Alma 43 – In the 18th year of the reign of the judges, the Zoramites who did not repent of their sins joined with the Lamanites. The Lamanites, led by Zarahemnah went to war with the Nephite army, led by Captain Moroni.
- Some people wonder why the Book of Mormon contains so much about war. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) stated that “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).
- President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of the reality of the war we have been engaged in since before the world began:
“There is [a] war that has gone on since before the world was created and which is likely to continue for a long time yet to come. …
“That war … is the war between truth and error, between agency and compulsion, between the followers of Christ and those who have denied Him. His enemies have used every stratagem in that conflict. …
“… It is as it was in the beginning. … The victims who fall are as precious as those who have fallen in the past. It is an ongoing battle. …
“The war goes on. … It is waged in our own lives, day in and day out, in our homes, in our work, in our school associations; it is waged over questions of love and respect, of loyalty and fidelity, of obedience and integrity. We are all involved in it. … We are winning, and the future never looked brighter” (“The War We Are Winning,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 42, 44–45).
- Manual says: The Zoramites once belonged to the Nephite nation. Due to pride, however, “the Zoramites became Lamanites” (Alma 43:4). Before their defection, Nephite leaders rightly feared that the Zoramites might enter into an alliance with the Lamanites, thus placing the Nephite nation at risk (see Alma 31:4). In order to prevent this mass defection, Alma led a mission to reclaim the Zoramites, many of whom had already abandoned the true faith. Even though some of the Zoramites were restored to the faith, the majority were angry and “began to mix with the Lamanites and to stir them up” in preparation for war (Alma 35:10–11). Lamanite war leaders appointed the more bloodthirsty Zoramites and Amalekites as chief captains in an effort to gain an advantage over the Nephites.
- “The Zoramites … invited the Lamanite hordes to move in and occupy their country as the first major move against the Nephites (Alma 43:5). At their head came the Lamanite commander-in-chief, the Amalekite Zerahemnah. The Amalekites were Nephite dissenters of an earlier day, and like most dissenters were more bitter against the Nephites and ‘of a more wicked and murderous disposition than the Lamanites were’ (Alma 43:6). Zerahemnah had seen to it that all the key commands in the army had gone to Amalekites like himself or to equally ferocious Zoramites (Alma 43:6)” (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd ed. , 296).
VS9-10 (see vs 45): The Nephites wanted to protect their homes and families from their enemies, as well as their rights and liberties, especially freedom of religion. They knew the Lamanites would destroy anyone who worshiped God.
Q – In what ways do you have a duty to protect family members?
A – Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Let me say again that the family is the main target of evil’s attack and must therefore be the main point of our protection and defense. As I said once before, when you stop and think about it from a diabolically tactical point of view, fighting the family makes sense to Satan. … When evil wants to strike out and disrupt the essence of God’s work, it attacks the family. It does so by attempting to disregard the law of chastity, to confuse gender, to desensitize violence, to make crude and blasphemous language the norm, and to make immoral and deviant behavior seem like the rule rather than the exception” (“Let Our Voices Be Heard,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 18).
VS 16-17 – Moroni, 25 years old, became the Chief Captain of the Nephites. Moroni had great military skill and judgment, but he also relied on the Lord’s guidance in leading his armies.
Manual says this about Moroni: Captain Moroni expected the blessings of the Lord because he had given his best efforts. He was perhaps the brightest military mind of his day, and yet he showed humility by following the prophet’s counsel. This made Captain Moroni a mighty instrument in the hand of God.
VS 18-21 (see vs 37-38) – Armor – The Lamanite Army, though more than twice (see vs 51) the size of the Nephite Army, was afraid to fight the Nephites because of their armor.
President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) explained one way that we could apply these verses to our lives today: “We have the four parts of the body that the Apostle Paul said or saw to be the most vulnerable to the powers of darkness. The loins, typifying virtue, chastity. The heart typifying our conduct. Our feet, our goals or objectives in life and finally our head, our thoughts.
“… We should have our loins girt about with truth. What is truth? Truth, the Lord said, was knowledge of things as they are, things as they were and things as they are to come [D&C 93:24]. … ‘Our loins shall be girt about with truth,’ the prophet said.
“And the heart, what kind of a breastplate shall protect our conduct in life? We shall have over our hearts a breastplate of righteousness. Well, having learned truth we have a measure by which we can judge between right and wrong and so our conduct will always be gauged by that thing which we know to be true. Our breastplate to cover our conduct shall be the breastplate of righteousness.
“[By] what shall we protect our feet, or by what shall we gauge our objectives or our goals in life? … ‘Your feet should be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.’ (Ephesians 6:15). …
“And then finally the helmet of salvation. … What is salvation? Salvation is to be saved. Saved from what? Saved from death and saved from sin. …
“Well, now the Apostle Paul … had his armoured man holding in his hand a shield and in his other hand a sword, which were the weapons of those days. That shield was the shield of faith and the sword was the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God. I can’t think of any more powerful weapons than faith and a knowledge of the scriptures in the which are contained the Word of God. One so armoured and one so prepared with those weapons is prepared to go out against the enemy” (Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Nov. 9, 1954], 2–3, 6–7; see also Ephesians 6:13–17; D&C 27:15–18).
VS 22-24 – The Lamanites were afraid to fight the Nephites in Jershon, so they left into the wilderness. They thought they could secretly take over Manti. Moroni sent men to ask Alma to pray about what to do.
