Leaders of integrity or infamy found in The Book of Mormon provide the fodder for spiritual growth and self-improvement. It was made for us.
One man changed his nation due to his conviction regarding freedom from oppression and freedom to worship God. Not allowing ANY person to stand in the way of keeping his people free, he dared go so far even if it meant spilling their blood. Captain Moroni is an influential character in the Book of Mormon historical drama and a pivotal spiritual leader in one ancient American nation's spiritual and political development, the Nephites.
Mormon included Captain Moroni's military/spiritual history in the Book of Mormon narrative to answer questions of loyalty, duty, freedom, and honor. This article contains the heroic perspective of what his experiences shed light to answer the question of what to do with those who do not have loyalty and duty to freedom and honor.
Setting the Cultural Stage
The best source of information about the ancient civilization is The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Read online or get a free copy. The Nephite and Lamanite nations for centuries opposed each other by the time Moroni appeared. Fratricidal bloodlust festered between the founders of the major ethnic groups as Laman and his followers accused Nephi and his followers of stealing from them the rights of leadership and several sacred objects.
God informed Laman through an angel that Nephi held the right as ruler of all the people, the legitimate leader of their people because of his circumspect character before God. Laman, however, accused Nephi of using sorcery or magic to trick him into following him. Nephi being the youngest of the group of brothers, Laman expected to rule the family and taught his followers to hate Nephi and his followers from the time Nephi stole away in the night with the records and sacred objects.
The bitterness and hatred the Nephites and Lamanites held for each other multiplied as people abandoned both sides to flee to the other. The Lamanites held a 50-year-old grudge against the Nephites when a small group of Nephite dissenters, the priest of King Noah, abducted women from the Lamanites and forced them into marriage. That caused a war.
Then those very priests of Noah joined the Lamanites to fight against their former countrymen. This group of priests and their descendants incited hatred for the Nephites among the Lamanites. As more people deserted the Nephites in disillusioned fashion for one reason or another, the stage curtains receded revealing the drama of mass aggression when a community of Nephites called the Zoramites joined the Lamanites starting another long conflict.
The Zoramites had developed their own religious traditions that excluded the poor of their community. The high priest of the Church of Christ over the people of Nephi, Alma, went to this group of people to reclaim them to the faith. After he finished teaching with his missionary companion, Amulek, the people rejected their words and cast them and those who agreed with them out of their territory.
A group of people called Ammonites in the neighboring city of Jershon offered sanctuary to the refugees to the consternation of the Zoramites. After threats and intimidation to the people of Jershon for harboring the refugees failed, the belligerent Zoramites deserted in protest carrying vitriolic social and political Greek fire with their defection to the Kingdom of the Lamanites.
Moroni's military headquarters moved to Jershon in the beginning of this new war and the people of Jershon, the Ammonites, relocated so that the Nephite military could use the city as a barracks to defend against the Lamanites and Zoramites. This is where Moroni appears in the record according to the Book of Alma, chapter 43 until he dies as recorded in Alma chapter 62.
Character of Moroni
Captain Moroni took the position of Chief Captain of the Nephite military at the age of 25. Nothing is recorded in the record about his life before he ascended to his position. Nothing is told about his personal life regarding a family. What Mormon does reveal about this captain is that Moroni was the epitome of manhood.
Of him, Mormon wrote, "if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men," Alma 48:17.
Apparently, Moroni was such a fastidious person when it came to living righteous principles that Mormon compared him to Jesus Christ in estimation.
If any person was, is, or would follow the behavior and spirit of Captain Moroni the powers of hell would be shaken! What did Moroni do to warrant that epitaph?
Satan would NEVER have power over the hearts of humanity if they all were like Captain Moroni! What makes him such a shadow of Christ?
On his first command, Moroni had the task of readying his warriors for a confrontation with the Lamanites and Nephite dissenters, Zoramites. Hypothetically, it would be like the United States fighting Russia and Alaska defects to fight the US with Russia to provide some perspective.
Not only did Moroni have to fight people that he probably associated with at one time, but also the leader of the Army that he fought was a former Nephite! In fact, all of the leaders of the Lamanite military were former Nephites. These dissenters' hatred for the Nephites preserved the Lamanites' white-hot hateful feelings. Lamanites were already culturally flammable, but the accelerant was disaffected Nephites; otherwise, the nation of Lamanites (or nations) would not have been so inclined to maintain aggression towards the Nephites without them.
Captain Moroni by Itzel-Nahomy
Moroni changed the art of war among these people. He armed his people with weapons and protective armor. Captain Moroni was an innovator.
The Nephites armed themselves with shields, breastplates, helmets and thick clothing for battle. This was uncommon among the children of Lehi. The Lamanites were virtually naked save for a loincloth and the Nephite dissenters had no armor.
The Nephites were outnumbered by the Lamanites, a possible conglomeration of many groups of people besides the descendants of Laman, who were numerous. The dissenters from the Nephites were almost as numerous as the standing army of Nephites as mentioned in the record. Moroni, therefore, had the task to think of ways to keep his warriors safe. Each death of a Nephite warrior meant a precarious situation to the Nephites. It appears as though there was a 2:1 ratio of Lamanites (including all dissenters) to Nephites.
To Defeat the Lamanites, Moroni used intelligence (spies) and strategy. He made sure to keep informed of their movements and numbers to determine how effectively to use the smaller army of the Nephites against the Lamanites.
Mormon indicated that Moroni knew the intention of the Lamanites, which was to destroy them or to subjugate them that they might establish a kingdom over all the land; And ...knowing that it was the only desire of the Nephites to preserve their lands, and their liberty, and their church, therefore he thought it no sin that he should defend them by stratagem; therefore, he found by his spies which course the Lamanites were to take," Alma 43:29-30.
God had made a promise to the Nephite nation, and for that matter, every nation that subsists upon the Americas (North and South presumably) that "Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies," Alma 43:46. Armed with that knowledge Moroni prepared his nation to defend against the more numerous Lamanite army.
In the next part of Captain Moroni's profile, the qualities that made him a follower of holiness will receive attention. The part of him that is good and wholesome is what makes him into the effective leader he was. Moroni was a rare breed of human similar to Job. These type of people stay true no matter what life throws their way. Follow the link below to keep reading.
- Captain Moroni: For God and Country
This is about the life of Captain Moroni. He was a patriot and a man of God who did not fear to fight for his country and his Faith! Part Two covers Moroni's character and honor.
© 2016 Rodric Anthony Johnson