Friday, August 19, 2005


Moroni I - Title of Liberty

Amalickiah and The Kingmen: Moroni Raises The Title of Liberty

Not long after the defeat of Zerahemnah, a Nephite named Amalickiah sought to become king. He had acquired many followers with promises that he would reward them with positions of rulership. Amalickiah possessed a large and strong body combined with great cunning and charisma. Amalickiah was probably not only handsome and well-gifted with a command of the language, he also knew the weaknesses of those to whom he spoke. Amalickiah inflated his listeners' egos with flattering words and appealed to their own desires for power. He flattered many away from the church and convinced them to seek both the destruction of the church and the destruction of liberty.

Word of Amalickiah and his dissensions came to Moroni. Moroni, no doubt remembering the problems caused by Amlici, became so incensed at Amalickiah that he tore his coat and made a banner of a part of it. Upon the coat, which may have been of a special type or color as pertaining to his office as Chief Captain of the Nephites, he wrote: "In the memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." Alma 46:12. Moroni attached the torn garment to a pole, proclaiming the Title of Liberty. Moroni fastened on his armor, clean but worn and marked by battle, and taking up his shield and the Title of Liberty, he knelt down to the earth to pour out his soul before the Lord. Moroni prayed that the blessings of liberty would rest upon his brethren, so long as there remained a band of christians to possess the land. He prayed for the cause of the christians and the cause of freedom. In closing the prayer, Moroni "named all the land... A chosen land, and the land of liberty." Alma 46:17.
Lastly he spoke:
"Surely God shall not suffer that we, who are despised because we take upon us the name of Christ, shall be trodden down and destroyed, until we bring it upon us by our own transgressions." Alma 46:18.

We must imagine that Moroni would not have felt the need to clothe his body in the armor of battle, rend his coat and write those words of inspiration and covenant upon it, and to beseech the Lord for divine guidance and support, if this Amalickiah and his doctrine of secular priestcraft had received from the people the rebuke which they warranted. Moroni's vehemence and the subsequent events clearly reveal that Amalickiah enjoyed great success among the people. Amalickiah obtained such a following that Moroni could not ignore the rumor, clamor and rumblings. It is likely that Moroni, one of the greatest guardians of liberty and freedom ever known to this world, was literally propelled by the spirit to take mighty action to save his people and his nation.

Moroni arose from his prayer and strode forth among his people, unfurling the Title of Liberty so that the great banner spread out to plainly reveal the words which he had written. This banner alone, emblazoned upon the coat of the Chief Captain of the Nephites, would have marked Moroni's purpose and pricked the people to respond. Yet, Moroni added his own voice in proclamation for the people to come forward and to covenant with the Lord to support their rights and their religion "that the Lord God may bless them." Alma 46:20.

The people came. They came running. They came running forth in emulation of Moroni with their own armor girded about them and rending their own garments. They threw the torn garments at Moroni's feet and covenanted to forsake transgression and to uphold the cause or suffer themselves to be rent and trodden upon even as their garments were rent and trodden. As Moroni had put upon himself his armor of the Lord, so did the people. As Moroni had torn his coat, they tore their clothes. As Moroni had covenanted, they also covenanted.

Moroni reminded the people that they were a remnant of the seed of Jacob and a remnant of the seed of Joseph whose coat was rent by his brethren. He rehearsed to the people the words of Jacob that even as a remnant of Joseph's coat had been preserved, so should a remnant of his seed be preserved by the hand of God. Moroni proceeded throughout the land, gathering those who would stand against Amalickiah to maintain their rights and liberty.

Amalickiah soon realized that the supporters of liberty were more numerous than his own band of plutocrats. Fearing a meeting with Moroni's staunch host, Amalickiah and his followers attempted to flee to the Land of Nephi. Moroni, ever mindful of the perilous consequences for the nation if Amalickiah were allowed to escape and draw dissenters after him, moved to block their escape. He knew that Amalickiah would foment uprisings and turmoil among the Lamanites to provoke them to battle with the Nephites. Therefore, Moroni sought to capture the dissenters and put Amalickiah to death. The bulk of Amalickiah's followers surrendered to Moroni's army. However, Amalickiah and a small number of his supporters escaped.

Moroni returned to Zarahemla with the captured dissenters. Using his authority as head of the Nephite armies, Moroni presented the prisoners with a choice: Covenant to support the cause of freedom or suffer death. Only a few refused to covenant.

Following the expulsion of Amalickiah, the Nephites enjoyed about a year of peace. Moroni used his authority during this brief peace to prepare for Amalickiah's return. There seems to be no consideration on Moroni's part of resting complacently and postponing any action until Amalickiah attacked. The spirit of procrastination was nowhere evident as Moroni labored diligently during the peace to prepare for the possibility of war. Moroni discerned the course of likely events and prepared accordingly.

And Moroni was a strong man and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country; and his brethren from bondage and slavery; Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people. Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion even to the loss of his blood. Alma 48:11-13.

Moroni ordered that the Title of Liberty be hoisted above every tower in the lands possessed by the Nephites. The very nation itself entered into the covenant. Fluttering from every tower in the land, the banner flashed before the eyes of the people as a constant reminder of their covenant and their liberty. Moroni prepared the minds and strengthened the Nephites. He prepared the people to be faithful. He erected forts and strong places of resort for his armies and built walls of stone to encircle the cities near the border. He placed his armies in such a way as to strengthen those areas which previously had been weak. Just as individuals, with the Lord's help can turn personal weakenesses into strengths, Moroni turned the weak places of the nation into points of strength.