“The Lamanite campaign was directed by Amalekite and Zoramite officers, whose knowledge of Nephite military secrets and methods would have given them an enormous advantage over any commander but Moroni. Right at the outset his foresight had robbed them of their first and logical objective—the buffer land of Jershon (Alma 43:22). He had taken up his main defensive position there, but when the messengers returned from consulting the prophet he learned that the Lamanites were planning a surprise by directing their push against the more inaccessible but weaker land of Manti, where they would not be expected (Alma 43:24). Immediately Moroni moved his main army into Manti and put the people there in a state of preparedness (Alma 43:25–26).
“Informed of every Lamanite move by his spies and scouts, Moroni was able to lay a trap for the enemy, catching them off-guard as they were fording the river Sidon (Alma 43:28–35)” (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, 297–98).
President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985): “Let us harken to those we sustain as prophets and seers, as well as the other brethren as if our eternal life depended upon it, because it does!” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1978, 117; or Ensign, May 1978, 77).
VS45-47 Our duty to defend our families, our liberty, and our religion
At the time of World War II, the First Presidency issued the following statement, clarifying the Church’s position on war:
“Members must give allegiance to their sovereign and render it loyal service when called thereto. [This includes military service.] But the Church, itself, as such, has no responsibility for these policies, as to which it has no means of doing more than urging its members fully to render that loyalty to their country and to free institutions which the loftiest patriotism calls for.
“… There is an obligation running from every citizen or subject to the state. This obligation is voiced in that Article of Faith which declares:
“‘We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.’ …
“Obedient to these principles, the members of the Church have always felt under obligation to come to the defense of their country when a call to arms was made. …
“Thus the Church is and must be against war. … It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled—the nations agreeing—by peaceful negotiation and adjustment.
“But the Church membership are citizens or subjects of sovereignties over which the Church has no control. …
“… When, therefore, constitutional law, obedient to these principles, calls the manhood of the Church into the armed service of any country to which they owe allegiance, their highest civic duty requires that they meet that call. If, harkening to that call, and obeying those in command over them, they shall take the lives of those who fight against them, that will not make of them murderers” (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark Jr., and David O. McKay, in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, 92–94; also cited in Boyd K. Packer, Conference Report, Apr. 1968, 34–35).
President Gordon B. Hinckley helped explain the concept of war and bloodshed:
“When war raged between the Nephites and the Lamanites, the record states that ‘the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for … power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.
“‘And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God’ (Alma 43:45–46).
“The Lord counseled them, ‘Defend your families even unto bloodshed’ (Alma 43:47). …
“It is clear from these and other writings that there are times and circumstances when nations are justified, in fact have an obligation, to fight for family, for liberty, and against tyranny, threat, and oppression. …
“… We are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy. I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do. It may even be that He will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2003, 83–84; or Ensign, May 2003, 80).
Q: What can we learn from the examples of Moroni and his army to help us in our battles against the adversary?
- As we pray for help in accomplishing our righteous plans and desires, God will help us accomplish them.
- We are inspired by a better cause than those who oppose the truth.
- The Lord will help us fulfill our duty to defend our families, our liberty, and our religion.
Alma 44 – Moroni gives Zerahemnah an option of peace. It is rejected so the battle continues.
V9 – Zerahemnah does not believe God delivered them into the Nephites’ hands. He said it was cunning and armor.
Q – Why is it hard for some to recognize the power of God?
3Nephi 2:1-2: 1 And it came to pass that thus passed away the ninety and fifth year also, and the people began to forget those asigns and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen—
2 aImagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and bdeceive the hearts of the people; and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a cfoolish and a vain thing.
Alma 45 – Alma prophesies to Helaman, blesses the land and his children, and is taken up by the Spirit. Dissension grows in the church.
VS18–19 -Alma Departed and “Was Never Heard of More”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the phrase “taken up by the Spirit, or buried by the hand of the Lord” (Alma 45:19) suggests that Alma was translated: “Moses, Elijah, and Alma the younger, were translated. The Old Testament account that Moses died and was buried by the hand of the Lord in an unknown grave is an error. ( 34:5–7.) It is true that he may have been ‘buried by the hand of the Lord,’ if that expression is a figure of speech which means that he was translated. But the Book of Mormon account, in recording that Alma ‘was taken up by the Spirit,’ says, ‘the scriptures saith the Lord took Moses unto himself; and we suppose that he has also received Alma in the spirit, unto himself.’ (Alma 45:18–19.) It should be remembered that the Nephites had the Brass Plates, and that they were the ‘scriptures’ which gave the account of Moses being taken by way of translation. As to Elijah, the account of his being taken in ‘a chariot of fire … by a whirlwind into heaven,’ is majestically set out in the Old Testament. (2 Kings 2.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 805).
Joseph Fielding Smith – “It is a very reasonable thought to believe that both Moses and Alma, like Elijah and John (the revelator) were translated to accomplish some work which the Lord had in store for them at some future day.”
VS20-24 – Helaman starts to declare the word and to establish the church in the land. He and his brethren appoint priests and teachers throughout all the land. Many people will not listen to their words but grow proud because of their riches.
Q – How could being rich and “rich in their own eyes” keep a people from “walking uprightly before God?”
President George Albert Smith: “If you cross to the devil’s side of the line one inch, you are in the tempter’s power, and if he is successful, you will not be able to think or even reason properly, because you will have lost the spirit of the Lord.”