In these chapters we read about Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty. We find the story of Amalickiah and Lehonti; Amalickiah being a man of deception and murder, Lehonti being poisoned by degrees. These men are in opposition to the mighty Moroni--you cannot overlook the verses about such a man and the cause for which he was the guiding force for good:
Alma 48:7, 10-13, 16-17
"7Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.
10And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians.
11And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
13 Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
16 ... and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.
17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.
These scriptures are often discussed in the church and are familiar to many of us. However, there is a reason for that! We all need good examples and heroes that give us hope and strength and a standard to live by. This example is one of the best!
I love the several references throughout these chapters to the people of the church being Christians. I have heard of so many people who claim that we, as Latter-day Saints, are not Christians. Yet everything about our church qualifies us for that title. What better example do we have than the people of the Book of Mormon who gave their lives in defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And added to the testimonies of those ancient Christians are the lives of our ancestors who crossed the plains in wagons and handcarts to the Salt Lake Valley less than two hundred years ago. Our very own Christian pioneers have proved us to be true believers and followers of Christ through their steadfast faith and determination. Each of us add our own signature to the rosters of our Christian brothers and sisters every day as we participate in all our activities--whether it be in our wards, our schools, our churches, our offices, our cars, our playgrounds, our libraries, our courthouses, our grocery stores, our streets, our emails, our facebook posts, or in any of our vast and varied roles. We are Christians. We can prove it. And we must prove it in the strength of our character and the quality of our lives.
Here is an excellent quote from Elder Robert D. Hales in a talk entitled "That is True Christian Courage."
"In the Book of Mormon, we read about Lehonti and his men camped upon a mount. The traitorous Amalickiah urged Lehonti to “come down” and meet him in the valley. But when Lehonti left the high ground, he was poisoned “by degrees” until he died, and his army fell into Amalickiah’s hands (see Alma 47). By arguments and accusations, some people bait us to leave the high ground. Sometimes others want us to come down off the high ground and join them in a theological scrum in the mud. These few contentious individuals are set on picking religious fights, online or in person. We are always better staying on the higher ground of mutual respect and love.
To ... all who seek to know how we should respond to our accusers, I reply, we love them. Whatever their race, creed, religion, or political persuasion, if we follow Christ and show forth His courage, we must love them. We do not feel we are better than they are. Rather, we desire with our love to show them a better way—the way of Jesus Christ. His way leads to the gate of baptism, the strait and narrow path of righteous living, and the temple of God. He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Only through Him can we and all our brothers and sisters inherit the greatest gift we can receive—eternal life and eternal happiness. To help them, to be an example for them, is not for the weak. It is for the strong. It is for you and me, Latter-day Saints who pay the price of discipleship by answering our accusers with Christian courage."
To me, much of these chapters are all about preparation. Moroni prepared the hearts and minds of the people. He prepares their cities and their armies. He leaves nothing unguarded and fortifies every weakness. Then when the enemy comes to attack: "the chief captains of the Lamanites were astonished exceedingly, because of the wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security (Alma 49:5)." "Thus they were prepared" (49:20) and "had all power over their enemies" and "there was not a single soul of the Nephites which was slain (49:23)." Then the people give thanks to God for delivering them from the hands of their enemies (49:28). They gave heed to the word of the Lord and they prospered (49:30). In my scriptures I wrote "What can I do to astonish my enemy (Satan)." What preparations am I making?
Here is one more little treasure from Elder Hales. This video is a CES fireside he gave that refers to this same story of Lehonti again. When you have a few minutes to watch...enjoy!