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"Concerned... About His Own Life," Mosiah 19 - Part 1

Mosiah 19

Chapter 19 appears to be mostly a historical account of the events that transpired in the land of Nephi after Alma and the people of Lord had left the land. However, this chapter also details the partial fulfillment of words of Abinadi. Where Alma and his people were able to escape the wrath of God's judgments, King Noah experiences both an internal and external collapse of his kingdom.

Among the remainder of the people, there arises Gideon, "an enemy to the king," who has vowed to slay him. At the very moment that Gideon would have done so, the King also discovers that the Lamanite forces are within the borders of their own lands. Placed in this situation of peril, we discover the true character of King Noah. The author of this text (probably Mormon) even goes so far as to point this out, "And now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life;" (vs 8).

What follows this observation is the vain attempts of King Noah to flee the destruction and death that he had sealed upon himself through his own corrupt and indulgent living. When placed in a moment of dire crisis, Noah is anything but kingly in the most noble sense of the word. When the Lamanites attack, he commands his people to flee, he himself being one of the first to start running (vs 9). Then seeing that their women and children were causing them to lag, the king commands the men to leave them behind. Fortunately, there were some at this point that saw the utter cowardice of the king in this decision and these stayed with their women and children, though the possibility of death was eminent.

Those that chose to follow the king, once the immediate threat of Lamanites had passed, realized what King Noah had caused them to do. This caused them to revolt and put King Noah to death by fire. This brought to pass the fulfillment of the Abinadi's prophecy, "ye shall suffer, as I suffer, the pains of death by fire," (Mosiah 17:18).

The more interesting point of this passage though is the revelation of character, or lack of character demonstrated by Noah in the moment of crisis. Sin is cloaked in a thousand shades of acceptance when life is easy. Few are willing to open the mouth against such behavior when everything appears to be going well. But indolence and a glutenous lifestyle can never bring true happiness, or more importantly, develop the character traits necessary to withstand hardship and crisis. Only a change of heart and faith in Jesus Christ can bring the needed character traits to stand strong, selflessly when all else is failing.

Comments

  1. You have hit the nail on the head in a beautifully simple way. When the going gets tough, the morally weak fall apart.

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  2. Thanks for reading, Michaela. It is interesting to observe how moral character really makes the difference during times of crisis. It also makes it so that times of crisis are less frequent. Perhaps the most curious aspect of moral character, though, is that anyone who wants it can have it.

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