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.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?