Book of Mormon Lesson 20 (Mosiah 18–24)
ALMA AND HIS CONVERTS ESCAPE
Baptizing at the Waters of Mormon
● Alma, one of King Noah’s priests, believed the teachings of Abinadi. He fled from Noah’s servants and hid in the wilderness, where he wrote “all the words which Abinadi had spoken” (Mosiah 17:2–4).
● Alma taught privately at the Waters of Mormon (Mosiah 18:1–7, 30).
● He invited his converts to be baptized, and they gladly accepted (Mosiah 18:8–11).
● Alma also explained that baptism is associated with covenants. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “A covenant is a contract and an agreement between at least two parties. In the case of gospel covenants, the parties are the Lord in heaven and men on earth. Men agree to keep the commandments and the Lord promises to reward them accordingly.”1
● The covenants they (we) made at baptism:
— They will “come into the fold of God” (v. 8).
— They will be called the people of God (v. 8).
— They will “bear one another’s burdens” (v. 8).
— They will “mourn with those that mourn” (v. 9).
— They will comfort those who need comforting (v. 9).
— They will stand as witnesses of God at all times, in all things, and in all places (v. 9).
— They will be baptized in the name of the Lord as a witness that they have entered into a covenant with Him (v. 10).
— They will serve the Lord and keep his commandments (v. 10).
● Things the Lord promises in return:
— They will “be redeemed of God” (v. 9).
— They will “be numbered with those of the first resurrection” (v. 9).
— They will have eternal life (v. 9).
— They will have his Spirit more abundantly upon them (v. 10).
● Elder Marion G. Romney said, “I know of no better explanation of the baptismal covenant” [than the one given by Alma to his people].2
● Alma baptized 204 people, including himself (Mosiah 18:12–16). He had “authority from the Almighty God” to do this (v. 13). He may have received the priesthood when he was ordained a “priest,” or he may have received it from a heavenly messenger.
— He also “baptized himself” when he baptized Helam (v. 14). However, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “When Alma baptized himself with Helam that was not a case of Alma baptizing himself, but merely as a token to the Lord of his humility and full repentance.”3
— “They . . . came forth out of the water . . . filled with the Spirit” (v. 14).
● Alma organized a church and ordained priesthood officers (Mosiah 18:17–18). Alma taught them how they should live their lives as members of the Church (Mosiah 18:19–20, 23, 25, 27–29). They lived together as a Zion society with all things in common.
● Alma’s church grew to 450 persons (Mosiah 18:31–35).
● King Noah discovered them and sought to destroy them, so Alma and his people departed into the wilderness.
● Alma’s colony established the city of Helam in the wilderness (Mosiah 23:1–5, 19–20).
LIMHI’S PEOPLE IN BONDAGE
King Noah Suffers Death by Fire
● Some of King Noah’s people began to turn against him (Mosiah 19:1–3).
● One of those people, Gideon, was about to kill Noah when Noah saw an army of Lamanites advancing toward them (Mosiah 19:4–6). When King Noah saw the advancing Lamanites, he was mostly concerned with his own safety and gave a cowardly command to abandon the women and children and flee (Mosiah 19:7–12).
● King Noah was put to death by fire by his own people (Mosiah 19:13–21). Abinadi had prophesied about King Noah’s manner of death, and it was fulfilled (Mosiah 12:3; 19:18–20; 11:29). The people who eventually devalued Noah’s life “as a garment in a hot furnace” had at one time been blind to his wickedness.
Limhi’s People Are Chastened
● After Noah was killed, his son Limhi became king (Mosiah 19:25–26). He made an oath to pay the Lamanites one-half of all they possessed if they would let them live in peace.
● After two years of peace, the Lamanites sought to destroy Limhi’s people when they thought that Limhi’s people had kidnaped their daughters (Mosiah 20:1–7).
● Limhi discovered the reason why the Lamanites attacked (Mosiah 20:11–18). It was the priests of Noah, hiding in the wilderness and stirring up trouble. When the Lamanites learned that they had misjudged Limhi’s people, they returned to their own land in peace (Mosiah 20:19–26).
● “After many days the Lamanites began again to persecute Limhi’s people, not killing them (because of the oath they had taken) but to make life very difficult for them (Mosiah 21:1–5).
● The difficulties faced by Limhi’s people fulfilled Abinadi’s promises (Mosiah 11:20–25; 12:2, 4–5).
● Limhi’s people prayed for deliverance, but because they had been slow to hearken to Abinadai the Lord was now slow to respond to their cries (Mosiah 21:13–16; D&C 101:1–9). Although the Lord did not deliver them immediately, He allowed them to “prosper by degrees.”
● At this point, King Limhi and his guard discovered Ammon outside the walls of their city and arrested him (Mosiah 21:18–23). (Read Ammon’s story in Mosiah 7–8).
LIMHI’S PEOPLE ARE DELIVERED
Ammon Finds Limhi’s People
● Ammon had left Zarahemla and made an expedition back to the Land of Nephi (Mosiah 7:1–7).
● Limhi rejoiced when he learned that Ammon was from Zarahemla (Mosiah 7:8–16), and he shared this good news with his people (Mosiah 7:17–20).
● Limhi confessed his people’s wickedness, which was the cause of their suffering ever since they put Abinadi to death (Mosiah 7:25–32).
—They had not obeyed the Lord’s words.
—They contended with each other “even so much that they did shed blood among themselves.”
—They killed a prophet of the Lord.
● As part of this recitation, Limhi identifies the results of bondage (vv.29–32) which he apparently drew from their scriptures since he was quoting the Lord.
—The people will not prosper, and their activities will be stumbling blocks. (v. 29).
—They will reap chaff [rather than wheat in their fields] (v. 30).
