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This blog is devoted to people like us who need a daily spiritual outlet and motivation to keep up with our personal scripture study.
Join us as we begin and discuss the Book of Mormon daily--an online Institute class of sorts!

We welcome your comments, your experiences, and your thoughts.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Helaman Chapter 7

I've been behind on my reading and have been trying to catch up, and missed 2 weeks (SORRY!) so I decided to skip ahead to catch up and do my chapter today! I briefly read over the headings - and without reading the details of the chapters, I have started up again in Helaman 7. SO MUCH HAS CHANGED in so little time! And that's what it says in verse 6 ("Now this great iniquity had come up on the Nephites, in the space of not many years...") .

In verse 5 it explains specifically how and why the Nephites had fallen into transgression, "Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their bmoney; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the cworld, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills—"

I found it interesting that in verses 7-8, Nephi tells us  how he wishes he could have lived in the days that Lehi had first reached the promise land... "That I could have ajoyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, bfirm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord— Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren."

The reason I find it interesting is because we know from studying the Book of Mormon, that there were still very very wicked people... I guess there just weren't as many - and they certainly hadn't overthrown the government... yet.

And I think verse 9 is applicable to most generations ( and definitely now), "But behold, I am consigned that these are my days, and that my soul shall be filled with asorrow because of this the wickedness of my brethren." Have you ever felt that your life would have been easier or happier in some other time of the world?

After a multitude had gathered to wonder why Nephi was lamenting so,  he begins his lecture. One of my favorite parts is verse 16, "Yea, how could you have given way to the enticing of him who is seeking to hurl away your souls down to aeverlasting misery and endless wo?" What great imagery! If we thought of sin like this, and really believed it, I think we would be less likely to commit any sins!

Verse 26 is also profound, and very applicable to our days, "Yea, awo shall come unto you because of that pride which ye have suffered to enter your hearts, which has lifted you up beyond that which is good because of your exceedingly great riches!"

Hm... there are many similarities between this time in the Book of Mormon, and our current time. Anyone agree?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Helaman Ch. 6

Read it HERE.

Summary: The righteous Lamanites preach to the wicked Nephites—Both peoples prosper during an era of peace and plenty—Lucifer, the author of sin, guides the Gadianton robbers in their murders and wickedness—They take over the Nephite government. Between 29 and 24 B.C.

This is an interesting chapter. I'm going to be lazy this week and copy the following list from the Institute Manual. It really lays out the characteristics of the secret combinations and I found it helpful to go through it. Feel free to skip (as it is lengthy), but if you want to read more you can find it here.

From this chapter and other places in the Book of Mormon we learn the following important characteristics of secret combinations:

1. The devil is the inspiration and source of all such organizations (see Helaman 6:26–30 ). Mormon clearly pointed to Satan as the grand conspirator, the real organizer of all such organizations.

2. Such organizations are viewed by the Lord as constituting a wickedness “above all the wickedness of the whole earth” ( 3Nephi 9:9 ; see also Ether 8:18 ). While individuals may rob, steal, plunder, and murder, how much more wickedness occurs when men plunder and kill on a national or an international scale involving millions of lives?

3. Such organizations flourish and thrive when the “more part” ( Helaman 6:21 ) of the people are wicked and seek to benefit from the spoils of such wickedness (see v.38 ).

4. Secrecy is one of the basic operating tenets of such organizations (see vv.22, 25–26 ).

5. Joined with the idea of secrecy is the idea of making covenants (see vv.22, 25–26 ). An oath of loyalty to the organization is made which involves a vow to maintain the secret of the conspiracy. After the murder of the chief judge, Kishkumen “went unto those that sent him, and they all entered into a covenant, yea, swearing by their everlasting Maker, that they would tell no man” ( Helaman 1:11 ). Helaman 6:21 refers to “their covenants and their oaths.” Moroni described this same covenant making among the Jaredites (see Ether 8:13–14 ). Ironically, the oaths were sometimes made in the name of God (see Helaman 1:11 , Ether 8:14 ).

