Alma 45

Alma 45:1 because the Lord had again delivered them out of the hands of their enemies...they gave thanks

Hugh Nibley

"The Nephites fittingly celebrated their victory, not with getting drunk, but with fasting and prayer (Alma 45:1). And yet it was at this happy time of deliverance that Alma warned the people, to whom he had been zealously preaching all this time, that in the end it would be the Nephites and not the Lamanites who would 'become extinct' (Alma 45:10-14)." (Since Cumorah, p. 301)

Alma 45:2-8 Alma came unto his son Helaman and said...

Carlos E. Asay

"Several years ago, I approached one of my daughters and said, 'My dear, it's time for an interview.' Her response was less than enthusiastic, and I determined within my own mind that I was boring her terribly. So instead of subjecting her to a formal conversation, I invited her into the car and drove to the Dairy Queen where we both enjoyed a root beer float. All the way to and from the store, I asked questions, and she freely responded. She didn't even realize that she was being interviewed-or at least that is what I thought. A few weeks later, I announced once again that I wanted to interview her. This time she promptly asked, 'Wet or dry?'

"I wonder if our conduct of good practices-even the conducting of interviews with our children-is sometimes done in a dry and deadening manner...Alma's interview with Helaman is a classic 'wet' and refreshing performance. It is a short, three-question, forty-five-second exchange between father and son. According to the record, Alma was approaching the end of his ministry. He knew that he must select someone to assume prophetic and record-keeping responsibilities. Helaman was his choice.

"Therefore, Alma came to his son and asked: 'Believest thou the words which I spake unto thee concerning those records which have been kept?' Without hesitation, Helaman answered: 'Yea, I believe.' He might have said, 'Yes, I believe in the scriptures; and yes, I believe all that you have taught me.'

"Alma's second question was simply: 'Believest thou in Jesus Christ, who shall come?' Again, without delay, Helaman stated: 'Yea, I believe all the words which thou hast spoken.' (See Alma 45:2-5.) What a tribute to the father! He had talked of Christ, rejoiced in Christ, preached of Christ, and taught his son to know the source to which he might look for a remission of his sins. (See 2 Ne. 25:26.)

"Up to this point in the interview, the father's questions were sampling the son's basic beliefs. Now it was essential that those beliefs be tested and determined as being more than idle lip service. Alma's capstone inquiry was, 'Will ye keep my commandments?'

"I am not certain what went through Helaman's mind as he prepared to give his final response. He knew the necessity of honoring his parents and respecting priesthood authority. His previous actions had verified this fact. I like to think that Helaman's reply was promoted by a heartfelt desire to be obedient rather than by a fear of authority. Deep love of God and father were reflected in his words: 'Yea, I will keep thy commandments with all my heart.'

"It is a marvelous thing when a father is able to make his commandments square perfectly with God's expectations. Apparently, this condition was achieved by Alma, for Helaman was ready and willing to obey with all his heart.

"This short, informative, and inspiring interview must have pleased Alma greatly. Not only had he communicated heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul with his son, but the son had openly declared his faith and pledged his devotion. To culminate the exchange, Alma, under the inspiration of the Spirit, prophesied and extended this blessing: 'Blessed art thou; and the Lord shall prosper thee in this land.' (See Alma 45:6-8.)

"I wonder if our interviews with our children are as inspirational and building as the one between Alma and Helaman. I find it significant that the father came to the son; the son was not summoned to stand inspection or to give a report. I find it refreshing that the conversation was direct and without any verbal sparring; it was not labored or rehearsed. I find it exemplary that commitment was drawn without prying, wringing, or pressuring. And I find it most beautiful that the father concluded with a tender blessing.

