Book of Mormon
“Firm in the Faith of Christ”
The Nephites fight to defend their families and their liberty.
Captain Moroni raises the "title of liberty" to inspire the people.
Amalickiah becomes king of the Lamanites and incites them to battle.
War continues between the Nephites and the Lamanites.
A study of this lesson will help us see how the Nephites’ attitudes and actions
in times of war can serve as a pattern for dealing with our earthly conflicts
and the battle against Satan.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 31 Handout (PDF)
Sister Kathleen S. McConkie in an Ensign article wrote: "The
morning was dark and cold, the children were half-asleep, and our reading
in the Book of Mormon seemed endless. We were mired somewhere in
the last half of the book of Alma and, frankly, we weren't getting much
out of it.
"Whenever we got into those
detailed accounts of the wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites, our
enthusiasm for daily scripture study waned. Mormon's extensive treatment
of the subject of war, though informative and even inspiring at times,
just did not seem to apply to us personally. Even in the remote event
that our family was charged with planning the defensive strategy against
an enemy invasion, of what value would the knowledge of pre-Columbian defenses
be in an age of nuclear weapons?
"And so, as the sleepy
voices droned on, my mind began to wander. Why? Why did Mormon
include so much detail about the wars? With all the wonderful spiritual
events that must have taken place, why would he use so much valuable space
on the plates to record military intrigue and battle strategy?"
- HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER SISTER MCCONKIE?
In her article, Sister McConkie continues by discussing
her search for an answer and then shares this: "Then
it hit me. That was it! This was the war that applied to me--not
a war of swords and spears, but the eternal war for my soul and those of
my family. Satan is waging an all-out war against truth and righteousness. His forces are everywhere, and we are involved in that war whether we like
it or not. The danger is real, and the stakes are high. All
around us we see the battle casualties, their lives ruined and their souls
scarred. If we expect to avoid becoming casualties ourselves, we
desperately need the Lord's guidance--and there is no better place to find
it than in that book of scripture prepared specifically for our day: the
Book of Mormon!" (Ensign, Jan 1992, p19)
As you study these chapters, particularly within your family, you may wish
to approach them with this theme.
Ask yourself: How do the teachings in these chapters teach me how
to deal with this eternal war against evil?
Inspired By A Better Cause
Quick overview of the Book of Mormon:
About 1000 years of history are covered in the chapters from 1 Nephi 1
through Mormon 6.
64% of the historical writings are contained in the chapters from Alma
1 to 3 Nephi 10.
This amounts to about 125 years, or only 12.5% of the 1000 years.
12.5% of the Nephite history takes up 64% of the space.
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE MORMON GAVE EMPHASIS TO THIS PARTICULAR PERIOD OF TIME?
Mormon and Moroni saw our day and the conditions that would lead up to
the Second Coming.
"Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and
marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when
these things shall come forth among you. Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present,
and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto
me, and I know your doing." (Mormon 8:34-35)
Without question, Mormon became a student of Nephite history as he prepared
to write the account of the Nephite nation. Mormon also had revealed
to him the events of our day. It would seem that Mormon included
this more detailed history to aid us in preparing for the Second Coming.
The chapters of this period reveal a pattern of civil history:
Alma 1-42: Mormon emphasized priestcraft, materialism, social-economic
inequality, and other social problems.
Alma 43-63: A period of war and civil disruptions.
Helaman: Corruption in government.
3 Nephi: The eventual collapse of government.
Motivations for War.
WHY DID THE NEPHITES FIGHT AGAINST THE LAMANITES?
Defense. The Lamanites were attacking (Alma 43:4).
To preserve their lands, homes, wives, and children from the enemy (Alma 43:9).
To preserve their rights, privileges, liberty, and religious freedom (Alma 43:9).
To defend the people of Anti-Lehi-Nephi from the extreme hatred of the
Lamanites (Alma 43:11-12).
To preserve their lives (Alma 48:14).
WHY DID THE LAMANITES COME UP AGAINST THE NEPHITES?
They were led by a wicked leader Zarahemnah, who sought for power (Alma 43:5-8).
To gain great power over the Nephites (Alma 43:8).
To bring the Nephites into bondage (Alma 43:8).
