1. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies are converted to the Lord.
Alma 23:1-2 He sent a decree among them
‘Once we review verses 27 to 32 of the previous chapter and realize how extensive the land of the Lamanites had become, we begin to appreciate the fantastic ramifications of the king’s decree which is described in the first two verses of the next chapter.
What wouldn’t the apostle Paul have given for a decree like this as he went forth to convert the Gentile nations. The sons of Mosiah and the other Christian missionaries were to have complete access to every home and every congregation in the land. No one was allowed to smite the missionaries, or arrest them, or exclude them from their churches, synagogues, or sanctuaries.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
Alma 23:3 He sent his proclamation throughout the land
‘By issuing this proclamation, the King opened the door to preaching the gospel in his land. It also planted the seed that the “wicked traditions of their fathers” may be resolved and that the Nephites and Lamanites are truly brothers. He also emphasized the laws of social relations as previously outlined in the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Not only does adherence to the laws of the gospel bring an individual happiness now and eternally, it also embraces the qualities of citizenship that benefit the well-being of any nations citizens.’ (Scriptures101.com)
Alma 23:6 Never did fall away
“The Book of Mormon is to be ‘a standard unto my people, which are of the house of Israel,’ said the Lord. (2 Nephi 29:2.) It is a standard we should heed and follow.
“In the twentieth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord devotes several verses to summarizing the vital truths which the Book of Mormon teaches. (See verses 17-36.) It speaks of God, the creation of man, the Fall, the Atonement, the ascension of Christ into heaven, prophets, faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, endurance, prayer, justification and sanctification through grace, and loving and serving God.
We must know these essential truths. Aaron and Ammon and their brethren in the Book of Mormon taught these same kinds of truths to the Lamanite people (see Alma 18:22-39), who were ‘in the darkest abyss’ (Alma 26:3). After accepting these eternal truths, the Book of Mormon states, those converted Lamanites never did fall away. (See Alma 23:6.)
If our children and grandchildren are taught and heed these same truths, will they fall away? We best instruct them in the Book of Mormon at our dinner table, by our firesides, at their bedsides, and in our letters and phone calls-in all of our goings and comings.” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, p. 11)
Alma 23:16 Desirous that they might have a name
‘Modern readers use names only as labels; but in the ancient world, a name was frequently a definition. Names were who a person was. Many societies give one name to children; but they take on a new name at puberty or as an adult, indicating their true identity. In the Book of Mormon, Benjamin urged his people to assume a new name that would solidify their new, covenant identity (Mosiah 5:7). The renaming of these Lamanite believers separated them from their past culture and, apparently, also their past political affiliations. It united them even more tightly in the gospel bond, emphasizing that their new similarity as believers was stronger than the differences represented by the cities from which they had come.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 23:17 Anti-Nephi-Lehies
“It is not clear exactly why they called themselves AntiNephi-Lehies. Viewing the word anti as meaning ‘opposed to’ or ‘against,’ perhaps their action symbolized a desire to dissolve barriers between Nephites and Lamanites and thus establish peace; their name could in this sense represent their opposition to a Nephite-Lamanite distinction. That is they wanted neither Nephites nor Lamanites, nor ‘any manner of –ites’ (4 Nephi 1:17). “Another possibility suggests itself. Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 indicates that the word anti means ‘like’ or ‘mirror image of.’ In that case anti-Christ would mean not just opposed to Christ, but also deceptively similar to Christ, and perhaps the name Anit-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 (see Helaman 5:6).” (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L Millett, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol.3. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991, [3rd Printing, 1993], 165).
