Three things popped out at me this morning, though. The first one is Amulek's first words to them. He basically said, Come on, guys, you knew this- but we will tell you again. It sounds like what I say to my children! How many times do I have to tell you...? God is so very patient with us as we learn and relearn His plan.
In this chapter Alma sits down, and his companion, Amulek, takes over. Amulek refers to Alma’s words about developing a testimony of Christ. Amulek reminds the Zoramites (and us!) that to gain a testimony we must have faith and patience (Alma 34:3) . He also reminds us that we must DO something… “prepare your minds”. We must prepare to learn from the spirit, including lessons ahead of time and praying for understanding. I think writing things down that the Spirit teaches me also helps me learn. In vs. 4 he reminds us that we need to write the word on our hearts and to try the lessons taught.
Amulek reminds the poor Zoramites/us to “plant the word in your hearts” –this means to ponder, pray, and try out and experiment with the question at hand.
Because men sinned and transgressed, men would be hardened, fallen, lost and must perish. (Alma 34:9).
It strikes me that the Atonement was more than a kind offering from a gentle man. It was absolutely necessary.
Amulek prophesizes there would be a “great and last sacrifice” (Alma 34:10,13, 14) Verse 10 also describes this as an infinite and eternal sacrifice. No regular moral man could atone for the sins of another mortal man. Jesus Christ could. He, the Son of God, is an infinite and eternal being (read D&C 20:17), the Creator, himself. He was not subject to death. His willing atonement, his willingness to take upon himself all the pain and suffering of our sins, adversities, and infirmities-which caused him to bleed from every pore (read D&C 19:18-19) reaches to the past (all those who have died), present and future (all those who will die). The Atonements “effects cover all men, the earth itself and all forms of life thereon, and reach out in to the endless expanses of eternity” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 64. The Atonement is timeless.
Amulek teaches that the Law of Moses…the commandments taught them by Moses in the Brass plates, required, among other things, that animals like lambs be brought to the altar and killed and sacrificed as part of their process to repent and come to God. Through the Atonement the law was fulfilled and animal sacrifice was ended (Alma 34:13 –14).
The Savior’s sacrifice makes mercy and salvation possible if you choose to have faith and repent. (Alma 34:15)
If you do this you will be encircled in the Lord’s arms of safety and free from the terrible demands of justice (Alma 34:16, D&C 19:16-18). The cleansing power of the spirit makes us new creatures.
Amulek pleaded with the poor Zoramites (and us) to do several things:
Alma 34:17to have faith to repent – and repentance takes work!
Alma 34:18 to pray – over our work situations, our families, to avoid temptation and the fruits of our labors. And we shouldn’t forget to pray for the welfare of others.
Alma 34:19 to be humble
Alma 34:28,29 to be charitable – 1 Peter 4;8 teaches “Charity preventeth a multitude of sins.” We are under obligation to serve other.
I love in verse 31 "if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, IMMEDIATELY shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you." Not someday, later or tomorrow- but immediately. That, to me, is the greatest message of hope the Atonement has to offer. It is accessible immediately to us. We can be blessed immediately if we are humble. The Atonement can work immediately in our lives. It all depends on our choices and our faith. The ransom has been paid. It is up to us to accept it.
And of course, I love Justice and Mercy. What an amazing truth. I used to think that we were not able to pay the price for our sins. But we are. The price is death. Through the mercy of Jesus Christ our price has been renegotiated, our payment plan arranged. He is truly our mediator, or advocate or Savior and our friend.
Then Amulek added a warning (Alma 34 32-35) Do not procrastinate your repentance—prepare now to meet God. The gospel training we receive as we study, pray, and obey prepares us for what is ahead. We need to remember that time and circumstances we quickly rob you of opportunity. Procrastination is the thief of eternal life. We must act now! Waste is a lack of increase.
Bruce R. McConkie said: “I knew a man, now deceased, not a member of the Church, who was a degenerate old reprobate who found pleasure, as he supposed, I living after the manner of the world. A cigarette dangled from his lips, alcohol stenched his breath, and profane and bawdy stories defiled his lips. His moral status left much to be desired. His wife was a member of the Church, as faithful as she could be under the circumstances. One day she said to him, ‘You know the Church is true; why won’t you be baptized?’ He replied, ‘Of course I know the Church is true, but I have no intention of changing my habits in order to join it. I prefer to live the way I do. But that doesn’t worry me in the slightest. I know that as soon as I die, you’ll have someone go to the temple and do the work for me and everything will come out all right in the end anyway.’ He died and she had the work done in the temple. We do not sit in judgment and deny vicarious ordinances to people. But what will it profit him?”
At the end of his talk, Amulek included another recipe for a meaningful, fulfilling life - Receive the Holy Ghost (instead of contending against it), be humble, take the name of Christ, worship God wherever you are, be grateful daily, be watchful, pray continually, have patience, bear your afflictions with hope (Alma 39 –41).