Sunday School Lesson 23

June 14, 2004 | 2 comments
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Lesson 23: Alma 8-12

This is the manual’s synopsis of the story in the chapters assigned:

a. Alma 8-9. After preaching in Melek, Alma calls the people of Ammonihah to repentance, but they reject him. He leaves but is commanded by an angel to return. Alma is received by Amulek, and both are commanded to preach in Ammonihah.
b. Alma 10. Amulek preaches to the people of Ammonihah and describes his conversion. The people are astonished that there is another witness to Alma’s teachings. Amulek contends with unrighteous lawyers and judges.
c. Alma 11. Amulek contends with Zeezrom and testifies of the coming of Christ, the judgment of the wicked, and the plan of redemption.
d. Alma 12. Alma further explains Amulek’s words, warning against hardheartedness and wickedness and testifying of the Fall and the plan of redemption.

To keep the study materials to a usable length, I will concentrate on chapters 11 and 12, with brief questions for chapters 8-10. Perhaps the outline will help keep things in context.

Chapter 8

Verse 1: What does “order of the church” mean? Alma is said to have established it also in Zarahemla. There he did so by ordaining priests and elders (surprising that they didn’t already have them), baptizing repentant converts, and excommunicating unrepentant members (Alma 6:1-4). What kind of order does that suggest?

Verse 10: Alma communes with angels from time to time. Why, then, does he also have to “wrestle with God in prayer” (my italics)?

Chapter 9

Verses 8-11: Prophets in the Book of Mormon often begin their calls to repentance by reminding the people of what the Lord has done for their ancestors. (For example, Alma the Younger did this in his sermon in Alma 5.) Why? Were a modern prophet delivering a sermon like this, to what might he refer to remind us of what the Lord has done?

Verse 17: Alma says that someday the Lamanites will learn the truth and, therefore, of the falsity of their fathers’ traditions. To what traditions is he referring? Does this mean that Native Americans will give up their cultural traditions when they are converted?

Verses 19-24: Why would the Lord prefer to have all the Nephites destroyed rather than allow them to continue in sin after he has blessed them? To unbelievers the Lord may sound petulant, like a “martyr-parent,” who says, “Since you are ungrateful after all I’ve done for you, I’ll show you.” How would you explain this to someone who saw these verses that way?

Verse 26: How does this description of the Savior square with verses 19-24?

Chapter 10

Verses 1-6: Does this fit with the pattern of preaching we have seen Alma use? (See the questions for Alma 8:9-11.)

Verse 12: In what sense has more than one person testified of the things the people of Ammonihah are accused of? Alma accused them and mentioned things to come, but Amulek didn’t.

Verses 13-15, 27, 32: Might these verses say anything to us about our own day?

Chapter 11

Verses 4-19: Why do you think the Book of Mormon includes these monetary units? Why are they put here in the middle of the story of Alma and Amulek’s preaching? Why do you think the compilers of the Book of Mormon chose to include them? What purpose might this account of money serve us in the latter-days?

Verse 21: What does “devices of the devil” mean?

Verse 22: Why might Zeezrom begin with such an obvious and insulting temptation? Why not begin with something more subtle?

Verse 25: For what sin does Amulek say Zeezrom will be destroyed? For tempting him?

Verse 34: What does it mean to save the people in their sins?

Verse 37: This verse speaks of something that God cannot do. How does it explain that limitation on his power?

Verses 38ff.: Notice how Zeezrom’s one question brings a long, detailed response from Amulek? Why does Amulek answer as he does? Why not give Zeezrom a shorter, more simple answer?

Verses 38-39: What does it mean to say that Christ is the Eternal Father? What does it mean to say that he is the beginning and the end? What does it mean to say that he is the first and the last? Given our understanding of the eternal nature of spirits, how do you make sense of these statements about God?

Verses 42-45: Why does Alma tell them of the redemption of the body? How does this function in his call to repentance?

Chapter 12

Verse 1: Zeezrom has become conscious of his guilt. What in particular might have brought about that consciousness? In what sense is Alma “unfolding the scriptures”?

Verses 3-6: Satan laid a trap for Zeezrom by getting Zeezrom to lay a trap for Alma. How is Satan’s trap similar to Zeezrom’s?

Verse 8: How has Zeezrom changed? (How can you tell?)

Verse 9: What is a mystery of God? “Mystery” and “mysteries” are used 70 times in the English scriptures: Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10; Romans 11:25; 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 4:1; 13:2; 14:2; 15:51; Ephesians 1:9; 3:3, 4, 9; 5:32; 6:19; Colossians 1:26, 27; 2:2; 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:9, 16; Revelation 1:20; 10:7; 17:5, 7; 1 Nephi 1:1; 2:16; 10:19; Jacob 4:8, 18; Mosiah 1:3, 5; 2:9; 8:19; Alma 10:5; 12:9, 10, 11; 26:22; 30:28; 37:4, 11, 21; 40:3; Helaman 16:21; and D&C 6:7, 11; 8:11; 10:64; 11:7; 19:8, 10; 28:7; 35:18; 38:13; 42:61, 65; 43:13; 63:23; 64:5; 71:1; 76:7, 114; 77:6; 84:19; 90:14; 97:5; and 107:19. Its most common synonym is “secret.” If many know the mysteries of God, how are they a secret? Notice that these words occur much more often in Restoration scriptures than in the Bible. Why do you think that is?

Verses 9-15: Here Alma indirectly explains why he told Zeezrom about temporal death and the resurrection. What is his explanation—what does it have to do with the mysteries of God?

Verse 9: What does “they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him” mean in contemporary, ordinary English?

Verses 12-13: Verse 12 says we are brought to be judged of our works. then verse 13 says that our hearts are judged to see whether they contain the word. What does the judgement of our hearts have to do with the judgement of our works? What does it mean to have the word in our hearts?

