I began reading from the book of Mormon, chapter 6. Historically, the Nephites and Lamanites have been at great odds with each other, often to the point of wars and bloodshed. Mormon, the great Nephite commander had tried unsuccessfully to encourage the Nephites to repent of their sins and turn themselves back to the Savior. The Nephites wanted nothing of the sort and had become much like the Lamanites, godless, cruel, and barbaric.
The Nephites and Lamanites had been involved in wars between each other for many years. At the beginning of this chapter, Mormon writes an epistle to the king of the Lamanites requesting that he will grant that Mormon can gather his people together to have battle against the Lamanites. The king grants Mormon's request.
Mormon begins the gathering in of all his people, to the land of Cumorah, where he knows this one, last, great battle of his people will take place. It takes four years for his people to come together. As he is getting old, Mormon knows his life will soon be over and takes all but a few of the plates upon which he has been writing and buries them in the side of the hill Cumorah.Then, I read the following verses and I felt real sorrow grip my heart as I read Mormon's words describing this last battle:
7 And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them. (I could picture every detail of this in my mind. I thought about the families, husbands gathered together with their wives and children, awaiting the Lamanites to come upon them. I literally felt like my heart was shattering and tears came to my eyes as I contemplated families waiting together to be murdered and slain. I could almost not continue reading, my sadness was so great.)
8 And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers. (I could not imagine how this must have felt, especially for mothers and fathers, knowing the terror their children felt, and the terror they felt for themselves. If I make this even more personal and put members of my immediate and extended family there, I felt the horror of those moments even more strongly. That word "terror" was so descriptive in what was taking place.)
9 And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war. (I have written before on various blogs how much I despise any kind of abuse, especially against women and children. When I thought upon this scene of the Lamanites coming upon the people and falling upon them with swords, bows and arrows, axes, and all other weapons of war, my soul felt crushed by the awfulness of that scene. As I thought about this in a personal context, one of having had beloved family members there and them being fallen upon with those weapons, especially the ax, I gasped out loud at how horrific the account was.)Mormon continues his account, naming the tens of thousands of people who were killed. In all, two hundred and thirty thousand Nephites perished in this great battle. Except for a few who escaped into the south countries and a few who dissented over to the Lamanites, all of the Nephites, except twenty-four people (as a math teacher, I am always interested in the "numbers". I calculated that 24 of 230,000 survivors equated to one one-hundredth of one percent, a minuscule number) were killed off. Mormon laments, cries with "anguish of soul", and grieves deeply the losses of his people. He knows only too well that all of this could have been avoided had the people humbled themselves, repented, and returned to the Savior.
Later in the chapter, I read that Mormon's son, Moroni, was one of those who survived this great battle. He takes over the writing of the records as his father is eventually murdered by the Lamanites. And, even those few Nephites who had initially escaped were later hunted down by the Lamanites and killed.
If people think there is nothing to be learned from the accounts of war and battles in the Book of Mormon, I believe they are gravely mistaken. If for nothing else then to contemplate upon the countless numbers of people who were killed simply because they left their love for and beliefs of the Savior, Jesus Christ, these accounts teach what does and what will happen to those who leave the safety of His arms and His care. That is a huge cautionary tale for all.