Because of the great hatred against those who left, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis
UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES DOES THE LORD APPROVE OF OUR GOING TO WAR?
President Charles W. Penrose: "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,
this 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." (CR, Oct 1917)
President David O. McKay: "There are, however,
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, viz., defense of a weak nation that is being unjustly crushed
by a strong, ruthless one." (Conference Report, Apr 1942)
Brother H. Dean Garrett: "A message to the people
of the latter days from the war period of the Book of Mormon would be that
if there must be war, then it must be entered for the right reasons and
under proper circumstances if people desire the blessings of God.
Writing to Zerahemnah, Captain Moroni made this interesting observation:
'Ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we
are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never
will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into
transgression and deny our faith' (Alma 44:4)." (Studies
In Scripture, 8:74)
The Fight for Liberty.
In Alma 43-44, the Nephites led by Captain Moroni, went to war against Zerahemnah and the Lamanites.
The Nephites "inspired by a better cause" defeated a larger Lamanite
army and then returned to their homes.
Alma's prophecy to Helaman.
ALMA 45:9-12. A sobering prophecy regarding
Alma's life comes to and end.
Confirmation that Moses was translated in the flesh.
The rise of Amalickiah.
ALMA 46:1-7, 10.
HOW WAS AMALICKIAH ABLE TO PERSUADE OTHERS TO FOLLOW HIM?
There were those that did not follow the commandments and looked to a leader
that supported them in their beliefs.
Many were lower judges seeking for power. Amalickiah
flattered them by offering to make them rulers over the people.
He flattered the people in general regarding wickedness.
WHAT WAS THE PRIMARY MOTIVE OF THE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORTED HIM?
HOW MIGHT WE BE TEMPTED BY THIS MOTIVE?
Mormon's commentary: "Thus we see how quick the
children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity,
and to be led away by the evil one. Yea, and we also see the great
wickedness one very wicked man can cause to take place among the children
of men." (Alma 46:8-9)
Moroni & The Title of Liberty.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS COVENANT?
"We covenant with our God, that we
shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall
fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies,
even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot,
if we shall fall into transgression." (Alma 46:22)
- HOW DOES MAKING AND KEEPING COVENANTS AFFECT OUR LIVES?
- Covenants create a positive force for good that move us forward in our eternal
progression as long as we honor them.
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Human liberty is the mainspring
of human progress.
"The one great revolution
in the world is the revolution for human liberty. This was the paramount
issue in the great council in heaven before this earth life. It has
been the issue throughout the ages. It is the issue today....
"In that sacred volume
of scripture, the Book of Mormon, we note the great and prolonged struggle
for liberty. We also note the complacency of the people and their
frequent willingness to give up their liberty for the promises of a would-be
"This great general, Moroni,
like the prophets whose words are recorded in the Book of Mormon, spoke
of the Americas as a chosen land--the land of liberty. He led the
people in battle who were willing to fight to 'maintain their liberty.'
"And the record states:
'...that he caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower
which was in all the land,...and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty
among the Nephites.'
"While this incident occurred
some seventy years B.C., the struggle went on through one thousand years
covered by this sacred Book of Mormon record. In fact, the struggle
for liberty is a continuing one--it is with us in a very real sense today
right here on this choice land of the Americas." (Conference
Report, Oct 1962, p14)
HOW MIGHT WE BE TAKING FOR GRANTED THE RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES FOR WHICH
OUR FOREFATHERS FOUGHT?
WHAT CAN WE DO IN OUR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES TO HELP RETAIN OR GAIN THESE
RIGHTS AND PRIVILEGES?
We see in Moroni the difference one righteous person can make in the course
of a nation.
He stood uncompromisingly on the side of righteousness and liberty.
He was willing to serve his nation.
He inspired the people to rise for a righteous cause.
