Sunday, May 6, 2012
Book of Mormon Lesson #21 "Alma Did Judge Righteous Judgments"
Mosiah 29, Alma 1-4
Preparation: Print up and cut out the sentences below and place them in a paper bag. Have class members each draw one out as they come into the room until they are all gone. Instruct them to fill in the blank and hang onto the paper until they are called upon to read it.
1) King Mosiah was getting old. He sent a message throughout the land to his people, asking them who they like to be their next _______. (Mosiah 29:1)
2) The people voted for Mosiah’s second son, ________ (Mosiah 29:2)
3) Unfortunately, Aaron could not do it because he was on a mission to the Lamanites in the Land of _________. (Mosiah 29:3)
4) In fact, ______ of Mosiah’s sons was willing to become the king. (Mosiah 29:3)
5) Mosiah counseled the people: “Now it if were possible that you could ___________ men to be your kings, everything would be okay.” (Mosiah 29:13)
6) A just king would establish the laws of ________, and judge the people according to his ________. (Mosiah 29:13)
7) “But all men are ______ just, so this doesn’t always work out.” (Mosiah 29:16)
8) “Behold, how much _____________ doth one wicked king cause to be committed, and what great __________!” (Mosiah 29:17)
9) So Mosiah said, “Let us be __________ and plan ahead.” (Mosiah 29:10)
10) “I will be your king the remainder of my days, but let us appoint _____________ to judge the people according to our law.” (Mosiah 29:11)
11) So Mosiah asked the people to vote for __________ to judge them according to their laws which were correct, having been given to their fathers, by the hand of _____________. (Mosiah 29:25)
12) _________ the Younger was appointed to be the first chief judge. (Mosiah 29:42)
13) _________ the Younger was also the High Priest. (Mosiah 29:42)
I grew up in Providence, Utah three blocks away from our church-house which was famous for its bright blue shingled roof. Inside, blue was the main color as well. The Relief Society room was furnished with blue-cushioned folding chairs, situated wall-to-wall, with an aisle down the middle. Gospel Doctrine was taught in this classroom. During one class period, our former bishop, Art Olson, was seated right next to the wall, nodding off to sleep, and my mother was seated right behind him with my baby brother Gordon. Gordon was getting restless—Gordon was not a placid toddler—so Mom handed him her car keys to jingle.
Right underneath Bishop Olson’s overstuffed blue folding chair was something that caught Gordon’s eye: an electrical outlet.
I don’t even have to tell you the rest of the story; you can figure it out yourself. The bishop did not get his nap that day! Gordon, miraculously, stuck two keys in the outlet at the same time, thereby creating a circuit and making an enormous noise and a huge puff of black smoke, but not electrocuting himself or Bishop Olson. (Do NOT try this at home!!!)
Electricity is a wonderful power. Think where we’d be without it. Is there anything in your house that is functional when the power is out? Could you even be reading this lesson without electricity? When it is properly harnessed, it provides many wonderful services to us, and greatly enhances and even saves life.
However, being in an open area during a thunderstorm (or plugging keys into an electrical outlet) will teach us that electricity out of control is very frightening and destructive.
Like electricity, political and religious power can be a wonderful blessing and service to everyone it reaches, or it can be a mighty destructive force, mowing down everything in its path. Our discussion today is on the use and misuse of power.
Write POWER on the chalkboard.
THE PROPER USE OF POLITICAL POWER: THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF THE JUDGES
Have class members with sentences 1-4 read them.
This made Mosiah stop and think. Would it really have been a good idea to make Aaron the king anyway? Glenn Latham, the author of Christlike Parenting, is fond of a saying that pertains to parenting: “Today is not forever.” This is reminder to parents that their child will not always be like he is today. Sometimes this is a comfort! A rebellious teen may find God after all and turn his life completely around, just as Aaron and his brothers did. On the other hand, a grown child, married in the temple, serving in a leadership position, may turn his back on his family and the Church when confronted with a theological challenge or an overwhelming temptation. You never know what the future can hold, and Mosiah recognized this truth. “What if my son goes back to his wicked ways? Is it really a good idea to give one person that much power?” He realized there was no guarantee that his son would always handle the power righteously, no matter how righteous he was at the moment.
Have sentences 5 read.
How exactly did Mosiah define a just king?
Have sentence 6 read.
So who are some of the just kings we have come across so far in the Book of Mormon? (Nephi [in Jacob 1], Mosiah I [in Omni], Benjamin [in Mosiah 1-3], Limhi [in Mosiah 19-22], and Mosiah II whom we are talking about today)
Have sentences 7 and 8 read.
