Legacy of a Dead Nation

Cumorah, The Last Stand

"I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle. And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired."Mormon 6:2-3
Cumorah has great significance to the members of the modern church as well as to Mormon and Moroni his son. Mormon took all of the records that he used for the Book of Mormon and hid them in a hill in the land of Cumorah.
General Mormon calculated the battle plans and the disparity that existed between his armies and the armies of his foes. The Nephite military suffered at the hands of the Lamanites with such intensity as the wars raged on until the last battles. Desolation was taken and the Lamanites spread through the Northern Lands like a debilitating cancer, yet Mormon returned to his post and would fight.
The king of the Lamanites at this time felt confident that his armies could defeat Mormon and saw no need to use stratagem. He boldly called them to arms as he spent almost a year preparing his armies in the south for the many campaigns that followed.

War of Offense
Nephite Final Battle

Why did the Nephite nation start to decline when it appeared it tactically had the advantage in the land of Desolation?
The answer is in the words Joseph Smith Translated of Mormon's record now Mormon 4:4 in The Book of Mormon, which state that "it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites that they began to be smitten; for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them."
The downfall of this nation came because it committed an act of aggression for the first time in almost a thousand years of existence!
When the Nephites took it upon themselves to attack the Lamanites out of vengeance, it nullified their contract of deliverance with God. Not only did this nation forswear itself and commit unholy acts, but also it dared to enforce its sins by attacking an enemy that was no more wicked than was it!
Until that point, the Nephites were still innocent of aggression. The Nephites, by doing this thing without sanction from the Lord, cast the last tie to God off saying, "We don't need you. We will avenge our dead and revile your prophets!"
In Alma 43, Mormon gives the formula for a winning military. During that time in 74 B.C., Captain Moroni headed the armies of Nephi against a different group of Lamanites who fought for Monarchy and power.
The Nephites fought for their families, liberty, and religions. They were also not the aggressors. In Alma 43:46 it reads:
And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, 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.
God himself decreed that the Nephites should not suffer themselves to be slain if they are not guilty of the first and second offenses committed against them. Mormon recorded it as a witness.
God did not instruct the Nephites to attack the Lamanites after two offenses. He instructed them to defend their lands always. Unlike the Canaanites in the old country whom God told the Israelites to destroy, the Lamanites were not to be destroyed because of the blessing that was placed upon them by God that they should remain.
When the Nephites decided to attack the Lamanites it weakened their position physically by decimating their armies. The decision put them at odds with the decree of God He gave through Father Lehi in 2nd Nephi 4 that his seed shall not utterly be destroyed.

Nephite Brushes with Preemptive Strikes

The only other times that the Nephite government sanctioned a preemptive strike that is recorded occurred between 200 and 187 B.C. when Zeniff stood insubordinate to his leader and Captain Moroni at the prisoner exchange.
  • Zeniff and his group of dissenters did not feel it necessary to carry out the order to make war and destroy through espionage the Lamanites issued by the government. For this treason, he was sentenced to death by his commanding officer. Zeniff and his men won the battle in revolt, therefore, thwarting the attempt to destroy the Lamanites.Mosiah 9
  • Captain Moroni threatened the Lamanites as an official representative of the government that his nation would seek "blood for blood, yea, life for life; and I will give you battle even until you are destroyed from off the face of the earth." Alma 54:12 .Though it was in a letter about the prisoner exchange, the threat was made but never executed.