6. The objectives of such secret combinations are power or gain, or both (see Helaman 6:38 , Ether 8:22 , Moses 5:31–33 ). Since the government is a source of great power, it is not surprising that often the target of action is to take over the reins of government (see Helaman 1:1–4 , 2:4–5 , 3Nephi 3:6 , 6:30 , 7:12 , Ether 9:1–6 , 13:18 ).

7. These organizations use immorality, money, and violence to achieve their ends (see Helaman 6:15, 17 , Ether 8:10 ). Assassinating government leaders to bring their own people to power is a common tale found in the Book of Mormon.

8. The only way to lastingly curtail these organizations once they are established and begin to flourish is through conversion of the people to righteousness (see Helaman 6:37 , 3Nephi 5:4–6 ).

Now, how is it that what started as a small group of wicked, plotting people became a large group known as the Gadianton Robbers? Verse seventeen states that the Nephites began to set their hearts upon riches. Once a people starts down this path of "idol" worship, they begin to commit sins in order to procure more riches. Then the sins don't seem to be a big deal anymore, because the riches are more important to them than God. It was a quick road to wickedness for the Nephites.

The Lamanites, however, grew stronger in righteousness and faith. When the Gadianton robbers began to be a real problem, what did they do? They did not go to war in the usual sense, but they fought the wickedness at its root:

37 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.

And the Nephites? Well, the Nephites "built them up and support[ed] them [. . .] until they had overspread all the land." (vs. 38)

"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21)


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Helaman 4

Read it HERE.

Summary: Nephite dissenters and the Lamanites join forces and take the land of Zarahemla—The Nephites’ defeats come because of their wickedness—The Church dwindles and the people become weak like the Lamanites. Between 38 and 30 B.C.

This chapter can be quite depressing and yet inspiring. Amazing how the scriptures, particularly the war chapters do that, isn't it? As I read about the Nephite dissention (in not many years) from the Church it saddened me, and yet I found how similar it is to our day. I hear of and know of so many faithful members of the Church who temporarily or permanently lose their faith and dissent from the Church. I selected several words and phrases from this chapter that paint the picture well of how and why this happens.

(Ask yourself if you don't witness these things daily among Latter-day Saints and other God-fearing people... not in a judgemental way, but in the spirit of recognizing that we all have need for the Atonement and our trials and struggles are different and come at different times and seasons. We need to love and serve each other as Christ would rather than assist in the dissention of His children.)

The Helaman 4 Dissention word/phrase list:
contention, bloodshed, rebellious, slain, driven, stir up to war, afraid, stirring up to anger, preparing for war, battle, the work of death, slaughter, wickedness, abomination, profess to belong to the church of God, pride of their hearts, exceeding riches, oppression to the poor, withholding food from the hungry, withholding clothing from the naked, smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which is sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, adultery, great contentions, deserting away into the land, boasting of their own strength, did not prosper, afflicted, smitten, lost possessions/lands, stiffnecked, set at naught the commandments of God, altered/trampled the laws, corrupted laws, withdrawl of the spirit.

Sad state of affairs, isn't it? I love the verbage of verse 23: "...and the judgements of God did stare them in the face."

Essentially all the dissention of faithful Nephites caused the church to dwindle. They eventually saw their strength matched with that of the unfaithful Lamanites and it scared them. Moronihah preached unto them and they repented and when they did they prospered again. The miracle of Christ's infinite Atonement. The Nephites recognized their weaknesses and were allowed to change and gain faith again. They began to remember the prophecies of Alma and the words of Mosiah from long long before their time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Helaman 3

The Nephites enter into a brief time of peace and they spread outward into the land northward. Helaman, who is both prophet and chief judge, has two sons, Nephi and Lehi, named of course after the first Nephi and Lehi. The people become so righteous at this time that even their leaders are astonished. I love these verses:

27 Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.

28 Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.

29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked—

30 And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.

I think those verses are beautiful. Unfortunately for the righteous, the wicked start to persecute them, but here is what it says about the righteous:

35 Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sancitification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.

I think we can all find ways in which we can better yield our hearts unto God. I know we don't face constant persecution like these Nephites, but we do face a lot of stress and other things that try to tear us down. But if we can yield our hearts to God and stay firm in the faith, we will be blessed like the Nephites to know that we will live with God again.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Helaman Ch. 1

Read it HERE.

