Alma 9:2 Suppose ye that we shall believe the testimony of one man?
The last time Alma preached in Ammonihah, he did it alone. The wisdom of the Lord's plan to have Amulek provide a second witness now becomes evident. The trap they set for Alma backfired because of Amulek's testimony, when Amulek had spoken these words the people began to be astonished, seeing there was more than one witness (Alma 10:12). The Lord hereby demonstrates that his wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil (DC 10:43).
The tone of the question asked of Alma implies that the people understood that every word should be established at the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses (Deut 17:6), but they had no real intention of believing the testimony regardless of how many witnesses there were. This demonstrates that they were willfully rebellious, knowing the letter of the law but ignoring the Spirit.
Alma 9:3 they knew not that the earth should pass away
There are two terms in the scriptures which can be confusing. There is a difference between "the end of the world" and "the end of the earth." The end of the world refers to the destruction of the wicked at the advent of Christ's Second Coming. The end of the earth refers to the literal death of planet earth. This occurs after the Millenium and the short season when Satan is loosed, when the thousand years are ended, and men again begin to deny their God, then will I spare the earth but for a little season; And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth (DC 29:22-23, see also Rev. 21:1, Ether 13:9).
Alma 9:8 O ye wicked and perverse generation
Amulek later repeats these words exactly in describing the wickedness of the people (Alma 10:17). Alma and Amulek had perceived by the Spirit that they were laying traps and snares to catch the holy ones of God (Alma 10:17). The Savior's favorite phrase in the same situation was "O generation of vipers" (Matt 3:7; 12:34; 23:33; Lu 3:7). The pattern of wickedness is repeated in our day as evidenced by anti-Mormon literature which is laden with hidden traps and snares for the unwary.
Alma 9:15 it shall be more tolerable for them in the day of judgment than for you
One of the most fundamental principles of the justice of God is that He will judge us according to the amount of light, truth, and knowledge which we were privileged to receive in mortality. This is the primary difference between the Lamanites and the Nephites. The Lamanites were ignorant of God because of the transgressions of their fathers. Therefore, their fathers are partially to blame for their wickedness. Lehi told Laman's posterity, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents (2 Ne 4:5). For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them (2 Ne 9:26).
On the other hand, the Nephites were rebellious after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God (v. 19). Their punishments are thereby more severe. For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation (DC 82:3).
Similarly, endowed members of the church today should understand that there is no going back. After having been given such great knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God, they are responsible for keeping their covenants. The word of the Lord as given to the Missouri saints applies equally well to them, beware from henceforth, and refrain from sin, lest sore judgments fall upon your heads (DC 82:2).
"...one who fails to live up to his covenants tries to hide first by looking for loopholes in the language of the endowment. Brigham Young has commented on the futility and hypocrisy of this procedure; there is no way, he observes, by which one can possibly misunderstand or wrest the language of the covenants, no matter how determined one is to do it. We can rationalize with great zeal-and that is the next step-but never escape from our defensive position." (Donald W. Parry, Temples of the Ancient World, p. 610)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Those who are not able and determined to keep the commandments are better off outside the Church, 'For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.' (D. & C. 82:3.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. 1, p. 504)
"Those who do not profess to know anything of the Lord are far better off than we are, unless we live our religion, for we who know the Master's will and do it not will be beaten with few stripes. This is perfectly reasonable. We cannot chastise a child for doing that which is contrary to our wills, if he knows no better; but when our children are taught better and know what is required of them, if they then rebel, of course, they expect to be chastised, and it is perfectly right that they should be." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 111)
Alma 9:16 there are many promises which are extended to the Lamanites
The promises extended to the Lamanites are great. Many of these promises are given because of the righteousness and prayers of preceding prophets. The first prophet of all is Joseph of Egypt who was given the promise that his seed would be preserved (Alma 46:24). Lehi blessed the posterity of Laman that they would likewise be preserved (2 Ne 4:7). Nephi, Jacob, and Enos all prayed for the welfare of their brethren. The promises given are as follows:
- God will not suffer the Gentiles to utterly destroy them (1 Ne 13:30, 2 Ne 4:7).
