August 22, 2013 by FHElessons
(found in Mosiah 11–17 in the Book of Mormon)
from lds.org gospel library
Although Zeniff was a righteous ruler, his son, King Noah, was the opposite. “He had many wives and concubines, and he did cause his people to commit sin and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord” (Mosiah 11:2). He also laid a heavy tax on the people to support his own indulgences and dismissed his father’s righteous priests so that he could instate his own lazy and idolatrous ones. The Book of Mormon devotes a page and half to describing all the ways in which Noah was a bad king and a wicked man, which is a lot considering that the pages were first written by chiseling the words into metal plates and then were whittled down to include only the most important information.
In the midst of all this wickedness Abinadi came forth to prophesy. Abinadi didn’t necessarily want to go into the middle of people who were committing sin and tell them that what they are doing is wrong, but he went because the Lord commanded him to go. He went to warn the people that if they did not repent, bad things would happen. He went to let them know that there was a way for them to avoid being conquered by their enemies and subjected to bondage.
Of course, Noah was not only one of the chief proponents of all the wickedness, he was also the king, and, as such, he had a lot of clout. His response was, “Who is Abinadi, that I and my people should be judged of him, or who is the Lord, that shall bring upon my people such great affliction?” Not only did Noah think himself better than Abinadi, he thought himself better than God. He commanded the people to bring Abinadi before him so that he could kill Abinadi. Now you would think that if it was only Noah who was wicked but that the people were righteous, that they would refuse to bring an innocent man to his death. But it says, “the eyes of the people were blinded,” so they “sought from that time forward to take him.”
Because Abinadi was a wanted man, he stayed away for two years. I’m sure he had no desire to go back and preach some more to people who wanted to kill him, but the Lord commanded him to do so. He went back in disguise and began to prophesy again. The Lord told him to tell the people that if they did not repent, their consequences would include the following: They would be smitten with sore afflictions, famine, and pestilence. They would be brought into bondage, smitten and driven by men, and they would be slain and then eaten by dogs, vultures, and wild beasts. They would have burdens lashed upon their backs and be driven like beasts of burden. There would be hail and insects sent to destroy their crops. Finally, the Lord would utterly destroy them off the face of the earth. Extremely. Dire. Consequences.
Did the people listen? Did they fear the wrath of the Lord and decide to repent? No. They were angry. They carried Abinadi before the king and complained about him. They boasted in their own strength and felt that they were invincible.
King Noah cast Abinadi into prison while he and his priests counseled about what to do. Since they didn’t have any real crimes to charge him with, they decided to cross examine him to see if they could get him to slip up and say something criminal. But “he answered them boldly, and withstood all their questions, yea, to their astonishment” (Mosiah 12:19). One of the priests asked Abinadi to interpret a passage of Isaiah for them. I think the reason he asked is because the passage mentions that a person who brings good tidings is blessed. The priest was subtly saying that Abinadi was bringing bad news to them, which wasn’t welcome. If he wanted people to like him, he should bring good news instead. I imagine all the priests laughing amongst themselves at their own cleverness of condemning Abinadi with one of his own, precious scriptures. But Abinadi’s response threw it right back in their faces. He said, “Are you priests, and pretend to teach this people, and to understand the spirit of prophesying, and yet desire to know of me what these things mean?” (Mosiah 12:25) He told them that they were supposed to be priests, which meant that they were the ones who were supposed to understand the scriptures and interpret them for the people. They should not have been asking him to interpret a scripture for them. They should have been the ones who were righteous and hearing the voice of the Lord and calling the people to repentance. They should have been wise, teaching the people righteousness. He admonished them for committing sin themselves and for causing the people to sin as well. Finally, he reminded them of the commandments and promised that if they kept the commandments, they could be saved.
At this point King Noah decided that Abinadi must be crazy. (It’s crazy to want to keep the commandments, right?) He told his guards to take the crazy man away. But Abinadi was full of the Spirit of the Lord. He rebuked them with, “Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver.” Abinadi knew that the Lord would protect him until he had completed his mission. “The people of king Noah durst not lay their hands on him, for the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and his face shone with exceeding luster” (Mosiah 13:5). As Abinadi continued to preach, reminding them of all the commandments and prophesying of Jesus Christ, he said, “I perceive that it cuts you to your hearts because I tell you the truth concerning your iniquities” (Mosiah 13:7).
