Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, November 18

Book of Mormon: Ammon versus Aaron among the Lamanites

Book of Mormon: Ammon vs. Aaron among the Lamanites
by grego

Ammon was a great missionary. No doubt.

I was thinking of Aaron. At first glance, poor Aaron had gone to the same mission as Ammon, but … just didn’t have much success, especially at the beginning. And then the success he did have later with the Lamanite king, seemed to be mainly because Ammon set him up for it (Alma 22:2-6). My experience has been, when LDS talk about the missionaries to the Lamanites, it’s usually “all about Ammon”. (Ok, there really is no “versus” here, but it seems we’ve made it that way…)

Yet the Book of Mormon doesn’t talk about a difference in the faiths of Ammon and Aaron.

I imagine, it probably took as much faith to preach failingly to a more wicked people and suffer with patience in prison, being a good example, as it did to be a servant and cut off people’s arms. Perhaps had they been in each others’ places, the wonderful story might not have been so wonderful.

When they were ready to give up before reaching the Lamanites, the Lord told them:
Alma 17:11 …Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.

Interestingly, nothing there about “being a servant” or “cutting off arms”. Now, it’s true that we don’t have all the record, but it seems the main time this applied was to Aaron and the brethren with him here:
Alma 20:28 And it came to pass that Ammon and Lamoni proceeded on their journey towards the land of Middoni. And Lamoni found favor in the eyes of the king of the land; therefore the brethren of Ammon were brought forth out of prison.
Alma 20:29 And when Ammon did meet them he was exceedingly sorrowful, for behold they were naked, and their skins were worn exceedingly because of being bound with strong cords. And they also had suffered hunger, thirst, and all kinds of afflictions; nevertheless they were patient in all their sufferings.
Alma 21:13 Nevertheless, Aaron and a certain number of his brethren were taken and cast into prison, and the remainder of them fled out of the land of Middoni unto the regions round about.
Alma 21:14 And those who were cast into prison suffered many things, and they were delivered by the hand of Lamoni and Ammon, and they were fed and clothed.
Alma 21:15 And they went forth again to declare the word, and thus they were delivered for the first time out of prison; and thus they had suffered.

The Book of Mormon does say that the state of the people can affect their hearing the word:
Alma 20:30 And, as it happened, it was their lot to have fallen into the hands of a more hardened and a more stiffnecked people; therefore they would not hearken unto their words, and they had cast them out, and had smitten them, and had driven them from house to house, and from place to place, even until they had arrived in the land of Middoni; and there they were taken and cast into prison, and bound with strong cords, and kept in prison for many days, and were delivered by Lamoni and Ammon.
Alma 21:10 And it came to pass as he began to expound these things unto them they were angry with him, and began to mock him; and they would not hear the words which he spake.
Alma 21:11 Therefore, when he saw that they would not hear his words, he departed out of their synagogue, and came over to a village which was called Ani-Anti, and there he found Muloki preaching the word unto them; and also Ammah and his brethren. And they contended with many about the word.
Alma 21:12 And it came to pass that they saw that the people would harden their hearts, therefore they departed and came over into the land of Middoni. And they did preach the word unto many, and few believed on the words which they taught.

Afterwards, Aaron and the others do have many converts. In fact, the record says:
Alma 23:10 And also of the people of the Lamanites who were in the land of Middoni;

“Middoni”–the land where they had been locked up in prison and had suffered greatly. Looks like Aaron and those with him being good examples of Christ in their suffering (as told before their missions) *did* have an effect on them…

But the Lamanite conversions when they were on their missions weren’t the last fruits:
Alma 25:6 For many of them, after having suffered much loss and so many afflictions, began to be stirred up in remembrance of the words which Aaron and his brethren had preached to them in their land; therefore they began to disbelieve the traditions of their fathers, and to believe in the Lord, and that he gave great power unto the Nephites; and thus there were many of them converted in the wilderness.
Alma 25:7 And it came to pass that those rulers who were the remnant of the children of Amulon caused that they should be put to death, yea, all those that believed in these things.
Alma 25:8 Now this martyrdom caused that many of their brethren should be stirred up to anger; and there began to be contention in the wilderness; and the Lamanites began to hunt the seed of Amulon and his brethren and began to slay them; and they fled into the east wilderness.
Alma 25:13 And it came to pass that when the Lamanites saw that they could not overpower the Nephites they returned again to their own land; and many of them came over to dwell in the land of Ishmael and the land of Nephi, and did join themselves to the people of God, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.
Alma 25:14 And they did also bury their weapons of war, according as their brethren had, and they began to be a righteous people; and they did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe to keep his commandments and his statutes.

Aaron’s suffering and preaching had:
1. led to many Lamanites’ conversions (at a later time);
2. led to splitting the Amulonites away from the Lamanites (a good thing) and making them enemies;
3. led to a main part of fulfilling Abinadi’s prophecy;
4. led to even more Lamanites’ conversions, at an even later time.

So, it seems you never do know, and you can’t just count it all up to “faith”. It seems all those missionaries were heroes and angels to the Lamanites.

All of you who thought you had a great mission, and especially all of you who thought you didn’t have a great mission, take note!

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