for us.  I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for the power of the priesthood in my life today.

What is the difference between hard and soft hearts?

In verse 4 (see above) we read that Zeezrom’s heart took courage because of Alma and Amulek.  In comparison to the people of Ammonihah where Alma and Amulek had been put in prison, we read, “But as to the people that were in the land of Ammonihah, they yet remained a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people; and they repented not of their sins, ascribing all the power of Alma and Amulek to the devil; for they were of the profession of Nehor, and did not believe in the repentance of their sins (v. 15).”  A hard-hearted person is not willing to change his ways to be a better person.  A hard-hearted person is not willing to be open-minded to the beliefs of another.

We need to have soft hearts.  We can make sure to have our hearts soft by doing many good things.  In 1 Nephi 2:16 we read, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father…”.  We can have a soft heart by praying to God.  In Mosiah 21:15 we read, “ And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens…”.  We can have a soft heart given to us by God.  And in Alma 24:8 we read, “And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts…”.  The spirit can soften our hearts.  I believe that we can gain a softer heart by serving others and being more obedient to the commandments of God also.

Fortification against Satan, death, and destruction

If I knew an enemy was going to attack my home, I would find a place I thought was safe for my children and then grab something I could use as a weapon.

“And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek, Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred (v. 16); Therefore, after Alma having established the church at Sidom, seeing a great check, yea, seeing that the people were checked as to the pride of their hearts, and began to humble themselves before God, and began to assemble themselves together at their sanctuaries to worship God before the altar, watching and praying continually, that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction (v. 17)—Now as I said, Alma having seen all these things, therefore he 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 (v. 18 ).  And thus ended the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi (v. 19).”

The people of Sidom wanted to be delivered from the enemy, Satan.  To protect themselves they gathered in church to worship and pray to God.  Prayer is the best weapon we have against any enemy that threatens ourselves or our families.

Almulek chose to follow Alma completely, and lost his friends and family for it.  Alma brought Amulek back to his own house in Zarahemla, to help and strenghten him.

And it came to pass that Zeezrom was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the ablindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his blying words; and his soul began to be charrowed up under a dconsciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell.
7 And it came to pass that he began to cry unto the people, saying: Behold, I am aguilty, and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them from that time forth; but they reviled him, saying: Art thou also possessed with the devil? And they spit upon him, and bcast him out from among them, and also all those who believed in the words which had been spoken by Alma and Amulek; and they cast them out, and sent men to cast stones at them.

Alma, Chapter 14

What’s your reaction?

“And it came to pass after he had made an end of speaking unto the people many of them did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the scriptures (v. 1).  But the more part of them were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek; for they were angry with Alma, because of the plainness of his words unto Zeezrom; and they also said that Amulek had lied unto them, and had reviled against their law and also against their lawyers and judges (v. 2).  And they were also angry with Alma and Amulek; and because they had testified so plainly against their wickedness, they sought to put them away privily (v. 3).  But it came to pass that they did not; but they took them and bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land (v. 4).”  After Alma and Amulek had both borne their testimonies, the people had two reactions.  Some were believers and wanted to repent, while the rest wanted to get rid of them, any way they could because they were angry.  Those who did not believe, were greater in number.  They were angry with them because they said that these people were not living the way they should be.  I’ve commented on this type of reaction before.  People react this way when the truth is spoken and they don’t want to hear it.  When you are sinning, and some one calls you to repentance, Satan quickly uses the raw emotions that are there, to stir up the anger.  Sinners, who like their lifestyles, go on the defensive.

When I was younger and I was called to repentance, I usually rebelled on my own.  I’d do things I new were not the right things because people thought I was being bad anyway, so why shouldn’t I do it.  Now that I have grown up a little and have a clearer perspective on this life, I react differently.  When I am chastised I have sorrow.  It helps me to look for the ways that may help me to change for the better.  When we choose to react in a bad way, such as with anger, we are listening to Satan.  This can only lead to worse thoughts and actions, especially when we know we are wrong for what we have been doing.  Instead, we need to humbly acknowledge our faults.  Everyone has them, because no one is perfect.  Once we acknowledge our faults in our own hearts, we can begin to repair any damage we have done.

Is guilt good or bad?

Zeezrom admitted to the people, as he bore his testimony earlier, that he had been sinning and saw the error of his ways.  He admitted that he needed to repent and do what was right.  He told them of how he changed his ways and then had the awesome experience with an angel and then with the arrival of Alma.  He had been questioned and mocked by Zeezrom, but withstood it and then Alma had borne his testimony as well, which persuaded some to be believers.  “And it came to pass that Zeezrom 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 (v. 6).  And it came to pass that he began to cry unto the people, saying: Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them from that time forth; but they reviled him, saying: Art thou also possessed with the devil? And they spit upon him, and cast him out from among them, and also all those who believed in the words which had been spoken by Alma and Amulek; and they cast them out, and sent men to cast stones at them (v. 7).”

