If you keep my commandments you will prosper in the land.
We can see the fulfillment of this covenant as Alma the Elder leads his people away from King Noah to the Land of Shemlon to start their own city called Helam. Once freed from both their sins and the oppression of an unrighteous king, these people flourished and focus on improving their relationship with God. The results were astounding.
In rapid succession they progressed from living in tents to building permanent buildings. They sowed and reaped. The spun cloth and worked hard. All the while they were keeping true to their covenant of community they made at the Waters of Mormon.
However, God likes to test His people. In my opinion, these tests are not punishment for past sins. We know when God forgives, He forgets. So, if not a punishment, why would God test us in ways that look and feel like a punishments?
That’s a valid question. I feel this is answered through the story of the enslavement and ultimate emancipation of the people of Alma.
As the people began to settle into their routine, God orchestrated a reunion of Alma and his former friend and colleague Amulon. If you remember, King Noah and some of his cabinet were burned at the stake after their cowardly flight from the Lamanite army. But somehow the most evil people tend to elude capture.
Amulon and a handful of fellow priest fled the execution site and hid in the wilderness. It was this cowardly band that kidnapped the Lamanite daughters which caused a couple of bloody battles back in Shemlon.
Then, as is usually the case on the Book of Mormon, an army of Lamanites trying to make their way back to the Land of Nephi, got lost. For some reason, getting lost is another Book of Mormon recurring theme. This army happened across Amulon and his fellow kidnappers. By now, several yeas had past since the abduction. When this motley crew was discovered these poor girls, who were the victims, had children. Perhaps for the sake of their children, these innocent victims were willing to plead for the lives of their captors.
The Lamanite army had compassion upon the girls and consented to spare the lives of the renegade priests but they would take them as captives to the king of the Lamanites.
But the problem that brought the Lamanites and Amulon together persisted. They were still lost. As they tried to find their route back home, they next came across Alma and his people in the Land of Helam.
Now, for some strange reason, God brought Amulon and Alma, formerly friends, but now on totally different trajectories, back together again.
Why would God do that?
How does this help us better understand covenants?
These questions will be answered in my next post.