#LDSConf – Alma 62: Choosing Righteousness

CLICK HERE to read Alma 62.

Moroni was very glad to receive the news from Pahoran, and humbly accepted the counsel given him by his leader.  It gave him courage and joy to know that his leader was being faithful (verse 1), though he mourned that the people had rebelled (verse 2).  Moroni acted on the message he received by taking his men to help Pahoran (verse 3).

As he marched towards Pahoran, he raised the standard of liberty and gathered men who responded to fight for the freedom of their land and rights to worship (verse 4).  Thousands joined him (verse 5), so that by the time he reached Pahoran the entire army was “exceedingly strong”, even stronger than the rebels (verse 6).

Moroni and Pahoran went to battle against the rebels (verse 7), and restored Pahoran to his rightful place (verse 8).  The rebels were put on trial, as were the people who did not fight against the rebels (verse 9).

That is a subtle but significant piece, that it wasn’t just the rebels were punished – but also those who failed to fight against the rebels.  It is not enough to not be the enemy; we must fight against him.  Failing to fight is choosing to become part of the enemy.  There is no middle ground, no room for sitting on the fence.  To do nothing is to choose.

So Moroni says that to choose not to fight for freedom is to choose to surrender it (verse 10), and those who surrender their freedom (agency!) will be destroyed (verse 11).

As soon as the rebels were conquered, Moroni immediately sent provisions and armies to Helaman who had been in need for so long (verse 12), as well as back to those who had held the reclaimed cities Moroni had one (verse 13).  Then Pahoran and Moroni continued the fight (verse 14), gathering provisions and weapons from those they conquered (verse 15).

This is an interesting pattern for us, as well, in how we battle the enemy line upon line.  Each area that we conquer must continue to receive “constant nourishment“, provision and attention and support enough that we can maintain that “city”, or that area of our life.  But we also move on to the next area that needs to be reclaimed – but not without also maintaining that which has already been conquered.  In this process, we take the lessons learned in other areas of our life so as to apply them to the areas that still need reinforcement.

Moroni and his men were so successful against the Lamanites that the Lamanites began to covenant not to war against the Nephites any longer (verse 16).  Those who did agree to the covenant were allowed to live in peace with the people of Ammon who had also covenanted not to use weapons of war (verse 17) (see Alma 53).

However, Moroni was ready to fight those Lamanites that would not covenant to make peace (verse 18).  The Lamanites did not want to fight because they were intimidated by the numbers of Moroni’s army and their courage (verse 19).

So at night, Moroni went to spy on the Lamanite army, and found them all asleep (verse 20).    He and his army prepared cords and ladders so they could climb down into the city the Lamanites had taken (verse 21).  They climbed down into the city (verse 22), and prepared for battle as soon as the morning light came (verse 23).  When morning came, and the Lamanites woke to find Moroni’s army already in the city, they were scared and ran away (verse 24). This gave the city back to the Nephites, without them having to battle at all (verse 26).

Moroni’s men followed the Lamanites that ran away (verse 25), and many of them surrendered so as to make the covenant of peace and join the people of Ammon (verses 27-28).  All of these Lamanites “did begin to labor exceedingly, tilling the ground, raising all manner of grain, and flocks and herds of every kind”, being self-reliant in this way – which also relieved the Nephites from the burdens of caring for the prisoners – and so the Lamanites became a free and peaceful people in the land of Ammon (verse 29).

In the meantime, Moroni continued his march to reclaim the lands taken by Lamanites (verse 30), and again the Lamanites saw Moroni coming and ran away (verse 31).  This happened “from city to city” (verse 32), until all the “armies of the Lamanites were gathered together” (verse 33).  Moroni’s armies encircled them (verse 34), and prepared for battle.

But one of Moroni’s men was angry with the Lamanite leader, knowing that he was the cause of this long war that had grieved so many (verse 35).  Instead of waiting for the authority or counsel of Moroni, he went on his own during the night – using the same cord ladder strategy to sneak into the Lamanite camp, where he found the leader of the Lamanites and killed him.  However, he had done this foolishly and impulsively, and on his own without help or authority, and so when he tried to escape, he was captured and killed (verse 36).  This made Moroni “exceedingly sorrowful”, both in his grief and in knowing that otherwise this man had been a good soldier who fought valiantly (verse 37).

The next day Moroni  and his armies did begin this great battle against the Lamanites (verse 38), after the many years of “wars, and bloodsheds, and famine, and affliction, for the space of many years” (verse 39).

As the Nephites began to be successful, they turned again to contention and dissension, which led them to more iniquity.  This was great transgression, and it would eventually destroy them.  For now, there were still righteous people praying for the protection of the people, and so the Nephites were spared (verse 40). But over time, as the righteous people pass away, or fall away, or stop praying, and as the others fail to do the work of becoming righteous, darkness will prevail over them.  We can only bind evil through righteousness, and so as the people stop becoming righteous and teaching their children to become righteous, they will be destroyed.

Because not choosing to fight (to become righteous) is choosing to surrender (their righteousness).

Some of the Nephites were softened by their afflictions and the many hard things experienced during these hard years, but others hardened themselves against what they could learn from the experience (verse 41).   The ones who were softened are the ones becoming righteous, and the ones hardening themselves against are the ones who are choosing destruction.

But that plays out over time, because it is a subtle thing we choose every day, every moment.

In the meantime, Moroni and Helaman and their armies had established peace for the Nephites again, and returned again to their homes (verse 42).  Moroni passed down the command to his son (verse 43), and Helaman returned to his preaching (verse 44).

Therefore, Helaman and his brethren went forth, and did declare the word of God with much power unto the convincing of many people of their wickedness, which did cause them to repent of their sins and to be baptized unto the Lord their God (verse 45).

They re-established the church of God in the land (verse 46), and it is by this conversion – by people living after the pattern of righteousness, by people becoming the People of Holiness – this is what establishes the church, establishes Zion, even now (see also Alma 5).

With peace in the land, the government returned to making laws and establishing regulations and choosing those to enforce the laws (verse 47), and the people began to “multiply and wax exceedingly strong again in the land.  And they began to grow exceedingly rich” (verse 48).

But the righteous were not lifted up in pride because they remembered that it all came from God, and that they had been delivered by God, and so they humbled themselves before Him (verses 49-50).

And they did pray unto the Lord their God continually, insomuch that the Lord did bless them, according to His word, so that they did wax strong and prosper in the land (verse 51).

How do you pray continually?  By remembering God constantly, in all things, and by being grateful, and by being obedient to promptings of the Spirit, so that our whole life is a conversation with the Lord.

Elder Bednar taught us how this process of praying continually is what makes us righteous.  We pray in the morning to discover what He wants us to accomplish this day, and then we go and do those things.  Our evening prayers then return to our Father, so that we can report on what we accomplished that He asked.  We also ask for chastening, so that He can improve us, and so we can repent, and so we can do better tomorrow.  Then in the morning, we ask again, and go try again.  Mortality is the very veil itself, and it is for this purpose (righteousness) that we pray (converse with the Lord).  This is how we are embraced by Him, and brought into his presence (“prosper in the land”).

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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