During this same period, Amalickiah, after the pattern of Lucifer, took those wicked and vain souls who followed him to stir up the Lamanites against the Nephites. Amalickiah's efforts soon brought forth evil fruit and the king of the Lamanites issued a proclamation of war against the Nephites. However, a large part of the Lamanite people did not desire to go to battle against the Nephites. Memories of previous terrible bloodshed and defeats at Moroni's hands must have acted as a persuasive restraint against the idea of invading the Nephites. Indeed, the certain knowledge that Moroni, the lion of liberty of the Nephites, stood ready with his armored faithful to bring the wrath of heaven upon invaders, rendered a portion of the Lamanite army so reluctant to make war upon the Nephites that the troops refused to obey the king's proclamation. The king then conferred command of that part of the army which remained obedient upon Amalickiah with instruction to compel the disobedient to take up arms against the Nephites.

Amalickiah was one of those who craves power over his fellow men with a craving that can never be sated. He could truly say of power, as Shakespeare's Malcom said of wealth, that "my more-having would be as a sauce to make me hunger more." Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Scene III. The craving, once fed, only grows stronger and the power acquired becomes merely the means to obtain greater power. With command of part of the Lamanite army, Amalickiah employed an evil and murderous design to obtain for himself ever more power, even the throne of the Lamanite King.

The rebellious part of the army had gathered at mount Antipas and Amalickiah and his army camped nearby. He sent messages seeking a council with Lehonti, the man selected as a leader by the Lamanite dissenters. Lehonti suspected treachery by Amalickiah and repeatedly refused to come down from the mount. Although suspicious and fearful of Amalickiah, Lehonti failed to discern the abyssal depths of Amalickiah's wicked and deceitful designs; Lehonti at last consented to come down and meet with Amalickiah under the protection of his guards. At his meeting, Amalickiah must have sent his own aides and guards away. Amalickiah proposed that Lehonti bring his forces down during the night and surround Amalickiah's army. Amalickiah promised to deliver up his army to Lehonti, provided that Lehonti would make him second in command of the whole army. Lehonti did as they had agreed. Amalickiah thus gained a position of power within the united army. He then gradually poisoned Lehonti until Lehonti died and Amalickiah obtained command.

Amalickiah next moved to capture the Lamanite throne. He led the army back to the king at the city of Nephi. The king came forth, expecting to receive Amalickiah as the triumphant and obedient leader of the army. Instead, Amalickiah caused one of his servants, as the king reached to receive the kneeling servant, to rise up and stab the king in the heart. The king's own servants fled in terror. Amalickiah's servants raised the cry that the king's servants had slain the king. Amalickiah feigned anger and sent those loyal to the king to slay the king's servants for the deed. The fleeing servants found refuge among the people of Ammon. Amalickiah, by multiple murders and treachery, obtained the loyalty of both the Lamanite army and the people. He took possession of the city of Nephi. His servant, whose own hand had thrust in the murderous blade, expounded lies and falsehoods before the widowed queen, asserting that the king's own servants had slain her husband. As his final recorded act of deceit in acquiring the Lamanite kingdom, Amalickiah took the queen for his own wife and thereby slipped his head under the Lamanite crown.

The king and Lehonti each fell victim to the intrigues of Amalickiah. Amalickiah had become expert in the art of flattery and persuasion. He could recognize in others the desires for power and dominion. He gained power and dominion for himself by exploiting that desire in others. Amalickiah had practiced his art upon a portion of the Nephite population and tried to gain popular support. Among the Lamanites, where a kingship already existed, Amalickiah merely had to exploit and supplant but two individuals to gain the whole nation. Similarly, we can enslave ourselves to sin by weakness in but a single area of our lives.

The seduction of Lehonti is akin to the manner in which we may succomb to temptation. As Lehonti recognized and avoided Amalickiah and his evil purpose, we often recognize and avoid temptation. But Satan persists. The evil is still the same, but it becomes increasingly enticing with each offering. We grow accustomed to its appearance. Just as Amalickiah made each entreaty to Lehonti less threatening, repeated temptation may conceal or numb our senses to the evil consequences. Finally, as Lehonti was seduced into Amalickiah's plan by the proffer of leadership of the whole army so that Lehonti forgot his original avoidance of Amalickiah, we too may at length see supposed benefit offered and lose our original abhorrence of the evil. If we succomb and do not repent and forsake the sin, we are destroyed by it as Lehonti was poisoned by Amalickiah.

Amalickiah, ever in pursuit of greater power and control, began his campaign as king against the Nephites by sending an army to attack the city of Ammonihah. Amalickiah believed that the greater numbers of the Lamanites now under his dominion would overpower and enslave the Nephites. The leaders of the Lamanite army soon discovered that Moroni had been diligent in laboring for the welfare and safety of the Nephites. The leaders viewed the fortifications at Ammonihah and determined that an attack upon that city would not be prudent. They decided instead to move against the city of Noah. Moroni had also fortified the city of Noah and placed his beloved friend Lehi in command there. The Lamanite leaders again did not think that an attack would be wise. However, between the Scylla of the fortifications at the city of Noah under the command of the feared Lehi and the Charibdys of the wrath of Amalickiah, the Lamanite captains determined to brave the former rather than face Amalickiah without having ventured an attack.

