By the time Mormon was in command of the Nephite forces, they had already lost their greatness. Drunk with rage and addicted to sin, the Nephites could no longer conceive of repentance, let alone their Messiah who stood with open arms to receive and heal them.
They had already passed the point of no return.
But before examining the events of that last stand at Cumorah, consider a few details about the war:
- In Mormon 1, a Nephite force of more than 30,000 men beat back the Lamanite invaders near Zarahemla.
- In Mormon 2, Mormon’s army numbered 42,000 while Aaron of the Lamanites commanded 44,000
- Toward the end of Mormon 2, Mormon’s army was 30,000 strong versus the 50,000 men of the Lamanites
The numbers of forces, when given, ranged from 30,000 to 50,000… both of which seem to be impressive numbers of forces for these nations during this time.
In the last stand of the Nephites at Cumorah, Mormon names 13 commanders including himself and his son that each commanded 10,000 men, and then adds that there were 10 other commanders (not named) which each had fallen with their armies of 10,000.
A little arithmetic shows that the forces of the Nephites for this last battle numbered about 230,000. To say this force was large is an understatement. It was an entirely different scale from any force the Nephites had used at any previous time.
And yet… this force was filled with terror as the Lamanites approached “because of the greatness of their numbers.” (Mormon 6:8)
Consider what might have motivated the Lamanites to come with so large a force that it caused 230,000 in a defensible position to be filled with terror. That type of force is not mobilized and commanded on a whim. This wasn’t a raiding party who thought they would pillage a bit and then enjoy their spoils.
Additionally, the Lamanites were unsatisfied with killing all but 24 of the Nephites. Moroni, the last survivor, describes their efforts as follows: “And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more…” (Mormon 8:7)
Something truly motivated the Lamanites to believe that it would be better for them if they assembled a innumerable army, risking life and limb, to hunt down and destroy every last Nephite. And who knows what forgotten promises were made to convince these Lamanites that their lives would only improve if their enemies the Nephites were gone.
Only… their lives did not improve.
Moroni records, “And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war.” (Mormon 8:8, emphasis added)
Certainly, the Nephites lost at Cumorah… but so did the Lamanites.
No longer able to point the finger at the Nephites, they pointed at one another. There was no victory… there was no peace… there was continual war.
Of course there are circumstances in which a great external threat must be defeated. Such circumstances were seen in Captain Moroni’s time (he had to defend against Amalickiah), in Hezekiah’s time (he resisted Sennacherib), and in various times in the history of the United States (the American Revolution, World War II).
That having been said… the greatest threat to the Lamanites was not the Nephites, otherwise they would have had peace when the Nephites were gone.
The greatest threats are individual and internal. YOU are the biggest obstacle to your betterment. YOUR lack of faith, humility, and penitence are interfering with your happiness more than anyone else’s words or actions. What are you doing to improve YOURSELF?
No wonder Jesus taught us to love our enemies. No wonder his apostles echo the same messages today. Like the Lamanites, you will find that even if you are triumphant against those who oppose you – even if you eliminate your enemies – true victory can only be realized through JESUS CHRIST.
Failure to fight the right battles in the right way will lead down the path of the Lamanites of old… who lost at Cumorah.
- Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020, November 2-8.
- “Come unto Christ – Living as Latter-day Saints” -Elder John A. McCune, April 2020
- “Keep the Change” -Sister Becky Craven, October 2020
- “Your Sorrow Shall Be Turned to Joy” -Elder Robert D. Hales, October 1983