After retaking their lands from the Lamanites, the Nephites again prepared for battle. Mormon pled with the Nephites to repent; instead, they boasted in their own strength and swore to avenge their fallen brethren. Because the Lord had forbidden His people to seek revenge, Mormon refused to lead their army, and they were defeated. As the Nephites persisted in wickedness, God poured out His judgments upon them and the Lamanites began to sweep them from the earth. Eventually, Mormon returned to lead the Nephites in battle, but because they refused to repent, they were destroyed by the Lamanites. Mormon lamented their fall and their unwillingness to return to Jesus Christ. He prophesied that the record of the people would come forth in the last days, and he encouraged those who would read it to repent and prepare for their own judgment before God.
Have you ever felt that the Lord wanted you to change something in your life? Do you think He has encouraged or helped you to change something in your life without you realizing it?
During Mormon’s time, the Nephites often failed to realize or appreciate how the Lord was influencing their battles with the Lamanites. After the Nephites made a treaty with the Lamanites and Gadianton robbers, the Lord let them experience 10 years without conflict. During those years they prepared physically for coming attacks (see Mormon 2:28; 3:1).
Read Mormon 3:2–3, and look for a more important way in which the Lord wanted the Nephites to prepare themselves for the Lamanite attacks. How did the Nephites respond? According to Mormon 3:3, why had the Lord spared the Nephites in their recent battles despite their wickedness? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
As recorded in Mormon 3:4–8, the Lord protected the Nephites twice more in battle. One doctrinal truth we can learn from the Lord’s dealings with the wicked Nephite nation is that in His mercy, the Lord gives us sufficient opportunities to repent of our sins. These opportunities are evidence of God’s patience and kindness and of His desire that all of His children live in such a way as to qualify for the full blessings of the Atonement.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal (you may answer them in your personal journal if the answers are sacred or confidential):
How has the Lord encouraged you to repent and given you opportunities to do so? What does this teach you about His character?
What can you do to keep from ignoring or hardening your heart against this encouragement, as the Nephites did in Mormon 3:3?
Opportunities and invitations from the Lord to make changes in your life may come more often than you might realize. For example, they may come when you partake of the sacrament or when you feel a prompting from the Holy Ghost to improve yourself or to serve others. As you look for those opportunities and respond by making changes promptly, you will invite the Lord’s redeeming power into your life. To help you understand the Nephites’ resistance to the Lord’s attempts to reach them, read Mormon 3:9–10 and look for how they acted in response to their multiple victories over the Lamanites. (As you read, it might be helpful to know that the word avenge in verse 9 means to get revenge for an injury.)
How did the Nephites respond following their victories over the Lamanites? Read Mormon 3:11–13, and find Mormon’s response to the army’s oath to seek vengeance (revenge).
Mormon had been leading the Nephite armies for over 30 years, despite their blatant wickedness. What does Mormon’s refusal to lead the army at that time teach us about the seriousness of seeking vengeance? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Read Mormon 3:14–16, and mark phrases that express what the Lord taught Mormon about revenge (or seeking vengeance). One truth we learn from these verses is that the Lord forbids us to seek revenge.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Have you ever wanted to seek revenge or get back at someone for something that person did to you? Why do you think this is a dangerous or poor response? Who do you think would be most harmed by your seeking revenge?
Why should we leave judgment and vengeance in the Lord’s hands instead of taking it upon ourselves?
Although we may know we should lay aside feelings of vengeance and have the desire to do so, it can often be challenging to overcome these feelings when they arise. As you read the following counsel from President James E. Faust of the First Presidency, underline phrases that help you know what you can do to overcome feelings of vengeance when you encounter them:
“We need to recognize and acknowledge angry feelings. It will take humility to do this, but if we will get on our knees and ask Heavenly Father for a feeling of forgiveness, He will help us. The Lord requires us ‘to forgive all men’ [D&C 64:10] for our own good because ‘hatred retards spiritual growth’ [Orson F. Whitney, Gospel Themes (1914), 144]. Only as we rid ourselves of hatred and bitterness can the Lord put comfort into our hearts. …
“… When tragedy strikes, we should not respond by seeking personal revenge but rather let justice take its course and then let go. It is not easy to let go and empty our hearts of festering resentment. The Savior has offered to all of us a precious peace through His Atonement, but this can come only as we are willing to cast out negative feelings of anger, spite, or revenge. For all of us who forgive ‘those who trespass against us’ [Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:13], even those who have committed serious crimes, the Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort” (“The Healing Power of Forgiveness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 69).
Ponder how you might apply this counsel to let go of any grudges, anger, or unkind feelings that you may have toward others.
After refusing to lead the Nephite armies, Mormon turned his attention to writing for those who would read his words in the last days. He wanted each of us to repent and prepare to “stand before the judgment-seat of Christ” (see Mormon 3:18–22).
Read Mormon 4:1–2, and look for what happened to the Nephite army as they sought revenge upon the Lamanites. Read Mormon 4:4, and look for why the Nephite armies did not prevail (win). Read Mormon 4:5, and identify any truths about the results of persisting in wickedness. What did you find? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
One of the truths you may have seen is that the judgments of God will overtake the wicked. Often “it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished” (Mormon 4:5). The wicked reject God’s help and refuse to seek His divine protection. Read Mormon 4:11–14, 18, and look for how the judgments of God were poured out on the Nephites.
In your scripture study journal, answer the following questions:
In your opinion, what is the saddest part of the Nephite situation in Mormon 3–4?
How might the doctrines or truths you have studied so far today be related to each other? (Consider the relationship between repentance, revenge, and the judgments of God.)
Ponder what the Lord would have you do to apply these truths.
Is there a difference between the sorrow that might accompany the death of someone who has been living a righteous life and someone who died living wickedly? What do you think the difference is?
After more than 13 years of refusing to lead the Nephite armies, Mormon again took command. However, he led them without hope because the people refused to repent and call on the Lord for His help. After repelling a few waves of Lamanite attacks, the Nephites fled. Those who could not flee quickly enough were destroyed. Mormon wrote a letter to the king of the Lamanites requesting that he allow time for the Nephites to gather for one final battle (see Mormon 5:1–7; 6:1–6).
Read Mormon 6:7–11, and try to understand Mormon’s sorrow as he witnessed the destruction of his people. Why do you think death can be fearful to those who are living wickedly? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Ponder whether there is anything the Lord wants you to repent of right now in your life. You may want to write about this in your personal journal and set goals to accomplish it.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Mormon 3–6 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: