Lesson 91: Alma 33

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012


Introduction

A group of Zoramites desired to know how to follow Alma’s counsel to plant the word of the Lord in their hearts and exercise faith. Using the scriptures, Alma taught the people about worship, prayer, and the mercy we can receive from God because of the Savior. He encouraged the people to look to Jesus Christ and believe in the power of His Atonement.

Note: Lesson 94 provides an opportunity for three students to teach. You may want to select three students now and give them copies of the designated portions of lesson 94 so they can prepare. Encourage them to study the lesson material prayerfully and to seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost so they will know how to adapt the lesson to the needs of their classmates.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 33

Alma teaches the Zoramites to begin to believe in Jesus Christ

Write exercise on the board.

  • What does it mean to exercise something? (As students respond to this question, you might ask a student to demonstrate how to exercise his or her arms, perhaps by doing push-ups, or his or her legs, perhaps by running in place.)

Have students read Alma 33:1 silently, identifying the exercise that the Zoramites wanted to understand. After students report what they have found, write the following question on the board: How do we exercise faith? Invite students to look for at least three answers to this question as they study and discuss Alma 33.

Explain that as Alma began to answer the Zoramites’ question about how to exercise faith, he corrected a false idea they had about worship. Invite a student to read Alma 33:2 aloud. Ask the class to identify the Zoramites’ false idea about worshipping God.

  • Why did these Zoramites think they could not worship God? (Because they were not allowed in their synagogues.)

Ask students to summarize what they learned in Alma 31 about the Zoramites’ form of worship. (See Alma 31:22–23. The Zoramites offered the same prayer once a week in the synagogue, and they never spoke of God again during the rest of the week.)

  • Why is Church attendance an important part of our worship? What are some ways we can worship God in addition to attending our weekly Church meetings?

Explain that Alma quoted teachings of a prophet named Zenos to correct the Zoramites’ false ideas about worshipping God. Ask students to read Alma 33:3 silently, looking for the word Alma used interchangeably with worship. (The word is prayer.)

Invite students to read Alma 33:4–10 silently, identifying each circumstance in which Zenos said he prayed.

  • When and where did Zenos pray?

  • What did Alma teach about worship when he quoted Zenos’s words? (Help students identify the following truth: We can worship God continually through prayer.)

Refer to the question on the board: How do we exercise faith? Below that question, write Pray always.

  • In what ways is prayer an exercise of faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

  • When have you prayed in a situation like those Zenos mentioned? How was your prayer answered? (Remind students that they do not need to share experiences that are too personal or private.)

Invite students to review Alma 33:4–5, 8–9 silently. Ask them to look for phrases that mention God’s mercy (such as “thou art merciful” and “thou wast merciful”).

To help students see the connection between the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the mercy of Heavenly Father, invite a student to read Alma 33:11–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a phrase that appears four times in these verses. (The phrase is “because of thy Son.” You may want to encourage students to mark this phrase.)

  • What do you think Zenos meant when he said, “Thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son”? (Help students identify the following truth: We receive Heavenly Father’s mercy, including forgiveness for our sins, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You may want to invite students to write this truth in their scriptures near Alma 33:11–16.)

To help students better understand the mercy we can receive through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, consider sharing the following story quoted by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“The teacher said, ‘Good morning, boys, we have come to conduct school.’ They yelled and made fun at the top of their voices. ‘Now, I want a good school, but I confess that I do not know how unless you help me. Suppose we have a few rules. You tell me, and I will write them on the blackboard.’

“One fellow yelled, ‘No stealing!’ Another yelled, ‘On time.’ Finally, ten rules appeared on the blackboard.

“‘Now,’ said the teacher, ‘a law is not good unless there is a penalty attached. What shall we do with one who breaks the rules?’

“‘Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on,’ came the response from the class.

“‘That is pretty severe, boys. Are you sure that you are ready to stand by it?’ Another yelled, ‘I second the motion,’ and the teacher said, ‘All right, we will live by them! Class, come to order!’

“In a day or so, ‘Big Tom’ found that his lunch had been stolen. The thief was located—a little hungry fellow, about ten years old. ‘We have found the thief and he must be punished according to your rule—ten stripes across the back. Jim, come up here!’ the teacher said.

“The little fellow, trembling, came up slowly with a big coat fastened up to his neck and pleaded, ‘Teacher, you can lick me as hard as you like, but please, don’t take my coat off!’ [Note: You may need to explain that in this story, the word lick means to hit someone.]

“‘Take your coat off,’ the teacher said. ‘You helped make the rules!’

“‘Oh, teacher, don’t make me!’ He began to unbutton, and what did the teacher see? The boy had no shirt on, and revealed a bony little crippled body.

