Book of Mormon
Did Judge Righteous Judgments”
Mosiah teaches principles of good government.
Alma the Younger serves as chief judge and combats priestcraft.
Amlici seeks to be king but is rejected by the voice of the people.
The Church prospers but becomes prideful. Alma resigns the judgment seat to
devote himself to the ministry.
A study of this lesson will help us understand righteous principles of
government and avoid priestcraft and pride.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 21 Handout (PDF)
Mosiah sent an inquiry to the people to discover their will concerning his
The people desired Mosiah's son Aaron to be the new king.
Aaron was out of the land and did not wish to become king.
"...neither were any of the sons of Mosiah willing
to take upon them the kingdom" (v3).
Mosiah sent a written proclamation to his people:
WHAT COUNSEL DID MOSIAH GIVE THE PEOPLE ABOUT HAVING KINGS?
The problems with monarchy:
If Mosiah were to appoint another there might be contentions.
Aaron might return and wish to claim the throne and draw away part of the
people causing wars and contentions.
Mosiah asks, "How much iniquity doth one wicked
king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!"
He refers to King Noah and his wicked reign.
This wickedness led to the bondage of the people.
Mosiah stated that the people cannot dethrone an iniquitous king except through
much contention and shedding of blood.
Such a king has his friends in iniquity.
He tears up the laws of the righteous who have reigned before him.
"Therefore, if it were possible that you could
have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and
judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have
men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this
people--I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would
be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you"
Mosiah said that he would serve as king for the remainder of his days.
Mosiah suggested the election of judges by the people to govern the affairs
of the land.
WHAT QUALITIES DID MOSIAH SAY THESE JUDGES SHOULD HAVE?
"...we will appoint wise men to be judges, that
will judge this people according to the commandments of God"
Latter-day revelation teaches, "Wherefore, honest men and
wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye
should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh
of evil." (D&C 98:10)
WHY ARE THESE QUALITIES IMPORTANT IN LEADERS TODAY?
- 1928 First Presidency message: "Laws which are
enacted for the protection of society have no value except when they are
administered in righteousness and justice, and they cannot be so administered in
righteousness and justice, if dishonest men occupy administrative offices....
"Without beneficent laws, righteously administered
the foundations of civilization crumble, anarchy reigns, decay and dissolution
follow." (CR, Oct 1928)
WHAT DID MOSIAH SAY WOULD HAPPEN IF THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE CHOSE WICKEDNESS?
HOW CAN WE HELP OTHERS UNDERSTAND
AND CHOOSE RIGHTEOUSNESS?
Special interest groups: the "lesser part of the people."
President J. Reuben Clark: "I have a complete
confidence in the aggregate wisdom of the...people if they are given and
made to understand the facts. The wisdom of the mass is always greater
than the wisdom of the individual or of the group. The few may be
more subtle, more agile-minded, more resourceful; they may for a time push
to the front and scamper ahead in the march; they may on occasion and for
a time entice us down the wrong highway at the crossroads. But the
great slow-moving, deliberate-thinking mass plods along over the years
down the Divinely appointed way. Led astray, they slowly, cumberously
swing back to the right road, no matter what the toil or the sacrifice
may be, and when they start the return, they crush whatever lies in their
path. So has humanity come up through the ages." (cited in Prophets,
Principles, and National Survival, p110)
We cannot allow "the lesser part of the people" to get an upper hand on the
execution of our government.
The people relinquished their desire for a king and assembled to vote for
Alma the younger was elected the first chief judge.
Observation: Isn't it interesting that we study the Book of Mormon
each four years, the years in which we, in the United States, elect a president, as well as many senators, governors, and other representatives.
Hopefully, our study of this great work of scripture will cause us to seriously
ponder those who we choose to elect to represent us.
In the final chapter of Mosiah, we read about the formation of a new form of government among the Nephites.
Alma was appointed chief judge by the voice of the people.
In this chapter we read about the first recorded challenge to this new government.
During the first year of the reign of the judges a "man
who was large, and was noted for his much strength" (v2) began
preaching false doctrines among the Nephites.
WHO WAS THIS?
WHAT FALSE DOCTRINES DID NEHOR TEACH?
He taught contrary to church doctrine.
He taught priestcraft. WHAT IS PRIESTCRAFT?
That the priests and teachers should become popular.
These priests and teachers should be supported by the hand of the
All men would be saved and receive eternal life.
WHY WAS NEHOR ABLE TO DECEIVE SOME OF THE NEPHITES?
He flattered them.
He said that all men should receive eternal life.
The inference is that one need not make the effort to live a righteous life
and will be saved in spite of one's lifestyle - whether good or bad.
