Verse 4: Now the Nephites (true followers of God) greatly feared that the Zormaites (people who think they are following God) would enter into a correspondence with the Lamanites (people who thought they were robbed of their rights to govern ie force people to do things their way ie followers of Satan), and that it would be the means of great loss on the part of the Nephites.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to completely worship the Lord God in Babylon, a land where the laws prohibit worship as the Lord directs and the laws are contrary to God’s will.
Verse 5: And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.
First of all preaching the word of God is the best way to lead people to do what is right. It had more effect than threatening death or anything else including creating new laws of man or adding additional traditions.
“Therefore Alma THOUGHT”. Was Alma instructed by the Lord to preach the gospel in this instance? Not according to the record we have. Alma figured, believed, and thought that the best way to solve the problems in his land was to teach the word of God because he had seen what effect it had on him and others. No one called Alma on this mission, Alma simply had a desire to make the world a better place by taking others by the hand and pointing them to Christ. D&C 4:3 talks about if you have DESIRES to SERVE GOD that you should DO IT. Nowhere in D&C 4 does it say that someone else needs to call you or approve how you want to serve God. In fact in verse 4 it talks about how serving GOD “bringeth salvation to his soul”. While serving GOD, we need to keep in mind D&C 11:21 that we need to search the scriptures, such that the
Holy Ghost can bring to remembrance God’s words to us say that will prick other’s hearts to give them a desire to follow God.
3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;
4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;
D&C 11:21 Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to OBTAIN my word, and then shall your tongue be LOOSED; then, if you DESIRE, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the CONVINCING of men.
Verse 6: Alma took 7 others, 8 in total, to preach of Christ. Eight represents Christ and a renewal. Alma’s goal is to bring the Zoramites BACK to Christ. To help them renew their desire to follow Christ.
Verses 8-11: 9: they fell into great errors, [BECAUSE] they would not observer to keep the commandments of GOD and HIS statues … 10 neither would they … continue in prayer and supplication to God daily … 11: they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances.
The Zoramites, those who thought they believed in God, fell into great error because they did not search the scriptures (see verse 22) to know how to keep the law of God regarding how to worship Him and what is to come. Since the Zoramites did not know what the scriptures taught regarding God’s law they were tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine and traditions of men (see Ephesians 4:14) and thus perverting the right ways of the Lord.
Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
Verse 11: Yea, in fine, they did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances; therefore, FOR THIS CAUSE, Alma and his brethren went into the land to preach the word unto them.
Alma went into the land because the people were perverting the ways of the Lord. Not because the people were doing what the Lord wanted them to do, but to bring them BACK to the laws and ordinances that the Lord had already given them in the scriptures. NOT to tell the people all is well (see 2 Nephi 28:21), and hearken onto what I say (see 2 Nephi 28:5-6), but to bring them BACK to the LORD.
Verse 12: Alma and his brothers were astonished that the Zoramites first built churches and second they ONLY worshipped in them ONCE a week.
Verse 13: the churches had a pulpit where only one person could stand or “which being interpreted is the holy stand” verse 21
Verses 14-18: Their form of worship had more to do with their pride of themselves than what God is. Repeatedly this chapter talks about how they feel they are saved not because they become like the one archetype (see Lectures on Faith 7:9) but because God elected them to be saved even though God is no respecter of persons.
