26: They "Never Did Fall Away" (June 29–July 5)
Have you ever committed to do something, or not do something, and then the minute you make that commitment, something comes up that really tests your decision? In this week's study group we learn why it's important to have a continual commitment to change like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies in Alma 23-29, and also, why it’s not the end of the world when we mess up.
When I was leaving to serve on my mission, my Bishop gave me the greatest and probably the most humbling advice ever. He looked me square in the eyes and he said, quote, "Don't you dare go out there having made any deals with the Lord. There can be no hidden agendas or expecting anything in return. You should only be going out there because you love the Lord and want to serve His people." End quote. I was extremely humbled because I was like, "I think he can understand the thoughts and intents of my heart, you must have the gift of Alma and Amulek" because that's exactly what I was doing. I did have a deal with the Lord. I thought, "If I go on a mission, he's going to help me get married the second I come home," and I'll be honest you guys, I would have left the MTC if a homeless man had proposed to me on the street while I was walking to the temple. Not even kidding.
Today, Alma chapters 23 through 29 is filled with stories about people who serve the Lord with no hidden agendas. They love the Lord and their only goal was to be obedient and serve Him with all of their heart, might, mind, and strength, just like Doctrine and Covenants section four teaches us, and today, we'll learn how their story can become our story.
Welcome to the Sunday on Monday Study Group, a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original brought to you by LDS Living where we take the "Come, Follow Me" lesson for the week and really dig into our scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall.
And if you're new to our study group, we want to make sure that you know how to use this podcast. Remember when we asked you guys a few weeks ago how you use the podcast? I want to thank you so much to those of you who took the time to tell us. We learned that many of you listen all at once, and then you go back throughout the week to listen again in segments. And that's what's so cool about this podcast, it's broken up into six segments that are around 10 to 12 minutes long, so you can study for 10 minutes a day. How great is that? When the segment ends, music plays to let you know that it's over.
Now another awesome thing about our study group is that each week we are joined by two of my friends, and it's going to be a little bit different every week, so you're going to get different perspectives. So today we have Sharon Staples and Sharmaine Howell. Hi, ladies.
Hi, how are you?
Good to be with you. I'm amazed that you have so many friends.
Yeah, you do.
I know. When you're single till you're 35, you have no choice but to find people to fill your life with friends. Sharon, you're back. We have not had you here for a while because you've been seriously quarantined.
Yes, I have been quarantined.
And how did it treat you?
Well, I am more than 65 years old, and so talking about friends, they have been so beautiful to me and they do our shopping, they'll clean our house, they'll do our windows, whatever we need or want, our friends are calling and saying, "I'm doing this. Can I do this for you? Here I have this, this is for you." So the outpouring of love from friends and family has been tremendous, and it's a bonus from this terrible COVID-19 that we're experiencing. It has been a blessing.
Absolutely. In fact, we're going to come back to that statement that you just made about having it be a blessing later in our podcast. I'm glad you brought that up. Now for those of you listening, if you want to see what my friends look like because I love to see what people look like when I hear their voices, you can actually find out more information about them and some cute pictures of them at our show notes which are at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. So go check that out.
Okay guys, we are halfway through the Book of Mormon, like give or take a few pages, but we're halfway through. Isn't that crazy? I thought that went by so fast. So we're studying Alma chapters 23 through 29, and I have to say that these chapters are filled with some amazing mission stories, examples of unlimited love for the Lord, and truly beautiful prose written about God. Soak it in when you read this week because it is so good. All right, friends, so grab your scriptures, and let's dig in.
So I started out by telling you the story, my little deal or arrangement with God. Sharon, this is your area of expertise as a professor of educational psychology and ethics. What is it about the human in us that wants to make deals with God?
Well, we want what we want, when we want it, and we think he can give it to us and he's the only one probably who can give it to us, and so we say, "Okay, God, I will give up Diet Coke if you will help me meet this guy in my seminary class," or, "Yeah, I will start paying a full tithing if you'll just let me do..." whatever, you know, the request is, and the problem with that is that you cannot make a deal with God. God can make a deal with you and it's called covenants. And anything outside of covenants is a human dealmaker and it just doesn't work. So if you want to make a deal with God, you say, "What covenant do I need to keep Heavenly Father?" And then have the faith that He will bless you with your righteous desires in his timeframe.
I like that you said it goes back to covenants, that those are the deals we make with God, or the deals he has made with us and the blessings that come from that.
One thing I thought of when you said that Sharon is the scripture in D&C 82:10. And it doesn't say, "I the Lord am bound when you do what you say," it says, "When you do what I say."
Well, let's just jump right into the story about a people who did something very extreme for God, more extreme than a mission, and yet they expected nothing from him in return. So I'm going to give you a little background. Let's turn to Alma chapter 23. That's where we're going to start out. Here's what you need to know about this. So the King of the Lamanites, he has just been converted, and so he sent this religious freedom proclamation throughout all the land. And not only that, but no one was allowed to even lay a hand on the missionaries, Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Himni, or any of his brethren. So I think this is pretty fantastic, this religious freedom.
So we're going to see how this turned out as we read these verses, and I want us to look at what happened in Alma chapter 23. We're just going to look at verses four through six. Sharon, can you read those verses please?
You bet, I'd be happy to.
"And now it came to pass that when the king had sent forth this proclamation, that Aaron and his brethren went forth from city to city, and from one house of worship to another, establishing churches, and consecrating priests and teachers throughout the land among the Lamanites, to preach and to teach the word of God among them; and thus they began to have great success."
"And thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the traditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the records and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time."
"And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away."
What did you notice happened?
They became converted in their hearts. It wasn't just a baptismal covenant of, you know, "I'm being baptized. Now I'm a member." They were converted according to the Spirit of Revelation and prophecy. It was such a positive, forceful integration into the stability of the hearts being converted, and they never did fall away. If you're only converted to the Church or only converted to one or two principles, the possibility of falling away is great, but if your hearts are converted, you won't ever fall away.
One thing that I noticed while you were talking Sharon, I love that it says in six: "The power of God working miracles in them." And I love that phrase because sometimes I don't really get what it means to be converted, but I think it's God working miracles in me and me letting God work miracles in me. So...
Oh, I like that. I love that you just pointed that out.
Oh that's beautiful, yeah.
Well, these people have already been converted, and this is what I love about their story, they didn't have any deals with God. They've been converted, but there was one thing they desired. And let's turn the page and we're gonna look at verse 17. They just wanted one thing from the leaders at this time, and Shar, will you read verse 17 for us?
"And it came to pass that they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies; and they were called by this name and were no more called Lamanites."
Highlight the name that they are now called. It's within our English language to think when we read the word anti, "Oh, they're against Nephi, they're against Lehi." But I found this really interesting. So though there is no word "anti" in Hebrew, but there is in Greek, that's where we get the name. In fact, in First John, is where we read about an Antichrist. And the word "anti" in Greek means "opposite," but not just opposite. It means "hence, instead of, a substitution, or in place of." Now, if you look up in the 1828 Webster's dictionary, that's my favorite dictionary to use, you're going to find, and this is by Robert Millet, professor at BYU, he says that the word "anti" means "like" or a mirror image of. So in that dictionary, it means that, and then he says, "In that case anti-Christ would mean not just opposed to Christ but also deceptively similar to Christ, and perhaps the name Anti-Nephi-Lehies would symbolize their desire to be as Nephi and Lehi of old, that is, that they might remember the goodness and faithfulness of their first Nephite prophet leaders (CR Helaman 5:6)." (Robert L. Millett, Joseph Fielding McConkie, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon Vol. 3, DB, 1991, 165)
And next to that verse 17, I want to give you this cross reference. Put Helaman chapter five, verse six. If you turn to Helaman chapter five, verse six, the beauty of that verse says that the name that you have and the people that you become from are a reminder of their goodness, and so that's what this verse is, this name Anti-Nephi-Lehies could possibly have been a reminder of the goodness that they had now turned their hearts to, what they had been converted to.