- The cursing would be taken from their heads and placed upon their parents (2 Ne 4:6).
- The Lord will be merciful to them (2 Ne 4:7).
- The Book of Mormon and other books will be brought to them (1 Ne 13:39, Enos 1:13).
- They will receive the fullness of the gospel (1 Ne 15:13)
- They will know of their forefathers and that they are of the house of Israel (1 Ne 15:14).
- As a branch of Israel, they will be grafted into the true olive tree (1 Ne 15:16, 2 Ne 21:11-12).
- As part of the house of Israel, in their seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed (1 Ne 15:18). Indeed, all the blessings given to the house of Israel apply to them.
- They shall blossom as the rose (DC 49:24).
Marion G. Romney
"...all who have seeing eyes and understanding hearts may rest assured that the fulfillment of the promises to the Lamanites is at hand. Most of the foregoing prophecies have already been fulfilled, and others are now in course of fulfillment. The apostasy and fourth generation destruction, the degeneration of the remnant, the coming of the gentiles, their establishment by the power of God as a free people in this land, their harassment of the remnant, the preservation of the promised record, and its coming forth by way of the gentiles are now all documented history.
"For more than a hundred years the record of their fathers, the Book of Mormon, has been going to the Lamanites by way of the gentiles. And it is now being carried to them with increased tempo...
"So you see, my brethren and sisters, the Lord is pouring out his spirit upon the Lamanites. They are accepting the record of their fathers and are coming to a knowledge of the 'things' referred to by Jesus...they are now accepting the gospel. And they will continue to accept it in ever-increasing numbers. As they receive and live it they are certain to regain their favored status in the house of Israel and participate in the redemption of Zion and the building of the New Jerusalem here in America. Jacob, even now, flourishes in the wilderness, and shortly the 'Lamanites shall blossom as the rose,' heralding 'the great day of the Lord,' which God grant may not be long delayed, I humbly pray." (Conference Report, Apr. 1963, p. 77)
Alma 9:19-23 after having had so much light and so much knowledge
If there is any people in the history of the world who have had as much light and knowledge as did the Nephites, then it must be the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since the Book of Mormon was designed for our day and Nephi has taught us that we should liken the scriptures to ourselves, we should read these five verses as if the Lord was speaking directly to us.
"The Book of Mormon goes to great lengths to describe just what a wicked society looks like and how it operates, with enough examples to type it beyond question; and with clinical precision it describes the hysteria that leads to its end. It also tells us how to recognize a righteous society, usually presenting the two types to us in close proximity. With these two images firmly in mind we are told why this presentation is being given, for whose benefit, and why it is so singularly important. The authors do not ask us to make comparisons and see ourselves in the picture, because that would be futile: the wickeder the people are the more they balk at facing their real image and the more skillful they become in evading, altering, faking, and justifying. So the book does not tell us to make the comparison-it does it for us, frankly and brutally." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 508)
Alma 9:26 quick to hear the cries of the people and to answer their prayers
Bruce R. McConkie
"Proper prayers are made to the Father, in the name of the Son, by the power of the Holy Ghost. The Father answers prayers, but he does it through the Son, into whose hands he has committed all things." (Promised Messiah, p. 557, as taken from McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 66)
Alma 9:31 the people were wroth with me
Alma uses great boldness which is not well received. This is according to the recurring Book of Mormon theme, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center (1 Ne 16:2).
Alma 9:32 sought to lay their hands upon me, that they might cast me into prison
This is the second time in this short sermon that the people were upset enough to try to cast Alma into prison (see v. 7). Like Abinadi who was preserved long enough to deliver his message and the Savior who slipped out of the hands of his enemies until his time had come, Alma is preserved by the power of God until he and Amulek had delivered their message. For the people of Ammohihah, this is how the Lord fills their cup of iniquity. He waits until they have received the full warning before he allows them to persecute or kill his prophets. Then he is justified in punishing them in full measure. The Lord said to the scribes and Pharisees:
'ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers (in opposing me and consenting to my death).
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Wherefore, behold, I send to you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.' (Matt 23:31-36).