Mosiah 26

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 26.

Going back in time to the beginning of Mosiah, this first verse explains that many who were children when King Benjamin gave his last speech did not understand his words, and so did not grow up believing the traditions of their fathers (verse 1).

This indicates some kind of gap as well, that their parents may not have followed the counsel to teach their children so that they could grow up understanding.

Regardless, these children – now grown – did not believe what had been taught about the resurrection of the dead or the coming of Christ (verse 2).

And since they did not believe, “they could not understand the word of God, and their hearts were hardened” (verse 3).

This indicates the opposite is also true: when we believe, we will better understand the Scriptures – more and more, and our hearts will soften – more and more, in an upward spiral.

When we do not, it’s a downward spiral of destruction!

“And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church  And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God” (verse 4).

By the time of the “now” of this chapter, when King Mosiah has Alma teaching the people, there are about half as many of these grown-ups (who were children at the time of King Benjamin’s speech) as there are people in the church.  However, because of dissensions within the church, more people left the church and the number of these non-believers began to grow (verse 5).

These dissenters, who left the church for being offended or bitter or any kind of contention manifestation not only drew people away from the church, but did “deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins” (verse 6).  Because these were people who should know better, “it became expedient… that (they) should be admonished by the church” (verse 6).

So these were sent to Alma, who had authority over the church (verses 7-8).  There were many witnesses against them, and “the people stood and testified of their iniquity in abundance” (verse 9).  Nothing like this had happened before, where people within the covenant led people away from it through sin and contention.  It troubled Alma in his spirit, so took these people to King Mosiah (verse 10).

Alma explained to the king that “here are many whom we have brought before thee, who are accused of their brethren… (for) divers iniquities (from which) they do not repent…” (verse 11).  Alma states that since the people do not repent, he has brought them to King Mosiah for judgment.    However, King Mosiah authorizes Alma the prophet to do the judging (verse 12).

“And now the spirit of Alma was a again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God” (verse 13).   So he prayed and prayed, and he even “poured out his whole soul to God” (verse 14).

The Lord did answer his prayers, and comfort him, saying that he was blessed for his faith and obedience to the prophet (verse 15), and blessed are those who now obey him as prophet (verse 16), and blessed are those who are willing to bear His name (are baptized and keep covenants) (verse 17), and for seeking His will in how to discern judgment for those who should know better but are not keeping their covenants (verse 19).

The Lord then covenants with Alma, promising Him eternal life, as Alma promises to be His prophet (verse 20).  With this authority, the Lord states that He will recognize those that Alma recognizes as members of the church (verse 21), even forgiving those who are baptized unto repentance (verse 22).

The Lord teaches Alma that this is the whole work of His atonement (verse 23), and that those who know Him will come forth at the resurrection (verse 24), but those who do not will not rise until the second resurrection (verse 25).  Those who did not know Him will then acknowledge that He is their Lord and God and Redeemer, but will miss out on being redeemed since they have already chosen to reject Him (verse 26).

So the Lord instructs Alma to apply the covenant in his work of judging the people now, just as they will be judged at that time:  those who believe Him and act like it (via obedience) can be received into the church; those who do not “ye shall not receive into my church” (verse 28).

“Therefore I say unto you, Go; and whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also” (verse 29).

This is huge, providing a way for all people to return to the Savior and truly be redeemed.

He emphasizes this, telling Alma again, “…as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me” (verse 30).

But as always, these blessings are hinged on the covenant which requires our obedience:  if we are to be forgiven, we must also forgive (verse 31).

Thus we see that both repentance and forgiving others are requirements for being in the Lord’s church (verses 31-32).

Alma wrote down these teachings from the Lord, and went to use them to judge the people (verses 33-34).  Those who confessed and repented, he welcomed into the church (verse 35); those who did not, were not counted and “their names were blotted out” (verse 36).

“And it came to pass that Alma did regulate all the affairs of the church; and they began again to have peace and prosper exceedingly in the affairs of the church, walking circumspectly before God, receiving many, and baptizing many” (verse 37).

This was the work Alma and his leaders of the church did, “walking in all diligence, teaching the word of God in all things, suffering all manner of afflictions, being persecuted by all those who did not belong to the church of God” (verse 38).

And part of teaching is always admonishing, “every one by the word of God, according to his sins”, with all of us “commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things” (verse 39).

Mosiah 25

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Now that Alma and the people he rescued were home, King Mosiah called for a gathering of the people (verse 1).   By now there are more people gathered from Zarahemla than there are Nephites, but still those are less than half the number of Lamanites (verses 2-3).   So the people of Nephi gathered in one group, and the people of Zarahemla gathered in one group (verse 4).

Then Mosiah did read to them the records of Zeniff, teaching them all the history of the people from the time they left Zarahemla to the time they got back (verse 5), including the experiences of Alma and his people (verse 6).

After hearing the adventures, experiences, and testimony of all these, “his people… were struck with wonder and amazement” (verse 7).  There were so amazed that they did not know what to think, but when they “beheld those that had been delivered out of bondage they were filled with exceedingly great joy” (verse 8).

But they also grieved those who had been killed by the Lamanites (verse 9).

But they also “thought of the immediate goodness of God, and his power in delivering Alma and his brethren out of the hands of the Lamanites and of bondage, they did raise their voices and give thanks to God” (verse 10).

But they also thought about the Lamanites, and their “sinful and polluted state, and they were filled with pain and anguish for the welfare of their souls” (verse 11).

This is a big day for these people!  Their joy keeps having reality checks, and their celebration is  checked by grief.  But what is beautiful is that while celebrating the faithfulness of their people, and giving credit to the Lord for responding to their obedience by delivering them out of bondage, they also recognize the need for the Lamanites to be delivered out of bondage as well.  They have compassion upon them, realizing that these “bad guys” are in need of conversion.

But they also recognize the difference between those who do not yet know of covenants and covenant keeping, and those who have broken their covenants or rejected them.

“And it came to pass that those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren… were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would no longer be called by the names of their fathers, therefore they took upon themselves the name of Nephi, that they might be called the children of Nephi…” (verse 12).

This is covenant-making.

Their names are changed because they are converting to the covenant.

So now there are more Zarahemla people and converts than there are actually Nephites, but they are all called Nephites because that is how the kingdom itself is passed down through descendents of Nephites (verse 13).