Summary: Pahoran the second becomes chief judge and is murdered by Kishkumen—Pacumeni fills the judgment-seat—Coriantumr leads the Lamanite armies, takes Zarahemla, and slays Pacumeni—Moronihah defeats the Lamanites and retakes Zarahemla, and Coriantumr is slain. Between 52 and 51 B.C.

Pahoran, the chief judge, has died. Three of his sons are vying to replace him: Pahoran, Pacumeni, and Paanchi; therefore the Nephites have split in three ways in support of each. But Pahoran ends up being appointed by the people to the judgement seat.

There are two reactions to this: Pacumeni sees that he cannot obtain the seat, so he unites with the people.

Paanchi, however, decides to convince as many people as he can to rebel against the new leadership. What is the penalty for someone who seeks to destroy the liberty of the people? Death. Of course, Paanchi's supporters were upset by this, and some of them send Kishkumen in disguise to murder Pahoran while he is on the judgement seat. No one can catch him at the time, but eventually many of those who were in on the plot were found and sentenced to death.

Pacumeni takes the judgement seat. But what a mess! I can't believe it would get to the point of brothers fighting and murdering this way.

Later in the chapter, the Lamanites plot (again) to overcome the Nephites by taking Zarahemla, so they recruit Coriantumer to lead the armies. They battle, many people die, but eventually Moronihah outsmarts the Lamanites and the Nephites obtain victory and regain their city.

One thing stood out to me about this battle sequence. This is how the Lamanites warred:

27 But behold, [. . .] (they) were marching through the most capital parts of the land, slaying the people with a great slaughter, both men, women, and children, taking possession of many cities and of many strongholds.

And, this is how the Nephites fought:

33 And it came to pass that Moronihah took possession of the city of Zarahemla again, and caused that the Lamanites who had been taken prisoners should depart out of the land in peace.

As long as they fight with the desire for peace, the Lord blesses them. President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency stated that the Spirit of the Lord cannot abide contention: “When there is contention, the Spirit of the Lord will depart, regardless of who is at fault” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 57; or Ensign, May 1996, 41).


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Alma 60

In this chapter Moroni takes Pahoran to task for not sending help to the armies. He condemns Pahoran for "sit[ting] upon [his] throne in a state of thoughtless stupor" while thousands of Nephites are dying in Pahoran's defense. Now, it's really easy to think that Moroni is being too harsh because we know that in the next chapter Pahoran explains what is going on and Moroni forgives him. But I am trying to see things from Moroni's point of view and I can see why he is so upset.

It's also interesting to compare this latter from Moroni to the one he wrote to Ammoron. In both, he is experiencing righteous anger. But in the one Ammoron, he was speaking to a wicked mad, and in this chapter, he is speaking to Pahoran, who he believes to be righteous, or at least knows that he used to be righteous. So a lot of this chapter comes across as calling Pahoran to repentance and telling him to shape up, just in very harsh terms.

I like what Moroni says in vs. 23: Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also. I've always liked the metaphor of the clean cup. We can look good on the outside and still be filthy on the inside, and vice versa. But we should strive to be as clean as possible on the outside and the inside.

Moroni closes with a powerful statement that shows that he knows who he really answers to in the end: God, not the government leaders. I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God, and the freedom and welfare of my country. I really admire Captain Moroni for his zeal and continual righteousness and I hope to emulate him in my own life.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Alma Ch. 58

Read it HERE.

Summary: Helaman, Gid, and Teomner take the city of Manti by a stratagem—The Lamanites withdraw—The sons of the people of Ammon are preserved as they stand fast in defense of their liberty and faith. About 63 B.C.

