Alma and Amulek had little success preaching to the people of Ammonihah because Satan had a “great hold upon the hearts of the people” (see Alma 8:9). Many of them had hardened their hearts against the gospel, and they resisted Alma and Amulek’s invitation to repent. Nevertheless, Alma and Amulek faithfully called them to repentance, testifying that because they had been taught the truth and had experienced the power of God, the Lord expected them to be more righteous than the Lamanites, who had not been taught the truth. Alma and Amulek taught that if the people of Ammonihah would not repent, they would face destruction. They also taught the people that redemption was possible only through Jesus Christ.
Suggestions for Teaching
Alma warns the people of Ammonihah to repent and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ
Present the following scenario: Two students arrive at school, and their teacher announces that they must take a surprise test. The first student has been in class every day, but the second student has missed the last two weeks of school because he was sick.
Which student do you expect to perform better on the test?
Invite students to scan Alma 9:1–7, looking for words and phrases that indicate how well the people of Ammonihah understood the gospel and the power of God. Ask them to report what they discover.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 9:8–13. Ask the class to look for words and phrases that indicate whether these people had been taught the gospel or had knowledge of God’s power. (Answers should include “ye have forgotten” and “do ye not remember.”)
Had the people of Ammonihah ever learned the gospel or been taught about the power of God?
What are some reasons why people who have been taught the gospel might forget what they have learned or not understand what they have been taught?
Invite students to scan Alma 8:9, 11; 9:5, 30; and 12:10–11, looking for words and phrases that suggest why the people of Ammonihah had forgotten or did not understand the things they had been taught. (“Satan had gotten great hold upon [their] hearts”; “they hardened their hearts”; “they were a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people”; “[their] hearts have been grossly hardened against the word of God.”)
Copy the following chart on the board, and ask students to copy it in notebooks or scripture study journals. (Be sure to leave plenty of space to write.)
The spiritual background of the people
What the Lord expected of the people, and what the Lord promised the people
Lamanites (Alma 9:14–17)
People of Ammonihah (Alma 9:18–24)
Divide students into pairs. Invite each pair to complete the chart using the scripture references. After they have completed the chart, have students write a sentence under their charts summarizing what they have learned. Invite a few of them to share what they have written. Students may use different words, but their answers should reflect the following truth: The Lord expects greater obedience from those who have received the knowledge and blessings of the gospel. To help students see how this principle applies in their lives, ask the following questions:
Why do you think the Lord had higher expectations for the people of Ammonihah?
Why is it fair for the Lord to have higher expectations for those who have received the knowledge and blessings of the gospel?
Point out the phrase “a highly favored people of the Lord” in Alma 9:20. (You might want to suggest that students mark this phrase.)
In what ways are members of the Church today “a highly favored people of the Lord”?
According to Alma 9:19–23, what gifts and blessings had the Nephites (including the people of Ammonihah) experienced because they were the Lord’s covenant people?
What gifts and blessings have you experienced because you are a member of the Lord’s Church?
What are some things the Lord expects of us because of the gifts and blessings we have received from Him?
Assign half the class to study Alma 9:24–27 individually and the other half of the class to study Alma 9:28–30 individually. Ask students to prepare to summarize their assigned passages in their own words. Write the following questions on the board to guide them as they prepare their summaries:
What evidence do you see in these verses that the Lord expects greater obedience from those who have greater knowledge of the gospel?
What blessings did Alma remind the people they could receive?
What did Alma say the people needed to do to receive these blessings?
After students have had sufficient time to read, call on one student from each half of the class to summarize the assigned passages. Then ask the class:
What are some ways we can stay true to the light and knowledge we have received? (Students might suggest scripture study, expressing gratitude to God for our blessings, bearing our testimonies regularly, attending Church meetings weekly, writing in a journal, and so forth.)
Amulek heeds the call of the Lord and affirms the divine calling of Alma
Explain that after Alma addressed the people, they were angry and wanted to cast him into prison. Amulek bravely addressed the people and added his witness to Alma’s. (See Alma 9:31–34.) Summarize Alma 10:1–4 by explaining that Amulek was a descendant of Nephi. He was a hardworking man who had built substantial wealth. He was also well known and was “of no small reputation” among his many family members and friends (see Alma 10:4). However, he was not living according to gospel truths he had been taught.
Why do you think it might have been helpful for Amulek, who was well known in the community, to accompany Alma?
Ask students how they woke up this morning. (For example, were they awakened by an alarm clock, or did another family member awaken them? If you have an alarm clock or a picture of an alarm clock, consider displaying it.) Ask students how many of them had to be “called” more than once to get out of bed.
Invite a student to read Alma 10:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to look for Amulek’s response to the spiritual “wake-up calls” he had received from the Lord.
What do you think Amulek meant when he said “I would not hear” and “I would not know”?
In what ways does the Lord call to us? (Possible answers include promptings from the Holy Ghost, instruction from parents and Church leaders, and Church callings.)
Invite students to read Alma 10:7–10 silently, looking for the key points of Amulek’s opening testimony to his people.
How had Amulek’s experiences prepared him to be a second witness of Alma’s message to the people of Ammonihah?
How do you think Amulek’s decision to obey made a difference in his life?