When King Mosiah finished teaching the people, he asked Alma to testify to them (verse 14).

Alma did go from one group to the next, teaching them and testifying to them, “preaching unto the people repentance and faith on the Lord” (verse 15).  Most of all, he urged the people to remember “that it was the Lord that did deliver them” (verse 16).   It’s that important.

When Alma finished teaching the people, it was finally King Limhi’s turn to get baptized! (verse 17).  So Alma did baptize them, and they became converts to the church of God (verse 18).

King Mosiah granted Alma permission to continue his preaching “that he might establish churches throughout all the land of Zarahemla…” (verse 19).   This was very much needed since there are now so many people converting to the church that they cannot “all hear the word of God in one assembly” (verse 20).   So they “did assemble themselves together” in different churches, all a part of the same churches, just as we have wards in our church today – “for there was nothing preached in all the churches except it were repentance and faith in God” (verse 22).

“… And it came to pass that whosoever were desirous to take upon them the name of Christ, or of God, they did join the churches of God; and they were called the people of God.  And the Lord did pour out his Spirit upon them, and they were blessed, and prospered in the land” (verse 24).

That “prospered in the land” refers to more than just temporal blessings.  It means the presence of God.  They were obedient, and making covenants, and keeping covenants, and so the Lord was able to pour out His Spirit upon them, so that they enjoyed His presence as they lived their lives.  It is an example to us, that we may do the same.

Mosiah 24

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In the last chapter, Amulon had just been made king of the bad guys (the runaway priests of King Noah).   Amulon gains the favor of the king of the Lamanites, so he lets Amulon appoint teachers over people (verse 1) in their lands (verse 2).

Laman was the king of the Lamanites, and he was named after his “father” (either his actual father, or the “father” of the Lamanites – likely both) (verse 3).

So Amulon’s teachers began to teach them the language of Nephi (verse 4).

The Lamanites were friendly with each other, but they “knew not God; neither did the brethren of Amulon teach them anything concerning the Lord their God, neither the law of Moses; nor did they teach them the words of Abinadi” (verse 5).

But he did teach them how to read and write, and how to keep their records (verse 6).  Because of this, they began to get rich through trade, and become a “cunning and wise people, as to the wisdom of the world, yea, a very cunning people, delighting in all manner of wickedness and plunder” (verse 7).

Now that the people were hitting the big time in worldly ways, Amulon began to get bossy with Alma, “and began to persecute him, and cause that his children should persecute their children” (verse 8).

Amulon did this because he knew that Alma had heard the teaching of Abinadi the prophet, and that Alma believed what he had been taught (verse 9).  Amulon gave them so much to do, adding to their tasks to such extreme, “that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God” (verse 10).

This made Amulon even more mad, and so he told them they had to stop crying out to God, and if they were caught praying then they had to be put to death (verse 11).

So Alma and his people were obedient to the law of the land by not crying out loud to pray, but they did not stop praying.  They “did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts” (verse 12).

Not only did he know their heart-prayers, but He answered them!

“Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage” (verse 13).

He also promises to “ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage” (verse 14).

This is a promise He always gives us, if we will only turn to Him for help.

But that promise has a purpose, making the promise into a covenant:  “and this will I do that ye may stand as a witness for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (verse 14).

So again, the Lord promises to help us, but it requires our response to Him – which is the same as it always has been.

Even our premortal covenant was set up that way:  He promised to atone for us, and we promised to testify of that atonement.

This is the pattern: He will do for us that which we cannot do without Him, but we must then testify that He has kept His promise.

He will help us, but we must testify that He did help us.

He has atoned for us, and now we must testify of that atonement.

He has kept His promise; now we must keep ours.

He does keep His promises:

“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (verse 15).

They also kept their promise, just as He kept His!

This obedience led to even more blessings:

“And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage” (verse 16).  He promised that He would lead Alma in leading the people out of bondage (verse 17).

The people were again obedient to His instruction, and they spent the night gathering their animals and supplies together (verse 18).  “… the Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon the Lamanites…” (verse 19), and Alma and the people were able to escape (verse 20).

They traveled all day to get away, and then pitched their tents in a valley they named after Alma (verse 20).  There “they poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens, and had delivered them out of bondage; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it were the Lord their God.  And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God” (verses 21-22).

This humble submission in giving the Lord credit for delivering them out of bondage brought them the blessings of even more instruction and warnings.  The Lord warned the people to keep moving because the Lamanites were awake and in pursuit” (verse 23).

Again, the people were obedient, departing out of the valley and continuing their journey into the wilderness (verse 24).   They traveled for twelve more days, finally arriving in Zarahemla where King Mosiah “did also receive them with joy” (verse 25).

Mosiah 23

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Now Alma and his people are in the land, but King Noah’s missing bad guys – the false priests that got away – are still out there, on the loose.  The Lord warns Alma that they are coming, and the people leave to get away (verse 1).  The Lord strengthened them to help them get away (verse 2), and they traveled for eight days (verse 3), until coming to a beautiful land with clean water (verse 4).  Here they began to live, tilling the ground and building buildings; “yea, they were industrious, and did labor exceedingly” (verse 5).

The people were so relieved to have gotten away safely, and to be prospering in their new home, that they wanted to make Alma their king (verse 6).

While they meant it out of love, and intended the request as an honor, Alma reminded them of the evil king from whom they had just fled:

“… Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king… if it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your kings, it would be well for you to have a king.  But remember the iniquity of King Noah and his priests…” (verses 7-9).

The idea of a King seems to be a good one, Alma is saying, except that it depends on the kind of person the king is.  Things will be well with the people if it is a good king, but it will be misery for the people if it is a bad king – as they have just experienced with King Noah.

Alma uses this as a moment to testify, reminding them how even he himself was involved with this bad king before he (Alma) converted:

“… I myself was caught in a snare, and did many things which were abominable in the sight of the Lord, which caused me sore repentance… Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands in bringing so many of you to a knowledge of his truth…” (verses 9-10).

I love these verses, in a 2 Nephi 4 kind of way.

He is not being mean to himself, but honest about what his past was like without the atonement, without the Savior.  He is not looking backward, but rather testifying of how the atonement changed him.