I really enjoyed reading this chapter; it was faith-promoting to read about the odds Helaman and his armies overcame in being able to defeat the Lamanites. This is what they were up against:

~ They almost perished for want of food (vs. 7)
~ The Lamanites grew stronger by the day (vs. 6,8) and far outnumbered the Nephites ("innumerable", vs. 8)
~ Helaman requested strength and provisions, but only received a little food and 2000 men (vs. 8,9)
~ The Lamanites would not be fooled by a decoy because they remembered this was previously done (vs. 1)
~ The Nephites were fearful for their lives and that God would send poor judgements upon them (vs. 9)
~The Lamanites were defending a stronghold, Manti (vs. 1)

It seems pretty bleak. They could have easily let their discouragement overcome them or become embittered toward God. But this is what they did in response to their circumstances:

10 Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people.

11 Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.

They took courage, and with the Lord's help, they defeated the Lamanites. This is how they did it:

~ The Nephites camped in the wilderness by Manti so the Lamanites' spies would see them. (vs. 13, 14)
~ Helaman has Gid and Teancum take small groups of men and hide in different parts of the wilderness. (vs. 16)
~ The Lamanites came to fight them, due to the Nephites' poor numbers. (vs. 15)
~ The Nephites retreat through the wilderness; the Lamanites pursue (vs. 18)
~ Gid and Teancum come behind the Lamanites and cut off the spies so they couldn't go back to the city. Then they go back to the city and reclaim it--the Lamanites left only the guards behind. (vs. 20-23)
~ The Lamanites discover that they are going toward Zarahemla. Afraid it is a trap, they turn to go back. (vs. 24)
~ Helaman has his armies march all through the night to beat the Lamanites back to Manti. (vs. 26)
~ The Lamanites arrive at Manti to discover the Nephites have occupied the city. They are astonished and flee from that entire quarter of the land. (vs. 29-30)

I loved reading the strategies the Nephites used in this chapter. I think they can be summed up nicely by verse 28:

28 And thus it came to pass, that by this stratagem we did take possession of the city of Manti without the shedding of blood.

This is why I love reading about the Nephites when they are righteous. They truly fight to defend. They do not delight in the shedding of blood. And the Lord blesses them.

So, what is the true asset the Nephites had? What made the difference? It is made obvious in this chapter. It is their faith in and reliance on God. They remembered their blessings, and that they wouldn't have all they do without Him.

vs. 40: But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.

This is what we can take away from this chapter. We are going to experience some very difficult circumstances as we draw nearer to the second coming. Our greatest asset to our surivial will be our faith and our trust in God. As long as we are doing our best faithfully, He will magnify our abilities. We may experience "many wounds" but those hardships are only temporary. We know that the important things are not temporal, and that they last for eternity.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Alma 57

Hello everyone. Sorry for my tardiness! Tori was kind enough to switch days with me since I started school and am crazy busy. But I still wanted to particpate, so wonderful Tori switched with me. Thanks Tori!

Summary: Helaman recounts the taking of Antiparah and the surrender and later the defense of Cumeni—His Ammonite striplings fight valiantly and all are wounded, but none are slain—Gid reports the slaying and the escape of the Lamanite prisoners. About 64—63 B.C.

In this chapter, the Nephites take two cities. They are very smart in how they do this. But what really struck me about this chapter was the last part, talking about the faith of all the warriors. The outcome of this battle was miraculous.
26 And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.
27 Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.

These verses are amazing. It would take a tremendous amount of faith to go into battle and know that you would be preserved. God really does have the power to do all things if we but have the faith that He will grant us answers to our prayers. We do need to put our trust in God continually. He has put us on this path and called each of us to endure some battle on this earth. I know that we cannot endure it without His help. I have never felt this so much as in the past few weeks since starting school. I feel like such a huge burden has been placed on my shoulders, and I really want to stick with it. But I come home each day not sure houw I am going to make it. I have never pleaded and prayed so much for help. And I know my prayers have been heard. It's only been two weeks, but I feel like I have accomplished so much with the Lord's help, and I know there is no way I will finish without His help. I feel so blessed to have His influence in my life.

35 And behold, we are again delivered out of the hands of our enemies. And blessed is the name of our God; for behold, it is he that has delivered us; yea, that has done this great thing for us.

