A phrase that is used repeatedly in the Book of Mormon is “And it came to pass…” I’ve gained a new appreciation for this phrase and what it can mean when my husband passed a kidney stone a couple years ago. Witnessing his excruciating pain for days made me realize that things don’t always PASS easily. Earth life was meant to try and test us. Each affliction, sorrow, pain and challenge is a spiritual kidney stone we must endure and suffer through. Some pass easier than others. Some bring us to the fetal position, feeling we will die. We cry out to God to make it stop, to take it away. But the experience must pass through us, strengthening us in the end (if we allow God to be our partner). And when these spiritual kidney stones pass, they make us more grateful for the good and joyful times afterward.
The Nephites are about to experience a HUGE spiritual kidney stone that will try them in ways they probably can’t imagine.
Scapegoats & False Narratives
As king of the Lamanites, Amalickiah immediately appoints people to get up on their towers and preach against the Nephites.
This is what every tyrant will start out doing—making scapegoats of a group of people to blame for their troubles and turn the people against. This is a false narrative, and political leaders use this today. They stir up their citizens against a certain race, culture, religion, etc, and that distracts from the evil the leader is doing behind the scenes, while everyone’s angry or blaming the scapegoat the tyrant has set up. We need to be critical of ANY leader who does this to any group, in any country. Any leader who stirs up hate and contention is usually doing it to hide even worse evil he is doing.
Amalickiah has a second goal in turning the people against his former countrymen. He wants to go to war, so if he can get them to hate the Nephites, he doesn’t have to force them—as the former Lamanite king tried to do and failed.
By setting up a scapegoat, Amalickiah “hardened the hearts of the Lamanites and blinded their minds, and stirred them up to anger…” (3) This gave him power over them.
Whenever we allow a political leader (or anyone else) harden our hearts to anger, we become blinded to the truth. We buy into the false narrative they create and then we are puppets to their agenda. I see this happening every day—good people buying into others’ false narratives and becoming mean and hateful to others.
Do you let anger about politics make you think you’re better than another person who believes differently than you? If so, you’ve fallen for a false narrative.
Do you refuse to critically read to debunk lies and search for truth, and instead take the easy way out and just believe the first article of sensational video you see on Facebook? If so, you might be letting yourself become puppet for wicked men and women. Social media is full of false narratives, and people believe them every day.
I feel that many wicked people use social media as Amalickiah used his men in his day to shout from the towers against the Nephites. People shout their false narratives constantly on Facebook and other sites and people read it, get scared or stirred up to anger or hate against someone else, and BOOM! They are caught.
There is much good that can be done and promoted on social media. But there is probably even MORE evil being done. Don’t believe the first thing you read or see. My college-aged daughter has many times taken a video or meme shared among her friends and researched a little behind the scenes, only to find that most of it has been debunked already or is slanted to push forward one agenda or another.
Be careful in the online world. There are many Amalickiah’s out there who are shouting and stirring up contention and hate. Don’t believe their false narratives so easily.
Amalickiah has gained all this power in a short time. Now he determines to take control of the Nephite nation as well. As with most traits, determination can be a flaw or a strength. Determination brings Amalickiah a long way in power, but he pushes too far, and we will soon see, it brings his destruction.
Moderation in all things.
He is cunning and smart though, as most wicked men who get so much power are, in the past and present. Amalickiah appoints Zoramites to be his captains, because they know the Nephite’s weaknesses and battle strategies (since they once were Nephites).
The devil uses those who leave our church to battle against us, because they know our weaknesses and strengths, and where best to attack.
Power for Good
While Amalickiah had been “obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.” (7)
Moroni has righteous power. He’s not using his power to control others or bring them into bondage. He’s using his God-given traits to save his people. And he knows the number one weapon they have to protect themselves is faith in God.
He knows that physical armor can only do so much against their enemies. They need spiritual armor as well. Moroni had also been strengthening his armies “and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about he land. (8)
And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites.”Alma 48:9
We need to put on our armor of God and strengthen ourselves spiritually. Moroni strengthened the weak spots first, and we must do the same. The devil knows where we are vulnerable, and that is where he will attack first. If we know we have a problem with controlling our anger, then that is where we should ask God to help us become strong, before the devil uses that weakness to make us his puppet. God is the Master at turning weaknesses into strengths, to keep us safer from the enemy.