Hey Tammy, there's another perspective on that if I can put it in.
Brother Ogden and Brother Skinner in their book "Verse by Verse: The Book of Mormon," they say that anti for them may mean that they did not want to be associated with the Nephi part of it but with the Lehi, so that they were anti-Nephi but pro-Lehi.
Well, Lehi maybe meaning from all of us, we're all together, we're not seperate, right?
Yeah. And so it's just another perspective, it doesn't mean it's true, or that's what they really meant, but that they gave us that perspective of anti.
Yeah, thank you for sharing that. I think that's a great perspective to look at. Now, because the lamanites had been brought to a knowledge of the Lord, the scriptures then tell us and we need to look at this, go to chapter 23, verse 18. Look what happened as a result of their conversion. They got a new name, but this verse is so important for us to mark, to love, to teach, and I'm going to read it.
Verse 18, says, "And they began to be a very industrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them, and the curse of God did no more follow them."
You have to mark "curse of God." I'm going to give you several scripture references that you can study. I recommend you study this on your own, but we have to understand that the curse has nothing to do with skin color. I just think it's important for us to recognize that throughout history we have maybe taught this verse of scripture wrong, and given the current climate that we are living in right now, it's so important for us to recognize that what this really means is being cut off because of choices we make and that God loves all of his children. It has nothing to do with what we look like on the outside, and I really appreciate President Nelson's words during the time of the riots when he just called us out, and he just said, "We have to repent. We have to repent for thinking it being any other way."
And I appreciate his words and saying, "Enough, we're done. And we need to love everyone and support everyone." So here's the scripture references that support that and we'll put these in our show notes so you don't have to write them down so fast. But second Nephi chapter five, verses 20 through 21 is the first place you want to start. That's the first mention of the curse. Then Mosiah chapter two, verses 36 through 38 support that. Then you go to second Nephi chapter 30, verse six. And then the last place is Matthew chapter six, verses 21 through 23.
And I like the Matthew one because the idea there is that the darkness comes as a result of what we do. It doesn't have anything to do with our skin and so being cast off or being cut off, which is the curse means that Satan has been taken place in our hearts and that's where the darkness comes from. So we need to make sure we understand what that means and then we can teach it to our kids when they come up to these verses of scripture.
I looked up "curse of God" and I got the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. And it says it's a simile curse. "The simile curse is a type of curse that appears in ancient Near Eastern, Old Testament, and Book of Mormon texts. It consists of two parts: (1) an event (e.g., “Just as this wax is burned by fire”) and (2) an application of that event to the subject of the curse (e.g., “so shall Arpad be burned”). In ancient Near Eastern texts, simile curses appear in written treaties and ceremonies."
So it's a curse that is a typical curse, and like you said, it does not apply to a specific attitude or skin color or ethnicity, it applies to the action of the people involved.
Thank you. I appreciate you sharing that. So when this happened, when the cursor is removed from them, we're going to go back into second Nephi chapter 23 because there's a couple more things that we didn't go over that we will in the next segment because the Anti-Nephi-Lehies are now joining together with the beliefs and the names of Nephi and Lehi. So they took on this new name and this new lifestyle, and in fact, this new lifestyle encouraged them to do something very unconventional, and no one had ever done this before, and we're going to talk about that in the next two segments.
Segment 2 13:44
Turn with me to Alma chapter 23, verse 15. There's a really important phrase in this verse that I think we need to mark that I love how it describes the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, and I'm going to read it for us so we can make sure we mark it.
It says, "Therefore, we have named all the cities of the Lamanites in which they did repent and come to the knowledge of the truth, and were converted."
Underline that: "the knowledge of the truth and converted." Because of this, they are going to do what I just said earlier in the last segment, an unconventional result of their conversion, and it's so unconventional. So let's go to Alma chapter 23 verse seven and read what it is, and Shar, will you read this verse for us please.
"For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren."
And Shar, will you draw a line to verse 13, and read verse 13 also please.
"And these are the names of the cities of the Lamanites which were converted unto the Lord; and these are they that laid down the weapons of their rebellion, yea, all their weapons of war; and they were all Lamanites."
Thank you. Now in verse seven, tell me, what did they lay down? What's the wording that they use to describe what they laid down?
It says they "laid down their weapons of their rebellion."
Yeah. Mark that. I think this phrase is so interesting. Their "weapons of rebellion" because I wonder exactly what did they lay down? It doesn't say they laid down their swords.
But they do eventually.
Eventually, but that's a whole other discussion. Right here, and in fact, look down in verse 13, it says, "...weapons of rebellion, yea, all their weapons of war," like including. I wonder... tell me. What do you think it could be?
Well, one thing I love about that verse in seven, it says they "laid down their weapons of their rebellion that they did not fight against God anymore." So, you know, when I first read that verse, it made me think, you know, I usually just thought they laid down their sword so they didn't fight against the other Nephites anymore, but it says they were fighting against God and it made me ask myself that question, you know, what are my weapons of rebellion in my life? And how do I fight against God when he's trying to help me? What is he asking me to lay down and not fight against him anymore?
Beautiful, I thought the exact same thing. "What is my weapon of rebellion?" So in our pilot episode, Sharon, you shared your conversion story, which I love. I recommend if you guys can take some time to go back and listen to it, you should because there was a moment after you had been baptized, I don't know that you really knew what you were doing like, I know you knew you're being baptized, but you were still living in a lifestyle that wasn't really in line with the teachings of the gospel.
And there was a moment for you where you were standing in the kitchen with members of the Church, and someone called you out on that. Will you tell us a little bit about that story?
Well, I was in my brother's home and they have friends over and we were having drinks and you know having a good time and a party, and I was not keeping the Word of Wisdom at the time, and someone approached me and said, "You're a Mormon, aren't you?" And it was at that point that I realized that I was not behaving as a converted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And that I was saying, "Yes, I am a member, but no, I don't keep the ordinances or the commandments, or the suggestions of the Word of Wisdom." And it was at that moment that I had a realization that I had to choose to follow my Father in Heaven, and his direction for me, or continue to go the way of the world.
So although I was baptized, and I was converted to the gospel, I had not had a change of heart. And it was at that moment in that kitchen with those people, that I had a change of heart, and I knew the Church was true, and I knew I had been converted, and I knew I had been baptized, and I knew I had made covenants, and that realization stopped me in my tracks and I never looked back. So it was not a very pleasant moment for me, I'm not proud of it.
You definitely laid down some weapons of rebellion right then, Sharon. That's pretty awesome.
Well, I just wish it would go away.
I'm glad it didn't though because it helps a lot of us who can relate to that experience, and it's hard sometimes to lay down those weapons of rebellion.
It makes me very vulnerable and I don't like being vulnerable and nobody does.
I know you don't.
But truth is truth.
It is and it's a beautiful story so thank you for sharing that. Let's read what Elder Bednar has to say about this weapons of rebellion. I really like his quote. Shar, will you read this for us please?
“To set aside cherished ‘weapons of rebellion’ such as selfishness, pride, and disobedience requires more than merely believing and knowing. Conviction, humility, repentance, and submissiveness precede the abandonment of our weapons of rebellion. Do you and I still possess weapons of rebellion that keep us from becoming converted unto the Lord? If so, then we need to repent now” (David A. Bednar, “Converted unto the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 108–9).
Thank you. So I have a rhetorical question and I want everyone listening to just kind of think about this, but what weapon of rebellion causes you to fight against God? And for some of us who heard me say that immediately something popped into your head and you knew. The spirit just spoke to you and said, "You need to lay this weapon down." And for some others of us, you might have to ask God. And you might have to say, "What is my weapon of rebellion?" And I can assure you, he will tell you. I had this experience several years ago, and I got on my knees and I did say, like, "Heavenly Father..." I had some really bad feelings towards someone, and this person was absolutely in the wrong. 100% I was right. She was wrong. And I said, "Heavenly Father, I don't understand. Help me have better feelings about this person, like what do I need to do to make it better?"
