Alma 59–63

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 191–193


Introduction

Once again the Nephite nation was on the brink of destruction because of the wickedness of its people and leaders. Though Captain Moroni led a successful military campaign against the Lamanites, domestic confusion and division pushed his nation dangerously close to disaster. Learning of the crisis at home, Moroni marched to Zarahemla, united his army with Pahoran’s, and defeated the king-men who had seized control of the government.

When leaders become corrupt and seek to impose their wickedness upon a nation, the people often lose their religious freedom. Such was the situation in Zarahemla when the king-men took over the government. The Lord said to Captain Moroni, “The inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also” (Alma 60:23). Captain Moroni and Pahoran stood together against the king-men so that their people might “stand fast in that liberty wherewith God [had] made them free” (Alma 61:21).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • A lack of unity can weaken a nation. Righteousness and faith in God can increase unity and strengthen a nation (see Alma 59:9–13; 60:6–24; see also Matthew 12:25; D&C 38:27).

  • To be delivered from enemies and receive God’s blessing, the people and leaders of a nation must first be clean within (see Alma 60:23; 61:19–20; 62:6–13).

  • In times of trial, the righteous humbly turn to the Lord, who strengthens and blesses them, while the wicked reject the Lord and become more hardened (see Alma 62:39–51).

  • Sometimes the Lord spares the wicked because of the prayers of the righteous (see Alma 62:40; see also Alma 10:22–23; Helaman 13:13–14).

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 103–4.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 59–61. A lack of unity can weaken a nation. Righteousness and faith in God can increase unity and strengthen a nation. (45–50 minutes)

Invite a student to read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“Unity is power; and when I reflect on the importance of it to the stability of all governments, I am astounded at the silly moves of persons and parties to foment discord in order to ride into power” (History of the Church, 6:198).

Ask:

  • What do you think this statement means?

  • How is unity power?

  • What groups, teams, or organizations have you seen that had greater power because of unity?

  • Why would Satan want to disrupt the unity of a nation? of the Church? of your family?

Write the following questions on the board (do not include the suggested answer to the fourth question). Have students scan Alma 59:1–13 looking for answers to the questions.

  • Why was Moroni “exceedingly rejoiced” in verse 1 but “exceedingly sorrowful” in verse 11?

  • Why should Pahoran have sent men to the city of Nephihah?

  • What important principle do you learn from verse 9?

  • How does this relate to giving in to sin? (It is easier to resist temptation than to repent of sin.)

  • How did the wickedness or righteousness of the Nephites affect what happened to them? (see vv. 11–13).

  • How can this be true in our lives?

Ask students to imagine that they are political advisors to Pahoran, the chief judge over the Nephite nation. Tell them Pahoran has just received a letter from Captain Moroni and wants their advice on how to respond. Take turns reading Moroni’s letter from Alma 60:1–21, 36 (or other verses you select). Ask:

  • What were Captain Moroni’s accusations?

  • Should Pahoran and the leaders of the nation have been offended by this letter? Why or why not?

  • How would you characterize Captain Moroni? Was he a rebel or a patriot? How can you tell?

  • How would you counsel Pahoran to respond?

Read as a class Alma 61:2–21 (or a selection of these verses) to see how Pahoran answered Captain Moroni’s letter. Discuss the following questions:

  • What reasons did Pahoran give for not sending men and food to Moroni’s army? (see vv. 1–8).

  • Who was the common enemy that threatened to destroy their country? (see vv. 3–5).

  • What did Pahoran and Moroni have in common? (see Alma 60:36; 61:9–10).

  • In what ways could they be considered great patriots?

  • How can wickedness divide a nation?

  • How can dividing a nation lead to its destruction?

  • Read Alma 62:6–8. What blessings come to those who are unified under righteous principles?

  • How can these principles apply to your life? to your family? to the Church?

Have students read the following statements and discuss how they apply in their lives. Orson F. Whitney, who was later a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote:

“Power dwells in unity, not in discord; in humility, not pride; in sacrifice, not selfishness; obedience, not rebellion” (Life of Heber C. Kimball [1945], 64).

Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve said:

“Beware of pride. A unity which comes to a family or to a people softened by the Spirit will bring great power. With that power will come recognition from the world. Whether that recognition brings praise or envy, it could lead us to pride. That would offend the Spirit. There is a protection against pride, that sure source of disunity. It is to see the bounties which God pours upon us not only as a mark of His favor but an opportunity to join with those around us in greater service” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 89; or Ensign, May 1998, 68).

Alma 62:1–13. To be delivered from enemies and receive God’s blessing, a nation must first be clean within. (25–30 minutes)

Show the class two clear glasses, one dirty on the outside and the other dirty on the inside. Pour water in the glasses, and ask students which glass they would rather drink from. Ask:

  • What is the difference between drinking from a glass that is dirty on the outside and one that is dirty on the inside?