This is important here because he is reminding them that what makes a good king is a covenant-keeping king who loves the Savior and applies the atonement; without it, there is only destruction.

In this way, too, he points the people from himself back to Christ.

While they meant to honor him out of gratitude, Alma reminds them that it really was the work of the Savior, not himself.

“Nevertheless, in this I do not glory, for I am unworthy to glory of myself” (verse 11).

In this way, Alma reminds the people that King Noah oppressed them and put them into bondage and caused them to sin (verse 12).  So having a king is not always a good idea.

In fact, the bondage was so bad that they could only be delivered by “the power of God” (verse 13).

So, Alma, says, it would be better to “stand fast in liberty wherewith ye have been made free…” (verse 13).

This is important to consider even for our own politics, especially post 9-11, when we too often and too easily trade our freedom for “security”.  It is one thing to fight for freedom and keep our citizens secure, and another thing to let our own government invade us or oppress us or cause us to surrender our agency.

We could apply this to our own individual lives as well, likening the scriptures to what personal liberties we have – or spiritual freedoms we have.   What do we do to reinforce these, to maintain them, to nourish them?   Or do we fail to do the work required to build our testimonies, gain blessings through Temple work, and love the families given to us?  It feels very Matthew 25:29.

So who can be our leader?  Those who make and keep covenants (verse 14).

How do you know who is keeping covenants?

By who is loving others well.

“Thus did Alma teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them” (verse 15).

Contention = not keeping covenants

Love = keeping covenants

It’s that simple.

This is what Alma taught the people as he organized the church (verse 16).

As he organized the church, “none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God”, and only those who kept covenants were given authority (verse 17).

“Therefore they did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness” (verse 18).

So that’s another part of keeping covenants: nourishing.

You can tell who is keeping covenants by who is loving and by who is nourishing.

Those who are contention-ish and those who do not testify or will not feed you spiritual things are not nourishing, and so are not covenant-keepers.

That’s a serious principle to understand, and to ponder in relation to our own covenant keeping.

It also means that covenant keepers have the ability to receive feedback, wrestle with the truth until they understand, and respond in obedience.

Those who cannot are not covenant keepers.  Those who are offended are not covenant keepers.  Those who blame others or refuse to follow the process of repentance are not covenant keepers.

Again, serious questions for us to consider in regards to our own spiritual devleopment.

Alma taught his people how to be covenant keepers, which means they were loving and nourishing and received his warnings, instructions, and feedback.  This is how they were nourished.

And for this, they were blessed (verse 19).

“And it came to pass that they did multiply and prosper exceedingly in the land of Helam…” (verse 20).

Their love for each other and demonstrated obedience by keeping their covenants gets the Lord’s attention, showing Him they are serious about doing His well.

So He refines them further, as “… the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith..” (verse 21).

Alma goes so far as to say that the people need chastening and need their faith tried, so they can develop the spiritual muscles to see God and what He has done in their lives for them (verse 22).

“For behold, I will show unto you that they were brought into bondage, and none could deliver them but the Lord their God” (verse 23).

Here Alma again reminds them that they were delivered by the power of God, not by themselves, and that the power came from their covenant keeping (verse 23).

“And it came to pass that he did deliver them, and he did show forth his mighty power unto them, and great were their rejoicings” (verse 24).

The Lord kept His promises, and the people celebrated their relief, comfort, hope, provision, and protection.

But here is the hard part:  because they have faith, that faith must be put to the test so that it can become knowledge (testimony).

So soon they find themselves surrounded by Lamanites (verse 25), and it is scary (verse 26).

“But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would delivered them” (verse 27).

The next verse says, “Therefore they hushed their fears…” (verse 28).

I love that verse.

They hushed their fears.

Those are amazing words.

But they did hush their fears, and instead they acted in faith, praying to the Lord for His protection.

“And it came to pass that the Lord did soften the hearts of the Lamanites” (verse 29).

But Satan fights back, almost always adding bad influence to bad behavior to make things worse.

So what happens?  These Lamanites run into the missing bad guys from King Noah, and they hook up as a group to attack Alma’s people (verses 30-31).   The leader of these bad guys was Amulon (verse 32).  This guy was so bad that he traded his wife and daughters for the protection of the men (verse 33), and his plan worked (verses 34-35).

It’s this combined group that confronts Alma’s group in the wilderness (verse 36), but promise not to harm Alma and his people if they will show them the way through the wilderness (verse 36).

However, the Lamanites do not keep their promises, and they send guards to surround Alma and his people (verses 37-38).  Then the people make Amulon king (verse 38) of the bad guys who escaped King Noah.

This cannot bode well for the Nephites.

Mosiah 22

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Now that King Limhi and Ammon are caught up on the news of what happened to the group of people who left Zarahemla and now find themselves subjected to the Lamanites, they begin to make a plan of escape, or “how they should deliver themselves out of bondage” (verse 1).

Importantly, they gather the people together “that they might have the voice of the people concerning the matter” (verse 1).  I think this is significant in light of it having been Zeniff ignoring the input of others (pride!) that got them into this mess in the first place.

The people agree that because there are so many of the Lamanites, there is no way they can win a direct confrontation or battle with them by war.  The only chance they have is to escape through the wilderness and just get away from them (verse 2).

This is when Gideon steps up again, reminding king Limhi that his counsel has been good in the past (verse 3), and so asks permission to present a plan that will help the people escape (verse 4).  King Limhi grants permission (verse 5), and Gideon shares his idea:

“Behold the back pass, through the back wall, on the back side of the city.  The Lamanites, or the guards of the Lamanites, by night are drunken; therefore let us send a proclamation among all this people that they gather together their flocks and herds, that they may drive them into the wilderness by night” (verse 6).

So the plan is that Gideon will take their best wine to the Lamanites in tribute, so that the Lamanites celebrate and become extra-drunk, and then the people can escape while they sleep it off (verses 7-8).

King Limhi liked this plan!  (verse 9).

So while the people packed their things and gathered their flocks and children, Gideon sent a tribute of wine to the Lamanites.  This was both the wine that they owed, having to give half of everything to the Lamanites, as well as more wine as a gift, like a tip.  The Lamanites celebrated, drinking and drinking and drinking (verse 10).

