Shortly after Alma became chief judge, a man named Nehor established himself as a preacher among the people. He spoke out against the Church and its doctrines, and he convinced many to believe him and give him money. When Nehor killed Gideon, who was a faithful member of the Church, he was brought before Alma. Finding Nehor guilty of priestcraft and of trying to enforce priestcraft by the sword, Alma sentenced Nehor to death. The Church prospered, led by diligent and humble priests, but priestcraft continued. Amlici, a cunning man after the order of Nehor, gathered support among many people and tried unsuccessfully to become king of the Nephites. He and his followers revolted, came against the Nephites to battle, and eventually combined their forces with a Lamanite army. Strengthened by the Lord, the Nephites suffered many losses but overcame the attacks of these armies.
Write popular on the board.
What does it mean to be popular?
What are some dangers of following people or ideas just because they are popular?
Explain that a man named Nehor became popular with some people in Zarahemla.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 1:2–6. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nehor taught that became popular among some of the people.
According to verse 4, what were some of Nehor’s teachings that became popular?
Point out the false teaching that “all men [will] have eternal life” (verse 4), regardless of what they do.
Why do you think this false teaching might have become popular among some of the people? (This teaching ignores the need for repentance, ordinances, and keeping God’s commandments [see Alma 15:15].)
Explain that Nehor mixed his false teachings with true statements.
According to verse 4, what is a true statement that Nehor made? (“The Lord … created all men.”)
How does this teaching illustrate a common tactic that Satan uses? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: Satan uses lies mixed with truth to deceive people. Invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures next to verse 4.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Satan is the great deceiver, the father of lies (see John 8:44). This is not because Satan tells only lies. His most effective lies are half-truths or lies accompanied by the truth” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Reading Church History” [address to Church Educational System religious educators, Aug. 16, 1985], 3).
How do you see this tactic being used by Satan to deceive people today? (One example is the false teaching that because God loves us, He will excuse or condone anything we do.)
Summarize Alma 1:7–11 by explaining that one day Nehor was going to preach to a group of his followers when he met Gideon, who had helped deliver the people of Limhi from bondage and who was currently serving as a teacher in the Church. Nehor “began to contend with [Gideon] sharply, that he might lead away the people of the church; but [Gideon] withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God” (Alma 1:7). Nehor, in a fit of anger, drew his sword and killed Gideon. The people of the Church took Nehor to Alma, who was the chief judge, to be judged for his crimes.
Invite a student to read Alma 1:12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the word Alma used to describe what Nehor had introduced to this people for the first time.
What had Nehor introduced? (Priestcraft.)
In your own words, what is priestcraft?
How was Nehor’s preaching an example of priestcraft?
Summarize Alma 1:12–15 by explaining that Nehor was put to death for having enforced priestcraft by the sword.
Invite a student to read Alma 1:16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for additional insights into priestcraft and why priestcraft continued to spread, even after the death of Nehor.
How did Alma define priestcraft in this verse?
Why did priestcraft continue to spread?
Explain that as priestcraft spread among the Nephites, members of the Church began to be persecuted. The following activity can help students learn principles from the ways in which these Church members responded to persecution.
Divide students into small groups. Provide each group with a copy of the following handout, and invite students to complete it in their groups:
When students have had enough time to complete the activity, ask them to report the principles they identified. Students might use different words or phrases but should identify some or all of the following principles:
Choosing to contend with those who are not members of the Church can bring afflictions and trials upon the Church.
If we are humble during persecution, our hearts will not be hardened by our experiences.
Even when people around us are being disobedient, we can be steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments.
We can choose to bear persecution with patience.
When have you seen that these principles are true?
You may also want to share an experience about a time when you were blessed as a result of applying one of these principles in your life.
Summarize Alma 1:26–33 by explaining that the Church members who remained humble continued to help the needy and sick and were blessed both temporally and spiritually. Those who did not belong to the Church engaged in “all manner of wickedness” (verse 32), but the laws of the land generally kept them in check.
Explain that about four years after Nehor’s death, the Nephites faced a wicked man named Amlici, who was also able to gain popular support.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 2:2–7. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Amlici was seeking power.
What did Amlici want to become?
According to verse 4, what did Amlici intend to do when he became king?
Why was Amlici unsuccessful in his quest?
Invite a student to read Alma 2:8–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Amlici did after his initial attempt to become king of the Nephites failed.
What did Amlici do after his initial attempt to become king failed?
Ask the class to list on the board examples of wickedness that youth face today. They might mention temptations, and they might also mention trials they face because of others’ wickedness. As they continue studying Alma 2, invite them to ponder ways they can receive the Lord’s help to overcome the temptations and challenges they face.
Summarize Alma 2:11–18 by explaining that the Nephites prepared to fight the Amlicites, and then Alma personally led the Nephite armies into battle. The battle became very fierce, with many dying on both sides.
Invite a student to read Alma 2:18 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Nephites were able to prevail against the Amlicites.
According to Alma 2:18, why were the Nephites able to prevail against the Amlicites?
Explain that the Nephite warriors defeated many of the Amlicites, but they were astonished to see that the remaining Amlicites joined with an army of Lamanites (see Alma 2:19–25). Before the Nephite armies could return to the city of Zarahemla, the combined army attacked them. Ask students to search Alma 2:27 for a phrase indicating the size of the combined army of Lamanites and Amlicites.
Invite students to imagine what they would think and how they would feel if they were part of the Nephite army.
Ask a student to read Alma 2:28–31, 36 aloud, and ask the class to look for the way the battle ended.
According to Alma 2:28, why were the Nephites able to win this battle? (They prayed mightily to God, and He strengthened them.)
What principle can we learn from this account? (Students may give different responses to this question. Help them identify the following principle: When we call upon God to help us stand against wickedness, He will strengthen us. Write this principle on the board.)
Point out that the Nephites prayed for strength both before and during the battle against the Amlicites (see verses 28, 30).
Why do you think it is important to pray for strength from God before and during our battles against wickedness?
Invite students to answer the following question in their class notebooks or study journals:
How has God strengthened you as you have prayed for help to stand against wickedness?
When students have had time to write, invite a few of them to share their answers. You may want to share your answers as well.
Conclude by testifying that God will strengthen us as we stand against wickedness. Encourage students to follow the Nephites’ example—to pray for the Lord’s help and to be worthy to be strengthened by God in their efforts.