The next year after Mormon stands down as their captain (363 AD), the Nephites try again to go up against the Lamanites. They become the aggressors, and are badly beaten. While they are still weary, a fresh army of Lamanites comes upon them and the Lamanites take possession of the city of Desolation and take many of them prisoners.
But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed.”Mormon 4:5
The Nephites are reaping the consequences of the seeds they’ve sown. Their lack of humility, their debilitating pride, their hard hearts are coming back to haunt them. This could be a good thing, if they were then willing to repent. God had told them, through the prophet Mormon, that He was willing to take them back into His loving arms and bless and heal them. But they would not choose him over the world.
The Lamanites prepare to take over the city of Teancum as well, but the Nephites repulse them and even take back the city of Desolation. But instead of thanking God, “they did again boast in their own strength.” (8)
They will not learn and change.
Thousands upon thousands have been slain, on both sides. In 366 AD, the Lamanites come upon them again. This war has been ongoing (save for a 10 year break in the middle) since Mormon was a young teen, and now he is in his late fifties.
And it is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually.”Mormon 4:11
Such horrors and atrocities taking place, yet neither side will repent and turn unto the Lord. And so, He leaves them to themselves, both weak, both vicious, both willing to kill off the other to annihilation. He leaves them to reap the consequences of sin, instead of the blessings of faithfulness.
Not so very long ago (less than one hundred years), they were a most blessed and happy people, united in love for each other and love for God. It is sad to witness in this account their utter downfall. This record breaks my heart every time I read it, and spurs me to action.
- What can I do to love God more?
- How can I keep pride and contention from taking root in my heart, hardening it?
- How can I strengthen and unify my family, and then build from there to strengthen and unite my community/nation?
- What can I do to develop humility and trust in God?
It is the small and simple steps we take toward God that bring such marvelous and long-lasting results. Wherever you are on your path in life—close to God or super far away—turn around so you face Him better (through repentance) and take the first baby step back to Him. He will help you know where to start, what to do—if you ask Him for help. Ask for His help today, this very moment!
Small and simple steps can also draw us away from God. The Nephite nation didn’t go from a united, loving, prosperous nation to a wicked and depraved on in only a week. It took small missteps to lead them further and further away, until they were so far away they could not feel the Holy Ghost any longer.
The Lamanites retake Teancum and Desolation and “did take many prisoners both women and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods.” (14)
Poor Mormon, having to observe all these horrors. How his soul must have been in agony. This society is beyond broken to sink to such depraved acts. No wonder he needed to be ministered to by the three Nephites still on earth from Christ’s appearance time.
In 367 AD (Mormon is 58) the Nephites, in their anger and vengefulness for what the Lamanites did to their prisoners, go against them and drive them out of the land for a period of eight years.
Not until 375 AD (when Mormon is 66), do the Lamanites return in full force, the likes of which the Nephites have never witnessed. This marks the start of the final ending.
And in this year they did come down against the Nephites with all their powers; and they were not numbered because of the greatness of their number.
And from this time forth did the Nephites gain no power over the Lamanites, but began to be swept off by them even as a dew before the sun.”Mormon 4:17-18
The intensity of battles ramps up and the Nephites are slaughtered and driven before the Lamanites, their women and children sacrificed to idol gods again. Seeing this great exodus of refugees (his own people), Mormon can tell that “the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron had hid up unto the Lord.” (23)
He knew what was most important, preserving this record that he had been commanded to keep. So, he puts his fears aside to do the will of God. Though probably dangerous, he travels through the land to the place where the plates are hidden.
Can we do the same? Put aside our fears so we can more fully trust in God’s plan and seek with full purpose of heart to do His will?
Even when the world threatens to destroy us for our faith in Jesus Christ, can we vow to stand firm in protecting our testimony of Him and of God the Father, and pledge allegiance to God forevermore, no matter the consequences?