Captain Moroni is a most amazing man and he needs to get the Nephites ready for battle, so they are preparing. The first thing that catches my attention is that while they are preparing by arming themselves with swords, cimeters, and all sorts of weapons of war and making sure they all have breastplates, arm shields, helmets, and thick clothing the leader of their enemies is approaching things a little bit differently. His name is Zerahemna and he is working to preserve his troops hatred towards the enemy. He is just stirring them up. This is how he is preparing. So it is inciting versus preparing.
The first time these armies meet this is how it is described in Alma 43:20, "Now the army of Zerahemna was not prepared with any such thing; their cimeter, their bows and their arrows, their stones and their slings; and they were naked save it were a skin which was girded about their loins; yea all were naked." And then in the next verse it says,"They were not armed with breastplates, nor shields-therefore they were exceedingly afraid of the armies of the Nephites becasue of their armor." Even though their army was so much greater than the Nephites they were afraid. Isn't it interesting how if you are not prepared for something you become afraid?
I think about going to war with nothing on but a loincloth and I cringe when I think about being exposed to the heavy blows of the opposing army with nothing to protect me. And then I think about my daily life and the battle I am daily, hourly, minutely(yes, it's a word :) fighting. Who am I fighting? Satan, bless his heart. He does not want me to be happy. He does not want me to be in control. He is real and he wants me to not get back to live with my Heavenly Father again. That would make him so happy. Am I prepared to defend myself against him? Do I have a helmet, a breastplate, a shield? Or am I protected by nothing but a loincloth against mighty Satan?
A few chapters later in chapter 48 of Alma we find more descriptions of how Moroni is preparing to defend his people against the relentless, angry, fierce Lamanites. Starting in verse 7 we find that he starts by preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord. Then we read that he has been erecting forts, throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, building walls of stone to encircle them about, all round about the land. And then he finds the weakest places in the kingdom and he puts the greatest numbers of men in those spots. I sit here and I think about my weakest spots in my life the areas I struggle with. We all have them. What do we do with them? Just leave them? Maybe a little loincloth to protect them? Or are we fortifying them? Are we strengthening them? Our weaknesses must become our strengths. We need to be prepared because Satan knows what is hard for us. He knows if we struggle with telling the truth, going to church, being nice to other people, forgiving others, bad habits that control us, and SO much more. It all makes him so happy when we fail at being better. In a very passive, subtle way, so we do not see it coming he keeps at these weaknesses until we throw up our hands in despair thinking we can never get control of ourselves. Not realizing how happy it would make us to have some self control.
So while Moroni is diligently, consistently and faithfully preparing what is the leader of the Lamanites doing? He is very busy hardening hearts, blinding minds, and stirring his armies up to anger. He is obtaining power by fraud and deceit. And what happens? Well in Chapter 49 it describes it perfectly, "the leaders of the Lamanites had supposed because of their greatness of their numbers that they should be privileged to come upon them as they had hitherto done" But to their "uttermost astonishment" they were prepared for them in a manner which had never been known." Wow, wouldn't I love it if I could surprise my enemy, Satan, that way? If I could just be steadily, diligently, consistently building walls, throwing up banks of earth, works of timber, towers on top of the banks of earth so that stones and arrows can not hit me. All protected. It would take a lot of work for me to be prepared. Satan is relentless, he never gives up, he is mad at me because I have a body and he does not.
In Alma chapter 50 verse 1 it says that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war. Mind you he had been winning in a most fabulous way. He could have let his guard down. He could have chilled out for awhile but no he did not chill, he did not let down his guard he kept on preparing. That preparing thing is never over. The wars in Alma went on and on and on. I love the scripture in Alma 62:41. This is a very sobering scripture so be ready for it...it says,"For behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Lamanites and the Nephites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility." So as you are endlessly preparing to protect yourself against the enemy and going to battle everyday, facing trials and afflictions are the battles hardening you and making you bitter and resentful or are the battles softening you and humbling you and teaching you? Ugh, so much to do so little time and so much diligence required.
Onward Christian soldiers,
marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before,
Christ, the royal master
leads against the foe;
Forward into battle
see his banners go.