Alma 29

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O, that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!  Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.

This is the prayer and desire of Alma, Jr., that opens this monologue chapter like an aside on the stage after the first act having told the story of his mission and the mission of the sons of Mosiah.

His own life has been so changed, and he has seen how the lives of others have been so changed, that he very much wants everyone to understand this great plan of happiness.  But he also understands that wishing beyond what he has is sin because he needs to be content with what he has within the “bounds of time and place” (D&C) that the Lord has already assigned to him (verse 3).  He also understands that people have agency, the ability to choose whom to follow (Lucifer or Jehovah), and that people get the consequences of their own choices “whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction” (verse 4).   Every choice we make leads to one or the other, either salvation or destruction, and Alma knows that to force people to salvation is Lucifer’s plan, not Jehovah’s, no matter how pure the desire for people to be saved.  People must have their agency, and this is given to us of God.  So he understands that “good and evil have come before all men”, and that everyone receives “according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience” (verse 5).

So he struggled with himself, asking why – if he understands all these things – he would want to do more than his mission, which was simply to offer the plan so that people could understand and be aware of what they are choosing (verse 6).  He cannot force the choice, he can only teach what the choices are.  People must choose for themselves.

He also asks himself why he would wish to proclaim to all the world, when he also understands that the Lord will speak to each people, each language, each culture, each person, in their own way to their own understanding.

“For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true” (verse 8).

The Lord will, in His own way, teach every culture and people about Himself in ways they will understand.  Every people on earth will receive teachings of principles, basic principles, so that they will be prepared to understand.  They cannot actually make their choice until they really understand.  So He will make sure all understand, every individual, in his or her own way.

This promise is more than just about languages; it’s about culture, too.  The youtube videos (“mormon messages”) are a way that the culture of YouTube learn about principles; blogging about the Book of Mormon teaches bloggers about principles.

It even gets more simple, with the world of people teaching themselves without even realizing it, such as this commercial (that I have blogged before) that has no idea it is teaching about the atonement, but that is the exact lesson it gives without having to use any church-ey words – even with a father and a son motif, and with water having healing powers to restore (when used by the father and the son!):


Or how is the opening to the show “X Factor” not the story of the quickly coming return of Christ, symbolized by the giant X, leaving one planet, passing others, passing the moon, and passing through the atmosphere to be seen by all who watch below, in a shared experience that none can deny even if some explain it away?


There are allusions like this everywhere, all the time, throughout our culture, in every culture, and every language – even when the language is the internet, or pop culture on tv.  We can find it everywhere, and see it anywhere, if we are looking and paying attention.

He will do everything to make sure people are prepared, even if they choose not to participate or even reject Him.  He will do His part.  That is a promise, and that is what Alma, Jr., celebrates, “that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy” (verse 9).  The joy comes from seeing people “truly penitent”, because he knows himself from his own life “what the Lord has done for me, even that He hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me” (verse 10).

He knows what bondage he was in before, what misery he experienced before his conversion.  He knows the bondage – literally – that his ancestors were in, and that it was only the hand of the Lord who could deliver them (verses 11-12).  He knows it is this same God, the one of the ancients as the one who calls to him today, “to preach the word unto this people, and hath given me such success, in the which my joy is full” (verse 13).

But what brings is joy from “full” to overflowing, is the success of his friends and people, who are faithful to the Lord and diligent in their service (verse 14).  He says, “they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; how great shall be their reward!” (verse 15), so he rejoices even for those he mourns, because he knows they have gone to be with their God (verse 16).

“And now my God grant unto these, my brethren, that they may sit down in the kingdom of God…” (verse 17).


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.


Alma 29 — 1 Comment

  1. “oh that I were an angel” … one of my favorite passages. I have felt that way before, but the biggest thing I glean from this scripture is that I need to be grateful for the part that I am given and not try to take on more than I should. Of course there is more to it than that, but that is my simplified version. Thank you for reminding me of it today when I needed being reminded.