Monday, August 29, 2011

They fled in much confusion

In Alma 52, the Nephites use the decoy method to lead the Lamanites away from the city of Mulek. The Lamanites chase Teancum’s army all the way to Bountiful, at which they are met by Lehi’s fresh army, who takes over the battle from there. Here’s a verse that has always seemed interesting to me:
And now behold, when the chief captains of the Lamanites had beheld Lehi with his army coming against them, they fled in much confusion, lest perhaps they should not obtain the city Mulek before Lehi should overtake them; for they were wearied because of their march, and the men of Lehi were fresh. (Alma 52:28)
I don’t think the phrase “in much confusion” denotes a state of mind; there is nothing confusing about the situation; it is obvious to the Lamanites that they have just been played for fools. What “in much confusion” describes is the manner in which the army traveled—men breaking ranks and lines in order to move as fast as they can to get to safety and leaving the slower ones to fend for themselves.

The Lamanites chased Teancum’s Nephite army up to Bountiful while keeping their lines and ranks according to their leaders’ command, but as soon as they saw they were in danger, they became as undisciplined as any panicked crowd and their leaders could do nothing about it.

Later in the battle there ARE confused states of mind when the Lamanites find the rear of their army is surrendering and the front of their army is still fighting.
And Lehi pressed upon their rear with such fury with his strong men, that the Lamanites in the rear delivered up their weapons of war; and the remainder of them, being much confused, knew not whither to go or to strike. (Alma 52:36)
Captain Moroni takes advantage of their confusion and gives them a clear option to end the fight.
37 Now Moroni seeing their confusion, he said unto them: If ye will bring forth your weapons of war and deliver them up, behold we will forbear shedding your blood.
38 And it came to pass that when the Lamanites had heard these words, their chief captains, all those who were not slain, came forth and threw down their weapons of war at the feet of Moroni, and also commanded their men that they should do the same. (Alma 52:37-38)
Now, please don’t misunderstand what I am about to say. Captain Moroni is a powerful example of good leadership. However, this should not prevent us from recognizing the tactics Satan uses in our lives, which are very similar to what Captain Moroni just did. Captain Moroni saw the confusion of the Lamanites when they didn’t know what to do and he gave them an unambiguous solution—stop fighting and surrender. Satan goes one step further. He tries to induce confusion in us about our identities and roles and the purpose of our lives and when he sees we are confused, he tempts us to surrender, to forget about that exaltation stuff, and forget about ever becoming better, to forget about fighting evil anymore.

I guess what I am trying to say is that confusion makes us vulnerable. We see two different types of confusion in this story—organizational confusion and mental confusion. It looks to me like organizational confusion led to mental confusion.

In the church, if we suddenly stop listening to our leaders and start doing our own thing in spite of what they tell us, then it will result in a mass of confusion in the church organization. In that case, organizational confusion is a consequence of sin.

Mental confusion comes when we are faced with two or more compelling choices, which conflict with each other:
  • going along with the crowd versus being unpopular for following our conscience
  • giving in versus fighting temptation
  • doing what seems to be expedient in the moment versus doing the thing we have always been taught
  • pursuing short-term pleasures versus pursuing long-term goals
The opposite of confusion is certainty and order. Testimony gives us certainty that overcomes mental confusion, but even if we don’t have total certainty, we can use our faith to compensate. Then church organization brings order which overcomes social confusion. All of this is meant to help us keep fighting for what’s right instead of giving in to sin.


Curls said...

Confusion in my life almost always mean I'm doing something incorrectly, or a choice or idea I'm considering is not what Heavenly Father wants for me.

Took me the longest time to figure that out. That while there may be times I might not be sure, that overwhelming confusion is not an indication that Heavenly Father is ignoring me, rather that I'm ignoring him.

Michaela Stephens said...

Yep, I have the saaaame thing happen.

Ramona Gordy said...

I am challenged and intrigued by this post. In a word I love it. I have been studying about language,and also the "confounding" of language of a people,resulting in that people not being able to perfom.
I have found 4 scriptures that stood out to me:
The "confounding" of man is to destroy him,ruin him, essentialy sweep him off the face of the earth. To cast him down or out of the presence God.(Because without God, we are nothing).

1)Isaiah 24:6 The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant

2)Moses 6: 49 Behold Satan hath come among the children of men, and tempt them to worship him; and men have become carnal, sensual, and devilish, and are shut out from the presence of God

The resulting "confusion" has these side effects:

3)Deut. 28:29 And thou shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and thou shall not prosper in thy ways: and thou shall be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.

But God did not cause the confusion:

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of
the saints

So the Lamanites were already doomed, even from the start,even if they had "technically" won that war. The Lord had made decrees that all must obey his commandments, serve him to avoid being swept of the face of the planet. I think that the Lamanites fell into that catagory.
We know that service is more than just lip service, but service with our lives. Many have fallen,and stumbled, falling short of the glory.
Personally in my own life, when I feeling confused or overwhelmed, I don't believe its because I am being punished, but rather the Lord is working with me to "organize my self". He is helping me to "see" the events in my life and continue to make the right choices.

Thanks Michaela

Michaela Stephens said...

RGG, thanks for sharing the linkage between the ideas of confusion and being confounded. I especially appreciated your citation of 1 Corinthians 14:33. What a great principle stated so plainly: God is not the author of confusion!