Here’s an irony. In our day, when someone wants to change everything that is wrong with the world, they run for president.  In the Book of Mormon, Alma, hoping to pull down the pride and craftiness and contentions among his people, saw no way to reclaim them except to give up his office.

You can also find it on any of these platforms by searching for Meridian Magazine-Come Follow Me.

Maurine and Scot Proctor have taught Book of Mormon for many years in Institute and have spent extensive time in the Arabian peninsula, following Lehi’s trail. They are the creators of a foundation that has sponsored a multi-year archaeological study of the best candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful in Oman. They have written a book on the Book of Mormon, as well as immersed themselves in the culture, history, and geography. of the scripture.

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Maurine

Here’s an irony. In our day, when someone wants to change everything that is wrong with the world, they run for president.  In the Book of Mormon, Alma, hoping to pull down the pride and craftiness and contentions among his people, saw no way to reclaim them except to give up his office. 

Scot

Hello, we’re Scot and Maurine Proctor, and welcome to Meridian’s Come Follow Me podcast on the Book of Mormon. 

As many of you already know, we released a wonderful new eBook this past week called:  Eleven Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Book of Mormon.  This book, priced at only $6.99, will answer things such as:  What do we know about Nephi’s sisters?  Do the names in the Book of Mormon have any significance?  Does the great visitation of Christ to the Nephites at ancient Bountiful have any resemblance to our modern times—including what is happening at Adam-ondi-Ahman? In what language was the plates of brass written—you might be surprised—and much, much more! This is the beginning of a little series that I’ve been working on for a long time that I’m calling: “The Eleven Things” series.  I’ve found over nearly 20 years of teaching adult and young adult institute classes that many miss the hidden gems in the scriptures. They miss the details and many of the “ah-ha moments” that are densely packed into Holy Writ.

Maurine

You will love this book.  It is a truly fun read. And, Scot, you’ve kept this one under one hundred pages so that it can be studied and read easily and it’s full of wonderful discoveries that will delight the readers.  I promise this will excite you to learn even more about the incomparable Book of Mormon.  You will learn things you’ve just never known before. At only $6.99 it’s a real bargain.  To learn more and to order the eBook, please go to latterdaysaintmag.com/eleventhings that’s latterdaysaintmag.com/eleventhings and spell the word eleven.

Scot

This week we are studying Alma chapters 8-12 and the title is “Jesus Christ will Come to Redeem His People.”

Maurine

Alma hoped to change and reclaim his people by “bearing down in pure testimony against them” (Alma 4:19).  Do you want to change things? Change hearts. President Ezra Taft Benson said it this way, “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 the 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.” https://www.thechurchnews.com/archives/1999-11-06/the-lord-works-from-the-inside-out-the-world-works-from-the-outside-in-121468

So Alma had it right, and it was right not just for his time, but for all time.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland adds, “In times like ours we all need what Mormon called ‘the virtue of the word of God’ because, he said, it  ‘had [a] more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them’” (Alma 31:5).

Scot

Elder Holland continues, “When crises come in our lives—and they will—the philosophies of men interlaced with a few scriptures and poems just won’t do. Are we really nurturing our youth and our new members in a way that will sustain them when the stresses of life appear? Or are we giving them a kind of theological Twinkie—spiritually empty calories? President John Taylor once called such teaching ‘fried froth,’ the kind of thing you could eat all day and yet finish feeling totally unsatisfied. 

“During a severe winter several years ago, President Boyd K. Packer noted that a goodly number of deer had died of starvation while their stomachs were full of hay. In an honest effort to assist, agencies had supplied the superficial when the substantial was what had been needed. Regrettably they had fed the deer but they had not nourished them.” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland “A Teacher Come from God” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1998/04/a-teacher-come-from-god?lang=eng

Maurine

Now Alma had success in changing hearts in Zarahemla, Gideon and Melek, but then he came to Ammonihah, a people who were after the order of Nehor, and who believed that all men would be saved without a Redeemer. In other words, do whatever you want in this life. We learn that “Satan had gotten great hold upon [their ] hearts” (Alma 8:9) and in their so-called tolerance of behavior had become a wicked people. You can see it in the terrible way they taunt Alma.