Alma 24:7 Our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach
“I used to enjoy very much hearing President Grant tell of the Scandinavian Brother who came over to Utah. He had not been taught much about the gospel; all he knew was that it was true. The bishop went to him and taught him the law of tithing. He paid his tithing. He taught him about fast offering. He paid his fast offering. He taught him about ward maintenance (budget) and he paid that. Then the bishop went to him to get a donation to help build the meeting house. The man felt that ought to come out of the tithing, but before the bishop was through with him, he paid his contribution toward the meeting house. Then the bishop went to him to get his son to go on a mission. The good brother said, ‘That is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. He is the only child we have, and his mother can’t miss him.’ Then the bishop countered, ‘Brother so and so, who do you love in this world more than anyone outside of your immediate family?’ He thought a few minutes and said he guessed he loved that Mormon Elder who came up to the land of the midnight sun and taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then the Bishop countered, ‘Brother so and so, how would you like someone to love your boy just like you love that young Mormon Elder’ The brother said, ‘Bishop, you win again. Take him. I will be glad to support him in the mission field.'” (LeGrand Richards, Just To Illustrate, p. 52)
Alma 24:21 Prostrated themselves before them
“In 1979…I was serving as president in the Mexico City North Mission…A (community) meeting was called…at which Church members were given the following options: denounce the Church, leave the village, or be killed (not an idle threat). The members, particularly the women, said they knew the Church to be true and would not denounce it. They also indicated they had worked just as hard as the rest of the community to secure their homesteads, and they would not leave. Boldly stepping forward, they told their taunters if they were going to kill them to get on with it. The moment grew tense as machetes were raised, then finally lowered while the Latter-day Saints stood up for that which the Spirit had testified to them to be true. These Saints eventually learned, as most of us do, that it is harder to live the gospel day by day than to die for it in an instant, but their early commitment came because the Spirit had touched their hearts and changed their lives.” (John B. Dickson, Ensign, Feb. 1995, p. 7 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 289)
Alma 24:22 Without meeting any resistance
“The question is worth asking, ‘Could I be as strong as these new converts?’ ‘Could I lay down, peacefully pray to God when an enraged army attacked and commenced slaughtering my friends and family?’ ‘Am I ready to die for the cause of truth?’ These are the questions which we must ask ourselves. If we expect the Lord to bless us with the ultimate blessing, all that the Father has (D&C 84:38), we have to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice—-all that we have, even if it means laying our own lives on the altar of sacrifice.” (www.gospeldoctrine.com/contents/Alma-24).
2. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies seek safety among the Nephites.
‘Ammon and the Lamanite king both had suggestions for how to help the converted Lamanites preserve themselves from destruction by their Lamanite enemies. But in the end, they did what the Lord wanted them to do.(See Alma 27:1-14)There is no better way to deal with danger and turmoil.
One additional event here is deserving of a comment. The Nephites were not only willing to give a home to these homeless converts, but they were willing to set themselves between them and their enemies. That is to say, the Nephites were willing to risk death in order to help the Anti-Nephi-Lehies keep their covenants.’ (Ted Gibbons, LDSLiving.com)
Alma 27:8 We will be their slaves
‘This offer of enslavement tells us that, while slavery is expressly not a part of Nephite culture (Mosiah 2:13), it is nevertheless a cultural option. Earlier, Limhi had also suggested that his people could become slaves to the Nephites (Mosiah 7:15). Both kings were in the land of Nephi when they made this offer, strongly suggesting that slavery was common in Lamanite lands, particularly in the land of Nephi. And certainly, slavery was a well-documented practice in Mesoamerica.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 27:23 That we may protect our brethren
“The conversion of the war-mongering Lamanites who became the Anti-Nephi-Lehies was remarkable. But just as remarkable was the instant forgiveness of the Nephites, who apparently had friends and relatives who had been killed by the Anti-Nephi-Lehies prior to their conversion (see Alma 27:6). Conversion involves a mighty change of heart, a process experienced by both Anti-Nephi-Lehies and Nephites alike.” (Spencer Condie, Your Agency: Handle with Care, p. 106)
Alma 27:26 The people of Ammon
‘It is interesting that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies not only got a new land but they got a new name. They would be called the Ammonites and they were completely assimilated into the Nephite civilization except for their covenant not to shed blood.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
Alma 28:1 The armies of the Lamanites had followed their brethren into the wilderness
‘What could be the motivation of these Lamanites in trying so hard to destroy their converted brethren? The people of Ammon had not offended them, fought them in battle, or caused them any harm, yet they are the object of great hatred. They could be accused of being “traitors” to the Nephites but their conversion and migration presented no military threat to them. So what is the driving force?
When hatred and malice are demonstrated for the sake only of hatred and malice, Satan is the driving force. These Lamanites would not have chased their brethren deep into Nephite territory if they were not stirred up by the Amalekites. One of the Amalekites’ most pronounced qualities was hatred, 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 (Alma 27:12). (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)
Alma 28:4 Mourning and great lamentation
“More painful to me are the thoughts of annihilation than death. If I have no expectation of seeing my father, mother, brothers, sisters and friends again, my heart would burst in a moment, and I should go down to my grave. The expectation of seeing my friends in the morning of the resurrection cheers my soul and makes me bear up against the evils of life. It is like their taking a long journey, and on their return we meet them with increased joy.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings)
Alma 28:11-12 Mourning and rejoicing
‘We might read the first category as the Lamanites and the second Nephites, but Mormon’s concerns are almost exclusively Nephite. Therefore, these mourners are Nephites. The contrast is between those who embrace the gospel of the Atoning Messiah with its promise of resurrection and those who follow the order of the Nehors and who therefore “have reason to fear” (v. 11).’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 28:13 The inequality of man is because of sin and transgression
‘This phrase has more than one level of meaning. Inequality in mortality is rarely blamed on sin and transgression, but the sins of pride, greed, deceit, stealing, and dishonesty all breed such inequality. If all were righteous and living the law of consecration, there would be no inequality at all. But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin (DC 49:20). If inequality is because of sin, then the converse should also be true—that equality is a function of righteousness. The law of equality, under the law of consecration, is a necessary and fundamental component of celestial law, That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things; For if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you (DC 78:5-7).
