Alma 8:10 Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer
By this time, Alma already had a strong relationship with the Lord. Yet, instead of faithfully requesting help in his missionary endeavors, he labors much in the spirit, even to the point of wrestling with God. This shows his great concern for the welfare of the people; he could not bear that any human soul should perish (Mosiah 28:3). Such a spiritual wrestling match was necessary in order to win back the hearts which Satan had such a hold of. Alma's spiritual struggle is a great lesson to all missionaries.
Many missionaries can relate to serving in an area where the power of Satan seems much greater than their small influence. When a missionary is faced with this sort of trying situation, he has a few options. He can give up, or he can pray for help, or he can do what Alma did-labor much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer. The easily frustrated missionaries will try the former and think more about dusting off their feet than laboring in the Spirit.
Ironically, after Alma's great spiritual struggle, the people reject him again. But his prayer does not go unanswered. As the next several chapters show, he and Amulek perform a great work in Ammonihah which brings about the salvation of many souls. As Mormon explains, they also had power given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them (v. 31).
"Wrestling with God? Does God resist you? Do you have to resist him? No, you have to put yourself into position, in the right state of mind. Remember, in our daily walks of life as we go around doing things, we're far removed...You have to get yourself in form, like a wrestler having to look around for a hold or get a grip, as Jacob did when he wrestled with the Lord. You have to size yourself up, take your stance, circle the ring, and try to find out how you're going to deal with this particular problem. You're not wrestling with the Lord; you're wrestling with yourself. Remember, Enos is the one who really wrestled. And he told us what he meant when he was wrestling; he was wrestling with himself, his own inadequacies. How can I possibly face the Lord in my condition, is what he says.
"...It takes great mental effort to confront the Lord in all seriousness. We do it at various shallow levels, by routine. We have a prayer here because we feel we should. If we're going to make it really serious, we have to work on it harder...and very few people are willing to do it, but it really pays off because you know exactly what you want and where you stand." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 47, pp. 301-2)
Alma 8:11 we do not believe in such foolish traditions
This doctrine of "foolish traditions" becomes a common way for the non-believers to discount the church and its doctrine. The anti-Christ, Korihor, expressed it as follows:
'Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.
How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.
Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so.' (Alma 30:14-16)
Carlos E. Asay
"When we read about the anti-Christs of former days, we marvel at how perverted their thinking became, and we marvel at how successful they were in deceiving men and women. We also wonder why some of the people were so gullible - so easily misled. And with all this marveling and wondering, we tend to niche the anti-Christs in some corner of ancient history and go about our unguarded ways. This is dangerous. It could result in loss of faith; and, in a spiritual sense, it could put us out of existence." (Church News, 02/22/92, p. 14)
Alma 8:13 reviled him, and spit upon him
By suffering as Alma suffered, he joined a myriad of prophets who were persecuted in the name of the Lord. In a way, it is a privilege to be persecuted as the Savior was persecuted. At least this is how Peter and John felt when they were derided by the Sanhedrin, they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (Acts 5:41). Obviously they understood the word of the Lord as he had taught them on the mount:
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Matt 5:10-12).
"In my early missions, when preaching in the Southern States - Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky - I have waded swamps and rivers and have walked 70 miles or more without eating. In those days we counted it a blessing to go into a place where there was a Latter-day Saint. I went once 150 miles to see one; and when I got there he had apostatized, and tried to kill me. Then, after traveling 72 miles without food, I sat down to eat my meal with a Missouri mobocrat, and he damning and cursing me all the time." (Church News, 5/18/96, p. Z1)
James E. Faust,
"You must know that Lucifer will oppose you, and be prepared for his opposition. Do not be surprised. He wants you to fail...Have courage and go forward. Recognize that the gospel has been preached with some pain and sorrow from the very beginning of time. Do not expect that your experience will be otherwise." (Church News, 5/18/96, p. Z1)
Alma 8:14-15 I am he that delivered it unto you
The angel which first called Alma to repentance returns for a second visit. Alma had undergone such an incredible spiritual transformation since then that he must have been filled with joy to commune again with this angel. No longer did he suffer the pains of a damned soul. He had been valiant in the cause of truth from that time forth. Just when Alma was at his lowest, being weighed down with sorrow...tribulation and anguish of soul, the Lord had sent him that angel who was most able to offer consolation. The consolation was the most comforting message possible-that his sacrifice had been acceptable to the Lord.