The fortifications at the city of Noah were so constructed that the only approach for the attackers lay directly at the entrance. Lehi placed a body of his strongest men at that point to receive the attack. These strong men repulsed the attackers. The Lamanites then attempted to pull down the great banks of earth about the city. The Nephite arrows swept the Lamanites from the banks. The dead and wounded filled up the ditches at the base of the fortifications. The Lamanites suffered losses of over a thousand men and fled after all of their captains had been killed.

When Amalickiah heard of the defeat, he cursed God and Moroni. At that time, Amalickiah swore to drink Moroni's blood. The Nephites, in contrast, thanked God for their deliverance. Thereafter, the Nephites enjoyed peace and prosperity through their diligence in hearkening to the word of God. We must suppose that the Lamanites enjoyed neither peace nor prosperity. Under the continued rule of the wicked Amalickiah, the people must have mourned and become wicked and hard-hearted like their ruler. The Lamanites would have blamed these tribulations upon the Nephites and thus been stirred up to anger against them.

Even after the repulse of Amalickiah's forces, Moroni continued building up the defenses of his country. He caused high mounds and palisades and towers to be erected around all of the Nephite cities. "Thus Moroni did prepare strongholds against the coming of their enemies, round about every city in the land." Alma 50:6. Moroni also sent his armies to the wilderness in the east to drive the Lamanites out of that area and back to their own lands. Moroni moved people from the land of Zarahemla into those newly vacated lands. He placed his armies along the borders and erected fortifications. Moroni thereby created a barrier of continuous fortifications from sea to sea.

Moroni's troops enjoyed high morale. Indeed, his forces grew daily because of his reputation as a leader and because of the protective defenses which he had caused to be constructed. Construction of several new cities began at this time, including the cities of Moroni and Lehi. Amidst this time of war and preparation for war, there was nonetheless great happiness.

But behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni, yea even at this time, in the twenty and first year of the reign of the judges. Alma 50:23.

While the fortifications would provide great protection against attacking Lamanites, those defenses offered no protection from the wickedness among the Nephites themselves. Dissenters among the Nephites forced Moroni to turn his attention from the foe without the borders to the danger within the gates. A man named Morianton had led his people against the people in the Land of Lehi. The people in the Land of Lehi fled to Moroni, seeking his assistance. Morianton feared that Moroni's army would come upon him and destroy his forces. Therefore, he attempted to lead his people away to the north. A servant girl who had been beaten by Morianton came to Moroni's camp and divulged Morianton's plan.

Moroni supposed that Morianton might gain support from some of the Nephites in the north and "lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty." Alma 50:32. Moroni dispatched an army under the command of Teancum to cut off Morianton's people at the narrow pass by the sea. Teancum's army defeated the dissenters and slew Morianton. The defeated people of Morianton were allowed to return to their lands after covenanting to keep the peace.

We would be wise to examine our own behavior and attitudes in our various leadership responsibilities; consider whether we promote the type of leadership that led Amalickiah's captains to face death and slaughter before the city of Noah, or the type of leadership that moved the downtrodden people of Morianton to seek out Moroni and trust in his leadership and discernment. Should we learn that our children had elected to engage in self-destructive behavior of any of the many sorts that are available and pushed upon them by various influences in society because they feared to seek our guidance or blessing, our anguish would be as a hot iron upon our soul.

Following the problems caused by Morianton, external attacks by Amalickiah in combination with disturbances from within by a group attempting to overthrow the government threatened Nephite security. A certain group desired to force Pahoran, the Chief Judge, to alter some points of the law. When Pahoran refused, the group attempted to remove him from office and install a king in his place. The people voted and the majority elected to maintain a free government with Pahoran retaining his elected position. The people, according to the law given by King Mosiah (Mosiah 29:25-27), made their voice heard and the more part of them did choose righteousness, although the lesser part of the people, as Mosiah had warned, did desire that which was not right.

At this same time, Amalickiah was again provoking the Lamanites into action against the Nephites. Amalickiah had amassed and now personally commanded a great host of armed Lamanites. He moved toward the Nephite lands with the intention of slaying Moroni, whose blood he had sworn to drink, and of subjecting the Nephites to his rule. Those Nephites who had recently failed to achieve their purposes by the ballot, or the kingmen as they were called, rejoiced at the news of Amalickiah's advance. They refused to take up arms to help in the defense of their country, hoping to obtain power for themselves by exploiting the situation. This inner corruption, unimpeded by all the marvelous fortifications of the nation, would be the cause of great difficulties for Moroni and would threaten to hurl the Nephite nation over the precipice to destruction.

Understandably, Moroni grew angry, presumably furious, with this arrogant faction who rejoiced as the enemy hosts approached. Moroni had labored and fought to protect their freedom and now these traitors to the cause of freedom opened their arms to the destruction of their nation in the hope of securing personal power and position. Moroni and the majority of the people could not tolerate the actions of those who would turn their sweet spring of God-given liberty into a foul cesspool of tyranny solely to garner for themselves a position of power in the fetid and polluted pond.

Moroni sent a petition, with the support of the people, to Pahoran. In the petition, Moroni requested power to compel the dissenters to aid in the defense of their country or be put to death. He first put himself to the task of ending the dissensions among the people which had been the cause of their destruction. Following a popular vote which granted the petition, Moroni commanded his army to level the kingmen and their nobility to the earth. Four-thousand who lifted weapons against the cause of freedom were hewn down. The dissenter leaders who were not slain were imprisoned without trials because the urgency of the situation did not permit time for trials. The followers who were not slain hoisted the Title of Liberty and took up arms to defend the country.

