(June 29, 2014)
I cannot believe how I have never read this chapter the way that I read it this time. This chapter completely opened up to me when I realized exactly what it was – a sermon to a people about to be destroyed. Mormon knew and understood that his people were going to be killed by the Lamanites. He knew that their days of probation had passed, and there would be no rescue. He knew that the people he was speaking to had seen others die, and had read or heard of the miraculous deliverances of Alma and Captain Moroni and Helaman. But Mormon knew and understood that this deliverance was unlikely for them.
What does he then do? He begins his sermon by reassuring the people that miracles do exist. His people needed to hear that and to believe that, because they were facing a superior foe that they had no chance of defeating on their own merits. In the face of such a situation, a sermon on miracles would both be useful doctrinally and useful for battlefield morale.
But then Mormon changes gears in his sermon, as he deviates from faith (or, rather, builds upon faith) to discuss hope and charity. And note what he does in his sermon discussing hope – he expressly points out that the hope that he is offering through Christ is not a temporal hope but an eternal hope. He is not saying that through faith they will win the war (although he concedes that it is possible however unlikely), but rather that through faith they can develop hope that all will ultimately work out for those who believe in either this world or the next – thus they can have a perfect hope.
What a sermon – perfectly created and delivered at the perfect time for a people in desperate need of it.