“And it came to pass that the people of King Limhi did depart by night into the wilderness with their flocks and their herds… towards the land of Zarahemla, being led by Ammon…” (verse 11).

It worked!

The people brought with them all their provisions, as well as their valuable things, as much as they could carry on the journey (verse 12).

The Lamanites did chase them down when they sobered up, but could not catch up and could not follow their tracks (verses 15 and 16).  King Limhi and his people were able to escape.

After many days of travel in the wilderness, they arrived safely in the land of Zarahemla, reunited with their own people (Nephites), and joining them as subjects of King Mosiah who had sent Ammon and the search party after them (verse 13).

“And it came to pass that Mosiah received them with joy; and he also received their records, and also the records which had been found by the people of Limhi” (verse 14).

Mosiah 21

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Now that the Lamanites understand that Limhi and his people did NOT kidnap their daughters, peace is declared and the Lamanites back off.  Limhi and his people are able to again live in peace (verse 1).

When the war is done, and the weapons are “buried”, let it go.   Keep the peace.

But the Lamanites couldn’t leave things alone, until they “began again to be stirred up in anger against the Nephites” (verse 2).  Their king promised Lehi that they wouldn’t kill him or his people, so the Lamanites turn into bullies instead.  They do everything BUT kill the people:

“Now they durst not slay them, because of the oath which their king had made unto Limhi; but they would smite them on their cheeks, and exercise authority over them; and began to put heavy burdens upon their backs…” (verse 3).

This takes us right back to Mosiah 12:2, where Abinadi prophesied that this would happen:

“because of their iniquities, shall be brought into bondage, and shall be smitten on the cheek; yea and shall be driven by men…”

“Yea, all this was done that the word of the Lord might be fulfilled” (verse 4).

It was so fulfilled, in fact, that they were surrounded by the Lamanites (verse 5).

Realizing they are surrounded by Lamanites declaring war, the Nephites react in fear instead of acting on faith.  Instead of recognizing the prophecy being fulfilled and using the situation as an opportunity to repent and turn to the Lord, they forget that the Lord has the power to deliver them.  They think they are alone, and so “begin to murmur with the king because of their afflictions” (verse 6).

We know from Nephi and his brothers that murmuring never works.

But they bothered the king so much that, like with spoiled, badly behaved children, he just let them do what they wanted (verse 6).

And so the Nephites gathered themselves together, but instead of gathering for the Temple or for Conference or for celebrations of peace, the people ignored the warnings of their leader and gathered for war… putting on armor instead of Temple clothes (verse 7).  This was the wrong kind of gathering.

Because this was not a gathering in the name of the Lord, the people were squashed!

“And it came to pass that the Lamanites did beat them, and drove them back, and slew many of them” (verse 8).

So the contrast continues: instead of gathering for the Temple and rejoicing in the peace and blessings that come from uniting with those they love, the people gathered for war and so they mourned the loss of those loved.

“And now there was a great mourning and lamentation among the people of Limhi…” (verse 9).

There were many who lost sons, husbands, and fathers.

“Now there were a great many widows in the land, and they did cry mightily from day to day…” (verse 10).

When we look at “widows and orphans”, we get verses like Lamentations 5:3 and Mormon 8:40, not to mention the many references in the New Testament and D&C.   Why is it such a big deal?

Because it’s the widows and orphans who are husband-less and father-less.

It’s the widows and orphans who do not have access to the Priesthood in their home.

That’s why it’s so important.

It’s not just about temporal needs, but also spiritual needs.

It’s about access to the Priesthood.

“And it came to pass that their continual cries did stir up the remainder of the people of Limhi to anger…” (verse 11).

Their counter-attack didn’t work because they are still thinking temporally.

They are not realizing that the women’s cries come from the heart, and that they need to respond in a spiritual way.  Finally, after a third try, those who are left start to realize what has gone terribly wrong.

“And they did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitting themselves to be smitten…” (verse 13).

This was not a giving up.

This was a recognizing the pattern of what had happened, and accepting their natural consequences.

It’s  like a toddler child, who finally goes to sit in their time out chair.   They aren’t giving up, but they know it is their consequence and the best way out is to serve their time and be back on the playground.

“And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily unto God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions” (verse 14).

That’s all well and good, but these are not random afflict ions that have the purpose of reminding them to call on the Lord for help.

These are not unrelated events that provide a way to look to the Lord.

These are the natural consequences of having removed them from the safety of the provision and protection of the Lord.

Because they chose to go, the Lord is “slow to hear their cry” (verse 15).

Note that it isn’t because He doesn’t want to help, and it’s not because He is unable.

But they have so far removed themselves from Him, that it literally takes a while for Him to hear them through all the mess they have caused.

This is not because of His ability or inability, but because of the work they themselves must do to humble themselves and submit to praying for help and acknowledging the Lord after not having done so all this time.

So He does hear them, it just takes them a while to really make it sincere.

“… nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites… yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage” (verse 15).

The Lord does hear their cries for help, and He does help them.

But helping them means strengthening them to be able to endure their own natural consequences that will teach them and bring them back to Him.

Helping here does not mean doing for them or helping the avoid the consequences or rescue them before they acknowledge who it is that is doing the rescuing.

But He does immediately bless them.

Because they have called upon Him for provision, He provides them “grain more abundantly, and flocks, and herds…” (verse 16).

This is their temporal lesson that will teach the spiritual lesson.

Since the war, there are now more women than men.  King Limhi “commanded that every man should impart to the support of the widows and their children, that they might not perish with hunger” (verse 17).

This is a move that requires action.  It requires the people, who are now stirred up in remembering the Lord, it requires them to now act in response to that knowledge.  It wakes them up, and calls them to action.

In the meantime, the people of Limhi stick close together, for fear of being kidnapped or killed, and they protect their grains and flocks as well (verse 18).  Even King Limhi did not trust anyone but his closest guards (verse 19).

But now, because they are acting in fear instead of acting in faith, the fear grows.

Now instead of just being worried about the Lamanites, they also start to be afraid of the missing false-priests who had done the real kidnapping (verse 20).

It’s not entirely unfounded, however, as the Lamanites had “come into the land of Nephi by night, and carried off their grain and many of their precious things…” (verse 21).

