The strength of the Lord was a miracle bestowed upon all the Nephites and Lamanites who had repented of their sins and come to Christ. Basically, it gave a person supernatural strength. It was first bestowed upon Lehi and party during their eight year walk to Bountiful, because they needed it for the long and arduous journey. When they arrived at the promised land, the strength of the Lord was again needed to protect the Nephites from the Lamanites, who always greatly outnumbered them.
The diet of the two nations
For the trip to Bountiful, the party was commanded to eat nothing but raw meat which they hunted in the wilderness. The Lord made the meat sweet to them, which was yet another miracle. At the promised land, though, they were commanded to plant seed and raise crops and animals, which they did. The party, though, soon split, with those who would come to be known as Nephites continuing to farm the land, and the Lamanites continuing to eat after the fashion of their eight-year journey in the wilderness, hunting their food and often eating it raw.
The two forms of diet had a different effect on their bodies. The farmers’ diet, which resembled our modern Word of Wisdom, made the Nephites physically weaker and less sexually charged. As a result, they had less sex, and thus produced less children than did the Lamanites. The protein rich hunter’s diet of the Lamanites, in which they drank the blood of beasts, etc., made them sexually charged and physically stronger than the Nephites. The Lamanites had lots of sex and produced children like rabbits.
The war practices of the two nations
The Nephites had no standing army. They merely went about their lives raising crops and animals, constructing buildings, mining out precious metals and other occupations of industry. They had prepared weapons of war in case they ever needed to defend themselves, but they did not train for war, nor were they supposed to. Nevertheless, they were commanded of God to defend themselves from the Lamanites even unto bloodshed.
The Lamanites, on the other hand, did not raise crops nor construct buildings. They lived in tents, like their fathers did on the eight-year trip, and they spent their time hunting and training for war. Their skill was “in the bow and in the cimeter and the ax.” In other words, the Lamanites had standing armies that were always trained for war and raiding. Additionally, the Lamanites were a blood-thirsty and ferocious people, delighting in wars and bloodshed.
The Lamanites were plunderers who had an everlasting hatred towards the Nephites, therefore, they were always the ones who attacked first. From all appearances, the Nephites were easy pickings. They were small in number, compared to the Lamanites. They were farmers who did not train for war, therefore, the Lamanites were more skilled in war than were the Nephites. And their diet made them physically weaker than the Lamanites.
Based on all of these variables, the Lamanites should have easily wiped the Nephites out.
Weaker, out-numbered and out-skilled…by design
The Lord commanded the Nephites to do these things so that He could show forth His strength in them. Despite the farmer’s diet making their bodies physically weaker, the strength of the Lord made them vastly stronger than the Lamanites. Despite not training for war, it also made them more skilled in warfare than the Lamanites. And despite being outnumbered, it caused one Nephite to be able to defeat scores of Lamanites, so much so that larger groups of Lamanites would routinely be scattered by small numbers of Nephites. In short, the Nephites became faster, stronger, more enduring, more skilled and had more energy than the Lamanites, despite the Lamanites constantly training for war.
for every man of teancum did exceed the lamanites in their strength and in their skill of war | insomuch that they did gain advantage over the lamanites
A sign to all nations
Now, this miracle was to be a sign, both to the Nephites and to the Lamanites, as well as to the Gentiles, that God was with those who repented of their sins and exercised faith in the Lord. It served to cull the iniquitous from the ranks of the Nephites, for those who went to battle who were impenitent, would not have the strength of the Lord, and would get mowed down by the Lamanites. It also served to fortify the faith of the faithful, for when they obeyed the commandments of the Lord and trusted in Him, having faith that He would give them of His strength, and then they left their farms to go to battle, they would witness firsthand that they had the strength of a God in them, that allowed them to impossibly defeat a superior force. This sign would be witnessed by the faithful Nephites many times throughout their lives, for the Lamanites would attack from time to time, and they could testify to this miracle to their children, encouraging them to put their trust entirely in the Lord and to keep His commandments.
For the Lamanites, it also served as a sign, for they also would witness, time after time, an impossible miracle, in their defeat at the hands of the weaker, less numerous Nephites. It should have caused them to stop and wonder and repent of their sins and acknowledge that the Nephites were supported by the hand of a God, but they were very set in their violent ways.
For those latter-day Gentiles (and Lamanites) who would end up reading the Book of Mormon, it would serve as a sign or a witness to which those who endeavored to establish Zion would seek. The casualty numbers for both sides of each war indicate to the reader just how impossibly powerful the strength of the Lord was. It truly fit the description of “matchless and marvelous.” For example, Zeniff’s numbers show an 11:1 ratio, meaning that for every eleven Lamanites that were killed, only one Nephite died.
