In the book of Alma, located in the Book of Mormon, a significant portion is a record of the wars and strives between the Nephite nation and the Lamanite nation. The Nephites were, generally, a God-fearing population whose industry and overall integrity had made them to be a strong nation in the midst of their enemies. On the other hand, the Lamanites despised their once-brethren the Nephites due to teachings of their forefathers which stated the Nephites had cheated them of their birthright and they were determined to consume the Nephites for their own gain.
Amalickiah – When we reach Alma 46, it could be said that the leaders that each of these nations had reflected the feelings of these two nations. The leader of the Lamanite armies, Amalickiah, gained his power through deceit and wickedness. had left the Nephite nation he orignally was part of and went to the Lamanites as he was rejected as a potential king over the Nephites. Before leaving to the Lamanites, Amalickiah ensured he made an impact – we read “Yea, we see that Amalickiah, because he was a man of cunning device and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly; yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous’ sake.” (Alma 46:10). This ability to lead away souls and to seek to destroy man’s ability to choose for themselves can only be associated with one being; Satan. As such, the Nephite people rallied against this wicked man (led by Captain Moroni who will be discussed) and Amalickiah fled…
He was not finished yet though. Amalickiah retreated to the arms of the Lamanites and vowed his service to them. He was given a place of leadership in the armies of the Lamanites…however, this was not enough for the cold-hearted dissident and he used wicked and crafty ways to eventually become king of the Lamanites (see Alma 47 for the entire account).
Captain Moroni – On the side of the Nephites, the leader of the Nephite armies was a man called Moroni. Whilst Amalickiah’s methods are synonymous with the tactics and desires of Lucifer in the pre-mortal existance, of Captain Moroni it was said “And Moroni was a strong 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…Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” (Alma 48:11-13, 17) He was a leader that led in love and under the guidance of the Lord.
Whilst Amalickiah had been deceitfully gaining power, Captain Moroni made preparations to defend against the building threat of the Lamanites. We see of Captain Moroni’s foresight and vision in Alma 48:7 – “Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.” This foreknowledge may well have come from his knowledge of the land and reports he received from the Lamanites, for he was also a diligent leader, but also from promptings of the Spirit. In any case, he strengthened his armies, erected forts, built banks of earth and stone walls and placed more men at the weakest parts of his dominion.
Battle of the Latter-days
As I pondered over these events in the Book of Mormon, it struck me how much this relates to the battles we are waging today. I speak not of physical wars, although they are raging, but of the individual, spiritual war-fares we are engaged in.
The opposition have a leader, even more deceitful and cunning than Amalickiah. He does everything within his power (for he does have power) to lead the children of God astray and take away their agency through the bad choices they make – and he is making progress.
We, who are on the Lord’s side, have a Leader, a Commander and a Friend. He is aware of His soldiers and their needs. He is aware of the weaknesses in His followers. He has provided corporals who can support and lead smaller platoons of His army (prophets, local Church leaders). He has provided the weaponry and arsenal to fend off the constant barrages of Satan (scriptures, prayer, Sabbath Day Observance, the Temple). Most importantly, He has a plan – a plan which He has put into motion Himself (the Plan of Salvation, made possible through His Atonement). If we weaken our structural faults by heeding our Commander and strengthening where we need to, then we will succeed with Him. If not, we will fall whilst the battle continues on. He will succeed still (He already has), but we will not be there to enjoy the victory with those who stay close to him. As we build our faith and testimony through the ways mentioned above we will foil the plans of Satan and stand with our Leader at the end…