What I love about this verse is that they Nephites have overcome another mountain. And the first thing they do after accomplishing this amazing feat is thank God. Heavenly Father is always there for us. He will lift us up and give us strength beyond our own. He will help us overcome anything, get through anything. We just need to believe. We need to continually exercise faith. "The times we feel alone are the ones when we forgot to ask for His saving Grace. We must do whatever it takes to stay in His embrace." (From an EFY song) The Lord is always there for us. We just have to have the faith to turn to Him. It is amazing what He will do for us when we have the faith.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Helaman sends an epistle to Moroni recounting the state of the war with the Lamanites—Antipus and Helaman gain a great victory over the Lamanites—Helaman’s two thousand stripling sons fight with miraculous power and none of them are slain. About 66—62 B.C.

Okay, I think this is probably such a famous chapter in the Book of Mormon. Everyone loves this chapter, and so do I. It is about the Sons of Helaman!

Two-THOUSAND young men were willing to take up weapons of war since their fathers covenanted that they would never fight again. Two-thousand. That is a lot of faithful young men. Kind of like the spiritually strong and faithful fifty-something-thousand young men we have serving missions around the world.

And those young men chose Helaman to be their leader. He called them his own sons -since "they were worthy to be called sons.)

And they did set out to help the army of Antipus against the army of the wicked Lamanites. They led the Lamanites in a strategic way...their plan was working until the Lamanites got too close, but fortunately Antipus's army was speedy and they caught the Lamanites from behind.

Helaman writes:
43 And now, whether they were overtaken by Antipus we knew not, but I said unto my men: Behold, we know not but they have halted for the purpose that we should come against them, that they might catch us in their snare;

44 Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?

45 And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen aso great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites.

46 For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.

47 Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

48 And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.

49 And it came to pass that I did return with my two thousand against these Lamanites who had pursued us. And now behold, the armies of Antipus had overtaken them, and a terrible battle had commenced.

Now Antipus's army had become very weak, and the Lamanites realized this and fought harder. Then all of a sudden, Helaman's army came from behind to attack the Lamanites. This gave the army of Antipus time to regroup.

Both armies then surrounded the Lamanites, insomuch that they were compelled to deliver up their weapons of war and also themselves as prisoners of war.

And then the miracle:

55 And now it came to pass that when they had surrendered themselves up unto us, behold, I numbered those young men who had fought with me, fearing lest there were many of them slain.

56 But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.

Now, to go back to a famous scripture:

...Yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them......And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.

Wow. THAT is the kind of Mother I want to be. That is the kind of friend I want to be. I want to not only be able to teach my children to have that much faith in God, but through my actions and example, I want my children to be able to say, "I do not doubt that my mother KNEW it." And how neat would it be to have a others say, "I do not doubt that my FRIEND, TEACHER, WIFE, DAUGHTER, NEIGHBOR, knew it."

That is how I want to live my life.

Boy, I love the scriptures!

Missionary Work in Chinatown, NY

A friend linked to a great video collection on her blog. Someone with the NY times has put together a series of videos on different people in New York. . .and one of them just happens to be a Mormon Missionary in Chinatown named Naisi Zhao.

Her story is short but touching. The photography is breathtaking. She is a real person. It is really worth taking the time to watch.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chapter 54

Chelsea and I have decided to switch days, so this is my first Wednesday post. Hopefully I'll do a little better about getting it done on my actual day and not the day after!

This is an interesting chapter. It's done completely in letters between Moroni and Ammoron, king of the Lamanites. Moroni is interested when Ammoron proposes an exchange of prisoners. One thing that shows the difference between the two armies was that the Nephites only took soldiers prisoner, but the Lamanites took women and children too. So Moroni hopes to exchange one Lamanite for one Nephite plus his wife and children. The language of the epistle surprises me. Moroni calls Ammoron a "child of hell", tells him that the wrath of God will be coming upon him and his armies, and really uses such harsh language that Ammoron's response is no surprise. I've always wondered why he is so harsh if he really wanted to have a chance at exchanging prisoners. I bet that at this point he was so disgusted with the evilness of Ammoron that he didn't really want to negotiate with him. He says "ye have sought to murder us, and we have only sought to defend ourselves." This to me is one of the principles that stands out in these war chapters. War is an evil thing. Captain Moroni does sometimes go on the offensive, but he largely sticks to a defensive strategy, and because of this the Lord blesses them. Both sides end up killing the other, but for the Lamanites it is murder and for the Nephites it is only defending themselves, and the Lord judges them accordingly.

