The Faith of Amulek of Ammonihah: Angels & Former Governors
Would you listen to a celebrity if he or she asked you to make a life change?
Seeing a celebrity in person can have a soul-changing experience for a person—for good or bad. That person could be larger than life or a disappointment if he or she does not measure up to the fan’s expectations.
What if the celebrity instead of being an athlete or entertainer was a prophet like Daniel or Moses. Meeting a prophet can change a person. In a time when men entertain every whim that comes into their minds, is it special to have the title of prophet?
In this article, the life of Amulek, a man who turned away from normal to meet a prophet, reveals how change comes at a price. Amulek is not a fictitious character, but a real person from history. This hub cannot be recategorized to the LDS Christian Topic; so, I am mentioning it here.
Would you listen to a celebrity if he or she asked you to make a life change?
The city was set for destruction by divine decree.
Society of Ammonihah
Hundreds of years ago lived Amulek in the city of Ammonihah, one of many cities of an ancient people called Nephites recorded in The Book of Mormon. The city government had become corrupt. Not unlike many people’s estimation of modern governments, the people turned a blind eye to the corruption as the lawyers and the judges of the city worked together to extort money out of the unfortunates needing legal services in the cities.
The lawyers and judges received their wages performing their civic duties; so, these men kept controversy going so that they would always have ample employment.
Modern lawyers and Judges receive a wage in a similar manner. Ambulance chasers and backhanded deals to judges—plea deals—are perfectly legal in many societies. Court cases are less about the law and more about what types of deals plaintiffs can make. Also, lawyers and judges support popular opinion in the form of a jury instead of evidence-based—meaning ambiguities regarding evidence declared unsubstantial by how authorities obtained it.
Jurors are not at fault, nor the jury system! The lawyers and Judges interpret the legal system to pervert the law or twist those laws in jurisprudent proceduralism against those in need of legal assistance.
Besides the lawyers and judges, the people had become corrupt. All the people espoused a similar belief system, but as time went on, that system changed. Ammonihah was a den of iniquity besides perverting the proper execution of the law. The former governor of the Nephite nation, Alma, had obligated himself to the ministry as leader of the church among the Nephites. When Alma visited the city to build up and repair the church and teach the people, they rejected him because he no longer was Chief Judge of the land, governor.
Alma renounced the position of Chief Judge or governor so that he could focus on his position as High Priest to heal the souls of the Nephites. The people of Ammonihah generally refused to listen to the word of God Alma offered. They did not hold a high regard for the civil service of the former high official they abused before forcefully expelling him from the city. The city was set for destruction by divine decree. The people of that city expelled the one person God sent to help them avoid it.
Keeping controversy so that an economy could exist is questionable ethics.
The character of a Normal Man
In this environment lived Amulek where grew the seeds of folly as a growing number of the people threw off the proverbial shackles of moral living.
Amulek was a man of the world, affluent and astute. He thought nothing of this atmosphere since it was socially acceptable to take advantage of people. Ammonihah, specifically officials of the city supported subverting the system of law set up by their last King (King Mosiah—cloaking their questionable ethical behavior as performing their duty in upholding the law. Keeping controversy so that an economy could exist is questionable ethics.
Amulek, despite what went on in his society was a good person. Not only was he good, he had influence in the city—friends in high places. A businessman, he had wealth and prestige to go along with his gracious heart. He did not mince words and had a simple worldview. He was also a man of faith and family.
The time to act had come because the wickedness of Ammonihah rapidly lulled the citizens into decay.
Angel of Faith
An extraordinary experience occurred to him as he went to visit a relative. He saw an angel. That is not so common! Why was it important for him to see an angel? Like many of the other people of the city of Ammonihah, Amulek was familiar with the teachings of God. He was aware of the church organized throughout his country. Like most people of his time, he disregarded it. If ever an interesting or sacred experience occurred, he dismissed it and continued with life’s affairs. Amulek ignored the small impression from the Lord. For God to reach him, there had to be something Amulek could not ignore happen. The angel.
Seeing an angel had the psychological effect of diverting Amulek’s attention to finding out what the Lord wanted from him—an interest in doing work for God. Sometimes people are past feeling the influence of the Spirit alone and need a more vivid experience to knock the cobwebs of apathy away from obscuring the truth. These otherwise good people take heed as did Amulek when something so drastic as seeing an angel appear. Angels do no appear to all people because it is not necessary for all people to see an angel to act. Amulek needed an angel to appear to him and inform him to go home quickly to play host to a prophet of God—the one time celebrity who was ruler over all the land! The time to act had come because the wickedness of Ammonihah rapidly lulled the citizens into decay.
Follow the Prophet
Alma had set his back against the city of Ammonihah after some of its citizens abused and cast him out. Severely sorrowing over the rudeness of the people and their unwillingness to receive him, Alma planned to move on when an angel appeared to him also! Despite the abuses he suffered, the angel told Alma to go back to Ammonihah and tell the people to repent or face destruction.
Not only did the people live sinfully, but the angel revealed that the notable people of that city planned sedition against the Nephite nation. Plans to infringe on the freedoms of all Nephites had fertile ground among them. Freedom to worship God was a potential casualty. The angel informed Alma to go warn the people. His new mission was to save the people of Ammonihah from self-destruction because of Spiritual and political subversive activity.
