At the beginning of this chapter, it seems the Lamanites had no chance of defeating the Nephites. Yet, they did. Let’s figure out this happened.
Even after the battle is over, Moroni doesn’t stop preparing for another battle. He refuses to let his people be caught off guard.
And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites;”Alma 50:1
The devil won’t stop attacking us. We need to follow Moroni’s example and NEVER stop strengthening our spiritual base, centered on Jesus Christ. Don’t get relaxed and forget about the enemy.
Moroni uses some great tactics that we can apply to our own spiritual battle today. He uses a layering strategy, building layer upon layer of protective defenses around every Nephite city. Just one of these layers would be good on its own, but could be defeated eventually. With multiple layers, the enemy has more obstacles to get through before they can attack and cause damage.
We must build layers of spiritual protection around us and our families, to keep the enemy at bay, so the devil can’t inflict damage upon our testimonies and faith.
Let’s explore Moroni’s fortifications and how we can apply these to our lives.
Heaps of earth round each city
The heaps of earth the Nephites dug up about each city were a first layer of protection, providing a solid barrier to keep the enemy from climbing over walls easily. It made it so there was only one way to get into the cities—the entrance. Heaps of prayer, faith, repentance, scripture study can provide a solid barrier around our spirits, giving the enemy less places to attack in our lives.
Tall Timbers – height of a man
On top of the heaps of earth surrounding the city, Moroni had his people build timbers the height of a man. This provided a second protective layer. Even if the enemy managed to climb up the heaps of earth without getting wiped out by arrows or rocks thrown by the soldiers opposing them, they would still have to climb a tall fence at the top. Our spiritual timbers could be our baptismal covenants we make and renew each Sabbath. We take Christ’s name upon us, always remember Him, keep His commandments, and this, added to the prayer, repentance, and scripture study we’re already doing, strengthens us even more. Baptismal covenants add another level of protection to our lives, when we keep them.
Frame of pickets—strong and high
On top of the timbers were a frame of pickets, another layer of protection. These could be our temple covenants. After baptism, we work to be worthy to take this next step in God’s plan. Temple covenants include higher laws that are strong and high, like the physical pickets on Nephite cities. These covenants, on top of our baptismal covenants, will truly make us almost invincible.
Towers that overlooked the land
Moroni “caused towers to be erected that overlooked those works of pickets…” (4) This gave the Nephites places of high ground to view what the enemy was up to. To see how close the enemy might be and what preparations they were making to come against them. It gave them a higher view. God has organized His Church today with many towers—living prophets, who see the high view and can warn us of what the devil is doing and where he will attack us. This knowledge we receive from our watchmen on the towers can help us prepare to thwart the enemy and prepare our lives for Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. The Holy Ghost can also be our personal watchman in the tower, giving us specific revelation for what to do in our own lives and how to strengthen our family in specific circumstances.
Places of security upon the towers
Moroni didn’t just build towers, he made them secure so the people up high would be protected from enemy stones and arrows. In our own lives, the Church, under the direction of prophets, organizes its members into geographical jurisdictions and put places of safety in place with stakes, wards, or branches to bless the members in specific locations. I also think of temple garments those who have gone through the temple and made sacred covenants with God wear as a sign of those covenants. Those garments are meant to be a protective shield for us, to keep us safe until our time on earth comes to an end.
Supply of stones
On each tower, there was a supply of stones available for the people on high ground to throw down at their enemy, to keep them from closing the distance between them and threatening their safety. The Book of Mormon and words of living prophets can be our defensive weapons. It provides truths we can use to see through the lies Satan spreads and truth to put down falsehoods that abound in this world.
Clear line made and fortified
Moroni sent soldiers out to drive the armies of the Lamanites out of the east wilderness and he sent people in to build fortifications there so that there was a clear line between the enemy and the Nephites. This helped to distinguish where they needed to defend, and cut off places the enemy could attack them easily. We must make a clear line in our own lives between good and evil. We can’t straddle the fence between both. We must pick a side and fight valiantly for God. We must make goals and have strong convictions about what we will do and what we won’t do in any given situation. We must erase doubts that make us wander into enemy territory. We must fortify the line between good and evil by not letting shades of gray draw us toward the world. There must be a distinct line between God’s kingdom and the world. And we must choose which side we will stand on.
New cities built in weak areas
This helped strengthen previous weak areas in the Nephites defensive line. We must never get comfortable and think we’ve “done enough.” We must nourish our strengths, shore up our weaknesses, and work to improve and grow. We must always extend God’s influence to do good in this world by always building his kingdom, not letting it fall into ruin.
In the twentieth year of the reign of the judges, the Nephites are blessed abundantly by God, because of all the protective measures they have taken. Blessings come.
And they did prosper exceedingly, and they became exceedingly rich; yea, and they did multiply and wax strong in the land.
And thus we see how merciful and just are all the dealings of the Lord, to the fulfilling of all his words unto the children of men…”Alma 50:18-19
Every time this happens in the Book of Mormon, their prosperity and ease leads to the people turning to wickedness. Prosperity and ease tempt us let our guard down, and this allows the devil to enters our hearts to plant pride and doubts about all we believe.
Why do you think good people so easily revert to wickedness in good times?
But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni, yea, even at this time, in the twenty and first year of the reign of the judges.”Alma 50:23
The danger of Contention
Three years pass in peace. No wars. No conflicts of any kind. They are truly happy. The fourth year is going good as well, except for one conflict that happens between the people of Lehi (a new city) and the city of Morianton.
This one conflict unraveled the strength of the defensive line, and has dire consequences in the end for the whole Nephite nation. It brings all their happy times to an end and leads to greater conflict
Contention is of the devil. If we allow even small contentions to flare up into flames in our lives, it can burn us badly, or those we love.
The people of Morianton want part of the city of Lehi, and are determined by the sword to take it from those citizens. Lehi’s people flee to the protection of Moroni’s camp and ask for assistance, knowing they are not in the wrong. Morianton’s people are rightfully scared—Moroni’s army is nothing to laugh at—so they flee northward and take possession of those lands in the lakes. Morianton beats one of his maid servants, and she flees to Moroni and tells him all of their plans to leave the land and take the land northward.
Moroni immediately takes his army to head them, but they don’t catch them until farther than they wished. Teancum leads this battle for Moroni, and he defeats Morianton and slays him and takes the rest of his people prisoner. They return to the camp of Moroni. The prisoners are made to take a covenant of peace and are restored to their land and make a vow of peace with the city of Lehi.
Let’s just all get along, right?
For now, the conflict has been contained, but there are evil thoughts and desires simmering in the hearts of a few, which we will see in continuing chapters, brings great heartache to the Nephite nation.
Nephihah, the second chief judge, dies in the twenty-fourth year “having filled the judgement seat with perfect uprightness before God.” (37) Helaman has possession of the sacred plates. Pahoran, son of Nephihah, takes the judgement seat after his father dies, with an oath to uphold their freedoms and liberties God has given them.
The Nephites have been protected because of the power of layering Moroni has ordered each city to build around itself. The enemy greatly outnumbers them, but their heaps of earth, tall timbers, frames of pickets, towers and safe places, and fortifying line are giving them a place of refuge where they are safe.
When we layer our lives with many levels of spiritual protection, we will have a place of refuge from the storm as well, in Jesus Christ.