Although the kingmen themselves had not succeeded in destroying the nation, they had forced Moroni to expend time and resources to quash the rebellion. The delay allowed Amalickiah to capture the weakened cities of Moroni, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, and Mulek. Amalickiah's forces overpowered the small forces defending the fortifications. He drove the Nephites before him in a rapid and murderous advance. As he took each fortification, Amalickiah could spare men from his numerous host to garrison the strongholds. Thus the rebellion by the kingmen resulted in the transfer of much land and many fortifications, which the Nephites had labored to construct, into the hands of the Lamanites. Thus the Lamanites enjoyed the fruit and protection of the Nephite labors.

Perhaps there are kingmen tendencies within us individually or within our families. Any kingmen-like tendency is self-destructive or contradictory behavior at odds with what should be our true aims and goals. When we allow ourselves to be diverted down paths which take us from our true responsibilities, we drift away from that which is of eternal importance.

Amalickiah's advance at last came to a halt. Among the forces still in the field against the Lamanites was a special corps commanded by the formidable tactician Teancum. Teancum's force consisted of "great warriors," every man of which "did exceed the Lamanites in their strength and in their skill of war." Alma 51:31. We can suppose that Teancum's force, being a sort of elite fighting unit, did not enjoy large numbers. Probably, these warriors were among the strongest and most experienced within the Nephite army. This body of god-fearing champions enlisted in the service of their God and Country, maintaining excellent morale by their righteousness and outstanding leadership, massed as a single fighting force must have inevitably intimidated, disheartened and vanquished the cohesive fighting ability of their foes. With such a formidable but numerically limited corps, Teancum may have bided his time, shadowing the Lamanite host, or marching from afar to intercept the Lamanites. The passage of time, as Teancum watched and waited, or marched to intercept, would have seen the Lamanite host decrease as Amalickiah detached men to garrison the captured cities. Amalickiah's advance thus diminished the numbers of his once great host. Additionally, the advance moved Amalickiah farther from his own source of supply and reinforcements. Consequently, the morale of Amalickiah's troops may have dwindled as the army's numbers fell and the distance to home increased.

After observing the effects of distance, supply and garrison detachments upon Amalickiah's army, Teancum attacked the Lamanite host as it marched into the borders of the land of Bountiful. Teancum's forces "did harass" and slay the Lamanites "even until it was dark." Alma 51:32. Rather than deploying in a fixed battle, Teancum apparently positioned his champions to conduct a running attack upon the marching Lamanites, perhaps in the same manner as the American colonists molested the British troops at Lexington and Concord. The two forces encamped for the night with Amalickiah's troops bivouacking upon the beach where Teancum's peerless troops had driven them.

The darkness brought a blanket of fatigue and demoralization to the Lamanite camp. The twin gloom of the night and the low Lamanite morale presented Teancum with an opportunity to end the bitter struggle with the enemy by severing its head. Concealed in the veil of the night, Teancum slipped from his own camp to prowl the enemy bivouac. Exhaustion had overpowered the Lamanites and, with the sands of the beach muffling his footfalls, Teancum moved with ease through the encampment. Probably near the center of the camp, Teancum stepped silently into the enemy's private den and thrust a javelin into Amalickiah's cankered heart. Teancum returned to his own camp and quietly prepared his men for dawn's revelation. With the morning light of the first day of the first month of twenty-sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi came the news that the Lamanites had found Amalickiah dead. Teancum's champions stood ready to give battle but the Lamanites retreated to the protections of the city of Mulek.

We should profit from the example of Amalickiah. We, like Amalickiah, may find ourselves moving away from our base and diminishing our strength in pursuit of an objective which is not truly in our best interests or in keeping with the principles of good business, financial management, or righteousness. If we should find ourselves upon such a course, our actions should be to withdraw from the pursuit, consolidate our strengths and reevaluate our objective. Once we realize that our objective will not bring the desired result, we can begin to look for the path which will achieve our designs. If we fail to discern the error of our direction, we too may find ourselves exhausted, demoralized and facing a dark and lonely night of uncertain fate. Again, the example and strength of Moroni's character offers the better course.

Moroni's Character Elements

Moroni manifested some of the best qualities of leadership, citizenship and problem solving as he contended with the kingmen and with Amalickiah:

Moroni did not hesitate to act. Moroni had heard the rumors and flatteries promulgated by Amalickiah. He knew that Amalickiah had gained a following and posed a great danger to the liberty of the people. Moroni first created the banner of liberty, an open proclamation of his intent and an invitation to covenant. He then girded on his armor as further evidence to the people of his seriousness and possibly also as a reminder to them of his office as chief captain. But before he went forth, he took his concern to the Lord. Moroni had determined upon a course of righteous action consistent with his duty as chief captain. Before embarking upon that course, Moroni sought the blessing of the Lord. Only then did Moroni go forth; he went forth with the power of his office and the strength of the Lord. Moroni led by example and expanded his influence. He first acted, and in so acting he gained support. He could not proceed alone; he required the support of the people. By example, he drew them to him. As he had covenanted, so did the people covenant to serve the Lord and preserve their liberty. Once supported by the people, he could seek supplemental authority from the chief judge and the greater voice of the people as the situation demanded.

Moroni understood the necessity of cleansing the inner vessel first. Amalickiah, Morianton, the kingmen--all began as internal problems. Just as no amount of repairs to the towers and battlements can save a fortress built upon the sand, no amount of time spent fortifying borders and fighting distant battles could cure the problems within the Nephite nation. Moroni put the national house in order by: (1) Moving in an attempt to crush Amalickiah's rebellion in the early stages, and thereby did drive Amalickiah out; (2) sending Teancum to deal with Morianton; and (3) rallying the people against the kingmen.