And I know 100% that the answer came from my Heavenly Father because the word popped into my head that said, "You're being very surly." And I had to go look up that word. I didn't know what it meant. So that's how I knew it was from God. I was like, "Surly? Geez." And I went and looked it up and I was like, "You're right, Heavenly Father, I've been very surly." And I was called out and my heart was changed, and I think the relationship with this person changed because of that answer to my prayers. So he will let you know what weapon you need to lay down.
Well and I kind of had a similar experience, but a little bit different of an answer because I recently knelt down in prayer, and I was asking this similar question. And I was probably in a place where I was maybe tearing myself down instead of trying to help, so I was thinking of all my weaknesses, right? And then the thing that popped into my head from the Spirit said, "You need to stop not believing in yourself, and you need to believe in your individual worth." And I was like, that's so interesting because I think one of my weapons of rebellion is not believing in my individual worth, and that Satan tries to get us at that and tell us that we're just not enough, or we're not doing it good enough.
And I would have never considered that as a weapon of rebellion that I'm fighting against God by not believing in myself, and it was just so powerful. So you know, I don't know if anyone else feels like that, that you don't have any strength, or that you're not contributing, or that you're not smart enough or you're not doing whatever. But to me, that was the moment that I was like, "Whoa, I am fighting against God when I don't believe in myself." It was just an "aha" moment for me.
One of the things I love about you Shar, is your willingness to ask. I mean, you were humble to be obedient, and that's one of the things I love about you is that you're willing to ask, and then you work on it. I'm not willing to ask sometimes. I have a weapon of rebellion, I say, "I'm not gonna go there. I'm not gonna change that."
Sharon is a weapon of rebellion.
"I like that, I'm not gonna change it," but you're... and it's such a great insight that you have, and that's another thing that I admire about you is that you have insight and I appreciate that in you. Thank you for sharing.
That's powerful. Thank you for sharing that, Shar. The people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, they laid down their weapons of rebellion, but now the question is, what did they do to ensure that their weapons would remain down? And how can they be so sure that when times get tough, or when the adversary comes in to fight, when they're just too tired to care anymore, or that it would just be easier to reach for that weapon of rebellion, that they don't run for that weapon. We're going to discuss that in the next segment.
Segment 3 22:27
Sharon, you had just mentioned briefly and shared a beautiful story about your conversion, and here's a follow up question I have for that. So you did lay down your weapons of rebellion. I want to know now, what did you do to make sure that you kept them down?
Well, first of all, I went to the temple and put my name on the payroll. I mean like, I knew I couldn't do it by myself. And my constant prayer was, "Heavenly Father, I can't do this without thy help. So please help me to get a testimony of obedience." My weapon of war was disobedience, has always been. I always knew what was best for me and nobody else knew better, etc, etc, etc. So I knew that if I wanted to be truly converted and bury my weapon of rebellion, I needed the Lord's help. So that's what I did. I went to the temple and put my name on the payroll and I prayed and prayed and prayed to help me be obedient. And it's been a mantra of mine, "Sharon, today, be obedient. Tomorrow, be obedient, kind and loving, etc, etc. But be obedient." Obedience is the converting principle for me. So I had to lay down that weapon of rebellion of disobedience. I'm still working on it. It hasn't gone away because I am smarter than your average person and I know best and I can tell them what to do and that's wrong.
Am I average, Sharon? Just tell me up straight.
Sharon, I like that you just gave us an example of specific things that you did to keep your weapon of rebellion down. You put your name on the prayer roll, you went to the temple, and then I love your mantra: "Be obedient." Every day you wake up and say, "Be obedient." That's powerful. Let's go to Alma chapter 24 because the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, they also had to make a specific decision, and we're going to read about how they were able to never pick up their weapon of rebellion again. So in Alma chapter 24, a little bit of background you will need to know. We have what's going on right now is there is such a great hatred that the Amalekites, the Amulonites, and the Lamanites have against the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. In fact, the Scriptures say it was a "fierce hatred that they had for them." And so Ammon and his brethren hold a special counsel with Lamoni and his brother to decide what to do because they had just found out that the Amalekites, Amulonites, and the Lamanites were preparing to come to war against the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. And so they come and they have this special meeting. Shar, will you read for us in Alma chapter 24, verses five and six, please.
"Now when Ammon and his brethren and all those who had come up with him saw the preparations of the Lamanites to destroy their brethren, they came forth to the land of Midian, and there Ammon met all his brethren; and from thence they came to the land of Ishmael that they might hold a council with Lamoni and also with his brother Anti-Nephi-Lehi, what they should do to defend themselves against the Lamanites."
"Now there was not one soul among all the people who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war; yea, and also their king commanded them that they should not."
Thank you. Okay, so they're not going to fight. Now, how are they going to do this? And what does this exactly mean "they're not going to fight." So we're going to go to verses 11 through 14, and Sharon, I want you to read verses 11 through 14, and what I want us to do is as Sharon reads these verses, I want us to listen for the incredible imagery that it gives us. I want you to notice, like what words describe what the Anti-Nephi-Lehies wanted to do. There's some beautiful imagery. So go ahead.
"And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain— "
"Now, my best beloved brethren, since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren."
"Behold, I say unto you, Nay, let us retain our swords that they be not stained with the blood of our brethren; for perhaps, if we should stain our swords again they can no more be washed bright through the blood of the Son of our great God, which shall be shed for the atonement of our sins."
"And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations."
Thank you. Sharon, you had some thoughts on these verses.
For one thing, I was reading from Hamblin and Merrilll in their swords in the Book of Mormon, and they said when you wipe something clean, they didn't have stainless steel swords, they had wooden, they had wood swords, and blood doesn't come out of wood by just wiping it clean.
I would have never thought about that.
It takes a miracle to wipe the blood from the swords. And they were depending upon the Lord to do that, to wipe something clean, like a sin, like my rebellion or whatever. You just don't take some sanitation material and wipe off the stainless steel because the blood of the sin is ingrained in the wood, and so getting the blood out of those swords, getting that weapon of rebellion out of my soul, for many of us, takes a miracle and or time and or temple visits and or whatever that I mentioned before.
It brought me to memory of the past couple of weeks because I thought when you were reading this, I immediately thought, "The sword is compared to the word, and what are words that have been said that maybe haven't been the best, or ideas or thoughts or beliefs that maybe have stained our swords and now we need to kind of repent and ask God to wipe our swords clean, wipe our words clean, get rid of all the things we've thought and believed in the past, and start a new," and that's the imagery I had in my mind that maybe as a nation that that's something we should be really open to doing and asking God to clean our swords, clean our words, and it does take a miracle but it is absolutely doable.
These people recognize that. That they said they "wanted their swords to be clean." And as followers of Christ, it becomes our obligation to do that, to wipe our swords clean, to change our words, or have God help us in this effort.
We can't do it without him. We can't wipe them clean, we need his atoning sacrifice, and the principle of repentance and forgiveness, and all those things that he has taught us.
And as impossible as it is to clean a wooden sword, we don't have the right tools, right? I don't have the right supplies to do that, and I think we have to turn to the Savior. He has the only tools and the only right supplies in order to clean us, right?
Thank you, both of you. So what did they do then? They took their swords and in verse 16 and 17, they buried them. And 16 says, they said, "We will hide away our swords, yea, even we will bury them deep in the earth." And then verse 17 says, "...and they did bury them up deep in the earth." And it just made me think like, how can we bury our weapons of rebellion? What are specifics for each one of us, and it's going to be different for everybody. How you're going to bury that weapon of rebellion. Spencer W. Kimball has this great quote, and I appreciate it. And Sharon, it's gonna make you kind of think and it made me think of our time when we both worked in the women's prison. Shar, will you read this quote?
“In the process of abandoning a sin, it is often necessary to abandon persons, places, things, and situations that are associated with the transgression. This is fundamental. Substitution of a good environment for a bad can hedge the way between the repenting person and his past sin” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Gospel of Repentance, Ensign October, 1982).
