Alma 24:3 the king conferred the kingdom upon his son...Anti-Nephi-Lehi
The king, Anti-Nephi-Lehi, is seldom talked about or discussed. We see in this chapter that he is the moral and spiritual leader of his people, as well as the king. Apparently, he is respected enough that the people are willing to be called by his name. He articulates the argument for laying down their swords with the covenant to shed innocent blood no more. Remarkably, the people seem to agree with his argument wholeheartedly. All we know of him can be found in this chapter, but his speech to his people (verses 7-16) demonstrates a spirit of gratitude, repentance and revelation.
Alma 24:5 that they might hold a council...what they should do to defend themselves
In the tradition of Limhi, Ammon and his brethren gather with their converts to find a way out of their predicament. The usual options in such a situation are to fight or run. Ammon, Aaron, and their companions must have been completely taken by surprise by the unorthodox approach of passive resistance.
Alma 24:6 there was not one soul...that would take up arms against their brethren
When a huge Lamanite army is making preparations of war, planning to attack you and your families, it would take an incredible amount of courage to do nothing. If they don't fight, they have nothing to look forward to except a wholesale slaughter. Yet, perfect love casteth out all fear (Moroni 8:16), and they were apparently ready to meet their Maker if it came to that.
Alma 24:7 I thank my God...that [he]...has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us
First of all, it is important to point out that these are not the words of Ammon or Lamoni. Rather, they are the words of the new king, Anti-Nephi-Lehi, as he expresses his gratitude to the Nephite missionaries.
Only the converts to the gospel can fully appreciate the love they have for the missionaries that brought them the message of salvation. Often, they are loved like members of the family. The Lord teaches us that the love between missionary and convert is eternal, And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! (DC 18:15). The following story is illustrative of this great love.
"I used to enjoy very much hearing President Grant tell of the Scandinavian Brother who came over to Utah. He had not been taught much about the gospel; all he knew was that it was true. The bishop went to him and taught him the law of tithing. He paid his tithing. He taught him about fast offering. He paid his fast offering. He taught him about ward maintenance (budget) and he paid that. Then the bishop went to him to get a donation to help build the meeting house. The man felt that ought to come out of the tithing, but before the bishop was through with him, he paid his contribution toward the meeting house. Then the bishop went to him to get his son to go on a mission. The good brother said, 'That is the straw that breaks the camel's back. He is the only child we have, and his mother can't miss him.' Then the bishop countered, 'Brother so and so, who do you love in this world more than anyone outside of your immediate family?' He thought a few minutes and said he guessed he loved that Mormon Elder who came up to the land of the midnight sun and taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then the Bishop countered, 'Brother so and so, how would you like someone to love your boy just like you love that young Mormon Elder' The brother said, 'Bishop, you win again. Take him. I will be glad to support him in the mission field.'" (Just To Illustrate, p. 52)
Alma 24:10 he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders
The Lord has said, Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come (DC 42:18). Obviously, this means that an individual who commits murder can never receive forgiveness for that sin. Yet, Anti-Nephi-Lehi explains that he and his people had received remission of sins-even of the murders which we have committed. But how could they receive remission of sins for murder? Well it is helpful to understand what Anti-Nephi-Lehi is calling murder. He is referring to the warlike nature of his people, that as soldiers in the Lamanite armies, they had killed many Nephites. With the understanding that the Nephites were innocent, he is likening this military act to the crime of murder-although it is not exactly the same thing. It is much different to kill someone as a member of an army than it is to kill someone in cold blood, with premeditation. Thus we see that the king is using the word "murder" as a hyperbole. Had the people been guilty of murder as we understand the term, they could not have been forgiven.
Alma 24:11-14 it has been all that we could do...to repent of all our sins
One of the most difficult steps of repentance is feel that the Lord has forgiven you. Here we see the spirit of revelation in the words of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. After quite a struggle, they had received confirmation by the Spirit that God had taken away their sins. Apparently, it did not come easily, as they were the most lost of all mankind.
Having struggled so hard to obtain forgiveness from the Lord, they did not want to jeopardize their hard-fought innocence. The king says, the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls. The content of verse 13 implies that if they had again turn to a violent lifestyle, that the Lord might not forgive them for their previous actions. This is according to the following principle, And now, verily I say unto you...unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return (DC 82:7). Hence the words of the king, perhaps, if we should stain our swords again they can no more be washed bright through the blood of the Son of our Great God.
