1. Korihor leads away the hearts of many in Zarahemla.
Alma 30:6 Anti-Christ
“Here we find an interesting definition of an anti-Christ: one who defies and denies the prophecies concerning the coming of Christ. This definition would, of course, pertain primarily to those who lived before the meridian of time. In our day we would speak of an anti-Christ as one who denies the divine birth of Jesus; who downplays the significance of his teachings; who claims that Jesus’ sufferings, death, and resurrection have no significance for mankind. Many in this dispensation have been seduced into the damnable heresy that Jesus was merely a good man, a brilliant speaker, and a loving and tender example of mercy and forgiveness–these things alone. The restored gospel–especially as made known through the Book of Mormon–testifies that Jesus Christ was and is divine, that he is God.” (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 201)
‘The single greatest problem antichrists face is truth. At some point, either sooner or later, every antichrist theory runs into the brick wall of reality, because there really is a God in heaven, who really did send His Son to redeem us. Even the phrase “anti-christ” is an oxymoron – a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.’ (Jeffrey Marsh, Meridian Magazine)
Alma 30:12 Korihor
We learn that the name of this anti-Christ was Korihor and he went forth among the Nephites to destroy their testimonies of the gospel and urged them to feel free to indulge themselves. He got away with this subversive activity by simply saying he was preaching his personal beliefs. However, he was actually pouring out propaganda to attack the whole foundation of the gospel. (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
“We did not borrow the Book of Mormon from the ancients; they wrote it to us. We are the audience Mormon and Moroni addressed as they chose what was to be included in this scriptural record. They told us the story of Korihor because they knew that we would have our Korihors. The Korihor of the Book of Mormon story is but the prototype of our modern anti-Christs. As the modern man of faith is in the image and likeness of his ancient counterpart, believing and testifying of those truths of which the ancients believed and testified, so the modern anti-Christ but echoes the arguments and sophistry used to beguile the souls of men anciently. Invariably, Korihors are articulate and carry with them an air of sophistication. They thrive on controversy, debate, and contention, yet inevitably their popularity rests in their appeal to the carnal nature of man.” (Millet & McConkie, Sustaining and Defending the Faith, p. 96)
Alma 30:13 Why do ye yoke yourselves?
“One of Satan’s frequently used deceptions is the notion that the commandments of God are meant to restrict freedom and limit happiness. Young people especially sometimes feel that the standards of the Lord are like fences and chains, blocking them from those activities that seem most enjoyable in life. But exactly the opposite is true. The gospel plan is the plan by which men are brought to a fullness of joy. The gospel principles are the steps and guidelines which will help us find true happiness and joy.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 357 )
Alma 30:16 The effect of a frenzied mind
“Now many of my friends think like this, that Mormons must be deranged. We have a professor from Hebrew University who is here (at BYU) now. He thinks that anybody must be crazy who can believe in an angel. That’s just impossible; there’s something wrong there. He just can’t get it through his head, although there it is. That’s why he is so interested in being here with people who actually believe it. ‘But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind'” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 54, p. 423)
Alma 30:17 The management of the creature
“When you talk about ‘the management of the creature,’ that’s a perfect expression. It’s the manipulation of people as if they were items or products. You can manipulate everything with the psychology of salesmanship. It is the manipulation, the management of the creature.” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 54, p. 424)
Alma 30:18 Leading away the hearts of many
‘The amazing thing about this tirade of lies and propaganda was the fact that he began making many converts, even among the congregations which Alma had worked so diligently to build up. Korihor’s teachings, like those of Nehor, tore down the moral and religious restrictions among the people so that they went back to indulging in the abominations which Alma and the Church leaders had tried to eliminate.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