Ammoron responds in anger. While he does agree to Moroni's terms for the exchange of prisoners, he insults the Nephites and their religion, tells Moroni that they will both be in hell together (yikes!) and weirdly enough, accuses their ancestors of wrongly stealing the Lamanites' right to government. What? That is such a strange claim. I guess they felt that they should have ruled over the Nephites from the beginning. I can't even comprehend how they must have twisted history to think that way.

Anyway, there's not a lot to this chapter, but it's interesting to witness the difference between the righteous anger of Moroni and the wicked anger of Ammoron.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Alma Ch. 52

Read it HERE.

Summary: Ammoron succeeds Amalickiah as king of the Lamanites—Moroni, Teancum, and Lehi lead the Nephites in a victorious war against the Lamanites—The city of Mulek is retaken, and Jacob the Lamanite is slain. About 66—64 B.C.

Sometimes it is interesting to read these warring chapters because of the strategies the leaders employ to win the wars. Moroni, Teancum, and the others are very clever but they also rely on the Lord. This doesn't mean that they always win but it does mean they know how to do the right thing.

In verses 21-26 we learn about how they won back the city of Mulek, which had been occupied by the Lamanites. They sent a small decoy army (led by Teancum) past the city and drew out the Lamanites, who thought they could easily overtake such a small group of soldiers. Meanwhile, Moroni led a larger group of soldiers to reclaim the city from the few Lamanites left to guard it.

The following thought is taken from the Institute Manual for the Book of Mormon:

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) observed, “From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in times of war” (in Conference Report, Oct.1986, 5; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 7). Mormon included several accounts of war in the Book of Mormon for a purpose. These accounts teach about the need to preserve freedom in order to maintain religious rights, the damage traitors inflict, the value of even a few righteous youth, the moral justification for war, and strategies to combat evil while relying upon God’s power to intervene.

Moroni embodied this. He was a righteous, intelligent leader and I wish we could have a leader like him in our country today.

Led by wicked and apostate Nephites (Ammoron and others), the Lamanites sought to violently capture and maintain Nephite cities. Each city was taken at a high price, however: "They had not taken any cities save they had lost much blood" (vs. 4). Captain Moroni was always reluctant to take up the sword and far more eager to lay it down for peace (vs. 37). He knew that even when the Nephites were victorious, it cost thousands of lives on both sides. War would never occur if all people were living the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the Prince of Peace, and those who follow Him are emissaries of peace.

We will eventually experience this in the time of the Milennium. It will be beautiful to live in a time when all are following Christ and are "emissaries of peace."


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Alma 51

This chapter talks about the struggle between the king-men and the free-men. I am amazed at how people, when they don't get their way, are so quick to violence. And I am also amazed that these people were so anxious to have a king. This isn't the first time this has happened in the Book of Mormon. In Nephi's time the people insisted on keeping Nephi's descendants as a king. The people in King Mosiah's time were so eager for Aaron to be king that Mosiah had to warn them against forcing someone to be king. Why do people want a king so much? Sure, the first one might be great, but you never know what things will be like in several generations. My husband studies economics and he told me once that in his class, they discussed how the most efficient type of government is an all-knowing, benevolent dictator, followed by a free market-style government. (This was in reference to allocating scarce resources, but I am stealing it for my own purposes). Well, since the only all-knowing, benevolent dictator isn't going to be ruling on earth for a little while, I'd rather share the power among many people rather than put it in the hands of a few.

It even says that the people in support of having a king were those of "high birth", who wanted a king because they wanted the power that would fall upon them. It all comes back to greed and pride, doesn't it? Even when the voice of the people supported Pahoran, these king-men didn't stop there. When Amalickiah comes marching towards the borders with his armies of Lamanites, the king-men refuse to defend their country. This of course infuriates Moroni, who gets permission to compell these men to fight or to be killed. This seems a little extreme in the days of conscientous objectors, but Moroni understood something crucial--we can't fight the forces of the enemy that strike from the outside if we aren't fortified on the inside. To me, this applies both to us personally and in a more broader sense, to our homes and families. If our homes are filled with contention and don't have the Spirit, how can we withstand the temptations and trials that come our way?

