"Firm in the Faith of Christ"
Lesson 31 - Alma 43-52
Why do you think Mormon included so much information about war in the Book of Mormon? Well, it's quite possible that Mormon knew that the Book of Mormon would be read and studied in a time when war would be common throughout the world. These writings teach us how to remain Christlike during times of conflict. Also, Mormon recorded Nephite history preceding the Savior’s appearance in great detail. We can read of the Nephites’ experiences and be prepared for similar events occurring in our day prior to the Second Coming of Christ. This lesson will discuss what the battles between the Nephites and their enemies can teach us about how to handle earthly conflicts and how to defend ourselves and our families in the battle against Satan.
The Nephites fought to defend their families and their liberty.
Alma 43:3-4, 9-11, 45-47; Alma 48:14 The Nephites fought against the Lamanites to preserve and protect their wives and children, their rights, privileges, and liberty, their country, their freedom to worship God in spirit and truth, to defend the people of Ammon, and because they felt it was their duty to God to defend themselves.
Let's consider the circumstances under which the Lord approves of people going to war:
President Charles W. Penrose, who was a member of the First Presidency, said: "It is not right for us to engage in the shedding of human blood, for vengeance or retaliation. But when the Lord commands or inspires his servants to counsel the sons and daughters of Israel to lend their aid in the work of righteous warfare, that is different. ...We are to arise in our might and in our strength and go forth to victory; not with a desire to shed blood, not with the desire to destroy our fellow creatures, but in self defense and because we do want to maintain and hand down to our posterity those sacred principles of liberty that have been revealed from on high" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1917, 21).
Elder David O. McKay said: 'There are ...two conditions which may justify a truly Christian man to enter...mind you, I say enter, not begin...a war: (1) An attempt to dominate and to deprive another of his free agency, and, (2) Loyalty to his country. Possibly there is a third, [namely], Defense of a weak nation that is being unjustly crushed by a strong, ruthless one" (in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, 72).
Alma 44:3-4 When Moroni confronted Zerahemnah, he attributed the Nephites’ success in battle to the Lord's delivering the victory because of their religion and their faith in Christ; stating that God would support, keep and preserve them as long as they remained faithful to Him.
Alma 43:23, 49-50 The Nephites demonstrated their faith in Christ by asking His prophet, Alma, to inquire of the Lord concerning what their armies should do, and during battle, they cried in unison to the Lord for their liberty, freedom, and their lands.
The following principles governed the attitudes and actions of the righteous Nephites in times of war. Understanding and applying these principles today would help bring about greater peace in the world. We can also apply these principles in dealing with conflict in our personal lives.
a. Alma 43:8-10 , 29-30, 45-47; Alma 48:14 Fight only for righteous reasons, such as self-defense.
b. Alma 43:53-54; Alma 44:1-2, 6 Have no hate toward your enemies; seek their best interests as well as your own.
c. Alma 44:3-4; Alma 48:15, 19-20 Live righteously and trust in God.
d. Alma 43:16-19; Alma 48:11-13, 17-19; see also D&C 98:10 Follow righteous and wise leaders.
Captain Moroni raised the "title of liberty" to inspire the people.
Alma 45:20-22 After the battles with the Lamanites, Helaman and his brethren went throughout the land, preaching and reestablishing the organization of the Church.
Alma 45:23-24; Alma 46:1-4 However, some of the Nephites grew proud and rebelled against the Church. The leader of this group of dissenters was Amalickiah, who wanted to be king over the Nephites.
Alma 46:1-7, 10 Through flattery, Amalickiah was able to persuade others to follow him by appealing to their unholy desire for power over the people.
Alma 46:8-9 From the account of Amalickiah and his followers, we learn that men can quickly forget God, rapidly embrace evil and be led away from the truth, and that one very wicked man can cause great wickedness among his brethren.
Alma 46:11-13, 18-20 Moroni created the title of liberty to inspire his brethren to defend their rights, their religion, their peace, and their families.
