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Now that the Lamanites understand that Limhi and his people did not kidnap their daughters, peace is declared and the Lamanites back off. Limhi and his people are able to again live in peace (verse 1).
When the war is done, and the weapons are “buried”, let it go. Keep the peace.
But the Lamanites couldn’t leave things alone, until they “began again to be stirred up in anger against the Nephites” (verse 2). Their king promised Lehi that they wouldn’t kill him or his people, so the Lamanites turn into bullies instead. They do everything but kill the people:
“Now they durst not slay them, because of the oath which their king had made unto Limhi; but they would smite them on their cheeks, and exercise authority over them; and began to put heavy burdens upon their backs…” (verse 3).
This takes us right back to Mosiah 12:2, where Abinadi prophesied that this would happen:
“because of their iniquities, shall be brought into bondage, and shall be smitten on the cheek; yea and shall be driven by men…”
“Yea, all this was done that the word of the Lord might be fulfilled” (verse 4).
It was so fulfilled, in fact, that they were surrounded by the Lamanites (verse 5).
Realizing they are surrounded by Lamanites declaring war, the Nephites react in fear instead of acting on faith. Instead of recognizing the prophecy being fulfilled and using the situation as an opportunity to repent and turn to the Lord, they forget that the Lord has the power to deliver them. They think they are alone, and so “begin to murmur with the king because of their afflictions” (verse 6).
We know from Nephi and his brothers that murmuring never works.
But they bothered the king so much that, like with spoiled, badly behaved children, he just let them do what they wanted (verse 6).
And so the Nephites gathered themselves together, but instead of gathering for the Temple or for Conference or for celebrations of peace, the people ignored the warnings of their leader and gathered for war… putting on armor instead of Temple clothes (verse 7). This was the wrong kind of gathering.
Because this was not a gathering in the name of the Lord, the people were squashed!
“And it came to pass that the Lamanites did beat them, and drove them back, and slew many of them” (verse 8).
So the contrast continues: instead of gathering for the Temple and rejoicing in the peace and blessings that come from uniting with those they love, the people gathered for war and so they mourned the loss of those loved.
“And now there was a great mourning and lamentation among the people of Limhi…” (verse 9).
There were many who lost sons, husbands, and fathers.
“Now there were a great many widows in the land, and they did cry mightily from day to day…” (verse 10).
Because it’s the widows and orphans who are husband-less and father-less.
It’s the widows and orphans who do not have access to the Priesthood in their home.
That’s why it’s so important.
It’s not just about temporal needs, but also spiritual needs.
It’s about access to the Priesthood.
“And it came to pass that their continual cries did stir up the remainder of the people of Limhi to anger…” (verse 11).
Their counter-attack didn’t work because they are still thinking temporally.
They are not realizing that the women’s cries come from the heart, and that they need to respond in a spiritual way. Finally, after a third try, those who are left start to realize what has gone terribly wrong.
“And they did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitting themselves to be smitten…” (verse 13).
This was not a giving up.
This was a recognizing the pattern of what had happened, and accepting their natural consequences.
It’s like a toddler child, who finally goes to sit in their time out chair. They aren’t giving up, but they know it is their consequence and the best way out is to serve their time and be back on the playground.
“And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily unto God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions” (verse 14).
That’s all well and good, but these are not random afflict ions that have the purpose of reminding them to call on the Lord for help.
These are not unrelated events that provide a way to look to the Lord.
These are the natural consequences of having removed them from the safety of the provision and protection of the Lord.
Because they chose to go, the Lord is “slow to hear their cry” (verse 15).
Note that it isn’t because He doesn’t want to help, and it’s not because He is unable.
But they have so far removed themselves from Him, that it literally takes a while for Him to hear them through all the mess they have caused.
This is not because of His ability or inability, but because of the work they themselves must do to humble themselves and submit to praying for help and acknowledging the Lord after not having done so all this time.
So He does hear them, it just takes them a while to really make it sincere.
“… nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites… yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage” (verse 15).
The Lord does hear their cries for help, and He does help them.
But helping them means strengthening them to be able to endure their own natural consequences that will teach them and bring them back to Him.
Helping here does not mean doing for them or helping the avoid the consequences or rescue them before they acknowledge who it is that is doing the rescuing.
But He does immediately bless them.
Because they have called upon Him for provision, He provides them “grain more abundantly, and flocks, and herds…” (verse 16).
This is their temporal lesson that will teach the spiritual lesson.
Since the war, there are now more women than men. King Limhi “commanded that every man should impart to the support of the widows and their children, that they might not perish with hunger” (verse 17).
This is a move that requires action. It requires the people, who are now stirred up in remembering the Lord, it requires them to now act in response to that knowledge. It wakes them up, and calls them to action.
In the meantime, the people of Limhi stick close together, for fear of being kidnapped or killed, and they protect their grains and flocks as well (verse 18). Even King Limhi did not trust anyone but his closest guards (verse 19).
But now, because they are acting in fear instead of acting in faith, the fear grows.
Now instead of just being worried about the Lamanites, they also start to be afraid of the missing false-priests who had done the real kidnapping (verse 20).
It’s not entirely unfounded, however, as the Lamanites had “come into the land of Nephi by night, and carried off their grain and many of their precious things…” (verse 21).
This is the background, the greater context, of why the people freaked out so badly when Ammon and his search party (verse 22) showed up in Mosiah 8, long before these last thirteen chapters became such an interlude (verse 23).
This is why King Limhi so quickly assumed Ammon the prophet was a bad guy (verse 23). But when he found out Ammon was not the bad guy, and actually from the land of Zarahemla, “he was filled with exceedingly great joy” (verse 24).
But his joy gets even exceedingly-er and great-er when he discovers through Ammon the prophet that his king, King Mosiah, has a gift from God to interpret the plates (verses 27-28) that his search party had brought back from the wilderness (verses 25-26). This is all bringing us right back to Mosiah 8 again, weaving back into the story where we left off prior to Limhi telling the history of his people.
“And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice” (verse 28).
That is good news for them, and gives hope for relief and a promise of no longer being alone.
But Ammon and his group mourn for those who lost their lives to pay the price of iniquity in the recent wars (verse 29). They also mourn for King Noah and his false priests, and how they “caused the people to commit so many sins and iniquities against God” (verse 30). They also mourned for the death of Abinadi (verse 30).
That is a lot of grief.
But the important thing is that King Limhi and his people have, finally, humbled themselves and turned to the Lord and are now prepared to become His covenant people… “for they themselves had entered into a covenant with God to serve him and keep his commandments” (verse 31)… “And … King Limhi had also entered into a covenant with God, and also many of his people, to serve him and keep his commandments” (verse 32).
Because they want to enter the covenant, they must be baptized.
“And it came to pass that King Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized…” (verse 32). But because there is no one with the proper authority (through the Priesthood) to do the baptizing, the people have to wait “on the Spirit of the Lord” (verse 34). They work hard to keep their passion for their covenants going, even wanting so much “to become even as Alma and his brethren, who had fled into the wilderness” (verse 34).
“They were desirous to be baptized as a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts…” (verse 35).
It’s that simple: love.