—They will reap the east wind [drought] and destruction (v. 31).
—They will be smitten and afflicted (v. 32).
● Their rejection of the prophet Abinadi and their complicity in his death by fire were serious and consequential sins. Though they were now sorry for what they had done, they could not erase the consequences of their choices. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “The Lord will forgive the truly repentant. But before the Lord can forgive, the sinner must open his heart to him in full contrition and humility.”4 We demonstrate that kind of humility by being willing to submit ourselves to the judgment and justice associated with our repentance. This was certainly the case with the people of Limhi and the people of Alma. The Lord required 20 years of humble submission before he finally set them free from the consequences of their choices.
● Ammon rehearsed to Limhi’s people all that had happened in Zarahemla since their people departed, including King Benjamin’s final sermon (Mosiah 8:1–5).
LIMHI’S PEOPLE ESCAPE TO ZARAHEMLA
● Limhi’s people began to humble themselves and repent of their sins (Mosiah 21:30–35). They desired baptism, but Ammon declined because he did not consider himself worthy. They had to wait for awhile.
● Ammon and King Limhi studied diligently to find a means of escaping from the Lamanites (Mosiah 22:1–8).
● Gideon proposed a plan. The plan worked, and they escaped to the land of Zarahemla, where they were received with joy (Mosiah 22:9–14).
ALMA’S PEOPLE ESCAPE TO ZARAHEMLA
Alma’s People in Helam
● A review of how Alma’s people got to their city of Helam (Mosiah 23:1–5, 19–20).
● The ideal form of government is a kingdom, if kings are righteous. But since not all men are righteous, having kings is not wise. We must also be careful who we trust as our teachers (Mosiah 23:6–9, 13).
● Alma organized the Church among them and they prospered (Mosiah 23:14–19).
Discovered by the Lamanites
● The Lamanite army became lost while pursuing Limhi’s group. In the process, they discovered Amulon and the priests of Noah. All of them then went in search of their homeland—the Land of Nephi—and in the process, they discovered Alma and his people (Mosiah 23:30–35).
● The Lord allowed Alma and his people to be taken captive (Mosiah 23:25–29). It may seem surprising that Alma’s people, who were the most righteous of those who lived in the Land of Nephi and had responded to the preaching of Alma and been baptized, should now be in the same kind of bondage as King Limhi’s people, who had not responded to Alma’s preaching.
● Yet we should remember that all of these people were complicit in Abinadi’s capture, torture, and death, and therefore subject to the woe that he pronounced upon all of them at that time. True enough, they had since repented and been forgiven in a spiritual sense, but the natural consequences of their choices still remained. Their wicked city and people had dissolved and they were all now at the mercy of the Lamanites who were intent on subjecting them.
● The bondage of Alma’s people fulfilled prophecies made by Abinadi (Mosiah 12:2, 4–5). Our poor choices can bring lingering consequences even after we have been forgiven of our sins. Elder Marvin J. Ashton said, “Our freedom to choose our course of conduct does not provide personal freedom from the consequences of our performances. God’s love for us is constant and will not diminish, but he cannot rescue us from the painful results that are caused by wrong choices.”5
● The Lamanites took Alma and his people back to the Land of Nephi, where Amulon—a former priest of Noah—was appointed leader over Alma and his people (Mosiah 23:36–39).
● Amulon taught the language of the Nephites to the Lamanites and how to read and write—but nothing about God (Mosiah 24:1–7). Nevertheless, this would be of great value later when the Nephites brought the gospel to the Lamanites. The newly-literate Lamanites began to prosper as a result of this new ability to communicate.
Delivered by the Lord
● When Amulon threatened to kill them if they prayed, Alma’s people prayed individually and silently (Mosiah 24:8–11).
● The Lord answered their silent prayers (Mosiah 24:12–16).
● Our burdens are easier to bear when we “submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (v. 15).
The Lord Chastens His Children
● Commenting on these events, Mormon said chastening builds patience and faith (Mosiah 23:21–24).
● To fully appreciate what he is saying in verse 21, we must know what the word “chasten” meant in 1828 (when Joseph Smith used it while translating the Book of Mormon). It meant “to purify,” “to cleanse,” or “to prepare for something greater.”
● So, in order to purify us and make us better, the Lord tries out patience and our faith. And “whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people” (v. 22). That is why the Lord allowed them to be brought into bondage— so they could learn to trust in God for their deliverance and learn patience in the process (vv. 23–24).
● The Lord blessed Alma’s people more quickly and abundantly than He blessed Limhi’s people while they were in bondage. (Mosiah 21:5–15; 23:26–27).
● Only the Lord can deliver us from bondage—whether it be the bondage of sin or actual physical bondage. We must turn to Him through repentance, faith, humility, and enduring obedience. (Mosiah 7:33; 21:14; 23:23; 29:18–20; D&C 84:49–51).
● God chastens his children . . . “For our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness,” and to yield “the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:6, 9–11).
● The Lord declared to the early Saints in this dispensation, “My people must be tried in all things” (D&C 136:31). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried [even] as . . . Abraham and other men of God . . . ,God will feel after you, and He will take hold of . . . and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial kingdom of God.”6
● The Lord was sufficiently impressed with the patience and faith of Alma’s people while they were in captivity that “the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage” (v. 16).
● They made a hurried journey through the wilderness to Zarahemla, with Alma as their leader and God showing him the way (Mosiah 24:17–25).
1. In Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 91; or Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 26.
2. In Conference Report, Oct. 1975, 109; or Ensign, Nov. 1975, 73.
3. Answers to Gospel Questions 3:203.
4. The Miracle of Forgiveness , 325.
5. In Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 24; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 20.
6. As quoted by President John Taylor in Journal of Discourses, 24:197.