The last part of this chapter talks about Teancum, who was a brave commander of the Nephites who took things into his own hands. He snuck into the Lamanite camp and personally killed Amalickiah, which he probably hoped would end the war. Unfortunately Amalickiah's brother takes over in the next chapter, but I think Teancum is another real Book of Mormon hero and seems to have been both a great warrior and a very righteous man.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Alma Chapter 50

Read it HERE

Moroni fortifies the lands of the Nephites—They build many new cities—Wars and destructions befell the Nephites in the days of their wickedness and abominations—Morianton and his dissenters are defeated by Teancum—Nephihah dies and his son Pahoran fills the judgment-seat. About 72—67 B.C.

I think it is interesting how there are so many places in the scriptures that describe wars and preparations for wars. In this chapter we begin reading about how Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites.

Now I think it's easy for us to skim over these verses, since we don't see any "quotable scriptures" or spiritual moments. But, if we try and liken the scriptures to us, we actually can find a lot of symbolism.

I like to think about how we are always fighting a spiritual war. A war against temptations. A war against even. And even though we do not need to dress in armor and fight against an enemy, we actually DO need to dress in the armor of God and fight against the adversary.

So isn't it interesting that even though Moroni and his armies were not fighting at this very moment, they were still making all the preparations necessary. I think we can do this in our own lives. We always need to be preparing ourselves. That is why we attend church, pray, read our scriptures, fulfill our callings, attend the temple, have family home evening, go visiting teaching, listen to conference. These things help us to prepare to be strong in times of war -when adversity and temptation hit us really hard.

And you know what? As we are righteous and do all of these things as we are commanded,

18 And they did prosper aexceedingly, and they became exceedingly rich; yea, and they did multiply and wax strong in the land.

19 And thus we see how merciful and just are all the dealings of the Lord, to the fulfilling of all his words unto the children of men; yea, we can behold that his words are verified, even at this time, which he spake unto Lehi, saying:

20 Blessed art thou and thy children; and they shall be blessed, inasmuch as they shall keep my acommandments they shall prosper in the land. But remember, inasmuch as they will not keep my commandments they shall be bcut off from the presence of the Lord.

22 And those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times, whilst thousands of their wicked brethren have been consigned to bondage, or to perish by the sword, or to dwindle in unbelief, and mingle with the Lamanites.

23 But behold there never was a ahappier 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.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Alma chapter 47

Amalickiah uses treachery, murder, and intrigue to become king of the Lamanites—The Nephite dissenters are more wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites.

I find this chapter intriguing. How one man (Amalakiah) goes so far to gain power (in his case, he doesn't even seem to care whom over!). Amalakiah is just straight up evil!  He cares for no one but himself, going so far as to manipulate and murder!  I encourage you to read this chapter yourself.

I find the story with Lehonti most relevant.  Lehonti would not (at first) come down from his safe keep in the top of Mt. Antipas, but after subtle persistence from Amalakiah he came down just a little. And that was all it took for Amalakiah to accomplish his desires. And ultimately, Lehonti was poisoned until dead.

How often do we compromise our safe hold just a little bit?  How often do we just barely step over the line of sure safety? How often do we allow ourselves to do the little things we have been asked by the prophets not to?

Satan just needs us to take one step away from our Heavenly Father and with that he will poison us by degrees until we are spiritually dead - If we allow him to. We have knowledge other do not. We know there is a war going on, consisting of daily battles for our souls. Our choices determine the outcome of these battles.  Always remember the story of Lehonti who did not want to be subjected, yet came down from the top of the mountain just enough that Amalakiah was able to destroy him. Lehonti did not know Amalakiahs intentions or what he was capable of. But we do. We know Satan's intentions is to destroy us - subtlety and indefinitely.

Now have a great day! :D (Sorry if that was a little intense, but this is something I feel strongly about!)