Alma 8:16 except they repent the Lord God will destroy them
The Lord keeps his promises. The unrepentant people of Ammonihah were destroyed in one day as recorded in Alma 16:2, 9-11.
Alma 8:20 I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house
Certainly, it is a great blessing to have a prophet in one's home. If his presence alone is not enough, Alma follows the pattern later given to the missionaries when he blesses the house of Amulek. The Lord said, in whatsoever house ye enter, and they receive you, leave your blessing upon that house (DC 75:19), and into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it (Lu 10:6). These are the blessings of entertaining the messengers of the Lord. This was the blessing which Amulek received of Alma (v. 22).
Alma 8:21 the man was called Amulek
"A Nephite prophet, son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi, a descendant of Nephi...Amulek...was a man of wealth and importance and was blessed with many relatives..
"Amulek has the honor of having some of his sermons handed down to us in detail in the Book of Mormon. From them we judge him to have been a man of liberal education, of great faith, of unswerving integrity and untiring zeal for the truth. He was, from the glimpses of his private life that we glean as we pass along, a man of tender and affectionate disposition, exceedingly fond of his home and family, yet these and all else he readily and joyfully gave up for the riches and happiness of the Gospel of the Son of God." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 152-4)
Alma 8:27 Alma tarried many days with Amulek before he began to preach
After the angel appeared to Alma to send him back to Ammonihah, he returned speedily (v. 18). Yet, Alma seems to take his time before preaching again. He deliberately spends many days with Amulek. This wasn't because Alma was lazy or afraid of the people. It was important for him to teach Amulek and his family so that Amulek could accompany him on his mission. Again, Alma shows a great understanding of the things of the Spirit. Once he arrives in Ammonihah, he does not make the mistake of rushing out to preach without first spending an adequate amount of time with his first convert and next missionary companion.
Henry B. Eyring
"...by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, Amulek was transformed from someone who resisted the word of God into a powerful preacher of righteousness. And it took only days, not months or years. The record says that Alma stayed in Amulek's home for 'many days' (Alma 8:27). During that time Alma taught Amulek. And an angel, perhaps the one who first commanded Amulek to receive Alma into his home, came to him to confirm what Alma taught. Amulek stated, 'And again, I know that the things whereof he hath testified are true; for behold I say unto you, that as the Lord liveth, even so has he sent his angel to make these things manifest unto me; and this he has done while this Alma hath dwelt at my house' (Alma 10:10).
"By obeying Christ's authority through His servants, Amulek was blessed with the power to lead others to eternal life in ways he could not have seen in advance. He was given immediately the gift to teach people to feel a compelling need to have all their sins washed away. As you listen to his voice in his first sermon, take hope that God could bless you and me with such a mighty change." (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, p. 107-8)
Alma 8:31 they did not exercise their power until they were bound in bands and cast into prison
Mormon makes reference to the power of God which would rest upon Alma and Amulek (Alma 14:25-27). In spite of this great power, they would only use it when their persecutors' cup of iniquity was full. They would witness the atrocious murder of women and children because of their belief in God (Alma 14:8). Amulek wanted to call on the powers of heaven to stop the great tragedy but Alma restrained him. Next, they suffered ridicule, hunger, imprisonment, humiliation and five separate physical assaults (Alma 14:14-25).
Their incredible restraint is only superceded by the restraint of the Son of God, who had legions of angels at his beck and call, yet allowed wicked mortals to scourge and crucify Him.
Alma 8:32 they went forth and began to preach
The meeting of Alma and Amulek hardly came by chance. It was the will of the Lord that these two would become the greatest of missionary companions. It is hard to search the annals of scripture and find a more powerful, complementary companionship. They preached together, suffered hardship together, and they complemented each other so well. Amulek was able to supply Alma's physical needs; Alma was able to supply Amulek's spiritual needs until Amulek became a spiritual giant in his own right. The ensuing chapters will show that their doctrines likewise complemented each other. Their companionship shows the wisdom of the Lord in establishing his pattern for sending out missionaries, two by two.
Elder Alma Sonne
"The missionary method of the Church today is almost identical with that carried on by Jesus Christ and his apostles...these humble emissaries of the Lord were to go forth two by two. One was to be the support of the other. They were to be witnesses before God of their respective testimonies. Together they could better face hostile receptions and bitter opposition. Together they could preserve their faith and their enthusiasm and withstand temptation and wrongdoing. It was God's plan of proselyting, and it was very effective." (Conference Report, Apr. 1962, p. 35)