Saturday, April 14, 2012

Deliverance: Alma vs. Limhi

Elder L.Tom Perry, Apostle of Jesus Christ, during April 2012 General Conference, spoke of the great message and theme of deliverance in the Book of Mormon. Elder Perry compared and contrasted the peoples of Alma and Limhi which I have also done in several posts on this blog. The following are my thoughts and not necessarily those of LDS Church leadership

Nephi, the first prophet-writer in the Book of Mormon states in the first Chapter: "I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

Latter on in the Book of Mormon, another prophet named Alma the Younger says, "Yea, I have always remembered the captivity of my fathers; and that same God who delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians did deliver them out of bondage."

So what of the captivity of the Father of Alma the Younger? If it was important for Alma the Younger to remember the captivity and deliverance of Alma, then surely is it important for us to remember his captivity and deliverance also.

When the family of Nephi arrives in America, Nephi and those loyal to the Lord were forced to separate themselves from the older brothers Laman and Lemuel who coveted Nephi's position as leader over the family. Laman believed it was his right as the oldest son to rule. However, Laman was a wicked man and did not seek the will of God. Consequently, much of the family looked to Nephi for leadership and guidance because of his righteousness, faith, and gift of prophecy.

The envy and resentment of Laman and Lemuel toward Nephi led to a plot and scheme to have him murdered. Nephi was warned of the plotting and directed to take those who would follow him and separate themselves from Laman and Lemuel and those of family of Ishmael who supported them. This division and separation is what resulted in the formation of the nations of the Nephites and the Lamanites spoken of throughout the Book of Mormon.

The first place the Nephites fled to was named the "Land of Nephi". However, likely because of a higher birth rate and intermarriage with aboriginals, it wasn't long until the savage-like Lamanites had surrounded the more civilized Nephites who lived in the Land of Nephi. The Lamanites were hunter-gatherers and would often attack and plunder Nephite processions instead of producing them themselves or acquiring them through trade.

Because of the continual war and persecution, the Nephites were again prompted by God to pick up and relocate. This is when the Nephites discovered the Mulekites who lived in the City of Zarahemla. The Mulekites were Jews who had fled the Babylonian destruction of Jerusakem and fled to America. Mulek was a surviving son of King Zedekiah. The Nephites and Mulekites joined together for protection against the Lamanites threat and because the Nephites had preserved Hebrew scripture, law, tradition and priesthood authority.

However, there were a few Nephites who desired to risk going back to the Land of Nephi and the City of Nephi. Zeniff was the first king among those who had returned to the City of Nephi. Noah, the son of Zeniff, was a wicked king who burned a prophet of God Abinadi for calling him and the people to repentance. King Noah himself was later burned at the stake by the people for leading the men in a retreat from attacking Lamanites and deserting their wives and children.

After the demise of Noah, Limhi, the son of Noah, became king over the people at the city of Nephi. At this time Limhi and his people were placed into bondage and enslaved by the Lamanites. Limhi sent emissaries to Zarahemla to see if the Nephites there would come to their aid. However, due to some misfortune, these emissaries got on the wrong path and bypassed the City of Zarahemla. Instead of finding allies, the scouts of King Limhi found ancient ruins and records which they mistook for the fallen City of Zarahemla. Consequently, the people of Limhi believed they were completely alone in the world and hopelessly enslaved and surrounded by their enemies.

At the death of Abinadi, a small group of believers led by Alma, one of the Kings priests; fled the City of Nephi and established the City of Helem. Both the people of Alma and Limhi were but into bondage by the Lamanites at the same time. And both were eventually delivered. However, the difference in the two examples was 1. How they reacted to enslavement, 2. how much suffering each group was made to endure before they were delivered. 3. The means of deliverance.

The people of Limhi reacted to bondage by continually going to war with the Lamanites. Limhi's people were beaten back again and again. At one point the Book of Mormon says: "And now there was a great mourning and lamentation among the people of Limhi, the widow mourning for her husband, the son and the daughter mourning for their father, and the brothers for their brethren.".

However, the people of Limhi were not delivered at this time. The Book of Mormon says the Lord was slow to hear their prayers until: "they did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitting themselves to be smitten, and to be driven to and fro, and burdened, according to the desires of their enemies".

Difficult as it is to realize, God's requirements for deliverance after they were in bondage: 1. patient submission to bondage, 2. humbling themselves before God, 3. caring for the widows, and 4. crying mightily to God for deliverance.5. studying how to deliver themselves from bondage.

The people of Alma at Helem had a different experience during their bondage. Instead of continually fighting a losing battle, the people of Alma patiently submitted to bondage. humbled themselves before God, and continually prayed for their deliverance.

Enslavement was not easy for the people of Alma, but the Book of Mormon says that the people of Alma were blessed to the point that their burdens were made light upon their shoulders. Because of their greater faith, the people of Alma were eventually delivered by miraculous means.

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