As Alma and his sons continued to preach the gospel, the Zoramites joined with the Lamanite armies to attack the Nephites. Captain Moroni demonstrated faith and wisdom in leading the Nephites to defend themselves against the Lamanite army. When the Lamanites faced certain defeat, they made a covenant of peace and departed out of the land for a season. After Alma gave final instructions to his son Helaman, he departed from the people of Nephi and was never heard from again. After Amalickiah and a group of Nephite dissenters began trying to gain power over the Nephites, Captain Moroni raised the title of liberty among his people.
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“When I was 18 years old, I was inducted into the military. While I had no reason to wonder about it before, I became very concerned if it was right for me to go to war. In time, I found my answer in the Book of Mormon” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ—Plain and Precious Things,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 7).
Why might President Packer have been concerned about whether or not it was right for him to go to war?
Explain that President Packer found his answer in the Book of Mormon in Alma 43. As students study Alma 43–46 today, invite them to look for truths that can guide them during times of war and other conflicts, including political and religious conflicts.
Summarize Alma 43:1–4 by explaining that despite Alma’s efforts to bring the Zoramites back into the Church, many of them joined the Lamanites and prepared to attack the Nephites.
Divide the class in half. Invite one half to silently read Alma 43:5–8, looking for the plans, or “designs,” of the Lamanite leader, Zerahemnah. Invite the other half to silently read Alma 43:9–12, looking for the design of the Nephites. After sufficient time, ask students from each half of the class to report what they found.
According to verse 9, what were the Nephites seeking to defend in addition to their families and property? (Their rights and privileges, including the right to “worship God according to their desires.” Explain that today we call this right religious liberty or religious freedom.)
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 43:18–23. Ask the class to look for what Moroni, the chief captain of the Nephites, did to prepare the people to defend their land, families, and religious liberty.
What specific things did the Nephites do to prepare for the Lamanites’attack?
What effect did the Nephites’ preparation have on the Lamanites?
Briefly summarize Alma 43:24–44 by relating that after Moroni received the Lord’s direction through the prophet Alma, he took part of his army to the land of Manti. Moroni sent spies to find out where the Lamanites were, and he had soldiers hide along the path the Lamanites would take. As the Lamanites approached, Nephite soldiers encircled them. Even though the Lamanites fought ferociously, they suffered more casualties than the Nephites did.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 43:43–47. Ask the class to look for the difference between the Lamanites’ motivation and source of strength and the Nephites’ motivation and source of strength.
What inspired the Nephites to fight even when they were outnumbered by their enemy?
What truth can we learn from these verses about what we have a duty to defend? (Help students identify the following truth: It is our duty to defend our families, our religion, and our liberties. Write this truth on the board, and invite students to consider marking the words and phrases in their scriptures that teach this truth.)
What are some ways in which we can fulfill our duty to defend our families, our religion, and our liberties?
When have you, or someone you know, chosen to defend these God-given blessings?
Summarize Alma 43:48–54 by explaining that the Nephites were inspired by Moroni and “cried with one voice unto the Lord their God” (verse 49). The Lamanites soon began to flee but were surrounded by the Nephites. When Moroni saw that the Lamanites were filled with terror, he commanded his men to stop fighting.
Summarize Alma 44:1–9 by explaining that Moroni told Zerahemnah that the reason the Nephites were victorious was because of their religion and their faith in Christ. Moroni promised that the Nephites would not harm them anymore if they would give up their weapons and enter into a covenant of peace. Zerahemnah declared that he and his people did not believe that the Nephites had been strengthened by God. He offered to have the Lamanites give up their weapons, but he refused to make a covenant of peace.
Invite a student to read aloud Moroni’s response to Zerahemnah, which is found in Alma 44:10–11. Ask the class:
Why do you think it was so important to Moroni to have the Lamanites make a covenant of peace?
Summarize Alma 44:12–20 by explaining that while many of the Lamanites made a covenant of peace, Zerahemnah rallied the rest of his men to contend with Moroni’s army. As the Nephites began to slay them, Zerahemnah saw their imminent destruction and promised to enter into a covenant of peace.
Summarize Alma 45:1–22 by explaining that the Nephites were filled with joy and gave thanks to God for their victory over their enemies. In spite of this wonderful victory, Alma prophesied to his son Helaman that the day would come when the Nephites would dwindle in unbelief and be destroyed because of their wickedness. Alma left the land of Zarahemla, never to be seen again. Helaman began his ministry by appointing priests and teachers over the Church throughout the land, and he preached the word of God with his brethren.
Invite a student to read Alma 45:23–24 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the people responded to Helaman and his brethren.
How did the people respond to Helaman and his brethren?
Why did some people refuse to listen to the leaders of the Church?
Summarize Alma 46:1–9 by explaining that those who would not heed the leaders of the Church were led by a wicked man named Amalickiah, who desired to be a king.
Invite a student to read Alma 46:10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Amalickiah sought to destroy.
What did Amalickiah seek to destroy?
According to Alma 46:16, what did Moroni pray for?
Divide students into pairs or small groups, and give each group a copy of the accompanying handout. Ask students to work together in their groups to study the scriptures and to discuss the questions on the handout.
After sufficient time, ask students to report the principles they identified in Alma 46:17–21. Students may identify several principles, including the following: If we are courageous in defending religious freedom, then we can inspire others to do likewise. Write this principle on the board.
Explain that Church leaders in our day have emphasized the need to protect religious freedom (see “Religious Freedom,” lds.org/religious-freedom). Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what we can do to defend this freedom.
“First, we can become informed. Be aware of issues in your community that could have an impact on religious liberty.
“Second, in your individual capacity, join with others who share our commitment to religious freedom. Work side by side to protect religious freedom.
“Third, live your life to be a good example of what you believe—in word and deed. How we live our religion is far more important than what we may say about our religion” (Robert D. Hales, “Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 113).
According to Elder Hales, what can we do to defend religious freedom?
Why do you think that as we seek to defend religious freedom it is important for us to be good examples of what we believe?
Testify that the Lord wants us to defend the sacred blessing of religious freedom He has given us. Encourage students to do what they can to defend religious freedom.
Summarize Alma 46:22–41. Explain that Moroni used the symbol of his rent coat to remind the people that they were descendants of Joseph “whose coat was rent … into many pieces” and who was sold into slavery by his brothers (verse 23). He traveled the land and “gathered together all the people who were desirous to maintain their liberty” (verse 28). He also had the title of liberty raised on every tower and in this way “planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites” (verse 36) and rallied the people to prevent them from being enslaved. Amalickiah and his followers realized they were outnumbered, so they went to the land of Nephi, seeking to join the Lamanites. Moroni’s army stopped most of Amalickiah’s group from reaching the land of Nephi. Many of Amalickiah’s followers entered into a covenant to support freedom. The few who would not enter into the covenant were put to death. Amalickiah and a small number of his men escaped and joined the Lamanites.
Conclude this lesson by reviewing the truths you have discussed. Invite students to act on these truths.