They tell Alma that they were not of his church and did not believe such “foolishness.” There’s that superior word again as if believers are small minded and stupid simpletons. What’s more, they taunt him that since he had delivered up the judgment seat, “thou hast no power over us” (Alma 8:12). 

Scot

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Prophets have a way of jarring the carnal mind” and we might say, that is why they are so often criticized. Yet, President Kimball continues, “Those prophets I have known are the most loving of men. It is because of their love and integrity that they cannot modify the Lord’s message merely to make people feel comfortable. They are too kind to be so cruel. I am so grateful that prophets do not crave popularity.” (President Spencer W. Kimball, “Listen to the Prophets” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1978/04/listen-to-the-prophets?lang=eng )

Of course, Alma was experiencing anything but popularity in Ammonihah. The hatred, violence and criticism of him was intense.  Scholar Duane Boyce, writing of the prophets said, “A Yiddish proverb comments on the stubborn recalcitrance of humankind: “If God lived on earth people would break His windows.” Because it is our general tendency to reject God’s counsels and doings, our decision to accept or reject them ought not to be determined by a majority vote. Prophetic pronouncements are no more likely to be crowd-pleasers in the twenty-first century than they were in the first.”

Maurine

“There is a vast difference that exists between our perspectives and those of God (Isaiah 55:8–9; 1 Corinthians 1:25–29). God perceives not only every thought and intent of every person’s heart but also foresees the eternal consequences of every person’s choices — and not only the consequences of such choices for themselves but also for all others who are affected by them (2 Nephi 9:20).2 He is also a being of perfect holiness (Moses 6:57; 7:35). He has no moral flaws, no selfish motivations (3 Ne. 12:48; 1 John 1:5). He wants only what is right and pure (Alma 7:20), and His love for us is perfect and unending (1 John 4:8). Not incidentally, His divine purpose is to help each of us become as He is (Moses 1:39).

“It is hard to imagine how mortals could be less like God in these respects (Moses 1:10). Our natural condition limits our perspectives, subjects us to a constant battle with our selfish impulses, taints our love, and bends our purposes toward destructive ends (Mosiah 3:19). We are perfect at nothing (Matthew 19:17).”

Scot

Boyce continues, “Because of these vast differences, it seems reasonable to expect God to behave and think differently about various matters than we do, and His ways will routinely make little sense to us…

“All this helps us see why we cannot suppose that the test of authenticity for a prophetic teaching is whether or not it ‘makes sense.’ Scripture and the history of the Church are replete with lessons teaching that we should expect to hear things from prophets that seem utter foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18–31). Such things naturally invite both ridicule and offense from those who reject the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:4–16). None of this should surprise us.

“Nor should it be a surprise when prophetic announcements make the Saints’ lives harder. When Moses approached Pharaoh, the short-term result was a steep decline in the quality of life for the children of Israel; Pharaoh punished them by making their hard labors even more demanding (Exodus 5:1–23). Similarly, life became more difficult for Joseph Smith once he began to share his First Vision (Joseph Smith–History 1:22–24), and for all the Saints thereafter.” (Duane Boyce, “What it Means to Sustain the Brethren” https://latterdaysaintmag.com/what-it-means-to-sustain-the-brethren/

Maurine

Now Alma had worked hard in Ammonihah, only to be mocked and disdained. The scriptures described Alma’s missionary labors this way, “wrestling with God in mighty prayer” (Alma 8:1), and we know from what he says later that there had been much fasting. It reminds us that missionary work isn’t usually easy. How many doors do you have slammed in your face or how many people do you approach before someone shows any interest?  Many good missionaries go their entire mission without a single convert. Appointments are dropped. Suddenly phone calls are not returned. Our missionary efforts require sustained patience and persistence.

For Alma’s efforts, the people “reviled him, and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city: (Alma 8:13). 

Scot

I often think these traumatic scenes in scriptures are understated. What details are left out since we don’t see the violence directed at Alma, or the many rallied against him with a mob mentality as they throw him from their city, probably even roughing him up in the process. 