When Zeezrom realized that he, through his words and lies, had been part of the cause for these people to go after Alma and Amulek, he felt guilty.  So guilty that he confessed this to the people and told them Alma and Amulek were men of God.  He was cast out for his change of heart.  I think this may have been bitter sweet for Zeezrom.  He would have felt better for confessing that he had done wrong and trying to help them, but also he would have felt bad for the reaction of the people to his change.  He was pleasing God, by what he had done there.  In Galatians 1:10 we read, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”  It should not be our goal in life to please others around us.  If we try always to please God, than those who are righteous will be pleased as well.

When we truly believe on the words of God’s chosen, we cannot help but want to correct those things that are wrong in our own lives.  When we truly believe there is nothing that we know should come before our attempts to put our lives right.  It becomes the truly important thing in our lives, because we realize the value in living righteously in this life.  Zeezrom’s actions before the change in his heart, led to these people doing these awful things.  It is an example to us of how our actions affect others.  We can be the cause of others choosing to sin, by our own examples to them.  I would much rather be the reason someone changes for the better, than this.  I hope that I live my life in a way that helps others come unto Christ more fully.

Why does the Lord sometimes allow innocent people to suffer?

“And 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 the 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 (v. 8 ).  And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire (v. 9).  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 (v. 10).  But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day (v. 11).  Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also (v. 12).  And Alma said: Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not (v. 13).”

Those who believed were taken and burned along with their families and their scriptures.  I cannot imagine being forced to watch this like Almulek and Alma were.  Amulek wanted to stop it with the power of God, but Alma felt the spirit telling him that they should let it go on so that the wicked would feel be able to be judged for their sin, by God.  Many innocent people of different eras have been made to suffer this way because hearts of others were led away by Satan.  In Alma 60:13 we read, “For the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God.”  And in D&C 98:13 we read, “And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal.”  We need to remember that this life is but a moment.  They suffered horribly then, but because they died righteously, they would be saved in eternity.

We need these types of experiences to happen, so that we can grow from them.  We need to suffer things in our lives so that we are able to progress.  If we always were saved from them, we would never learn and the whole purpose for us living this life, would be taken away.  Even Alma and Amulek needed to witness this act so that they could grow spiritually from it.  They were not killed, because their mission was not finished.  Alma said that if the wicked intended on burning them as well, than that may be, but not before they were done doing what the Lord wanted.  We all have a purpose in this life and some of us will suffer more than others.  We will each be blessed for what we are able to endure.

What is the moral of the story?

There is often a moral to a story.  This is the thing that we are suppose to learn from it.  When we learn of Noah and the ark, we should learn that if we do not repent, the Lord’s work will go forth and we will be destroyed.  When we learn of David and Goliath, we learn that with the Lord’s help anything is possible.  When we learn of Moses parting the Red Sea, we learn that if we have faith, the Lord can work miracles in our lives.

Faith is a Sunrise

Their are important lessons to learn from this chapter in Alma.  As the verses continue we read that once the burning was finished, the chief judge asked Alma and Amulek “After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone (v. 14)?”  They did not answer him and so he put them in prison (v. 17).  Many men, all who were in line with Nehor, who had killed the good man Gideon, questioned them while they were in prison, but Alma and Amulek did not answer them (v. 18 ).  The judge spoke to them again, but they did not speak to him (v. 19).  They were hit many times in all of this.  The judge asked them, “If ye have such great power why do ye not deliver yourselves (v. 20)?”  They were mocked and spit upon (v. 21).  Then they made them go without food and drink and then stripped them of their clothes and bound them in prison (v. 22).  What do we learn from this?  That the righteous will be mocked by the wicked.  We learn that we should not contend with those who ridicule us, but that we should wait for the spirit to guide us in our actions.

The story continues, that after many days the judge and these other wicked men returned to the prison (v. 23).  The chief judge said, “If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves from these bands, and then we will believe that the Lord will destroy this people according to your words (v. 24).  All of the men repeated this same statement as they beat them and then Alma and Amulek stood up with the power of God (v. 25).  “And Alma cried, 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.”  And then they broke the cords and the people started to run away in fear (v. 26).  The people were not able to get out of the prison, but fell to the earth.  The walls of the prison fell down and all of the wicked men were killed by them (v. 27).  Alma and Amulek came out of the prison unharmed (v. 28 ).  The other people of the city came to see what had happened and saw Alma and Amulek coming from what was there of the prison.  The people were afraid and ran from Alma and Amulek (v. 29).  What do we learn from this?  The Lord can give us the power to do miracles according to our faith.  We also learn that justice does come to the wicked.

I think the most important moral of this scripture story is that by our faith, we can accomplish great things.  We can withstand the temptations, the suffering, and anything else that Satan uses others to put upon us.  With our faith, we can be instruments in the Lord’s hands.

And it came to pass after he had made an end of speaking unto the people many of them did believe on his words, and began to repent, and to search the ascriptures.
2 But the more part of them were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek; for they were angry with Alma, because of the aplainness of his words unto Zeezrom; and they also said that Amulek had blied unto them, and had reviled against their law and also against their lawyers and judges.
3 And they were also angry with Alma and Amulek; and because they had atestified so plainly against their wickedness, they sought to bput them away privily.
4 But it came to pass that they did not; but they took them and bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land.

About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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