"Is this not a performance, or a pattern of communicating, that we should follow? And I refer to the principles involved, not necessarily to the form." (Conference Report, Nov. 1983 Ensign, "Parent-Child Interviews," p. 14)

Alma 45:9 what I prophesy unto thee shall not be made known

There are times when the mysteries of godliness are reserved only for the faithful. Prophesies of future events are rarely given in the simplest possible language. Figurative language and general warnings are for the general public, but when the Lord reveals the most sacred of things in the plainest of language, the truth is often withheld from all but the prophets. Accordingly, the brother of Jared saw things which 'were forbidden to come unto the children of men until after that he should be lifted up upon the cross' (Ether 4:1). Similarly, Moses' interview with the Lord and with Satan was not recorded in Exodus, and even its latter-day revelation is followed by the caution, 'Show them not unto any except them that believe' (Moses 1:42).

Alma 45:10 the Nephites...in four hundred years...shall dwindle in unbelief

Since we know the history of Nephite demise, we are not surprised at Alma's last known prophecy. But we can only imagine the impact this message had upon Helaman who had struggled with his father to preserve the Nephites both spiritually and temporally.  However, this prophecy is the second great prophecy of the destruction of the Nephite nation. The first came from Nephi, I beheld and saw that the seed of my brethren did contend against my seed...and...I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people of my seed (1 Ne 12:19). The third came from Samuel the Lamanite (see Hel 13:5-10).

Alma 45:14 whosoever remaineth...shall be numbered among the Lamanites, and shall become like unto them

Not all the Nephites were killed at Cumorah. There were four groups which survived, at least temporarily: 1) the twenty-four survivors of the final battle, 2) the group who had tried a southward escape (Mormon 6:15), 3) those who had deserted to the Lamanites (Mormon 6:15), and 4) the robbers which may have been of mixed Nephite, Lamanite lineage (Mormon 8:9). Except Moroni, the members of the first and second groups were eventually hunted until they were killed. But the third and fourth groups were never completely exterminated. The Nephite deserters and Gadianton members survived. However, they did not retain their identity but became Lamanites, as Alma prophesied. Hence, the Nephites, as a nation and as a people, had been destroyed.

The fact that there was considerable mixing of Nephite blood and Lamanite blood is significant because of prophecies which describe the descendants of Nephi in the latter-days. Nephi was told, God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren (1 Ne 13:30, italics added). Through modern revelation, we know that some of the blood of Nephi, Joseph, Jacob, and Zoram was preserved among the Lamanites. Nevertheless, my work shall go forth...even so shall the knowledge of a Savior come unto my people-And to the Nephites, and the Jacobites, and the Josephites, and the Zoramites, through the testimony of their fathers (DC 3:16-17).

Alma 45:16 the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance

Delbert L. Stapley

"To receive exaltation in the kingdom of God, a person must abide the fulness of celestial law. (See D&C 76:50-70.) Some people erroneously think if they receive all the ordinances of the gospel, regardless of their transgressions, they will inherit the celestial mansions of our God. What a rude awakening awaits such false-thinking individuals, '... for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.' (Alma 45:16.)"  (Ensign, Jan. 1974, "The Path to Eternal Life," p. 42)

Dallin H. Oaks

"As Nephi foresaw, in the last days 'there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God he will justify in committing a little sin;...there is no harm in this' (2 Nephi 28:8). But according to the prophets of ancient and modern times, 'the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance' (D&C 1:31; see also Leviticus 5:17; Alma 45:16)." (Morality, p. 50)

Alma 45:19 buried by the hand of the Lord, even as Moses

The Genesis version of the death of Moses is confusing. It states that the Lord 'buried him in a valley in the land of Moab' (Deut 34:6). Well what does it mean to be buried by the Lord? It means he was translated, the Nephite scriptures explained what it meant. The same truth was available to the Jewish Historian, Josephus, who wrote:

"As [Moses] was going to embrace Eleazar and Joshua, and was still discoursing with them, a cloud stood over him on the sudden, and he disappeared in a certain valley, although he wrote in the holy books that he died, which was done out of fear, lest they should venture to say that, because of his extraordinary virtue, he went to God." (Josephus. Complete Works. William Whiston, trans. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Publications, 1960., p. 103).

