Alma Chapter 39
Life was not perfect for Alma. Nor is it perfect for anyone. We all have things go wrong, and this was a time where something went terribly wrong in Alma’s plan to bring back the people of Zoram known as the Zoramites. The Zoramites were needed as a strategic military buffer to the converted Lamanites known as the Anti-Nephi-Lehis. The mission was not a complete failure as many converts did come to know the Lord. Nevertheless, it did not have the effect of keeping the Zoramites from rejecting their government and joining forces with the Lamanites.
One thing that went wrong was that Alma’s son Corianton, who served on the mission, did not behave himself properly. Chapter 19 of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon captured the entire recorded lecture that Alma gave to his son. The entire lecture covers many teachings regarding the Plan of Salvation. In the current Book of Mormon, it covers Alma Chapter 39-42. This write up is Chapter 39. The primary focus of this chapter is the need to abstain from sin.
This took place about 74 BC.
Cross Yourself in All these Things
The commandments of Alma, to his son Corianton
[39:1] And now my son, I have somewhat more to say unto thee than what I said unto thy brother: for behold, have ye not observed the steadiness of thy brother, his faithfulness, and his diligence in keeping the commandments of God? Behold, has he not set a good example for thee?
[39:2] For thou didst not give so much heed unto my words as did thy brother, among the people of the Zoramites. Now this is what I have against thee: Thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength, and thy wisdom.
Alma was on a mission to restore the people of Zoram to the gospel. There was an important strategic reason for the mission as the Zoramites were a critical barrier to keeping the hostile Lamanites from attacking the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, a group of converted Lamanites who had moved into the Nephite lands for protection. If the mission failed, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis would be forced to move again to a different location for protection. Alma brought is son Corianton on this mission, but Corianton did not serve well at this time.
[39:3] And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron, among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel;
[39:4] yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry, wherewith thou was entrusted.
[39:5] Know you not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins, save it be the shedding of innocent blood, or denying the Holy Ghost?
[39:6] for behold, if ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once hath had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it; behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you, my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness.
[39:7] And now my son, I would to God that ye had not been guilty of so great a crime. I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.
[39:8] But behold, ye cannot hide your crimes from God; and except ye repent, they will stand as a testimony against you at the last day.
Alma speaks here of three sins. One of the sins was committed by Corianton. The others were not. What is compelling is that Fornication is listed as one of the three most grievous sins in the eyes of the Lord – yea, most abominable of all sins, excepting for the other two. The other two being murder, and denying the Holy Ghost when you have had a sure witness.
[39:9] Now my son, I would that ye should repent, and forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things; for except ye do this, ye can in no wise inherit the Kingdom of God. O remember, and take it upon you, and cross yourself in these things.
The word cross being used as a verb is not as commonly used today. The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives the definitions of obstruct, disrupt, and betray. Corianton is counseled to obstruct, disrupt and betray his lusts and his sins.
[39:10] And I command you to take it upon you to counsel [ word “with” added in later versions] your elder brothers in your undertakings; for behold, thou art in thy youth, and ye stand in need to be nourished by your brothers. And give heed to their counsel;
[39:11] suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not that the Devil lead away your heart again, after those wicked harlots. Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites: for when they saw your conduct, they would not believe in my words.
[39:12] And now the spirit of the Lord doth say unto me, Command thy children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to destruction: therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities;
[39:13] that ye turn to the Lord with all your mind, might and strength; that ye lead away the hearts of no more, to do wickedly; but rather return unto them, and acknowledge your faults, and retain that wrong which ye have done;
Fact is, we all make mistakes and find ourselves needing counsel. Alma is right to tell his son to seek counsel and nourishment from his brothers. So many times in my life, I have wished I were surrounded by the counsel of good wise individuals. But in the end, it is up to us to turn to the Lord, and acknowledge our faults so that we may fix ourselves for a better future.
[39:14] seek not after riches, nor the vain things of this world; for behold, you cannot carry them with you.
How many times do we need to be told to not seek after riches. I need to be reminded of this often.
[39:15] And now, my son, I would say somewhat unto you concerning the coming of Christ. Behold, I say unto you, that it is him that surely shall come, to take away the sins of the world; yea, he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people.
[39:16] And now my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather that salvation might come unto them, that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming.
[39:17] And now I will ease your mind somewhat on this subject. Behold, you marvel why these things should be known so long beforehand. Behold, I say unto you, Is not a soul at this time as precious unto God, as a soul will be at the time of his coming?
[39:18] Is it not as necessary that the plan of redemption should be made known unto this people, as well as unto their children?
[39:19] Is it not as easy at this time, for the Lord to send his angel to declare these glad tidings unto us, as unto our children; or as after the time of his coming?
Corianton is struggling with the concept of why we should care about the things of Christ when his life is not during the time of Christ’s life. But Alma answers this pointing out that salvation of man is for all. Your salvation, and the salvation of a person who lived a Phoenician 3000 years ago are both important. It is necessary that we do all we can to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all that may receive it. The Plan of Redemption must be taught to everyone, no matter when or where they lived.