i teach sunday school for the 16-17 year olds in our church. this lesson happened to reference the story of ammon in the Book of Mormon. the reference was in alma 17:21-29, and as i was looking at the lesson, a greater lesson jumped off the page at me. since this blog is "for me", i want to write down what i learned, because i don't want to forget. the biggest question of all, is
"why did mormon include this story in the book of mormon in the first place?"
his people never saw these journal entries. unless they knew ammon, or knew about ammon, they didn't know his life story. so why is this particular story so important to us? well, i found out why it is so pertinent to me, and why it is so important to those that i taught last sunday. lets begin, shall we?
"And thus Ammon was carried before the king who was over the land of Ishmael; and his name was Lamoni; and he was a descendant of Ishmael.
- the greatest king on our earth is of course our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- Rev. 17:14
And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or his people.
And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; and perhaps until the day I die.
- "hey erlyn, do you want to go to earth and get a body and dwell there for a time, perhaps til the day you die?"
- "heck yeah i do!"
And it came to pass that king Lamoni was much pleased with Ammon, and caused that his bands should be loosed; and he would that Ammon should take one of his daughters to wife.
- uhhh.... i chose brad instead because i'm already a girl. :) wink wink
But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni. And it came to pass that he was set among other servants to watch the flocks of Lamoni, according to the custom of the Lamanites.
- first, one has to ask themselves if they are the servants of their God and king. i am. i choose to be. ammon chose to be. are you your "brothers keeper"?
- secondly, he was sent to watch the flocks. we are told in the scriptures that we are the flock of the good shepherd. Matt 18:11-14
And after he had been in the service of the king three days, as he was with the Lamanitish servants going forth with their flocks to the place of water, which was called the water of Sebus, and all the Lamanites drive their flocks hither, that they may have water -
- so this is where it starts to get exciting! what is the analogy for "water" in the scriptures??? THINK! aren't we told that Jesus Christ himself is living water?
- man, isn't that how it always is? you bring yourself, or your children, or those who want to drink of living water, and there is always someone, or something in your way?
Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already.
Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restorying these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.
- why is ammon so happy? why is this story here? ask yourself? i know - for me. my answer i got for myself was that he knows the power of God, and he is willing to be God's servant, and he is willing to be the one to STAND.
And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren.
- keep in mind that these "brethren" are not of ammons culture, skin color, or upbringing. but he loves them. he doesn't judge them. he loves them. and he's going to show them the power of God; and how God can help them fulfil their mission that he sent them on, which was to bring his flocks (children) to the water (Christ).
And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: My brethren, be of good cheer and let us go in search of the flocks, and we will gather them together and bring them back unto the place of water; and thus we will preserve the flocks unto the king and he will not slay us.
- ammon (nor we) should let the flocks (or children of God) scatter and flee before danger. he's going to go after them and return them safely to the king (God).
And it came to pass that they went in search of the flocks, and they did follow Ammon, and they rushed forth with much swiftness and did head the flocks of the king, and did gather them together again to the place of water.
- does this really need to be explained? read it again. what does it mean to you?
And those men again stood to scatter their flock; but Ammon said unto his brethren: Encircle the flocks round about that they flee not; and I go and contend with these men who do scatter our flocks.
- look at this verse! they encircle the flock! they make them safe. they don't just leave them alone, or friendless, or helpless. they encircle them. that means they stand between the flocks and danger. wow. am i doing that with those i love?
- (note to self: notice it doesn't say that ammon looked over and noticed that the sheep were dirty and started to pick crap out of their fleece. he. protected. them. period.)
Therefore, they did as Ammon commanded them, and he went forth and stood to contend with those who stood by the waters of Sebus; and they were in number not a few.
- COOL VERSE HERE! its a short one, but a good one. someone has to stay back with the flocks. if everyone went to fight the battle, the flock flees again. not good. but someone also has to go "contend". ammon was willing to be the leader and show the others how to lead. he was also willing to put himself in the most danger. then look.
- "and they were in number not a few". i asked my class what they thought about this. i loved what one young woman said. now this same young woman chooses not to come to class a lot, but she had some awesome insight into this verse. she commented that to her it might not mean that "people" were standing between us and God. it might mean that we were being overwhelmed with "things", or putting other stuff before God. that we were too busy, or had too many things that we were focusing on that weren't good. ahhh. a window into my own soul. i was oh so proud of her. good job "m".
