Alma 20

Alma 20:2 Muloki and Ammah

The four sons of Mosiah were not the only members of this noble missionary band. Earlier, we learned that these four men took some trusted friends along with them (Mosiah 28:1). The total number is undisclosed but Muloki and Ammah are some of the friends of the sons of Mosiah. Again, the names of the sons of Mosiah are Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni.

One might find it odd, that these three are found in prison together when they all separated at the beginning of their missions (Alma 17:17). However, the next chapter explains that Aaron started out alone and met up with Muloki, Ammah, and others during his travels. Just as they were beginning to have some success in the land of Middoni, the three mentioned (Aaron, Muloki, and Ammah) were cast into prison.

Alma 20:9 Why did ye not come to the feast?

Family dynamics have not changed in 2100 years. Lamoni gets in trouble for missing the big family party. He is careful to patch things up the best that he can but his father does not accept his honest answers. In some families, nothing is more important than the family reunion, not even one's eternal salvation. What was Lamoni doing that he could not come to this feast? He was preparing to go when he had his second interview with Ammon, fell into a trance, and had his great spiritual epiphany (Alma 18:9).

Alma 20:15 Lamoni said unto him: I will not slay Ammon

One might appropriately ask the question, "when is it acceptable to disobey your father?" Or, "when is it acceptable for a soldier to disobey a direct order from his superior officer?" Lamoni would answer, "when the command is to commit cold-blooded murder."

The trials of Nuremburg (following WW II) and subsequent wars have demonstrated that military officers are not exonerated from war crimes just because they were "following orders." According to the Nuremburg rules an individual officer or soldier is held responsible for the following violations, irrespective of orders: "murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor...murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity." ("Charter of the International Military Tribunal" in Agreement for the Prosecution and Punishment of the Major War Criminals of the European Axis [London Agreement], August 8, 1945, 58 Stat. 1544, E.A.S. No. 472, 82 U.N.T.S. 280)

Alma 20:20 Ammon withstood his blows, and also smote his arm

Should we be surprised that Ammon wounds the king in the arm? The only thing we should be surprised about is that Ammon didn't cut the whole thing off! However, Ammon is always thinking like a missionary. How would it look if he was forever held responsible for amputating the arm of the highest of the Lamanite kings? He can't permanently disfigure him, especially because Lamoni's father is going to be a key future investigator. One of the first rules of missionary work is not to cut off the arms of your investigators.

Alma 20:24 Ammon saw that he had wrought upon the old king according to his desire

Ammon has a remarkable way of getting his investigators into just the position he wants them. With Lamoni, he had committed him to believe his words before he had taught him even one principle (Alma 18:22-23). With Lamoni's father, he threatens his life so he can release his fellow missionaries and preserve the kingdom of Lamoni. Even with a drawn sword and threats of violence, Ammon is able to develop a relationship of trust with the old king. He demonstrated that his motives were pure, that he was a man of integrity, and that he had a great love for Lamoni. The result was that the king was greatly astonished and wanted to learn the gospel (v. 27).

Alma 20:29 nevertheless they were patient in all their sufferings

The word of the Lord came to this band of missionaries before they started and told them that they would suffer many hardships. Their instructions were to be patient in their afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me (Alma 17:11). Aaron, Muloki, and Ammah are following that counsel to the very letter.

The main reason patience is such a virtue is that so few people have it. Few of us look forward to the opportunity to develop this painfully obtained quality. The principle being taught is that trials are an opportunity to be a good example, to demonstrate inner strength, and to learn how to endure to the end. Paul said, we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Rom 5:3-5). Paul could authoritatively speak on tribulations and suffering. He had been treated just as harshly as had Aaron, Muloki, and Ammah (see 2 Cor 11:23-27). He stressed how important it was that the ministers of the gospel should be a good example in their afflictions, Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses (2 Cor 5:3-4).