Alma 7:1 - 7:5
Alma 7:1 Behold my beloved brethren, seeing that I have been permitted to come unto you, therefore I attempt to address you in my language; yea, by my own mouth, seeing that it is the first time that I have spoken unto you by the words of my mouth, I having been wholly confined to the judgment-seat, having had much business that I could not come unto you.
Alma tells the people of Gideon, that he is thankful for the privilege to speak to them in person. He had been so busy with his duties as chief judge that it make it impossible for him to visit them in the past. He was grateful that they would gather together to listen to him.
Alma 7:2 And even I could not have come now at this time were it not that the judgment-seat hath been given to another, to reign in my stead; and the Lord in much mercy hath granted that I should come unto you.
And if he were still the chief judge, he would not be there now. But someone else has been set up as chief judge and that has now permitted him to come to them.
Alma 7:3 And behold, I have come having great hopes and much desire that I should find that ye had humbled yourselves before God, and that ye had continued in the supplicating of his grace, that I should find that ye were blameless before him, that I should find that ye were not in the awful dilemma that our brethren were in at Zarahemla.
Alma’s hope was that the church was in order and that the people were living as they should in Gideon. He wanted to see if that was case when he came to visit them. To Alma’s delight, the people were living as they should, that they were listening to their leaders and caring for each other needs, unlike the members in Zarahemla.
I don't know how far Gideon was from Zarahemla, but I have always been amazed that there seems to have been little contact between church leadership at church headquarters in Zarahemla and the congregations in the field. I guess travel was very difficult and therefore communication was as well. Alma seems to have no idea the conditions in Gideon when he set out for this city. I would think that someone once in a while would come from these areas and report on conditions. And if there were no reports, then the church leadership should be curious and go to see how things are. But I am just guessing that travel was so extremely difficult that that was not really possible and therefore the local leadership that the entire responsibility to regulate affairs of the church in their areas.
Alma 7:4 But blessed be the name of God, that he hath given me to know, yea, hath given unto me the exceedingly great joy of knowing that they are established again in the way of his righteousness.
However, the church is now in order in Zarahemla and that has brought great joy to Alma.
Alma 7:5 And I trust, according to the Spirit of God which is in me, that I shall also have joy over you; nevertheless I do not desire that my joy over you should come by the cause of so much afflictions and sorrow which I have had for the brethren at Zarahemla, for behold, my joy cometh over them after wading through much affliction and sorrow.
He is now hoping to find that the members in Gideon will be in better condition than the members in Zarahemla. He does not want his joy to come because he will get the members in Gideon to repent like it came when the people of Zarahemla repented. That joy only came after a lot work and preaching. He does not really want to go through that again.