21 June 2012

"The Lamanites... Had Compassion on Them," Mosiah 20

Mosiah 20

There is a miracle of peace recorded in this chapter, and it is brought about again through the faithfulness and diligence of Gideon, the statesman. The daughters of the Lamanites show up missing, or rather the wicked priests who were associated with Noah before his demise kidnap twenty-four of the daughters of the Lamanites while they were dancing at a wilderness retreat.

This incites the Lamanite people in anger, lead by their king, to go up against the people of Limhi. Not being in the wrong, the people of Limhi themselves fought "like dragons" (vs. 11) to defend themselves. The king of the Lamanites, though not dead, was found among their dead upon the retreat of the the Lamanite.

What Gideon does after Limhi realizes the cause of this assault from the Lamanites is both notable and peaceful, and it worked. Gideon both now recognized the fulfillment of the the prophecies of Abinadi against his people, and he also recognized the obligation that they had to fulfill towards the Lamanites. "For it is better that we should be in bondage than that we should lose our lives."(vs. 22) In the same verse, Gideon also expresses his deeper motives for peace, "therefore, let us put a stop to the shedding of so much blood."

Ultimately, the peaceable solution was achieved through knowledge. Knowledge was imparted to the king of the Lamanites about the demise of king Noah, the escape of his wicked priests, and the very probable chance that they were the cause for their missing daughters. This same approach to knowledge and its power led the people of Limhi to meet the Lamanites on the battlefield without weapons to let the Lamanite king impart the same knowledge to those that came seeking revenge.

When we attempt to resolve any situation with force, be it physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise, we are not of a peaceable disposition. Peace is always the product of pure knowledge.  

11 June 2012

"Limhi Began to Establish the Kingdom," Mosiah 19 - Part 2

Mosiah 19

I've chosen to break this chapter up into two parts. The first part focused on the demise of king Noah. In this second part, I now focus on those that were left behind, having not chosen to follow Alma and the people of God, but who now are coming to terms with the effects of corrupt leadership. Given this, we read in verse 1, "the army of the king returned, having searched in vain for the people of the Lord."

Subsequently, the people begin to divide and contend amongst themselves(verses 2 & 3). In this division, we are introduced to Gideon, who, in my estimation, is one of the most interesting characters  in the Book of Mormon.

What makes Gideon so interesting?  In these verses, there is an element of compassion about this "enemy to the king" (vs. 4) that solicits a desire to know more about him. While at the same time, his actions suggest that there is some internal moral and social compass that causes him to seek out the well being of the people before his own desires. Given his drive in this first instance to be done with king Noah, there is not however any ambition for power in his motives. He is acting as a true statesmen putting the public good first. Perhaps this is why in the very moment that Gideon had Noah in his power to slay him, and then being apprised of the oncoming assault of the Lamanites, Gideon chose to spare Noah's life. Gideon must have seen some value for the benefit of the people in still having an organizational head in place to deal with the serious conflict that was about to ensue against the Lamanites, and for no other reason than to protect his people, Gideon spared the life of king Noah.

Jumping ahead to verse 12, when king Noah commands the men of his people to leave their women and children to flee from before the Lamanites, we see another group of individuals who would rather perish with their families rather than save their own lives. Among those that would not flee, we assume was Gideon (because he sent a group of men into the wilderness later to look for those who did flee - vs. 18) and Limhi, the son of king Noah.

I won't dwell much more on what happens in the rest of this chapter, but there is one interesting side note that comes from these verses. Alma and those that chose to follow him ultimately ended up making covenants with God. Those that were not as proactive and stayed behind, not only were experienced to a much more painful series of events, but at the end of this chapter they are making covenants, not with God, but with the Lamanites.