After that first war, Zeniff’s people make more weapons. They don’t want to be taken unawares again. We need to protect ourselves from worldly doctrines and the whims of Satan, so we aren’t deceived and taken unaware.
Put on the Armor of God
The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians from prison about what they could do to be prepared to fight against and triumph over the adversary.
…be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore, take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.Ephesians 6:10-18 (KJV)
Paul’s words show that we must prepare defensively and offensively.
We put on defensive armor—righteousness, preparation, peace, faith, repentance unto salvation.
But armor without an offensive weapon to strike back against the enemy leaves us only half prepared—which means we must run and flee. Adding the sword of the Spirit gives us a way to cut through Satan’s lies, so they have no power to confuse us and make us doubt.
He adds prayer last, and I believe that tool is both a defensive and offensive weapon. It is a defensive measure we can use to shield us from Satan’s attacks, and it is also offensive in that God answers us through the Spirit—our offensive weapon—guiding and directing us in where to go and how to fight in this battle against darkness.
Guards to Watch
Now, back to Zeniff and his people. After preparing weapons for his people to use, Zeniff sets guards round about to watch for the enemy. Super smart.
We have a prophet and other leaders, down to local bishops and ministering brothers and sisters (at a ward level), that act as guards around God’s fold.
Zeniff’s people trusted those guards to keep them alerted to when and if the enemy was coming to attack.
Do I trust the spiritual guards God has provided to keep me alerted and safe from the enemy?
They live for 22 more years in the land before it gets bad again. They are industrious. The men grow their flocks and fields, the women spin and create beauty, and they have peace (5)
King Laman dies. His son takes over and stirs up his people to anger (6). They prepare for war. Zeniff knows this ahead of time, because he sent out spies that he might “guard against them, that they might not come upon my people and destroy them.” (7)
God’s prophets today have heavenly power to “see” what the enemy is about. They give us forewarning about what the enemy is up to—the ways he is trying to destroy our souls and keep us from Christ.
Zeniff and his people would’ve been foolish to ignore the words of their “spies” that told them the enemy was approaching. But I think often, we ignore or discount the words of our spiritual “spies”, thinking they aren’t in touch with social reforms of the day or don’t understand our lives and wishes. When we do this, the enemy wins ground against us.
Zeniff sends the women and children out to hide while the men—old and young—prepare for battle. His people by this point, have mended their ways, it seems, because they “did go up in the strength of the Lord to battle.” (10) They had their spiritual and physical defensive and offensive weapons at the ready.
In contrast, the Lamanites were only prepared physically, because they “knew nothing concerning the Lord, nor the strength of the Lord, therefore, they depended upon their own strength. Yet they were a strong people, as to the strength of men.” (11)
The Lamanites have been taught from childhood that the Nephites have wronged them.
And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.”Mosiah 10:17
This hate and bigotry has lasted for many generations. It shows how lasting hate can be.
What are we teaching our children today?
Are we teaching love, empathy, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, patience, and holiness?
Or do our actions and words promote pride, anger, judgment, bigotry, bullying, and darkness?
Children are easily led and they willingly believe. Lehi blessed Laman and Lemuel’s seed that the unrighteous teachings of their parents would be answered upon their parents’ heads. These Lamanites are their descendants, and they are filled with hate due to generations of ignorance and evil indoctrination.
Zeniff admits that this “eternal hatred” has led the Lamanites to deceive and work to bring his people under subjection.
But God blesses His people—whatever race or culture they may be—when they remember Him. At this time, God blesses the Nephites because they are arming themselves with His heavenly power and weapons of the Spirit, which gives them power to defeat their enemy both spiritually and physically. Later, we’ll see that the tables turn and the Lamanites become converted and are the ones who make and keep covenants with God, while the Nephites desert Him and forsake theirs.
It all boils down to what side we fight for, and what spiritual weapons and armor we take upon ourselves. We must take defensive measures to ensure we have on the whole armor of God. We must also make good use of the sword of the Spirit and prayer, so we have power to defeat the enemy who wishes to destroy us.