Moroni’s defensive preparations were vital in protecting the Nephites against their enemies. The Nephites were successful in defending themselves against the Lamanites until rebellion and wickedness among their own people began to weaken them. Morianton and the king-men sought division and stirred up contention among the people. Moroni tried to eliminate division and contention and establish peace.
Read the following scenario to your class and ask the accompanying questions (or create your own scenario and set of questions):
A young man was feeling tired but didn’t want to go to bed, so he began to search the internet. He found himself tempted to visit sites that contained pornographic images.
How did this young man’s choices make him more susceptible to temptation?
What are some other situations in which we might make ourselves more susceptible to temptation as a result of making poor choices?
As students study the preparations Captain Moroni made against the Lamanites, invite them to look for principles about avoiding and overcoming Satan’s temptations.
Explain that while Amalickiah was stirring up a Lamanite army to go to battle, Captain Moroni was fortifying the cities of the Nephites. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 49:1–7. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Nephites had prepared for future Lamanite attacks.
What had the Nephites done to prepare for Lamanite attacks?
According to verses 6–7, why were the leaders of the Lamanites confident they would be able to conquer the Nephites this time? (Because of the vast number of Lamanite soldiers and their protective clothing and armor.)
Remind students that prior to a previous battle, Moroni had prepared his armies with armor and thick clothing. This armor and clothing had helped Moroni’s armies prevail against the Lamanites, who had been mostly naked as they had gone to war. (See Alma 43:19–20.)
If you had been a Lamanite soldier, how might you have felt when you saw these fortifications for the first time?
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 49:8–12. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lamanites responded to the Nephites’ preparations.
What did the Lamanites do when they saw that Ammonihah had been fortified? (They retreated.)
Summarize Alma 49:13–20 by explaining that the Lamanite captains swore an oath to destroy the city of Noah, which had previously been a poorly defended city. Anticipating the Lamanites’ move, Moroni had prepared the city of Noah with defenses even greater than those around the city of Ammonihah, including a high bank of earth that surrounded the city. Moroni had also placed a courageous captain named Lehi in command of the city.
Invite a student to read Alma 49:14, 17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lamanites reacted when they came to the city of Noah and what they decided to do.
How did the Lamanites react when they came to the city of Noah?
What did the Lamanites decide to do? Why?
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 49:21–27. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened as the Lamanites attacked the city.
What was the result of this battle for the city of Noah?
How did the high bank of earth around the city affect the outcome of the battle?
Invite a few students to summarize what they have learned from Captain Moroni’s actions about how we can defend ourselves against the attacks of the adversary. Students may identify a principle such as the following: If we prepare ourselves, we can withstand attacks (temptations) from the adversary. You may want to write this principle on the board.
What can we do to build high spiritual walls against Satan’s temptations? (Consider listing students’ responses on the board. Answers could include participating in meaningful daily prayer and scripture study, attending Church regularly, serving others, singing hymns, doing family history and temple work, and fasting.)
How do these activities help you withstand Satan’s temptations?
Remind students of the scenario you presented at the beginning of the lesson, in which a young man was tempted to view pornography while searching the internet alone at night. (If you created your own scenario, modify the following questions accordingly.)
What preparations might this young man have made to avoid this temptation?
What could he do to avoid the temptation in the future?
Consider inviting students to respond to the following questions in their class notebooks or study journals. (You may want to write these questions on the board before class.)
How would you describe your daily efforts to strengthen your spiritual walls of protection?
Select one thing you are doing to strengthen yourself spiritually or one thing you are not doing. What could you do to increase the effectiveness of that activity to strengthen yourself against evil?
Invite a student to read Alma 49:28–30 aloud. Ask the class to look for who, besides Moroni, was laboring to protect the Nephites against the Lamanites. Emphasize that by helping the Nephites remain righteous, Helaman and his brethren were helping them receive the blessings and protection of the Lord.
To help students identify a principle in Alma 50, invite them to draw a picture of a city in their class notebooks or study journals. (Consider drawing the accompanying picture on the board as an example.)
Invite a student to read Alma 50:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Moroni directed his armies to do after they prevailed over the Lamanites at the city of Noah.
Given the success of Captain Moroni’s preparations, what additional insight can we learn from this verse? (“Moroni did not stop making preparations”; he continued to strengthen his defenses, even when there appeared to be no immediate threat.)
On the board, draw “heaps of earth” that form a wall around the city, and invite students to do the same on their drawings.
Invite students to read Alma 50:2–6 silently and to draw on their pictures the additional fortifications that Moroni directed his people to make. After sufficient time, ask students to show what they drew to some of their classmates. You might also invite a student to draw these additional fortifications on the drawing on the board. Then ask:
How would these additional fortifications have protected the Nephites even more effectively than their previous defenses?
Why do you think Moroni did not stop improving the fortifications?
What principle can we learn from Moroni’s example about improving our spiritual fortifications? (Help students identify the following principle: Because the adversary will continually attack us, we must continually improve our spiritual fortifications. Write this principle on the board next to the drawing.)
To help students appreciate the need for continuous spiritual fortification, read the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency:
“As the forces around us increase in intensity, whatever spiritual strength was once sufficient will not be enough. And whatever growth in spiritual strength we once thought was possible, greater growth will be made available to us. Both the need for spiritual strength and the opportunity to acquire it will increase at rates which we underestimate at our peril” (Henry B. Eyring, “Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, 9).
Why is it important to realize that we must continually improve our spiritual fortifications and strength throughout our lives?
To prepare students to identify another principle in Alma 50, invite them to imagine they have a friend who lives in an area where war is rampant. Ask students to consider if they think it is possible for this friend to experience happiness in spite of the chaos around him or her.
Write the following scripture reference on the board: Alma 50:18–23. Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from these verses. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what these verses teach us about finding happiness in difficult circumstances.
According to Alma 50:18–23, why were the Nephites experiencing a period of happiness?
What truth can we learn from these verses about finding happiness even amid turmoil?
One truth they may include in their answers is that faithfulness to God brings happiness, even amid turmoil. (You may want to write this principle on the board.) Help students understand that this truth applies not only to war but also to personal challenges such as financial setbacks, loss of employment, the death of a loved one, troubled relationships with family members, and natural disasters.
To help students understand this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Saints can be happy under every circumstance. We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year!
“My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.
“When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy” (Russell M. Nelson, “Joy and Spiritual Survival,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 82).
When has the Lord blessed you or someone you know with happiness in the midst of difficult times? (After students have responded, consider sharing an example from your life.)
Summarize the rest of Alma 50 and Alma 51 by explaining that Alma 50:25–40 contains the account of Morianton’s rebellion and death and the appointment of Pahoran as chief judge. Alma 51 tells about a group called king-men who tried to change the law to allow a king to rule over the Nephites. They failed in their attempt. In their anger over their failure, the king-men refused to take up arms when Amalickiah and the Lamanites came to wage war against the Nephites. According to the law, Moroni required them to take up arms or be put to death. Amalickiah’s army captured many Nephite cities and slew many Nephites. As Amalickiah sought to capture the land Bountiful, he was met by Teancum and his army. Teancum slew Amalickiah and prevented the advance of the Lamanite army.
Testify of the truths you have discussed today, and invite students to apply those truths in their lives.