25 July 2014

Alma 24: Bright Swords

If you remember from the last chapter, the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s were doing pretty good for themselves. But, (in the Book of Mormon) if things are going well, you can bet that war is just around the corner. The local Amalekites, Amulonites, and Lamanites who had not converted began to rebel against the king, and to “take arms against” the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. (I suppose you could call them Anti-Anti-Nephi-Lehis!)

And it came to pass that the Amalekites and the Amulonites and the Lamanites who were in the land of Amulon, and also in the land of Helam, and who were in the land of Jerusalem, and in fine, in all the land round about, who had not been converted and had not taken upon them the name of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, were stirred up by the Amalekites and by the Amulonites to anger against their brethren. Alma 24.1
And their hatred became exceedingly sore against them, even insomuch that they began to rebel against their king, insomuch that they would not that he should be their king; therefore, they took up arms against the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. 24.2

I guess the king was pretty intimidated by these rebels, because he decided to abdicate the throne and pass off his problems to his son. His son was pretty into the struggle, though, so maybe it was a good choice. He even changed his name to Anti-Nephi-Lehi. That must have made for some strange dinner parties. “Have you met my son, Anti-Nephi-Lehi?”

Now the king conferred the kingdom upon his son, and he called his name Anti-Nephi-Lehi. 24.3

But it didn’t matter a whole lot, either way. Turns out the king died the same year.

And the king died in that selfsame year that the Lamanites began to make preparations for war against the people of God. 24.4

When Ammon and his buddies had heard about the Lamanite’s battle preparations, they decided to rally their troops in the land of Midian, and then hold a war council in the land of Ishmael.

Now when Ammon and his brethren and all those who had come up with him saw the preparations of the Lamanites to destroy their brethren, they came forth to the land of Midian, and there Ammon met all his brethren; and from thence they came to the land of Ishmael that they might hold a council with Lamoni and also with his brother Anti-Nephi-Lehi, what they should do to defend themselves against the Lamanites. 25.5

But there was a problem. Not a single one of their new converts (The Anti-Nephi-Lehis) would fight. Not even to save their lives. They were just too damn enlightened. Mr. Anti-Nephi-Lehi gave a speech explaining all about how their sins had been washed away, and they didn’t want to sin any more. He spoke at length about how their swords had been washed clean by the blood of God, and how he didn’t want to stain them again with the blood of his brethren. He said that even if the Lamanites were going to kill them, they would bury their swords deep in the earth and not use them to defend themselves.

Now there was not one soul among all the people who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war; yea, and also their king commanded them that they should not. 24.6 
Now, these are the words which he said unto the people concerning the matter: I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us, and to convince us of the traditions of our wicked fathers. 24.7 
And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts, that we have opened a correspondence with these brethren, the Nephites. 24.8 
And behold, I also thank my God, that by opening this correspondence we have been convinced of our sins, and of the many murders which we have committed. 24.9 
And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son. 24.10 
And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain— 24.11 
Now, my best beloved brethren, since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren. 24.12 
Behold, I say unto you, Nay, let us retain our swords that they be not stained with the blood of our brethren; for perhaps, if we should stain our swords again they can no more be washed bright through the blood of the Son of our great God, which shall be shed for the atonement of our sins. 24.13 
And the great God has had mercy on us, and made these things known unto us that we might not perish; yea, and he has made these things known unto us beforehand, because he loveth our souls as well as he loveth our children; therefore, in his mercy he doth visit us by his angels, that the plan of salvation might be made known unto us as well as unto future generations. 24.14 
Oh, how merciful is our God! And now behold, since it has been as much as we could do to get our stains taken away from us, and our swords are made bright, let us hide them away that they may be kept bright, as a testimony to our God at the last day, or at the day that we shall be brought to stand before him to be judged, that we have not stained our swords in the blood of our brethren since he imparted his word unto us and has made us clean thereby. 24.15 
And now, my brethren, if our brethren seek to destroy us, behold, we will hide away our swords, yea, even we will bury them deep in the earth, that they may be kept bright, as a testimony that we have never used them, at the last day; and if our brethren destroy us, behold, we shall go to our God and shall be saved. 24.16
So that’s what they did. All of the Anti-Nehpi-Lehis gathered together and buried their swords DEEP in the ground. So deep, in fact, that no archeologist has ever found a single one from that era! They must have had some great shovels.
And now it came to pass that when the king had made an end of these sayings, and all the people were assembled together, they took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man’s blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth. 24.17
But all of this peace-loving hippy nonsense didn’t stop the Lamanites from fighting. They finished their war preparations and then marched on the Anti-Nephi-Lehis.
And it came to pass that their brethren, the Lamanites, made preparations for war, and came up to the land of Nephi for the purpose of destroying the king, and to place another in his stead, and also of destroying the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi out of the land. 24.20
But, true to their word, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis didn’t resist. They called out to God and prostrated themselves on the ground, even as the Lamanites started to stab them with swords.
Now when the people saw that they were coming against them they went out to meet them, and prostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord; and thus they were in this attitude when the Lamanites began to fall upon them, and began to slay them with the sword. 24.21
The Lamanites saw the Anti-Nephi-Lehis as easy pickins, and started just slaughtering them one after another. After killing a bunch of them they became really weirded out by the whole thing. Why weren’t they fighting back at all? The Lamanites started feeling really guilty, and they threw down their weapons after killing 1,005 of them. They even started repenting about the people they had killed.
And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a thousand and five of them; and we know that they are blessed, for they have gone to dwell with their God. 24.22
Now when the Lamanites saw that their brethren would not flee from the sword, neither would they turn aside to the right hand or to the left, but that they would lie down and perish, and praised God even in the very act of perishing under the sword— 24.23
Now when the Lamanites saw this they did forbear from slaying them; and there were many whose hearts had swollen in them for those of their brethren who had fallen under the sword, for they repented of the things which they had done. 24.24

And the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi ended up converting a lot of the opposing team. What a tactic! I doubt that there has ever been as impressive of a display of nonviolent resistance achieving it’s goals. And the cost wasn’t too great, because obviously the slain Anti-Nephi-Lehis went straight to heaven. I bet they even got 72 virgins and their own planet!
 And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they would not take them again, for they were stung for the murders which they had committed; and they came down even as their brethren, relying upon the mercies of those whose arms were lifted to slay them. 24.25 
And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they were saved. 24.26 
And there was not a wicked man slain among them; but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people. 24.27
But they didn’t manage to convert any Amalekites or Amulonites, or any of the people of the order of Nehor. Those guys were just way too wicked. In fact, most of the 1,005 dead Anti-Nephi-Lehis were killed by those guys. All of the people who converted were Lamanites--direct decsendants of Laman and Lemuel.
Now the greatest number of those of the Lamanites who slew so many of their brethren were Amalekites and Amulonites, the greatest number of whom were after the order of the Nehors. 24.28
Now, among those who joined the people of the Lord, there were none who were Amalekites or Amulonites, or who were of the order of Nehor, but they were actual descendants of Laman and Lemuel. 24.29
Because, as we can plainly see, if someone is good and then becomes bad, they are worse than people who are just bad from the start. Why? Because...you know... they just are.
And thus we can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things. 24.30

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