“The Angel of the Lord Appeared Unto Them for the Lord Hath Heard the Prayers of His People, and Also the Prayers of His Servant, Alma, Who is Thy Father”

Alma importunes the Lord to bless his wayward son. An angel of the Lord intervenes to set the young man on a sounder course—because the Lord has a mission for young Alma, just as He had a mission for Saul of Tarsus. Alma is to repent, just as his father has earlier. Young Alma takes up and continues the work of the ministry in the pathway established by his father, “the founder of their church” (Mosiah 29:47).

Among other things, the Book of Mormon offers modern readers an inventory of the Lord’s means of communicating with mortals. Nephi reminded his older brothers of their chronic insensitivity to the Lord’s attempts to signal them the truth: “Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder” (1 Nephi 17:45). Similarly, in our day, there is wisdom in staying tuned to the Lord’s communications extended to us through His Spirit, through the voices of the prophets, and through the scriptures, so that He is not constrained, as with Alma the Younger, to resort to more dramatic means:

O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not!
How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!” (D&C 43:24–25).

In the case of Alma the Younger and his royal colleagues, the word of the Lord comes through an angel of God who commands them to cease their evil ways and repent of their errors. It is on the basis of this angelic intervention, resulting from the sincere and fervent prayer of the fathers, that these young men are redirected into righteous channels and converted to the Church. Alma the Younger suffers great pains of remorse and shame but is forgiven. The conversion of these young men to the Savior and His gospel is deep and complete. They have an overwhelming desire to redress the evils they have perpetrated and to preach the gospel—especially to the Lamanites. Alma and King Mosiah grant permission and receive the assurance of the Lord that these stalwart missionaries will be preserved through their faith.

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen -

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1