The history now reverts to unfolding the story of the sons of Mosiah, as they meet up again with Alma, journeying home from the land of the Lamanites.
1 And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla. [eastern side of the Mississippi River]
2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; [after fourteen years] yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. [It had not been long after their conversion that the sons of Mosiah had left to preach to the Lamanites. Their knowledge of the Gospel and scriptures were very rudimentary when they departed.]
3 But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God. [Prayer and fasting is the key to open the gifts of the Spirit. To break this down: praying, asking the Lord for that which we desire in righteousness. Fasting, as we learn to separate from the carnal man and focus our entire heart, might, mind, and strength upon establishing a relationship with Him, to be a servant of God. By doing this we prepare ourselves to receive the blessings.]
4 And they had been teaching the word of God for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites, having had much success in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, by the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God, to call on his name and confess their sins before him. [The “altar of God” is an expression meaning to lay our sins before Him and pray with full intent for forgiveness and redemption.]
5 Now these are the circumstances which attended them in their journeyings, for they had many afflictions; they did suffer much, both in body and in mind, such as hunger, thirst and fatigue, and also much labor in the spirit. [The journey of a servant of God is not an easy one. It is filled with suffering, sacrifice, and heartache; but the reward far outweighs the sacrifice.]
6 Now these were their journeyings: Having taken leave of their father, Mosiah, in the first year of the judges; having refused the kingdom which their father was desirous to confer upon them, and also this was the minds of the people; [The people had desired that the monarchy end and another government be established.]
7 Nevertheless they departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and took their swords, and their spears, and their bows, and their arrows, and their slings; and this they did that they might providefood for themselves while in the wilderness.
8 And thus they departed into the wilderness with their numbers which they had selected, to go up to the land of Nephi, to preach the word of God unto the Lamanites.
9 And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct. [If there ever was a reason to fast, it would be to have the Lord’s Spirit abide in us so that we could be His servant. They specifically desired to help their brethren the Lamanites. These men would not have attempted this had the Lord’s Spirit not inspired them to go forward. Alma the elder had also given his blessing upon their efforts. These were brave men with great faith. Our faith precedes the miracle. We must see it in our mind and then have the courage to move forward and make it so, according the Lord’s revelation to us.]
10 And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted. [He gave them confidence and assurance that they were doing the right thing. As we follow through on a revelation (commandment) the Lord will give us this comfort. Here is how we know and discern it is from the Lord. If things do not go as planned and seem to fail (as will happen with these young men at first) we must not give up hope. The success is rarely realized until after the trial of our faith.]
11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls. [By revelation they were told that would be afflicted, but that if they were patient and showed a good example to the Lamanites they would have success. Keep this in mind as you consider the demeanor of Ammon as he confronts the king of the Lamanites and dwells amongst them.]
12 And it came to pass that the hearts of the sons of Mosiah, and also those who were with them, took courage to go forth unto the Lamanites to declare unto them the word of God.
13 And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another [A good call considering they would have appeared as a war party had they not disbanded.], trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken.
14 And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.
15 Thus they were a very indolent [lazy] people, many of whom did worship idols [pursuit of pleasure and power], and the curse of God had fallen upon them because of the traditions of their fathers; notwithstanding the promises of the Lord were extended unto them on the conditions of repentance.
Our society today is much similar to the Lamanites of old. Many focus their energies on entertainment and the quick acquirement of riches and pleasure. The things of God are of little importance to many. How we have fallen!
16 Therefore, this was the cause for which the sons of Mosiah had undertaken the work, that perhaps they might bring them unto repentance; that perhaps they might bring them to know of the plan of redemption.
17 Therefore they separated themselves one from another, and went forth among them, every man alone, according to the word and power of God which was given unto him.
Today, the servants of the Lord are spread out upon the earth. They mingle amongst those who are much like the Lamanites at the time of the sons of Mosiah. As you read their accounts consider how their story applies to you, if you are a servant of God.
18 Now Ammon being the chief among them, or rather he did administer unto them [He was not elected, but demonstrated faith unto leadership as he prophesied and set the example for the group.], and he departed from them, after having blessed them according to their several stations, having imparted the word of God unto them, or administered unto them before his departure; and thus they took their several journeys throughout the land. [It was agreed that they would divide in several directions and priesthood blessings were administered. These were not as we would see today. Ammon stood, as he was filled with the Spirit and prophesied to them according to the revelation the Lord gave Him concerning the different brothers and what they needed to know.]
19 And Ammon went to the land of Ishmael, the land being called after the sons of Ishmael, who also became Lamanites.
20 And as Ammon entered the land of Ishmael, the Lamanites took him and bound him, as was their custom to bind all the Nephites who fell into their hands, and carry them before the king; and thus it was left to the pleasure of the king to slay them, or to retain them in captivity, or to cast them into prison, or to cast them out of his land, according to his will and pleasure.
21 And thus Ammon was carried before the king who was over the land of Ishmael; and his name was Lamoni; and he was a descendant of Ishmael.
22 And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or among his people.
23 And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.
From my personal journal:
I then asked if I could learn more about Ammon, as written in the Book of Mormon. Ammon was the son of Mosiah and refused to be king at the death of his father. He was a noble man, who was a seeker of truth. Being the son of a king gave Ammon great opportunity. He was taught much concerning the history of the people, the Church, and also dissenting philosophies; which is what led to the period where him, his brothers, and Alma the younger were active in that cause. The shift of paradigm came when they were jolted on the road and were spoken to by the Spirit of the Lord together. Their hearts were pricked and they repented.