The Nephites’ pride
Although the Lord intended the bestowal of His strength to develop faith and trust in Him, often many of the Nephites, after witnessing this miracle, became prideful, thinking that they could sin and God would still give them of His strength. This despite the fact that the Lord had plainly stated to them:
i will not show unto the wicked of my strength | to one more than the other | save it be unto those | who repent of their sins | and hearken unto my words |
At the end of their civilization, this pride caused their entire destruction, for they were great sinners by that time and did not have the strength of the Lord with them, nevertheless, they believed they were still invincible because the Lord still protected them somewhat from the Lamanites, that is, until they broke the final commandment of the Lord and attacked the Lamanites.
Then the Lord fully removed this miracle and they were left to themselves, a physically weaker, vastly outnumbered nation whose skills were no match for the war-trained Lamanites, who then wiped them completely off the face of the earth.
The times of the Gentiles
During our time, it has been prophesied that this ancient gift will return to all those who repent of their sins, exercise faith in the Lord and ask for it.
and it shall be said among the wicked |
let us not go up to battle against zion | for the inhabitants of zion are terrible | wherefore | we cannot stand |
They will be terrible, in part, because they will have the strength of the Lord. Unlike the ancient Lamanites who couldn’t get it into their heads that they “could not stand” against the strength of the Lord that was within the Nephites, and so kept attacking them anyway—thinking that this time they had enough numbers to wipe them out, or that this time the Nephites were spread too thin, etc.—the Gentiles, when they witness the strength of the Lord will be entirely freaked out and will desire to “sit this one out” and not attack the inhabitants of Zion.
The Gentile way
The way of the Gentiles is this: some eat a grain-based diet like the ancient Nephites, becoming physically weak like unto them, while others eat a high protein diet, like the Lamanites. Still others eat a mix between the two. In fact, you can find just about every possible type of diet among the Gentiles, for every Gentile seeks to obtain physical health, strength and beauty by his or her diet, and so many dietary theories exist based on this or that scientific finding.
The Gentiles also have standing armies, like the Lamanites did, and rely upon their armies and police forces, etc., who train for war and combat, to protect them from their enemies, using the most advanced weapons technologies that they can find, invent and afford.
Many Gentiles live a sedentary lifestyle with high caloric intake, resulting in physical obesity and lots of diseases, becoming even weaker, physically, than the Nephites. On the other hand, many engage in various physical education courses, classes and training programs to keep their bodies in as physically fit a shape as they possibly can, like the Lamanites, which also helps in conflicts. A good number of civilian Gentiles also arm themselves with additional weapons and take self-defense courses, such as martial arts, etc., again like the Lamanites, so that they can defeat an attacker.
Some Gentiles only defend themselves, like the Nephites, while other Gentiles will preemptively attack, or even pillage, like the Lamanites. Still others sometimes defend and sometimes attack, whenever it suits their purpose. Always, though, the Gentiles depend upon their numbers and war skill and weapons technology, like the Lamanites, to see them through conflict.
In other words, the Gentiles rely upon the arm of flesh.
o lord | i have trusted in thee | and i will trust in thee forever | i will not put my trust in the arm of flesh | for i know | that cursed is he | that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh | yea | cursed is he that putteth his trust in man | or maketh flesh his arm |
And thus the Gentiles are cursed.
The Zion way
The Gentiles of this day and age, who will repent and come unto Christ, will be justified, purified and sanctified, receiving a remission of their sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost, having angels minister to them, and hearing the voice of the Lord speak to them from the heavens. Such people, following the commandments of the Lord, will eat according to the dietary guidelines found in the Word of Wisdom, which will make them physically weak. This is by the design of the Lord, so that He can show His power and miracles in His people.
In this physically weakened, but spiritually strong, condition—for they have obeyed the voice of the Lord and fulfilled His dietary sayings and other commandments, becoming spiritually strong—they may now ask and receive what they will. And ask they will, even for all of the miracles that the Lord bestows upon His faithful. As the Lord has said:
and all saints | who remember to keep and do these sayings | walking in obedience to the commandments | shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones | and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge | even hidden treasures | and shall run and not be weary | and shall walk and not faint | and i | the lord | give unto them a promise | that the destroying angel shall pass by them | as the children of israel | and not slay them | amen |
It is not the diet that will give the saints the strength of the Lord, “running without being weary and walking without fainting,” for the diet makes the saints physically weak, or physically weaker than many other types of diets. It is not the diet that gives “health in their navel and marrow to their bones,” for anyone who eats after the manner of the Word of Wisdom still may, and often still does, become sick. It is the keeping and doing of these sayings, along with keeping all the other commandments, that allows a person to ask the Lord for what they will, and receive it.