Who are some of the unjust kings we have come across in the book of Mormon? (King Noah [in Mosiah 11], several Lamanite kings [one in Mosiah 20])
Have sentences 9-13 read.
THE IMPROPER USE OF RELIGIOUS POWER: PRIESTCRAFT
Alma’s father, when he was the new High Priest, had to deal with the new problem of apostate members. Now the younger Alma, in his new role as high priest also had a new problem: priestcraft brought to them by a person named Nehor. Nehor’s teachings would plague the Nephite people for generations to come.
The general principles of Nehor’s theology were very basic. The first is found in Alma 1:3—Preachers ought to be paid. Why on earth, when Alma and the other leaders were serving the people for free, would anyone go for this idea? They went for it because they liked the second principle, found in Alma 1:4—All mankind should be saved, regardless of belief or action. The people were willing to pay Nehor to remove their guilt and give them free reign to do what they wanted. Jacob had warned them, however, generations earlier, “Do not spend your money for that which is of no worth,” (2 Nephi 9:51) and false religious principles—also known as “lies”—are of no worth.
Write PRIESTCRAFT on the board
What are the elements of priestcraft? (2 Nephi 26:29)
1) Pride They elevate themselves…
2) Power …to get gain and praise…
3) Selfishness …with no regard for the welfare of those they claim a stewardship over.
The most basic element of priestcraft is selfishness.
THE PROPER USE OF RELIGIOUS POWER: PRIESTHOOD
The direct opposite of priestcraft is the priesthood, God’s power, and it operates under the basic principle of love.
Write PRIESTHOOD on the board, opposite to PRIESTCRAFT
Every one of the elements of priestcraft is in direct opposition to Christ’s divine directive, the great commandment to love. Christ is the perfect example of the correct use of power.
1) Humility He yielded himself to be abased (1 Ne. 19:9).
That’s what we call the condescention of God.
2) Service He offers salvation free (2 Ne. 26:25). No person
on the earth has earned and paid for it himself.
3) Love Everything he does is for the benefit of the world
(2 Ne. 26:24), even to the laying down of his life.
In the end, Nehor proves himself to be a servant of the devil when he kills an innocent old man, much weaker physically than himself, in a dispute over doctrine.
Now these same truths apply to political power. Remember that King Mosiah said a righteous king would operate according to the commandments of God. King Benjamin, King Limhi, King Nephi, all were motivated by love, service and humility. King Noah and King Laman were motivated by selfishness.
APPLICATION TO GENERAL CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Although we do not all officiate in the priesthood, we all participate in it, if we are members of this Church. The Church operates under the power of the priesthood, and the priesthood operatues by love. This truth is taught in D&C 121 as well as many other places in the scriptures.
Let’ go back in time to the Land of Helam, where Alma organized the Christian Church after hearing Abinadi, in Mosiah 18. He gave the injunction to everyone entering the Church to follow th pattern of Christ. (Read Mosiah 18:8-9 until “stand in need of comfort.”)
There is an excellent example of Church members doing this very thing in that same time period but among a different group of people. Remember the rescue party of 16 men, led by Ammon, who came from the Land of Zarahemla to the Land of Nephi and found the people of King LImhi? (Mosiah 21:29-31,36) Ammon and his people sympathized and did not judge, and they also actually took the burden upon themselves as well. By going into the Land of Nephi, they now were also in bondage to the king of the Lamanites.
Alma’s instructions to his Church in Mosiah 18 give us several details about how priesthood power should function. (Mosiah 18:17-29)
Coming back now to the reading assignment for this week, Alma the Younger and the righteous people who followed him lived the code taught by Alma the Elder. (Alma 1:26-28) Operating upon these principles can bring us peace within, even when there is not peace without. That is truly great power! (Alma 1:29-31). So some of the people endured both persecution and prosperity well by living the correct principles of the priesthood.
Unfortunately, many people could not handle the power of prosperity. It seems that having money often leads men to focus on money, which puts them right back into the priestcraft/selfishness mode. (Alma 4:12-13)
This was very discouraging. How did Alma react? (Alma 4:15) The Spirit of the Lord did not fail him! That is so great! But what does it mean? It means Alma asked for guidance in dealing with the problem and he received it. He implemented the inspired plan right away and had another man appointed to be Chief Judge. He then resigned and went full-time into Church service to reactivate members who had fallen away. “He confined himself wholly to the high priesthood of the holy order of God…” (Alma 4:20) In other words, his focus was what?
Point at the board: Humility, Service, Love
Humility, Service, and Love. The only forces under which the greatest power there is—priesthood power—can function. We will see boundless evidences of that in our study of Alma over the next few weeks.