Alma 19: The Lamanite Restoration

CLICK HERE to read Alma 19.  For further study of this chapter, and its teachings on marriage and the teachings of the temple, see THIS TALK.

King Lamoni is laying there, very nearly dead, and his wife and children are mourning him.  The servants prepare his sepulchre, ready to bury him (verse 1).  But the queen hears the story of Ammon the prophet, and of his great service to the King, and of what he taught the king – so she sends for Ammon to come to them (verse 2).

“And it came to pass that Ammon did as he was commanded, and went in unto the queen” (verse 3).  He asked the queen what he could do for her.  She told him that the servants had told her all that had happened, and that “thou art a prophet of a holy God, and that thou hast power to do many might works in his name” (verse 4).  She tells him that her husband is laying as if dead, and that the people are ready to bury him (verse 5).

Ammon patiently listens to all this, even though he already knows that King Lamoni is not dead but only overcome by the power of God as “the dark veil of unbelief” is “being cast away from his mind” (verse 6).  He describes it like this (verse 6):

and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness – yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and hew as carried away in God…”

He did as the queen asked, going in to check on the king, and he confirmed that the king was not dead (verse 7).  He told the queen that the king was not dead, and that he was only sleeping, and not to bury him because he would wake in the morning (verse 8).  Then Ammon addressed her directly, asking if she believed this; the queen replied that she did believe (verse 9).  Ammon told her she was blessed for her great faith (verse 10), and the queen exercised that faith by watching over her husband from that moment until it happened as the prophet promised, and the king awoke in the morning (verse 11).

When the king awoke, he reached out to his wife and said, “Blessed be the name of God, and blessed art thou” (verse 12).  Then he began to explain that he had seen the Redeemer, and he taught his wife what he knew, prophesying about the birth of Christ: he shall come forth, and be born of a woman, and he shall redeem all mankind who believe on his name.  This filled both the king and queen with joy, and they were overcome by the Spirit (verse 13).

This was a miracle!  The gospel had come to the Lamanites!  These people had fought so long against the people of God, even though they were descended from the ancestors.  They denied the truth, fighting against it, calling it evil, killing the prophets of God – all because it was what they had been told, all because they were too focused on false traditions passed down to them – so much that they did not recognize the prophet of God right in front of them.

This is what happened when Jesus Christ ministered amongst the people of his day.  Many who had waited for Him and hoped in Him missed it, simply because they were so focused on being right, and so focused on what their parents had taught them that they missed the whole meaning behind the teaching, and missed seeing the Savior when He was right in front of them.

This happens in our day, when people are so focused on belonging to a certain branch of the original church that Christ established, that they miss the Savior re-planting the original seed.   They have truth, and many pieces, but they are growing in the wrong place and without the full story – much like seeds scattered in the wind.  The original church has been restored by the Savior Himself.  It had to be restored, re-planted, because of all those branches.  He didn’t create a church of branches.  He created one church, in His name.  Satan tried to stop that church, and did so by killing all the apostles who had the authority to organize that one true church.  The survivors did the best they could, but they lacked the authority to continue organizing the church.  Without the authority, and with other corruptions (which is what led to all the branches), the church was scattered and lost.   Truths remained, and pieces of the story were passed on.  These marvelous ancient saints did the very best they could to keep truth alive, and they sacrificed their very lives to pass on sacred writings and ordinances.  But that authority was lost, and so the church was no longer organized… it was scattered, like the wind, with all kinds of branches sprouting up from different pieces of truth that this saint or that saint had protected.   Some of them were corrupted and horrible.  Others were truly saints, sacrificing all they had (often their very lives), to hold on to the truths they did have, to protect them, and to pass them on.  But there was no longer one true church that held ALL the pieces of truth, and there was no longer the direct authority given by Christ to organize His church and act in His name.

This is why it had to be restored.

That’s why we are called “The Church of Jesus Christ”, because it is His church (with all the pieces), under His authority (to truly act in His name, instead of just going through the motions of what people remembered from before the apostasy).  He added the “of Latter-day Saints” onto the title of the church when it was restored because these are the latter days, closer to His second coming that the former days when He was here for His earthly ministry and the great atoning sacrifice He provided for all of us.

