Lesson 70: Alma 3–4

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

After joining a Lamanite army, the Amlicites distinguished themselves from the Nephites by making red markings on their foreheads. The Lamanites battled against the Nephites, and by the end of the year, “thousands and tens of thousands” had died in battle (see Alma 3:26). Following this battle, many Nephites humbled themselves and “were awakened to a remembrance of their duty” (Alma 4:3). About 3,500 were baptized and joined the Church. However, in the next year, many Church members became proud and began persecuting others. Concerned about this wickedness, Alma resigned from his duties as chief judge and continued to serve as the high priest over the Church. In this capacity, he planned to travel around the region, bearing pure testimony and calling the people to repentance.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 3:1–19

The Nephites contend with the Amlicites and Lamanites

Before class, write the following statement on the board:

“Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 6).

Begin the lesson by asking a student to read the statement on the board aloud. Then ask the class:

  • What are some specific ways we can show, through our dress and appearance, that we are disciples of Jesus Christ?

Point out that through their choices regarding dress and appearance, individuals may also demonstrate that they are not willing to follow Jesus Christ and His prophets. One example of this is the Amlicites. Remind students that the Amlicites had separated themselves from the Nephites and joined a Lamanite army (see Alma 2).

Invite a student to read Alma 3:4 aloud. Ask the class to look for how the Amlicites had changed their appearance.

  • How had the Amlicites changed their appearance?

  • What message did the Amlicites want to send by marking themselves with “red in their foreheads”? (They wanted to distinguish themselves from the Nephites and to identify themselves with the Lamanites.)

Summarize Alma 3:5–17 by explaining that these verses describe the curse and the mark that had come upon the Lamanites. Remind students that the curse the Lamanites experienced was separation from God because of their rebellion and disobedience. The mark, which at that time distinguished the Lamanites from the Nephites, was that “the skins of the Lamanites were dark” (Alma 3:6). You may also want to remind students that it is wrong to revile or look down upon someone because of the color of his or her skin (see Jacob 3:9).

Invite a student to read Alma 3:18–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the curse of being separated from God had also come upon the Amlicites.

  • Why had the curse of being separated from God also come upon the Amlicites? (Help students understand that the Amlicites were not cursed simply because they had marked themselves in their foreheads. Rather, they brought the curse upon themselves because “they had come out in open rebellion against God” [verse 18] and were fighting against the Nephites, who were seeking to obey and uphold God’s commandments.)

  • What principle can we learn from verses 18–19 about what those who come out in open rebellion against God bring upon themselves? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: Those who come out in open rebellion against God bring negative consequences upon themselves. Write this principle on the board.)

  • What are some of the negative consequences people may bring upon themselves if they knowingly choose to rebel against God? (They will lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost and many other blessings.)

Alma 3:20–27

Thousands are killed in a battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites

Summarize Alma 3:20–27 by explaining that another large battle occurred between the Nephites and the Lamanites, in which the Nephites successfully drove back the Lamanites. In one year, there were tens of thousands of casualties from all the battles. Verses 26–27 explain that the righteous who died in these battles would experience eternal happiness and the wicked who died would experience misery as a consequence of their choices.

Alma 4:1–14

After a period of growth in the Church, members of the Church become proud and contend with one another

Summarize Alma 4:1–5 by explaining that the Nephites mourned greatly because of the afflictions they had experienced as a result of their battles against the Lamanites and Amlicites. These afflictions humbled them and reminded them of their duty to God. Many people joined the Church, and the Nephites enjoyed peace for a time.

Invite a student to read Alma 4:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what many Church members began to focus on.

  • What did many of the Nephite Church members begin to focus on?

  • What effect did focusing on their riches have on them? (They were “lifted up in the pride of their eyes.”)

  • How would you summarize what we learn from verse 6? (Students should identify a principle such as the following: Focusing on the things of the world can cause us to be lifted up in pride.)

  • What do you think it means to be lifted up in pride?

Read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. Invite students to listen and to consider ways in which they might be affected by pride.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“Pride is sinful … because it breeds hatred or hostility and places us in opposition to God and our fellowmen. …

“This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being ‘chosen,’ ‘superior,’ or ‘more righteous’ than others. This is the sin of ‘Thank God I am more special than you.’ At its core is the desire to be admired or envied. It is the sin of self-glorification.

