Two years later in 85 BC, the land was at peace. 3,500 people were baptized and joined the Church of God, and there was prosperity. But over the next two years, the people in the Church became proud and used their extreme riches to buy very expensive clothing, and they turned their backs on the hungry, the needy, and the sick. They set such a bad example that unbelievers no longer wanted to join the Church.
Alma the Younger was so distraught by the wickedness of the church and the suffering of the people that he decided to give up his role as chief judge so that he could spend all his time preaching the gospel among the people. He chose a wise elder from the church named Nephihah to take his place as chief judge.
Alma successfully called people to repentance in the cities of Zarahemla, Gideon, and Melek, but when he came to the city of Ammonihah, he found that Satan had a strong hold over the people. They said to him, "We know who you are, Alma. You are the high priest of a church we don't belong to, for we do not believe such foolish traditions. And now that you have given up your role of judge, you have no power over us." They spit on Alma and threw him out of the city.
The wickedness of these people deeply saddened Alma, and he had decided to move on to a different city when an angel of Jesus appeared to him, saying, "You are blessed, Alma, for having kept the commandments ever since an angel first appeared to you. I am that same angel, and now I tell you to return to the city of Ammonihah and tell them that unless they repent, Jesus their God will destroy them."
A man from Ammonihah named Amulek, who was a man of no small reputation, and who had rebelled against God in the wickedness of his heart, was on his way to visit family when an angel of Jesus also appeared to him. "Return home, Amulek," said the angel, "for you will feed a holy prophet who is a chosen man of God. He is hungry because he has been fasting for days, and you will take him into your house and feed him, and the blessing of Jesus will be on you and your family."
Amulek obeyed the angel and headed toward his house. Before he arrived, Alma, who had just reentered the city, said to him, "Will you give a humble servant of God something to eat?" "I know you are prophet of God," said Amulek, "so come into my house and I will feed you." Over meat and bread, Alma told him of his calling to preach to the people of Ammonihah.
Alma stayed with Amulek a few days, but the wickedness of the people was getting worse. The word of Jesus came to Alma, saying, "Tell Amulek to prophesy to the people that Jesus says, “‘Repent, or I will visit this people in my anger. Yes, I will not turn my fierce anger away!’'" And so Alma and Amulek delivered this message to the people and they were filled with the Holy Ghost.
And Alma said to the people, "In not too many days, the Son of God will come in his glory, full of grace, full of patience, full of mercy. But if you persist in your wickedness, Jesus in his fierce anger will send the Lamanites to destroy you. So repent, or he will utterly destroy you off the face of the earth, and will not turn his his fierce anger from you."
The people became angry, and a man named Zeezrom who was an expert in the devices of the devil began to question them, asking, "Is there more than one God?" "No," answered Amulek. "Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?" asked Zeezrom. "Yes," said Amulek, "he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth." And Zeezrom said to the people, "He says there is but one God, yet he says the Son of God shall come."
Alma told Zeezrom that not everyone gets to be told the mysteries of God right away, but those who refuse to listen at all will be taken captive by Satan to hell. He explained "their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction." Zeezrom was astonished and began to tremble and shake. He felt guilty for his lies and feared the pains of hell.
When they finished preaching, many people believed their words and began to repent, but a greater number were angry and wanted to destroy Alma and Amulek. They were seized and tied up so they could be brought to the chief judge of the land. Now Zeezrom pleaded on their behalf, but the people spat on him and ran him out of town along with all the other men who had become believers, throwing stones at them.
Then they gathered the wives and children of all those who had become believers in the word of God so that they might burn them to death, and they carried Alma and Amulek there so that they would be forced to witness their deaths. When Amulek saw the fire beginning to burn the women and children, he was pained, saying, "How can we witness this awful scene?"
"Let's use the powers God has bestowed on us to save these women and children," Amulek said to Alma. "No," said Alma, "Jesus allows this to happen so that the punishments he shall bring on these people in his wrath will be just. The blood of these innocent people will stand as a witness against them, condemning them at the Final Judgement."