This is the background, the greater context, of why the people freaked out so badly when Ammon and his search party (verse 22) showed up in Mosiah 8, long before these last thirteen chapters became such an interlude (verse 23).

This is why King Limhi so quickly assumed Ammon the prophet was a bad guy (verse 23).  But when he found out Ammon was not the bad guy, and actually from the land of Zarahemla, “he was filled with exceedingly great joy” (verse 24).

But his joy gets even exceedingly-er and great-er when he discovers through Ammon the prophet that his king, King Mosiah, has a gift from God to interpret the plates (verses 27-28) that his search party had brought back from the wilderness (verses 25-26).  This is all bringing us right back to Mosiah 8 again, weaving back into the story where we left off prior to Limhi telling the history of his people.

“And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice” (verse 28).

That is good news for them, and gives hope for relief and a promise of no longer being alone.

But Ammon and his group mourn for those who lost their lives to pay the price of iniquity in the recent wars (verse 29).  They also mourn for King Noah and his false priests, and how they “caused the people to commit so many sins and iniquities against God” (verse 30).  They also mourned for the death of Abinadi (verse 30).

That is a lot of grief.

But the important thing is that King Limhi and his people have, finally, humbled themselves and turned to the Lord and are now prepared to become His covenant people… “for they themselves had entered into a covenant with God to serve him and keep his commandments” (verse 31)… “And … King Limhi had also entered into a covenant with God, and also many of his people, to serve him and keep his commandments” (verse 32).

Because they want to enter the covenant, they must be baptized.

“And it came to pass that King Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized…” (verse 32).  But because there is no one with the proper authority (through the Priesthood) to do the baptizing, the people have to wait “on the Spirit of the Lord” (verse 34).  They work hard to keep their passion for their covenants going, even wanting so much “to become even as Alma and his brethren, who had fled into the wildernerss” (verse 34).

“They were desirous to be baptized as a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts…” (verse 35).

It’s that simple: love.

 

Mosiah 20

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 20.

Remember how in the last chapter, the bad King Noah was killed, but some of his false priests got away?  This chapter is about what those bad guys did, closing up the last loose end of what happened to get King Limhi’s people in the situation they are in.

The context is these bad guys hiding out in the wilderness, near the borders of Lamanite land.

And here there was a place “where the daughters of the Lamanites did gather themselves to sing, and to dance, and to make themselves merry” (verse 1).

So it happens that a group of these girls go out to this place to play (verse 2), and the bad guys are hiding out and see them and watch them (verses 3-4).

When the girls were vulnerable because there were only a few of them, the bad guys came out and kidnapped the girls out to the wilderness (verse 5).

The Lamanites soon noticed, of course, but they didn’t know about the bad guys still being on the loose, so they blamed the people of Limhi (verse 6).  They sent their armies after them, even with the king himself leading the charge (verse 7).

Limhi discovered the preparations for war, but not yet knowing why his people were being attacked, and so prepared for the oncoming assault (verse 8).

Limhi’s people hid in the woods, and as the Lamanites came through, they attacked from their hiding places (verse 9).   It was an intense battle!  (verse 10).   There were more Lamanites than there were of Limhi’s people, but they fought hard (verse 11).  The Lamanites began to flee, even leaving their injured king behind (verse 12).

Limhi’s people found the injured king, and brought him to Limhi (verse 13).  They wanted to kill him, but Limhi wouldn’t let them because he wanted to question the king as to why the Lamanites were attacking his people (verse 14).

When the king told Limhi it was because of the kidnapped daughters (verse 15), Limhi was surprised because they hadn’t yet heard the news that this had happened.   He ordered a search among the people to see who had kidnapped the Lamanite daughters (verse 16).

Gideon is the one who figured out what had happened.  He went to Limhi to plead with him not to blame the people for this, because it was the kind of evil thing that the false-priests-who-got-away would do (verses 17-18).   He urged Limhi to explain this to the Lamanite king, so that the Lamanites would stop attacking Limhi’s people (verses 19-20).

Further, Gideon pointed out how this battle fulfilled the prophesies of Abinadi, that the people would suffer and be destroyed “because we would not hearken unto the words of the Lord, and turn from our iniquities” (verse 21).   In this way, Gideon not only solved the case but also urged the people to repent and return to the Lord (verse 22).

Limhi told all this to the Lamanite king, including the whole story about the bad King Noah who was killed and his false priests who got away, and gave the king Gideon’s theory about it being these false priests who kidnapped the daughters of the Lamanites (verse 23).

This theory made sense to the Lamanite king, and called off the war (verse 24).

This brought peace to both peoples, even so much as the Lamanites returning to their own land (verse 26).

 

Mosiah 19

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 19.

Being warned that King Noah was looking for them to destroy them, Alma and the church left their safe place near the waters of Mormon to hide in the wilderness.

They got out just in time, so that King Noah’s army could not find them (verse 1).

All this drama has given enough time for contention to sneak in, mixing with the pride of the people that Abinadi had already warned them off.

Except that some of those that King Noah thought were contention, were actually confrontation.

There is a difference between contention and confronting what is not of God.

One of those brave and strong enough to confront King Noah and his pride, just as Abinadi the prophet had tried to do, was a man named Gideon (verse 4).

He fought the king with his sword, and the king fled and ran up his tower (verse 5).  Gideon followed him!

Just as Gideon trapped the king upon the tower, the king saw from afar the borders of his land, and he could see that they were being invaded by the Lamanites (verse 6).

So King Noah begged Gideon to spare his life so that the Lamanites would not destroy all of the people (verse 7).

He was, of course, actually concerned with his own life (verse 8).

But Gideon did spare his life, and the king commanded the people to flee from the Lamanites, and they all ran away into the wilderness (verse 9).

But the Lamanites caught up and started killing them (verse 10).

Still desperate for his own life instead of caring for the lives of his people, King Noah told the people to leave the women and children behind as victims so that they themselves (the men) could get away safely without the women and children to slow them down (verse 11).

“Now there were many that would not leave them, but had rather stay and perish with them.  And the rest left their wives and their children and fled” (verse 12).

These wives and their lovely daughters charmed the socks off these Lamanites (verses 13 and 14), so that the Lamanites did spare their lives (verse 15).   Instead of killing them, the Lamanites took these united families captive.  They took them back to the land of Nephi with them, and even gave them places to live.  The only condition was that they had to sell out King Noah, and give half of all they had to the king of the Lamanites every year (verse 15).

