29 August 2011

"Thus Hath the Lord Commanded Me," Mosiah 12:1-8

Mosiah 12:1-8

This is a good case study in what it means to have a hardened heart. This is important to properly understand the relationship between us and the Lord, because to have a hardened heart is essentially to have withdrawn from the presence and the Spirit of the Lord.We cut off the lifeline of Life, our relationship to the Divine, and attempt to take salvation into our own hands, which is hopelessly impossible.

The Lord doesn't offer more than a second chance to these people who are already deeply engulfed in sin. Pestilence, plagues, and destruction are prophesied of in these verses. Then at the end of this prophecy, Abinadi explains that if there is no repentance that the only thing that will be left of their people is a record which will stand as a witness of their destruction.

The first footnote in this chapter is on the word "prophecy" but it leads to the Topical Guide entry for "Missionary Work." At first glance, I asked myself, "What does this prophecy of doom and pestilence have to do with missionary work?" But considering the events that transpire subsequently with the conversion of Alma and his followers, this is how it begins.

25 August 2011

"A Man Among Them Whose Name Was Abinadi," Mosiah 11:20-29

Mosiah 11:20-29

These verses contain the account of Abinadi's first appearance to the people of King Noah. According to the record, Abinadi came from among this people. There is no mention of a family but I wonder if he is not leaving his family to accomplish this great assignment.

Though King Noah plays complete ignorance to the acknowledgement that there is a God, Abinadi's words from the Lord clearly demonstrates that there is a vested interest that the Lord has in this particular people. The Lord refers to the people of Noah as "my people" (vs. 22). There must have been a covenant in place between the people of Zeniff and the Lord for the Lord to acknowledge them as such. They must have been a God-fearing people before the reign of Noah.

The harshness of the prophecy is another reason that I am concluding that there were covenants and righteousness before Noah.The greater the sins, the more extreme requirements for repentance, such as girding one's self in sackcloth.

It is worthy to note the initial response of King Noah in verses 27 & 28. He completely defies Abinadi's admonition and instead frames Abinadi as a disturbance to the peace of the kingdom. On the one hand, this is exactly what Abinadi was doing. Their peace, if it could be called such, was superficial. In the final verse of the chapter, it says that the eyes of the people were blinded that they're hearts were hardened. It also says the king's heart was hardened, but his was a deliberate hardening, and he did not repent.

What has given me most pause for reflection, though, in this reading of Abinadi's account  is that before this moment, Abinadi was among them. Some how amidst all the corruption and wickedness, the Lord was able to create a prophet. Abinadi's life is a testimony that salvation is ultimately individual. And even in a world where it seems that everyone is pulling each other down, a determination to live the gospel of Jesus Christ at all costs, can change bring salvation and peace even to the one. I think though of how Abinadi did so much more than just save himself by later appearing before the king, I have a profound amount of respect for this man of faith. 

17 August 2011

"He Did not Keep the Commandments of God," Mosiah 11:1-19

Mosiah 11: 1-19

This simple phrase that explains the deviation of King Noah from the truth is a double-edged accusation. A footnote in verse 2 compares King Noah to Jeraboam of the Old Testament who caused the children of Israel to sin. Noah's deviation is just that. Clearly, we must assume that King Noah is not ignorantly sinning. He was the son of Zeniff and grew up in his household. Beyond this, he took a people, who previous to this had learned to fear God and to recognize the strength of the Lord in protecting them from their enemies, and had altered the affairs of the kingdom to support his wickedness.

Perhaps the most telling part of this account are the verses that relate their attitude towards the conflict with the Lamanites, when they came back victorious from fighting the Lamanites this time, they were boastful of their own strength, and blood thirsty. (Verse 19 attributes this fully to the wickedness of the king and the priests.) Boasting and blood thirsty, both are diabolical or destructive in nature. To boast is to build up oneself at the expense of others. Amos 6:13 offers a definition of boast as to "rejoice in a thing of naught," as if to be excited by something that is not really true. Section 3 of the Doctrine and Covenants also give additional insights into putting our strength in God, and not in the designs of men.

09 August 2011

"Believing in the Traditions of thier Fathers," Mosiah 10

Mosiah 10

Work leads to prosperity. In the first few verses of this chapter, Zeniff explains how he gave his men the assignment of farming the land, while the woman had the assignment of producing clothing. Because of this work, they were led to "prosper in the land."(vs. 5)

The bulk of the chapter has to do with their preparations for war and the war that was fought. Now it is fair to note that during the 35 years or so that have been accounted for of Zeniff's reign that there had only been two conflicts with the Lamanites. As I read this even from Zeniff's own account, I keep thinking to myself, if only they had stayed in Zarahemla, they would have had peace. I don't know if this a productive line of thought though. What was done was done. However, it is only two generation later that the ultimate solution to their conflicts with the Lamanites is to leave and make the trip back to Zarahemla.

On the other hand, there are great leaders for the future church, and faith building experiences that are a direct result of this detour back to the land of their first inheritance.

Verses 1-2: Zeniff is preparing his people for future conflicts against the Lamanites, and he went on to make provisions so that the people would always be on their guard to ward against future invasions from the Lamanites.

Verses 12-18: The false traditions of the Lamanites are expounded in these verses. It runs in direct parallel to Nephite history, but somehow the blessings that were extended to Lehi's family and Nephi were seen as curses to Laman and Lemuel and their posterity. It was simply a matter of perspective.

I find in these verses parallels in modern society between numerous groups of people. As I've considered what happened with Zeniff's people and how the Lord was still able to bless them, I see a great deal of similarity between them and any modern christian congregation, separate from the blessings of a living prophet, yet still devotedly striving to follow Christ. The Lord in his own ways and times and seasons, will prepare a way to gather all of his children into the true fold of God, or as many as will come. This happens to not only the people of Zeniff, but also eventually, to even the Lamanites.

02 August 2011

"In the Strength of the Lord," Mosiah 9:3-19

Mosiah 9:3-19

A twelve year span is found in these verses. It is curious to note that Zeniff recognizes that he was too zealous to possess the land of Lehi-Nephi. He also makes note of their afflictions in the wilderness as being caused by their neglect in forgetting the Lord, the source of their strength. 12 years of prosperity pass after this. Then are they brought to a moment of crisis as they are brought into battle against the Lamanites. Their approach to this conflict is much different however, for they called upon the Lord for strength, and this time he heard their prayers.

Really they shouldn't have gone back to the land of Lehi-Nephi. But the Lord who is merciful, when they sincerely turned to Him for strength, gave them power over their enemies. This is a God of mercy.