When the Lamanites were unsuccessful in their attacks on the Nephites, they turned their anger toward the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Because of the covenant the Anti-Nephi-Lehies had made to never again shed the blood of others, they refused to take up arms to defend themselves. Ammon led the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to Zarahemla, where they received protection from the Nephites and became known as the people of Ammon. As the Nephites defended the people of Ammon against the Lamanites, thousands of Nephites and Lamanites perished in battle.
Invite students to think about major life decisions they might make in the next several years for which they will want the Lord’s guidance. Ask students to tell the class the decisions they thought of, and list their responses on the board.
Explain that Alma 27 teaches that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies had a very difficult decision to make. As students study this chapter today, invite them to look for truths about receiving the Lord’s guidance when making decisions.
To help students understand the context of the events recorded in Alma 27, remind them that some of the Lamanites had attacked the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, who would not defend themselves, and killed more than a thousand of them (see Alma 24:20–24). Some of those Lamanites then attacked the Nephites, destroying the city of Ammonihah, but were then driven from the land by a Nephite army (see Alma 25:1–3).
Summarize Alma 27:1–5 by explaining that the Lamanites returned to the land of Nephi and resumed their attacks on the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Ammon and his brethren encouraged the king of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to save his people from destruction by relocating them to the land of Zarahemla.
Invite a student to read Alma 27:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the king believed would happen if his people followed Ammon’s plan.
What choices did the king now have to decide between? (Stay and be destroyed by the unconverted Lamanites, or leave and possibly be destroyed by the Nephites.)
Invite a student to read Alma 27:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Ammon offered to do to help the king make his decision. Invite students to report what they find.
What did Ammon offer to do?
According to verse 7, what did Ammon ask the king to commit to do?
Divide students into two groups. Invite one group to silently read Alma 27:8 and the other to silently read Alma 27:10. Ask both groups to look for the king’s response to Ammon’s question and to consider marking anything about the king’s response that stands out to them.
How did the king respond to Ammon?
According to verse 8, what consequence was the king willing to submit to if the Lord told them to go? (Slavery for him and his people. Explain that verse 9 records that Ammon told the king that slavery was against Nephite law.)
According to verse 10, what consequence was the king willing to submit to if the Lord told them to stay? (To perish in the land.)
What stands out to you about the king’s response?
Invite a student to read Alma 27:11–12 aloud, and ask the class look for the instruction Ammon received from the Lord.
What instruction did Ammon receive from the Lord?
What principle can we learn from the king’s example about obtaining the Lord’s guidance while making decisions? (Help students identify the following principle: When we commit to follow the direction we receive from the Lord, He will guide us to make wise decisions. Invite students to consider writing this principle in their scriptures.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency:
“Once the Lord knows our faith is sufficient that He can be certain we will obey, He will send the Spirit to teach us more clearly and more frequently. The prayer of faith always includes a commitment to obey” (Henry B. Eyring, “The Spirit Must Be Our Constant Companion” [evening with a General Authority, Feb. 7, 2003], 1).
Why do you think it is important for us to commit to obey the Lord’s direction as we seek His guidance?
Invite students to review the list of decisions on the board and consider how committing to obey the Lord’s direction might bless them as they make those decisions.
Summarize Alma 27:13–26 by explaining that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies gathered all their people and animals and came to the border of the land of Zarahemla. Ammon and his brethren went ahead to ask the Nephites if they would allow the Anti-Nephi-Lehies to live in their land. While traveling, Ammon and his brethren had a joyful reunion with Alma the Younger. Alma took them to the chief judge, who sought the voice of the people regarding the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. The Nephites chose to give them the land of Jershon and to guard them with their armies. After joining the Nephites, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies became known as the people of Ammon.
Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 27:27–30. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the people of Ammon became known for.
Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 28:1–6. Ask the class to look for the price the Nephites paid to help the people of Ammon keep their covenant.
What sacrifices did the Nephites make to help the people of Ammon keep their covenant?
Summarize Alma 28:7–10 by explaining that many thousands of people had died in the wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites in the first 15 years of the reign of the judges.
Explain that while all the Nephites mourned greatly for the loss of their loved ones, there were two very different reactions among the Nephites that accompanied their mourning. Ask students to search Alma 28:11–12 for those two different reactions.
What two reactions did the Nephites have at the deaths of their loved ones? (Some feared for the eternal state of their loved ones, while others rejoiced to know that their loved ones would be in a state of never-ending happiness.)
Invite a student to read Alma 28:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how a person’s wickedness or righteousness can affect those who love that person.
What principle can we learn from Alma 28:11–14 about how a person’s wickedness or righteousness can affect those who love that person? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but help them identify the following truth: Wickedness causes great sorrow, while righteousness results in hope and joy because of Christ. Invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures.)
When have you seen someone face his or her own death or the death of a loved one with hope because of faith in Jesus Christ? (Students’ responses may be about experiences that are very personal and sacred to them. Be sure to be sensitive to students’ feelings and needs.)
Ask students to write down two or three of their greatest desires in their class notebooks or study journals. Invite a student to read Alma 29:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Alma desired.
In what ways was Alma’s desire good?
Ask students to read Alma 29:4–5 silently, looking for what these verses teach about desires.
What do these verses teach about desires?
Do these verses mean that God gives us everything we want? (Help students understand that God may not grant every desire we have, but He allows us to make choices based on our desires.)
According to these verses, what outcomes might we experience, depending on our desires and choices?
Write the following truth on the board: God allows us to make choices based on our desires, whether those desires will lead to our salvation or destruction. Invite students to consider marking phrases in verses 4–5 that teach this truth.
To help students further understand this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity. …
“… Only by educating and training our desires can they become our allies instead of our enemies!” (Neal A. Maxwell, “According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 21, 22).
What do you think it means to educate and train our desires? How do we do that?
Explain that sometimes people have righteous desires that are not fulfilled in this life, such as the desire to marry in the temple or to have children. You may want to testify of how you have come to know that God will eventually grant us our righteous desires.
Ask students to review the desires they wrote down and to ponder whether they should change any of them to better reflect what the Lord would have them do. Invite them to record any thoughts, ideas, or feelings they have as they ponder.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 29:6–9. Ask the class to following along, looking for what Alma gloried in.
What did Alma say he gloried in?
Summarize Alma 29:10–17 by explaining that Alma wrote about the joy that comes to those who help others to repent and to come unto Christ.
Conclude by reviewing the truths students have learned today and inviting students to apply those truths in their lives.