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Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapters 45-49 to the rest of Alma is discussed at Alma.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 45-49 include:
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- Alma 45:2-5. It is interesting that Alma required Helaman to again confirm his faith before sharing the prophesy with him. It is like when the angel visiting Nephi asked if he had faith in God.
- Alma 45:2-8. In these opening verses (v. 2-8), Alma spontaneously, almost randomly, comes to Helaman and asks him very directly: "Believes thou the words which I spake unto thee concerning those records which have been kept?" (v. 2). This is followed by further questions about the state of Helaman's testimony. These questions are rapid-fire, point-blank, almost urgent in their quick succession. Is it possible that Alma knows his time is up, that he is being called to return to the Lord, and is quickly finishing his business?
- It's also possible that the reason Helaman has not yet recieved the records (as the context of Alma 36 would imply) is that he maintained misgivings about the church and his role as guardian of the plates. Is Alma sounding out the state of his son's faith? The very first question asked is about the records and what Alma has said about them in Alma 36.
- It's interesting, also, to note that Alma does not ask if Helaman will keep the Lord's commandments, in verses 6 and 7, but whether he will keep Alma's commands in particular--perhaps regarding the care of the records? Only after Helaman responds affirmatively (v. 7) does Alma say, "Blessed art thou," prophesy to his son, and then immediately leave, never to be heard from/seen again (v. 18).
- It appears that Helaman had misgivings about assuming the responsibility of the records and needed time to come to terms with it. Finally, Alma comes to him and urgently sounds out his son's faith, entrusts him with the records and a final prophesy, and then leaves the land of Zarahemla, presumably translated (v. 19).
- Alma 45:12. Verse 12 mentions that the the Nephites will sin against great light and knowledge. At the same time, obviously, the Lamanites were sinning but they weren't sinning against the same knowledge. It's interesting to note how the Nephites had to be destroyed for that sin. We are responsible to live up to the knowledge that we are given.
- Alma 45:15. In verse 15 Alma blesses the earth for the righteous' sake. I wonder if he was just blessing the land of America or the whole earth. Its like he reaffirmed the blessing that the Lord had already placed upon the Americas.
- Alma 45:21. From verse 21 it sounds like the war caused some disorganization throughout the church. Perhaps that was caused by so many priesthood leaders being killed by the Lamanites and Zoramites.
- Alma 46:6-10. Many times we want to have peace but things or people come along that disrupt our desire. Amalikiah is a good example of how someone can come along and shatter any peace that could be had. Unfortunately, we have to stand up against such people and sacrifice our personal comfort for what is right.
- Alma 46:11-15. Moroni uses inspiring words in his Title of Liberty. These words remind the people what is their duty to defend.
- Alma 46:11. Verse 11 tells us that Moroni was angry with Amalickiah. Jesus teaches in 3 Ne 11:30 that it is his doctrine to do away with anger from one person to another. But we also know from Alma 48:17 that if all were like Moroni the devil would have no power over the hearts of men. In light of these scriptures there are two possible ways to interpret Moroni's anger here:
- The first interpretation distinguishes righteous and unrighteous anger. In that interpretation the anger referred to in 3 Ne 11:29-30 would obviously be unrighteous anger, but Moroni's anger, as displayed here, Alma 44:17, Alma 55:1 and Alma 59:13, would be righteous anger. That reading fits well with the strongly positive comment about Moroni in Alma 48:17.
- In the second interpretation Moroni does have a problem with anger despite the positive words about him in Alma 48:17. This interpretation makes sense of those positive words by looking at the context. The previous verse tells us of Moroni's strengths: his great faith, that he didn't glory in shedding blood, that he did glory in preserving his people, and that he gloried in keeping the commandments. In this interpretation it it is these positive characteristics that Mormon is praising--not his anger. This interpretation inteprets 3 Ne 11:29-30 without needing to interject the concept of righteous anger which isn't mentioned there. This interpretation is also supported by the fact that Moroni is angry in Alma 59:13 when he falsely accuses Pahoran in Alma 60. The fact that Mormon chooses to include this episode where Moroni's anger leads him to false accusation suggests that Mormon did not want us to emulate Moroni's anger when he praises him in Alma 48:17.
- Alma 46:12: The Title of Liberty. The Title of Liberty stands as a symbol to Nephites (or Christians) at the time of their great difficulty to inspire and build confidence in their cause against the Lamanites. Moroni rends his coat (a symbol in and of itself) and writes on it the following: "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." The Nephites were in dire circumstances at this time and the Title of Liberty helped stir up the Nephites into remembrance for what their duty was to their God, religion, freedom, peace, and families. It is important to remember that God has commanded us that as long as we are not guilty of the first or second offense, we have a duty to defend ourselves against our enemies. Moroni could not have put this more appropriately than by writing on his rent piece of coat and establishing the Title of Liberty. Our God, our religon, our freedom, our peace and our families are truly the most important things to us and we should always hold the Title of Liberty in the back of our minds to remind us to not only fight appropriately for these things, but live worthily of them as well.
- Alma 46:18. Moroni expresses his confidence that the Lord will uphold his people as long as they are righteous. This shows that Moroni had great faith in the Lord and in the cause for which he fought.
- Alma 46:21-25. Here Mormon records how the people's covenant to keep the Lord's commandments or be rent apart is like the story of Joseph and how his garment was rent and he was sold into slavery.
- Alma 46:26-30. We can see in these verses that Moroni was a man of action. He wasted no time in visiting the affected cities and establishing the loyalty of the people again. He acted quickly to stop the dissension of the Kingmen.
- Alma 47:1-5. We might want to read these verses allegorically. Amalickiah tries unsucessfully to bring him off the mount. It is only after Lehonti uses his free agency and chooses to go down off the mount that he is in danger. Mountains are often symbolic of temples. Temples are somewhere safe from Satan and the outside world. Satan can not reach us in our temples. It is only after we willfully choose to go outside of our temples and sin can we be in Satan's grasp.
- Alma 48:16-20. Many LDS members admire Captain Moroni's valor and see verse 17 as a statement confirming his righteousness. While Captain Moroni certainly has many admirable qualities, his propensity for anger and possibly his propensity for seeking military solutions seem to contradict the Savior's teachings on contending in anger (3 Ne 11:29) and renouncing war (D&C 98:16).
- Alma 48:16-20. From D&C 98 it appears that while wars can sometimes be "justified" under very narrow conditions, it is preferable to not fight even when attacked D&C 98:30. Since it is harder to allow oneself to be killed than to fight back, the Lord allows for self defense, though this violates what may well be the higher law and self-sacrificing example of the Savior.
- Alma 48:16-20. Reading that Moroni's actions would lead Satan to be bound (vs. 17)--a condition of the Terrestrial Kingdom--shouldn't lead us see Moroni as the ultimate example for us to follow, especially in attempts to justify entering into our own modern wars. By recognizing that Moroni and his people were living a Terrestrial law, we can celebrate their valor and faith without seeing their actions as the ultimate standards for righteous living.
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- Alma 45:6: Why does Alma say "will ye keep my commandments" when really they are God's commandments?
- Alma 45:18-19: Where was Alma buried?
- The author says he does not know, and in fact says that he does not even know whether Alma in fact died a natural death or was buried at all.
- Alma 46:1-5: Why did the lower judges want Amalickiah to be king?
- Alma 46:6-10: Would the Nephite pride be more or less dangerous than the danger from the attacking Lamanites?
- Alma 46:11: Verse 11 seems to indicate that the Title of Liberty episode was inspired by Moroni's anger. In several cases Moroni is said to be angry (Alma 44:17; Alma 55:1; Alma 59:13). Given Christ's teachings that we shouldn't contend with one another in anger (3 Ne 11:29-30), how should we understand Captain Moroni's anger?
- Alma 46:21-22: Symbolism of rending garments. What symbolism was there in the Nephites rending their garments and throwing them at Moroni's feet?
- Alma 46:24: Remainder of Joseph destroyed. Who is the "remainder of the seed of Joseph" that has perished (or will perish)?
- Alma 48:16-20: What does it mean that if we were all like Moroni "the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men" (vs. 17)? Does that mean we should seek to be like Moroni in every respect?
- Alma 48:16-20: If the binding of Satan brings about a Terrestrial condition (cf. Rev 20:2, D&C 43:31, D&C 45:55, D&C 84:100, D&C 88:110), does that imply that Moroni's actions are an example of living the laws of the Terrestrial Kingdom?
- Alma 48:16-20: If Moroni is living a Terrestrial law, is he a valid role-model in every respect for modern LDS members seeking to obtain a Celestial glory?
- Alma 48:16-20: Do Moroni's actions differ in any significant way from the teachings or example of Jesus Christ?
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