“‘How can I whip this child?’ he thought. ‘But I must, I must do something if I am to keep this school.’ Everything was quiet as death.

“‘How come you aren’t wearing a shirt, Jim?’

“He replied, ‘My father died and my mother is very poor. I have only one shirt and she is washing it today, and I wore my brother’s big coat to keep me warm.’

“The teacher, with rod in hand, hesitated. Just then ‘Big Tom’ jumped to his feet and said, ‘Teacher, if you don’t object, I will take Jim’s licking for him.’

“‘Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed?’

“Off came Tom’s coat, and after five strokes the rod broke! The teacher bowed his head in his hands and thought, ‘How can I finish this awful task?’ Then he heard the class sobbing, and what did he see? Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck. ‘Tom, I’m sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry. Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me! Yes, I will love you forever!’” [Author unknown.]

After quoting this story, President Hinckley said, “To lift a phrase from this simple story, Jesus, my Redeemer, has taken ‘my licking for me’ and yours for you” (“The Wondrous and True Story of Christmas,” Ensign, Dec. 2000, 4).

  • How does this account relate to Alma’s teachings about the Savior’s Atonement? (As needed, explain that Tom’s willingness to “take Jim’s licking” represents the Atonement. The Savior has taken the punishment for our sins upon Himself so we will not have to endure that punishment if we repent.)

Explain that after quoting the words of Zenos, Alma quoted the words of Zenock, another prophet. Read Alma 33:15–16 aloud to students. Emphasize Heavenly Father’s displeasure when people refuse to understand what His Son has done for them.

Ask students to read Alma 33:12–14 silently, looking for the source Alma used when he shared these teachings.

  • Why was Alma familiar with the words of Zenos and Zenock? (Because the words were in the scriptures. You may want to point out that Alma’s words in verses 12 and 14 suggest that the Zoramites also had access to these scriptures. Emphasize that the scriptures testify of Jesus Christ.)

Below the question on the board, write Study and believe the scriptures.

Moses and the Brass Serpent

Point out that Alma referred to another scripture account to help the Zoramites develop faith in Jesus Christ. Display the picture Moses and the Brass Serpent (62202; Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 16). Summarize this account by explaining that when Moses was leading the Israelites in the wilderness, many people began to rebel against him and the Lord. In response to this disobedience, the Lord sent poisonous serpents that bit the people. The people went to Moses for help. Moses prayed and was instructed to make a serpent on a pole for the people to look upon. He obeyed, making a serpent out of brass. (See Numbers 21:4–9.) Have a student read Alma 33:19–20 aloud. Invite the class to identify what happened to those who looked at the brass serpent and what happened to those who chose not to look.

  • According to Alma 33:20, why did many choose not to look?

Ask students to ponder whether they would choose to look if they were in that situation.

crucifixion

Display the picture The Crucifixion (62505; Gospel Art Book, no. 57). Explain that the brass serpent on the pole was a “type” (Alma 33:19). In other words, it was a symbol of something that was going to happen in the future. It represented Jesus Christ on the cross (see John 3:14).

Ask students to read Alma 33:21–23 silently, looking for how Alma likened this account to the Zoramites. After students report what they discovered, refer again to the question on the board: How can we exercise faith?

  • What can the account of the Israelites and the brass serpent teach about what we must do to be healed spiritually?

  • How does Alma 33:22–23 answer this question? (Students should identify the following truth: We exercise faith by choosing to believe in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.)

Below the question on the board, write Believe in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

  • What actions or attitudes do you see in people who believe in the Savior’s Atonement?

To emphasize that belief in Jesus Christ is a choice we make, direct students’ attention to the following phrase in Alma 33:23: “And even all this can ye do if ye will.” You may want to encourage students to mark this phrase.

Write the following statement on the board, and consider encouraging students to write it in their scriptures. (The statement is found in “Inquire of the Lord” [address to CES religious educators, Feb. 2, 2001], 1, si.lds.org.)

“Each child in each generation chooses faith or disbelief. Faith is not an inheritance; it is a choice” (President Henry B. Eyring).

Ask students to answer one of the following questions in notebooks or scripture study journals. (You may want to write these questions on the board before class, prepare a handout with the questions, or read the questions slowly so students can write them.)

  • How has your choice to believe in the Savior influenced your everyday life?

  • How has personal scripture study strengthened your faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

  • How has daily personal prayer and worship strengthened your faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

  • What do you feel Heavenly Father would like you to do to exercise greater faith?

Invite a few students to share their responses. Testify of the importance of choosing to believe in the Savior.