Alma 24:17 they took their swords...and they did bury them up deep in the earth
"It is entirely possible that this interesting incident could have served as the source of the 'bury-the-hatchet' tradition of showing peace, which was a common practice among some of the tribes of American Indians when Columbus and other white men came to their lands." (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 210)
Spencer J. Condie
"Following Nephi's counsel to 'liken all scriptures unto us,' we can use the conversion of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies as a metaphor for our own lives. When we become truly converted, the testimony of our conversion may well be borne in our burying deep in the earth our sharp tongues in lieu of sharp swords. Our post-conversion sanitary landfill might also be used to discard our hot tempers, our evil speech patterns, our penchant for off-color jokes, our ethnic epithets, our greediness, unkindness, and lack of compassion." (Your Agency: Handle With Care, p. 140)
Alma 24:18 they would labor abundantly with their hands
Spencer W. Kimball
"If you would look for valor, stamina, and steadfastness, recall the experiences of the converts of Ammon and his brethren. Here were red men degenerated, untrained, and primitive who accepted the gospel and quickly changed to sober, industrious, God-fearing people. The transition was soon made from skins and loin cloths to clothes of linen; from hunting and fishing, to agricultural work; from war and bloodshed, to peaceful pursuits; from paganism and idolatry to the worship of the Living God. They were called the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, and were so devout and sincere in their professions that they buried their weapons and declared unalterably against war." (Conference Reports, Apr. 1949, p. 109)
Alma 24:19 they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace
This short phrase is one of the tiny testimonies to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Imagine Mormon abridging the record of Alma. He is engraving on plates, without an eraser. He accidentally writes, they buried their weapons of peace. Rather than pound the inscription out of the golden plate, he modifies the phrase-as if to say, "this is what I meant to say"-and writes, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace. Such is the difficulty of engraving a record on metal plates.
Alma 24:21 they...prostrated themselves before them to the earth
The question is worth asking, "could I be as strong as these new converts?" "Could I lay down, peacefully praying to God while an enraged army attacked and commenced slaughtering my friends and family?" "Am I ready to die for the cause of truth?" These are the questions which we must ask ourselves. If we expect the Lord to bless us with the ultimate blessing, all that the Father has (DC 84:38), we have to being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice-all that we have, even if it means laying our own lives on the altar of sacrifice.
"In 1979...I was serving as president in the Mexico City North Mission...A (community) meeting was called...at which Church members were given the following options: denounce the Church, leave the village, or be killed (not an idle threat). The members, particularly the women, said they knew the Church to be true and would not denounce it. They also indicated they had worked just as hard as the rest of the community to secure their homesteads, and they would not leave. Boldly stepping forward, they told their taunters if they were going to kill them to get on with it. The moment grew tense as machetes were raised, then finally lowered while the Latter-day Saints stood up for that which the Spirit had testified to them to be true. These Saints eventually learned, as most of us do, that it is harder to live the gospel day by day than to die for it in an instant, but their early commitment came because the Spirit had touched their hearts and changed their lives." (John B. Dickson, Ensign, Feb. 1995, p. 7 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 289)
Spencer W. Kimball
"What a monster is prejudice! It means pre-judging. How many of us are guilty of it? Often we think ourselves free of its destructive force, but we need only to test ourselves. Our expressions, our voice tones, our movements, our thoughts betray us...
"(Speaking of prejudice against the American Indian) I ask you: Do not scoff and ignore these Nephite-Lamanites unless you can equal their forebears in greatness and until you can kneel with those thousands of Ammonite Saints in the sand on the field of battle while they sang songs of praise as their very lives were being snuffed out by their enemies. Could you look heavenward, smiling and singing, while the bloodthirsty demons slashed your body with sword and scimitar? Perhaps the children of the Ammonites are with us." (Conference Report, Apr. 1954, pp. 106-7)
Alma 24:25 they threw down their weapons of war...for they were stung for the murders which they had committed
L. Tom Perry
"The message of this story is not that all members of the Church should conscientiously object to war. There is also a Book of Mormon story about Captain Moroni raising the 'title of liberty' as the leader of the true believers in Christ (see Alma 46:11-14). Moroni made impassioned speeches and wrote spirited letters to his Nephite brethren about protecting their liberty, lands, wives, children, and peace (see Alma 48:10). It was the Anti-Nephi-Lehies' unique history that caused them to make a unique covenant with the Lord that they felt an obligation to honor. When they honored their covenant they were blessed, and their brethren, the Lamanites, were also blessed.
