Ammoron, the enemy leader, wants to exchange prisoners. Moroni rejoices, because he wants their provisions for his people, not the Lamanite prisoners. He also wants the added strength of the Nephites who have been taken prisoner by the Lamanites. But while he has only taken soldiers as prisoners, the Lamanites have taken men, women, and children. Moroni doesn’t want to trade Lamanite men and get back only women and children. He writes a bold letter to Ammoron, seeking by stratagem to get as many of his people back from Ammoron as he can.
First, he tells Ammoron that this battle he has waged—or rather that his brother has waged “and which ye are still determined to carry on after his death” (5)—is an unholy one and that God is not on their side. He talks about the justice of God “and the sword of his almighty wrath which doth hang over you except ye repent and withdraw your armies into your own lands.” (6) Moroni calls him to repentance and says he would tell him more of these spiritual things, “but as ye have once rejected these things, and have fought against the people of the Lord, even so I may expect you will do it again.” (8)
I love Moroni’s style. He’s blunt and uses boldness to defend right and condemn evil. Moroni basically tells Ammoron he won’t exchange prisoners unless he gives a family for each man. Then he ends the epistle.
Behold, I am in my anger, and also my people; ye have sought to murder us, and we have only sought to defend ourselves. But behold, if ye seek to destroy us more we will seek to destroy you; yea, and we will seek our land, the land of our first inheritance.”Alma 54:13
Moroni has fought so hard against this evil man and his brother before him. He’s tired of their wicked power plays to bring them into bondage. And he definitely can get riled up (we’ll see that in another letter of his to Pahoran later). Ammoron is so evil, that righteous boldness is necessary in dealing with him.
Ammoron’s return letter is interesting. He uses boldness in a negative way. His language and manipulative words show how evil men work. He begins by setting up a false narrative twisted to make him look good. Leaders do this all the time today. Ammoron accuses Moroni of murdering his brother and says he will avenge his death.
That’s not why Amalickiah brought them to battle at all, but this is the twist Ammoron uses now. Today, many in the world twist truth just enough for it to be swallowed by the masses. Ammoron and Amalickiah earlier were masters of this strategy.
Though he is Nephite by birth, Ammoron now spouts off the Lamanite misbelief that “your father did wrong their brethren, insomuch that they did rob them of their right to the government when it rightly belonged unto them.” (17)
This isn’t even a twist on the truth. It is an outright lie. Laman and Lemuel were going to kill Nephi almost 600 years ago, so the Lord warned Nephi to take those that believed in God and escape to another place so they wouldn’t be killed by his brothers. Nephi stole nothing from them, but the Lamanites have grown up being taught that he did and that’s why they hate the Nephites.
Can you think of any outright lies that have been perpetuated through the centuries that people believe today, because they grew up being taught a certain misbelief?
I find it very interesting how Ammoron, though a Nephite by birth, now has accepted the Lamanite doctrine as his own. When people who have once been enlightened with truth turn from it, they often adopt the worldly doctrines and views and embrace them as their own, believing the lies as truth. So interesting…and sad.
Ammoron tells Moroni to surrender and be subject to the Lamanites, because they have the right to rule and the Nephites don’t. He agrees to Moroni’s demands for a family for each of the Lamanite soldiers he holds prisoner, for he wishes to save his food for his own men so they can wage “a war which shall be eternal, either to the subjecting the Nephites to our authority or to their eternal extinction.” (20)
Then he ends his letter by blaspheming everything Moroni believes in—his freedom, his cause of liberty, his God—and identifies himself as “a bold Lamanite” who has the “rights to the government.” (24)
Wow. This show how bold and manipulative evil men can be, how deluded they become, believing the lies Satan has whispered in their ear so long.
When faced with such bold wickedness, Moroni had no other alternative but to be bold in standing up for truth and righteousness. We need to beware of men and women today who stand boldly for wickedness and lies, and try to manipulate and deceive others to follow them. Pray to discern truth from error, and then stand boldly up for truth and righteousness when God moves us to do so.