What we do see is Alma’s response as he is journeying away, “weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul” (Alma 8”14). What is surprising is that this anguish is not about the way he has been brutally treated, but because of their wickedness and what will come to them because they won’t repent.

Maurine

Elder Holland said, “With admiration and encouragement for everyone who will need to remain steadfast in these latter days, I say to all and especially the youth of the Church that if you haven’t already, you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”.

To those, you will “in your own humble way [step] into a circle of very distinguished women and men who have, as the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said, “view[ed Christ’s] death, and suffer[ed] his cross and [borne] the shame of the world.”(Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Cost—and Blessings—of Discipleship.” 

Scot

What happens next, almost takes one’s breath away because of Alma’s unwavering devotion. An angel appears to him and says “Lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst they first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you” (Alma 8:15)

One amazing point and one remarkable question come from this. First, in the midst of suffering, if you have been faithful, you have reason to rejoice. You have not been knocked from your testimony in hardship. And second, do we have a glimpse into the economy and stewardships of the next life when we understand that this angel who came to the sinful Alma, the Younger, is the same who came to deliver a new message to him now. Has this angel a particular stewardship for Alma? Is that the case for us? That’s an idea that intrigues.

Maurine

The angel commands him to return to the city with a really difficult message, “except they repent the Lord God will destroy them” and this is the moment that astonishes me. Once Alma had received this message, ‘he returned speedily to the land of Ammonihah” (Alma 8:18).

If I were Alma, I might have asked if I could think about it for a few days while I processed my pain and healed up a bit. Or I might suggest that some other missionary might have better luck, since my way of saying things certainly hadn’t worked. He might have said, “I’m just not that popular in Ammonihah.”

No, Alma returns speedily, and these are two words I have let play in my mind for many years. They are up there with Peter leaving his nets “straightway” when Jesus called him to be a fisher of men. Why didn’t Peter say, let me just get this load of fish in and make sure there’s plenty of food at home, and then I will meet you tomorrow?

Scot

This kind of firmness and steadfastness to return speedily or leave your nets straightway really does open your eyes to new heights of human character. I am not talking alone here of the firmness and steadfastness of behavior, but the steadfastness of heart, might, mind, and strength, so that life does not dim our light, so that our souls are not knocked or distracted from our singleness to seek, know and serve the Lord. 

Grace under pressure. An eye single to the glory of God.  A heart that is unwavering under the squeeze.  Firm and steadfast no matter what.  What spiritual radiance there is in not waiting for some other time or some other place or some other circumstance to cast ourselves wholeheartedly to God.  Life is what happens to us, while we are distracted or self-absorbed with our burdens.  If we wait to love others, until our own needs are not crying at us, we will never serve them.  If we wait to love God until we are perfectly content that he has answered every request, we will never love him–and we will never know him.

Maurine

Since Christ is our exemplar, two moments from His life touch me deeply with their spiritual radiance in the same way. Clearly Christ’s disciples learn how to stay radiantly steady when life would throw them off course—and they learn it from Him.

“Early in his ministry Jesus had gone to the wilderness for 40 days to fast and be with his Father.  After, he was hungered, famished and dehydrated.  Like us, he had a mortal body, subject to every discomfort, and he had been in the blazing heat and relentless sun of the Judean wilderness.  Then, at what certainly could have been a vulnerable point, Satan came to tempt him.”

Scot

“Temptation is harrowing and difficult for us, but we do not know the increasing pressure, the grueling psychological depths of temptation, that Satan exerted upon the Lord who resisted it so magnificently. At any rate, between the fasting and the adversary’s fiery darts, Jesus had been pounded both physically and spiritually to an extent we don’t experience, when the scripture says, ‘Then the devil, leaveth him, and behold angels came and ministered unto him’ (Matt. 4:12)

“That spiritual triumph could alone impress us, but Joseph Smith tells us something more in the JST.  “and now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and behold, they came and ministered unto him” (JST. Matt. 4:11).  In that hour of vulnerability and thirst, when he had been worn and weary, stretched thin, he thought not of his own misery, but of John’s.  John, who had been thrown in a dungeon, was the object of Christ’s thoughts, and he sent angels to comfort him.  That takes my breath away.  Who is this Jesus Christ and to what possibilities of light does his character point us?”

