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The treaty the Nephites made with the Lamanites worked for ten years. During that time, Mormon worked with the people to prepare the land and the weapons for when war would come again (verse 1). This is why Mormon was still full of sorrow when they made the treaty: agreeing to not-fight is not the same as being at peace.
The Lord told Mormon to call the people to repentance:
And it came to pass that the Lord did say unto me: Cry unto this people – Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared (verse 2).
Mormon taught the people, urged the people to repent, cried unto them the words of the Lord, but the people “did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God” (verse 3).
The people thought they had conquered it all themselves.
The people thought they had rescued themselves.
The people thought they had delivered themselves, through their own hard work and fierce battles.
They were so against God that they did not even recognize the feeling of being without His spirit; they did not even notice the difference between the His power and their own.
Ten years after the treaty was signed, the Lamanite sent a letter to Mormon, warning them that the Lamanites were preparing for battle (verse 4). Mormon responded by trying to gather the people together (verse 5), so they could fortify their land (verse 6). Mormon’s army won the battle (verse 7), and then won another battle (verse 8).
Each of these battles won were not because they were the best army. It was because God had delivered them so that they would have the opportunity to repent. But the people did not know this, and refused to believe Mormon when he tried to tell them. Instead, they began to boast in their own strength” (verse 9).
Not only did they fail to give God credit, and completely miss the purpose for being delivered from their enemies, but in boasting in their own strength they began to swear and declare they could now be the aggressors – not just defend their own land, but go against the Lamanites because they themselves were fools of pride (verse 10).
This is the moment when Mormon must “utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination” (verse 11).
Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts (verse 12).
Mormon knew that God had three times delivered the people, so that the people could repent, and three times the people had not repented (verse 13). Worse now, they have “sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (verse 14). Instead of making peace, which is the way of the Savior (verse 15), the people want to make war. They think they can make peace by force, which is Lucifer’s plan, not Jehovah’s.
Mormon refused to participate.
And it came to pass that I utterly refused to go up against mine enemies; and I did even as the Lord had commanded me; and I did stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard, according to the manifestations of the Spirit which had testified of things to come (verse 16).
This, he says, is why he writes to us, in the present day (verse 17), saying that we will all be judged according to our works (verse 18). The choices we ourselves make are the consequences we ourselves choose. These choices will be the evidence for or against us in the day we face our judges: bishops, apostles, and prophets (verse 19). This is true for all of us:
ye must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, yea, every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam; and ye must stand to be judged of your works, whether they be good or evil (verse 20).
He also writes, he says, “that ye may believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, which ye shall have among you” (verse 21). This, he says, is what it is all about: “to repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ” (verse 22).