Alma had grown up in a good family and had been given every opportunity to be a good citizen in the place where he lived. But now in his youth, his way of life was otherwise, and in the company of his friends, he went about the community and countryside causing trouble, bringing dishonor not only upon himself but also to his family. As part of a rising generation, he forsook traditional values and led what religionists would call an unrighteous and idolatrous life.
He did not just harm himself by doing this, but his actions affected many others. By way of example and smooth conversation, he was a negative influence among older people, as well as his own peers. "And he was a man of many words," a religious commentary would say, "and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities." (Mosiah 27:8)
Definitely Alma was causing a problem. The activities of him and his renegade friends were especially a hinderment to the church to which their families belonged. The boys made it no secret they disliked the church and were actively engaged in trying to destroy its image, attempting also to reduce the membership. Again this was undoubtedly an insult and disappointment to their parents, both of whom were respected members of the community.
All of this occurred during a time period when prophets lived among the people, and a religious attitude and atmosphere was often present. It was later made known that many prayers were offered for the wayward youth, especially by Alma's father. There might have been no surprise, therefore, when a miraculous and supernatural occurrence eventually took place, one impressively recorded by the people known as the Nephites in the Book of Mormon.
"And as I said unto you," the record states, "as they were going about rebelling against God, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood; and so great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth, and understood not the words which he spake unto them." (Mosiah 27: 11-12)
But soon Alma understood, and the angel instructed him thoroughly on what he should and should not do. If he wanted to destroy himself, he said, that would be up to him, but from then on, he was to discontinue trying to alienate others and destroy the church of God. There was no alternative. That was it!
Other things were said in the presence of Alma and his friends, and the consequences were miraculous and transformative, even metamorphic. A remarkable change occurred in the lives of the errant boys, and eventually they again circulated among the people, this time trying to make amends for what they had done wrong. Their future course was understandably in direct opposition to what they had previously done. And as has happened before, another miracle was caused by the appearance of an angel!
Written by Clay McConkie.
Click here "Mosiah 27:8-37" to read the actual account of this story from the Book of Mormon.