Alma 43:1-2; 44:24; 45:2-8, 15-19 The End of Alma’s Record
Alma is coming to the end of his time on earth, but he “could not rest” and departed on another preaching tour (43:1-2). Coming from a background as son of a prophet but a one-time “very wicked and an idolatrous man” (Mosiah 27:8), Alma took a dramatic turn and may be counted among history’s greatest prophets. Having served as chief judge of the land, high priest and prophet over the church, custodian and writer of scriptures, prophesier of the Savior, teacher of doctrine, opposer of anti-Christs, effective military leader, powerful missionary, and father of a line of great men and prophets, we all owe Alma the Younger a tremendous debt of gratitude for his life and record. In Alma 45:2-8 he “interviews” his son Helaman before passing on the Nephite records, thus continuing a long line of record-keepers who descended from him and from his father, Alma the Elder.
Alma 43-51 Lessons from War
As noted previously, these sixteen years of terrible wars began with Lamanite anger toward Nephite missionaries and their Lamanite converts (see Alma 35:3-13). Some have wondered why there is so much information about war in the Book of Mormon, and some students of the Book of Mormon choose to skip over these chapters. However, a major benefit is that these chapters are immensely helpful for us in the last days as we seek to learn what the Lord and His righteous leaders have said and done in past times of war. This can help us to consider how we feel about armed conflict and how we should behave in times of war. Following are a few of the many insights and examples we can draw from these chapters:
- What were the motives and behaviors of the Lamanites (and the Nephite dissenters among them)?
43:5-8 They worked to preserve hatred, stir up anger, and gain power by bringing the Nephites into bondage.
44:2 They were angry with the Nephites because of their religion and sought to shed their blood.
46:2-4 They were exceedingly wroth, being led by Amalickiah, who desired to be king (see also 43:29).
47:36 The Nephite dissenters “became more hardened and impenitent [feeling no shame], and more wild, wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites … giving way to indolence [laziness], and all manner of lasciviousness [lewdness and lustfulness]; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God.”
- What characterized the Lamanite leaders?
44:16 Zerahemnah was motivated by his exceeding wroth and stirred up his soldiers to anger.
46:5-7 Amalickiah spread propaganda (see also 48:1-2) and encouraged Nephites to dissent to the Lamanites.
46:9-10 Amalickiah was “one very wicked man” and led his people to do wickedness.
46:10 Amalickiah sought to destroy the church of God and the foundation of liberty.
47:4, 35 Amalickiah used subtlety, fraud, and cunningness to take over the throne of the Lamanite king.
49:10 Amalickiah “did not care for the blood of his people.”
49:25-27 Amalickiah cursed God and swore an oath to drink the blood of Captain Moroni.
- What were the motives and behaviors of the Nephites (and the Lamanite dissenters among them)?
43:9, 45 They fought to defend their lands, houses, wives, children, rights, privileges, liberty, worship, and church.
43:46-47 They felt a duty to God to defend their families and their country, even unto bloodshed.
45:1 They gave thanks to the Lord for their victories, rather than boast of themselves (see also 49:28).
48:10 They sought peace and to “live unto the Lord their God” and “maintain the cause of Christians.”
48:21-23 They took up arms reluctantly, being sorry to take the lives of “their brethren,” the Lamanites.
50:12 More volunteers joined the Nephite army daily, because they believed in their cause and their preparation.
- What characterized the Nephite leaders?
43:23 Moroni sought the inspired assistance of the prophet Alma.
43:48-49 Moroni inspired the hearts of his soldiers with thoughts of their lands and their liberty; prompting them to cry unto God for strength even as they were fighting on the battlefield.
43:52-54; 44:1-6 After forcing the Lamanites into an inextricable position, Moroni sees their terror and mercifully commands his men to stop shedding their blood. Then, while paused on the battlefield, Moroni bears his testimony to Zerahemna, declaring that God is helping the Nephites because of their faith. He then shows even greater mercy by offering Zerahemna and his men their freedom if they will make a covenant of peace and depart.
45:21-22 Helaman and others took care to establish and regulate the church, to protect it from weakening during times of war (see also 48:19-20).
46:12-21 Moroni created the “title of liberty” and inspired the Nephites to enter into a covenant not to forsake the Lord and to fight to maintain their rights and their religion.
48:8 Moroni built forts and places of resort to protect his soldiers, and also protected them with advanced armor.
48:11-13 Moroni did not delight in bloodshed but rejoiced in the freedom of his country. He labored for the welfare and safety of his people, being firm in the faith of Christ.
48:8; 49:1-4; 50:1-6 Moroni had his people build walls and mounds to protect their cities from attack.
50:39 Nephihah governed “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.”
51:14-17 Moroni worked to pull down pride and to put an end to contentions among his own people.
52:31-32, 36-39 Moroni only continued fighting until the enemies gave up their weapons, rather than killing them; he sought to disarm the combatants, not destroy them.
All the foregoing portrays true polar opposites—good versus evil—much like the “war in heaven” and all that Satan has been trying to do ever since. But life is usually not so polarized and we often find ourselves pondering and deciding what to think and what to do regarding various affairs in our lives and in the world.
The examples of the Nephites and their leaders can teach and inspire us today regarding our attitudes and behavior in circumstances such as times of confusion or of temptation; personal conflict in our relationships with others; moral or cultural questions/battles we face in our world; issues related to our citizenship, civic affairs, and political concerns; our beliefs and approaches in relation to international intrigue and warfare; and so forth.
Alma 43:6-8, 10, 24, 29; 44:2, 16; 46:1-10; 47:4, 8, 18, 30, 36; 48:1-4; 51:8-11, 22-23 Ways Satan Operates
Compare these verses to the things Satan tries to do in our personal lives and in our world. Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Twelve taught: “As members of the Church, we are engaged in a mighty conflict. We are at war. We have enlisted in the cause of Christ to fight against Lucifer and all that is lustful and carnal and evil in the world…. There was war in heaven, when the forces of evil sought to destroy the agency of man…. That war is continuing on earth, and the devil is still wroth with the Church and goes forth to make war…. We cannot survive spiritually with one foot in the Church and the other in the world…. There is no middle ground. And the Lord loves a courageous man who fights openly and boldly in His army” (Ensign, November 1974, pp. 33-34).
Alma 49:30; 50:12-24 “There Never Was a Happier Time!”
It seems remarkable, yet in the midst of ongoing wars and other threats, the righteous Nephites supported their leaders, built many cities, prospered exceedingly, multiplied, waxed strong, were delivered by the Lord, were happy, and enjoyed a measure of peace. The key? “Inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall prosper” (50:20); “Those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times” (50:22). A powerful lesson for us today.