Monday, April 15, 2019

Hardened Hearts of Ammonihah

One of the themes of the words of Alma to the people of Ammonihah in Alma 12 was the danger of hardening one’s heart against the Lord.  Alma taught the consequences of having a hardened heart, saying, “And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word….  And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction.”  He taught how the judgment would be for those you have a hardened heart: “Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned.”  He quoted the words of the Lord, saying, “And whosoever will harden his heart and will do iniquity, behold, I swear in my wrath that he shall not enter into my rest.”  And then to make sure the people understood, he emphasized again the eternal consequences of having a hardened heart: “And now, my brethren, behold I say unto you, that if ye will harden your hearts ye shall not enter into the rest of the Lord; therefore your iniquity provoketh him that he sendeth down his wrath upon you as in the first provocation, yea, according to his word in the last provocation as well as the first, to the everlasting destruction of your souls” (v9-10,13,35-36).  This people clearly had hardened their hearts against Alma and against the word of the Lord, and they had indeed lost their knowledge of the Lord because of it and were headed for spiritual destruction.  And most of them did not repent, even after Alma and Amulek’s preachings, and when they committed their awful acts against the believers, the Spirit again confirmed these teachings of Alma: “He doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day” (Alma 14:11).  It was their hardened hearts that ultimately led to their eternal condemnation. 

            This story I believe serves as a warning for us that we should not harden our hearts against the Lord.  These were at one time believers who had let their hearts be hardened against the Lord until they eventually lost all knowledge of him and committed crimes they surely never would have dreamed of doing earlier.  Amulek had been one of those in Ammonihah who had hardened his heart before he chose to repent: “I have seen much of his 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; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart” (Alma 10:5-6).  Just as Alma taught, his hardened heart had caused him to forget the mysteries and power of God until he let his heart be softened towards Alma and the word of God.  Each day as pressures and trials come upon us, as questions and doubts tempt us to lose faith, as the world mocks everything spiritual, we are left to choose whether or not we will harden our hearts against the Lord and His servants.  President Nelson counseled us recently to repent: “I plead with you to repent. Experience the strengthening power of daily repentance—of doing and being a little better each day.”  If we choose not to repent, to follow his counsel, then ultimately that will lead to a hardening of our hearts over time.  Alma’s invitation to the people of Ammonihah are every bit as pertinent to us today: “And now, my brethren, seeing we know these things, and they are true, let us repent, and harden not our hearts, that we provoke not the Lord our God to pull down his wrath upon us” (Alma 12:37).   

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