Moroni planned for the future. Previously, he had prepared his men with armor and weapons. During the time of peace, while Amalickiah cut a bloody path to the Lamanite throne, Moroni expanded his preparations and built fortifications, chased the last of the Lamanites from the wilderness and constructed new cities to form a continuous barrier from sea to sea in anticipation of the attacks that would eventually come.

Moroni demonstrated concern for his nation and people. He warned the people and rallied them against those things which would work to destroy the nation, their freedom, and their religion. He built up fortifications to protect the nation and the soldiers who would defend in an attack.

Moroni placed his light upon a hill. Moroni's character was known to the people. The people rallied to Moroni because they knew his character. They knew that he believed in liberty. The writing upon his banner did not consist of mere words but represented great concepts which Moroni embraced. He acted for the national interest and not for personal aggrandizement. With this knowledge, the majority of the people did not hesitate to follow him. The people in the Land of Lehi knew that they could appeal to Moroni for help. They trusted in his judgment. Morianton also knew that Moroni would help the people of the Land of Lehi and punish him for his wrongdoing.

Moroni selected righteous and competent men to serve the nation. While Moroni labored to save the nation from inner destruction, the advancing evil from without could not be ignored. Moroni placed Lehi in command of the city of Noah. Lehi, a beloved friend of Moroni, was particularly feared by the Lamanites. Lehi successfully defended the city and defeated the Lamanite attack. Teancum, under Moroni's authority, commanded a corps of champions. Teancum led his elite force in such a way that he halted the advance of the more numerous Lamanite host, demoralized his enemy, and created a situation whereby he could, and did, slay the malevolent Amalickiah. Incompetent or uninspired assistants could not have accomplished the tasks demanded by the circumstances. Moroni delegated such authority as required to those who could wield it righteously and effectively.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


1 Nephi 16 -- Liahona --With New Addition

I didn't used to think too much about 1 Nephi 16. I really liked the next chapter about building the boat, but 16 was really just about Nephi and his broken bow. Upon a recent rereading of chapter 16 I found the basis of a talk I was to give about following counsel. As it was, the other speakers went over time so I only said a few words on the first topic I was given and not the following counsel topic that had also been given. So I used 1 Nephi 16 for a home evening lesson and afterwards had the kids draw what they thought the Liahona might look like. If I were to judge by the drawings, apparently the Liahona, or marvelous director, looks like a time piece -- the kids drew the two "spindles" like the hands of a clock. However, one daughter's first rendition had both spindles on the outside of the device, like of couple of horns pointing the way or doubling as handles.

There were two spindles on the Liahona, and one of them pointed the way whither they should go in the wilderness -- leaving one asking What did the other spindle do? Did it point north? Was it a confirmation spindle that, when the people were righteous and the Liahona working as a guide, pointed the same direction as the other spindle, sort of a confirmation? Did it point to newest counsel written on the ball? Did it point to an area that indicated the righteous/wickedness status of the people as a whole?

Taking President Hinckley's challenge, I have moved well beyond 1 Nephi 16, but I felt the need to come back and at least put some hasty notes in to concludethis post (before posting another Moroni manuscript installment).

I was impressed with a few verses in particular:
Verse 3 where Nephi tells his brothers that "if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur...) I note that this is often the response to new counsel, or old counsel given again. And so we don't profit from the counsel.
Verse 28 also applies on this topic as the pointers, or counsel on the correct direction of our leaders, works according to the faith and diligence that we give to it (them). Likewise, verse 29, also shows that the writing changed from time to time according to the faith and diligence given to it. If we were following counsel with faith and diligence, it might change from time to time, instead of being the same thing we've heard before; we could move to the next level, but we're busy murmurring and not giving heed with faith and diligence.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Moroni I -- Zerahemna

Zerahemnah's Attacks
In the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges, the Lamanites, under the influence of wicked Zoramites, marched on the peaceful People of Ammon. Moroni interposed his army between the more numerous invaders and the People of Ammon.

"And it came to pass that he met the Lamanites in the borders of Jershon, and his people were armed with swords, and with cimeters, and all manner of weapons of war." Alma 43:18.

The Lamanite army, led by the wicked Zerahemnah, included Amalekites and Zoramites. They formed a host numerically superior to the Nephite army. However, Moroni's movement was not simply an effort to protect the Ammonites by sacrificing his own
army. Moroni knew of the great numbers of the Lamanite Army; his own army required something with which to overcome those numbers. Moroni countered the Lamanites' numeric superiority by better
equipping his army.

"And when the armies of the Lamanites saw that the people of Nephi, or that Moroni, had prepared his people with breastplates and with armshields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing--
"Now the army of Zerahemnah was not prepared with any
such thing; they had only their swords and their cimeters, their bows and their arrows, their stones and their slings; and they were naked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins; yea, all were naked, save it were the Zoramites and the Amalekites;
"But they were not armed with breastplates nor
shields--therefore, they were exceedingly afraid of the armies of the Nephites because of their armor,
notwithstanding their number being so much greater than the Nephites."
Alma 43:19-21.