Verse 16: What does it mean to die in sin? Does the word “in” carry any particular weight?

Verses 17-18: Why is it a punishment to continue to live in our sins? How does this square with the discussion of everlasting punishment in Doctrine and Covenants 19? Do you think Alma knew of the explanation we see in the D&C?

Verses 20-21: Do you think that Antionah’s questions are sincere? Why or why not?

Verse 24: What does it mean to say that life is probationary? Is the word being used as it is when we speak of criminals on probation? If so, is the implication that we have already been convicted? Alma teaches here that life is the time given us to repent. How do we avoid a belief in original sin given these teachings?

Verses 26-27: These verses seem to answer the immediately previous questions. How?

Verse 31: Why is “Gods” capitalized in this verse? Usually it is capitalized only when it is used as the name of Deity, not when it is used to refer to an office or position. In what ways are we like Gods? Why is that significant?

Verses 32-34: Both verses 31 and 32 begin in the same way, “wherefore” in one case and “therefore” in the other, but the two mean the same. That suggests that they logically follow from verse 30. How so? What things has the Lord done to make it possible for us to return to him?

Verse 37: What does “the rest of God” mean? How do we enter into it? Consider reading chapter 13 with this lesson. Is it a chapter on “the rest of God”?

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2 Responses to Sunday School Lesson 23

  1. Julie in Austin on June 19, 2004 at 4:11 pm

    Here’s my take on the lesson. Notice that the best questions are stoled from Jim.

    Alma 8-12
    20 June 2004

    I. Alma 8
    –Read verse 10, which describes Alma’s work among the people of Ammonihah (am-uh-nI-‘ha). ‘Wrestling’ was also used to describe Enos’ prayer, as well as Jacob wrestling with a messenger from God. What does this word tell you about their experience with God, and how is this relevant to your own relationship with God?
    –summary: in verses 11-13, the people tell him that they don’t have to listen to him because he isn’t the high priest anymore, and they kick him out
    –Read verses 14-16, looking for what you can learn from the angel about encouraging other people in righteousness.
    –Other comments?
    –Note the descriptions: ‘weighed down’, ‘wading’, etc. But then ‘lift up.’ I sense that Alma feels like a failure, but that God is very aware of what he is going through.
    –summary: Alma is sent to Amulek, who feeds and shelters him, and then they begin to preach together
    –Ask: why didn’t the Lord send Amulek to Alma in the first place? Why let him get kicked out and depressed? What is the lesson for you here?

    II. Alma 9
    –summary: Alma is preaching to the people
    –Read verses 2 and 6, which is their response to his preaching. Then read 10:3, which is after Amulek has preached. The manual makes a big point of the idea of having more than one witness. Why is this so important? Why does it matter to these people? Does it matter to you?
    –(if time) read verses 15-17, which describes the condition of the Lamanites, and consider how this principle operates today
    –Read verse 26, considering the qualities of Jesus Christ that are listed. Which one resonates the most with you and why? Which one have you really struggled to develop? How does this description square with the destruction fire-and-brimstone of the preceding verses?

    III. Alma 10
    –summary: this is now Amulek preaching
    –Read verses 2-3. Notice how we are teased with the story of Aminadi, a descendent of Nephi, who has this amazing experience that we never hear anything about. Why do you think we get this teaser? What should we learn from it? (Thought: perhaps the purpose is to suggest the riches of Nephite history that we don’t have. Also note Daniel 5:16, Daniel also interpreted writing on the wall of the Temple.)
    –Read verses 4-7, looking for what you learn about Amulek. What stands out?
    –he is prominent (verse 4) but humble (verse 7)
    –‘I was called many times’–God is merciful
    –‘I knew . . . yet I would not know’–what does this mean?
    –Read verses 13-18, looking for the description of the lawyers. (Ask and hide under the table.) Ask: why do lawyers get such a bad rap in the Book of Mormon? What is the message for today and what happens if you liken these verses to yourself?
    –not for being lawyers, but for using those techniques out of context; apply to today
    –not for being learned, but using the techniques of a teacher and persuader to lead others away from Christ

    IV. Alma 11
    –summary: review of Nephite monetary system, and then dialogue between Amulek and Zeezrom. This material is very important, etc., so we will spend the rest of the time talking about Nephite money. Just kidding.
    –seriously, though, my approach to the BoM is that you don’t carve something on metal unless it is reeeaaaally important. Verses 5-19 challenge that. (Why not just say Zeezrom offered him buckets of money?) Is my premise wrong, or is there something important about the monetary system here?
    –divide class in half: one half consider what Amulek says in order to determine how to respond to the unrighteous, the other side read Zeezrom in order to discover what kinds of attacks the unrighteous (or, sometimes, our own inner voices) make
    –read verses 21-44 and discuss.

    V. Alma 12
    –Read verse 8, noting how Zeezrom has changed. What evidence is there of his change?
    –(if time) read verse 24 and talk about how taking the view that this life is a probationary time changes concrete things/attitudes/etc. in your life

    Here’s some more, from my old Institute lesson, that I thought was interesting but didn’t fit for SS:

    I. Alma meets Amulek
    Read Alma 8:13, 14, 16, and 18. What can you learn from comparing Alma with Jonah?
    Read Alma 8:19-20. Read 10:5-11, looking for the differences in Amulek’s account. What does Alma’s account emphasize? What does Amulek’s account emphasize? Consider 10:6: What are some ways people ‘knew . . . but did not know?’

  2. Jim F. on June 20, 2004 at 5:48 pm

    Julie, thanks very much for these notes. I wish I’d seen them before I taught my lesson this morning (my fault, not yours). I especially liked the note about “weighed down” and “lifted up.”