CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 11.
It comes time to Zeniff to pass down his new kingdom in the land of the Lamanites. He passes the kingdom down to his son, Noah. Noah does not stay true to the covenant of the repented people (verse 1).
“… he did not keep the commandments of God… he did walk after the desires of his own heart… he did cause his people to commit sin.. and all manner of wickedness” (verse 2).
This is exactly what the people have just repented of with Zeniff. They, as a people, have repented of trying to do things their own way. They worked hard to re-establish the covenant, and to work hard doing things the Lord’s ways. Now already they are slipping back to old patterns.
And all things spiritual are also temporal.
So when they begin to lose spiritual strength and power, when they surrender it (by not looking like and acting like a covenant people), then their temporal strength and power is soon to be lost as well.
King Noah begins to tax them heavily (verse 3).
“And all this did he take to support himself… thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom” (verse 4).
Up until now, the kings had taught self-reliance by example, and the last chapter was very specific about how all the people worked hard to cultivate the land, grow crops, make their own clothes, etc. Now things have changed because the ruling class are becoming separated by taxing the people for what they need, while also demanding the working class provide their needs for them.
And all things are both temporal and spiritual.
So as these temporal affairs change, so do the spiritual affairs.
King Noah got rid of the Priesthood, formally doing away with the covenant.
In their places, he called his own people as “priests”. This is an illusion, a priestcraft, a no-authority mockery of the real priesthood (verse 5). These false priests joined in the ruling class abusing the hard work of everyone else to demand their needs be met without having to do their own work.
“Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity” (verse 6).
Funding iniquity is always part of priestcraft, and once iniquity is supported and set as the “normal”, then it is not long before it infiltrates the people and begins to infect them.
“Yea, and they also became idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering things unto them” (verse 7).
In therapy, we call this “colluding”. Because the people know the king’s behavior is not okay, in order to get away with it he has to get them on board, on the same page, colluding – or agreeing to this behavior, so that it can continue. It’s like giving permission for the bad behavior to continue, even though you don’t like it or enjoy it.
It’s like a false covenant. Instead of both parties agreeing to what they will do to help the other, it’s a false covenant where both parties agree that one will oppress the other. That’s colluding.
So what did king Noah do with all that tax money he wrestled away form the people?
He “built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things…” (verse 8).
“And he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof…” (verse 9).
“And he also caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple…” (verse 10). But this was not a sacrifice to the Lord, or an effort to give the best to Him. It was for show, to flatter the people, to woo them. It was because of the pride in his own heart. It was to build an illusion of power. It was to provide the setting “while they should speak lying and vain words to his people” (verse 11).
King Noah also built towers, so that he could overlook the land (verses 12-13). These were not security towers, as part of fortifying the land. These were pride-towers, to climb high to see what all he possessed. These towers were not military or defense towers that protected the people.
This is the destruction of pride, in that he is destroying the people he thinks he owns.
This is the illusion of pride, looking out over a land he is not even trying to protect.
“And it came to pass that he placed his heart upon his riches, and he spent his time in riotous living…” (verse 14).
What can make this worse?
“And it came to pass that he planted a vineyards rounds about in the land; and he built wine-presses, and made wine in abundance; and therefore he became a wine-bibber, and also his people” (verse 15).
So once again, what he does, he also leads the people to do.
How has he led his people? He has led them to forsake their covenants. He has led them to stop working to develop their land. He has led them to break the laws that organize the chaos of a community. He has led them to forget to protect their land. He has put them to sleep with alcohol.
Good times? Not so much. He has put himself and his people in danger.
“And it came to pass that the Lamanites began to come in upon his people…” (verse 16).
King Noah’s response? To send guards, “but he did not send a sufficient number, and the Lamanites came upon them and killed them…” (verse 17).
Since that didn’t work, he sent whole armies, and like any war, they went back and forth. But when finally driving the Lamanites back, they came home “rejoicing in their spoil” (verse 18). Not rejoicing in the Lord, or the Lord’s strength, or the Lord’s help. Not celebrating the protection of their people, or having any gratitude for their freedom. They rejoiced in what they got out of the deal.
“And now, because of this great victory, they were lifted up in the pride of their hearts; they did boast in their own strength… because of the wickedness of their king and priests…” (verse 19).
King Noah has led his people to be wicked.
He is leading them to destruction.
But always, before destruction comes, the Lord sends a prophet to warn the people.
“And it came to pass that there was a man among them whose name was Abinadi; and he went forth among them, and began to prophesy, saying… 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).
“And except they repent and turn to the Lord their God, behold, I will deliver them into the hands of their enemies; yea, and they shall be brought into bondage; and they shall be afflicted by the hand of their enemies” (verse 21).
“… they shall know that I am the Lord their God…” (verse 22).
When a people choose wickedness that leads them to destruction, the Lord sends a prophet to warn them.
His first warning is always, “Return to me now, and you will not have to go into bondage”.
This people have already used up that card.
His next warning is always, “Return to me now, and you will go into bondage but I will lighten your load.”
This people have already used up that card.
His next warning is always, “I cannot prevent your bondage, because you have chosen it. I cannot lighten your load, because you have chosen a heavy burden. But I can still deliver you. Return to me now, and I can deliver you. But it will be in such a way that all will know it was me, the Lord your God, who delivered you, and that you did not deliver yourself.”
That’s where this people are now.
“… except this people repent and turn unto the Lord their God, they shall be brought into bondage; and none shall deliver them, except it be the Lord the Almighty God” (verse 23).
But they have already chosen bondage, and they have already chosen to carry the burden of that bondage.
“Yea, and it shall come to pass that when they shall cry unto me, I will be slow to hear their cries…” (verse 24).
But there is still hope.
Even with the consequences of their choices that they must suffer, there is still hope to be delivered – if they humble themselves, repent, and turn to the Lord, there is still hope to be delivered.
“And except they repent in sackcloth and ashes, and cry mightily to the Lord their God, I will not hear their prayers, neither will I deliver them out of their afflictions…” (verse 25).
Why so serious?
Because not only have they broken their covenants, but they have set up false covenants instead.
He – and they themselves – need to know they are serious about His covenants. They have to mean it, and have a lot of healing work to do to become a covenant people again. They didn’t just break the laws; they tried to change them. They will have to show true submission to His ways to be able to re-enter a covenant, because they have destroyed the covenant concept itself. So there is a lot of work to do for this people to rebuild an understanding of what a covenant is, much less making or keeping covenants. It’s a big deal.
But it’s not what the people want to hear.
“Now it came to pass that when Abinadi had spoken these words unto them, they were wroth with him, and sought to take away his life; but the Lord delivered him out of their hands” (verse 26).
They didn’t want to hear what Abinadi had to say, so they tried to kill him.
That’s the illusion of pride and power, that they are so big and strong and powerful that they can ignore the truth by getting rid of a person. Even if Abinadi had died in that moment, it would not change the truth of his message. Silencing him does not silence the truth of his message.
Then king Noah finds out what is going on.
And he is NOT happy.
“… and he said, “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?”
These statements, made in anger, show how far away king Noah has come from the covenants his father made. He calls the prophet of God a nobody, while showing he has no plans of submitting to his warnings. Then he goes a step further, also calling the Lord a nobody, showing that his own foolishness in denying the power of God.
Then he emphatically declares his choice:
“I command you to bring Abinadi hither, that I may slay him, for he has said these things that he might stir up my people to anger one with another, and to raise contentions among my people; therefore I will slay him” (verse 28).
He is still mocking the covenant, because the “contentions” here he is referring to is repentance. The only contention is what he is causing. It’s the people repenting, instead of colluding with him, that he doesn’t like.
But he is their king, and he has worked hard to keep the people colluding with him.
So he leads them to choose as he has chosen:
“Now the eyes of the people were blinded; therefore they hardened their hearts against the words of Abinadi, and they sought from that time forward to take him. And king Noah hardened his heart against the word of the Lord, and he did not repent of his evil doings” (verse 29).
So they, together, choose destruction instead of deliverance.
This answers the question chapters ago, before the flashback in time, when King Limhi asked the question of “How did we get into bondage? What happened to our people? What led us into destruction?”
This moment answers that question.
Why were they led into bondage under the Lamanites?
Because they refused the words of the Prophet, and chose not to repent.