HOW HAVE PEOPLE IN OUR DAY BEEN SIMILARLY DECEIVED?
ARE THERE DECEPTIVE DOCTRINES BEING TAUGHT BY SOME WITHIN THE CHURCH?
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "Because a man
has great schooling, is educated according to the ideas of the world, is
not sufficient reason why he should be called to take charge of a class
in any of the organizations or priesthood quorums within the Church. Now, if he has scholastic ability and training, and along with it has faith
in the principles of the gospel and in the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and of the Prophet Joseph Smith, all well and good. But if he is
filled with all kinds of philosophy and notions and cannot accept the doctrines
of the standard works of the Church, we do not want him, whether it is
in our auxiliaries or the priesthood, or in our seminaries or institutes,
that are given for the teaching of religious principles and to instill
faith in the hearts of our young people....
"It makes no difference
who the teacher is, if he teaches false doctrine, if he teaches that which
has been condemned by the Lord, that is contrary to what is written in
the revelations given to the Church, then he should not teach."
(CR, October 1954, pp21-22)
Nehor encounters Gideon (the same who sought to slay wicked King
Gideon, a Nephite patriot, contended with Nehor and admonished him with "the
words of God."
ARE WE WILLING TO STAND UP AGAINST POPULAR TEACHERS, TEACHING FALSE DOCTRINE,
AND ADMONISH THEM, AS GIDEON, WITH "THE WORDS OF GOD"?
WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN GIDEON AND NEHOR?
Nehor drew his sword and began to smite Gideon. Because of Gideon's
advanced age he was unable to defend himself physically and was slain by Nehor's sword.
Nehor was arrested and taken before Alma to be judged.
"And it came to pass that he stood
before Alma and pleaded for himself with much boldness. But Alma said unto him:
Behold, this is the first time that priestcraft has been introduced among
this people. And behold, thou art not only guilty of priestcraft,
but hast endeavored to enforce it by the sword; and were priestcraft to
be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction. And thou hast shed the
blood of a righteous man, yea, a man who has done much good among this
people; and were we to spare thee his blood would come upon us for vengeance. Therefore thou art condemned
to die, according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah, our last
king; and it has been acknowledged by this people; therefore this people
must abide by the law." (Alma 1:11-14)
Nehor was taken to the top of the hill Manti and suffered an "ignominious
At present, the Church does not take an official stand on capital punishment. On May 27, 2003, the Church issued the following statement:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regards
the question of whether and in what circumstances the state should impose
capital punishment as a matter to be decided solely by the prescribed processes
of civil law. We neither promote nor oppose capital punishment." (Newsroom.LDS.org)
The influence of Nehor continues.
"Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the
spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved
the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines;
and this they did for the sake of riches and honor" (v16).
WHY DOES THE DESIRE FOR THE RICHES AND HONORS OF THE WORLD HAVE SUCH A
HOW SHOULD WE CHANNEL THIS DESIRE?
"Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were
known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended
to preach according to their belief; and now the law could have no power
on any man for his belief" (v17).
An interesting law - punishment for lying.
There arose a period of persecution against members of the church. Even
some of the members participated in that persecution.
HOW DID THE RIGHTEOUS MEMBERS DEAL WITH THIS?
Steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments (v25).
Bore with patience the persecution heaped upon them (v25).
They gave of their 'substance' to those in need (v27).
Did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely (v27).
The events of this chapter sound a somber warning.
Amlici came among the people.
He was cunning and a wise man as to wisdom of the world.
He was of the order of Nehor.
He drew away many people after him and thus gained much power.
He gained so much power that they endeavored to establish Amlici as king over
His intent: Once he obtained the kingship he would seek to destroy the church and
its rights and privileges.
There was a campaign and an election.
"And it came to pass that the people assembled
themselves together throughout all the land, every man according to his
mind, whether it were for or against Amlici, in separate bodies, having
much dispute and wonderful contentions one with another" (v5).
"And thus they did assemble themselves together
to cast in their voices concerning the matter; and they were laid before
the judges" (v6).
Amlici lost and was not made king over the people.
This caused much joy among those who opposed Amlici.
DID AMLICI AND HIS KING GROUP GIVE UP THEIR CRUSADE AND GO AWAY?
"Amlici did stir up those who were in his favor
to anger against those who were not in his favor" (v8).
This group appointed Amlici to be their king.
He caused his followers to take up arms against the rest of the Nephites.
ARE THERE MODERN PARALLELS?
- The United States seems to have become a nation of two peoples..
- Those who desire to do good and have built their lives upon correct principles.
