CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 12.
Since the people have already rejected him once, and tried to kill him, when Abinadi the prophet returns to preach and teach the people, he comes in disguise (verse 1). But he also reveals who he is when he preaches. So he is not trying to be secretive, just trying to be safe while doing his work. In this way, he is able to deliver the message from the Lord:
“….it shall come to pass that this generation, because of their iniquities, shall be brought into bondage…” (verse 2).
Having been warned of the bondage, but still refusing to repent, bondage now is imminent.
In verses 3-7, he goes on to explain in great detail what that bondage will look like, from oppression by other nations to natural disasters to personal problems as individuals.
“And it shall come to pass that except they repent, I will utterly destroy them…” (verse 8).
These words – harsh to those not obedient to a prophet – again made the people mad, and they tied him up and hauled him off to king Noah again (verse 9). To make sure king Noah is good and mad at the prophet, the people tell the king all the things the prophet prophesied against the king if he does not lead the people in repentance (verses 9-12). Then they repeat the phrase which the king had taught them, about what’s so special about this prophet or what’s the big deal about God, that they (as a people) should be judged (verse 14)? They do not believe they have done anything wrong:
“And now, O king, behold, we are guiltless, and thou, o king, has not sinned; therefore, this man has lied concerning you, and he has prophesied in vain” (verse 14).
They also straight out reject his message of warning:
“And behold, we are strong, we shall not come into bondage…” (verse 15).
Clearly, they have forgotten Who it is that makes them strong.
And so they reject the words of the prophet, and hand him over to the king (verse 16).
King Noah responds by throwing the prophet into prison (verse 17).
Not sure what to do with him, king Noah holds a council to help him decide. They request that the prophet be brought to them for questioning (verse 18). They do question him, and he “answered boldly, and withstood all their questions, yea, to their astonishment…” (verse 19).
One of the specific examples of these questions is given in verse 20, when one of them asks the prophet what he means by certain verses which are quoted from Isaiah (verses 21-24).
Rather than arguing about what Isaiah said, Abinadi simply confronts them for not doing their job.
“And now Abinadi said unto them: 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 means?” (verse 25).
Abinadi calls them out for being fakers, for calling themselves priests but not teaching the people.
“I say unto you, wo be unto you for perverting the ways of the Lord!” (verse 26).
Abinadi calls them out for not studying the scriptures, and points out this is why they cannot teach the people.
“Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise” (verse 27), followed by his own way of asking “If you don’t know anything, what can you teach?!”
They respond, with pride in their hearts, that they teach the law of Moses (verse 28).
But Abinadi continues the confrontation, pushing them to see the truth, and urging them to respond to it. He says, “if ye teach the law of Moses, why do ye not keep it?” (verse 29). He lists their specific sins, and says that they cannot teach what they do not know, and they cannot teach what they do not live.
“Know ye not that I speak the truth? Yea, ye know that I speak the truth; and you ought to tremble before God” (verse 30).
Since they still have not repented, the warning continues as the Lord prepares to let them choose bondage. But the people still think they will be safe because of the law of Moses (verse 32).
Abinadi confronts their thinking error, pointing out that the whole reason for the law of Moses is to help the people keep their covenants (verse 33). He points out one of then ten commandments that these people have broken (verses 34-36) to show how breaking this law has caused them to break their covenants.
So have they followed the Law of Moses, and thus kept their covenants?
“… I say unto you, Nay, ye have not. And have ye taught this people that they should do all these things? I say unto you, Nay, ye have not” (verse 37).
Repentance requires a hard look at the truth of where we are, and what our relationship with God is like, and how we live that out through our relationships with others.
It is not meant to be shaming and oppressive in a way that leads us to despair.
It is meant to call us back, to stir us up to remembering who we are and who He is, to help us return to Him.