So, with the foundation of a covenant being two willing and reliable partners, and if we are less than reliable partners in covenants that are eternal, why, would God insist on making covenants with us? The Book of Mormon can help us understand this important question.
All Book of Mormon prophets clearly taught that the Nephites and Lamanites were a covenant people. The covenant God made with them was that if they kept the commandments they would prosper in the land. Seems simple enough. But, as we all know, they constantly struggled with the simplicity of that covenant.
After the Nephites fled the Land of Nephi for Zarahemla, there was a man named Zeniff who had a strong desire to move back to the land of his forefathers, even though the Lamanites now ruled over it.
King Laman granted Zeniff and his people their request so now we have a small group of Nephites willingly surrounded by Lamanites. As was common for Nephites, they began to prosper, for they were keeping the commandments. Then Zeniff died.
His son, Noah, took over and this is where things got interesting. Noah saw his new found power as an opportunity and quickly led his people, who were once very righteous, into iniquity. He did not do this alone. He has a cadre of loyalists that helped him subvert the commandments. Chief among them were Amulon and Alma.
Soon, God sent Abinidi to call the people to repentance. Alma believed and Amulon did not. Alma pled to the king to release Abinidi, Amulon demanded the king kill both Alma and Abinidi. Abinidi was killed and Alma fled.
Alma hid for a time and was not only able to fully repent of his sins, which were many, but also became the vehicle to restore the gospel. As Alma’s movement grew, Amulon and Noah sought to kill all who believed. So, as happens so often in the Book of Mormon, Alma was warned to flee from those seeking to destroy him and to take the believers to a new land.
Alma and his followers arrived at a new place and called it the Land of Helam. Once their, the sought to keep God’s commandments and they begin to prosper just as God promised in His covenant.
Well, as the Children of God were prospering in the Land of Helam, things are not going to well for Noah and Amulon. Noah is killed by a mutiny among his followers and Amulon is forced to flee. Amulon and his gang kidnap a handful of Lamanite daughters and are later discovered by a lost Lamanite army.
As this army makes its way back to the Land of Nephi, they happened upon the Children of God in the Land of Helam. (Are you keeping all this straight?) Now we have a unhappy reunion of Alma and Amulon, two former friends now on the opposite side of the spiritual spectrum.
Somehow, Amulon convinced the main body of the Lamanite army to leave for a while and he becomes the dictator of the Land of Helam. To get back at Alma and his followers, Amulon enslaves them and places impossible burdens on the people. So difficult were these burdens that the people couldn't withstand it forcing them to cry unto God.
What would you pray for if you were one of these Children of God. Obviously, you would remind God of the covenant He made. They were keeping the commandments but God did not seem to be doing his part for the deal. They were not prospering in the land.
So, didn’t we say that God was a reliable partner? Why were these righteous people abandoned by God?