In this crowd of those men who stood by their wives and children was one of the sons of King Noah.   His name was Limhi (verse 16).  He did not want to see his father delivered up and destroyed because he loved his father.  But still, “Limhi was not ignorant of the iniquities of his father, he himself being a just man” (verse 17).

In the meantime, Gideon (who had already tried to kill King Noah) sent a search party into the wilderness to find King Noah so that he could be killed (verse 18).

When they found him, they did kill him – by burning him at the stake, thus fulfilling Abinadi’s prophesy in chapter seventeen (verse 20).  They tried to kill all the bad guys, the false priests with King Noah, but they ran away (verse 21).

The men of Gideon returned to the land of Nephi, where the others had been taken.  There the others explained that they had been granted their lives, and even land to live on, long as they gave half of all they possessed every year (verse 22).   Everyone celebrated that their wives and children were okay, that the evil king had been killed off, and that the false priests had fled into the wilderness, and that the king of the Lamanites had promised not to kill them (verses 22-25).

Because Limhi was the son of the dead king, these people made him their new king; as their new king, he promised the king of the Lamanites that in exchange for their lives, they would – indeed – give him half of all they possessed every year (verse 26).

“And it came to pass that Limhi began to establish the kingdom and to establish peace among his people” (verse 27).

The king of the Lamanites kept his promise not to kill the people, but set up guards so that Limhi’s people could not escape.  He paid these “guards out of the tribute which he did receive from the Nephites” (King Limhi’s people) (verse 28).

For two years, this system worked.  The Nephites (King Limhi’s people) did pay their tributes of half of all they owned, and the king of the Lamanites “did not molest them nor seek to destroy them” (verse 29).

This takes us back to Mosiah 8, where King Limhi was asking about how they got themselves in this mess of being trapped and required to give up half of everything they have every year.

From chapter 9 of Mosiah, where the bad peace treaties first started, through this chapter answers that question, telling the story of how it was that King Limhi’s group of Nephites found themselves in such bondage.  This story will finish through chapter 22, and then the story will pick back up where we left off in Mosiah 8.

Mosiah 18

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 18.

While King Noah and his people are busy burning Abinadi the prophet at the stake, Alma is busy writing down all that he learned from Abinadi.  He really learns it, not only recording his words but also repenting “of his sins and iniquities” (verse 1).

When we truly repent, we also testify.

So Alma picks up where Abinadi left off, “privately among the people, (teaching) the words of Abinadi” (verse 1).

These teachings were “concerning that which was to come, and also concerning the resurrection of the dead, and the redemption of the people, which was to be brought to pass through the power, and sufferings, and death of Christ, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven” (verse 2).

He taught all the people willing to listen, but he taught them privately so they would be out of danger of the king.  “And many did believe his words” (verse 3).

Near where they met was a place called Mormon, named after a king in the land that bordered the water (verse 4).   This is where Alma taught the people (verse 5), and all who believed him came to this place to hear the teachings (verse 6).  He taught them, “and did preach unto them repentance, and redemption, and faith in the Lord” (verse 7).

In this way, the people were prepared for baptism, and they were baptized in the waters of Mormon.

These were their covenants of baptism:

“… as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places…” (verses 8-9).

So Alma asked the people:

“… if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?”  (verse 10).

The people “clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts” (verse 11).

And so Alma began to baptize the people.

He brought Helam into the waters first, saying “O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart” (verse 12).

And then he baptized him:

“I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world” (verse 13).

(Note: prepared from the foundation of the world.   Just as Christ was prepared premortally for his mission on Earth, so were each of us also prepared for our purpose in mortality.  We were all premortally taught and prepared for making covenants on Earth – and for keeping them.)

When Alma baptized the people, he baptized them by immersion, and they “arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit” (verses 14 and 15) and they “were filled with the grace of God” (verse 16).

“Grace” is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

That’s why there is rejoicing.

We cannot save ourselves.

We cannot be good.

We cannot do it on our own.

But we CAN be made perfect in Him, by letting go of what is not of God and embracing who He is.

When He becomes a part of us, when we are filled with His righteousness, then we are made perfect, whole, and complete.   It is then that we are at-one… but it is because of what HE has done for us, not what we have done ourselves.  We cannot take any credit, but we can rejoice in the confidence in His ability to do in us and for us what He has promised.

“And they were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward” (verse 17).

As the church was being established, Alma (“having authority from God” (verse 18)) organized the priesthood as well, so that those ordained as priests could teach the people “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (verse 18).

What did they teach?

“…nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets…. nothing save it were repentance and faith in the Lord, who had redeemed his people” (verses 19 and 20).

These are the most important concepts for all of us, because everything else builds upon them.

If we can do these things: repent and have faith in the Lord – continually, then all other problems will be prevented or resolved or we will be strengthened to endure through the experience.

If we can follow the words of the holy prophets, then we will be who we need to be and where we need to be.  We will be protected, provided for, and blessed for our efforts and beyond (grace).

If we do these three things: follow the words of the holy prophets, repent, and have faith in the Lord, then we will – together – establish Zion now.   We will be at-one with God and at-one with each other, and this is where our power lies.

That is why contention causes so much destruction, because it makes us not-at-one.

“And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward (to celestialness with God)… in unity and in love one towards another” (verse 21).

This is what he taught them, and that is how they established Zion, by becoming “the children of God” (verse 22).

They became the people of Holiness.

And as the people of Holiness, remembering Who made them holy, “he commanded them that they should observe the sabbath day, and keep it holy, and also every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God” (verse 23).

We cannot keep the Holy Sabbath Day holy without working hard the other days, so that we are prepared for it.  Keeping the Sabbath Day holy doesn’t start on Sunday morning.  It starts the whole week before, when we work hard and play hard on the days intended for those activities.  It starts by finishing on Saturday what ought not be done on Sunday.   We have to work hard so that we are prepared to take the day off on Sunday, and taking the day off helps us to work hard the rest of the week.

“And he also commanded them… (that they) should labor with their own hands for their support” (verse 24).

We should be as self-reliant as possible, able to use our own resources to gather our own provisions and care for our families in this way.

