Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review--Righteous Warriors: Lessons from the War Chapters in the Book of Mormon

 
The war chapters of the Book of Mormon are somewhat neglected in our Sunday school discussions.  The war chapters cover a total of 20 chapters from Alma 43 to 63, yet only two weeks of 45-minute lessons per week are spent discussing the lessons of those chapters.   Thus, a lot of good material gets skipped for lack of time.

Fortunately, a favorite teacher and writer, John Bytheway, has written a book, Righteous Warriors:Lessons from the War Chapters in the Book of Mormon, which gives these chapters a closer look.  His approach is to go chapter by chapter through Alma 43-63, giving solid insights into those intriguing stories to show how relevant they are in our daily life and how the lessons from the war chapters can help us make better choices in our daily battles against evil.

It’s just fun to see how Bytheway livens up the serious topic of war, scriptures, and the gospel.  He writes specifically to teenagers, but adults will also be pulled in.  His goofy trademark sense of humor comes out in titles and subtitles, such as “Kings Are a Royal Pain” and “Sharp Objects in Tents Can Be Very Intense” and in little observations that will make you smile, such as the following:

When the armies of the Lamanites met the Nephites in the borders of Jershon, the Lamanite armies were afraid.  Why? Because the Nephites were equipped with armor—breastplates, arm-shields, helmets, and thick clothing.  The Lamanites had plenty of weapons but no armor—only a “skin which was girded about their loins” (Alma 43:20).
I doubt that any of us would want to go anywhere in a loincloth, and I imagine that going into battle would be one of the least desirable places to be caught in such attire. Can’t you just see the Lamanites preparing for battle?
“Let’s see.  I’m going to fight today. What should I wear? Ah, the loincloth? And some sunscreen. And maybe some extra safety pins.”
Just one Nephite with a handful of sharp rocks and a good arm could cause considerable physical discomfort for the Lamanite armies. Predictably, when the armies of the Lamanites saw the Nephites with their armor, the Lamanites had a sudden change of plans and departed for the land of Manti instead. (p11-12)

 I bought this book more than six years ago, even before I started this blog (gasp) (so long ago!!), and I felt like it really jumpstarted my ability to find valuable lessons in the Book of Mormon war chapters.  His lessons really stick in the mind too.  I recall that I was very much struck by his explanation of how Amalickiah was a type of Satan when Amalickiah was trying to get Lehonti to come down off his mountain in Alma 47:

            Like Amalickiah, Satan urges us to come down from our mountains, or to leave our covenants.  When we refuse Satan’s invitations, “being fixed in [our] minds with a determined resolution” (Alma 47:6), he says, “Okay, bring your guards with you, and just come down a little.  See how subtle he is?  It’s interesting that Amalickiah invited Lehonti down three times.  Similarly, Satan tried to tempt Jesus in three different ways when the Savior was “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness,” set “on a pinnacle of the temple,” and taken to “an exceedingly high mountain”—but Jesus never came down (Matthew 4:1-11).  
            Brother S. Michael Wilcox commented on Amalickiah’s (and Satan’s) tactic of bringing his prey to lower ground while deceiving him into thinking that he was still in charge:  “’You’re in control!  I only want to talk! You have your guards!  You only have to come down a little bit!’  Amalickiah assures his victim. Lehonti, feeling secure although undoubtedly mistrustful, made his first mistake: He descended from the heights of the mountain.  In his own mind, however, he was still safe, because he was in control.”

 You’ll never read the war chapters in the same way again.

Righteous Warriors can be found on Amazon at the above link, or you can find Righteous Warriors in CD form as a talk at Deseret Book and enjoy Bytheway’s spirited delivery and charm.  

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.