When Amulek stepped forward to affirm the words of Alma in the city of Ammonihah, a number of people criticized him. One of them, a lawyer named Zeezrom, questioned him extensively. But Amulek’s testimony made Zeezrom tremble and Alma’s subsequent words convinced him “more and more of the power of God” (Alma 11:46, Alma 12:7). He now began to ask a different kind of question, as he sincerely sought to understand the truth (Alma 12:8, Alma 14:6).
But the damage had been done. Although Zeezrom now pleaded on behalf of Alma and Amulek, he was unable to change the minds of the people whom he had previously turned against them (Alma 14:7). The tragedy which followed tormented Zeezrom until he became physically incapacitated. He knew that his actions had contributed to people being mistreated. He feared that Alma and Amulek were dead (Alma 15:3).
But Alma and Amulek were miraculously delivered, and when they learned that he was nearby, and that he was suffering, they went immediately to the house where he was staying, and they healed him by the power of God (Alma 15:5-11).
Several things about this story are remarkable to me:
- Zeezrom’s sudden change of heart. What was there in his background or personality that resonated with the testimony of Amulek? How could he so quickly switch from enemy to ally, in full public view, and at the cost of his reputation, his livelihood, and even his home? We don’t know why he was able to do this, but the story gives me hope. People can change, and quickly.
- Zeezrom’s inability to convert his colleagues. Like Alma’s father, who was the only priest of King Noah to believe the words of Abinadi, Zeezrom’s conversion left him instantly alone. He had been known as a persuasive speaker, and he may have believed that his words on Alma and Amulek’s behalf would be equally convincing. Apparently not. Apparently, he was only persuasive when he told the people what they wanted to hear.
- Alma and Amulek’s immediate forgiveness. After watching women and children burn to death, after suffering in prison for many days with inadequate food and water, after being taunted and beaten, they could very easily have felt bitterness and anger toward those who were responsible for their situation. But they did not let that happen. When Alma said, “Be it according to the will of the Lord,” he meant it (Alma 14:13). He knew that God could stop the suffering at any time, but that He would only do so at the right time. He could therefore trust God instead of blaming his circumstances on other people.
Today, I will remember these three lessons from Zeezrom’s story: I will believe that people can change. I will not overestimate the power of charisma. And I will strive to forgive immediately, as Alma and Amulek forgave Zeezrom.