But then, after our hard week of work, we should rest from that work and use the time to worship.

“And there was one day in ever week that was set apart that they should gather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God…” (verse 25).

Going to Sunday School and Sacrament meeting are so important that they were included in the same chapter as baptism.   That’s because Sacrament renews our baptismal covenants as this chapter teaches, and then Sunday School answers the “now what” question by studying the covenant so we can live it.

“And (they)… were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God” (verse 26).

This is living the covenant: working hard to provide for our own temporal needs and those of our family, and working hard to develop our own spiritual strength through knowledge (study that becomes faith that becomes testimony) and then testifying of that knowledge.

All is to be shared with everyone.

We should work hard not only to meet our own temporal needs, but also so that we can share with others.   We should work hard not only to develop our own spiritual strength, but also so that we can strengthen others.

“And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had..” (verse 27).

Just as tithing my ten percent means a different actual amount than the people sitting in the next pew over, so does my ability to give differ.  I should give what I am able, but that may not be the same as what other people have to give.

This is not to say that I do not have to give as much.  I am commanded to be industrious and come up with a way to use what resources I have – and multiply them so that I am able to give more.

In the same way, what I am able to share may different not only in amount but also in what it is I can give.  I can give words or teaching, while my friend can give practical compassion.  I can give knowledge, while my friend can give understanding.  I have food storage and flip flops to share, while my friend has water and socks to share.

That’s why we need to be at-one.

“And thus they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to… every needy, naked soul” (verse 28).

We are commanded to serve others in both temporal and spiritual ways.

NEITHER will count without the other.

Our physical presence and practical friendship means NOTHING if we do not also testify in some way.

Our spiritual gifts mean NOTHING if we are not also caring for their physical needs.

We must do BOTH.

That is how to establish Zion.

“And this he said unto them, having been commanded of God; and they did walk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants” (verse 29).

This is how Alma taught the people in the thicket of trees, the forest, near the waters of Mormon (verse 30), on the borders of the land so that King Noah would not find them and kill them (verse 31).

But the kind did finally find them, and sent spies to watch them (verse 32).

King Noah used this to accuse Alma of “stirring up the people to rebellion against him; therefore he sent his army to destroy them” (verse 33).

Not so different from what happened to Joseph Smith, is it?

But Alma and church were warned of the king’s army on its way, “therefore they took their tents and their families and departed into the wilderness” (verse 34), about 450 of them (verse 35).

Mosiah 17: Pride and Contention? Or Establishing Zion?

CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 17.

Abinadi the prophet has now finished his big speech, the message he was sent to give king Noah and his people.  Having been prevented from killing the prophet until his message was finished, king Noah now commands his false priests to capture him and kill him (verse 1).

Except one of them, Alma, believed the prophets words, agreeing that the people (including himself) really had done the bad things the prophet spoke about, “therefore he began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi, but suffer that he might depart in peace” (verse 2).

This made the king even MORE angry, and so he kicked Alma out and said that he should be killed, too (verse 3).

But Alma escaped, and hid himself away so that he could write down all the things he had learned from Abinadi’s speech (verse 4).

In the meantime, king Noah did put Abinadi the prophet in prison (verse 5).

After three days of discussing with his false priests, King Noah ordered Abinadi be brought before him (verse 6).

“And he said unto him: Abinadi, we have found an accusation against thee, and thou art worthy of death” (verse 7).

Why is the prophet worthy of death, in their eyes?

“For though hast said that God himself should come down among the children of men; and now, for this cause thou shalt be put to death unless thou wilt recall all the words…” (verse 8).

So King Noah wants the prophet to recant.

A prophet can’t recant.   A prophet is anyone with a testimony of Christ (Revelation 19:10), and a Prophet is one specifically called by God to deliver a specific message to a specific people.

But look carefully at what king Noah has said…. does he want Abinadi to recant what he said about Christ coming to Earth?   No.   They are unsure about that, wondering if maybe it is true, but knowing they can disagree with Abinadi or just write him off as crazy.

What they want Abinadi to recant is “all the words which thou hast spoken evil concerning me and my people” (verse 8).

King Noah and his people think Abinadi’s words are harsh not because they do not believe in Christ, but because Abinadi said they were doing things wrongs, that they were in dangerous territory, that they were not keeping their covenants.

Such words are meant to stir us up to repentance, so that we can make the changes we need to make.  They are words of love, warning us of danger, so that we can return to the Lord’s provision and protection.

Such words are only “harsh” when we do not want to make those changes.

We know from the early history of the Nephites, that the only ones who are offended when warned or who find instruction harsh, are those who are already breaking commandments and who are not keeping covenants and who do not want to follow the teachings of the prophets.

By being offended or by thinking the teaching too hard, they have judged themselves already as not being covenant keepers.

Otherwise, it would only be a call to repentance to which they could respond, thus resolving the error as part of the process of continuing to keep covenants.

Always, the underlying culprit is pride.

Here with king Noah and his people, the issue is pride.

President Ezra Taft Benson said:

Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing.

The central feature of pride is enmity —- enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us….

Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers. The proud wish God would agree with them. They aren’t interested in changing their opinions to agree with God’s…

It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous…

Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride. “How everything affects me” is the center of all that matters—self-conceit, self-pity, worldly self-fulfillment, self-gratification, and self-seeking…

Another face of pride is contention. Arguments, fights, unrighteous dominion, generation gaps, divorces, spouse abuse, riots, and disturbances all fall into this category of pride.

Contention in our families drives the Spirit of the Lord away. It also drives many of our family members away. Contention ranges from a hostile spoken word to worldwide conflicts. The scriptures tell us that “only by pride cometh contention.” (Prov. 13:10; see also Prov. 28:25.)

The scriptures testify that the proud are easily offended and hold grudges. They withhold forgiveness to keep another in their debt and to justify their injured feelings.

The proud do not receive counsel or correction easily. Defensiveness is used by them to justify and rationalize their frailties and failures…

Pride is a damning sin in the true sense of that word. It limits or stops progression. The proud are not easily taught. They won’t change their minds to accept truths, because to do so implies they have been wrong.

This is the trap in which King Noah is caught, in which we are so easily caught if we are not vigilant.

