As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.
List the following words on the chalkboard:
Monarchy, Republic, Democracy, Theocracy.
Explain that for many years Mosiah served as a king and a prophet who received revelation from God to lead the people. Under his leadership, the government had characteristics of both a monarchy and a theocracy. After the reign of King Mosiah, Alma the Younger was appointed chief judge over the people of Nephi, thus beginning a time period known as “the reign of the judges” (
Mosiah 29:44), with a new form of government that included elements of a republic, a democracy, and a theocracy. This lesson explains how the system of judges was organized to provide righteous leadership and describes some of the challenges Alma faced as chief judge and as the presiding high priest over the people.
Scripture Discussion and Application
Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. Mosiah teaches principles of good government.
Mosiah 29. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud. Explain that when all of King Mosiah’s sons refused to succeed him as king, Mosiah sent a written proclamation among the people, recommending a system of government to replace the rule of kings after his death.
What counsel did Mosiah give his people about having kings? (See
Mosiah 29:13, 16.) Which two men did Mosiah describe as different examples of kings? (See Mosiah 29:13, 18. You may want to briefly review the influence these two kings had on the people.) How did Mosiah describe the consequences of having a wicked leader? (See Mosiah 29:16–18, 21–23.)
Mosiah suggested that the people establish a system of judges to replace the rule of kings. What qualities did Mosiah say these judges should have? (See
Mosiah 29:11; see also D&C 98:10.) Why are these qualities important in leaders today?
What was the foundation of the laws that the people would be judged by? (See
Mosiah 29:11; see also Mosiah 29:12–14.) What blessings can people enjoy when they live by laws that are based on righteous principles?
What did Mosiah propose to limit the power that could be obtained by wicked individuals or groups? (See
Mosiah 29:24–26, 28–29. He proposed that they do all things by the voice of the people, appoint judges and make the judges accountable to the people, and have a system of appeals against judges who did not judge by the law.)
What did Mosiah say would happen if the majority of the people chose wickedness? (See
Mosiah 29:27.) What are some ways we can help others understand and choose righteousness?
2. Alma the Younger serves as chief judge and combats priestcraft.
Read and discuss selected verses from
Alma 1. Explain that the people had followed Mosiah’s counsel and appointed judges throughout the land, with Alma the Younger as chief judge.
In the first year of the reign of the judges, a man named Nehor was brought before Alma to be judged (
Alma 1:1–2, 15). What had Nehor been teaching the people? (See Alma 1:3–4.) What was the effect of his teaching? (See Alma 1:5–6.) Why do you think Nehor’s teachings were appealing to so many people? Which of these same teachings have you heard in our day?
While Nehor was preaching to the people, he was met by Gideon, a member of the Church who served as a teacher (
Alma 1:7–8; you may want to remind class members that Gideon had served faithfully as a captain for King Limhi). How did Gideon respond to Nehor’s false teachings? (See Alma 1:7.) How does knowing and testifying of the word of God help us withstand false teachings?
Nehor became angry with Gideon and slew him with a sword ( Alma 1:9). When the people took Nehor before Alma, what two crimes did Alma find him guilty of? (See Alma 1:10–13. Priestcraft and murder.) What is priestcraft? (See Alma 1:16; see also 2 Nephi 26:29.) What warning did Alma give regarding priestcraft? (See Alma 1:12.) What evidence have you seen of priestcraft in our day?
Although Nehor was put to death for his crimes, priestcraft and other wickedness continued to spread throughout the land (
Alma 1:15–16). What began to happen between those who belonged to the Church and those who did not? (See Alma 1:19–22.) How should we treat people who disagree with our beliefs? (See D&C 38:41.)
How did this contention affect some members of the Church? (See
Alma 1:23–24.) What can we learn from those who remained in the Church of God? (See Alma 1:25.) How can we remain “steadfast and immovable” in keeping the commandments of God?
Alma 1:26–30 describes a time of peace and prosperity among the people of the Church. You may want to read these verses aloud and then discuss some of the following questions.
How did the priests regard those whom they taught? (See
Alma 1:26.) Why is this attitude important when we are teaching others? How have you been blessed by teachers who have taught with humility?
How did Alma describe the way the members of the Church treated those in need? (See
Alma 1:27.) How can following their example bring peace to our lives?
3. Amlici seeks to be king but is rejected by the voice of the people.
Read and discuss selected verses from
In the fifth year of the reign of the judges, a cunning man named Amlici was joined by many followers who wanted to make him king over the land (
Alma 2:1–2). Why did Amlici want to be king? (See Alma 2:4.) What did he do when the majority of the people voted against him? (See Alma 2:7–10.)
What was the result of the first battle between the Nephites and the Amlicites? (See
Alma 2:16–19.) When Alma sent spies to follow the remainder of the Amlicites, what did the spies observe? (See Alma 2:23–25.) Even though they were fewer in number, how were the Nephites able to defeat the combined army of the Amlicites and Lamanites? (See Alma 2:27–28.)
What did the Amlicites do to distinguish themselves from the Nephites? (See
Alma 3:4, 13.) How were these markings a fulfillment of prophecy? (See Alma 3:14–19.) Why is it important for us to “see that they brought upon themselves the curse”? ( Alma 3:19).
4. The Church prospers but becomes prideful. Alma resigns the judgment seat to devote himself to the ministry.
Read and discuss selected verses from
Even though the Nephites had been victorious in battle over the Amlicites and the Lamanites, many Nephites had died, and those who remained had suffered great losses among their flocks and their grain (
Alma 4:1–2). What were some results of these afflictions? (See Alma 4:3–5.) How might our afflictions awaken us to remember our duty?
How long did it take the members of the Church to return from great righteousness to pride and worldliness? (See
Alma 4:5–6. One year.) Why do you think it is often difficult for prosperous people to avoid pride and materialism? How can we avoid these sins?
How did pride affect the way the people of the Church treated others, both in and out of the Church? (See
Alma 4:8–12.) How did this influence the way nonmembers viewed the Church? (See Alma 4:10.) Why is the example of Church members important to the missionary work of the Church? When have you seen people influenced for good by the example of Church members?
What did Alma do in response to the increasing pride and iniquity of the people? (See
Alma 4:15–18.) Why did he do this? (See Alma 4:19.) How can preaching the word of God “stir [people] up in remembrance of their duty”? How can preaching the word of God “pull down” pride, craftiness, and contention?
What does the phrase “bearing down in pure testimony” suggest about the power with which Alma would teach? (
Alma 4:19). How has your life been changed by hearing others bear pure testimony of the gospel? What problems in the world today could be solved by preaching and living the gospel?
Invite class members to ponder how the challenges Alma faced are similar to problems we face today and how many of the solutions to these problems are similar.
Explain that in the coming weeks, class members will study Alma’s responses to other challenges he faced as the high priest over the people. Encourage class members to observe how Alma preached the word of God to deal with each situation he faced.
As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.