Lectures on Faith 7:9 As all the visible creation is an effect of faith, so is salvation, also. (We mean salvation in its most extensive latitude of interpretation, whether it is temporal or spiritual) In order to have this subject clearly set before the mind, let us ask what situation must a person be in, in order to be saved? or what is the difference between a saved man and one who is not saved? We answer from what we have before seen of the heavenly worlds, they must be persons who can work by faith, and who are able, by faith to be ministering spirits to them who shall be heirs of salvation. And they must have faith to enable them to act in the presence of the Lord, otherwise they cannot be saved. And what constitutes the real difference between a saved person and one not saved, is the difference in the degree of their faith: one’s faith has become perfect enough to lay hold upon eternal life, and the other’s has not. But to be a little more particular, let us ask, where shall we find a prototype into whose likeness we may be assimulated, in order that we may be made partakers of life and salvation? Or in other words, where shall we find a saved being? for if we can find a saved being, we may ascertain, without much difficulty, what all others must be, in order to be saved—they must be like that individual or they cannot be saved: we think, that it will not be a matter of dispute, that two beings, who are unlike each other, cannot both be saved; for whatever constitutes the salvation of one, will constitute the salvation of every creature which will be saved: and if we find one saved being in all existence, we may see what all others must be, or else not be saved. We ask, then, where is the prototype? or where is the saved being? We conclude as to the answer of this question there will be no dispute among those who believe the bible, that it is Christ: all will agree in this that he is the prototype or standard of salvation, or in other words, that he is a saved being. And if we should continue our interrogation, and ask how it is that he is saved, the answer would be, because he is a just and holy being; and if he were anything different from what he is he would not be saved; for his salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else; for if it were possible for him to change in the least degree, so sure he would fail of salvation and lose all his dominion, power, authority and glory, which constitutes salvation; for salvation consists in the glory, authority, majesty, power and dominion which Jehovah possesses, and in nothing else; and no being can possess it but himself or one like him: Thus says John, in his first epistle, 3:2 and 3: Behold, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be; but we know, that when he shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And any man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.—Why purify himself as he is pure? because, if they do not they cannot be like him.
Verse 15: we believe that thou art holy … and that thou wilt be a spirit forever.
The Zoramites don’t believe that they can personally touch God’s flesh while they are yet in the flesh. When Christ came to the disciples in Jerusalem after the resurrection Christ directed them to hand Him and see that he has flesh and bones. In 3 Nephi 11 when Jesus Christ visited the people in America, He instructed them to feel Him that they might know He is the God of Israel. I believe this idea has much to do with the Second Comforter subject and John 17:3 “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” This subject is deep and vast, and is a subject for another post.
3 Nephi 11:14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may THRUST your hands into MY SIDE, and also that ye may FEEL the prints of the nails in MY HANDS and in my FEET, that ye may KNOW that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. 15 And it came to pass that the MULTITUDE went forth, and THRUST their hands into HIS SIDE, and did FEEL the prints of the nails in HIS HANDS and in his FEET; and this they did do, going forth ONE BY ONE until they had ALL gone forth, and did SEE with their EYES and did FEEL with their HANDS, and did KNOW of a SURETY and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
Verse 16: Abraham sought after the wisdom and knowledge of the fathers, and so are we.
Verse 22: and that [they were] not led them away after the traditions of their brethren (the Nephites true followers of God) and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in the things to come, which they knew nothing about.
Where do true followers of God get their traditions? From the written word of God of course for without it they would fall into error. (see 1 Nephi 4:15) In addition to leading us to God, the scriptures have prophecies of what is to happen in the future for a multiple reasons. To list only 2, one that we may know God is God and knows all and two so we will be prepared and not scared when these things happen so we will be able to hear promptings when they come, for the spirit of God cannot dwell where there is fear.
1 Nephi 4:15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.
Verse 23: The Zoramites, people who think they understand God, don’t consider God during the week and in the things they do. But only once a week. How much do you think they really believed in God if they only thought about Him only once a week, and then only to say how better they are than others.
Verse 24-28: their costly apparel … their hearts are set upon [Riches] (which canker souls see D&C 56:16) and not their fellow men.
When is the last time YOU helped the less fortunate DIRECTLY yourself? What YOU, can’t put enough emphasis on you, not what you paid someone else to do, you have done it unto Christ (see Matt 25:40).
D&C 56: 16 Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!
Matt 25: 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Verse 29: that there shall be no Christ.
I wonder if this has to do with the fact the Zoramites don’t believe in Christ teachings. There is a difference between believing in Christ and believing what Jesus taught, and even then doing them (see Matt 7:23). We will recognize Him after we are like Him (see 1 John 3:2). If we are not like Him we will not understand or see Him.
Matt 7:23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Verse 31: O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me BECAUSE of the iniquity of this people!
Is Alma saying he will suffer afflictions BECAUSE of the iniquity of others? Just in case you thought this was a mistake this same idea is mentioned in verse 33 also.
Verse 32: Eight people, including Alma, are laboring to bring souls to Christ. Eight is a symbolic number of Christ.