I got a good look at Ammon. He was noble looking, brown hair and a short beard. He was athletic, thick arms and wide in his girth and face. He looked like a Rugby player. My impression of him was that he was very sober, serious, and thoughtful. I wondered how cunning and attractive the secular doctrine must have been to trick them all before their repentance.
Ammon fasted and prayed many days with his brethren and some without before the Lord put it into his heart what he needed to do. I saw Ammon walking very humbly into a villiage with his shield and sword layed over it in front of his body. He held his shield out in front of him with the sword on it as if he was delivering something. His sword was about 20 inches long. It was an act of surrender and when the Lamanites saw him they approached and he spoke to them that he wished to see the King. Had he not said that he would have been killed immediately. These Lamanites were basically good people in that they were honest and kind to their families and tribes. The Nephites had a reputation for deceit and they were in a constant state of war with them.
The Lamanites reminded me of Polynesians. Their clothes resembled native Americans somewhat. Ammon was taken to King Lamoni. The buildings were like large huts made of wood, grass, and animal skins. Some were very large. At the opening to one of the largest structures was an open court with large wood poles embellished with metal decoration and symbol. Everything had a very native American feel, but even a little Eskimo in its look. I don’t know much about native American things, so I may not be doing a good job describing. King Lamoni seemed to be in his forties, dark hair. He wore a crown of tall black feathers that went up. He wore clothing that was decorated with metal and some designs, and sat in a chair at the head of the building. The people were gathered around and the place of the King was shaded. I saw him smiling as Ammon expressed his desires to the king. Ammon was deadpan serious and spoke in the same language as the Lamanites. I think they speak the same, or closely the same language. The King agreed to what Ammon desired, but he appeared more amused, perhaps thinking he was a little crazy after offering himself without accepting his gifts. I’m not sure Lamoni intended to really give the gifts, like it was a test.
24 And it came to pass that king Lamoni was much pleased with Ammon, and caused that his bands should be loosed; and he would that Ammon should take one of his daughters to wife.
25 But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni. And it came to pass that he was set among other servants to watch the flocks of Lamoni, according to the custom of the Lamanites.
26 And after he had been in the service of the king three days, as he was with the Lamanitish servants going forth with their flocks to the place of water, which was called the water of Sebus, and all the Lamanites drive their flocks hither, that they may have water—
27 Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways.
28 Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already.
29 Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.
30 And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren.
31 And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: My brethren, be of good cheer and let us go in search of the flocks, and we will gather them together and bring them back unto the place of water; and thus we will preserve the flocks unto the king and he will not slay us.
32 And it came to pass that they went in search of the flocks, and they did follow Ammon, and they rushed forth with much swiftness and did head the flocks of the king, and did gather them together again to the place of water.
33 And those men again stood to scatter their flocks; but Ammon said unto his brethren: Encircle the flocks round about that they flee not; and I go and contend with these men who do scatter our flocks.
34 Therefore, they did as Ammon commanded them, and he went forth and stood to contend with those who stood by the waters of Sebus; and they were in number not a few.
35 Therefore they did not fear Ammon, for they supposed that one of their men could slay him according to their pleasure, for they knew not that the Lord had promised Mosiah that he would deliver his sons out of their hands; neither did they know anything concerning the Lord; therefore they delighted in the destruction of their brethren; and for this cause they stood to scatter the flocks of the king.
36 But Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power; nevertheless they were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they were determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they couldnot hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him.
37 But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm.
38 Now six of them had fallen by the sling, but he slew none save it were their leader with his sword; and he smote off as many of their arms as were lifted against him, and they were not a few.
From my personal journal:
I saw that Ammon became a servant of the King, which was more like a slave. All the kings servants wore color-coded skins with a metal piece worn around the neck. He was required to cut his facial hair and undergo a kind of initiation from the other servants where he was kicked and punched by each of them. He took it without a complaint. They mocked him for who he was, an outsider. Ammon was given back his sword, shield and sling again as the Lamanite servants mocked him. Their weapons of choice were a bow and arrow, bludgeon, and spear.
As he went forth with the servants of the King, the flocks were scattered and it looked hopeless, but Ammon organized the servants to regather the flocks and went to contend with the Lamanite thieves.
The Lord then showed me a couple of interesting things. One was some background about Ammon. He was very skilled with his weapon, as he had been trained to do things from a young age. The people of Zarahemla had a yearly game where they used their weapons, much like an Olympics but less grandiose. Ammon knew how to do things that were amazing. I saw him approach each of the thieves very methodically with his shield in front of himself and do certain maneuvers that allowed him to smite off their arms. It almost looked unfair. Their stones would bounce off his shield or miss him. He was very confident. I didn’t see the part where he slew some of them with stones.
The other thing I was shown is how the Lamanite culture didn’t look upon stealing as anything bad. If they could get away with it, they were justified. The thieves wore hoods to hide their identities. Many of those who lost arms or families to these maimed men actually joined the people of Lamoni later in their conversion. They saw Ammon as a servant of God.
39 And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king, and then went in unto the king, bearing the arms which had been smitten off by the sword of Ammon, of those who sought to slay him; and they were carried in unto the king for a testimony of the things which they had done.