  • What would you want to do before drinking out of a glass that is dirty on the inside?

  • How can people be like these glasses?

  • Read Matthew 15:18–20. Why is it more important to be clean on the inside?

Read Alma 60:23–24 and look for how it relates to the discussion. Ask:

  • Why do you think the “inward vessel” must be cleansed first? (see Matthew 23:26).

  • What is the inward vessel that Captain Moroni refers to?

Ask a student to summarize the situation of the Nephites in Alma 59–61. Remind the class that the king-men had seized control of the government and were seeking to unite with the Lamanites. Read Alma 61:17–18 and ask:

  • What did Pahoran want Moroni to do?

  • How does this relate to cleansing the inward vessel?

Read Alma 62:1–13 and discuss the following questions:

  • In what two ways did Captain Moroni respond to Pahoran’s letter? (see vv. 1–2).

  • How did Moroni gather a sufficient army to march against the rebels in Zarahemla? (see vv. 3–6).

  • How was this war against Pachus’s king-men like cleansing the inward vessel? (see vv. 7–9).

  • What law were the Nephites forced to “strictly [observe] for the safety of their country”? (see vv. 10–11; see also the commentary for Alma 62:3–14 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, p. 104).

  • How hard do you think it was for the Nephites to cleanse the inward vessel? Why?

  • How did cleansing the inward vessel help deliver the Nephites from destruction? (see vv. 12–13).

  • How can we apply this principle to our day?

Discuss the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 5; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6).

Alma 62:39–51. In times of trial, the righteous humbly turn to the Lord, who strengthens and blesses them, while the wicked reject the Lord and become more hardened. (20–25 minutes)

Ask students to identify some of the major wars that have been fought. It might be helpful to discuss related questions, such as “How long did they last?” and “What effects did they have on the people?”

Invite students to compare Alma 62:39 with Alma 43:3 to determine how long the Nephites had been at war with the Lamanites (about thirteen years). Ask:

  • What effect do you think the “many years” of wars and bloodshed had on the Nephite nation?

  • How do you think those years might have affected the Church?

Point out that hardship and trials have different effects on people. Discuss why the same events affect people differently. Read Alma 62:40–41 and ask:

  • What allowed both good and evil people to be spared from destruction?

  • Why do you think some people move away from the Lord during trial and hardship?

  • Why do you think some grow closer to the Lord?

  • How can knowing this help us as we face our own trials?

Explain that the Church organization had suffered because of the war. Have students read Alma 62:44–51 looking for answers to the following questions:

  • What did “Helaman and his brethren” do to reestablish, or strengthen, the Church? (see vv. 44–46).

  • What effect did establishing the Church and the central government have on the nation as a whole? (see vv. 47–48).

  • What did the people do to continue receiving the Lord’s blessings? (see vv. 49–51).

  • How could following the example of the Nephites help us today?

Alma 63. Concluding the book of Alma. (15–20 minutes)

Write the following headings on the board: 36th Year, 37th Year, 38th Year, and 39th Year. Divide the class into four groups, and assign each group one of the following sets of verses from Alma 63: verses 1–3, 4–6, 7–9, 10–16. Have the groups identify the events that occurred in their verses, and write them on the board under the appropriate headings.

Show students a map of the world and ask how far-reaching they think the travels of Lehi’s descendants were. Point to such South Pacific islands as Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, and New Zealand, and ask who might have settled there. Explain that President Spencer W. Kimball, in an area conference in Samoa, read from Alma 63 and told the Saints:

“And so it seems to me rather clear that your ancestors moved northward and crossed a part of the South Pacific. You did not bring your records with you, but you brought much food and provisions. And so we have a great congregation of people in the South Seas who came from the Nephites, and who came from the land southward and went to the land northward, which could have been Hawaii. And then the further settlement could have been a move southward again to all of these islands and even to New Zealand. The Lord knows what he is doing when he sends his people from one place to another. That was the scattering of Israel. Some of them remained in America and went from Alaska to the southern point. And others of you came this direction.

“President Joseph F. Smith, when president of the Church, said to the [Maori] people of New Zealand, ‘I would like to say to you brethren and sisters from New Zealand, you are some of Hagoth’s people, and there is NO PERHAPS about it!’ (Joseph F. Smith, quoted by William A. Cole and Elwin W. Jensen, Israel in the Pacific, p. 388.) He didn’t want any arguments about it” (in Conference Report, Samoa Area Conference 1976, 15).

Have students write a paragraph about a person in the book of Alma they admire (such as Alma, Amulek, Ammon, Limhi, Abish, Helaman, Captain Moroni, or Teancum). Have them include why they admire this person and which of the person’s characteristics they would like to emulate. Invite some students to read to the class what they wrote.