Thank you. You know, when we worked in the women's prison, that was part of what we taught them because the recidivism rate was so high, we would say, "What is your plan? When you leave this prison, where are you going to go? What is your plan so you don't end up back here?" And it always incorporated living somewhere differently, not being with the same friends or the same family members that would like encourage a reoccurrence of what caused them to go to jail. Did you have that experience too, Sharon?
Yes, absolutely. And I would ask the sisters, I said, "Well, you know, if you're going to try to stop drinking, do you buy a six pack when you go grocery shopping?" And they laughed and said, "Hahaha that's funny." Or if you're really serious, do not have lunch in a bar, you lunch in a cafe. I mean, so there are little things that you know, just changing your own behavior, let alone changing the behavior of others around you or not associating with them. Or invite your friends to go to a cafe instead of to a bar. I mean, you have to, you have to put away those things that are tempting. And then like President Kimball said that could be persons, places, or things, you avoid that which is tempting.
And that can be really hard.
Oh my gosh because they have nowhere else to go. Those in prison, they go to their friends and their friends are in the same predicament they are. And it's just so difficult.
For me, it's also like, it's one thing to promise and to say something, it's another thing to do it, right? They didn't just say, "We promise we won't use our weapons anymore. We promise." They said that, and then they also did something about it. And to me that covenanting means sacrificing. So whether you're sacrificing the places you eat lunch at, or the places you shop at, so that you don't fall into the same bad habits. It requires a sacrifice, right?
Yes, that's a good point. Yeah, absolutely.
Well, and then how can we not end this conversation with a wonderful quote from Elder Holland. I love this quote so much because remember the people that we're talking about, and Sharon, I appreciated when you read verse 11, that you really put some emphasis on this verse of scripture. In chapter 24, verse 11, you have to remember the Lamanites, he says, "That we were the most lost of all mankind." So here we have a group of people, the "most lost of all mankind." Now if anyone listening thinks that they have way too many weapons of rebellion to lay down or bury, I want you to listen to this quote. I'm going to read it because I just love it, if I don't cry through it.
“However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Laborers in the Vineyard,”General Conference, April 2012).
And I just believe that no one's weapon or weapons shine brighter than the Atonement of Jesus Christ. No one's.
That's so beautiful.
I want you to take a minute, and I want you to write down in your journal, something that you'll do to avoid a situation that may lead you back to your weapon of rebellion. I was exposed to pornography as a young girl, and I do remember making a decision not to play with that friend anymore. And that was really hard because I liked this person, but I knew I couldn't go into that home. And it's gosh, it's such a young age to have that come to me. Of course then Heavenly Father help because he moved her family away. That really helped play into that whole goal of not looking at pornography anymore. But yeah.
He does help.
He does help. So I want you to write, what are you willing to do today to bury your weapon of rebellion? And in the next segment, we're going to talk about the real physical test. What are these Anti-Nephi-Lehies going to do when they're faced with war and death. We're going to read about that next.
Segment 4 34:27
The Anti-Nephi-Lehies, they buried their weapons, and now a war is staring them in the face. I mean, this is a scary moment because if it were me, I would want to run as fast as I could. I would be digging that sword out with my bare hands in the dirt, anything to get it. We're in Alma chapter 24, verses 20 through 27. And I asked Sharon and Shar ahead of time to read these verses, and I gave you some questions because I want us to discuss what happened? They are now at this moment where they have to fight. Tell me what happens.
This is the recap of the story. So they covenanted to never fight again, right? They knew the Lamanites were coming, so they actually came out to meet the Lamanites, which is shocking, right? And they laid down on the earth. They were calling to God to help them and save them, right? They started to get killed. Lots of them are getting slain. I love the part in the scriptures, it says, "They didn't turn from the right or the left."
Where is that? Will you have us read that verse?
23: "...neither would they turn aside to the right hand or to the left, but that they would lie down and perish, and praised God even in the very act of perishing under the sword—"
Oh my gosh.
And the Lamanites who were slaying them were so taken with this act of devotion that they laid down their weapons. To my understanding, they made the same covenants, they committed to never fight again. So there were more Lamanites converted than Anti-Nephi-Lehies that had died.
And in verse 25, it said that they threw down, the Lamanites, these are the ones who appear attacking them, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, and they threw down their weapons. These are the Lamanites of war, "...and they would not take them again, for they were stung for the murders which they had committed; and they came down even as their brethren, relying upon the mercies of those whose arms were lifted to slay them."
So Sharon and Shar, my question is, what principle can we learn from these verses? What is this to us?
Well, I hope that I never have to give my life to prove that I've been converted, but what it does mean is that I should do my ministering. God is not asking me to lay down my life, to die for a principle, he's asking me to keep his commandments, to keep the covenants I've made, to be kind. So how it relates to me is that I need to give all that I can possibly give to thank him for the principle of repentance. It's full of the atonement. So it brought it home to me to, what can I do? That would prove to myself because I know I don't have to prove it to Heavenly Father, but to prove to myself that I care enough to give all that I can give.
When we make these covenants, whatever they are in our lives, and we're sacrificing, I think that fierce commitment, that fierce loyalty, of not turning to the right and left and not wavering. Sometimes I think, "Oh, this isn't gonna affect anyone," right? Or, "I can just like, oh, I'll just do it tomorrow," or whatever, right? These guys didn't say, "Let's fight today. We'll bury them again tomorrow." They were just fiercely loyal and committed and the effect that they had on other people...
Yeah. Tell me about that. What was the effect of them laying down and not turning and praising God while they were being killed?
Yeah, they were converting numbers and numbers of Lamanites to God and bringing them back to the truth. Right? So I don't think that's... I mean, it doesn't cross my mind nearly enough that me keeping my covenants will affect others and help them turn to the Lord. I usually think of it as, "Oh, my covenants are blessing my life, but they could bless others lives as well."
Yeah. In fact, to the outside of these verses, put a little star and this cross reference. Put Luke chapter 22, verse 32 because this is what immediately came to my mind when I read this, and how many... I mean, Shar when you brought up that more people were converted than had died, that's astounding. And if you go to Luke chapter 22, verse 32. Let's read this verse of scripture, and then we're going to read a really cool quote by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson. Shar, hit it.
"But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
Isn't that a great one? I just think that is powerful that when you're converted, you can strengthen your brethren and and that is exactly what the Anti-Nephi-Lehies did because of their conversion. Wow they strengthened so many. Let's read this quote by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson. Sharon, can you read this quote for us please?
“As you are converted, you will have a desire to share with others what you have learned, and your confidence and ability to testify to others with conviction and power will increase. This desire to share the gospel with others and the confidence to testify boldly are natural results of true conversion. The Savior taught Peter, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” A person who has experienced true conversion draws upon the power of the Atonement and receives salvation for his or her own soul, then reaches out to exert a powerful influence upon all those who know him or her.” (Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Be Ye Converted,” General Conference, October 2013, )
Thank you. I want you just to think about all of the covenants that you've made with Christ. There's quite a few. You have your baptismal covenants, your temple covenants. Has keeping your covenants had an effect on anyone that you know of?
No, but when I was teaching philosophy, Immanuel Kant had what he called "personal maxims" or "personal laws." And that prompted me, so he has a personal law that he would never torture little children. I mean, that's just a personal law, that's something that he would do.
That's a good one to live by.
Yeah, you know, so I can have what's known as a personal covenant, and a personal covenant is every morning I will have my mantra and say, "Be obedient." So that is my personal covenant. So and there are other personal covenants, personal maxims, personal laws, laws that we are willing to live because we are who we are. They may coincide with the commandments, they may coincide with the ordinances, they may coincide with everything that we are, but it is a personal covenant that I make with Heavenly Father that has strengthened me in trying to be a better person.