In the end, Abinadi did interpret that afore-mentioned Isaiah passage for the priests. The person who is blessed for bringing good tidings is the one who testifies of Christ. The Book of Mormon records more than five straight pages of Abinadi prophesying and testifying of Jesus Christ. When he finally finished his message, King Noah commanded that Abinadi be put to death.
One of King Noah’s priests was named Alma. He was a young man, but he knew of the wickedness which Abinadi talked about, probably because he had participated in it. He believed Abinadi’s words, and he pled with the king to let Abinadi go. This only made the king angrier. He cast Alma out, and then sent servants after him to kill him. But Alma was able to flee and hide, and he spent his days in hiding writing all the words that Abinadi spoke.
King Noah cast Abinadi back into prison so that he and his priests could counsel together to try to find a charge against him. They decided that he had committed blasphemy by saying that God Himself would come down to Earth to atone for the sins of man. King Noah told Abinadi that he would be put to death unless he would recant, but Abinadi refused to recall his words because he had spoken the truth. He warned them that if they killed him, his blood would stand as a witness against them at the last day. This did worry King Noah a little. He knew he was doing murder if he killed an innocent man, and he thought about releasing Abinadi. But the priests convinced the king that Abinadi must be slain. They bound Abinadi and burned him at the stake. In the last moments before he died, while he was being consumed by the flames, Abinadi prophesied that many of the people would suffer the same death because they believed in the salvation of God. He also prophesied that King Noah would be hunted, taken by his enemies, and would suffer death by fire as well.
Points to Ponder:
1. In the Old Testament we see a series of kings, some righteous and some wicked. Why do you think one man might be righteous and then his son turn out wicked? Or why does the son of a wicked man grow up to be righteous?
2. I got a little taste of what it is like to feel prompted by God to say something unpopular when I wrote my blog post about why homosexuality will make those who practice it unhappy. You can find that post HERE. To put yourself in Abinadi’s position, imagine that God has commanded you to go into the middle of a group of proponents of LGBT rights and tell them that what they are doing is wrong and that homosexuality is wrong. How do you think they would react? Would you fear for your own safety? Even for your own life? Or imagine that He commanded you to go to your place of work and post an article opposing the legalization of same gender marriage. How would your boss react? What repercussions might you suffer? What would you do if God commanded you to do something like that? How hard would it be?
3. The scriptures say, “The eyes of the people were blinded.” Do we see any similar circumstances today? Are there any instances today where some people preach wickedness, and the eyes of the righteous are blinded to God’s word because of the words of the wicked?
4. The wicked people who heard Abinadi’s message were angry with him. Why does it make unrighteous people angry to hear the truth? In today’s world, these people frequently say that those who speak the truth about what is right and what is wrong are being “offensive.” They say that someone who speaks the truth about right and wrong is discriminating against those who choose to do wrong. What does Abinadi say about why wicked people become angry when they hear the truth? Is it the person speaking the truth who is offensive and making the unrighteous person feel bad? Or is it the unrighteous person’s own conscience that is making him/her feel bad about himself/herself?
5. Alma was one of King Noah’s priests, and, as such, had probably participated in whoredoms and idolatry with the others. Later, he leads a group of the righteous back to Zarahemla and eventually becomes High Priest (the spiritual leader – kind of like the prophet) of the Nephites. Can you imagine someone who was once very sinful repenting so well that he became the leader of the Church? What does this teach us about the Atonement? What does God mean when He says that with Him, all things are possible?
6. Abinadi was innocent of any crime, yet King Noah and his priests talked together until they come up with something to accuse him of. They decided to accuse him of blasphemy and put him to death. Does this remind you of anyone else? Do you see any parallels between the story of Abinadi and what happened to Christ?
7. Before Abinadi completes the mission given to him by the Lord, he is untouchable. But afterwards, the Lord does not protect him from being burned at the stake. In what instances will the Lord protect us? How does free agency play a part in whether we are protected from harm? Do you think the Lord should have continued to protect Abinadi after his mission was completed? Why did the Lord allow Abinadi to suffer?
8. In the end, Abinadi suffers death by fire because of his convictions. He also prophesies that other righteous people will be burned to death by the wicked because they believe in Jesus Christ and refuse to deny it. If there were to come a time in your own life where those who believed in Jesus Christ and His Gospel were persecuted and even threatened with death unless they would recant and deny the truth, what would you do? Would you be able to hold strong to your beliefs even if you were threatened with being burned at the stake? What if your children were threatened with torture and/or death unless you recanted your beliefs? What would you do?
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For the next story in this series and to see what happens to Alma, click HERE.