Zerahemnah's army had marched to attack at what should have been the most militarily vulnerable point in the Nephite lands. The People of Ammon had previously bowed down before attacking armies and suffered themselves to be slain without offering any
resistance. (Alma 24). One wonders at the motive of Zerahemnah and his naked army in chosing to attack a people who had buried their weapons of war and made a sacred covenant against the shedding of blood. It is unlikely that the piece of ground
inhabited by the People of Ammon was of any greater value or more productive than the other Nephite lands. Pure hatred and the desire to inflict damage in retribution for imagined wrongs must have possessed the hearts of Zerahemnah and his followers. However, as with most bullies, Zerahemnah's desire for a serious
confrontation with a battle ready foe was as meager as his army's clothing. Moroni's preparations so demoralized and surprised the Lamanites that they fled, apparently without even offering battle. Moroni had parried the first thrust of Zerahemnah's
campaign by the most practical move--appearing ready, willing, and able to defeat the attack, in spite of, and prepared for, the very strength of the attack.

The preparation with armor and shields also suggests that Moroni's appointment to the chief captaincy preceeded by some time the campaign by Zerahemnah. Although armor and shields may not require months or years to complete, some time is necessary to properly outfit an army with such equipment. Moroni obviously used his power and authority as chief captain to make preparations before an attack occurred. Shields and other protective devices which can be worn or carried would be a natural first step in preparation for a coming conflict.
Fortifications and places of refuge would be an additional and more time consuming measures of protection. Zarahemnah's attack came before Moroni could implement such additional measures.

New converts to the church, or others without significant active time in the church and time used in sincere implementation of gospel principles, may also face attacks upon their faith before they have a firm foundation of experience and fellowship
within the gospel. Many of these attacks, like Zerahemah's march against the People of Ammon, may be motivated by a desire to bully or destroy. If these new converts have properly received the gospel with a growing testimony of the Savior and their own
divine heritage, the Book of Mormon, and modern revelation, all manifest to them by the abiding witness of the Holy Ghost, they have their shield of faith which will see them through such attacks.

After the demoralized Lamanites fled from Moroni, they disappeared into the wilderness in an effort to mask the direction of their march. They hoped to skirt Moroni's forces and attack the less protected area of Manti. Again, Zerahemnah sought an easy target for his warriors who had thought to
massacre an unresisting and covenant honoring people. Moroni, like all competent generals, possessed a keen desire for reconnaisance and information as to the enemy's location. He used
two methods to gain information about the Lamanite movements. He sent spies to monitor their camp, and, more importantly, he sent men to inquire of the prophet Alma. Alma, prophet, high priest of the church, former chief judge and captain, had himself led the Nephite armies to victory in bloody conflict with the Amlicites only a few years earlier. Moroni's messengers sought Alma and petitioned him to obtain the Lord's guidance for the Nephite forces. The Lord revealed that the Lamanites were
marching on Manti.

Having already learned that Moroni enjoyed the spirit of the Lord, we should not suppose that Moroni could not or did not inquire before the Lord himself with regard to the actions of the
Lamanite host. Moroni may have submitted the question to the Lord in the privacy of a tent, a secluded stand of trees, or merely in the inner chambers of his heart and mind as the turmoil
of the time may have allowed and may have thereby received instruction to send men to Alma. Or, like Nephi of old who, when his bow was broken and the bows of his brethren had lost their spring, went to his father Lehi for direction on where to hunt,
Moroni may have sent men to Alma in order to establish and cement in the minds of his troops Alma's importance as Prophet of the Lord. Making inquiry through Alma would assure his army, and his
people, that the Lord was their captain and their strength. Moroni began the defense of the nation in a manner which left no doubts in the minds of the people concerning his methods, motives and faith.

As a man of faith, Moroni took part of his army to Manti according to the prophet's instruction. As a pragmatic general, Moroni left a small portion of his army to defend in Jershon lest a part of the Lamanites attempt to return there. Moroni then
employed a technique to which he would have recourse in the future; he rallied the inhabitants to the defense of their lands and liberty.

"And he caused that all the people in that quarter of the land should gather themselves together to battle against the Lamanites, to defend their country, their rights and their liberties; therefore they were prepared against the time of the coming of the Lamanites." Alma 43:26.

Moroni again sent out spies to monitor the Lamanites. The guidance of the Lord through the prophet Alma and Moroni's own intelligence efforts gave Moroni knowledge of the path of the Lamanite advance. With this information, Moroni prepared a trap for the Lamanite army. Moroni divided his own army. He placed a portion under the command of Lehi on the east side of the valley, hidden behind the hill Riplah. Moroni placed the rest of the army in groups concealed along the west side of the valley to the west of the river Sidon and towards the borders of the land of Manti. Moroni waited with his forces in position as the Lamanites approached.

The division of forces necessary for the success of the trap also presented a danger to the Nephite armies. The Lamanite army remained numerically superior to the Nephite army. The division of his army and the separation of the two resulting bodies on opposite sides of the river created the risk that the more numerous Lamanite host would discover one force and destroy it before the other force could cross the river to provide assistance. Nevertheless, Moroni operated under the guidance of
the Lord and he had prepared his men with armor and weapons.

Moroni's use of the various portions of his army in
preparing an ambush provides an example for our own families and quorums. We can delegate various responsibilities to each member according to his abilities to aid the family in working together
to meet a common goal.

