Mosiah 24

Mosiah 24:6-7 they taught them that...they might write one to another

This verse implies that the Lamanites had become illiterate by this time. Certainly, this was not the case with their forefathers, Laman and Lemuel, who would have been able to read and write in Hebrew and probably reformed Egyptian. Over the course of many generations, this most fundamental skill appears to have been lost until Amulon and the other priests teach them how to keep records and to write.

A remarkable thing happens to the Lamanites, apparently right after they become literate. They began to increase in riches, and began to trade one with another and wax great. Sophisticated trade relationships and powerful societies are possible only when the people, or at least the rulers, know how to read and write. The subsequent organization of Lamanite society suggests that this skill was not lost again for many years. Today the plague of illiteracy still affects many people, including descendants of the Lamanites. To these people, Spencer W. Kimball declared:

"Yesterday you roamed the wilderness in feast or famine; today you are finding security in education and industry; and tomorrow your destiny will be brilliant in self-sufficiency, faith, fearlessness, and power. Like the Israelites released from Egyptian bondage, you have been promised deliverance from your foes of superstition, fear, illiteracy, and from the curses of want and disease and suffering.

"Yesterday you traveled uncharted oceans, wandered over trackless deserts, lost your high culture, your written tongue, and your knowledge of the true and Living God. Today you are arising from your long sleep and are stretching, yawning, and reaching. Tomorrow you will be highly trained, laying out highways, constructing bridges, developing cities, building temples, and joining in inspired leadership of the Church of your Redeemer...You will arise from your bed of affliction and from your condition of deprivation if you will accept fully the Lord, Jesus Christ, and his total program. You will rise to former heights in culture and education, influence and power. You will blossom as the rose upon the mountains. Your daughters will be nurses, teachers, and social workers, and, above all, beloved wives and full-of-faith mothers of a righteous posterity. Your sons will compete in art, literature, and medicine, in law, architecture, etc. They will become professional, industrial, and business leaders, and statesmen of the first order." (Conference Reports, Oct. 1959, p. 59)

Mosiah 24:8-9 Amulon began to exercise authority over Alma and his brethren

Of all the Lamanite rulers to be placed over Alma and his people, Amulon had to be the worst possible choice. A fellow priest in the court of Noah, he knew Alma and was still angry with him for his defense of Abinadi. Amulon sought for revenge by making life miserable for Alma and his people; he put tasks upon them, and put task-masters over them.

Mosiah 24:11-12 whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death

Amulon must have been the servant of Satan, for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray (2 Ne 32:8). Amulon is going one step further than teaching men not to pray. He is forbidding it by commandment. This is designed as a punishment but it doesn't work, for the Lord knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart (Alma 18:32), and the people did pour out their hearts to him.

Daniel of old was placed in a similar position as the princes of Babylon plotted his death. They convinced king Darius to make a decree that anyone found calling upon God should be cast into the lion's den. Daniel, of course, was caught red handed in the dreadful act of prayer, and the princes demanded his death. This plan, like Amulon's, didn't work. Daniel was preserved, but the princes of Babylon were cast into the den of lions...and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces (Dan 6:4-24).

Mosiah 24:14-15 I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders

A remarkable lesson is taught in this story. The people were faithful yet taken into bondage. Were they then to conclude that God didn't love them, that he was not capable of protecting them, or that he didn't care? Many have been faced with unexpected trials and asked just those questions. Yet, the people of Alma were faithful and the Lord performs a mighty miracle. He doesn't immediately remove their burden, but He does lighten their load. He strengthens them, supports them, and eventually delivers them. We learn from this episode what the Lord means when He said, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest...For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt 11:28-30). Such is the message of the oft quoted poem, "Footprints":

"One night a man had a dream.

     He was walking along the beach with the Lord

     and across the sky flashed scenes from his life.

     In each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand;

     one made by him, and the other by the Lord.

"When the last scene of his life flashed before him,

     he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

     He noticed that many times along the path of his life

     there was only one set of footprints.

     He also noticed that it happened at the worst times in his life.

"This bothered him very much,

     so he asked the Lord about it.

     'Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,

     you'd walk with me all the way.

     But I've noticed that during times of trouble,

     there is only one set of footprints.

     I don't understand why you left me when I needed you the most.'

"The Lord answered, 'My precious child, I love you,

     and I would never leave you.

     During your times of trial, when you see only one set of footprints

     that's when I was carrying you.'" --M.R. Powers.

Elaine Cannon

"Over the years I repeatedly have been comforted and directed by such scriptures as the above (Rom 5:3-5). But there is one section of the Book of Mormon that absolutely has been my joy to refer to in time of need and to share with others who are hurting, weeping, distraught, bewildered, and weary of the battle. It is found in Mosiah 24 when the children of God cried out because their afflictions were great and Amulon put guards over the people to watch them so that anyone found calling upon God to help them would be put to death. The account tells us that the people didn't raise their voices to the Lord their God. Instead they poured out their hearts to God, and he knew the thoughts of their hearts.

"And the voice of the Lord came to them in their terrible times, and they heard his voice, telling them to be of good comfort and to lift up their heads for he was mindful of them.

"Then these following words from God are those particularly precious to anyone who feels forgotten in affliction or bereft of ever overcoming such burdens. I strongly suggest that you read these lines carefully for your own benefit, for I am certain that such a promise applies to us as much in our day, in our adversity, as to those of another generation.

'And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. And...the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.' (Mosiah 24:14-15.)