In U.S. history we see such a person in George Washington, commanding general
of the Continental Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, and
first President of the United States. He left his beloved home at
Mount Vernon time and time again to serve the American people. Like
Moroni before him, Washington rallied those around him to the cause of
liberty. In 1776, the Continental Army had taken a beating from the
British in New York and had been driven through New Jersey across the Delaware
River. On Christmas, the hungry, frozen, ill clad American troops
crossed the Delaware to defeat Hessian troops in Trenton. Most enlistments
expired on December 31 and many were preparing to leave. Washington
desperately needed every man for an assault upon Princeton. He offered
them a bonus to stay. It wasn't enough. In that dark moment
when the army was about to disband, Washington gave a speech that stirred
the hearts of the army. He said, "My brave
fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably
expected; but your country is at stake, your wives, your house, and all
that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and
hardships; but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to
stay only one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of
liberty, and to your country, which you probably never can do under any
other circumstances. The present is emphatically the crisis which
is to decide our destiny" (quoted by Douglas Southall Freeman
in George Washington, 4:332-33). Almost every man remained with the
army for this important campaign. Thank goodness for men such as
Captain Moroni and General Washington.
The Book of Mormon says that "there never was a happier
time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days
of Moroni." (Alma 50:23)
WHAT DID MORONI DO REGARDING THE REBELLION?
He gathered from throughout the land all who were desirous of maintaining
When Amalickiah and his followers attempted to escape from the land, Moroni
led an army to cut off their course.
Amalickiah and a small group escaped, but the rest of his followers were
returned to Zarahemla.
Civil Disturbance & War
A new leader.
As you recall, Alma was the first chief judge appointed after the reign
Alma gave up the judgment seat to spend full time in preaching the
A Nephite by the name of Nephihah was appointed chief judge and held that
seat from the time Alma stepped down.
Some years later Nephihah died "having filled the
judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God" (Alma 50:37).
WHO WAS APPOINTED IN HIS STEAD?
"Behold, it came to pass that the
son of Nephihah was appointed to fill the judgment-seat, in the stead of
his father; yea, he was appointed chief judge and governor over the people,
with an oath and sacred ordinance to judge righteously, and to keep the
peace and the freedom of the people, and to grant unto them their sacred
privileges to worship the Lord their God, yea, to support and maintain
the cause of God all his days, and to bring the wicked to justice according
to their crime. Now behold, his name was Pahoran. And Pahoran
did fill the seat of his father, and did commence his reign in the end
of the twenty and fourth year, over the people of Nephi." (Alma
The wars continue.
With the rise of Pahoran to power, there were those who must have felt
that with Nephihah gone, an opportune had arisen time to make changes
in the law.
"Pahoran would not alter nor suffer the law to
be altered" (Alma 51:3).
Those that wanted a change in the law were "angry" with Pahoran and wanted
him removed as chief judge.
ALMA 51:5-6. The kingmen and the freemen.
The issue was put to a vote..
"...the voice of the people came in favor of the
freemen, and Pahoran retained the judgment-seat" (Alma 51:7).
WHAT DID THE KINGMEN DO?
About this time the Lamanites came again against the Nephites under the
head of Amalickiah.
The king-men "were glad in their
hearts; and they refused to take up arms". (Alma 51:13)
Moroni, aware of the precarious situation of the Nephites, was "exceedingly
wroth because of the stubbornness of those people whom he had labored with
so much diligence to preserve" (Alma 51:14).
WHAT DID MORONI DO?
He sent a petition to the governor, with the voice of the people, requesting
empowerment to compel the dissenters to join the forces of defense or put
them to death. (Alma 51:15).
This was not a power that Moroni took unto himself. His stature was
such that he probably could have pulled it off.
But he was a man who respected the law and worked within its confines.
An example to all men of leadership: Work within the law and do not attempt
to circumvent it.
It was during this time of civil strife that the armies of Amalickiah came
into the Nephite nation and began to have success in conquering Nephite
In Alma 51 Teancum took matters into his own hands.
He "stole privily" into the camp of the Lamanite army and into the tent
of Amalickiah "and put a javelin to his heart."
The brother of Amalickiah, Ammoron, was appointed king in his stead.
Ammoron maintained the war of his brother against the Nephites for the
next few years.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the events recorded in Alma 43-52. How do the
teachings in these chapters teach me how to deal with the eternal war against
Resources Used In This Lesson
Conference Reports (CR).
George Washington by Douglas Southall Freeman.
Studies In Scripture, Volume 8, edited by Kent P. Jackson.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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21 July 2016