Unaware of the disposition of the Nephite forces, the
Lamanites moved into the valley, passing the hill Riplah on the north. As the Lamanites entered the valley and began to cross the river, Lehi led his force from behind the hill. These troops
formed a semi-circle about the Lamanites, pinning them against the river. The Lamanites turned and began fighting Lehi's men. Immediately, the Lamanites must have suffered from the
demoralizing effects of (1) a surprise attack, (2) the weakness of their position against the river and the disorganization in terms of battle-preparedness associated with attempting to make a crossing, and (3) an attack by the very armored foes from whom
they had earlier fled in an attempt to avoid battle.

As the attacking Nephites closed in and the din of battle grew with all of the blood and horror concomitant with combat by hand-held thrusting and striking weapons, a few Nephites fell but numerous Lamanites perished as the Nephite swords struck their
naked bodies. The destruction proved so terrible for the Lamanites that they were driven back into the waters of the river Sidon. Lehi held his men at the water's edge, maintaining the superior position along the bank. The Lamanites, unable to
overcome both the weakness of their position in the river and the armor and might of Lehi's men, attempted to leave the river by the opposite shore.

As the Lamanites emerged on the west bank, Moroni brought forth his forces from concealment on that side of the valley. The Lamanites attempted to flee toward Manti and more of Moroni's concealed troops came forth to prevent their escape. Moroni's
forces kept the Lamanites pinned against the river on the west bank just as Lehi's men had done on the east bank. In their desperate state, the Lamanites fought ferociously with courage and strength never before seen from the Lamanites. Zerahemnah
and the Amalekite and Zoramite leaders incited the Lamanites so that they did "fight like dragons." Like savage beasts, wounded and cornered, the Lamanite army drew upon the very last essence
of all that the human mind and body alone can furnish when the desire for self-preservation erupts with volcanic force, spewing adrenalin to the mortal frame. So fiercely did the Lamanites fight that they killed many Nephites, piercing the protective
armor by the sheer ferocity of their attack.

Although many Nephites fell, they were inspired by a better cause. They fought not for power or domination, but for their liberty, families, and religion. Moroni reminded the Nephites of
these things as they began to give way before the Lamanites'new-found strength. The Nephites rallied under the encouragement, even to crying out as one unto the Lord for their liberty and freedom. The Nephites then stood firm before the Lamanites. The Lamanites, drained of strength and courage by the
Nephite resistance, fell back into the river. Even though the Lamanites outnumbered the Nephites, Moroni had gained the tactical advantage with surprise and by surrounding the Lamanites
and forcing them into the river. The Lamanites began to succumb to fear and demoralization at their predicament.

The terror of the Lamanites became apparent to Moroni. He ordered his men to cease the attack. The fighting stopped. Moroni called Zerahemnah forward to speak. One can imagine the scene of a multitude of armed men, smeared with blood and sweat,
each struggling to regain his breath and energy. Moroni, large and towering by his natural stature and his stout armor, his weapons and shield dripping with the emblems of battle, standing above Zerahemnah near the river's edge on a bank soaked, colored, and slickened with blood and the frenzied passage of many feet. Zerahemnah might have come forward, exhausted but held erect by his own pride, wearing a headdress or cloak of leadership and a
loose animal skin stained with river muck and gore, glaring at the man who had beaten and defeated him.

Moroni expressed his distaste for bloodshed and professed a desire for peace. He pointed out the hopelessness of the Lamanite position and attributed the Nephite success to the Lord.

"But now, ye behold that the Lord is with us; and ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands. And now I would that ye should understand that this is done unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ.
"Now ye see that ye cannot destroy this faith. Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, 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 43:3-4.

Moroni concluded with a command to Zerahemnah to surrender:

"And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country;
yea and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us--
"Yea, and this is not all; I command you by all the
desires which you have for life, that ye deliver up your weapons of war unto us, and we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us.
"And now, if ye do not this, behold, ye are in our
hands, and I will command my men that they shall fall upon you, and inflict the wounds of death in your bodies, that ye may become extinct; and then we will see who shall have power over this people; yea, we will see who shall be brought into bondage."
Alma 44:5-7.

Certainly, there could be no doubt as to the sincerity, conviction and unshakable firmness of Moroni's command. How could Zerahemnah do anything other than offer up his sword under Moroni's command, a command of immense impact and massive
dimensions--in the name of the all-powerful God, faith, religion, rites of worship, the church, the duty of support to wives and children, the liberty which binds to land and country, the maintenance of the sacred word of God, by all most dear, and
Zerahemnah's own desire for life--when faced with the alternative of the infliction of such wounds as to render them extinct?

Zerahemnah surrendered his sword but refused to make a covenant which he did not intend to keep. He refused to believe that the Lord was responsible for the Nephite success. Zerahemnah instead attributed the victory to the armor and shields of the Nephites. Zerahemnah, in that respect, is not
unlike many in the world today. Because a visible, feasible, apparently mundane cause or excuse is readily available to which a result may be attributed, those learned in the ways of the
world would therefore deny the hand of God. In the case of Zerahemnah and Moroni, Moroni had prepared his people with arms and armor and such preparation was probably made under inspiration from the Lord. But not only had Moroni prepared with arms and armor, he had sought the Lord's direction through the
Prophet Alma and had thereby received divine guidance. Additionally, Moroni, had used strategy and spies and those actions may also have been inspired. Finally, Moroni's troops had only overcome the Lamanites' final ferocious onslaught after calling upon the Lord. Zerahemnah may have been unaware of any divine influence in the previous Nephite actions, but he could not escape the fact that "in the selfsame hour that [the
Nephites] cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them."

