Book of Mormon Lesson 18
God Himself...Shall Redeem His People
A. The scriptures are full of examples of people who were called to deliver an unpopular message to an unreceptive audience. Examples include Noah, Moses leading the Children of Israel, Lehi warning the people in Jerusalem, Samuel preaching in Zarahemla, Abinadi preaching to King Noah and his people, and Joseph Smith and the restoration. Today we will be discussing Abinadi’s message to King Noah. Abinadi is one of the greatest scriptural examples of courage and standing up for the truth in the face of danger. He sealed his testimony with his life, as Joseph Smith did and as Jesus Christ did.
B. Who was Abinadi? We don’t know about his background. In chapter 11 of Mosiah it just says that he was “a man among them.” We don’t know if he was from the people who came with Zeniff back to the land of Nephi or if God had sent him from the land of Zarahemla to preach to the people in the land of Nephi or if he was from the aboriginal people or even a Lamanite. (When they introduce Alma they specifically say he was a descendant of Nephi, but we don’t get anything like that about Abinadi.).
C. Who was King Noah. Zeniff was the man who led a group of Nephites from the land of Zarahemla back to the land of Nephi which was to the South. (We don’t know where this was but there are many theories. If any of you are interested in some new theories on where the Land of Zarahemla might have been and where the Land of Nephi was I have a video I will lend you. – It might not have been in Central America as we have presumed for so many years.) Zeniff conferred the kingdom to his son Noah. We read in chapter 11 of Mosiah that Noah had many wives and concubines (we learned in Jacob that God had commanded the Nephites to have only one wife), that he taxed the people a fifth of all the possessed (which sounds oppresive, but I wish I was in their tax brachet), and that he replaced the priests of his father with his own cronies.
D. In literature writers often place characters side by side to show contrast. A few chapters back in Mosiah we read about King Benjamin. Now we are presented with King Noah. I don’t know if Mormon planed it that way or if it just worked out chronologically, but we get a great contrast between a good ruler, King Benjamin, and a bad one, King Noah. What are some differences between Benjamin and Noah?
1. Benjamin did no burden his people - Noah taxed the heck out of his people.
2. Benjamin lived simply - King Noah lived in excess (is often portrayed as a glutton.
3. Benjamin lived to serve his people - Noah believed the people should serve him.
4. Benjamin preached of the coming Christ - Noah and his priests rejected Christ.
5. Benjamin’s people repented, became a righteous and prosperous people - Noah’s people became wicked and became oppressed.
E. How important is it for us to have righteous leaders? We often don’t notice the influence of leadership.
1. Most of the men here today, if they have their coats buttoned, don’t button the bottom button. Does anyone know why? It became the fashion in the early part of the last century when King Edward got a pot belly and couldn’t button his bottom button and others emulated him. Here we are 100 years later and when we got dressed this morning we are still feeling the influence of this leader and don’t even know it.
2. Gordon B. Hinkley in his book Standing for Something said, “It is not wise, or even possible, to divorce private behavior from public leadership–though there are those who have gone to great lengths to suggest that this is the only possible vie of ‘enlightened’ individuals. They are wrong. They are deceived. By its very nature, true leadership carries with it the burden of being an example. Is it asking too much of any public officer, elected by his or her constituents, to stand tall and be a model before the people–not only in the ordinary aspects of leadership but in his or her behavior? If values aren’t established and adhered to at the top, behavior down the ranks is seriously jeopardized and undermined. Indeed, in any organization where such is the case–be it a family, or corporation, a society, or a nation– the values being neglected will in time disappear.”
II. Abinadi’s message to the people.
A. Abinadi was called to preach to a prideful people and call them to repentance. Why were the people prideful and boastful? They had just one a victory over the Lamanites. We American’s should also be mindful not to fall into pride because of our military strength and victories.
B. Why wasn’t Abinadi’s message well received? The easy answer would be “because the people were wicked.” But let’s read what Abinadi was actually saying to the people and see how well it would be received today. Read Mosiah 12:1-8.
1. What if that had been your door approach on your mission, telling people God was angry with them and that he was going to bring them into bondage, that he would bring them famine and pestilence, and smite them and destroy them. Is this the commitment pattern. I believe that if Abinadi had been taught in the MTC to build on common beliefs ext that he would still be alive today.
2. I’ve encountered people that talked like this to me and I just ignore them. The people yelling at me as I walk to the conference center telling me I’m going to Hell is an example.