2. Korihor is taken before Alma, who testifies of Christ’s coming.
Alma 30:23 Foolish ordinances and performances
‘The idea that the Nephites continued to observe the ritual ordinances and ceremonial performances of the law of Moses down to the coming of Christ is supported by one of Korihor’s allegations. Alma 30 tells how Korihor accused the Nephite church of teaching (and presumably observing) what he considered to be “foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them” (Alma 30:23). Korihor’s derision is evidence that the Nephites observed the full range of ancient ordinances taught from the time of Adam to Moses, along with the priestly sacrificial portions of the law of Moses, which Korihor would have considered to be among the most “foolish” parts of Alma’s ancient traditions. Korihor’s words were probably critical of the higher mysteries taught by Alma according to the holy order of the Son of God (see Alma 12:9; 13:1-13), as well as of the sacrificial laws of the Pentateuch.’ [John W. Welch, “The Temple in the Book of Mormon,” in Temples of the Ancient World, p. 305]
Alma 30:27 Ye keep them down
‘Korihor was arguing, as men and women have falsely argued from the beginning of time, that to take counsel from the servants of God is to surrender God-given rights of independence. But the argument is false because it misrepresents reality. When we reject the counsel which comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose.
Another fallacy is to believe that the choice to accept or not accept the counsel of prophets is no more than deciding whether to accept good advice and gain its benefits or to stay where we are. But the choice not to take prophetic counsel changes the very ground upon which we stand. It becomes more dangerous. The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late.
Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety. Along the path, I have found that the way had been prepared for me and the rough places made smooth. God led me to safety along a path which was prepared with loving care, sometimes prepared long before.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, April 1997)
Alma 30:42 Possessed with a lying spirit
‘From other scriptures, we learn that lies and deception came into the world as a result of Satan’s rebellion against God: “He became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice” (Moses 4:4). A person who lies, moreover, is called a “child of the devil” (Alma 5:39).
Those who lie fall in the category of telestial persons, whose destiny is to be “thrust down to hell” (2 Nephi 9:34; D&C 76:103). An antichrist, however, takes lying to the next level. He repudiates Christ and denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22). Like Satan’s, his intent is to use lies as a means of “destroying the children of God.”
Just as God’s children love the truth and follow the example of Jesus Christ, so those who “love and make a lie” follow the example of Satan. Hence, Christ and Satan function at opposite ends of the spectrum as exemplars of righteousness and wickedness, respectively. “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth; And no man receiveth a fulness of truth unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things” (D&C 93:24–28).
This formula for growing in the truth—by keeping the commandments of God—additionally tells us that those who love and believe lies reach that point by breaking the commandments of God. Their alienated state comes especially from speaking evil about others, putting them down while justifying themselves, as did Korihor (Alma 30:14–16, 23–28, 31). The psychology of liars is invariably grounded in unrepented sins and attempts to make others the scapegoats of their guilt. If they can get people to believe their lies, they soon begin believing them themselves.
In the end, Korihor confessed, “I always knew that there was a God. But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I have taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true” (Alma 30:52–53).
Because Korihor is a type of our time as well as a historical figure, there is a lesson we can learn from his example. Jesus predicted of the last days, “There shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). Of course, Jesus’ statement implies that the elect cannot be deceived, or they would not be the elect. By their very nature, God’s elect have learned good from evil and truth from falsehood to such a degree that they see through Satan’s deceptions. Those who are deceived are not celestial but terrestrial and telestial persons (D&C 76:75, 103).
Paul speaks of a great Antichrist of the last days: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there shall come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…
“And then shall that Wicked [One] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume by the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4, 8–12).
Even today, “there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world. And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you. Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church that profess my name. But blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life. But wo unto them that are deceivers and hypocrites, for, thus saith the Lord, I will bring them to judgment. Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power… Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me” (D&C 50:2–9).
John Taylor, in a First Presidency Message, taught an important lesson on what happens to people who lie: “Many stories go from mouth to mouth concerning the truth of which those who repeat them know nothing… We testify that those who give way to this influence… who gossip about and aid in the dissemination of these things to the injury of their fellows, will, unless they speedily repent, lose the Spirit of God and the power to discern between truth and falsehood, and between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. Their own minds will become so darkened by the spirit of falsehood that the Spirit of God will cease to have power with them and will flee from them.” (Epistle to the Saints in Semi-Annual Conference, October 6, 1886.)