Bruce R. McConkie

"Moses, Elijah, and Alma the younger, were translated. The OldTestament account that Moses died and was buried by the hand of the Lord in an unknown grave is an error. (Deut. 34:5-7.) It is true that he may have been 'buried by the hand of the Lord,' if that expression is a figure of speech which means that he was translated. But the Book of Mormon account, in recording that Alma 'was taken up by the Spirit,' says, 'the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself.' (Alma 45:18-19.) It should be remembered that the Nephites had the Brass Plates, and that they were the 'scriptures' which gave the account of Moses being taken by way of translation. As to Elijah, the account of his being taken in 'a chariot of fire . . . by a whirlwind into heaven,' is majestically set out in the Old Testament. (2 Kings 2.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:423-4)

Alma 45:19 the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself

Joseph Smith taught that, "the doctrine of translation is a power which belongs to [the] Priesthood." (The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 170)  Others known to have been translated include Moses, Elijah, John the Beloved, the three Nephites, the entire city of Enoch, and presumably Nephi (3 Ne 1:3). "Their place of habitation is that of a terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fullness as those who are resurrected from the dead." (Teachings, p. 170)

We know of something of the ministry of all of the above individuals except Alma and Nephi. Moses and Elijah revealed the sealing power to Peter, James, and John. John the Revelator and the three Nephites were preserved to bring souls unto Christ (3 Ne 28:6,9). Enoch was to minister, "unto terrestrial bodies, of whom there has been but little revealed." (Teachings, p. 170)

But we know nothing of the terrestrial ministry of Alma. Truly, 'he was never heard of more' (v. 18), and we are left to wonder about a 2000-year-old rumor which Mormon neither discounts nor verifies. Of the nature of his continuing ministry we can only speculate.

Joseph Fielding Smith

"...we understand why Elijah and Moses were preserved from death: because they had a mission to perform, and it had to be performed before the crucifixion of the Son of God, and it could not be done in the spirit. They had to have tangible bodies. Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection; therefore if any former prophets had a work to perform preparatory to the mission of the Son of God, or to the dispensation of the meridian of times, it was essential that they be preserved to fulfill that mission in the flesh. For that reason Moses disappeared from among the people and was taken up into the mountain, and the people thought he was buried by the Lord. The Lord preserved him, so that he could come at the proper time and restore his keys, on the heads of Peter, James, and John, who stood at the head of the dispensation of the meridian of time. He reserved Elijah from death that he might also come and bestow his keys upon the heads of Peter, James, and John and prepare them for their ministry.

"But, one says, the Lord could have waited until after his resurrection, and then they could have done it. It is quite evident, due to the fact that it did so occur, that it had to be done before; and there was a reason. There may have been other reasons, but that is one reason why Moses and Elijah did not suffer death in the flesh, like other men do." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, pp. 110-111.)

Alma 45:21 because of...the many little dissensions and disturbances

The Nephites are about to suffer great casualties in a long war. Their mistake was to let the little things turn into big things. What started as little dissensions and disturbances almost destroyed the whole of Nephite society. "'Little sins,' like tiny acorns, produce massive oaks; out of small things proceeds that which is great.  Tares, once small and indistinguishable, eventually choke the wheat." (McConkie & Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 332) In the words of C.S. Lewis' famous character, Screwtape, "It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing." (The Screwtape Letters, p. 48). The Nephites allowed themselves to be drawn away from the Light and out into the Nothing, where the Lamanite armies were waiting for them.

Alma 45:23 there arose a dissension among them, and they would not give heed to the words of Helaman

The dissension described led to pride and wickedness which ushered in the scourge of Lamanite armies. Had the Nephites followed the counsel of Helaman and his brethren, Captain Moroni, would have been remembered as a "peace-time general."

"It is noteworthy that dissension in the Nephite church was associated with contention in the nation (Alma 45:21-46:7; Helaman 4:1). In other words, there may be a spill-over effect...For instance, dissension within the church preceded (and perhaps spiritually caused) the great civil dissensions that soon plagued the entire Nephite nation as it plunged into a terribly destructive series of wars with the Lamanites, who were led and strengthened by Nephite dissenters (Alma 45:20-24; Alma 46-62)." (Lynn D. Wardle, FARMS, vol. 3 No. 1-Spring 1994, p. 69)