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Amalikiah is now leading the Lamanite people, and he wants to march against the Nephites (verse 1), who had rebuilt and fortified their cities (verses 2-3). This was so well done that Lamanites could not attack by stones or by arrows, and could not break in (verse 4). This astonished the Lamanites, “because of the wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security” (verse 5). The Lamanites really had thought they were well prepared, even with shields and thick clothing protection (verse 6), so they thought they would easily overpower the Nephites (verse 7). But they were not prepared for the Nephites to have been so carefully instructed by Moroni to fortify their cities so thoroughly (verse 8), and the Lamanites were astonished (verse 9).
If Amalickiah had been there, he would have made the Lamanites attack the Nephites anyway (verse 10), but he was not there and the captains leading the army knew better than to try to attack such fortified cities (verse 11) so they had to retreat (verse 12). They went on to the next city, only to discover it had also been rebuilt and fortified in the same manner (verses 13-14).
This was part of Moroni’s plan, to get the Lamanites moving where he wanted them (verses 15-17). And since they had so fortified the city, the only way the Lamanites could break in to attack was through the main entrance (verse 18). They could not go over the walls because the Nephites were prepared for that (verse 19), but they were also prepared to defend themselves if any Lamanites came through the main entrance to the city (verse 20). When the Lamanites tried to enter, they were slaughtered (verse 21).
Since the Lamanites could not get in by the main entrance, they began to dig to try to find another way in – but “instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies” (verse 22). Thus, not a single soul of the Nephites was killed, but many Lamanites died in battle (verses 23-24).
This report got back to Amalickiah, including the news that all his captains had been killed (verse 25), and this made him very angry (verse 26). He got so angry that not only did he curse God, but he also swore that he would drink the blood of Moroni (verse 27).
In contrast, the Nephites thanked the Lord their God “because of his matchless power in delivering them from the hands of their enemies” (verse 28).
… And there was continual peace among them, and exceedingly great prosperity in the church because of their heed and diligence which they gave unto the word of God, which was declared unto them… by all those who had been ordained by the holy order of God, being baptized unto repentance, and sent forth among the people (verse 30).
This chapter is, of course, about more than just that war long ago. It is also about the war we are in, even in this very moment. It is about doing the work to notice where our weak places are, and doing the work to fortify our weaknesses until they become our strengths. It is about tearing down what is not protective, life-giving, or strengthening and doing the work to rebuild what is healthy and good and productive. It is about being in constant conversation with our Father-in-Heaven, so that we might know the enemy’s plans and see clearly our escape. It is about knowing who our Savior is, that we may be rescued and delivered, even strengthened to conquer – one “city” at a time.