Moroni erected small forts, or places of resort. To me, this implies places of refuge from the battle.
Do I have still, quiet moments and places I can go for resort, to rest and refill my spiritual tank or sharpen my spiritual sword when the battle is raging?
He enclosed his army by throwing up banks of earth around them.
Do I protect my spirit by building the words of God around me, surrounding myself with safety?
He built walls of stone to encircle them. My testimony of Jesus Christ and faith in His name can be walls against the destroyer.
Mormon, who has summarized this piece of history, gives an inspiring description of Captain Moroni now.
And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;”Alma 48:11
I love the “perfect understanding” part. What would that look like to have perfect understanding? I think it would suggest honesty, goodness, wisdom, and patience to not act without thinking through all scenarios in one’s mind. I think perfectness would only come from God through prayer and fasting.
Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.”Alma 48:12
Are we grateful to God for his many blessings and privileges which He has given us? How do we show this gratitude to Him? Could we do better?
Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.”Alma 48:13
His faith was firm, not floppy or flimsy. No matter how many bad things happen—and a lot do in Moroni’s life—he doesn’t waver in trusting God.
He was also an oath keeper. He never went back on his word, to God or man.
- What could I do to make my faith in Jesus Christ firmer?
- Am I honest in all my dealings?
- Do I keep the promises/oaths/covenants I have made with God, family, and strangers with exactness, never trying to get out of them through justification or nefarious means?
The Nephites believed that if they kept their oaths with God and exercised faith and trust in Him, God “would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger.” (15)
That verse is interesting. They had faith in whatever God’s will turned out to be—whether He warned them to leave their homes and flee, or whether He helped them stay and fight.
Am I willing to trust God with the path my life takes, no matter where He chooses that path to go?
…and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.”Alma 48:16
- Do I glory in doing good?
- Do I do all I can to preserve my family in righteousness?
- Do I glory in keeping God’s commandments, or do I complain about how hard they are?
- Do I glory in resisting iniquity and sin?
Moroni is a great role model in the Book of Mormon in how to stand for truth and righteousness, even when life is super hard and trying.
Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.”Alma 48:17
No less Serviceable
Mormon (almost 400 years later as he condenses this history) names his son after Moroni. He was that good of a man, who did so much good for his people. Mormon also lists other mighty men, like Ammon and the other sons of Mosiah, Alma, Helaman and his brethren also, and how they “were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni…” (19)
Not everyone at school is going to be the student body president or the Relief Society president or the teacher of the elders quorum. Not all of you are going to be like Moroni, catching the acclaim of your colleagues all day every day. No, most will be quiet, relatively unknown folks who come and go and do their work without fanfare. To those of you who may find that lonely or frightening or just unspectacular, I say you are “no less serviceable” than the most spectacular of your associates. You, too, are part of God’s army….
The limelight of history and contemporary attention so often focus on the “one” rather than the many. Individuals are frequently singled out from their peers and elevated as heroes. I acknowledge that this kind of attention is one way to identify that which the people admire or hold to be of some value. But sometimes that recognition is not deserved or may even celebrate the wrong values. This presents us with the challenge of choosing our heroes and examples wisely, while also giving thanks for those legions of friends and citizens who are not so famous but who are “no less serviceable” than the Moronis of our lives.”Howard W. Hunter – BYU Speeches
Four years pass in peace as Helaman humbles the people through missionary work and Moroni strengthens them physically and spiritually as well. But in the latter-end of the 19th year, “they were compelled reluctantly to contend with their brethren, the Lamanites.” (21) Their reluctance came because “they were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God.” (23) But they’re not going to sit back and let their families be massacred…so they prepare for battle again.
All these men and women were strong and mighty, as Moroni. Though we don’t know their names or what they did specifically to prepare and win these battles, we know that they were no less serviceable than the ones whose names we do have today. They left behind a righteous legacy for their families because they were strong and mighty in their faith in Jesus Christ.
What kind of legacy are we leaving behind for our family?