Oil on board, 36×20 inches
May 19, 2018
Commission. In the Schneider collection.
Two sides of a divided nation meet, one seeking peace, the other seething with hate. A timely commentary on dealing with differences today.
Several chapters of the Book of Mormon tell the story of the conversion and fracturing of an ancient American nation. Brothers, recovering from their troubled past, helped a brutal king believe in Jesus Christ. Together they helped convert thousands of the king’s subjects. Thousands more, however, rebelled and sought to destroy the king and the followers of Christ. The rebels attacked, murdering over a thousand who would rather suffer death than take the lives of their brethren. Over a thousand rebels were struck in their hearts by their murders and joined the converts. The battle ended, but the conflicts continued.
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I can’t help but think this story was brought to light for us in our day, when disagreements yield the most bitter disputes and drive some to resort to almost any kind of crime to win their point. How can we avoid the consequences these ancient people brought upon themselves?
To me, the central point is found in Alma chapter 24:
20 And it came to pass that their brethren, the Lamanites, made preparations for war, and came up to the land of Nephi for the purpose of destroying the king, and to place another in his stead, and also of destroying the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi out of the land.
21 Now when the people saw that they were coming against them they went out to meet them, and prostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord; and thus they were in this attitude when the Lamanites began to fall upon them, and began to slay them with the sword.
22 And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a thousand and five of them; and we know that they are blessed, for they have gone to dwell with their God.
23 Now when the Lamanites saw that their brethren would not flee from the sword, neither would they turn aside to the right hand or to the left, but that they would lie down and perish, and praised God even in the very act of perishing under the sword—
24 Now when the Lamanites saw this they did forbear from slaying them; and there were many whose hearts had swollen in them for those of their brethren who had fallen under the sword, for they repented of the things which they had done.
25 And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they would not take them again, for they were stung for the murders which they had committed; and they came down even as their brethren, relying upon the mercies of those whose arms were lifted to slay them.
26 And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they were saved.
Eventually the missionaries took these converts into their own land, where they were welcomed and protected. They, in turn, become powerful allies as their benefactors defeated the rebels in their stead. Their children became faithful, mighty saviors of freedom we honor to this day.
The promises of peace, protection, honor, power, and more extend to us today as we love, honor peace, stand for the right, and stand our ground. There may be sacrifices, but great blessings follow.