Thursday, August 8, 2013

President's Weekly Letter #47


My favorite Book of Mormon character is Amulek and I will tell you why.  He was a well known business man with a large family with much kindred and friends.  He was industrious, well to do, successful and influential.  I envision him as an all round successful guy who was well liked and generally happy with his life in the community though not real religious.  He later made a commitment to follow the Lord and because of his conversion, he sacrificed and endured many hardships and eventually lost everything except the clothes on his back.  Because of his service, we are blessed with some of the clearest and persuasive gospel teachings in the Book of Mormon.  He is an example of a common person like you and me who was willing to sacrifice all that he had for his convictions.

His story is set up as follows.  The sons of Mosiah with a small number had departed on their missions to the land of Nephi to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Lamanites.  (I often compare our difficult circumstances of hard opinions that we encounter every day to their circumstances.  They had it worse.  The Lamanites preferred to kill them instead of simply slamming a door in their face.)  King Mosiah proposed that the Nephites be granted liberty and freedom and the government to be regulated by Judges.  Alma the younger, the son of Alma a former priest of King Noah’s and who fled after believing Abinadi’s teachings, remained in Zarahemla not going with the sons of Mosiah.  Shortly before King Mosiah and Alma the older died, Alma the younger was appointed to be the first chief judge of the government and also the high priest concerning the affairs of the church.  We have insight into their times:

“10 … and the wickedness of the church was a great stumbling-block to those who did not belong to the church; and thus the church began to fail in its progress.” (Alma 4:10)

Alma realized bearing pure testimony against the people was the only way to reclaim them.  He delivered up the judgment seat to Nephihah and dedicated himself to the ministry as the high priest.  Alma had some success in preaching and baptizing in various cities.  He eventually went to the city of Ammonihah to preach.

Satan had gotten great hold upon the people in Ammonihah leaving them with stone hard hearts.  The people knew who he was.  They said, “We know that thou art high priest over the church…but you have no power over us because you gave up the judgment seat to Nephihah therefore you are not the chief judge over us.”  They abused him and cast him out.  Alma departed being weighed down with sorrow.  An angel appeared to him and commanded him to return and preach to them again.  I find it interesting that this was the second time an angel visited Alma, the first time was to call him and the sons of Mosiah to repentance.  This time the angel tells Alma, “I am he that delivered the first message unto you.”  I wonder if Alma didn’t say, “I thought I recognized you.”  Alma returned speedily to Ammonihah.  As he entered the city he asked a man for food.  The man was Amulek.  Alma tarried many days with Amulek before they began to preach unto the people.” (Alma 8:20, 27) 

They preached together.  When Amulek introduced himself, we learn he cared deeply in the well being of his family and friends:

“…I am also a man of no small reputation among all those who know me; yea, and behold, I have many kindreds and friends, and I have also acquired much riches by the hand of my industry…I knew concerning [the things of God], yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heartAs I was journeying to see a very near kindred, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto me and said: Amulek, return to thine own house, for that shall feed a prophet…and he shall bless thee and thy house; and the blessing of the Lord shall rest upon thee and thy house…it was this same man who has been speaking unto you concerning the things of God…For behold, he hath blessed mine house, he hath blessed me, and my women, and my children, and my father and my kinsfolk; yea, even all my kindred hath he blessed…”  (Alma 10:4-11)

Alma and Amulek went on to confront Zeezrom, the most expert among the lawyers and taught him along with the very hard hearted people.  Some of the people including Zeezrom believed their words and were cast out.  Alma and Amulek were imprisoned, starved, beaten and abused.  They witnessed the burning by fire of the wives and children of those believers who were cast out plus anyone else who believed or who had been taught to believe in the word of God plus their holy scriptures.  Eventually through answer to prayer, the earth shook and the prison walls fell down slaying their captors while Alma and Amulek walked out of the prison unharmed.  The wicked people who saw and heard this, fled before Alma and Amulek.  Alma and Amulek were then commanded to leave Ammonihah.  They went to Sidom where they established the church among those who had been cast out from Ammonihah.  Zeezrom joined the church and later became a missionary.  A few months later the armies of the Lamanites destroyed the people and city of Ammonihah.

9 “… the people of Ammonihah were destroyed; yea, every living soul of the Ammonihahites was destroyed, and also their great city, which they said God could not destroy, because of its greatness.
10 But behold, in one day it was left desolate; and the carcasses were mangled by dogs and wild beasts of the wilderness.”  (Alma 16:9-10)

And what became of Amulek?  Apparently all his family, friends and kindred were killed. 
Where he had called home and his possessions were no more.  I wonder what his friends, family and kindred said to him as he and Alma were leaving Ammonihah.

 “…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;
… after Alma having established the church at Sidom, seeing [that the people began]…to worship God… 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.”  (Alma15: 16-18)

Amulek taught some of the greatest sermons in the book of Alma including Chapter 11 over the resurrection.  Nowhere is the doctrine of the resurrection more clearly described.  In Chapter 34 he taught truths of the atonement and an unequalled sermon on prayer.  He taught with power and persuasion.  He was an ordinary guy like you and me, who made commitments consistent with his conversion and then lived in alignment with those commitments.  It was not easy for him, yet he persevered and is now a role model of sacrificed and diligence for all of us.
President Robinson

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