Maurine

Here’s another example. “Jesus was stripped, crucified on a cross, probably along a public highway as was the Roman custom, so that all could humiliate and disdain him.  He was already bleeding from a beating and a crown of thorns.  He was mocked with the sign that was supposed to be an accusation, ‘This is Jesus the King of the Jews’ it read, and the crowd reviled him, ‘If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself’ (Luke 23:37)—a stab at his mission and his identity. When he said, ‘I thirst,’ he was given vinegar. 

Scot

“In that ghastly hour when his flesh was ripped, his lungs collapsing under the pressure, he felt again the full weight of the atonement that he had experienced in Gethsemane. It would seem enough, just to endure, but no, again Christ amazes us.  Even in this intolerable anguish, he was concerned for the well-being and care of his mother.

“’When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, behold thy son!  Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother.’ (John 19:26,27)

Maurine

“What is this spiritual magnificence?  What capacities of divine character do we catch a glimpse of?  When he is pounded he responds still with this consistent outpouring of love for others and faith in his Father.  This is grace under pressure—and though we will never know the intensity of his pain, we have our own small pressures, and, therefore an invitation is extended to stand before them with grace.

“The scripture in James that we know well because of Joseph Smith, is followed by a sentence we often overlook.  James tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask of God—but—and here is a key, ‘let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed’” (James 1: 5,6). 

Scot

“Unfortunately, wavering is something most of us know well.  You might even say it is the mortal affliction.  Our spirituality ebbs and flows. The conditions aren’t always ripe for the flourishing of our spirits—or so it seems.

At one moment, we are filled with the Spirit, we see the grand horizon, we tearfully promise God that we will give all we have and are to him.  Yet, there is often a slow, grinding down in our lives.  What we feel in the morning has been pounded out of us by the afternoon.  What we resolve on Sunday, we forget on Tuesday.  The world is too much with us.  We are weary.  Sometimes our hope is dimmed.  The thing we wanted very most, is the thing we don’t receive.  The effort, which cost us much and at one time seemed to promise so much, ends in failure.  The child of our hopes and dreams disappoints us or rejects our teachings.

We can be true and hopeful when prayers are answered and the crops come in, but what about when we kneel in need and seem to hear only the echo of our own voice?

Maurine

Sometimes in our life we face trials, clearly identified and difficult–death, sickness, financial reversal, the abuse of a family member.  But, often just as trying, is the long, tedious, wearing down of every day.  The job that needs to be constantly redone. The relentless undoing of our dreams. All the things that work away at us may dim our intentions.  We mean to be steady, like a river, and instead we dry up under pressure like a river in Arabia.

Many moments of our life we may just feel dead inside, dead like autumn leaves that blow randomly along a gutter.  We cry out to the Lord, “Breathe life into me.”

We want to forge ahead with an eye single to the glory of God.  We want to be able to step outside of ourselves and truly see the needs of others, but the struggle is real.  It is hard to operate with the grace we intend under the pressure of mortality.

Scot

We find good reasons we couldn’t be as true as we intended.  I compare it to developing a habit like running.  You’d like to exercise every day, but something comes up. Today it is too cold.  Or it is too hot.  It is too dark.  Or you are busy.  You have an ache.  Your stomach hurts.  Maybe tomorrow would be better.  Excuses abound for stopping us from doing the things we really want to.

Christ again is our model.  For though God never abandons us, when Christ was performing the mighty atonement, His Father did withdraw from him, that the triumph might be his alone.  And Christ cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15: 34) And then, feeling thus forsaken, he carried out his work, and with his last words on the cross he said, “Thy will is done.” (JST Matthew 28:54)

Maurine

What manner of men ought we to be?  Even as I am.  Let us make an affirmation this day to be unwavering. “I know God that thou art there for me, and I will be there for thee.  When I look around and don’t find thee in my world or in my sometimes harrowing life, thou art still written on my heart.” (Maurine Proctor “Grace under Pressure” https://ldsmag.com/article-1-7232/)

All that to me is found in that magnificent gesture when Alma speedily returns instead of doing what might have been easy, drag your feet, complain, or hide.  

