It looks like we might have a fall this year! The weather dropped slightly out of the 90s a couple of days this week.
Last week, I promised the story of the conversion of Lamoni’s father to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember this fella? Rather noble looking. This is another of the many portraits of Book of Mormon people done by James H. Fullmer, who has painted a great deal of Book of Mormon art, including the people. These are based on his own vision of art and the Book of Mormon descriptions, limited as they are.
Alma 22:1 – Now, as Ammon was thus teaching the people of Lamoni continually, we will return to the account of Aaron and his brethren; for after he departed from the land of Middoni he was led by the Spirit to the land of Nephi, even to the house of the king which was over all the land save it were the land of Ishmael; and he was the father of Lamoni.
King Lamoni’s father had invited Ammon, but it was Aaron, Omner and Limhi who went because Ammon was very busy with the people of Lamoni. The king of the Lamanites lived in a large city in the land of Nephi, near the original lands where Nephi and his family had landed in the Americas. Aaron told the king he was Ammon’s brother and, as Ammon had done with King Lamoni, the three offered themselves as servants to the king. The king had been thinking about Ammon’s kindness and about what Ammon had said to him.
Alma 22:3 – … but I will insist that ye shall administer unto me; for I have been somewhat troubled in mind because of the generosity and the greatness of the words of thy brother Ammon; and I desire to know the cause why he has not come up out of Middoni with thee.
Omner and Limhi
Then Aaron explained that God had called Ammon a different way. He asked the king an important question.
Alma 22:7-8 – And Aaron answered him and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?
And the king said: I know that the Amalekites say that there is a God, and I have granted unto them that they should build sanctuaries, that they may assemble themselves together to worship him. And if now thou sayest there is a God, behold I will believe.
And now when Aaron heard this, his heart began to rejoice, and he said: Behold, assuredly as thou livest, O king, there is a God.
Why would Aaron’s heart rejoice? Because he now sees that the King is teachable and open to the word of God. He began to teach him and Aaron read the scriptures to the king. He taught him about the earth’s Creation, Adam’s Fall, and Jesus Christ’s mission.
Alma 22:13-14 – And Aaron did expound unto him the scriptures from the creation of Adam, laying the fall of man before him, and their carnal state and also the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, through Christ, for all whosoever would believe on his name.
And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.
Now how did they have this knowledge before Christ? It’s in the records of the Israelites, and they had the records kept by the tribe of Joseph. Remember when Nephi went back to Jerusalem with his brothers and obtained the records from Laban’s storehouse? Those records were still with the Nephites, and other things, as well, their own record keeping. The Lamanites had not had them, and so lost the knowledge in the 500+ years since coming to the Americas. Aaron was teaching things that their forefathers had known, but which the later generations didn’t.
In verse 15, the king shows his repentant heart and his wish for redemption. 15 And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.
No missionary ever heard sweeter words, do you think? Aaron told the king he needed to fully repent of his sins. He needed to pray and have faith in God. The king did this immediately.
Alma 22:18 – O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead.
This is another time when the Lord communicated with a repentant soul. The queen came and saw her husband lying as if dead, and was angry with Aaron and his brothers. When it appeared she would bring a mob which Aaron feared would be hard-hearted and kill them, he raised the king onto his feet. The king began to preach and minister to his household, including his wife.
Alma 22:23 – Now this was done in the presence of the queen and many of the servants. And when they saw it they greatly marveled, and began to fear. And the king stood forth, and began to minister unto them. And he did minister unto them, insomuch that his whole household were converted unto the Lord.
That is certainly following the commandment that when we know the truth we are to go and teach it to others! Alma 23:1-3 – Behold, now it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites sent a proclamation among all his people, that they should not lay their hands on Ammon, or Aaron, or Omner, or Himni, nor either of their brethren who should go forth preaching the word of God, in whatsoever place they should be, in any part of their land.
Yea, he sent a decree among them, that they should not lay their hands on them to bind them, or to cast them into prison; neither should they spit upon them, nor smite them, nor cast them out of their synagogues, nor scourge them; neither should they cast stones at them, but that they should have free access to their houses, and also their temples, and their sanctuaries.
And thus they might go forth and preach the word according to their desires, for the king had been converted unto the Lord, and all his household; therefore he sent his proclamation throughout the land unto his people, that the word of God might have no obstruction, but that it might go forth throughout all the land, that his people might be convinced concerning the wicked traditions of their fathers, and that they might be convinced that they were all brethren, and that they ought not to murder, nor to plunder, nor to steal, nor to commit adultery, nor to commit any manner of wickedness.
And so, because of the courage and faith of Ammon and his brothers, an entire nation heard the word of God and many were converted to a belief in Christ who should come. The brothers spent most of their youth in missions among the Lamanites. They explained to their father that when they understood, from the visitation of the angel, how dreadful was the consequence of sin, and how blessed was redemption, they had only a desire to go among their brothers, the Lamanites, and bring them word of salvation.
Next week, I will tell one last story of Ammon, and those who became known as the People of Ammon. They had an important part to play, or rather, their sons played an important part, in the defense of the lands of the Nephites. 2060 stripling warriors – young men who were not trained as soldiers, but who had the greatest faith in God. They said they did not doubt their mothers knew the truth. Mothers are a powerful force for good in the world.