CLICK HERE to read Alma 27.
When the non-converted Lamanites did not win the war against the Nephites (verse 1), they were angry – and took their anger out on the converted Lamanites (verse 2). The converted Lamanites still refused to take up arms in war, and so many were killed by the non-converted Lamanites (verse 3).
When Ammon the prophet found out this was going on, when he “saw this work of destruction among those whom they so dearly beloved… they were moved with compassion” and talked to the king in behalf of the people (verse 4). He asked for permission to gather the converted Lamanites and leave the land of the non-converted Lamanites before they were all destroyed (verse 5). The king, however, was scared of the Nephites, because of his own past of what he had done to those people before his conversion (verse 6). So the prophet tells the king that he will “go and inquire of the Lord”, and asks the king that “if he say unto us, go down unto our brethren (the Nephites), will ye go?” (verse 7).
The king agrees to go if the Lord tells them to go, and he describes that he is ready to do restitution to fulfill his repentance if needed: “we will be their slaves until we repair unto them the many murders and sins which we have committed against them” (verse 8). However, Ammon teaches the king that among his people the Nephites, it is against the law for there to be slaves (verse 9). So like Abraham and Isaac, the king’s sacrifice is accepted without it being demanded. This shows a good and true heart in the king, that he and his people were willing to do what restitution they could.
So the king did send Ammon to inquire of the Lord (verse 10), and Ammon did so (verse 11). The Lord’s answer was to get the people out of the land, “that they perish not; for Satan has great hold on the hearts… who do stir up the Lamanites to anger against their brethren to slay them; therefore get thee out of this land; and blessed are this people in this generation, for I will preserve them” (verse 12). Ammon told the king what the Lord had said (verse 13), and the king gathered the people and their flocks and herds (verse 14).
The people waited by the border while Ammon went ahead, to prepare the hearts of the Nephites to accept the converted Lamanites (verse 15). As Ammon returned to his homeland for the first time since leaving for his mission, he met up with Alma, Jr., his bestest friend from back in the day, and “this was a joyful meeting” (verse 16).
This was Ammon’s homecoming! His mission is complete! He had served faithfully and well, and had given everything he had, both physically and spiritually. He had often barely escaped with his life, and he knows he was delivered by the Lord – he and the Lamanite people. His testimony is stronger than ever before, and this is his first time to return home. This is his moment of landing in the airport, coming down the escalator, and seeing his friends and family waiting with signs and balloons. He has served with honor, and this is his rite of passage that the mission is complete.
The moment overwhelms him!
“Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth” (verse 17).
This, the scriptures say, is the kind of joy “which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness” (verse 18).
Just as the Lamanite king was willing to make restitution, so this was Ammon’s restitution. He knows what he and the other sons of Mosiah had done with Alma, Jr., and he knows what a powerful conversion experience they had. He knows that there was a day in the past where he had done everything to destroy the church, and he knows this mission was his gift of repentance to the Lord. He not only converted and established and strengthened the church, but when they were in danger he delivered them to safety. This is his restitution, and it is in this moment, the moment of his homecoming, that he feels his offering has been accepted. That is the joy of the truly penitent: to serve faithfully in effort to restore that which was lost and destroyed before his conversion. This is happiness, to find the mercy of God when He accepts our offering, and to know who He is as we witness Him doing the restoring that our meager efforts cannot accomplish on our own.
Ammon’s brothers are also excited and happy to see Alma, Jr., and they are once again reunited as the sons of Mosiah, the childhood friends they once were – but now purified, grown up, cleansed, productive, sanctified, made holy, at-one-with God… not that they are finished or perfect, but they are in-tune, in-line, in-order, in-process along the way. They are made whole, complete, and their reunion is part of their personal restoration.
It is almost as if part of their consequences for their bad behavior on the past was losing the privilege of their friendship, and part of the gift of repentance being complete is being given permission to restore the friendship. It is as if they needed time away from each other to sort themselves out with God, but having done so, and being at-one with God, they are permitted to come together again… because when we are at-one with God, we can be at-one with other people. This is a significant and powerful reunion, with layers and layers of lessons about repentance and friendship.
Alma, Jr., brings his old school buddies back to his own home, and they report to their “chief judge all the things that had happened unto them… among their brethren, the Lamanites” (verse 20). The chief judge then sends a proclamation to all the land, asking the people their votes about letting the converted Lamanites move into their lands (verse 21). The people together agreed on part of their lands they could give to the converted Lamanites, granting them sanctuary and offering them peace (verse 22). Even more so, the people announce they will go even further and supply armies to protect the borders of the land, so that the converted Lamanites will be protected against those who preserve them. This is at-one-ment in action, with awareness and understanding that their protection and care for these people help these people keep their covenants: “… and this we do for our brethren, on account of their fear to take up arms against their brethren lest they should commit sin…” (verse 23). They do not demand taxes to let the people live there, but only supplies for the armies that will be protecting them (verse 24).
When Ammon received this news, he returned to the border where the converted Lamanites waited for the news. He gave them the news, and also gave them his testimony – along with Alma, Jr., and the other sons of Mosiah – telling them of their conversion and why this was all so symbolic and sacred, so that they could understand the things of God (verse 25). The people rejoiced, and moved into their new land, being called “the people of Ammon” ever after that (verse 26).
They were now part of the Nephites both geographically and because they made covenants with the Lord. “And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright n all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end” (verse 27). They kept their covenants not to shed blood or take up arms or go to war, but they were not afraid of death because of “their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection” (verse 28).
“Therefore, they would suffer death in the most aggravating and distressing manner which could be inflicted” before they would go to war against the other Lamanites (verse 29). They understood that hard hearts cannot be melted with coldness. They still were a fierce people, but used that fierce-ness to protect their own softness. They stayed warm by offering peace.
“And thus they were a zealous and beloved people, a highly favored people of the Lord” (verse 30).