- Those who, from appearances, seem to have a good cause, but are seeking
to deprive us of our liberty.
Many of us are concerned about upcoming elections and what they may hold
for the future. Even if the election turns the way we wish, will
those groups with unrighteous agendas away?
The story of Amlici says "no." It is a solemn warning. We need
to be ever vigilant about our liberty and the way in which we live our
"Nevertheless, the Nephites being strengthened
by the hand of the Lord, having prayed mightily to him that he would deliver
them out of the hands of their enemies, therefore the Lord did hear their
cries, and did strengthen them, and the Lamanites and the Amlicites did
fall before them." (Alma 2:28)
There is much wickedness in the world today. It affects:
Peace in the world.
Caring for those in need.
It is tearing at the fabric of nations.
The spiritual lives of the people of the world, including the members of
WHAT WICKED TEACHINGS AND PRACTICES DO WE SEE IN THE WORLD TODAY?
Corrupt political leadership.
Advancing the concept of abortion as a "choice."
Disregard for the fact that the choice was made at the time of conception.
Failing to take responsibility for one's actions.
Back in the 1990s we witnessed tragic rioting in Los Angeles. The
blame was not assessed to those who simply disobeyed the law. It was excused because of the Rodney King verdict and the failure of the
government to assist the inner city.
Living with a person of the opposite sex outside of marriage.
The advancement of the gay/lesbian "lifestyle."
The media: TV, movies, music persistently teach incorrect values, including
all of the above.
Criticism by the media and journalists over the teaching of correct values .
Consider what happened to Dan Quayle a few years ago when he spoke about the importance
of complete families.
- Dan Quayle said in a 1992 speech:
"It doesn't help
matters when primetime TV has Murphy Brown, a character who supposedly
epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid professional woman, mocking the
importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another
- Time Magazine reported about the controversy,
aides explained, meant to 'stir a debate' over 'family values' and Hollywood's
treatment of them. And so he did. A New York Daily News headline set the tone:
QUAYLE TO MURPHY BROWN: YOU TRAMP! Switchboards at the White House and on TV and
radio talk shows lit up with callers, pro and con. Carl Rowan, a liberal black
columnist, sided with Quayle, while Hillary Clinton, wife of the Democratic
presidential contender, panned him as typical of 'an Administration out of touch
with America' and its growing ranks of single mothers." (Time Magazine, June
- Consider the words of a modern day apostle, Elder D. Todd Christofferson,
"As a Church, we believe in fathers. … We believe that far
from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.
"Fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the
product of evolution. The role of father is of divine origin." (CR, April
Pride of the world.
DOES ANY OF THIS AFFECT THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH?
ARE THESE INFLUENCES BECOMING AN INCREASING PROBLEM WITHIN THE CHURCH?
WHAT IS THE ANSWER TO ALL OF THIS?
Consider the 4th chapter of Alma.
As this chapter begins, the Nephites had suffered a period of war which
had humbled them.
They then entered a period of peace and were beginning to again prosper.
ALMA 4:6-10. The wickedness of the people.
Consider Alma's observations: "And it came to
pass in the commencement of the ninth year, Alma saw the wickedness of
the church, and he saw also that the example of the church began to lead
those who were unbelievers on from one piece of iniquity to another, thus
bringing on the destruction of the people. Yea, he saw great inequality
among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising
others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who
were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted"
In the midst of this wickedness Nephihah was appointed chief judge.
Alma's way of dealing with the wickedness he saw around him: "Seeing
no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure
testimony against them."
AS WE LIKEN THIS SCRIPTURE UNTO OURSELVES, HOW MIGHT
WE APPROACH THE WICKEDNESS WE SEE IN THE WORLD AROUND US?
Prepare ourselves and our children for missions.
Be member missionaries. Strive to be the leaven
in the loaf.
Rearrange our priorities, as did Alma, to make sharing the gospel of
the highest importance.
We have in our possession the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the stuff of eternity. We can affect the world around us
by "bearing down in pure testimony" by word and by deed.
Do we get so caught up in our daily pursuits that
we do not give this admonition to be missionaries the effort it deserves?
When I ponder these thoughts, I am left feeling somewhat
guilty for not doing all that I should.
What if every active member of the Church took their
member missionary duties as serious as the Lord would have us? Would
it make a difference?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the doctrines discussed in this
lesson. What is your role in civic matters? What can you do to rearrange your
priorities to make sharing the gospel more important?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
Messages of the First Presidency, Volume 3, compiled by James R. Clark.
Minnesota Family Council website.
Prophets, Principles, and National Survival by Jerreld L. Newquist.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
04 April 2016