I like that idea, personal covenant. That's awesome. When I was a younger girl, I can remember one morning I couldn't find my shoes, and I was screaming through the house yelling my mom's name. "Mom, Mom, where are my shoes?!" Because of course, I was late for school. We lived across the street from the elementary school so the 10 minute warning bell was my alarm clock. I'd jump out of bed, and I'm running through the house screaming my mom's name, and she's not answering me and I'm super frustrated, and I ran down the hall and I noticed her door is shut, and so I run to the door and I kick it open and I yelled, "Mom, where are my...?!" And I look at her and she's on her knees, saying her morning prayers, and I was like, "Oh." First of all I thought, "Do we pray in the morning? Like is everything okay?" And then I slowly tiptoed backwards out and I was like, "I'll find other shoes."
But I remember that just it's obviously, I mean, like I'm so much older now, and it's as clear as day just that example that my mom had. The covenant that she had made to with God to then commune with him on a daily basis has stuck with me my whole life, the importance of saying morning prayers and not getting up to answer her obnoxious daughter, and just finishing out her thoughts with God was more important than you know, I was gonna be fine if I was late for school, and I was.
Now that you've said that story, it makes me think of my mother and every time I walked in for breakfast in the morning to eat cereal, I had cereal every day of my life, but I would see her at the counter studying her scriptures every morning, and she was a stellar example of Scripture study. And as an adult now with five kids, I am like, "How did she do it? Oh my gosh, she's amazing." Because I know I've gone through years of having little kids and not feeling like I could even crack open my scriptures not even for five seconds. And I even had a good solid year of postpartum depression where I was just like, "I don't even want to look at the front of my scriptures because of how much guilt I felt," I was just like, "Someone put those away." And just in 2018, President Nelson asked all the sisters in Women's Conference to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. And I remember thinking, "Oh, shoot. Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm sitting here in the conference center and I heard that," and I'm looking at him and I felt so strong in my heart that I needed to do it. And I was like, "Dang."
I was going to try to run out of there like, "Lalalalala, I didn't hear it."
I knew it was gonna be hard, and so in that conference center, I promised to myself, "I'm gonna do this. I'm gonna do this. I'm going to do this." And I read my scriptures every day until the end of that year, and I finished the Book of Mormon, and I don't know when I had done that before, I don't know when I had ever done that before in that amount of time ever. And the promise that he gave, I recently looked this up, and the promise that he gave, it came true in my life and I can't even believe it. He said, “I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year. As impossible as that may seem with all you are trying to manage in your life, if you will accept this invitation with full purpose of heart, the Lord will help you find a way to achieve it.”
And I swear he was talking to me. And I was like, "Okay," and he said, “As you prayerfully study, I promise that the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel,” General Conference, November 2018). It was that simple. And it wasn't like, "You're going to get this, this, and that," specific little things. It was the heavens opened for me and I haven't felt that in so long. Being in my scriptures, the Heaven's just opened. It was just one of those moments that I realized following that covenant brought that blessing.
Wow. So many times already in just the short time we've been together, I have felt the spirit so strong. And as you just read that promise again, I felt the spirit that what he said is true. And when you talk about truth, the spirit is there. So thank you both of you for sharing that. So in Alma chapter 25, more Lamanites join the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and they bury their weapons of war. They entered into a covenant with Jesus Christ and I like how in Alma chapter 25, verses 15 and 16, it tells us that they looked forward to Christ's coming, like they believed in him and they looked forward to when he would come again. Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni, boy they did a good job, didn't they? And Ammon and his brother, they recognized that their prayers have been answered. In the next segment, we're going to see a word that Ammon used repeatedly to express his gratitude for those answered prayers.
Segment 5 46:02
We're going to start out this segment a little bit different than we ever have before with you two, and I know how cultured you guys are so I'm going to play...
We're not singing, Tammy.
You don't have to sing.
But I'm going to play a piece of music. It is classical music, and I want to just know if you guys know what it is. If you don't, that's fine. Some of you listening will know. It's going to be familiar, I do know that.
Have you heard it before?
Yeah, isn't that the Super Mario Brother's theme song?
I think that's what it is.
It's "Ode" to something. Isn't it?
Yes, Sharon. Very good.
I was gonna say Paco Bell Cannon. Am I off?
You're off, but it's okay.
It's "Ode to..."
To "Joy!" It's "Ode to Joy."
Oh "Joy." That's it.
Sorry, it's not Mario Brothers, but I did appreciate that. It is "Ode to Joy." Now there's a very specific reason that I played this song for you, and I can't even believe I knew the name of the song. It actually was a poem first and then Beethoven put music to the poem. So this is a really cool song and the reason why I wanted to play it for you is because I have titled Alma chapter 26, "The Ode to Joy." Write that in big letters at the top of this. This is Ammon's "Ode to Joy," and I just love it so much and ahead of time, I asked Sharon and Shar to do this and I'm going to ask those of you listening, to go through and highlight every time you see the word "rejoice" or "joy." It is said more times in this chapter than any chapter in the Book of Mormon.
This is his "Ode to Joy" and it's interesting because he just has saw so many of his friends and converts die, so what could he possibly find joy or be happy about, and that's what we're going to study in this next segment. We're going to start it out by reading Alma chapter 25, verse 17 because I have taken a pen and after verse 17, I kind of connected it to Alma chapter 26 because I think it's the most beautiful segue into what he has to be happy about. So let's read Alma chapter 25, verse 17, this also happens to be one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon. And Sharon, will you read verse 17 for us?
"And now behold, Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and Himni, and their brethren did rejoice exceedingly, for the success which they had had among the Lamanites, seeing that the Lord had granted unto them according to their prayers, and that he had also verified his word unto them in every particular."
Yeah, right? That end line, "...verified his word unto them in every particular." I just love that verse. That would cause me to rejoice. I think we'll be able have that at some point.
That is exactly the Scripture in D&C 82, "I the Lord am bound when you do what I say, and when you do not what I say, ye have no promise." He is bound. That is so... I mean binding, what else could you want? He's going to do exactly what he says in every way.
In every particular.
Yes, absolutely. So let's go into Alma chapter 26, and you too, I asked you to look at this and find all of the words, tell me what did you find? Are there verses that stand out to you about why he is rejoicing?
Well, the whole chapter is just beautiful on rejoicing, and it's almost in every... well at least every other verse, it's "rejoice" and "joy" and "joy" and... he's so happy. Ammon is so happy about everything that has happened, or missionary success because of God's power. It's an "Ode to Joy" just like you said. I'm gonna go home and play that piece and read this all over again, this chapter.
Well that's a good idea. Play it while everyone reads Alma chapter 26.
I love how Ammon starts in verse one and asks them all a question. He's like, "I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice;" And he asked them this question, "What great blessings has he bestowed upon us, can ye tell?" And it's like one of those moments where your friends like, "Hey, do you know what happened..." And they ask you a question and you're like, "Never mind. I'm just going to tell you." Because in verse 3, he says, "Behold, I answer for you;" Like, "No, no, no, I'm not even going to give you a chance to talk, I'm going to tell you why we're so happy." Right? I love that moment.
It's like he's so excited to just say the answer. Like, "Let me just say it for you. It's so great."
"Okay nevermind your being too slow. I'm going to tell you."
How about, I like it when Aaron kind of calls his brother out in verse 10 is like, "No Ammon. I mean, you're kind of being a little bit prideful, you're boasting a little bit," and then Ammon comes back and he's like, "No, no, I'm not." In verse 11, "I'm not boasting in my own strength." And he's just like, "No, I'm boasting in God. My joy is full. My heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God." Like ah.
He doesn't even have enough words to say how happy he is. He can't describe it enough. And I actually think that's probably the truth of spiritual joy, you can't even describe it physically enough. When you feel that spiritual joy that comes from God, you can't describe it physically, right? So he's at a loss for words here.
It's what people try to say when they come up out of the waters of baptism. You know, they're just, there are no words, they just feel so alive and refreshed and clean and pure and good and connected. And I mean, there's 1000 words that they could say.