“For others, pride turns to envy: they look bitterly at those who have better positions, more talents, or greater possessions than they do. They seek to hurt, diminish, and tear down others in a misguided and unworthy attempt at self-elevation. When those they envy stumble or suffer, they secretly cheer” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Pride and the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 56).

Divide the class into three groups. Invite one group to study Alma 4:7–8, another to study Alma 4:9–10, and the final group to study Alma 4:11–12. Ask students to look for what happened as Church members were affected by pride. Invite students to consider marking what they find.

  • What happened as Church members were affected by pride?

Invite a student to read Alma 4:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to look for examples of how some Nephites were humble even when others were proud.

  • What principle can we learn from verse 13 about how we can choose to be humble? (Students might identify a principle such as the following: We can choose to be humble by serving and helping other people. Invite students to consider writing this principle in their scriptures near verse 13.)

  • Why do you think serving others helps us to be humble?

Invite students to seek opportunities to serve and help others.

Alma 4:15–20

Alma resigns as chief judge so he can devote his time to calling the people to repentance

Invite students to imagine that they are in Alma’s place. They are the chief judge, and many of the people have become proud and are persecuting those who remain humble.

  • What might you do to help the people change?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 4:15–19. Ask the class to look for what Alma chose to do.

  • What did Alma decide to do? (He decided to give up his position as chief judge so he could devote his time to teaching the people.)

  • What does the phrase “bearing down in pure testimony” (Alma 4:19) suggest about how Alma would teach?

  • What principle can we learn from Alma’s example in Alma 4:19? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: Bearing pure testimony helps others draw closer to God.)

  • When have you heard people bear “pure testimony”? How have these experiences influenced you?

You might also want to share an experience about a time when you listened to another person bear pure testimony and how that experience affected you.

Invite students to ponder ways in which they might share their testimonies with others. Encourage them to act on any promptings they receive to share their testimonies.

Commentary and Background Information

Alma 3:4. Tattoos and body piercings

The Amlicites marked themselves so they could be “distinguished from the Nephites” (Alma 3:4). In our day, prophets have admonished young men and young women to keep their bodies sacred by not marking themselves with tattoos or body piercings. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) said:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“A tattoo is graffiti on the temple of the body.

“Likewise the piercing of the body for multiple rings in the ears, in the nose, even in the tongue. … The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have declared that we discourage tattoos and also ‘the piercing of the body for other than medical purposes.’ We do not, however, take any position ‘on the minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings’—one pair” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 52).

Alma 3:4. Following fashion trends

The Amlicites changed their appearance to look more like the Lamanites. Many Latter-day Saints today feel pressured to follow fashion trends so they can look more like people who are popular to the world. But some trends lead people to “disobey the prophet and, instead, follow the fads of the world” (“Questions and Answers,” New Era, Mar. 2006, 14; see also For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 6–8).

Alma 3:6–17. The mark and the curse

As students study Alma 3, they might have questions about the mark and the curse placed upon the Lamanites. You may want to explain that there is a difference between the mark and the curse. The mark placed upon the Lamanites was dark skin (see Alma 3:6). The purpose of this mark was to distinguish and separate the Lamanites from the Nephites (see Alma 3:8). The curse, which was more serious, was the state of being “cut off from the presence of the Lord” (2 Nephi 5:20). The Lamanites and the Amlicites brought this curse upon themselves because of their rebellion against God (see 2 Nephi 5:20; Alma 3:18–19). Although dark skin was used in this instance as a mark of the curse placed upon the Lamanites, the Book of Mormon teaches that the Lord “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) declared:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“No man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church. …

“Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Need for Greater Kindness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 58). For additional help on this subject, see lesson 27.

Alma 4:19. “Pure testimony”

When Alma saw that he needed to reclaim the people by “bearing down in pure testimony against them” (Alma 4:19), he called the people to repentance. However, in our fast and testimony meetings, our testimonies should be simple declarations of our faith, not exhortations. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) said:

President Spencer W. Kimball

“Do not tell others how to live. Just tell how you feel inside. That is the testimony. The moment you begin preaching to others, your testimony ended” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 138).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

video iconAlma 4:19. Video presentation—“A Man without Eloquence”

To help students understand and feel the truth and importance of the principle that bearing pure testimony helps others draw closer to God (see Alma 4:19), consider showing the video “A Man without Eloquence” (6:06). This video can be found on LDS.org.

Following the video, invite students to explain how Brigham Young’s experience can inspire them to bear pure testimony.

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