What does Alma find in Ammonihah? That the Lord had everything arranged for him. The great Alma is reduced to begging for food, and he was especially hungry because he had been fasting for many days, and who does he find? Amulek. An angel had already told Amulek that a holy prophet of God was coming and he should receive him.

Scot

Amulek’s being right there was not a coincidence, but a divine orchestration. We see many of these in our own lives. Elder Neal A. Maxwell once explained: “None of us ever fully utilizes the people-opportunities allocated to us within our circles of friendship. You and I may call these intersectings ‘coincidence.’ This word is understandable for mortals to use, but coincidence is not an appropriate word to describe the workings of an omniscient God. He does not do things by ‘coincidence’ but … by ‘divine design.’” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Brim with Joy”. https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/neal-a-maxwell/brim-joy/#byu

After a few days of rest, Alma and Amulek begin to preach, and it is clear why Alma would need a good companion. As Alma teaches, the people taunt him, “Who art thou? Suppose ye that we shall believe the testimony of one man?”…We will not believe thy words if thou shouldst prophesy that this great city should be destroyed in one day.” (Alma 9:2, 4).

For those who know the rest of the story of the Book of Mormon, this boast is ironic, because of course that is exactly what happens to Ammonihah. For all its greatness and supposed superiority, it is destroyed in one day. 

Maurine

Alma’s warning to the people of Ammonihah is important for all those who have had the light and then turned away from it. He begs them to repent and cites all the things the Lord has done for them. God particularly will not allow them to persecute and destroy his Church, now that they have made their exit.

“For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities to destroy his people. I say unto you, Nay; he would rather suffer that the Lamanites might destroy all his people who are called the people of Nephi, if it were possible that they could fall into sins and transgressions, after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God.

Scot

“Yea, after having been a such a highly favored people of the Lord; yea after having been favored above every other nation, kindred, tongue or people; after having had all things made known unto them, according to their desires, and their faith, and prayers, of that which has been, and which is, and which is to come” (Alma 9: 19, 20).

If they have transgressed after so many blessings, it will be better for the Lamanites, who have not received such gifts, than for them. The Lamanites have sinned mostly in ignorance and so their responsibility is different.

The Lord is ever interested in his children not being destroyed, so, of course, he sends this second witness Amulek, and we learn a lot about him very quickly. He is a person of means and reputation in Ammonihah, much of it from his own labor. He is a descendant of that same Aminadi who interpreted the writing that was on the wall of the temple. 

Maurine

Whoa. I don’t know that story.

Scot

It is intriguing to get the merest glimpse of a story that Mormon did not choose to include in the plates. He tells us often he can only tell the hundredth part, and this remarkable event, Mormon left out.  

Maurine

Now, Amulek tells us he has been an important man for a purpose, which is to acknowledge that for all those trappings, “I have never known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power…but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people. 

“Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know” (Alma 10: 5,6).

Scot

I was called, but I would not hear. I knew, yet I would not know. That describes an interesting human condition we call resistance. But why would we ever resist the Lord? Is it because we are afraid to be vulnerable before Him? Is it because we are afraid He will ask something of us that we don’t want to give? Is it because we imagine we are self-sufficient? Or is it just because we want to live our lives in our own way without any interference?

We cling to our resistance for many reasons, which in the end look very short-sighted. Amulek testifies that he has seen an angel who told him to watch for Alma to come. He testifies that his family has been blessed. He testifies that what Alma has told them is true—and this is enough to rile up the important people. The lawyers, who are making a good living from the trouble they can create, now use their “cunning devices [that] they might catch [Alma and Amulek] in their words (Alma 10:13). Destroy what you cannot bear to hear. That is the outlook of the people of Ammonihah.

Maurine

They want to deliver Alma and Amulek to prison or to be slain.  At that moment when the old Amulek might have backed down, now he stands up and whips the people to greater fury by telling them that it is only the prayers of the righteous that have spared them to this point. 

Amulek proclaims, “that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges” (Alma 10:27).

