Mosiah 11:1-19 The Wicked Reign of King Noah
Near the end of his reign, King Mosiah II declared, “For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction! Yea, remember king Noah” (Mosiah 29:17-18). Therefore Mosiah proposed to transform the Nephite government from a system of kings to one of judges. And history has supported him: Whether kings or some other title, we have seen an almost unlimited number of examples that bear truth of Mosiah’s observation.
Scan through Mosiah 11:1-19 and consider the things King Noah did and that he promoted among his people. It is interesting to note in verses 4-5, 10-11 that King Noah still had “priests” and sponsored “fine work” within the walls of the temple in the land of Nephi (originally built by the people of Nephi; see 2 Nephi 5:16). As noted previously, the adversary does not want to banish religion; on the contrary, he promotes religion—as long as it is false religion that leads people away from God, instead of toward Him.
Mosiah 11:20-29 The Ministry of Abinadi
The perfect counterpoint to King Noah is the humble, submissive, yet bold prophet Abinadi. The account does not tell us who he was or where he came from; only that he was “a man among them” (verse 20). His first words boldly declare his assignment: “Behold, thus saith the Lord … Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms; and except they repent I will visit them in mine anger” (verse 20). Then Abinadi continues to declare the dire consequences that will follow, repeating the word repent in verses 21, 23, and 25. But the chapter ends, “And king Noah hardened his heart against the word of the Lord, and he did not repent” (verse 29).
What about us? Some helpful questions for us to ponder may include: Do I recognize and accept the messengers sent by the Lord? Do I readily receive their words? How do I respond to their invitations to repent? Do I ever harden my heart? What does (or should) repentance look like in my life?
Mosiah 11-17 Repent! … And More
In addition to his invitation to repent, Abinadi teaches King Noah and his people a pattern that we can recognize in the ministries of all the Lord’s prophets:
- They testify that they have been sent by God and that their words are His words (11:20; 12:1-2; 13:3-4).
- They teach repentance (11:20, 21, 23, 25; 12:8, 12; 16:12-13).
- They endure rejection and persecution (11:26-29; 12:9, 17-19; 13:1-2).
- They prophesy of the consequences of disobedience (11:21-25; 12:1-8; 13:10; 16:2-3, 12; 17:10, 16-19).
- They teach, prophesy, and testify of Christ and His atonement (12:23-24; 13:28, 32-35; 14:1-12; 15:1-12, 19-25; 16:6-9, 15; this is addressed more specifically below).
- They are willing to devote their lives to their ministry, even unto death (17:1, 5-8, 12-20).
Clearly, our attention must be riveted on today’s prophets, seers, and revelators. Also, our support and prayers for our latter-day prophets must be earnest and constant.
Mosiah 11:26-29; 12:9, 12-15; 13:1, 4; 17:8, 12, 20 Poor Justification
Note the reasons given for rejecting Abinadi’s accusations: “We are guiltless … this man has lied” (12:14); “We are strong, we shall not come into bondage, or be taken captive” (12:15); “Thou [King Noah] hast prospered in the land” (12:15); “Away with this fellow … for he is mad” and he is being judgmental (11:27; 13:1, 4); “he pretendeth the Lord hath spoken it” (12:12).
In other words, the people are claiming that their military strength and material prosperity are evidences of their goodness before God, and that Abinadi is just crazy and is judging them. But the real reason for their rejection of Abinadi is that they were “wroth” and “angry” with him (11:26-27; 12:9; 13:4; 17:12) because he had “spoken evil” of them and had “reviled the king” (17:8, 12). Their greatest stumbling block appears to be their hard hearts (11:29) and their overwhelming pride. But Abinadi was unyielding in his message and he “sealed the truth of his words by his death” (17:20).
Again, how do we react when we are called on by the Lord’s leaders to repent or change? Throughout history, various reasons have been offered for rejection of God’s prophets, but none are valid. Our only safety—temporally and spiritually—is in sustaining the Lord’s prophets and obeying their teachings.
Mosiah 12-16 Abinadi’s Teachings and Testimony of Christ
Our most important approach as we study the scriptures is to look for Christ, including teachings by Him and about Him. Abinadi’s message of repentance to the people of King Noah is in the greater context of his message, testimony, and prophecies of Christ, who is the foundation of all the gospel. Abinadi’s teachings of Christ include:
- The Lord comforts and redeems his people (12:23).
- The Lord manifests His work “in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (12:24).
- The law of Moses could only help ancient Israel insofar as they understood and lived it with an understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Without this, they would “unavoidably perish” (13:27-32).
- “All the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began” have spoken of Christ and His ministry, atonement, and resurrection (13:33).
- Abinadi adds Isaiah’s teachings to his own, teaching that Jesus’s atoning sacrifice for us is described in the following terms: Oppressed, afflicted, despised, rejected, sorrows, grief, stricken, smitten, wounded, bruised, chastisement, stripes, slaughter, cut off, make his soul an offering, travail, death, suffereth, mocked, scourged, cast out, disowned, crucified, slain (13:35; 14:3-12; 15:5-7).
- Christ would perform His mortal ministry and become our Redeemer and spiritual Father (15:1-12; 16:15).
- Because of Jesus Christ, the gift of resurrection will come to all mankind; with the gift of eternal life (exaltation) upon those who believe and obey Him, and upon little children (15:19-25; 16:6-8).
- Jesus is “the light and the life of the world; yea a light that is endless, that can never be darkened” (16:9).
What does it mean to you that Jesus Christ is “a light that is endless”? How do you see or feel His light in your life?
Mosiah 15:1-9 “The Will of the Son Being Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father”
These verses provide a profound, sacred insight into the character of Jesus Christ. He had never experienced guilt for sin, yet as He began to suffer in Gethsemane, He was burdened with all the guilt, pain, and punishment that derives from all sin, weakness, suffering, sickness (and so forth) of all the innumerable children of our God, ever born or ever to be born on all His unnumbered inhabited creations. It is no wonder Jesus “fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” yet He immediately added, “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39; see also Mark 14:33-36; Luke 22:41-42).
This is beautifully adorned by Abinadi’s words: “God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people” (Mosiah 15:1); “having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father” (verse 2); “the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father” (verse 5); “the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father” (verse 7). Our Perfect Savior accomplished the Atonement for us by fully subjecting His will to His Father’s will. This is a pattern we must strive to follow, to submit our own will to the will of the Father, in all things.
Mosiah 17:19-20 “O God, Receive My Soul”
It isn’t clear whether Abinadi was aware that Alma—one of King Noah’s priests—had accepted his message. Alma fled from the king, wrote Abinadi’s teachings, and gathered followers (17:2-4; 18:1-4). Abinadi likely died feeling that he had no converts; or perhaps just the one. But what a convert! Alma became a prophet and was the first in a long line of father-to-son (or to-brother) prophets and/or record-keepers; spanning the next 469 years of Book of Mormon history (from 148 b.c. through 321 a.d.; ending with the book of 4 Nephi). The line went as follows: Alma I, Alma II, Helaman I, Shiblon, Helaman II, Nephi II, Nephi III, Nephi IV, Amos I, Amos II, Ammaron. What a great debt of gratitude we owe to the otherwise unknown Abinadi, who may have died not knowing if he had touched even one heart. And it is a lesson for us, that we should not judge any of our work by the immediate results, but allow the Lord to take our feeble efforts and then do His work, in His way, in His time.