Rather than humbling themselves to receive and respond to the counsel and warning Abinadi has shared in love, in hopes that they will respond and return more fully to their covenant, these people hate on Abinadi, reject his words, and even want to kill him.

But Abinadi will not recant, cannot recant, because the words he has shared were the words of God.

Do you see?

They are not his words to recant.

They were God’s words, not his.

“… I say unto you, I will not recall the words which I have spoken unto you concerning this people, for they are true…” (verse 9).

Abinadi will seal his testimony with his life.

“Yea, and I will suffer even until death, and I will not recall my words, and they shall stand as a testimony against you.  And if ye slay me ye will shed innocent blood, and this shall also stand as a testimony against you at the last day” (verse 10).

This has gotten king Noah’s attention.

King Noah believes him, feels the confirming Spirit telling him that these words are true (verse 11).

But then peer pressure returns, with his false priests trying to distract him, playing the pride card again so that king Noah will harden his heart against the softening of the Spirit.

“But the priests lifted up their voices against him, and began to accuse him, saying: He has reviled the king.  Therefore the king was stirred up in anger against him, and he delivered him up that he might be slain” (verse 12).

They took Abinadi and tied him up.  Then they taunted him, branding him with bundles of sticks (faggots), as they get the fire started (verse 13).  They are burning him at the stake.

“And now when the flames began to scorch him, he cried unto them, saying:  Behold, even as ye have done unto me, so shall it come to pass that thy seed shall cause that many shall suffer the pains that I do suffer, even the pains of death by fire; and this because they believe in the salvation of the Lord their God” (verse 15).

So Abinadi has now prophesied that just as they are burning him at the stake for what he believes, so their own descendents will kill more righteous people in the same way.   We see this come true later in Mosiah 20, where their children marry Lamanite women, and those descendants do indeed burn more believers at the stake (Alma 25), just as their parents taught them to do.

Abinadi’s message to the people was to return to their covenants and teach their children the covenants.   When they reject this message, they teach their children to reject it also.  When they persecute the prophet, they teach their children to do so as well.

They are doing the exact opposite of what the Lord told them to do through Abinadi’s warning.

Because they have now fully rejected not only their covenants, but the Lord’s offer to rescue them from their iniquities and the bondage that results from those iniquities… they have now made their choice, judged themselves, and the Lord will leave them to their own consequences.

“And it will come to pass that ye shall be afflicted with all manner of diseases because of your iniquities.  Yea, and ye shall be smitten on every hand, and shall be driven and scattered to and fro…” (verses 16-17).

Because they have rejected the Lord’s effort to rescue them, they will now endure the bondage they have chosen.

Those are always the consequences of us refusing repentance when it is offered to us, the consequences moving away from our covenants into danger.  The further into danger we move, the further away from His provision and protection we take ourselves… until we suffer the consequences from which He was trying to save us.

“And in that day ye shall be hunted, and ye shall… suffer, as I suffer, the pains of death by fire” (verse 18).

So they, too, will die by fire in the same way they are now killing Abinadi.

Because, Abinadi says, they were not my words.  The words were the Lord’s words.

The battle is not between king Noah and Abinadi, as the king’s pride tries to trick him into believing.

The battle is between Noah and God.

Thus he may kill Abinadi, but God will finish his battle.

This is the same as any contention, where Satan tries to get us to believe that another person is the enemy.   Pride will suck us into contention faster than anything else, and the easiest way for it to happen is for us to refuse counsel, ignore warnings, or think some teaching is too harsh.  Offense is the seed of contention, and it will destroy us if not plucked out by the root.

Abinadi was not being mean or harsh to king Noah.

He was only delivering the words of God, words king Noah should have already known.

It was a message of love, and an opportunity to return to God.

When king Noah chose instead to be offended, he surrendered his agency to pride.

When he surrendered his agency to pride, he silenced the call to repentance (from his own bad choices in the past that got him in this mess) and shifted blame to Abinadi, an innocent person just giving the message that king Noah already knew.

This is how pride led him to becoming a hater, how contention distracted from the real issue.

This is how pride moves the internal stirring-up-to-repentance to the external blaming-someone-else.

But the warning was from God.

The warning is an opportunity to return to His protection.

When we choose to remove ourselves from His protection, then we suffer outside of it.

“Thus God executeth vengeance upon those that destroy his people” (verse 19).

This is the last of Abinadi’s message, his last warning, his last pleading for the people to return to God.

Then, very much a shadow of things to come, in almost the same words as Christ himself, Abinadi cries out, “O God, receive my soul” (verse 19).

“And now, when Abinadi had said these words, he fell, having suffered death by fire; yea, having been put to death because he would not deny the commandments of God, having sealed the truth of his words by his death” (verse 20).

John Taylor said, “The testators are now dead, and their testament is in force (DC 135:5). For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead (Heb 9:16-17).”

This brings up the question of what in us needs to die, so that we can be a testator?  What is in us needs to be surrendered, given up, killed off, let go of – what in us needs to die so that we might have testimony?

It means that we can only bear testimony of those principles which we have experiences and are living.

It means that we must bear testimony of that which we have given up in exchange for His righteousness (Isaiah 22:23,25) so that give up the burden of the curse we are under in exchange for immortality and eternal lives.

It means that our continual, ongoing conversion process of letting die that which is not of God is the very process by which He establishes His righteousness in us (see tsedeq in 2 Nephi 8, or its poem in 2 Nephi 9).

This is how He establishes Zion, in us, now.

That is at-one-ment.

That is why contention is the biggest weapon, easiest trap, and worst destroyer of at-one-ment.

Contention separates people and kills relationships and makes us enemies of God.

Being enemies of God is NOT at-one-ment.

Conquering contention, being filled with His righteousness, even to loving well those around us, that is at-one-ment.  That is Zion.

It would prove to me, at least, and what I may safely say to this congregation, that Zion is here. Whenever we are disposed to give ourselves perfectly to righteousness, to yield all the powers and faculties of the soul (which is the spirit and the body, and it is there where righteousness dwells); when we are swallowed up in the will of Him who has called us; when we enjoy the peace and the smiles of our Father in Heaven, the things of His Spirit, and all the blessings we are capacitated to receive and improve upon, then are we in Zion, that is Zion.

A Discourse by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, January 16, 1853.  (Journal of the Discourses, volume one, page 3).