"Martyr", the song I wrote and posted last week, was inspired by the story of Alma and Amulek, from the Book of Mormon. As I was reading it, researching the song, I was reminded of the story that bookends that one. It's one of my all-time favorite Book of Mormon story. That's the conversion of Zeezrom.
Zeezrom starts out, in chapter 11 of the book of Alma, as a lawyer trying to trip up Alma and Amulek. He tries a few strategies to try and trick them in their words, and at one point, even tries to buy them out of their testimonies.
But Alma and Amulek can sense, by the Spirit, his trickery and they call him on it. And this catches him off guard. Before long, his questions start to get sincere. Pretty soon the crowd is getting more and more angry at Alma and Amulek, and as Zeezrom starts to stand up for them, they get mad at him, too. Pretty soon they haul the two missionaries off to jail.
In what I imagine is their "trial" they are accused. Because Zeezrom is a lawyer, I imagine that he was working for their defence. Who knows what the Nephite due process was at that time in the Book of Mormon, but there must have been some set order to things. In the end, the bad guys run Zeezrom out of town. At that point, he's pretty much a believer.
He travels to another town, where another family of believers takes him in, feeds him, and cares for him. It turns out that he's so wracked by guilt over all the things he'd done over the years, persecuting and (I imagine) prosecuting the righteous, that he's in bed, sick with a fever.
I wonder if he was there at the scene of the martyrdom, of the burning. For him to see the righteous being burned a live, with their scriptures, and knowing that he'd played a role in inciting the people to that point must have eaten away at his soul. Small wonder he lay in bed.
Then, after Alma and Amulek tear down the walls of the prison the come to the town where he is. When Zeezrom hears that they're alive, he takes courage and sends for them. He must've wondered if they'd harbour any resentment for him. It must've taken some courage for him to send for them.
They come to Zeezrom, and with no recrimination or anger at all, bless him and heal his illness. Zeezrom jumps to his feet, praising God, and "...went from that time forth, to preach unto the people."
So many of the stories of the Book of Mormon are about armies, generals, leaders, and history. This is one of my favorites because it's very personal. One man makes a complete turn around. It just gives hope for me, too.
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