"While the message of the story is not to insist on universal pacifism, we do learn that by not returning aggressions from others we can have a profound effect on them. Literally, we can change their hearts when we follow Christ's example and turn the other cheek. Our examples as peaceable followers of Christ inspire others to follow him." (Living With Enthusiasm, p. 128)
Alma 24:26-27 the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain
We should still remember the righteous in Ammonihah who were similarly killed. Alma's comment at the time was, behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory (Alma 14:11). And so it was with the martyrs of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, we have no reason to doubt but what they were saved.
Through mortal eyes, the death of 1005 innocent, helpless, righteous souls is a tragedy and a travesty. To the Lord God, it is according to his work and his glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39), For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isa 55:9). This is a great example of how the Lord uses a tragedy to save souls. Often, the spiritual benefits of tragedy and trials are not as immediately evident as they are in this remarkable story.
Thus we see that death is a tragedy to the mortal man but not to the Lord. The spiritually minded understand the word of the Lord when he said, fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the souls: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28).
Gordon B. Hinckley
"Notwithstanding the evil and the tragedy, I see a silver thread shining through the dark and bloody tapestry of conflict. I see the finger of the Lord plucking some good from the evil designs of the adversary." (Conference Report, Apr. 1968, p. 21 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 289)
Alma 24:30 after a people have been once enlightened...and then have fallen away
As the saying goes, "you can leave the Church, but you can never leave it alone." So it is with an apostate, they can try all they want to ignore the kingdom of God but they will inevitably find themselves fighting against the Church and kicking against the pricks. Peter explained is as follows:
'For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.' (2 Pet 2:20-22)
The words of Paul are also instructive:
'For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.' (Heb 6:4-6)
"Strange as it may appear at first thought, yet it is no less strange than true, that notwithstanding all the professed determination to live godly, apostates after turning from the faith of Christ, unless they have speedily repented, have sooner or later fallen into the snares of the wicked one, and have been left destitute of the Spirit of God, to manifest their wickedness in the eyes of multitudes. From apostates the faithful have received the severest persecutions. Judas was rebuked and immediately betrayed his Lord into the hands of his enemies, because Satan entered into him. There is a superior intelligence bestowed upon such as obey the Gospel with full purpose of heart, which, if sinned against, the apostate is left naked and destitute of the Spirit of God, and he is, in truth, nigh unto cursing, and his end is to be burned. When once that light which was in them is taken from them, they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened, and then, no marvel, if all their power should be enlisted against the truth, and they, Judas like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 67.)
"After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy. This is the case with many apostates of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"When a man begins to be an enemy to this work, he hunts me, he seeks to kill me, and never ceases to thirst for my blood. He gets the spirit of the devil-the same spirit that they had who crucified the Lord of Life-the same spirit that sins against the Holy Ghost. You cannot save such persons; you cannot bring them to repentance; they make open war, like the devil, and awful is the consequence." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 358)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"The testimony of the Spirit is so great, and the impressions and revelations of divine truth so forcefully revealed that there comes to the recipient a conviction of the truth that he cannot forget. Therefore, when a person once enlightened by the Spirit so that he receives knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh, then turns away and fights the Lord and his work, he does so against the light and testimony he has received by the power of God. Therefore, he has resigned himself to evil knowingly. Therefore Jesus said there is no forgiveness for such a person." (Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 4, p. 92)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Then there are the dissenters who leave the Church, either formally or informally, but who cannot leave it alone. Usually anxious to please worldly galleries, they are critical or at least condescending towards the Brethren. They not only seek to steady the ark but also on occasion give it a hard shove! Often having been taught the same true doctrines as the faithful, they have nevertheless moved in the direction of dissent (see Alma 47:36). They have minds hardened by pride (see Daniel 5:20)." (Men and Women of Christ, p. 4)