Again, the Lord’s law of strength and health has nothing, whatsoever, to do with the kind of diet you eat or the kind of exercise or strength training you do. The principle is simply this: if you exercise faith unto repentance unto the remission of your sins, and continue to hearken unto the voice of the Lord, which includes these dietary guidelines, you may ask for the strength of the Lord and He will give it to you. You may ask for health and He will give it to you. You may ask for wisdom and knowledge and He will give it to you. And so on and so forth.
All of these things are intended to be miracles, which operate on faith, not the natural outgrowth of a superior diet and exercise regime. The strength you will get will be supernatural strength, the health, supernatural health, the wisdom, supernatural wisdom, and the knowledge, supernatural knowledge. It is meant to be a miracle.
The LDS are weak-bodied, weak-minded, fools
The LDS have misunderstood the Word of Wisdom. They have thought that the Lord has given them a superior diet which would produce superior physical specimens. He hasn’t and it doesn’t. They have thought that by merely obeying certain parts of the diet, the “thou shalt nots,” that the Lord would give them health and strength. Others have thought that if they obeyed both the “thou shalt nots” as well as the “thou shalts” of the sayings, that they would get the promised blessings of strength, health, wisdom and knowledge, yet still the promises have remain unfulfilled. Still others try to twist the revelation into a scriptural support for their current dietary lifestyle. If they are vegetarians, they stress the “sparingly” clause of the meat. If they are meat-eaters, they claim the comma is misplaced in that clause.
Still others look at the Word of Wisdom with the wisdom of the world in their minds and realize that such guidelines will not produce the best results. And they wonder, “How on earth could this be inspired of God?” So, they come to the conclusion that the Word of Wisdom is a lower law, and thus that the health guidelines they have learned from the nutritionists are higher laws. And on and on go the rationalizations, the end result being the production of weak-bodied and weak-willed fools.
Weak-bodied, because scripturally, all physical bodies of men that do not have the strength of the Lord are considered weak.
and they saw | that they had become weak like unto their brethren | the lamanites |
for behold | they saw that the strength of the lamanites was as great as their strength | even man for man | thus had they fallen into this great transgression | yea | thus had they become weak | because of their transgression | in the space of not many years |
Weak-willed, because strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness is required to obtain the strength of the Lord, through repentance of all one’s sins, and the LDS do not “look unto the Lord, as they ought” (1 Ne. 15:3.) They look to the Word of Wisdom diet, not to the Lord, to obtain the blessing.
Fools, because they have misunderstood the Word of Wisdom, thinking it comes under natural, and not supernatural, law. In other words, they have assigned a natural result to it. They expect the strength, health, wisdom and knowledge of men to be the result of complying with this law. They do not expect anything superhuman or supernatural to come from keeping its sayings. (If you don’t believe me, look at any General Conference talk on the Word of Wisdom. All blessings that are thought to come of it are based upon natural consequences of obeying its divinely revealed, “natural laws of health.”)
Now, I do not exclude myself from that company of fools. Until I just now typed out these words, in this very essay, I myself understood it as a natural law begetting natural results. But now I know otherwise and clearly see that I was wrong. It is a supernatural law given to produce, or show forth, supernatural results, by the faith of the people trusting in their Lord and asking Him for these miracles.
How to obtain the strength of the Lord
The first step is walking through the gate, namely, exercising faith unto repentance and receiving a remission of sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. At this point, you can speak with the tongue of angels, shout praises to the Holy One of Israel by the power of the Holy Ghost, and worship the Father in the name of the Son with “clean hands and a pure heart.” (See 2 Ne. 25:16 and Alma 5:19.)
The second step is to keep the commandments of God, including the Word of Wisdom sayings, continuing in constant prayer and fasting to retain a remission of sins from day to day.
The third and final step is merely to ask God for His strength, for once you are “purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done” (D&C 50:29.)
But what of my [fill in the blank] regime?
Like the Nephites of old, who didn’t need a special type of superior diet, or special training, or special weaponry (the common weapons of the day sufficed), or special anything, to defeat the Lamanites, so the modern Gentile does not need to change the Lord’s instructions, neither adding to nor subtracting from them, to obtain His strength. No strength or military or defense training is required. Nor are dietary supplements needed. There is no need to alter the Word of Wisdom, at all. It is a very simple process: ask and ye shall receive, after ye have become purified by exercising faith in Christ, repenting and receiving a remission of all your sins.
Even after writing this, I am certain there will be those who will object based upon soil nutrient depletion (requiring supplementation) or who will claim that relying upon their particular diet or self defense/strength training does not disqualify them from receiving the strength of the Lord, so, let me be very clear on this point: you must rely wholly upon the merits of Christ to receive of His strength. If you attempt to rely partially on God and partially on your own strength, through dietary modifications and/or defense/strength training, the Lord will leave you to yourself, to defend yourself by your own arm of flesh.