We live in an unpredictable world. Nations are in flux. The UK is trying to leave the EU and having a terrible amount of inner turmoil because of it. Russia and Ukraine are at odds. Africa is in such a state that people are migrating at an exponential rate. The US just observed a national day of mourning for the passing of George H.W. Bush, a man many say is the last of a great generation of leaders. Due to all of this, lately my mind has been on what makes a great leader. When I opened my scriptures to Alma 48, I found a story about two leaders: Amalickiah and Moroni.
One man, named Amalickiah (a-măl´a-kī´a), was a man who wanted power. He used deception, cunning, and murder to accomplish his goals. The chapters before Alma 48 talk about how Amalickiah was a Nephite who wanted to be their king.
When they wouldn’t let him, he got mad and went over to join the Lamanites. He ingratiated himself with the king of the Lamanites and was given responsibility. Little by little, he killed the right people at the right time, told the right lies, and eventually became king of the Lamanites. Now he is ready for his revenge as he leads his armies against the Nephites.
The book of Alma (compiled by the prophet-historian Mormon) catches us up to speed with this beautiful verse showing the difference in the ways of the devil and the ways of the Lord.
Moroni Prepared the People to Be Faithful
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.
Their differences are huge and as we keep going, we will see that the Lord’s ways lead to real victory.
8 Yea, he (Moroni) had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.
9 And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites.
10 And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians. (Emphasis added in verse 9.)
Moroni—The Shaker of Hell Itself
Moroni was so smart! He was a godly man and I’m sure he was inspired. He was described this way:
11 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;
12 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.
13 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.
14 Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.
15 And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;
16 And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.
17 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 (Emphasis added).
Oh. My. GOSH! I have never read such a powerful and glowing description of a man’s character than this scripture about Moroni. What a beautiful tribute—the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever and the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men if were all like Moroni. We need more people like Moroni in this world. Wow!
So the Lamanites (enemies of the Nephites) have been traveling to various cities for a while, attacking and destroying the Nephites. Then Moroni takes command of the Nephite armies and makes some inspired changes. It’s like watching Arnold Schwarzenegger take charge of a bunch of high school freshmen.
He takes the cities that are historically weakest and fortifies them to the teeth. He takes his soldiers and gives them thick clothing, armor, and helmets. We are used to the knights of old, but it’s likely these guys had never done this before. They were probably used to fighting in their regular clothes without much protection. In fact, the Lamanites were usually covered with little more than a loincloth in battle! I guess it was to show off their muscles or keep them from overheating.
This layered protection on the armies of the Nephites astonished their enemies. And to make things even more complicated for them, every city they attacked was defended in the style that Moroni had implemented.
As I kept reading, I found out that the Nephites stayed safe, but the Lamanites, who insisted on coming to battle, faced an immense slaughter. There are a lot of battles in the Book of Mormon, but few times the words “immense slaughter” are used.
I share this story because I feel like we as a church, and as Christians, are in a similar place as these Nephites. We have an uncertain world around us, and the adversary fighting us on every side with increasing intensity. We are in a daily battle for our souls.
President Nelson is Our Moroni
We are blessed with a wonderful leader like Moroni who sees where we need to get stronger. We have some seriously big changes coming to our church schedule and to our home worship style in 2019. Like Moroni, President Nelson is fortifying our homes to protect us from Satan. And as we listen and follow his council, we will be blessed to witness the day when the enemy attacks and we are ready for him.
I can’t tell you how much encouragement and hope Alma 48 has been giving me lately. Every change that the Church has been making to the curriculum for the youth, visiting and home teaching, and now the shortened block schedule, are all part of this preparation.
As we read our scriptures and rise to the challenge of a greater understanding of God’s word, we are preparing our minds and our hearts so that we can be as close to the Savior as possible—and we will astonish the enemy of all that is good with how ready we are to stand with our God in the cause of truth.
I am so excited for the things that are coming. We have so many huge blessings waiting for us! The story is far from over. I feel like we are in the defining moments, waiting for our cue to take the stage. The future is glorious.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.