Just as one doesn’t have to be perfect in order to have the spirit of truth, so one doesn’t have to be a Korihor to have a lying spirit. As with God’s elect, the key to avoiding deception and self-deception is keeping the commandments of God (cf. D&C 76:52; 84:33–34).’ (Avram Gileadi, Studies in the Book of Mormon)
Alma 30:44 All things denote there is a God
“Can any man who has walked beneath the stars at night, can anyone who has seen the touch of spring upon the land doubt the hand of divinity in creation? So observing the beauties of the earth, one is wont to speak as did the Psalmist: ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.’ (Ps. 19:1-2)
“All of beauty in the earth bears the fingerprint of the Master Creator.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Conference Report, Apr. 1978, p. 90)
Alma 30:45 Show me a sign
“I recollect a Campbellite preacher who came to Joseph Smith … and said that he had come a considerable distance to be convinced of the truth. ‘Why,’ said he, ‘Mr. Smith, I want to know the truth, and when I am convinced, I will spend all my talents and time defending and spreading the doctrines of your religion, and I will give you to understand that to convince me is equivalent to convincing all my society, amounting to several hundreds.’ Well, Joseph commenced laying before him the coming forth of the work, and the first principles of the Gospel, when [the minister] exclaimed, ‘O this is not the evidence I want, the evidence that I wish to have is a notable miracle; I want to see some powerful manifestation of the power of God, I want to see a notable miracle performed; and if you perform such a one, then I will believe with all my heart and soul, and will exert all my power and all my extensive influence to convince others; and if you will not perform a miracle of this kind, then I am your worst and bitterest enemy.’ ‘Well,’ said Joseph, ‘what will you have done? Will you be struck blind, or dumb? Will you be paralyzed, or will you have one hand withered? Take your choice, choose which you please, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ it shall be done.’ ‘That is not the kind of miracle I want,’ said the preacher. ‘Then, sir,’ replied Joseph, ‘I can perform none, I am not going to bring any trouble upon any body else, sir, to convince you.'” (George A Smith, Journal of Discourses, 1855, vol. 2, p. 326).
Alma 30:53 The devil hath deceived me
‘Many people who believe at least tentatively in the reality of God have a much harder time believing in the reality of the devil. Some even soft-pedal the subject and go along with the popular idea that the devil is a purely mythological creature.
Some people roar with laughter as a television comic remarks, “The devil made me do it.” Well, maybe he did! He will always try.
To deny the existence of Satan and the reality of his evil power and influence is as foolish as ignoring the existence of electricity. We know electricity is real; we see and feel its power. We also know about war, hatred, backbiting, false witnesses, cheating, and the broken hearts and broken homes caused by the moral sins of modern Babylon. Do members of this church feel a lack of evidence in the reality of Satan and his power?
We are told that some of the “very elect” will be enticed and deceived. Couldn’t this “very elect” include your sons and daughters, even though through baptism they have already accepted Christ as their Savior? Wouldn’t the evil one concentrate on them if he found a weakness or an opportunity?’ (David B Haight, General Conference, April 1973)
Alma 30:55 Thou wouldst again lead away the hearts of this people
‘It is interesting the proud arrogant Korihor had a fickle character and the Spirit whispered to Alma that if the curse was lifted from Korihor he would not be able to resist the temptation to teach Satan’s lies again.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
Alma 30:60 The devil will not support his children at the last day
“The conclusion to our story holds no surprises, for there is a consistency in such things. To those who lift up their heel against the Lord’s anointed in our day, he has said: ‘Those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death-Wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house. Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them.’ (DC 121:18-20)” (Millet & McConkie, Sustaining and Defending the Faith, pp. 92-3)
