CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 13.
King Noah did much like what the prophet Abinadi had said (in the last chapter).
“And now when the king had heard these words, he said unto his priests: Away with this fellow, and slay him; for what have we to do with him, for he is mad” (verse 1). The king’s guards tried to get at him, but Abinadi stood his ground (verse 2):
“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; neither have I told you that which ye requested that I should tell; therefore, God will not suffer that I shall be destroyed at this time…” (verse 3).
“But I must fulfill the commandments wherewith God has commanded me…” (verse 4).
Abinadi knows he has not yet finished his work on the earth, and that the Lord will protect him in such a way that he will be able to finish his work.
“… because I have told you the truth, ye are angry with me” (verse 4).
This goes back to what we say with Nephi and his people, that people only think words are “harsh” when they do not want to hear the truth. People are only offended when they do not want to make the changes they are called to make. People only get angry because they do not want to yield power to God, or rather, submit to the power of God, and instead try to defend themselves without Him.
“And again, because I have spoken the word of God, ye have judged me that I am mad” (verse 4).
The world often excuses themselves from the word of God by avoiding it, either through anger that pushes it away from them (so they do not have to apply the words to themselves) or by dismissing it as another’s delusion (so they still do not have to apply it to themselves).
We see this happen over and over again in Scripture, where people respond to prophets either through obedience, anger, or dismissing them as crazy.
We see it in our world today, when people respond to our testimonies with respect or questions or their own learning, anger and refusal to even hear or even lashing out, or dismissing it as “just their thing” or the craziness of religion’s “out there” ideas.
It is a type of what is to come, for when the Savior returns with the city-world of Enoch, in such a way that all experience it and no one can deny it, even then people will still try to “explain away” what it means – even when they can no longer deny that it happened. Whether it is the people of Noah’s time, or the people of Nephi, or any other people ever – this is the pattern, that if they do not respond to the call of repentance, then they instead “explain away” that call (because they can no longer deny it). They have to explain it away because they don’t want to submit to it, or don’t want to humble themselves to admit it, or don’t want to be held accountable to responding to it in some way.
But it can no longer be denied.
“Now it came to pass after Abinadi had spoken these words that 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, even as Moses’ did while in the mount of Sinai, while speaking with the Lord, and he spake with a power and authority from God…” (verse 5).
There is light, literal light, in the sheckinah, in the presence of God.
Here Abinadi is transfigured in a way so literally because he is so literally in tune, in line, in order, in Order, with the work of the Lord, with the message of the Lord, with the calling of the Lord.
The more His people we become, the more we are literally changed.
That change is not evidence of how good WE are.
That change is evidence of His righteousness, His Spirit, His power, His glory, His holiness, His presence.
When we become His holy people, there is evidence in our very countenance, a taste of it and a feeling of it in our presence, not because of who we are, but because of who He is. It is palpable enough, literal enough, that other people can sense it and feel it when they interact with us.
Or not, if we are not being holy, and if we are not being His people.
These people are not being His people, and Abinadi has a message to call them back to the covenant.
This is holy work, and the people can sense it, feel it, and see it in him.
“Ye see that ye have not the power to slay me, therefore I finish my message. Yea, and I perceive that it cuts you to your hearts because I tell you the truth concerning your iniquities” (verse 7).
Our biggest emotional reactions are almost always because there is some truth in the message given to us. We don’t like how it un-does us, we don’t like how un-comfortable it feels, and we don’t like the truth of it because we don’t want to change, or we are scared to change, or we don’t know how to do things differently.
But if we just listen, and submit, peace would come and learning would happen. We would be happy.
Instead, we fight and kick against it, so that it becomes more and more painful and we become more and more exhausted, because we are fighting harder and harder to get away from that light of truth, to fight it off from invading our world, to block it out of our hearts.
But the truth of it can no longer be denied.
“Yea, and my words fill you with wonder and amazement, and with anger” (verse 8).
We only think the teaching is harsh when we don’t want to receive it.
“But I finish my message; and then it matters not whither I go…” (verse 9).
He knows the Lord will protect him to finish his work on the earth.
When that work is finished, it is okay for him to go because he has fulfilled that mission.
“But this much I tell you, what you do with me, after this, shall be as a type of shadow of things which are to come” (verse 10).
This is packed.
We know what they to do him happens to them.
We know it is similar to how the people did not believe Christ, and crucified Him.
We know it is similar to how people will respond when Christ returns with the city-world of Enoch, and people acknowledge Him but try to “explain it away”.
So then, Abinadi proves himself faithful to the mission given by the Lord and true to what these people should already know, as he teaches them the basics of the gospel:
“And now I read unto you the remainder of the commandments of God, for I perceive that they are not written in your hearts; I perceive that ye have studied and taught iniquity the most part of your lives” (verse 11).
So not only are they not living the commandments, but they are not teaching the commandments.
This effects generation after generation, and Abinadi is here to correct these “false traditions” from being passed down.
He gives, in verses 12 through 24, a review of the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20:1-17:
12And now, ye remember that I said unto you: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of things which are in heaven above, or which are in the earth beneath, or which are in the water under the earth.
13And again: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate me;
14And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
15Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
16Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
17Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work;
18But the seventh day, the sabbath of the Lord thy God, thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates;
19For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
20 Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
21Thou shalt not kill.
22Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal.
23Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
24Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.
Having reviewed the commandments the people should know, Abinadi blasts them for not only not living these commandments, but also not teaching them to the people so the people can live them, too.
“Have ye taught this people that they should observe to do all these things for to keep these commandments? I say unto you, Nay; for if he had, the Lord would not have caused me to come forth and to prophesy evil concerning this people…” (verses 25-26).
It is vitally important that we not only live the commandments, and by doing so keep our covenants, but that we also testify of them. In word and deed, people around us should know not only what (Who) guides our lives, but why it makes a difference.
This is our premortal covenant: that Christ would atone for us (which He has), and that we would testify of that atonement.
“It is expedient” (verse 27).
It is what teaches other people to find their way.
It’s not just about following rules, but the difference that covenant-keeping makes in our lives.
“I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish…” (verse 28).
We need the rules to help us keep covenants.
If we could do it, if we would just do it, we would not need so many commandments.
We are treated like children because we behave like children.
“… it was expedient that there should be a law given to the children of Israel, yea, even a very strict law; for they were a stiffnecked people, quick to do iniquity, and slow to remember the Lord their God; therefore there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him” (verses 29-30).
The laws and commandments are not there to oppress us or remove our freedom.
The laws and commandments are there to help us remember that we need God, so that we are willing and able to choose Him. This is what sets us free.
We need Him, all of us, because without Him none of us can “be saved except it were through the redemption of God” (verse 32).
This is the message of the commandments, even from the time of Moses.
All the commandments and all the prophets have pointed to the atonement which we now can claim.
“For behold, did not Moses prophesy unto them concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people? Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began – have they not spoken more or less concerning these things?” (verse 33).
“Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in might power upon the face of the earth?” (verse 34).
“Yea, and have they not said also that he should bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, and that he, himself, should be oppressed and afflicted?” (verse 35).