1 Now it came to pass that after the end of Korihor, Alma having received tidings that the Zoramites were perverting the ways of the Lord, and that Zoram, who was their leader, was leading the hearts of the people to bow down to dumb idols [a focus of faith other than God], his heart again began to sicken because of the iniquity of the people.
Any kind of doctrine or practice that takes our focus away from Jesus Christ is a dumb idol, because it has no power to save.
2 For it was the cause of great sorrow to Alma to know of iniquity among his people; therefore his heart was exceedingly sorrowful because of the separation of the Zoramites from the Nephites. [The Zoramites had separated themselves according to Zoram’s teachings on the far eastern side of the Nephite lands.]
3 Now the Zoramites had gathered themselves together in a land which they called Antionum, which was east of the land of Zarahemla, which lay nearly bordering upon the seashore, which was south of the land of Jershon, which also bordered upon the wilderness south, which wilderness was full of the Lamanites.
4 Now the Nephites greatly feared that the Zoramites would enter into a correspondence with the Lamanites, and that it would be the means of great loss on the part of the Nephites. [As had previously occurred with the Amalekites and the Amulonites.]
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.
6 Therefore he took Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner; and Himni he did leave in the church in Zarahemla; but the former three he took with him, and also Amulek and Zeezrom, who were at Melek; and he also took two of his sons.
7 Now the eldest of his sons he took not with him, and his name was Helaman; but the names of those whom he took with him were Shiblon and Corianton; and these are the names of those who went with him among the Zoramites, to preach unto them the word. [It must have been a pleasing thought to go and preach to these people with his great friends, the sons of Mosiah, after seeing the great success they had in the conversion of so many Lamanites. Their faith was overflowing in the Lord.]
8 Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites; therefore they had had the word of God preached unto them.
9 But they had fallen into great errors, for they would not observe to keep the commandments of God, and his statutes, according to the law of Moses. [It does not take very long for a people to “fall into great errors.” It is the nature of men to change the laws and ordinances to their liking, or even to bend with cultural norms.]
10 Neither would they observe the performances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation.
Is this a “performance of the church” today, to pray to God that we not enter into temptation? I don’t know if I ever hear of this today. It is left to the individual to seek such protection, for ourselves and our family.
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.
12 Now, when they had come into the land, behold, to their astonishment they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld; [It was not as much that they built synagogues and worshipped one day a week, but how they did it that was alarming.]
13 For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person. [The typical altar of the Nephite synagogues and sanctuaries were waste level and was wide enough for more than one person. Kind of like a Sacrament table. This altar was more like the podium of a chapel, set high above the rest.]
14 Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying:
15 Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy [So far, so good.] , and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever. [This last statement suggests that there would not be a Messiah, or that God would condescend in the flesh. This is to break from the Church of Christ.]
16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers [Suggesting that the Jews and the family of Lehi were archaic and not as enlightened as them.]; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ. [A separatist movement where they are the chosen people.]
17 But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God. [How they were able to divide the belief of Christ and have a belief in God is interesting. The Law of Moses and the words of the prophets all point to Christ. Zoram had distinguished himself as a prophet amongst his people and his words had dusted off all previous words to the contrary. This is why it is a good practice to judge the words of a modern prophet against those of the past. Then we can seek personal revelation for discernment.]
18 And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.
The people of Zoram followed a religion which stated that only they were honored to be saved by the Lord. All others could not be saved. This kind of exclusivity doctrine is a great snare of the Adversary. As one continually thanks God and express resolve in prayer regarding what is considered a blessing, you can become convinced that it is true, whether or not the Spirit has confirmed this. Emotion is an easy substitute for the Spirit of God. When the Spirit of truth is given it is not an emotion. It manifests as clear thoughts. Sometimes emotions can be a byproduct of our joy, but never the evidence.
19 Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure. [How could anyone reach this point of deception?]
20 For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers. [To know the true nature of a church, religion, or ideology, all one needs to do is listen to the speeches, prayers, testimonies of their members to get a sense of what they worship. If more than half of what is spoken is not centered upon Christ, it has likely been adulterated.]
