Mormon, Chapter 3

Different ways of looking at things

Our perspective gives us a different way of looking at things than others do.  Our background (where we grew up, family life, school, past experiences, and so on), what is happening in our lives at the time, and our personalities are a few of the things that can make our perspective different than others.  When we have a different perspective, our vision or understanding of things can change.  Who we are and what we have experienced may have made us more open-minded or narrow-minded.  It may make us more responsible than others.  It may push us to look at things with our “eternal eyes” rather than our mortal, earthly eyes.  As a religious person, my perspective is heavily weighted by my belief in God and the gospel.

If we look at this chapter from different perspectives, we can understand more of the larger picture.  We have the perspective of righteous Mormon, the believer; the unrighteous Nephites, the wicked believers; and the unrighteous Lamanites, the unbelievers.  “And it came to pass that the Lamanites did not come to battle again until ten years more had passed away. And behold, I had employed my people, the Nephites, in preparing their lands and their arms against the time of battle (v. 1).  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 (v. 2).  And I did cry unto this people, but it was in vain; and they 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 (v. 3).”

From Mormon’s perspective, the Nephites had been originally driven from their lands because they were not repenting, but were living wickedly.  From the Nephites’ perspective, they were driven from their lands because they had not been prepared enough for war and were not as strong as the Lamanites.  From the Lamanites’ perspective, they had driven the Nephites from their lands, because they were stronger and better then the Nephites.  And because they had wronged them by taking what was the Lamanites’.

From Mormon’s perspective, he had been commanded to call them to repentance, to give them a chance to return to the fold of Christ and be spared.  From the Nephites’ perspective, he was commanded because he was the prophet and that was his duty (but they did not want to listen).  From the Lamanites’ perspective, Mormon was not a prophet, but just a man trying to have power over his people by possibly evil means.

“And it came to pass that after this tenth year had passed away, making, in the whole, three hundred and sixty years from the coming of Christ, the king of the Lamanites sent an epistle unto me, which gave unto me to know that they were preparing to come again to battle against us (v. 4).  And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward (v. 5).  And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force (v. 6).  And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us; and it came to pass that in that year we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again (v. 7).  And in the three hundred and sixty and second year they did come down again to battle. And we did beat them again, and did slay a great number of them, and their dead were cast into the sea (v. 8 ).”

From Mormon’s perspective, the Lord had spared them twice from the Lamanites.  From the Nephites’ perspective, the Nephites had won these battles because of their strength and wisdom.  From the Lamanites’ perspective, the Nephites had won twice probably because of luck or because they were in their own land.

“And now, because of this great thing which my people, the Nephites, had done, they began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies (v. 9).  And they did swear by the heavens, and also by the throne of God, that they would go up to battle against their enemies, and would cut them off from the face of the land (v. 10).  And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people… (v. 11)”.

From Mormon’s perspective, he had been the leader of the Nephite army for so long because he wanted to protect those things he held dear and because he knew that he was needed to lead them and give them every opportunity to repent of their ways and help them succeed over the Lamanites with the help of the Lord.  From the Nephites’ perspective, he remained the commander of the armies because he was one of the strongest men among them.  From the Lamanites’ perspective, he probably remained the commander because they did not have anyone better to step in or something like that.

“And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people because of their wickedness and abomination (v. 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 (v. 12).  And thrice have I delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and they have repented not of their sins (v. 13).”

From Mormon’s perspective, he refused to lead them because they would not repent, and were wicked.  From the Nephites’ perspective, he refused maybe because he was tired or something like that.  From the Lamanites’ perspective, he refused maybe because he knew they were going to loose the next battle and did not want to die because he was afraid or something like that.

“And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying (v. 14):  Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth (v. 15).  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 (v. 16).”

From Mormon’s perspective, the Nephites would eventually be destroyed because of their wickedness.  Mormon had seen these things come to pass by the power of the spirit, so he knew it would happen.  From the Nephites’ perspective, they would not be destroyed, but would destroy the Lamanites for killing their brothers.  From the Lamanites’ perspective, they would kill all the Nephites and take over the land because the Lamanites were stronger and better people.

When our perspective is from the side of a believer, one who had faith in God and trusts in His plan, we see the bigger picture.  We tend to see things bigger then ourselves and this life.  When we are rebelling, we see things in the ways that we can do things for ourselves and no one else is going to control us or persuade us.  When we are unbelieving, we can only focus on ourselves and this life.  I am so glad that I have the hope and faith that comes from the perspective of a believer.

What caused Mormon to love the wicked Nephites?

It is always easier to love those who love, like, or respect us because there is no opposition to our feelings.  It is easy to return an attitude or action given to us.  It is difficult to love those who hate, dislike, or disrespect us.  That is why this is the greater thing to do, because it requires hard work, faith, and obedience.

In Moroni 7:45-46 we read, “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things (v. 45).  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail (v. 46)—”.  2 Nephi 31:20 reads, “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”  Then in Mosiah 23:15 we read, “Thus did Alma teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them.”  Finally in Matthew 5:43-46 and 48 we read, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy (v. 43).  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (v. 44); That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (v. 45).  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? (v. 46) … Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (v. 48 ).”

When we have charity, which is the pure love of Christ, we endure through trying to love those we find it difficult to love; and we are kind in thought and in action, even though it may be hard.  The love we should have, is the love of God, who loves all men.  We should love all men as much as we love ourselves.  In the sermon on the Mount, the Savior taught us to love our enemies because God loves us all and we will be blessed to be more like our Father in Heaven.

Mormon no longer wanted to lead the armies of the Nephites because of their wickedness.  This was not because he did not love them for their weaknesses.  He said that he had loved them with the love of God and had prayed for them (see v. 11-13 above).  They may not have deserved his love, because they willingly disobeyed his words, but he continued to love them anyway.  I think that Mormon was able to look at the Nephites more like the way God looks as us; not as who we are, but as who we can become.  In Moroni 7:48 we read, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”  If we are true followers of Jesus Christ, we will be given the ability to have this love for all men.

The day of judgment

Who will be our judge on the day of judgment?  “Therefore I write unto you, Gentiles, and also unto you, house of Israel, when the work shall commence, that ye shall be about to prepare to return to the land of your inheritance (v. 17); Yea, behold, I write unto all the ends of the earth; yea, unto you, twelve tribes of Israel, who shall be judged according to your works by the twelve whom Jesus chose to be his disciples in the land of Jerusalem (v. 18 ).  And I write also unto the remnant of this people, who shall also be judged by the twelve whom Jesus chose in this land; and they shall be judged by the other twelve whom Jesus chose in the land of Jerusalem (v. 19).  And these things doth the Spirit manifest unto me; therefore I write unto you all. And for this cause I write unto you, that ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, yea, every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam; … (v. 20)”.  We will all stand before Christ, to be judged.  The twelve tribes of Israel who lived in Jerusalem will also be judged by the twelve disciples who were in Jerusalem.  The parts of the twelve tribes who were led to America, would be judged by the twelve that the Savior called at the temple in Bountiful.

How will we be judged?  “… and ye must stand to be judged of your works, whether they be good or evil (v. 20); And also that ye may believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, which ye shall have among you; and also that the Jews, the covenant people of the Lord, shall have other witness besides him whom they saw and heard, that Jesus, whom they slew, was the every Christ and the very God (v. 21).  And I would that I could persuade all ye ends of the earth to repent and prepare to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ (v. 22).”  We will be judged based on what works we have done in this life, and whether we believed in Christ and His gospel.  In order to prepare today, we need to repent.

I know that this is true.  I have a testimony of the atonement.  I know that without it and without the Savior, we cannot be saved.  I understand that Christ will be our judge, because he knows us.  He knows our intentions, thoughts, desires, and actions.  He knows when we have truly repented and knows when our covenants have been kept.  I have hope that when the time comes, I will have done all that I could do; that my Savior will see that, will show me his mercy, and make up for my weaknesses, so that I will be whole and live with God again.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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