Lachoneus receives an epistle from the Gadianton leader (Giddianhi) in 16 AD, telling him to unite with them and join in their secret works and they will not destroy them. But if they won’t join them, they will come against them in the next month.
Reading his “polite” letter carefully, I picked out several manipulative tactics he used, that the devil and his minions will use on us, to tempt us to do things we know we shouldn’t.
First, he appeals to his ego
The robber leader strokes his pride and flatters him with words like these: “most noble and chief governor” and “do give unto you exceedingly great praise because of your firmness.” (2)
Then, he gaslights him
He applauds Lachoneus for maintaining “that which ye suppose to be your right and liberty…” (2) He casts doubt on his reality and tries to suggest that Lachoneus’s thinking is wrong.
He undermines his faith in God
“ye do stand well, as if ye were supported by the hand of a god…” (2) This fits in with gaslighting, but it’s specifically targeted at chipping away at what he believes in. His spiritual support.
He feigns sympathy & projects power
“it seemeth a pity unto me, most noble Lachoneus, that ye should be so foolish and vain as to suppose that ye can stand against so many brave men who are at my command, who do now at this time stand in their arms; and do await with great anxiety for the word—Go down upon the Nephites and destroy them.” (3)
He pretends he doesn’t want to hurt Lachoneus’s people with his mighty army of men who are loyal to him. Yet, that is his number one goal.
He continues gaslighting him
He builds up how much his people want to destroy them, and it is only him who is holding them back. He pretends to be on Lachoneus’s side, just wanting to stop this bloodshed. He tells them his people hate them for all the “many wrongs which ye have done unto them” (4), casting doubt upon reality again. The Nephites haven’t wronged these robbers, yet they say that they do over and over again until that becomes the robbers’ “truth.”
He feigns friendship.
He tells Lachoneus that he is “feeling for your welfare” because of his noble, strong fighting spirit. (5) He pretends to be his friend and only wants what is good for them. So he desires that he yield up his cities so that they don’t have to visit them with destruction. (6)
He goes one step further, offering this false friendship branch to Lachoneus.
…yield yourselves up unto us, and unite with us and become acquainted with our secret works, and become our brethren that ye may be like unto us—not our slaves, but our brethren and partners of all our substance.”3 Nephi 3:7
Their substance that is all stolen from other people. Their wicked society can only exist upon preying upon others. So this is a false offer. If the Nephites joined them, they wouldn’t have such bounty, because they were the ones providing it to the robbers. The robbers aren’t going to give that up, even if they surrender.
He ends with a wicked oath
If you join us, he basically says, you will be our brothers. If you don’t, we will “slay you, and shall let fall the sword upon you even until ye shall become extinct.” (8)
He calls evil good, and good evil
Giddianhi tells him that he know his secret society does good works, for they are of ancient date and have been handed down to them. He believes, or pretends to believe, that the Nephites are the evil ones in this war Giddianhi started.
Lachoneus is “exceedingly astonished because of the boldness of Giddianhi demanding the possession of the land of the Nephites, and also of threatening the people and avenging the wrongs of those that had received no wrong, save it were they had wronged themselves by dissenting away unto those wicked and abominable robbers.” (11)
The wicked wrong themselves. They choose not to be blessed, and so are left unto themselves. But the wicked will always play the blame game. They will blame other for their choices, for their consequences, for their hardships. They never turn inward, because that involves humility, which leads to repentance. The devil does NOT want any of his followers to look inward.
Thank goodness, Lachoneus is a just man and not frightened by the demands of a robber. He is not deceived by Giddianhi’s manipulative tactics. He also is not frightened to look inward. He ignores Giddianhi’s demands and urges his people to repent and “cry unto the Lord for strength against the time that the robbers should come down against them.” (12)
It’s interesting to note that he didn’t cry unto the Lord to turn the robbers away from them. That wasn’t going to happen. Often, troubles come our way and we ask God to take the troubles away. But that isn’t how it usually works.
Lachoneus prays and supplicates God for strength to stand firm against the robbers. We, too, can pray for strength from God to get us through our troubles, not have them taken away.
Lachoneus immediately gathers all the vulnerable of the population and their resources (sheep, cattle) together into one place. He can protect them better that way. He has his people build fortifications and place guards about to watch for the enemy.
What fortifications have I built in my life? Am I watchful to guard against temptation, by arming myself with the Spirit through prayer and sincere scripture study?
Lachoneus tells his people that unless they repent of ALL their iniquities, God will not deliver them from the robbers. This is something to consider when we are in trouble.
Have I repented of ALL my sins, or are there some I hold onto or hide, because I am comfortable with them?
God cannot bless me if I am not willing to surrender ALL my sins to Him.
This is a time where the Nephites/Lamanites have righteous leaders. Lachoneus called them to repentance. He appoints Gidgiddoni to be commander of the armies, who is also a “great prophet among them.” (19) The people exert themselves with all their might to heed Lachoneus’ words and humble themselves.
The people want to attack the robbers in their own lands. This makes sense, as the bloodshed and carnage and rape of the land wouldn’t be on their territory.
But Gidgiddoni tells them God is against that course. He says that “we will wait till they come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.” (21)
This is how we can stay safe against Satan’s attacks on us, even when he comes at us all charming and polite and uses masterfully manipulative tactics on us.
- Listen to the words of living prophets.
- Heed the prophet’s words and gather into a safe place he has set forth.
- Be prepared so we don’t have to be fearful of the enemy’s attacks.
- Repent of ALL our sins, every single one.
- Put our prayers up to God for deliverance.
- Trust God’s promises.
Faith casts out fear
I imagine this great army of righteous people, standing and waiting for the attack they know will come. They probably wished they didn’t have to kill their enemies, but they knew God would uphold them in doing what needed to be done if the wicked did attack. But they weren’t fearful of their enemies. God was with them, giving them strength of spirit and strength of body to come off conquerors in the end.
God can be with us too, so we are no overpowered or deceived by the devils subtle and evil designs.