Alma 46:21-22 The people responded to the title of liberty by running forth to covenant that they would not forsake their God nor would they be ashamed to bear the name of Christ.
Think for a moment about how making and keeping covenants affects your life.
Amalickiah became king of the Lamanites and incited them to battle.
Alma 46:33; Alma 47:1, 4 When he failed to become king over the Nephites, Amalickiah fled into the wilderness, stirred up anger against the Nephites among the Lamanites, and conspired to dethrone the king of the Lamanites.
Summarizing Alma 47:1-35 - Amalickiah became king over the Lamanites by treachery. He was given command of the king's loyalists and commanded to compel the remainder of the Lamanites to go to war against the Nephites. Amalickiah betrayed his soldiers and let them be captured by Lehonti's army of dissidents in return for being named second in command to Lehonti. He then had Lehonti poisoned so that he could assume full command of the entire Lamanite army. He led his army back to the king in the city of Nephi, where his henchmen murdered the king and blamed it on the king's servants. He persuaded the people and the queen to believe that he sorrowed for the slain king, so the people praised him and he took the queen to wife. He led the people in wickedness as they entirely forgot the Lord their God.
Some of the strongest opponents of the Nephites had once been Nephites themselves, including the Amalekites (Alma 24:29-30; Alma 43:6-7), the Zoramites (Alma 30:59; Alma 31:8-11; Alma 43:4), Amalickiah (Alma 46:1-7), Morianton (Alma 50:26, Alma 50:35), and Amalickiah’s brother Ammoron (Alma 52:3).
Mosiah 2:36-37; Alma 47:35-36 These verses teach that those who have left the Church often fight very strongly against it because they lose the Spirit of the Lord.
The Prophet Joseph Smith made the following statement to a man who wondered why those who had left the Church often fought so fiercely against it: "Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant" (in "Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith," Juvenile Instructor, 15 Aug. 1892, 492).
The supremely wicked Amalickiah and unfailingly righteous Moroni are contrasted in Alma 48:1-17. Just as one wicked person can cause much wickedness among the people (Alma 46:9), one righteous person, like Moroni, can inspire much righteousness.
War continued between the Nephites and the Lamanites.
These chapters continue the account of the ongoing battles between the Nephites and the Lamanites. This account can help us in our ongoing battle against Satan and his hosts, who are waging a war against truth and righteousness, fighting to destroy our opportunities for eternal life.
The accounts of war in the Book of Mormon can highlight principles that apply to our fight against the influence of Satan:
a. Alma 48:7-9; Alma 49:2-4, 13, 18 The Nephites built walls to protect their cities from the Lamanites’ attacks.
We can build walls of righteousness and faithful obedience as defenses to protect us from Satan’s influence.
b. Alma 50:1-6 The Nephites continually strengthened their defenses.
We must continually strengthen our defenses against Satan through sincere prayer and righteous daily living.
c. Alma 44:3-4; Alma 49:30; Alma 50:20-22 The Nephites kept the commandments of God and followed their
Heeding the commandments of God and the counsel of our Church leaders helps us fight wickedness.
d. Alma 45:1; Alma 49:28 The Nephites thanked God for protecting them in battle.
Gratitude to the Lord for our life and daily sustenance protects us against Satan.
e. Alma 51:2-7, 12-23; Alma 53:8-9 Contention caused the Nephites to fight among themselves and allowed the
Lamanites to gain power over them.
Contention allows Satan to gain power over us because it robs us of the influence and companionship of the Spirit.
Unity and support from other people helps us as we fight against wickedness through their moral and temporal support.
f. Alma 49:30; Alma 50:23 The righteous Nephites were prosperous and happy even in times of war.
We find peace and happiness even during times of terrible wickedness by remaining faithful--serving God
and our brethren.
The principles taught in these chapters of the Book of Mormon can help protect us and our families from the onslaught of evil. They can also help us have peace in our souls during times of war and tribulation.