Having both seen angels, Alma and Amulek met. In preparation of his new assignment, Alma had prayed and fasted for many days for the insight and spiritual strength it would take to face his abusers. It took an extraordinary experience to provide Alma with the courage to return to the city. It took something extraordinary for Amulek to be prepared to meet Alma rather than visit his relative.
The angel told Amulek that he should receive a prophet of God into his home who would bless all that he had for so doing.
Several things became apparent to Amulek following this experience:
- God is real.
- Everything he learned about the scriptures is true.
- Keeping the commandments brings blessings.
- God speaks through prophets.
God is real.
In the recess of his mind, Amulek nursed a belief in God as many thoughtful people do today. The small miracles in his life and the stories from his heritage as an Israelite lingered in his mind that God must be real. In his first address to the people of Ammonihah, Amulek revealed a scathing rebuke of himself in a measure to reach the similarly minded Nephites. Said he,
I have seen much of [God’s] 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. Alma 10:6
Amulek turned a blind eye to the things he believed about God until the angel’s appearance caused him to acknowledge with his mind what his heart already knew. It was not the empirical evidence that caused Amulek to acknowledge the truth of there being a God. In truth, seeing an angel does not provide proof of a god any more than seeing a soldier provides proof of the existence of a president. Evidence is what seeing the angel provided. Amulek knew angels existed. He saw one. This increased his faith in God exponentially. Having grown to maturity among them, Amulek was proof that the teachings of God were once there.
Everything he learned about the scriptures IS true.
Amulek was aware of the Bronze Plates used among the Nephites as scriptures containing the words similar to the Holy Bible all the way up to the words of Jeremiah. In his household may have existed scrolls with copies of some of the books if not all of them. Seeing that angel verified that God did cause people to write things to encourage people to follow His laws. The histories written from Adam forward provide examples of God’s dealings with others existing for the benefit of all who read and learn what actions to mimic to earn God’s favor and avoid His wrath.
Keeping the commandment brings blessings.
Amulek went home immediately! He did not pass Go to collect $200! Nothing distracted him! He saw an angel! Alma reacted the same way—immediately returned to Ammonihah. This is important. Both men obeyed the command by the angel to return without delay. Amulek showed deference to the will of the Lord. The Angel was a catalyst to a major change; however, the character material existed previously. Laman and Lemuel earlier in the Book of Mormon narrative saw an angel also. Unfortunately, seeing an angel did nothing to change their faith for the better because the building materials of character were not substantial enough to ignite an explosion of faith as it did with Amulek. Seeing that angel brought Amulek the blessing of further enlightenment and knowledge.
God Speaks through prophets
The angel informed Amulek to get to his home because he would play host to a prophet to whom there was urgent need due to the speedy return he took to the city. If he did not consider it previously, Amulek learned the significance of a prophet when an angel appeared directing him out of his course to succor one. Amulek did not assume the responsibility of prophet after seeing the angel as some might have feigned. Amulek subjected his will to the will of God and waited for further instruction at the hand of the prophet.
The Writing on the Wall
The Lord wanted to use Amulek to help deliver a message of repentance to his fellow Nephites. Of all the people in the city, the Lord chose a good man with a bit of celebrity. Though there is no mention of this in the Book of Mormon other than in Amulek’s introduction to the people of Ammonihah as a minister, God personally wrote a special message on the temple wall. Aminadab, Amulek’s ancestor, interpreted it. There is no explanation about what the message was, but it was common knowledge among this group of Nephites that Amulek lived among.
Daniels interpretation of the writing on the palace wall to the Babylonian king (Daniel 5) may prove educational in comparison. If one of Daniel’s descendants were to speak to his comrades as a voice of warning as did Amulek to his comrades, those comrades would grasp the significance that connection to the past would mean. Daniel warned of the destruction of a kingdom if the king did not repent. Aminadab may have warned of a similar occurrence among the Nephites to the leaders of his time.
Regarding a plausible reason for the inclusion of this in the scriptures, Michaela Stephens writes on her Scriptorium Blogorium about the writing on the temple wall (and the palace wall relating to Daniel):
The writing [appears] to the place and [people] who need it. That the writing needs interpretation indicates that the [people] to whom it [appears] is so out of tune that they don’t understand it. The person [or people] needing the interpretation must find an interpreter, so both the writing (and the subsequent interpretation) will become very publicly known. It seems to me that this is the way the Lord rebukes a person in power who should have known better; He does it in order to make sure everyone else knows not to do those same sins.
Michaela suggest that the Lord is using a notable person, a public figure of whom the people will take notice, to teach a lesson to the public and the figure. How does this relate to the Amulek?
Alma and Amulek are the public figures the Lord chose—not a king, but a former governor and a common business man of repute. Alma interpreted the word of God, and Amulek listened. He welcomed Alma into his home and fed him. He decided to go out and testify with him to warn the people of what would come to pass if they did not change their ways. An angel told him to do it; and he did. A celebrity did change the life of this man. Amulek gave up his way of life upon meeting Alma. He listened to the words and mission of Alma and took it on as his own.
If God sent a prophet to tell you a message that would save your soul, do you think you would listen?
© 2018 Rodric Johnson