Invite a student to read Alma 10:11–12 aloud, and ask the class to look for ways others were influenced by Amulek’s decision to heed the Lord’s call. Invite them to share what they find.
Write the following principle on the board: When we hear and obey the Lord’s call, blessings come to us and to others. (You might want to suggest that students write this principle in their scriptures next to Alma 10:11–12.) To help students feel the truth and importance of this principle, ask:
When have you felt that you were blessed because you obeyed a call from the Lord?
How have you seen blessings come to others because you or someone else responded to the Lord’s call?
How do these experiences influence your desire to listen for and obey calls from the Lord?
Amulek responds to those who oppose him and exhorts the people to repent
Write the following phrases on the board:
Become angry and defensive
Doubt the importance of the counsel
Criticize the person who gave the counsel
Question or debate the counsel
Humbly listen and obey
Ask students to silently consider which phrase on the board most closely resembles how they might respond if a parent or Church leader were to correct them or ask them to change something they are doing.
What are some reasons people might respond to correction in these ways?
Invite students to choose one of the passages on the board to study individually. Ask them to look for how the scripture passage describes the people of Ammonihah responding to Alma and Amulek’s message. Also have them choose the phrase on the board that most closely reflects the people’s response. After sufficient time, ask students to explain which of the five responses on the board best matches the passage they studied.
Why are the first four responses on the board spiritually dangerous?
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 10:19–23. Encourage them to look for what Amulek taught about the consequences of sin and of casting out the righteous.
To help students consider the destructive consequences of not repenting of our sins, read the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“There is so much of evil everywhere. Temptation, with all its titillating influences, is about us everywhere. We lose some to these destructive forces, unfortunately. We sorrow over every one that is lost. We reach out to help them, to save them, but in too many cases our entreaties are spurned. Tragic is the course they are following. It is the way which leads down to destruction” (“My Testimony,” Ensign, May 2000, 69).
What are some of the destructive consequences that come to individuals or groups of people when they disobey God’s commandments?
If there is time, invite students to write answers to the following question:
How can the truths you have learned from today’s lesson bless you?
Commentary and Background Information
Alma 9:19–23. “After having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them”
The people of Ammonihah faced greater consequences for their wickedness than the Lamanites did because the people of Ammonihah had received greater knowledge of the gospel. The following statement by Sister Sheri L. Dew, who served as a member of the Relief Society general presidency, refers to the women of the Church, but it applies to all Church members:
“We are unique. We are unique because of our covenants, our spiritual privileges, and the responsibilities attached to both. We are endowed with power and gifted with the Holy Ghost. We have a living prophet to guide us, ordinances that bind us to the Lord and to each other, and the power of the priesthood in our midst. We understand where we stand in the great plan of happiness. And we know that God is our Father and that His Son is our unfailing Advocate.
“With these privileges comes great responsibility, for ‘unto whom much is given much is required’ (D&C 82:3)” (“We Are Women of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 98).
Alma 10:6–11. Heeding the Lord’s call brings blessings to others
President Thomas S. Monson shared a story that demonstrates the importance of following the inspiration of the Holy Ghost:
“Late one afternoon I was swimming at the Deseret Gym, gazing at the ceiling while backstroking width after width. Silently, but ever so clearly, there came to my mind the thought: ‘Here you swim almost effortlessly, while your friend Stan languishes in his hospital bed, unable to move.’ I felt the prompting: ‘Get to the hospital and give him a blessing.’
“I ceased my swimming, dressed, and hurried to Stan’s room at the hospital. His bed was empty. A nurse said he was in his wheelchair at the swimming pool, preparing for therapy. I hurried to the area, and there was Stan, all alone, at the edge of the deeper portion of the pool. We greeted one another and returned to his room, where a priesthood blessing was provided.
“Slowly but surely, strength and movement returned to Stan’s legs. …
“Frequently Stan speaks in Church meetings and tells of the goodness of the Lord to him. To some he reveals the dark thoughts of depression which engulfed him that afternoon as he sat in his wheelchair at the edge of the pool, sentenced, it seemed, to a life of despair. He tells how he pondered the alternative. It would be so easy to propel the hated wheelchair into the silent water of the deep pool. Life would then be over. But at that precise moment he saw me, his friend. That day Stan learned literally that we do not walk alone. I, too, learned a lesson that day: Never, never, never postpone following a prompting” (“The Spirit Giveth Life,” Ensign, May 1985, 70).
Alma 10:22–23. “Prayers of the righteous”
Note the effect that the prayers of the righteous had on the people of Ammonihah. Later, the prayers of the righteous also kept the Nephites from being destroyed during the days of Captain Moroni and Samuel the Lamanite (see Alma 62:40; Helaman 13:12–14).
President Spencer W. Kimball said the following about prayers offered in our day:
“There are many many upright and faithful who live all the commandments and whose lives and prayers keep the world from destruction” (“Voices of the Past, of the Present, of the Future,” Ensign, June 1971, 16).
Once the righteous were destroyed or removed from Ammonihah, the prayers of the righteous ceased to protect the city, and “every living soul of the Ammonihahites was destroyed” by the Lamanites (Alma 16:9).