CLICK HERE to read Alma 56.
While Moroni is reclaiming peace in the land, he gets a letter from Helaman further away (verse 1). They are on the same mission, fighting different fronts (verse 2). Helaman is in the land of Ammon, where the people are vulnerable because they covenanted not to fight (verses 3-4, 6); however, their sons had not made that covenant and so were free to defend their people and their country (verse 5). Helaman did not want the older generation to break their covenant (verses 7-8), and so it was with great joy that 2,000 young men joined the battle (verses 9-10).
Helaman and the people mourned those who had died keeping their covenants, but rejoiced that they “died in the cause of their country and of their God”, knowing they are happy (verse 11). The Lamanites continued fighting the Nephite people in the land of Ammon, keeping alive only the captains and killing everyone else (verses 12-15).
The Nephites were worn out and “depressed in body as well as in spirit” after fighting so valiantly in defense of their people, a people who had covenanted not to fight anymore (verse 16). So when Helaman arrived with his 2,000 young men, the worn out Nephite army rejoiced, for the young men “gave them great hopes and much joy” (verse 17). Not only that, but it caused the Lamanites to stop attacking them (verse 18). “And thus were we favored of the Lord” (verse 19), for they were given time to strengthen themselves and fortify their cities (verse 20).
The Nephites waited for the Lamanites to attack, rather than trying to attack the cities of the Lamanites (verse 21). They kept spies paying attention to what the Lamanites were up to (verse 22), so they could attack if the Lamanites passed by (verse 23). But the Lamanites were more careful now, and did not march past the Nephite forts, but stayed in the cities they had already taken (verses 24-26).
Provisions were delivered to the Nephite army by the fathers of the 2,000 young men (verse 27), and from another land were sent 2,000 more men (verse 28).
The Lamanites saw that the Nephite forces were increasing everyday, and that provisions were arriving, and they began to be afraid (verse 29).
The Nephites knew the Lamanites wanted to attack but were not as strong and did not have the provisions, but they could not attack the Lamanites while they were in their forts. So they had to get them to come out, and so by tricking them. The Nephites pretended to take some of these new provisions to another city (verse 30), marching toward the city to get the Lamanites to follow them (verses 31-32).
This plan worked! The Lamanites left their forts to follow after the Nephites to engage them in battle (verses 33-35). The Nephites led them away “even to a considerable distance” (verses 36-37) until night (verse 38). The Nephites marched into the wilderness, to lead the Lamanites away (verse 39), marching all day until night (verse 40).
On the third day, the Nephites had to run to get away (verse 41), and the Lamanites followed – then stopped (verse 42). The other Nephites had arrived to attack from behind, and so the battle began (verse 43). Helaman explained this to his young soldier-warriors, asking if they were still willing to go into battle (verse 44), and they showed great courage in their willingness (verse 45). They said:
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… (verse 46)
These brave warriors “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” (verse 47). They taught this to Helaman, telling him they believed the testimony of their mothers (verse 48).
And so the warriors turned to join the battle against the Lamanites (verse 49), saving the battle for the Nephites (verse 50). The Nephites were worn out from the marching, and it gave the Lamanites courage against them – until the young warriors joined the battle (verses 51-52). The young warriors fought so valiantly that the entire Lamanite army had to come against them (verse 53), but the Nephites surrounded the Lamanites and they were forced to “deliver up their weapons of war and also themselves as prisoners of war” (verse 54).
Helaman counted the young warriors (verse 55), and:
… 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 en known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power… (verse 56).
These verses teach us many things about opposition, faith, and how we work together as one people:
- Moroni and Helaman were fighting in different parts of the land, but worked together in the same battle and rejoiced together in each others’ victories.
- Solutions to the biggest problems and most life-threatening crises were found, even creatively, so that covenants did not have to be broken in the process.
- The young people brought joy to the hearts of their parents and elders when they joined the battle, even sustaining the covenants of their parents by doing so.
- The young people followed directions and listened to instruction and did what they were told.
- The destruction of battle happened after the people were led away.
- The Nephites paid attention to what was going on in the world around them; they knew they were at war, and were vigilant in being aware of what the enemy was up to.
- The parents continued to provide for their children physically and spiritually while the young people were on their mission.
- The women and children were carefully guarded and specifically provided for at all times.
- The enemy did not know the plans of the people of God.
- The courage of the young people was demonstrated by their willingness to act, to really do what they had signed up to do.
- The courage of the young people was contagious, giving courage to those who had already long been fighting the enemy.
- The courage and willingness of the young people came from the faith of their mothers.
- The faith of the young people was already instilled in them before they got to the battle; their testimonies are what called them to battle (not arriving at the battle and then hoping to maybe get a testimony while they were there).
- The faith of the young people and their mothers was based on knowing who God is, and that the Lord would keep His promises. They dared to believe that the Lord could do what He had promised to do.
- The faith of the young people naturally resulted in them testifying of what (in whom) they believed.
- When they acted on their faith, the Lord strengthened them to accomplish the task He had given them.
- While the people were being obedient, the Lord protected them and provided for them.