In the Book of Mormon, there is a discussion in Alma 10 and 11 about the profession of the practice of law, specifically those who are in it to make massive amounts of money.  In this account, Alma and Amulek are on trial for preaching the word of God and telling those in power that they were corrupt and breaking the commandments.  True to form, those in power took exception to being called on their actions.  They brought Alma and Amulek to court where they were questioned by those who were learned and skilled in the law.  Alma 10:13-16 says:

“Nevertheless, there were some among them (the people) who thought to question them, that by their cunning devices they might catch them in their words, that they might find witness against them, that they might deliver them to their judges that they might be judged according to the law, and that they might be slain or cast into prison, according to the crime which they could make appear or witness against them.
Now it was those men who sought to destroy them, who were lawyers, who were hired or appointed by the people to administer the law at their times of trials, or at the trials of the crimes of the people before the judges.
Now these lawyers were learned in all the arts and cunning of the people; and this was to enable them that they might be skillful in their profession.
And it came to pass that they began to question Amulek, that thereby they might make him cross his words, or contradict the words which he should speak.”

I find this rather interesting that these lawyers were trained and encouraged to be “cunning”.  It sounds as if they were not really interested in learning the truth.  Rather, they were interested in making themselves look good by making sure the person being questioned was tripped up.

Indeed, there were some who were incredibly good at it.  Alma 10:31 tells us of one:

“And there was one among them whose name was Zeezrom.  Now he was the foremost to accuse Amulek and Alma, he being one of the most expert among them, having much business to do among the people.”Zeezrom was a lawyer who was “expert” at his craft, and was employed to make sure that Alma and Amulek were convicted of their so-called crimes.Now why would someone go to such lengths?  Surely, garnering respect as an honest man would have more appeal than being known as one who was tricky or cunning.  The answers to this question are given in Alma 10:32:“Now the object of these lawyers was to get gain; and they got gain according to their employ.”
And in Alma 11:20 we learn more about getting gain:
“Now, it was for the sole purpose to get gain, because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to rioting, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ, that they might get money according to the suits which were brought before them; therefore they did stir up the people against Alma and Amulek.”So, these lawyers became experts in their field, learned to be cunning, very likely learned how to carefully flatter and lead, then used that knowledge to gain advantage over their opponents.  This was not enough.  In order to make more money they actively promoted their craft as a means for the people to gain advantage over each other, to the point of stirring up the people to all manner of wickedness, deceit and false witness.

I find it interesting that the Nephites had this problem and it would be recorded in the Book of Mormon.  We know from the New Testament that Jesus and the Apostles had problems with those who “knew” the Law of Moses and purported to live it, but that was more based on the corruption and mis-interpretation of the Mosaic Law.  In the account in Alma (which teaches in beautifully articulate detail the principles of death, resurrection and atonement) these lawyers were out looking for and creating trouble to line their pockets with gold.  We know the Book of Mormon was written for our day, and many of the stories (as well as the prophecies) are beneficial to us.

In light of this, then, I am convinced that this account of Zeezrom was given to show us that we need to watch out for those who would use us for the purpose of gaining riches.  In this case, it happens to be lawyers, but there are plenty of other professions that employ the same “skills” and cunning to make a buck.  Those who would use young girls as prostitutes fall into this category, I believe.  They are using others, in many cases presenting themselves as great and wonderful people, to make money. 

There is nothing wrong with earning your pay.  In the history of the world, one has needed money or wealth in some form to live and survive.  Every product or service has a value and price.  One must earn in order to spend, and one must spend to live.  Earning an honorable living is not only necessary but expected.  God has ordained that “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” and thus man has worked for his existence and substance.  

The problem is there are those who are interested in power and money at the expense of others, and it is solely for their personal gain.  In the past few decades people have gotten so used to being able to litigate over the silliest things that the lawyers are actively looking for frivolous lawsuits and actively encouraging it.  Their take is an exorbitant percentage of the settlement.  They are more interested in their take than they are of a person who may or may not have a reasonable or legitimate case.  Like Zeezrom, they are in it for the money, gaining advantage over whomever they represent and work against.  They advertise and promise that they can get you the money you “deserve”, not mentioning that they will use trickery, deception, and threats to get it.  They will even say they won’t charge unless they collect, showing how confident they are that their tactics will produce results.  In many cases, the amount they collect for themselves is more than the “victim” gets.

In contrast, God has given us light and truth, and counseled us to avoid those who would practice trickery.  Sometimes we can’t avoid it.  In the case of Alma and Amulek, they were dragged into it by those who hated them.  Amulek was able to discern Zeezrom’s thoughts, and Zeezrom knew it.  In the end, after delivering their message, Alma and Amulek were thrown in prison, beaten, watched good people burned to death, and were released from prison when the walls were rent and the wicked priests and lawyers were killed in the collapse.  Alma and Amulek, having the true Priesthood of God, were able to withstand the abuse and torture of their captors and continued to preach and teach.  They endured the injustice by those who proclaimed to be for justice and came out on top.

Contrast this with Abinadi, who contended with people who were of the same mold as these corrupt lawyers, but ended up being killed by fire at the end of his sermon.  The Lord chooses the time and place that his servants shall return to Him.  Abinadi delivered his message and was killed for it, sealing his testimony by his death, not unlike Joseph Smith, whose blood is a witness of God’s work and word.  Both Abinadi and Joseph, and many others known and unknown have given their testimony with their lives.  In some cases, like with Alma and Amulek, the Lord preserved them until He judged their work finished.

It would seem that I have gone off topic, but in reality, the purpose of this little essay was to illustrate how power, influence and money cause people to try and exercise power and authority over others.  In the quest for this power, evil often tries to squash good.  Alma and Amulek suffered at the hands of those who were wicked for daring to preach truth and call people to repentance.  Seeking for unrighteous authority is a trademark of Satan, for he promises riches and power, attractive things of this temporal world.  People who seek worldly things almost never have the glory of God as their purpose.  Those who would make themselves rich at the expense of others have no place in the kingdom of God.  Instead, they are subject to Lucifer, who makes promises he knows he will not and cannot deliver.  Satan is more cunning and crafty than those whom he deceives; after all, in order to trap people into pulling the same tricks and ploys, one must be a master at them, and Satan is that master, having many thousands of years to perfect his tactics. 

Thus, as is said in the Book of Mormon many times, are the affairs of the people.  We live in a world of greed, power and money.  True power lies in the true Priesthood.  In the end, this Priesthood will triumph over every false and deceitful thing.  Those who have employed Satan’s methods will find themselves without the very things they sought after.  The righteous, however, will inherit the promises of God, which He cannot break.  That is the side I wish to be on.

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 6th, 2008 at 6:31 pm and is filed under Older Posts, Scriptures. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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