So this is huge, this conversion of the king and queen of the Lamanites.  Remember the beginning of the Book of Mormon, back when Lehi was given a vision and instructed to leave Jerusalem?  Remember his son Nephi, who was faithful and obedient, and his rebellious brothers Laman and Lemuel?  Remember how all those, regardless of ancestors, who followed the Lord were called “Nephites” and those who were rebellious were called “Lamanites”?   This is the very restoration of the gospel to the Lamanites that Lehi himself did pray for, did forsee, to hope for, did wait for back long ago in those days of wandering the wilderness.

Ammon, the prophet, knows this is what is happening.  He sees “the Spirit of the Lord poured out according to his prayers upon the Lamanites” (verse 14).  He is so overwhelmed with awe and joy and gratitude that he falls on his knees, and begins “to pour out his soul in prayer and thanksgiving to God” (verse 14).  Ammon himself is also overcome with joy, just like the king and queen!

When the servants see this, they also begin to “cry unto God” (verse 15).  These servants did also convert, turning to the Lord as they did “call on the name of the Lord, in their might, even until they had all fallen to the earth” (verse 16).  All of them collapsed in prayer and joy, except for one woman who had already converted because of the teaching of her father (verse 16).  She was already a convert but had never shared it, yet when she saw that the king and the queen and the prophet all lay prostrate in prayer, “she knew it was the power of God” (verse 17).  This was her opportunity to explain to the people what was happening, to testify to them of God.  And so she did!  She went door to door, house to house, explaining to the people what was happening.

The people came to the house of the king, “and to their astonishment, they beheld the king, and the queen, and their servants… and they also saw Ammon…” (verse 18).  The people began to murmur, discussing whether or not this was all because of some evil happening because the Nephite prophet had come into their land (verse 19).  Others wondered if it was evil happening because the king had killed the servants who scatted the flocks Ammon was trying to protect (verse 20).  Others were angry because they were relatives of those who had been killed (verse 21).

One of these was so angry that when he saw Ammon laying prostrate in prayer, he lifted his sword to kill Ammon while he had the chance, but he himself fell down dead instead (verse 22).

But again, just like back in chapter 17, the guy trying to kill Ammon does not know or understand that the Lord has already promised protection of Ammon’s life (see Mosiah 28).  “Now we see that Ammon could not be slain, for the Lord had said unto Mosiah, his father: I will spare him, and it shall be unto him according to thy faith – therefore, Mosiah trusted him unto the Lord” (verse 23).

All the people saw this.  They witnessed the man trying to kill Ammon but falling down dead himself instead.  This made them afraid to even touch those who had been overcome by the Spirit, “and they began to marvel again among themselves what could be the cause of this great power, or what all these things could mean” (verse 24).   Many said Ammon was “the Great Spirit”, and others said Ammon was sent by “the Great Spirit” (verse 25).  Others said he was a monster sent to torment them (verse 26).  Others said Ammon was sent by “the Great Spirit”, but sent “to afflict them because of their iniquities” (verse 27).

These arguments stirred up the contention, which was the situation the woman servant found herself in after trying to testify to the people.  Instead of hearing her testimony, they had gotten lost in their own ideas of what was happening and what to do about it or not.  Instead of responding to her words with soft hearts, their hard hearts had stirred up drama and contention that distracted from the testimony and missed the whole point of what was happening – and left them in confusion, still, because they had not understood her explanation (verse 27).

The woman began to cry, and went back to the queen she had served, and took the queen’s hand.  As soon as she touched the queen’s hand, the queen jumped up “and cried with a loud voice, saying: O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell!  O blessed God, have mercy on this people!” (verse 29).   She said many things, then reached for the king, who immediately stood to his feet as well (verse 30).

When the king saw the contention among the people, he rebuked them.  He taught them the words of the prophet, and “as many as heard his words believed, and were converted unto the Lord” (verse 31).

But many did not believe, and went on their way (verse 32).

Ammon did minister to them all, and all the people declared the same thing: “that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil” (verse 33).

“And behold, many did declare unto the people that they had seen angels and had conversed with them; and thus they had told them things of God, and of his righteousness” (verse 34).

And many believed, and those new believers were baptized, and became a righteous people (verse 35).

“And thus the work of the Lord did commence among the Lamanites; thus the Lord did begin to pour out his Spirit upon them; and we see that his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe on his name” (verse 36).

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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