3. Alma leads a mission to reclaim the apostate Zoramites.
Alma 31:5 Try the virtue of the word of God
‘True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.’ (Boyd K Packer, General Conference, April 2004)
Alma 31:9 According to the law of Moses
‘This is a serious problem for the Nephite people because it indicates a greater degree of apostasy than they have seen in most of the groups that have departed from the standard Nephite religion. The Nehors apparently retained much of the Law of Moses, but rejected Christ. This is the basic form of apostasy that was seen among the people of Noah, and more recently in Ammonihah. The Zoramites have gone further, however, and rejected the law of Moses. Not only did they abandon the law of Moses, but they abandoned other performances that blended the law of Moses into the law of Christ. [Brant Gardner, Book of Mormon Commentary]
Alma 31:11 They did pervert the ways of the Lord
“So here we have a competition between two religions as well as a fusion…They boasted a superior religion, and the Zoramite priesthood claimed to be eminently rational and spiritual, accusing the Nephites of ‘childish’ beliefs and practices–Alma lays great stress upon their boasting, in the manner of all barbarians. In short, ‘they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances’ (Alma 31:11), but not in all. Did they still think of themselves as Israelites? They certainly thought of the Nephites as apostates. In particular, they rejected the redemption by the Messiah as naive and unnecessary (Alma 31:16-18, 29), for they considered themselves very advanced, very superior as they strutted amidst the almost comically exaggerated splendor of their Mesoamerican dress and architecture (Alma 31:25-27).” (Hugh Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 544)
Alma 31:12 Astonishment
‘Alma and his brethren were shocked with what they saw and heard. Here was an apostate church quite different from the ones that either Nehor or Korihor had developed. Nevertheless, these people had all heard the gospel preached to them in the past and had been members of the Church. Now they had developed a substitute religion with a political potential that could be extremely dangerous to the Nephites.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from teh Book of Mormon)
Alma 31:16 Thou hast elected us
“Although the Zoramites used the terminology of election, what they really fostered was the idea of elitism, which almost always has at its heart a disdain for others. True election promotes a genuine concern for the welfare of others. Elitism seems to cause people to forget God six out of seven days because it turns them selfishly inward. But the true doctrine of election promotes a daily desire for communion with deity and a search for the divine within us.” (Book of Mormon Symposium Series,“Helaman Through 3 Nephi 8” edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 118)
Alma 31:22 The selfsame prayer
‘This description of Zoramite society tells us that they differ from Nephite norms. Mormon repeats the detail that everyone offers the “selfsame” prayer but only when “they had assembled themselves together.” This prayer had a communal, not an individual, function. Nephite religion had no counterpart to this public statement of unity, since the missionaries find it astonishing. Zoramite worship therefore maintained distinct political and communal overtones, but Nephite worship did not use public prayer in this manner.
