Nephite Decline and Downfall

Nephite Revenge and Mormon’s Resignation

Mormon 3:11–13

Mormon, anguished because of the people’s sins, resigns as Nephite commander, and lovingly prays for his people—but his prayer is without faith, because he knows how hard his people’s hearts are.

And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination. Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts. And thrice have I delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and they have repented not of their sins.

Mormon 3:14–15

As the Nephites go to attack the Lamanites in vengeance of their losses, the Lord notifies Mormon that they will not prosper.

And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me saying:

“Vengeance is mine, and I will repay;
and because this people repented not
after I had delivered them, behold,
they shall be cut off from the face of the earth.”

Mormon 3:16

Mormon does not participate as the Nephites go against the Lamanites.

And it came to pass that I utterly refused to go up against mine enemies; and I did even as the Lord had commanded me; and I did stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard, according to the manifestations of the Spirit which had testified of things to come.

Mormon 4:1–3

The Nephite strike on the Lamanites is a failure, the Nephites are driven back to the land of Desolation, where a fresh army of Lamanites meets them—the Nephites lose possession of Desolation, and those Nephites who survive the invasion retreat to a nearby city called Teancum.

And now it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and third year the Nephites did go up with their armies to battle against the Lamanites, out of the land Desolation. And it came to pass that the armies of the Nephites were driven back again to the land of Desolation. And while they were yet weary, a fresh army of the Lamanites did come upon them; and they had a sore battle, insomuch that the Lamanites did take possession of the city Desolation, and did slay many of the Nephites, and did take many prisoners. And the remainder did flee and join the inhabitants of the city Teancum. Now the city Teancum lay in the borders by the seashore; and it was also near the city Desolation.

Mormon 4:4–5

Had the Nephites not engaged in an offensive grudge war, they would not have been defeated as they were—the Lord often uses the wicked to punish the wicked.

And it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites that they began to be smitten; for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them. But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed.