Fighting the Real Enemy (Mosiah 19)
Everything unravels for the evil King Noah in Mosiah 19. After his army is unable to locate Alma’s hidden group of converts, Noah’s people start fighting among themselves. During this contention, a strong man named Gideon, who is an enemy to the king, takes advantage of the situation to engage King Noah in hand-to-hand combat. Gideon overpowers Noah and chases him up a tower and has his sword drawn, ready to kill the king.
From the top of the tower, the king is able to see in the distance that the Lamanite army is approaching, entering into the Nephite land, ready to attack the Nephite people. The cowardly king uses this as a ruse to prevent Gideon from killing him:
“And now the king cried out in the anguish of his soul, saying: Gideon, spare me, for the Lamanites are upon us, and they will destroy us; yea, they will destroy my people. And now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life; nevertheless, Gideon did spare his life.” (Mosiah 19:7-8)
Why did Gideon spare the life of the evil king? Because he went to fight the real enemy — the Lamanite army. Gideon and Noah were both Nephites, so they were really supposed to be on the same team, united against the common enemy, the Lamanites. By fighting against each other, they would jeopardize the real battle against the real enemy. Gideon, who is one of the heroes of this portion of the story, recognizes this immediately and then focuses his energy on fighting the real enemy, leaving King Noah to be dealt with another day.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ today, do we know who our real enemy is?
- Is it the sister who walks past me without acknowledging me?
- Is it the brother who testifies too long?
- Is it the elder who tried to correct me?
- Is it the member who thinks he’s God’s gift to The Church?
Of course, none of the above is our enemy. We’re all on the same team, and we should be doing our best to come together to do battle against Satan, who is our real enemy. Yes, as humans, we will sometimes disagree, get on each other’s nerves, annoy each other, or even get each other angry at times. However, if we focus our energy on fighting each other, how can we expect the Lord to use us to defeat the devil and win the victory for God?
Interested in being part of the battle against the real enemy? Here’s what we need to do to be part of the army of the Lord:
Basic Training – Reading the scriptures, attending Sunday school and other scripture study meetings. All of these activities require some of our time, so they become oh-so easy to push aside since we’re all so busy in life. Sadly, as we get further away from knowing the Word of God, not only will we not know what we’re fighting for, but we won’t even know there is a battle at all!
Preparation for Battle – The army of the Lord is called together at least once or twice a week to celebrate victories, be strengthened, and receive further direction for the ongoing battle. These important sessions are otherwise referred to as church meetings. Oh, when you say it that way, it doesn’t sound so important, does it? It’s just church — I went last week so it’s OK if I miss this week, Sunday is my only day to get things done, etc. How the enemy must celebrate when our army can’t be bothered to get together to strengthen each other or when those who do attend spend the time fighting with each other and forgetting about the real enemy.
The Battle – Although there are souls to win in church, the bulk of the battle occurs outside of church. If you haven’t gone through basic training, then you may not be aware of that. Whether it’s sharing your testimony, standing up for godly principles, participating in outreach activities, or going on missionary work, there are plenty of opportunities to be part of the battle against the real enemy. However, if you’re not prepared for the battle (see previous paragraph), you won’t be a very effective soldier for the Lord.
Even though King Noah deserved to be put to death — and, in fact, was put to death later in the chapter — Gideon made the right choice by focusing his attention on the Lamanites as they were the real enemy, not his fellow Nephites. Likewise, we need to focus our attention on our real enemy, not the people sitting in the pews with us.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.