We learn, “Now the object of these lawyers was to get gain; and they got gain according to their employ” (Alma 10:32) 

Scot

So, of course, they are rewarded for stirring up trouble, “therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ” (Alma 11:20).   Now, the record makes what looks like an interesting aside as it describes in some detail the Nephite monetary system, but one reason for that, in this place where money matters so much, may be to clarify the nature of the bribe Zeezrom offers Amulek.

The most brilliant accuser of Alma and Amulek was Zeezrom, “a man who was expert in the devices of the devil, that he might destroy that which was good” (Alma 11:21).

“Zeezrom said unto him: Behold, here are six onties of silver, and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being’ (Alma 11:22). An onti was a substantial bribe. 

Maurine

We see a second time in these chapters that Amulek can perceive the thoughts of those who seek to snare him. To discern another’s thoughts and pierce clear to their heart and mind is a spiritual gift that is clearly demonstrated here. How often we wish we had this gift!

Amulek says to Zeezrom, ”Thou hast lied before God unto me. Thou saidst unto me—Behold these six onties, which are of great worth, I will give unto thee—when thou hadst it in thy heart to retain them from me; and it was only thy desire that I should deny the true and living God, that thou mightest have cause to destroy me” (Alma 11:25).

Zeezrom continues to lie, split hairs, and change the meaning of words in the dialogue that follows, and Amulek is bold. 

Scot

He and Alma both preach what they call the plan of redemption, laying it out so clearly it reminds us why this Book of Mormon is irreplaceable to us. You just don’t see such a clear explanation in any other scripture of the plan of salvation. 

They speak of it in terms of restoration. All shall have the bands of death loosed with “the spirit and the body…reunited again in its perfect form…Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous, and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but everything shall be restored to its perfect frame” (Alma 11: 42, 43).

Maurine

Of course, this is because Christ overcame physical death. But for the wicked, they will remain “as though there had been no redemption made, except for loosing the bands of death” (Alma 11:41). “We shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt” (Alma 11:43).

Hearing things laid out so clearly, even Zeezrom begins to tremble and rethink his words. He was convinced more and more of the power of God.

Amulek had accomplished the unthinkable—actually silencing Zeezrom. Alma reminds him that He cannot lie to God, because God knows all of our thoughts.  

Scot

Here another mystery is shared. You know how when people you love leave the church, you begin to see how they revise their own history. They claim they never felt the Spirit. That was just an emotional moment. They say they never had a testimony. They were just influenced by peer pressure. They really don’t know things they used to know. Even if they could repeat the words of doctrine, the Spirit is no longer there to expand the mind and testify of meaning and truth. When they pull back in their spirit, they also pull back in their mind and they no longer have spiritual access to the same realm of spiritual understanding. It just dissolved and blew away on the wind.

Alma explains this to us: “He that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word…until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell” (Alma 12:10).

We don’t want to harden our hearts so that the word no longer has a place in us. This doesn’t happen all at once. Hardening our hearts can often be a gradual thing, until one day we wake up and realize we are no longer where we were before.

Maurine

What is hardening our hearts? It is to be resistant, proud, rebellious, stiff-necked and stubborn toward the Lord. 

As Elder Marvin J. Ashton said, “Why the heart? Because the heart is a synonym for one’s entire makeup. We often use phrases about the heart to describe the total person. Thus, we describe people as being ‘big-hearted’ or ‘goodhearted’ or having a ‘heart of gold.’ Or we speak of people with faint hearts, wise hearts, pure hearts, willing hearts, deceitful hearts, conniving hearts, courageous hearts, cold hearts, hearts of stone or selfish hearts” (Elder Marvin J. Ashton, “The Measure of our Hearts” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1988/10/the-measure-of-our-hearts?lang=eng

It is the Spirit of the Lord that softens the heart. 

Scot

That’s all for today. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this has been Meridian Magazine’s “Come Follow Me” podcast. Thanks to Paul Cardall for the beautiful music that begins and ends this podcast and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins for production. Next week we’ll discuss Alma 13-16, “Enter into the Rest of the Lord.”

See you then!