The second criticism is that worship is confined to a specific day and that the Zoramites did not otherwise speak of Yahweh. Their worship was communal, not individual. Like many similar religions, its focus was logically on events that occurred at community gatherings. Nephite worship, while having communal elements, was essentially practiced by individuals.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 31:28 Costly apparel
“Our society may well be as guilty as the wealthy Zoramites of using fashion as ‘the science of appearances, inspiring us with the desire to seem rather than to be’ (Edwin Hubbell Chapin). In our day the costly apparel syndrome may be identified as one aspect of the modern-day term ‘conspicuous consumption.’ The word conspicuous alludes to the visual side of vanity-the need to be seen, to be recognized. Consumption refers to that which we take in or that which we consume. Conspicuous consumption may be defined as that which we take to ourselves in order to be recognized and approved by others. By its very definition, the person trapped in conspicuous consumption, especially as it applies to ‘costly apparel,’ must be focused on the opinions of others, because what is ‘in’ today may be ‘out’ tomorrow. Vanity then becomes its own punishment, because there is never time to be satisfied-the eyes and opinions of others can turn so quickly to embrace someone else. For us, the disease that afflicted the Zoramites encompasses more than clothing. It can include cars, houses, boats, diplomas, and anything else that has a foundation where the need for the approval of man carries more weight than the need to be accepted by God.” (K. Douglas Bassett, Doctrines of the Book of Mormon, 1991 Sperry Symposium, pp. 18-19)
Alma 31:30 For I am infirm
‘Alma was a sick man. He was severely wounded in the war with the Lamanites and then he went through starvation and torture at the hands of the demons who were the rulers of Ammonihah. He enjoyed nearly two years of peace, but Korihor had created a certain amount of havoc among the members of the Church in Zarahemla, which had been a great trial to Alma. Now he feels compelled to challenge the Zoramites. It was almost more than he could bear and so he cried out to the Lord.’ (Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon)
Alma 31:31 Afflictions
“I suppose I am talking to some who have had worry and trouble and heart burnings and persecution, and have at times been caused to think that they never expected to endure quite so much. But for everything you have suffered, for everything that has occurred to you which you thought an evil at that time, you will receive fourfold, and that suffering will have had a tendency to make you better and stronger and to feel that you have been blessed. When you look back over your experiences you will then see that you have advanced far ahead and have gone up several rounds of the ladder toward exaltation and glory. …
“Take it individually or take it collectively, we have suffered and we shall have to suffer again; and why? Because the Lord requires it at our hands for our sanctification” (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams , 117–18).
Alma 31:32 Comfort my soul
‘In his own prayer, Alma asks for comfort for him and his friends in enduring their trials and also for success in their labors. He does not ask that the labors be easy. He fully expects that this mission will be difficult.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
Alma 31:35 Their souls are precious
“In a modern revelation the Lord explained that ‘the worth of souls is great in the sight of God’ (D&C 18:10). Latter-day Saints are fond of quoting this verse and then skipping down the scriptural page to those verses that speak further of the joy that comes from bringing the blessings of the gospel into the lives of many. The question might be asked: Why is the worth of souls great? … We might respond that as children of the Man of Holiness we have marvelous possibilities. As sons and daughters of God, we are possessed (although now in rudimentary form) of the attributes of godliness. The Lord provides an additional answer from scripture: ‘For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people.’ (D&C 18:11-14.) Simply stated, the soul is of infinite worth. We are not our own. We have been bought with an infinite price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), even with ‘the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot’ (1 Peter 1:19).” (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God, pp. 34-35)
Alma 31:38 Afflictions… swallowed up in the joy of Christ
“I humbly come to this pulpit today to speak about a sure cure for heartache, disappointment, torment, anguish, and despair. The psalmist stated, ‘He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.’ (Ps 147:3) The healing is a divine miracle; the wounds are a common lot of all mankind. Shakespeare has said, ‘He jests at scars that never felt a wound.’ (Romeo and Juliet, II.ii.1.) It seems that no one escapes the troubles, challenges, and disappointments of this world.
“…Someway, somehow, we must find the healing influence that brings solace to the soul. Where is this balm? Where is the compensating relief so desperately needed to help us survive in the world’s pressures? The onsetting comfort in large measure can come through increased communion with the Spirit of God. This can bring spiritual healing.
“…We find solace in Christ through the agency of the Comforter, and he extends this invitation to us: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ (Matt. 11:28.) The Apostle Peter speaks of ‘casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.’ (1 Pet. 5:7.) As we do this, healing takes place, just as the Lord promised through the prophet Jeremiah when he said, ‘I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. … I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.’ (Jer. 31:13, 25.)
“In the celestial glory, we are told, ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.’ (Rev. 21:4.) Then faith and hope will replace heartache, disappointment, torment, anguish, and despair, and the Lord will give us strength, as Alma says, that we ‘should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.’ (Alma 31:38.) Of this I have a testimony, and I so declare it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (James E Faust, Conference Report, May 1992, p. 6)