Therefore they did not fear Ammon, for they supposed that one of their men could slay him according to their pleasure, for they knew not the that Lord had promised Mosiah that he would deliver his sons out of their hands; neither did they know anything concerning the Lord; therefore they delighted in the destruction of their brethren; and for this cause they stood to scatter the flocks of the king.
- satan doesn't care. and he does delight in our destruction. his will IS to scatter the flocks of the king. that is his goal. that is his delight.
- Jesus Christ himself promises us to go before our face with angels to bear us up. be of good cheer. you can fulfil your mission.
But Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power; nevertheless they were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they were determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they could not hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him.
- now, for me, i could get the whole meaning of this lesson EXCEPT this verse! for the life of me i could not figure out "stone". what did the stone mean? so i asked the class what it meant to them. they came up with a lot of good answers, and ones that worked for them. for me, i was so thankful to have my daughter and her new fiance :) in my class visiting that day. sara brought up the following:
- she reminded us that Christ is the Rock. He is the Stone. so if we cast our stones at the adversary, we are using those things that will bring the spirit with us, thus providing us with strength and his grace. we read our scriptures, say our prayers, do good, serve others, be good examples, love with charity, don't judge unrighteously, and do all that God has commanded us. those are the stones. that is how we slay the adversary.
But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm.
- this is the verse that every little boy, big boy and man love. he cuts off the arms! until this lesson, that was all i had ever read also. until. this. lesson. that's when the power of this lesson hit me, and i went back and re-read it, then re-read it again. this is a pretty powerful journal entry of this awesome missionary from so many years ago. and here's why.
- ammon, first of all, did not make the first move. he never would have used the sling (or words of Christ) against them if they could have just watered the flocks. secondly, he wouldn't have raised his sword, if they would have let them forward to water the flocks. now here is the awesome part!
- WHAT IS THE SWORD!!!???!!!
- for those of you in my classes you better know the answer! :) have you ever heard of the "armor of God"? look at Ephesians 6:12-17. the only offensive weapon we have is the sword of the spirit. everything else is defensive! ammon uses the only offense he has. the spirit. and not only that, but the sharpest part of the spirit. he was full of the spirit. he let the spirit of the holy ghost work through him to make his enemies flee from before him! he used the edge of the sword! he kept his sword sharp! he was a man of God!
- this morning i was given another insight into this verse. he cuts off their arms. why not their legs, or their hands? or their heads? why their arms. what is the significance to us? how about this scripture? Alma 51:17. when one "takes up arms" he is willing to go to war, or to prevent war against liberty. could ammon be saying something to us? should we be fighting terrorism, atheism, apathy, and apostatism with STONES and SWORDS? i'm not saying not to protect ourselves, but maybe we're not doing all we should be doing. just a thought.
Now six of them had fallen by the sling, but he slew none save it were their leader with his sword; and he smote off as many of their arms as were lifted against him, and they were not a few.
And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king, and then went in unto the king, bearing the arms which had been smitten off by the sword of Ammon, of those who sought to sla him; and they were carried in unto the king for a tetimony of the things which they had done.
- ammon completes his mission, waters the flocks (brings the children of God to Christ, and ultimately back to the king - Heavenly Father) and then stands as a witness against those that came against them as a testimony of what had happened.
- in the end, are we able to return to our king, so that He may tell us, "well done thou good and faithful servant. enter into the joy of thy Lord." i hope i can. it is my goal.
i am so glad that i was able to teach last sunday. i learned so much from this one lesson. i hope that i remember to look for lessons like that with everything that i read! the scriptures are full of parables, journal entries, stories, psalms and proverbs, and histories of peoples that not much of the world was able to have because of illiteracy.
WHY ARE WE ABLE TO HAVE THESE WORDS??
WHY ARE THEY SO IMPORATANT TO US TODAY??
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO STUDY THEIR MEANINGS AND "LIKEN THEM TO OURSELVES" like i just did above?
just ask yourself why.
and then don't be afraid to follow the answer.
be more like ammon and be on the offensive.
oh. one more thing my daughter brought up in class from her journal. hers was a direct quote from Jeffrey R. Holland that he told the missionaries in the Kansas Wichita Mission.
mine is what i remember her saying, so here is the gist of it.
"The time to be on the defensive is over. you need to be on the offensive team now"
it's time to sharpen your sword.