After hearing Zerahemnah's refusal, Moroni, unshakable in his command, returned the bloody sword saying:

"Behold, we will end the conflict. Now I cannot recall the words which I have spoken, therefore as the Lord liveth,ye shall not depart except ye depart with an oath that ye will not return against us to war. Now as ye are in our hands we will spill your blood upon the ground, or ye shall submit to the conditions which I have proposed."
Alma 44:10-11.

Zerahemnah, doubtless frustrated at his undeniable defeat at the hands of this armored leader who drew strength from the Almighty God, grew furious at this insistence on an oath. He rushed forward, raising his sword to strike Moroni. As Zerahemnah raised his weapon, one of the Nephite soldiers stepped
forward and struck at Zerahemnah. The force of the blow split asunder Zerahemnah's blade and sliced off a part of Zerahemnah's scalp which fell to the ground. The soldier was moved to lift the scalp upon the point of his sword. He then raised his voice in warning to the wounded, dying and exhausted Lamanites, saying that they would likewise fall to the earth unless they surrendered their weapons and covenanted to keep the peace. Many of the Lamanites were overcome with fear and threw down their swords. These covenanted as Moroni had demanded and were allowed to depart.

The wicked Zerahemnah still refused to submit. Drawing upon their own anger and hate, many Lamanites stood with him in his stubbornness. Zerahemnah became even further enraged by the loss
of those who had surrendered. In his anger, Zerahemnah spurred his remaining forces to fight even more fiercely against the Nephites. Moroni had also grown angry. He could no longer tolerate Zerahemnah's obstinacy. Moroni commanded his people to slay Zerahemnah and his followers. The Nephites fell upon the Lamanites and began to hew them down as the soldier had prophesied. Exhaustion and hopelessness had diluted the Lamanites' anger; they could do little to prevent the Nephite swords from biting into their naked flesh. Finally, seeing that
all was about to be lost, perhaps sensing the imminent release under a nephite blade of his own wicked spirit from this mortal probation, Zerahemah cried out that he would consent to Moroni's
conditions. Moroni ordered his men to cease the killing. All of the remaining Lamanites, including Zerahemnah, were allowed to depart after surrendering their weapons and covenanting to keep
the peace.

Unfortunately, we may find similarities between Zerahemnah and ourselves or between Zerahemnah and our society. We may set upon a goal or course which is contrary to the principles of the Lord. When it becomes clear that the goal is not proper, just as
Zerahemnah attempted to outflank Moroni's army, we may also seek to circumvent the Lord's rules or ignore the fact that our design is wrong. Such attempts to circumvent the Lord's principles may
lead us into even more difficult situations, like the ambush in which Zerahemnah found himself. Even then, after terrible losses, we may persist as Zerahemnah did and refuse to submit to the Lord's will, or offer a begrudged and conditional withdrawal
without truly giving up the unrighteous design. Like Zerahemnah, we sometimes stubbornly continue to exert ourselves in forlorn attempts to make the Lord see things our way. We seek to amend divine law to suit our personal desires. In our misery, in a
manner too similar to Zerahemnah's dilatory capitulation, we may at last come to see that which was apparent from the beginning of our course: We must turn to Christ and submit our will
unconditionally to his in order to achieve that which is truly of eternal worth. We would be much better served in following Moroni's example and emulating the characterists which he exhibited during the conflict.

Moroni's Character Elements
The conflict with Zerahemah illustrates many aspects of Moroni's character:

Moroni planned ahead. He first prepared his men by
providing armor, helmets, shields and thick clothing to protect them. He knew of the numeric strength of the Lamanites and he countered that strength with armor. We should also assume that Moroni's love of his people and a desire to preserve and protect
his men contributed to his decision to provide them with defensive armor.

Moroni combined faith and works. When the Lamanites moved away, he sent men to inquire of the Lord as to the course of their march and attack. In preparing the ambush for Zerahemnah, Moroni displayed both preparation and initiative. He knew from his spies and the word of the Lord to Alma that the Lamanites'
march would take them across the river Sidon at the hill Riplah. At that location, rather than merely waiting for the enemy to arrive and placing the burden upon the Lord to provide a victory
without effort on his part, Moroni adopted a strategy which would give a high probability of success in that particular situation.

Moroni delegated responsibility. Lehi led the men from behind the hill Riplah. Another leader must have commanded the body of troops which prevented the Lamanites from fleeing toward Manti. Each leader knew his duty and acted accordingly so that
Moroni could employ the ambush. If he had not delegated responsibility to those called to assist him, no such division of his forces could have occurred. Delegation expanded Moroni's potential and multiplied his talents.

Moroni inspired his men. Moroni reminded his men of the reasons for which they fought. He directed their minds to the Lord, their families, their freedom, and their religion. Moroni used his own faith to augment their faith and bring victory to
his army. He attributed the victory to the Lord and reminded both his own troops and the enemy of the source of the Nephites' strength.

Moroni manifested mercy as he called for a halt to the fighting to prevent a slaughter of the Lamanites.

Finally, Moroni exhibited determination or firmness. His command to Zerahemnah left no doubt about his intent or the degree of compliance that would be accepted. When Zerahemnah desired to agree only to a part of the conditions, Moroni held
firmly to his original decree. Moroni refused to take the course of least resistant. While an agreement upon Zerahemnah's terms might have ended the conflict sooner and at the cost of fewer
lives, the righteous end of preventing future loss when Zerahemnah might again return to war outweighed the benefit of a quick end to the immediate battle. Moroni knew that the Lord had delivered the Lamanites into his hands and that he did have the
power to require such compliance with his command.

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