"...Adversity? Who needs it? Everyone, because adversity well handled is really blessings in disguise." (Adversity, p. 139)

John Taylor

"I do not desire trials. I do not desire affliction....I used to think, if I were the Lord, I would not suffer people to be tried as they are. But I have changed my mind on that subject. Now I think I would, if I were the Lord, because it purges out the meanness and corruption that stick around the Saints, like flies around molasses....I have seen men tempted so sorely that finally they would say, 'I'll be damned if I'll stand it any longer.' Well, you will be damned if you do not...We have learned many things through suffering. We call it suffering. I call it a school of experience." (The Gospel Kingdom, pp. 332-4 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 228)

Joseph Smith

"[From Libery Jail, in a time of anguish and deep suffering for the gospel's sake, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote the following message to the Saints] Dear brethren, do not think that our hearts faint, as though some strange thing had happened unto us, for we have seen and been assured of all these things beforehand, and have an assurance of a better hope than that of our persecutors. Therefore God hath made broad our shoulders for the burden. We glory in our tribulation, because we know that God is with us, that He is our friend, and that he will save our souls." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 123 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 229)

Thomas S. Monson

"Remember that this work is not yours and mine alone. It is the Lord's work, and when we are on the Lord's errand, we are entitled to the Lord's help. Remember that the Lord will shape the back to bear the burden placed upon it." (Ensign, May 1992, p. 48 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 229)

George Q. Cannon

"My theory is that when a man is conscious or a people are conscious that he or they are in the path of duty, doing that which is right in the sight of God, they should always be happy, no matter what the circumstances may be which surround them. I think that God has created us to be happy, and my belief is that he placed happiness within the reach of all, and it is man's own fault if he is not happy and does not enjoy himself every day of his life. This is one of my reasons for liking my religion...because it bestows full happiness and joy upon its believers. They can be happy in the midst of the most adverse circumstances; they can rejoice when their lives are imperiled." (Gospel Truths, p. 125 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 228)

Mosiah 24:15 they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord

Joseph B. Wirthlin

"Despite life-threatening persecutions, Alma's people were faithful. They listened to his exhortations and remained steadfast even in the face of heavy oppression. How often do we waver in our faith when faced with difficulty or opposition? We would do well to remember the example of Alma and his people, who stand as witnesses that the Lord will always 'visit [his] people in their afflictions.' The Lord will ease our burdens if we will 'submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.' And when we are blessed, let us not forget to humbly and joyfully acknowledge our thanks for God's blessings." (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, pp. 91-2)

Elaine Cannon

"Life is like that. When we can't change a circumstance, we can either grit our teeth and hang on with clenched jaws, or we can submit cheerfully until change occurs. And with God's help we can learn some important lessons. We can feel peace." (Adversity, p. 61)

Mosiah 24:16 so great was their faith and their patience

"A subtle yet important lesson to be learned from Mosiah 21-24 pertains to the differing degrees of bondage which Limhi's and Alma's people experienced and the reasons for those differences.  The following chart contrasts the bondage of Limhi's and Alma's people."

Table 1 Degrees of Bondage
Limhi's Group Alma's Group

Limhi's group was placed in bondage with much bloodshed (21:5-12).

Alma's group was placed in bondage with no bloodshed (23:35-38; 24:9).

Thee Lord was slow to hear their cries because they had been slow to hear Him (21:15).

The Lord was not slow to hear their cries (24:10-13).

The Lord softened the Lamanites' hearts so they eased the burdens   of Limhi's group (21:15).           

The Lord physically eased the burdens of Alma's group (24:14-15).

They prospered by degrees as      

their faith increased (21:16).

The Lord visited them in their afflictions (24:14).

Gideon devised a plan of escape (22:9).

The Lord said, 'I will deliver you' (24:16).

They got the guards drunk (22:7,10).

The Lord put the guards to sleep (24:19).

They needed to have Ammon lead them to Zarahemla (22:11).          

The Lord led them to Zarahemla (24:23-25).

"As this chart shows, because Alma and his people had been humbled by the word of God rather than being compelled to be humble by their bondage as Limhi's group had been, the Lord made the bondage of Alma and his people much easier to endure.  The message for us is that it is better to repent sooner than later.  The slower we are to hearken to the Lord, the slower he must be in responding to our needs.  How reassuring it must have been to Alma's people to experience the miracle of not feeling the burdens which were placed upon their backs.  They could have no question in their minds about whose power it was that delivered them and led them back to the land of Zarahemla.

"The question may be asked why Alma's group was put into bondage since they had repented, had made covenants, and had served the Lord for some time.  The answer seems to go back to Abinadi's prophecy.  When he first came to the Nephites in the land of Nephi, he warned that they would be brought into bondage, and if they did not repent (see Mosiah 11:21).  This warning went unheeded until Abinadi returned two years later.  His warning then proclaimed that they would be brought into bondage, and if they still refused to repent they would be destroyed (see Mosiah 12:2, 8).  It was at this time that Alma was converted and began to teach the words of Abinadi secretly to those Nephites who would listen.  Thus, even though Alma and his people had repented, it was still necessary that Abinadi's first prophecy be fulfilled." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 271)

Mosiah 24:22 they gave thanks to God

The Lord has made it perfectly clear that in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things (DC 62:14). Accordingly Brigham Young said, "I do not know of any, excepting the unpardonable sin, that is greater than the sin of ingratitude." (Pr/RS Manual, p. 177) President Thomas S. Monson has said, "If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues." (Church News, Apr. 11, 1992) So the people of Alma demonstrated their nobility by remembering who had eased their burdens. This was the first step-to follow the charge of the Lord-to stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions (v. 14).