In the last post, we discussed Zerahemnah’s desire to preserve hatred. The Nephites only design “was to support their lands and their houses, and their wives and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies; and also that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires.” (9)
The Nephites are fighting for a righteous cause. They know if they fall to the Lamanites, they will be destroyed for worshipping God according to the dictates of their conscience. They also fight to protect the refugees in their day, the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, who they’ve allowed to live in their land (even though, technically, they are Lamanites). The refugees help the war cause by giving the Nephite army “a large portion of their substance to support their armies.” (13)
I often wonder if we will be judged, as nations, on how we treat those who are fleeing oppression, hatred, and persecution in other countries. Jesus commanded us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and help those who can’t help themselves. If a nation shuts their doors and doesn’t try to help these hungry, oppressed, and needy people who are suffering, will God preserve us as a nation for long?
Just something to consider.
The Lamanites are at least twice as numerous as the Nephites. They gather in the land of Antionum while the Nephites prepare to meet them in the land of Jershon (15). And here’s where I hear the thrilling upbeat music of Hamilton in my mind right before General George Washington enters the stage and the cast sings:
Here comes the General!
Ladies and gentlemen!
Here comes the General!
The moment you’ve been waiting for!…
Except in this chapter, we don’t read of George Washington, we read of another incredible general named Captain Moroni, who “was only twenty and five years old when he was appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites.” (17)
I can see him stressed out like General Washington in the play, who says:
We are outgunned, outmanned,
We gotta make an all out stand.
Their freedom, like that of the United States of America’s Founding Fathers, was at stake. Their lives were at stake. They had to make an all out stand.
Moroni was so young, and had the world, it seemed, against him and his people. And terrible odds of winning. But he, like Washington, determined to save his people.
Some of the spiritual parallels to our own lives are how Moroni prepared his people to stand fast and not fall to their enemy. They are outnumbered, but Moroni’s people have been prepared with breastplates, arm shields, head shields, and thick protective clothing. (19)
The enemy army, in contrast, had no such protection. They only had offensive weapons, but were naked otherwise, save for a “skin which was girded about their loins.” (20) They have no defensive shields or armor.
In the Bible, we’re told to put on the whole armor of God, to protect ourselves against the adversary.
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 upon 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 6:11-18
The enemy is frightened enough of Moroni’s army that they decide not to attack them in Jershon. They head out to find some easier pickings among the Nephites. But Moroni was a proactive general. He doesn’t just rest when the threat is gone. He wants to protect all the Nephites. So he sends spies after the Lamanites to “watch their camp.”
He takes another measure of safety by sending “certain men unto [the prophet, Alma], desiring him that he should inquire of the Lord whither the armies of the Nephites should go to defend themselves against the Lamanites.” (23)
Do I inquire in my prayers where I need to work on my defenses to be safe against Satan’s temptations?
At times, we might think we have things handled because we are watching the enemy and think we know or can anticipate his next attack. But this is foolish. The devil has had millennia to perfect his deceptions, and even the best of us can be fooled by him.
That’s why it is important to never rely upon our own wisdom completely for anything—spiritual matters, physical aspects, political and social topics. We can study things out and come to conclusions with our own logic, but we need to back this up, as Moroni did, by seeking counsel from the prophet or the Lord. This helps us stay safe and not be deceived.
Moroni receives the prophet’s answer from the Lord and takes measures to surprise the enemy. He leaves part of his army in Jershon, unwilling to leave any place unguarded at this dangerous time. He takes the other half and heads toward Manti, gathering people to the cause along the way. He hides his army in two parts.
When the enemy comes through the pass, they are met by one half of the Nephites, but then are surprised when more pop up behind them, cutting them off from retreat. Because of their lack of armor, they die faster than the Nephites, with their armor and shields. The enemy “did fight like dragons” (44) and they kill many Nephites but the battle goes to Moroni, for the enemy is frightened.
Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.”Alma 43:45
At one point, the desperate Lamanites almost scare the Nephites, but Moroni inspired them with these thoughts—“yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage.” (48)
They fight with renewed strength, and so can we when we remember these things we treasure, but most especially, when we remember our God.
And it came to pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and they cried with one voice (united!) unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage.”Alma 43:49
And guess what. This is exciting.
And they began to stand against the Lamanites with power; and in that selfsame hour that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them…”Alma 43:50
In the selfsame hour.
Do we ever put limits on what God can do for us, thinking a situation or trial is inescapable and will overpower us?
If we put our trust in Him—truly turn to Him with all the faith we have—He will deliver us. Sometimes that deliverance won’t look like we expect, or come when we hope. But it will always come. He has promised it will, to those who are faithful and follow Him.
The Nephites now have the Lamanites surrounded and the enemy is terrified. Moroni stops the killing to speak to Zerahemnah, to see if they can put an end to this conflict without any more men dying.