The second level of meaning to Mormon’s comment is that there is inequality in the rewards given to men. This inequality also comes because of sin and transgression. He is contrasting the death and punishments of the wicked, consigned to a state of endless wo (v. 11), to the death and rewards of the righteous, raised to dwell…in a state of never-ending happiness (v. 12). In many respects this inequality is greater than that of mortality. In other words, the difference between the blessed state of the righteous and the cursed state of the wicked after death is much greater than the disparity between the rich and the poor during mortality.’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)
3. Ammon and Alma rejoice in the accomplishment of the Lord’s work.
Alma 26:5 Behold the number of your sheaves
‘A short time ago, I stood in a little room in Wales, in which my mother was born 102 years before, the room so small that the six-foot bed covers the entire width, and its length is barely two feet longer than it is wide, and the old rafters just two feet above my head, so about eight feet high. But my thoughts on that occasion have been sacred to me. I share one or two with you.
‘I thought, as Sister McKay and I stood in that small bedroom, how different life would be now if two humble elders had not knocked at that door a hundred years ago! And how different life would be if my mother’s father and mother had not accepted that message? I looked around the village and found descendants of others who heard it at that time, descendants of some who ridiculed my grandfather and grandmother, for having accepted the truth; and they made light of their religion, scoffed at them and ostracized them for having accepted Mormonism. I realized how unenlightened those neighbors were when they condemned my grandparents.
‘…Father’s folk were way up in the north of Scotland. It was only through the gospel that Father and Mother met. So I expressed gratitude, as I sensed it probably never so keenly before, as we stood in that little room, six by eight.’ (David O McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 122-3)
Alma 26:9-10 Aaron rebuked him
‘Mormon says that Aaron was rebuking his brother. Ammon had said nothing offensive to Aaron until verse 9 when he seemed to take credit for their success, saying, if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla. Aaron’s rebuke is actually quite gentle, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting. Aaron is saying, “now don’t get carried away thinking you are anything special.” Ammon was, of course, “something special” but a true servant of the Lord never takes credit for what the Lord has done. To do this demonstates pride and insolence. Aaron wants to make sure that Ammon does not give himself too much of the credit. But Ammon never meant to extol his own virtues and his response is a great explanation of his own nothingness compared to the power of God.’ (Bryan Richards, GospelDoctrine.com)
Alma 26:22 Exerciseth faith
‘Your testimony will be fortified as you exercise faith in Jesus Christ, in His teachings, and in His limitless power to accomplish what He has promised. The key words are “exercise faith.” True faith has enormous power, but there are principles that must be followed to unleash that power. Moroni taught, “Faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” That means you must practice the truth or principle you have faith in. As you live it consistently, there will come a witness of its truthfulness through the power of the Holy Ghost. It is often a feeling of peace. It could be a stirring within you. It might be evidenced by opening doors to other truths. As you patiently look for a confirmation, it will come. Recognize that the Lord will give you the capacity to understand and prove through personal experience the truthfulness of His teachings. He will confirm the certainty that His laws will produce the promised results when obeyed willingly and consistently.’ (Richard G Scott, General Conference, October 2001)
Alma 26:27 When our hearts were depressed
“There are times when you simply have to righteously hang on and outlast the devil until his depressive spirit leaves you. As the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith: ‘thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if you endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high’ (DC 121:7-8). To press on in noble endeavors, even while surrounded by a cloud of depression, will eventually bring you out on top into the sunshine.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Nov. 1974)
Alma 26:36 Wanderers in a strange land
“The Nephites never ceased to think of themselves in those melancholy terms. Five hundred years after Jacob, Alma could write that his people were both blessed and sorrowful in their wandering state. Because of their isolation, he says, God gives them special revelation, and glad tidings ‘are made known to us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored’ (Alma 13:23). God, he says, has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost 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 (Alma 26:36).” (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 142)
Alma 29:1 O that I were an angel
‘Let others know that you know. Bear your testimony in fast meeting. Tell your family; tell your friends. You will find when you share your testimony it becomes stronger, and there are many others around you who also want to embrace the truth.
Be willing to endure the test of time. Do not think that it is easy to maintain a testimony. Others will test you. Sometimes they will point the finger of mockery and scorn. Sometimes they may persecute you openly. Be prepared. Know in advance that the best of God’s children have had the courage of true conviction and were willing to suffer ridicule, deprivation, and even death for the sake of true testimony. Is each of us willing to do likewise?’ (Robert D Hales, General Conference, October 1994)