Basically this chapter is Amalickiah, the wicked king, trying to take over and defeat the lands of the Nephites. Because the Lamanites had already defeated the land of Ammonihah once, they decided to go back there again. Couldn't be any harder the second time right? Wrong! Moroni was way too smart for the Lamanites. The people of Amalickiah had even prepared themselves for this war with shields and breastplates and garments of skins to cover themselves for battle. With that and their dramatically larger army, you would think that they had the advantage. But being on the Lord's team will always leave you with the advantage my friends. So the Lamanite army gets to the land of Ammonihah and is "astonished" to see what the Nephites had done.
"They supposed that they should easily overpower and subject their bretheren to the yoke of bondage, or slay and massacre them according to their pleasure.
"But behold, to their uttermost astonishment, they were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been known among the children of Lehi." (7-8)
Moroni had prepared the land with trenches and high walls so that the Lamanites had no way to enter or to attack from the outside. The Lamanites, being frustrated, decided to try going to the land of Noah. And to their great astonishment, the land of Noah had also been prepared with walls and trenches. Because the Lamanites had no way to attack, they tried to climb over the walls or do whatever it took to get into the land to fight. But the Nephites, having higher ground to stand on, were able to defend themselves and keep their land safe. At the end, more than a thousand Lamanites were killed while only 50 Nephites were wounded. The Lord expects His people to stand on higher ground. He is preparing us to fight our battles against our own Lamanites. Are we willing to follow him?
Moroni fortifies all the lands of the Nephites. He did not stop preparing his people to defend themselves and their land. He put up dirt walls, timbers, pickets, and towers to secure the land from the stones and arrows of the Lamanites (vs. 1-5). In our lives, we all have a city or a family to protect from outside "arrows" (or bad things). Are we willing to do the work to put up security? Do we equip ourselves with scripture reading and prayer (dirt walls), faith (timbers), following the commandments (pickets), and listening to our prophet and other leaders (towers) so that we can stand on higher ground? Do we have arrows (our own personal testimony of truth) to send back when others are shooting their own arrows towards us? What are we willing to do?
Because the people of God were willing to put in the work to protect themselves, to stand on higher ground, they were inviting the Lord to be on their team. And the Lord's team is always the winning team.
"And thus we see how merciful and just are all the dealings of the Lord, to the fulfilling of all his words unto the children of men; yea, we can behold that his words are verified, even at this time, which he spake unto Lehi, saying:
"Blessed art thou and thy children; and they shall be blessed, inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall prosper in the land. But remember, inasmuch as they will not keep my commandments they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord." (vs. 19-20)
This promise given to Lehi over 500 years before this verse was written brings so much peace and truth. The Lord has proven over and over again that He will deliver His righteous children. Yeah, death and war still occurred and persecution was still eminent, but, as a whole, the righteous have continually been delivered throughout the Book of Mormon. And so it is today. The righteous will continually be delivered.
This chapter continues to teach us the mistakes of the righteous. The land of Lehi and the land of Morianton get in a little tizzy over the boundaries. Threats and war are announced and Moroni is forced to intervene. Don't let the little things get to you! Don't immediately turn to war when the going gets tough. We all have issues that could use resolvement. Let the Lord carry you through. Let Him carry you through.
I am so grateful for the scriptures and for the lessons I can learn as I follow the command to "liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning" (1 Nephi 19:23). As we build up our defense and stand on higher ground, the Lord WILL bless us!
Until next time (Alma 51-52)!