I love saying this, I've said it several times in my life, but that feeling where I have said that "my soul is saturated with joy," and that's what makes me think of Ammon. His soul is just saturated with so much joy. And in verse 13, he says, "Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?"
There's just so much to rejoice about, but remember, they're coming off a pretty sad time though. They just buried a lot of the people that they loved. And so for me that was a real paradigm shift to think, oh my gosh, as hard as it was, I almost wonder if then that joy was magnified because of the trial that they had just gone through, and the sorrow that they had just waded through with all of this. Any thoughts?
Well, just verse 16. He says, "...yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."
Which is what Shar said, "You can't verbalize it."
I ran across this quote from Elder Cook about rejoicing and joy, and I want to have us read this because it made me think of the world I'm living in right now, and what I'm trying to teach my kids, and so I want us to read this about joy and the circumstances that we're in. Shar, can you read this quote for us please?
“Joy comes when we have the Spirit in our lives (see Alma 22:15). When we have the Spirit, we rejoice in what the Savior has done for us. What do we need to do to have this kind of joy? In addition to attaining saving ordinances and following the living prophet, we need to live in accordance with certain fundamental spiritual principles, such as prayer, scripture study, righteous living, and service to others. It is well understood that if we engage in sinful conduct, we must repent. Let me suggest three other areas or distractions we need to avoid in order to maintain joy and rejoice more fully in the Savior’s gift: (1) avoid distractions which keep us from doing what we ought to do, (2) avoid the magnification of small imperfections, and (3) avoid unfavorable comparisons with others.” (Quentin L. Cook, “Rejoice!” General Conference, October 1996)
You know, number three stood out to me because when we've been in this quarantine, it seems like when we go on social media, when I've gone on social media, there's a lot less posts about vacations and here's how great our lives are. Like there's nothing to really compare it to because we're all in the same situation. We're all hunkering down, we're all at home with our kids, we're all trying to get through this. And I know for me, I have felt a lot less of that comparison and less distractions because of this time. The magnification of small imperfections because I'm just me here in my house, you know, there's nothing I have to worry about. Have you noticed the same thing?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I've noticed it just for the fact that I haven't been seeing many people. So that eliminates a lot of comparison right off the bat, just being by yourself, right? You just don't have the opportunity to compare, but it also makes me think a little bit about the temple, and how you go into the temple, everyone's in the same color. Everyone has no stylish fads, fashions, or whatever. And everyone's just the same. There's none of that comparison and I love that about the temple. You can cut out that distraction immediately.
And you can feel joy. I had this thought and I kind of want to throw this challenge out to you, I was thinking like we should make a "Reasons to Rejoice List." Like I'd love to know what people can find coming out of this quarantine and what can you rejoice in? What's the good that came from a Home Centered Church? Or the good that came from all the things that we missed? And maybe what's the good that came from for some of us this prison that we've been in. That maybe we can put that on our social media. "What can you rejoice in?" Let's do a "Reasons to Rejoice List" because in all of the sadness and heartache that Ammon and his brethren we're in, can we not find so greater reason to rejoice? Can we not rejoice in God too much? Like no, we can rejoice always. And I want us to read in Alma chapter 26, how Ammon ends his "Ode to Joy" because I just think this is incredible. This is what I was talking about where I said there is some beautiful prose about God, and these two verses stuck out to me. So Alma chapter 26, verses 36 and 37. Hit it Sharon.
"Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been clost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land."
"Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen."
Amen. Sharon and Shar, real quick, what can you rejoice in? Give me something you're rejoicing in right now.
The gospel and everything in it it contains. A living prophet who encourages us in this time of woe in the the world, and the Plan of Salvation and the redemption of our Savior, and the ordiances and the covenants and everything that the gospel entails... everything. I rejoice in the Gospel. Me as a convert, it is a whole new world to me and I love it.
Well, that just covered it all Sharon. I will just say ditto plus not having to put socks and shoes on my kids to go to church, and letting them eat loud snacks and run around while we're having the Sacrament, and I hate this don't feel one wink of stress. It's fantastic. I rejoice in that every time we do it.
That is reason to rejoice right there. I rejoice in honestly my family, and I don't know if I could have said that, you know, 15 years ago. This time together has really changed my heart and I rejoice in all of my kids like I love all of them. And I love it when my oldest comes down from college, my stepdaughter oldest, like that is incredible, but it took 15 years to get there and COVID 19 for me to really rejoice in my family. I love them so much. Now what I love is how he ends it though was when he said that "God is mindful of every people and that he numbereth of his people." And I thought at that moment, like, "I wonder what number I am." Because you know, I want to be number one. But the shepherd numbers his sheep, and he knows when one of us is missing. He loves each of us so much.
Now, if you've ever had the chance to listen all the way to the end, at the end of every episode, we end it the same way. Well, one of two ways. One will sometimes include bloopers that we do throughout the show, which is so fun because I love a blooper reel more than anything, but I always, always, always say at the very end of every episode, that I always remind you that "you are God's favorite." And in the next segment, we are going to read what made the people of Ammon God's favorite.
Segment 6 58:45
This is a fun question. Sharon and Shar, what are some things that distinguish you from other people?
How tall are you guys?
Five, eight and a half. I'm not tall enough.
Nope, you're not tall Sharon.
I'm single. That distinguishes me quite a bit I think from a lot of folks.
What distinguishes you, Tammy? Let's hear it.
Oh, my laugh. Oh, I love to laugh, and I used to laugh really, really loud. I still do a certain friends, but I try to temper it. But yeah, for sure. My laugh.
And even when you're not laughing, you have a happy appearance about you.
A cheerful countenance.
A cheerful countenance. Yeah.
Thank you. And I love cheese, an ordinate amount of cheese. But you have to really sit down with me with cheese to know that it would distinguish me. But I think what's interesting, it's a hard question to answer, and I think if you were to say to the Anti-Nephi-Lehies what distinguish you, I don't think they would give the answer that's found in the scriptures. So let's jump in, we're going to read some verses of scripture, and I want to give you a little background. So everyone turned to Alma chapter 27.
Here's what you need to know going into this chapter. So the Lamanites, they are seeking revenge from the Nephites, but they were super unsuccessful so they turned their hatred and war towards the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. And because they refused to take up arms, many more people died. Now Ammon and his brethren are so sad that they come up with a plan. And this is in chapter 27. They decide, "We're gonna move everyone to Zarahemla where they're going to be safe." But the king is super hesitant because he remembers how many Nephites he had killed in the past, and he worries that if they go and live among the Nephites in Zarahemla, then they're going to have to be slaves to repay what they had done.
And Ammon assures him and says, "No, no, don't worry. In our culture, we don't have slavery, you're going to be fine." And Ammon assures him that there's a law against it. So the king does agree to letting Ammon ask a prayer. So Amman says, "Let me just go pray and ask Heavenly Father what we should do. Should we go to Zarahemla or stay here?" So let's just see that prayer in Alma chapter 27, verse 12. Shar, read verse 12 for us please.
"Get this people out of this land, that they perish not; for Satan has great hold on the hearts of the Amalekites, 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."
Thank you. So he goes to the king and says, "We're supposed to move." So they do. They gather up all of their people, all of their stuff, and in verses 14 and 15, they leave, and they're going to the land of Zehrahemla. Now, this is so fun. In verses 16 through 18, I want you to cross reference it. Alma chapter 17 verses one through four. This is from last week's lesson where Alma and Ammon and Aaron, they all meet up and their joy is full because they have found each other, they haven't seen each other since they started their missions. It's been 14 years.
So those verses right there talk about how excited they are to be coming and living together now. They're in the land of Zarahemla. So they arrive in Zarahemla and the Chief Judge of Zarahemla asks all of his people if they should allow the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi to live with them. So they take a vote. He's like, "What do you think we should do? Should we let them come and live with us?" And the people decide, "Yes, we're going to let them live with us." Go to verse 22. Go over it Sharon and Shar. What is the name of the land that they are going to live in?
