I’m a little behind the curve ball this week with blog posts. There are seven to get done and this is the first and it’s the third day of the week… you do that math.
This week I will be looking for principles and doctrine within the scriptures and will be studying Alma 36 through Alma 42 in the Book of Mormon. In order to find principles and doctrine within the scriptures, we can ask ourselves “What are the unchanging truths, eternal laws, fundamental beliefs at work here?”, “What can I learn and apply?” “What is the moral of the story?”, “So what? or Therefore what?” We can also look for homilies or catch phrases or even the wonderful words that follow “Thus we see” in the scriptures. I look forward to using this study skill this week, I know that when I employed this tool last semester, it was certainly handy.
This chapter commences with Alma being back in Zarahemla and having a one-on-one counsel with his eldest son Helaman. Verse one certainly holds a principle, it reads: “My son, give ear to my words; for I swear unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” If anyone keeps the commandments of God, they will prosper.
We can then find another principle in verse three where it reads “Whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.” I find that to be a plain and simple unchanging truth.
Alma then reflects on years past as he speaks to Helaman, and I think that many of us today can find comfort in his words. Alma explains and reminds his son that when he was in his youth, he was an Anti-Christ and he was then struck dumb by God. Through this experience that we previously learned about in Mosiah 27 Alma chose to change his life. Alma became righteous and forsook his ways. He and the sons of Mosiah changed direction and changed many thousands of lives for the better.
I don’t want to let this post get too far out of hand or overly long, but I do want to share with you some definitions of words that are in the next several verses. When the scriptures were written, some words meant differently than how we utilize the same word in today’s society. Therefore, it is important that we understand the meaning of the words in order to really understand what it is that is being taught.
The word racked means being on a rack. A rack, is a torture device. This device is a large rectangle where the body is stretched out atop it and the arms and legs are fastened to respective ends. The frame is made of rollers and there is a crank at either end of the mechanism. use in torture would be to turn the cranks and slowly pull on the limbs of the body, to the extreme of dislocating arms and legs from the body and still continuing to turn the cranks stretching those already pulled muscles and tendons.
The word harrowed… a harrow is a farming tool used to plow the land. It has spikes on it to pulls weeds out of the ground when preparing land. So to be harrowed is to feel as if these spikes were in your body.
So, let’s backtrack just a tad here. In verse 12, Alma tells Helaman of how he felt after he conversed with the angel of the Lord and having a clear knowledge of his sin. Alma stated: “But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.” Alma clearly felt worse than I can even imagine. Alma continues with his story to Helaman and shares more of his knowledge of being taken away by the angel. During the three days of which Alma was in a coma, he recalled his father teaching of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and how He would atone for the sins of the world. The moment that Alma uttered a prayer and asked of Jesus Christ for mercy, he could no longer recall his pain and he was no longer held captive by the memory of his sin.
I know that this is a gospel truth. I know that if we turn to Jesus Christ, ask Him for mercy and forgiveness and apply His atonement in our lives, we too can feel the joy that Alma felt. If Alma can be forgiven his horrendous sin, so can each of us.
I urge everyone to read this chapter and allow the thoughts of salvation, redemption, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to pierce your heart. These words can help every person every where.
I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.