21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand. [The Sacred Podium]
I then asked the Lord about the Rameumptom that I am studying now in Alma 31. I was shown a vision of the scene. It was an outdoor area with a perimeter. There was a podium built between 10-15 feet up, like the podium in a large chapel. It was made of wood and had sheets with symbols draped over the stand. One person at a time, from the most respected men in the community would take turns ascending the podium once a week to offer the prayer. There was special seating in front of the podium where only men would sit. In the back, the women would stand. There were various levels of or degrees of worthiness that determined who could be close to the Rameumptom. Zoram was considered their prophet and a priest would teach his words followed by the devotions. At the end of each devotion the congregation was say, “Halem!” Which I think was something similar to how we use “Amen.” There were many of these Sanctuaries around the city and some were enclosed for when the weather was bad.
22 Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.
23 Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner. [A mighty repetitive prayer offered once a week. Such a prayer as Alma described would be so prideful and repugnant to the Lord.]
24 Now when Alma saw this his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people; yea, he saw that their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods. [dumb idols]
How many dumb idols can you think of?
- Social Media
25 Yea, and he also saw that their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride. [“Look at all we have been blessed with. Surely, we are God’s chosen people!”]
26 And he lifted up his voice to heaven, and cried, saying: O, how long, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that thy servants shall dwell here below in the flesh, to behold such gross wickedness among the children of men? [It helps to look up and throw out a prayer to God throughout the day. Yes, He hears everything.]
27 Behold, O God, they cry unto thee, and yet their hearts are swallowed up in their pride. Behold, O God, they cry unto thee with their mouths, while they are puffed up, even to greatness, with the vain things of the world.
28 Behold, O my God, their costly apparel, and their ringlets, and their bracelets, and their ornaments of gold, and all their precious things which they are ornamented with; and behold, their hearts are set upon them, and yet they cry unto thee and say—We thank thee, O God, for we are a chosen people unto thee, while others shall perish. [Many do this today.]
29 Yea, and they say that thou hast made it known unto them that there shall be no Christ.
In a similar manner I hear today:
- “I don’t expect the Second Coming in my lifetime.
- God doesn’t show Himself to people like in the old days.
- Just be a good person, it all works out.
- I know the Church is true because I’m so blessed!
30 O Lord God, how long wilt thou suffer that such wickedness and infidelity shall be among this people? O Lord, wilt thou give me strength, that I may bear with mine infirmities. For I am infirm, and such wickedness among this people doth pain my soul. [Alma first prays for strength, or the faith necessary to exercise the gifts of the Spirit.]
31 O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. 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.
32 O Lord, wilt thou comfort my soul, and give unto me success, and also my fellow laborers who are with me—yea, Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and also Amulek and Zeezrom, and also my two sons—yea, even all these wilt thou comfort, O Lord. Yea, wilt thou comfort their souls in Christ. [The comfort Alma desires is a portion of the Lord’s Spirit, which will give them the power to do the work necessary to help these people.]
33 Wilt thou grant unto them that they may have strength, that they may bear their afflictions which shall come upon them because of the iniquities of this people. [He prays for the faith of his companions.]
34 O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.
35 Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee.
I have learned that a proper and effective way to approach the Lord when asking for a blessing is to reason out your case before Him. The more prepared you are when you pray, the more faith you will exercise. Always prepare to come before the Lord with the big questions and requests as if you are about to plead your case before the Supreme Court.
36 Now it came to pass that when Alma had said these words, that he clapped his hands upon all them who were with him. And behold, as he clapped his hands upon them, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. [The Spirit of the Lord instructed Alma to do this. Often when a servant touches another, whether it is for a blessing, or some other act of the Lord, a touch can create a conduit of light to that person. The Savior often would do this during His ministry. The laying on of hands has many functions.]
37 And after that they did separate themselves one from another, taking no thought for themselves what they should eat, or what they should drink, or what they should put on. [A Commandment specific for a servant while performing the Lord’s work. 3 Nephi 13]
38 And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith.
What does it mean to pray in faith? When someone is living a virtuous life, continually repenting and coming unto Christ, they abide in the Spirit of God. Their thoughts are channeled to creatively approach problems and receive revelation by the Spirit in the form of visions and words. When such a person approaches the Lord with a solution, the Lord will honor them with the resolution or blessing according to their faith. Much like what occurred to the Brother of Jared with the sixteen stones. Alma prayed in faith regarding him and his companions before they began to preach to the people. When we seek to pray in faith we must come to the Lord with our situation and a possible solution. The Lord will direct us from there according to His will. We must always pray in faith.