3. Do we as a church have a popular message today? How is it received? What are some of the things we teach that are unpopular and “out of touch” today?
a. I have a close family member who is going through a divorce right now. Her husband is an example of what happens to someone when the spirit leaves. He was once in a bishopric and has 5 children, but now he has moved into a 3 million dollar house in Scottsdale with his girlfriend. His teenage children understand that what he is doing is wrong, but it’s harder for his younger children. They come home from his house and tell there mother, “there are beer bottles at Dad’s house” and “Daddy’s girlfriend stays the night.” Their mother has to try to that what there father is doing is wrong and not bad mouth him. And he writes her E-mails, furious that she would tell them that he was doing anything wrong. He tells his kids that there is nothing wrong with what he is doing. It give this as an example of 2 things. First, that it is hard for people to admit that what they are doing is wrong even when it is obvious. Second, that if his children follow his example than he will be held responsible just like King Noah was.
III. Abinadi’s message to King Noah and the Law of Moses.
A. In Mosiah 12:9 it says that the people were angry with Abinadi and that they brought him to King Noah. Noah threw him in prison (where Abinadi lifted weights with the Crips and the Bloods and got really buffed). They bring him before the priests and hold counsel. In vs 19 we see they try to find something to accuse him of but he holds his own.
B. They quote Isaiah 52. Mosiah 12:20-24. Why do you think the priests of King Noah chose this verse to try to catch Abinadi? Were they trying to accuse him of not bringing “good tidings” or “publishing peace.” He was preaching fire and brimstone. Abinadi later explains what this actually means.
1. This reminds be of hippy churches that emphasize “God is Love” and “Judge not” at the expense of other commandments. They have 6 commandments and 4 suggestions.
C. Abinadi responds. Read Mosiah 12:25-27.
D. The Priests respond - “We teach the Law of Moses.
E. Abinadi shows them that they do not live the law of Moses. Read Mosiah 12:29-32.
1. Abinadi spends the next 2 chapters showing them that although they say they live and teach the law of Moses, they do not.
2. King Noah first tries to have him killed and Abinadi says “Touch me not.....for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver.” He knew that God would protect him until he had delivered his Message.
3. He then goes through the 10 commandments.
F. After he reviews the law of Moses he then tells them that salvation does not come through the law of Moses. Read Mosiah 13:27-28. If salvation does not come through the law, why did he just spend a good portion of his precious time reviewing it? It is through the law that we show obedience and our faith in Christ so we can be saved by his grace.
G. Abinadi explains why they needed the law of Moses in the first place. Read Mosiah 13:29-32.
1. In what way is the law of Moses a “type of things to come?”
IV. Abinadi Testifies of Christ.
A. Abinadi spends the rest of his time in front of the counsel teaching them the most important thing he could teach them - he testifies of Christ. He tells them that all the prophets from the beginning have testified of Christ. He quotes Isaiah in chapter 14 as an example of the ancient prophets testifying of Christ.
B. Read Mosiah 15:1-5.
1. There are more scriptures in the BoM that talk about the Father and the Son being one than there are in the Bible. There is no where in the Bible that explicitly explains the Trinity the way traditional Christians believe. It’s just not in there. It is ironic that traditional Christians try to exclude us from Christianity because we don’t believe in the Trinity the same way they do, yet their view of the Trinity is better supported by the BoM than anywhere in the Bible. (Of course we don’t interpret these scriptures that way.)
C. He talks about the Atonement.
1. Read Mosiah 15:9. How does Atonement satisfy the demands of Justice and Mercy?
2. He then returns to the scripture that they had quoted to him and explains what it means. Read Mosiah 15:11-19.
a. He explains that “O how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him that bridget good tidings” does not mean someone who brings a message of sunshine and tells people that what ever they are doing is OK, but those who bear the good news of the coming Messiah and his Atonement.
D. I once told a friend of mine in medical school who didn’t think that Mormons were Christians that I didn’t think that he could open a page of the BoM that did not in some way testify of Christ. I was wrong. Someone who spent the time to count it showed that Christ is mentioned only every 1.5 pages of the BoM. However, several of those pages are over saturated with references to Christ and his atonement, such as these pages of Abinadi’s address, so I think that more than makes up for the ½ page here and there that does not mention him specifically.
V. Abinadi seals his testimony with his death. Was his mission a success?
A. Abinadi set out to call King Noah, his priests and his people to repentance. Was he successful? Only one of the priests believed him. But who was he? Alma. What did Alma do? Converted thousands and became the leader of the Church for all the people of Nephi. Also, the rest of the BoM up to the Book of Mormon were written by his direct descendants. Alma–> Alma—> Helaman —> Helaman —> Nephi —> Nephi. Over half of the BoM is an abridgement of the writings of Alma and his descendants. Was Abinadi’s mission a success?
B. A story told by Gordon B. Hinkley:
“You don’t know how much good you can do; you can’t foresee the results of the effort you put in. Years ago, President Charles A. Callis, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, but who previously was president of the Southern States Mission for twenty-five years, told me this story. He said that he had a missionary in the southern [United States] who came in to get his release at the conclusion of his mission. His mission president said to him, ‘Have you had a good mission?’
“He said, ