As always, use the official Gospel Doctrine Lesson Manual in your preparation. Here are some supplemental ideas that I hope might be helpful:
Mosiah 18 – Alma teaches those who believed Abinadi in private; he baptizes, organizes a church and they eventually flee into the wilderness
5 – “he did hide himself in the daytime from the searches of the king” I like the Walter Rane painting of Alma baptizing in the waters of Mormon:
8-10 – “as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God” Here, Alma gives a summary of the covenant of baptism. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland observed:
These new disciples would also demonstrate their faith by:
- Coming into the fold of God.
- Being called his people.
- Bearing one another’s burdens.
- Mourning with those that mourn.
- Comforting those who stand in need of comfort.
- Standing as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places.
- Entering into a covenant to serve God and keep his commandments.
This declaration by Alma at the Waters of Mormon still stands as the most complete scriptural statement on record as to what the newly baptized commit to do and be. (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ & The New Covenant, 106).
Notice what is not stated in the baptismal covenant. It does not talk about holding many callings, or becoming a gospel scholar. While those things are nice, coming into the fold of God is a commitment of service and care for others. “By this shall all men know,” the Savior stated, “that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
13 – “having authority from the Almighty God” Many have wondered, where or when did Alma receive the priesthood? It doesn’t say, but President Joseph Fielding Smith suggested:
We may conclude that Alma held the priesthood before he, with others, became disturbed with King Noah. Whether this is so or not makes no difference because in the Book of Mosiah it is stated definitely that he had authority….If he had authority to baptize that is evidence that he had been baptized. Therefore, when Alma baptized himself with Helam that was not a case of Alma baptizing himself, but merely as a token to the Lord of his humility and full repentance. In Alma 5:3 we learn that Alma was consecrated the high priest over the Church under his father. Now Alma did not organize the Church with the idea that they had no church before that time. They had a church from the days of Lehi and Alma only set things in order. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 3: 203.)
19-20 – “nothing save it were repentance and faith” First principles are called “first” because they are of first importance. We many never learn all there is to learn about the gospel in this life. So we focus on the most important or first principles. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance are repeated throughout the Book of Mormon as first principles, and are enumerated in Article of Faith 4.
24 – “apprised of the coming of the king’s army” How did Alma know the army was coming? Footnote 34a takes us to Mosiah 23:1 which states that Alma was “warned of the Lord.” Merciful warnings often come when the people are striving to do the Lord’s will.
Mosiah 19 – Gideon seeks to slay Noah, Noah and the priests flee as the Lamanites attack, the people burn Noah and return to the land of Nephi
11 – “leave their wives and their children” in verse 9, they fled with their women and children, but now King Noah commands them to leave their women and children behind, giving an indication of his character, courage and loyalty.
15 – “one half of all they possessed” This is where the Nephite bondage begins; A 50% tax rate is part of it.
17 – “not ignorant of the iniquities of his father, he himself being a just man” Sometimes righteous fathers have wayward sons, and sometimes wayward fathers have righteous sons!
20 – “he should suffer … death by fire” As prophesied by Abinadi, Noah’s life was valued “as a garment in a hot furnace” Mosiah 12:3.
24 – “they told Gideon what they had done to the king” Gideon appears to be the leader of the opposition; he is mentioned in verses 4, 6, 7, 18, 22-24. However, after King Noah’s demise, Gideon recognizes and respects the leadership of Noah’s son Limhi. In fact, he becomes Limhi’s “captain” as mentioned in Mosiah 20:17, and in Mosiah 22, Gideon proposes an idea for their escape from Lamanite bondage.
Mosiah 20 – Wicked priests abduct 24 Lamanite daughters
11 – “they fought for their lives, and for their wives, and for their children” Even the righteous have to fight at times, but the Book of Mormon is very careful to articulate why the righteous have to fight. Some things are justified in fighting for (as spelled out in the title of liberty in Alma 46:12) , and when the cause is just, the Lord helps them in their battles.
15 – “thy people did carry away the daughters of my people” The Lamanite king gives his motives for war – which was also for family – but he mistakenly blamed the Nephites. Too bad they didn’t talk before taking up arms.
17-21 – “are not the words of the prophet Abinadi fulfilled?” Gideon humbly offers his theory of who took the daughters, and blames the current problems on their unrighteousness and failure to repent.
Mosiah 21 – Limhi’s people are in bondage to the Lamanites, they try unsuccessfully to deliver themselves from bondage.
3-4 – “exercise authority over them” This reminds us, on a much smaller scale, of the bondage of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Much of the story line of the Book of Mormon illustrates the cycle of bondage and deliverance, scattering and gathering, wickedness and righteousness.
5 – “no way they could deliver themselves” Repeat this phrase again, and “listen with your spiritual ears.” We can surmise that the people are being taught they are going to have to rely on the Lord for their deliverance both temporal and spiritual.
7-12 – “went forth against the Lamanites” Limhi’s people attempted to deliver themselves in three unsuccessful uprisings, and at a great cost (see verse 9).
13-15 – “they did humble themselves” When the Book of Mormon mentions the people becoming rich, we see a red flag. When the people humble themselves, we know that deliverance is nigh.
23 – “the king .. discovered Ammon and his brethren” Now we’re back where we started (remember, Mosiah 9-22 was a flashback). In my classes, I like to call this man “Ammon the Explorer” so that I don’t get him confused with Ammon the missionary, one of the sons of King Mosiah.
27 – “they brought a record with them” This is the origin of the Book of Ether, engraven on “plates of ore.”
30 – “king Noah and his priests had caused the people to commit so many sins” We are reminded of Alma 46:9: “Yea, and we also see the great wickedness one very wicked man can cause to take place among the children of men.”
31 – “they themselves had entered into a covenant with God” Their trials, thankfully, moved them closer to God.
36 – “all the study of Ammon and his people” Imagine if “all the study” of everyone was how to deliver themselves from spiritual bondage!
Mosiah 22 – Limhi’s people escape from bondage
6 – “the back pass, through the back wall, on the back side of the city” Gideon has a back – back – back idea. “Where did you get that idea, Gideon?” “ It’s been in the back of my mind.” 🙂
10 – “as a present unto them” A present? For us? Aw, shucks…We suppose it never occurred to the guards that this could be part of a stratagem to get them drunk.
14 – “and he also received their records” These records were and are spiritual treasures, which can “enlarge the memory” of those who read and apply them (Alma 37:8).
Mosiah 23 – An account of Alma and his people who were driven into the wilderness during the reign of King Noah. Alma refuses to be king, the Lamanites conquer the land of Helam.
8 – “If it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your kings” Righteous kings are the best form of government, but righteous kings are hard to come by. Here’s a related comment by James Madison:
Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government, But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. James Madison, (The Federalist Papers) #51.
9-10 – “Remember the iniquity of king Noah and his priests” I myself was caught in a snare” No kings! It almost destroyed me!
21 – “he trieth their patience and their faith” A wonderful resource for studying scriptures is this website, scriptures.byu.edu, and app “Citation Index.” Click on any reference, any verse throughout the standard works, and it will link you to all the church leaders who have referenced the verse from the Quorum of the Twelve to the First Presidency since the Restoration. Mosiah 23:21 has been referenced seventeen times, fourteen of those by Elder Neal A. Maxwell. Here’s one of them:
Regarding trials, including of our faith and patience, there are no exemptions—only variations (see Mosiah 23:21). These calisthenics are designed to increase our capacity for happiness and service. Yet the faithful will not be totally immune from the events on this planet. Thus the courageous attitudes of imperiled Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are worthy of emulation. They knew that God could rescue them. “But if not,” they vowed, they would still serve God anyway (see Dan. 3:16–18). “Encircled in the Arms of His Love,” October 2002 General Conference.
23 – “none could deliver them but the Lord their God” Mormon repeats once again, that there was no human way out of this situation. The Deliverer will be the one to deliver them.
39 – “Amulon should be a king and a ruler” One of king Noah’s wicked priests is put in charge of Alma’s people, a difficult situation, since Amulon knew Alma (see Mosiah 24:9)
12 – “He did know the thoughts of their hearts” Praying out loud was punishable by death, but praying in secret is more difficult to detect. D&C 6:16: “Yea, I tell thee, that thou gayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.”
14 – “that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter” Those who suffer and who are delivered have a story to tell and a testimony to bear. President Gordon B. Hinckley and others have often shared the story of the Martin and Willey handcart companies. Some years later, a group in Cedar City were discussing the situation. President Hinckley relates:
Members of the group spoke critically of the Church and its leaders because the company of converts had been permitted to start so late in the season. I now quote from a manuscript which I have:
“One old man in the corner sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it. Then he arose and said things that no person who heard will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity.
“He said in substance, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. A mistake to send the handcart company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church because every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.’” (Manuscript in my possession.) “Our Mission of Saving,” Ensign, November 1991.
15 – “they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” This is a powerful sentence. It is one thing to submit to some of the will of the Lord, but all of it? When it means remaining in bondage? And to do it cheerfully? We are reminded of a letter from Liberty Jail:
“Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17).
21 – “none could deliver them, except it were the Lord” Earlier in the Book of Mormon, many prophets and teachers cited the children of Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage. From this point forward, the Nephites have a much more recent and personal deliverance story, for which they can stand as a witness of God, their Deliverer, hereafter.
Elder Richard G. Scott taught:
When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.
This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ, trust in His teachings, trust in our capacity as led by the Holy Spirit to obey those teachings for happiness now and for a purposeful, supremely happy eternal existence. To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning (see Prov. 3:5–7). To produce fruit, your trust in the Lord must be more powerful and enduring than your confidence in your own personal feelings and experience. (“Trust in the Lord” Ensign, November 1995.)
Robbie Honn says
Thank you SO very much for your commentary on these lessons! Your thoughts and feelings assist me greatly as I ponder and prepare!
A grateful Gospel Doctrine teacher 🙂
Our ward is a week ahead of yours and I am planning and preparing lesson 21 for next Sunday. Do you have insights for that lesson you can pass on to me?