The Children of Lehi

Lehi's seed is a mixture of the sons and daughters of Lehi and Ismael. The Natives of the Americas and the island are descendants of Lehi whether by Lamanite or Nephite blood. It is worthy to note that during Mormon's era, the Nephite and Lamanite division was not a matter of family history so much as it was politically created ethnicities.
When the Lamanites rebelled in 320 A. D., they did not do a genetic test to determine if they were descendants of Laman or Lemuel. This group of people, a mixture of all the seeds, made a conscious decision to separate from the government and form a new nation with separate customs and beliefs.
This group opposed the Gospel of Jesus Christ so much that they rebelled against it and withheld it from their children. In the final battles, the Lamanites fighting the wars were not former Christians, but the children of former Christians and no ties to Christ.
The Nephites were a mixture of the seeds of Lehi also, but did not reject the cultural ties to the church, but did reject the church and its teachings in full.
Patriotism was the call for most Nephites. The new grievance of the new Lamanites was not the same as from the beginning--that the Nephites robbed their fathers from the rightful governance of the people. Now, their excuse was pure hatred. Two groups of the mixture of the seeds of Lehi warred with each other--cousins fighting.
It is practical to believe that genealogical records were kept and families could trace their ancestry back to Lehi. Mormon records:
I am Mormon, and a pure descendant of Lehi. I have reason to bless my God and my Savior Jesus Christ, that he brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, and that he hath given me and my people so much knowledge unto the salvation of our souls. 3 Nephi 5:20
This would mean that Mormon could trace his paternal heritage back to Lehi, not that his maternal heritage also consisted of Lehi, especially since all the sons of Lehi Married the daughters of Ishmael. Mormon was most logically a mixture of the seeds of all the peoples of the Nephites with a direct paternal line to Lehi. Since other ancestral groups existed due to the Lord leading other groups to that portion of the Americas, Mormon felt it prudent to point out his genealogy. Laman, a villain in the book akin to Satan himself, could have been his ancestor as far his lineage is concerned. Because he is righteous and because how closely associated the righteous are with Nephite heritage generally people would assume that Mormon was of Nephite heritage physically. Mormon does not indicate that his lineage to Lehi is through Nephi, Sam, Lemuel, Laman (the original four brothers), Jacob or Joseph in the records available currently.

A Dead Nation

Three hundred and eighty-four years following the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, the nation of Nephites marshaling an army approximately 230,000 strong went to battle against Lamanite aggressors.
The armies of the Lamanites were not numbered. The dead of the Nephites at least numbered above a quarter-million to a half-million souls when thinking of women and children.
Mormon explains that people deserted and fled to the south to get away from the slaughter. Many of these escaped. Some even blended into the new order of things. For Mormon, his life was spent.
By this time, Mormon was in this early to mid-seventies. He fell wounded in the last great battle surviving with 24 other people--his son Moroni among them. Mormon buried the historical records in Cumorah's Hill to hide from the invading Lamanites and left out his abridgment for Moroni. He recorded his last words in that abridgment before relinquishing it to Moroni and being killed by Lamanites himself.
Mormon's last writing was to bear testimony of Jesus Christ to the seed of Lehi (and the world) in a distant time. His last etching was to testify of the peaceable things of the kingdom of God to the inhabitants of the world.
Mormon testified that Jesus was slain and resurrected to bring redemption to mankind. He testified that Jesus would usher his disciples into the heavens for eternal glory and happiness.
Mormon invited all to repent and come unto Christ through baptism and the Holy Ghost. He also testified that the book that should come from the Jews, the Bible, should be followed as well as his abridgment.
Specifically speaking to the literal descendants of the children of Lehi, he promised that his abridgment would help them know that they are of the House of Israel.
He closes,
...and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen. Mormon 7:10
From that point in the record, the prophetic and poetic words of Mormon show no more. His voice is silent as Moroni is entrusted with the survival of the life's work of so many people entrusted with the records.
Though Mormon completed the majority of the abridgment, multiples of dozens of prophets, kings and men kept the records safe for Mormon to do his work. Mormon's words have helped change the lives of millions of people in the latter-days before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All who know of Jesus Christ because of Mormon's witness through the Book of Mormon owe him a debt of gratitude. Mormon fought the fight that could not be won and stayed true to Christ to the very end. He was killed because he believed in Jesus Christ and would not deny him. The great general laid down his life at the hands of his enemies and left a legacy of faith in The Book of Mormon, which is another testimony of Jesus Christ.