Highlight that because this is neat. In Hebrew, the word "Jerson" means to "inherit or possess." So I think that's kind of cool. This is the land that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies will inherit or possess -- the land of Jershon. So that's neat to know. Now, in verse 24, the people of Zarahemla. They promised to protect the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. And then in verse 26, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, they went to live in Jershon, and now they get a name change. Shar read verse 26 for us please.
"And it came to pass that it did cause great joy among them. And they went down into the land of Jershon, and took possession of the land of Jershon; and they were called by the Nephites the people of Ammon; therefore they were distinguished by that name ever after."
Highlight that. You're going to need to know that especially for next week's lesson because we're going to refer to the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi as the "people of Ammon" from here on out. So now they lose that name, and this is the name that they're given. Now we're going to get to the verse of what distinguishes these people from all the other people in the land round about. And that is found in verse 27. So as we read this verse, I want you to look for and mark, what words are used to distinguish the people of Ammon from everybody else. So we're going to read in Alma chapter 27, verses 27 through 29. And I want you to mark what stands out to you, that distinguishes these people, the people of Ammon. Okay, I'll read this and you guys can mark.
"And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end."
"And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it."
"Therefore, they would suffer death in the most aggravating and distressing manner which could be inflicted by their brethren, before they would take the sword or cimeter to smite them."
What did you guys mark? What are some things that distinguish them?
Oh my gosh.
There's zeal towards God, perfect honesty.
Go back to "zeal." Circle that word so you can write what it means. This word means "your whole soul or passion for." When you have a zeal for something, it's just your whole soul is passionate about it. What about for you Sharon?
Oh, they would suffer death in the most aggravating and distressing manner. Which could be inflicted by their brethren before they would take the sword. I don't think I could do that.
I mean, I'd for sure be like, "Are you crazy? This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Come on. Does God really want us not to fight?" You know, it'd be hard for me to be really converted like that.
But I think in this time, we have to suffer in a different way, right? Well, we suffer aggravating and distressing ways to show that we have that faith and devotion in Christ.
That is brilliant. I love that. Well, and then verse 30, this is where they're God's favorite. Highlight this and Sharon, will you please read verse 30 for us.
"And thus they were a zealous and beloved people, a highly favored people of the Lord."
Next to that verse, put Luke chapter one, verse 28, and the reason why I'm giving you that reference is because that is the reference where the angel says to Mary, "Thou art highly favored of the Lord." That right there that phrase, to be highly favored of the Lord, to be his favorite. He loves all of us, we are highly favored when we are zealous, when we love him, when we are keeping our covenants, and not perfectly, we just have to be trying. That's the thing. Satan gets us caught up in this idea that "you're not very good job so God probably doesn't love you." You just have to be facing toward him. That's it. If you're not even moving, but just facing toward him, you're doing a great job. Absolutely. If all you can do is stop.
Yeah and stop fighting against him, right?
Yes, yes. Let's read this quote. I love this quote, it's by Elder Carlos C. Revillo and he was Area Authority of the Seventy in the Philippines. And I just I love the way he sums this up. It's just perfect for this lesson.
“Those who seek to do Heavenly Father’s will He favors by blessing them for their obedience. Many personal experiences have confirmed to me that those who are obedient are blessed by the Lord as they place their faith in Him. Though we cannot escape difficulties, trials, challenges, and afflictions, living the gospel of Jesus Christ will give us strength and an assurance of promised blessings that can be obtained in no other way” (Elder Carlos C. Revillo, “Book of Mormon Principles” Ensign, January 2004). End quote.
Isn't that good?
To stay steadfast.
We just have to remember we are numbered. So even if we mess up, we aren't less loved. You are always his favorite and he just wants to bless us over and over and over again. So we just have to come to him, be obedient, use the atonement, like you said, Sharon. It's the only miracle that exists for us, just like the people of Ammon did. That's our lesson. That's it. That was such a great discussion.
That was so fun. Thanks for sharing all that awesome stuff, Tam.
Sharon and Shar, tell me what your takeaway was from today?
Well, repentance is a concept and an ordinance that is off the charts because the people of the King Lamoni they repented and repented and repented, and the joyous reception they received from the Father is awesome. That's even unspeakable. So, to me, it was about missionary work, and it was about trusting in the Lord, and it was about repenting, even to the point of death to have the Lord's love.
Absolutely, thank you, Sharon.
I think mine was the "Ode to Joy." I just love that chapter so much and talking about it really made me just remember how much joy I can have no matter what's going on. Through all the hardship that they had, they had joy, and I can do the same.
Wow, thank you. Thanks for sharing that. Mine hit me Shar when you shared, that you're fighting against God by not believing in who you are. That really struck me, the idea that we are fighting against God when we don't believe we are his daughters or his sons or his children. And that really is like that Satan's classic tool, that is his number one -- convince every one of them that they're not God's children, convince all of them they're not of royal worth, and then I got them. That really stood out to me so thank you for sharing that.
Those of you listening, we would love to hear what your big takeaway was from this episode today, snd there's so many things, so many things, and we're going to ask for you to share some of throughout the week. So go to our Instagram page on our Facebook page. You can find the links for those in our show notes because I would love for you to share some of the things you learned, and it's also a great place to ask questions as you study. I try to answer anything I can during the week and every week at the end, we ask for, usually on Sunday, we put out a post asking for what your big takeaway was from that week. Comment on the post that relates to this lesson and let me know what you learned, and I read every single one. I just love hearing what you guys are learning.
You can get to both our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode on LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday, and it's not a bad idea to go there anyway because that's where we have the links and all the references that we use throughout the show as well as a complete transcript of this whole discussion. So you should check it out.
The Sunday on Monday Study Group is a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original and it's brought to you by LDS Living. It's written and hosted by me, Tammy Uzelac Hall, and today our awesome study group participants were Sharon Staples and Sharmaine Howell. I love you ladies so much.
I love you Tammy. Thank you.
You can find more information about these ladies at LDSLiving.com/SundayonMonday. Our podcast is produced by KaRyn Lay with post production and editing by Erika Free. It is recorded and mixed by Mix at Six Studios and our Executive Producer is Erin Hallstrom. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next week and please remember this, that you are a highly favored people of the Lord, he loves you, and if you're trying, you are favored. You're God's favorite.
The King of the Lamanites had just been converted and he sent a religious freedom proclamation throughout all the land. Not only that, but he also stated that no one was allowed to lay a hand on Ammon, Aaron, Omner and Himni or any of their brethren (Alma 23:1-3).
What did Ammon and his brothers do after the proclamation was sent out?
"4 And now it came to pass that when the king had sent forth this proclamation, that Aaron and his brethren went forth from acity to city, and from one house of worship to another, establishing churches, and consecrating bpriests and teachers throughout the land among the Lamanites, to preach and to teach the word of God among them; and thus they began to have great success.
"5 And athousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the btraditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the crecords and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time.
"6 And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working amiracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were bconverted unto the Lord, cnever did fall away" (Alma 23:4-6).
What did the king and his people desire?
"Anti" in Greek means: Opposite, hence instead of, substitution, in place of (see biblehub.com).
Webster's Dictionary of 1828 indicates that the word anti means "like" or "mirror image of."
Quote: “In that case anti-Christ would mean not just opposed to Christ but also deceptively similar to Christ, and perhaps the name Anti-Nephi-Lehies would symbolize their desire to be as Nephi and Lehi of old, that is, that they might remember the goodness and faithfulness of their first Nephite prophet leaders” (Robert L. Millett, Joseph Fielding McConkie, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon Vol. 3, Pg. 165).
*Cross Reference for remembering names and the goodness of those you are named after: Helaman 5:6
A different perspective of the name "Anti-Nephi-Lehi": "The first part of the term Anti-Nephi-Lehies may be an integral component of the name-title, not the Greek prefix meaning “against.” Some have also wondered if these righteous converts wanted to be identified as descendants of Lehi, but they were not descendants of Nephi. In other words, they were Lehites but they were not Nephites; thus the name: the Lehites, or Lehies, opposite or apart from the Nephites" (D. Kelly Ogden and Andrew C. Skinner, Verse by Verse, the Book of Mormon Volume 1: First Nephi - Alma 29)
What was the result of their conversion?
"And they began to be a very aindustrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did bopen a correspondence with them, and the ccurse of God did no more follow them" (Alma 23:18).
Quote: "[Anti here means] "a face-to-face meeting, a joining together with somebody." We are going to find later on about an Anti-Christ, who is a person who pretends to be Christ, who matches Christ, who pretends to take the place of Christ. It's not somebody who opposes Christ, but somebody who pretends to be Christ. We get that a little later when we get to Korihor. But first they gave themselves this name of Anti-Nephi- Lehies. "And they were called by this name and were no more called Lamanites" (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon vol.2, 404)
References for studying the curse of the Lamanites:
Neal A. Maxwell institute simile curse article that Sharon quotes: "Simile Curses in the Ancient Near East, Old Testament, and Book of Mormon," Mark J. Morrisse, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, see scholarsarchive.byu.edu.
What were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi like?
"Therefore, we have named all the cities of the Lamanites in which they did repent and come to the knowledge of the truth, and were converted" (Alma 23:15).
What did the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi decide to do?
"7 For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren.
"13 And these are the names of the cities of the Lamanites which were aconverted unto the Lord; and these are they that laid down the weapons of their rebellion, yea, all their weapons of war; and they were all Lamanites" (Alma 23:7,13)
Quote: “To set aside cherished ‘weapons of rebellion’ such as selfishness, pride, and disobedience requires more than merely believing and knowing. Conviction, humility, repentance, and submissiveness precede the abandonment of our weapons of rebellion. Do you and I still possess weapons of rebellion that keep us from becoming converted unto the Lord? If so, then we need to repent now” (David A. Bednar, “Converted unto the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 108–9).
The hatred of the Amalekites, Amulonites and Lamanites is so fierce that they made preparations to go to war with the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Ammon and his brethren hold a council with Lamoni and his brother to decide what to do (Alma 24:1-5).
Will the people take up their weapons again?
"5 Now when Ammon and his brethren and all those who had come up with him saw the preparations of the Lamanites to destroy their brethren, they came forth to the land of Midian, and there Ammon met all his brethren; and from thence they came to the land of Ishmael that they might hold a acouncil with Lamoni and also with his brother Anti-Nephi-Lehi, what they should do to defend themselves against the Lamanites.
"6 Now there was not one soul among all the people who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war; yea, and also their king commanded them that they should not" (Alma 24:5-6).
What words describe what the Anti-Nephi-Lehies wanted to do?
"11 And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to atake them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain—
"12 Now, my best beloved brethren, since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren.
"13 Behold, I say unto you, Nay, let us retain our swords that they be not stained with the blood of our brethren; for perhaps, if we should stain our swords aagain they can no more be bwashed bright through the blood of the Son of our great God, which shall be shed for the atonement of our sins.
"14 And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our asouls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the bplan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations" (Alma 24:11-14)
The Anti-Nephi-Lehis buried their weapons of war and never took them up again (Alma 24:15–18).
Quote: “In the process of abandoning a sin, it is often necessary to abandon persons, places, things, and situations that are associated with the transgression. This is fundamental. Substitution of a good environment for a bad can hedge the way between the repenting person and his past sin” (Spencer W. Kimball, "The Gospel of Repentance," Ensign October, 1982).
Quote: “However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Laborers in the Vineyard,” General Conference, April 2012).
What happens to the Anti-Nephi-Lehies as they face war without their weapons?
- (Alma 24:20-23) The Anti-Nephi-Lehies prostrated themselves on the earth while calling on the Lord, and did not resist.
- (Alma 24:23) The Anti-Nephi-Lehies would not turn aside from the sword, they wouldn’t turn to the right or the left..
- (Alma 24:25) The Lamanites threw threw down their weapons.
Cross reference: Luke 22:32
Quote: “As you are converted, you will have a desire to share with others what you have learned, and your confidence and ability to testify to others with conviction and power will increase. This desire to share the gospel with others and the confidence to testify boldly are natural results of true conversion. The Savior taught Peter, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” A person who has experienced true conversion draws upon the power of the Atonement and receives salvation for his or her own soul, then reaches out to exert a powerful influence upon all those who know him or her.” (Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Be Ye Converted,” General Conference, October 2013, )
Quote: “I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year. As impossible as that may seem with all you are trying to manage in your life, if you will accept this invitation with full purpose of heart, the Lord will help you find a way to achieve it. And, as you prayerfully study, I promise that the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel,” General Conference, November 2018).
What is one reason that they are rejoicing?
"And now behold, Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and Himni, and their brethren did rejoice exceedingly, for the success which they had had among the Lamanites, seeing that the Lord had granted unto them according to their aprayers, and that he had also verified his word unto them in every particular" (Alma 25:17, Cross reference: D&C 82:10).
Why is Ammon rejoicing in Alma 26?
- (Alma 26:3) Ammon asks his brothers, but he jumps in and answers himself. He is rejoicing because they were able to bring many to behold the marvelous light of God.
- (Alma 26:13) Many of their brethren were loosed from the pains of hell.
- (Alma 26:16) Ammon cannot speak of how much joy he feels in the power, mercy and long-suffering of our God.
Quote: “Joy comes when we have the Spirit in our lives (see Alma 22:15). When we have the Spirit, we rejoice in what the Savior has done for us. What do we need to do to have this kind of joy? In addition to attaining saving ordinances and following the living prophet, we need to live in accordance with certain fundamental spiritual principles, such as prayer, scripture study, righteous living, and service to others. It is well understood that if we engage in sinful conduct, we must repent. Let me suggest three other areas or distractions we need to avoid in order to maintain joy and rejoice more fully in the Savior’s gift: (1) avoid distractions which keep us from doing what we ought to do, (2) avoid the magnification of small imperfections, and (3) avoid unfavorable comparisons with others.” (Quentin L. Cook, “Rejoice!” General Conference, October 1996)
How does Ammon end his "Ode to Joy?"
"36 Now if this is aboasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a bbranch of the tree of Israel, and has been clost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, dwanderers in a strange land.
"37 Now my brethren, we see that God is amindful of every bpeople, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen" (Alma 26:36-37).
What is the Lord's answer to Ammons' question of whether they should leave?
"Get this people aout of this land, that they perish not; for Satan has great hold on the hearts of the Amalekites, 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 bpreserve them" (Alma 27:12)
What is the name of the land the Anti-Nephi-Lehies will live in?
"And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: Behold, we will give up the aland of bJershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance" (Alma 27:22).
Jershon in Hebrew means to inherit or possess, see onoma.lib.byu.edu.
What happened to the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi?
- (Alma 27:24) And the people of Zarahemla promise to protect the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.
- (Alma 27:26) The Anti-Nephi-Lehies posess the land of Jershon and change their name to the people of Ammon.
What distinguishes them from all the people round about?
"27 And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their azeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly bhonest and upright in all things; and they were cfirm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.
"28 And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it.
"29 Therefore, they would suffer adeath in the most aggravating and distressing manner which could be inflicted by their brethren, before they would take the sword or cimeter to smite them" (Alma 27:27-29)
Zeal: whole soul, or a passion for, see yourdictionary.com.
Upright: not deviating from correct moral principles, see websters1828dictionary.com.
They are a highly favored people of the Lord:
Quote: “Those who seek to do Heavenly Father’s will He favors by blessing them for their obedience. Many personal experiences have confirmed to me that those who are obedient are blessed by the Lord as they place their faith in Him. Though we cannot escape difficulties, trials, challenges, and afflictions, living the gospel of Jesus Christ will give us strength and an assurance of promised blessings that can be obtained in no other way” (Elder Carlos C. Revillo, “Book of Mormon Principles” Ensign, January 2004).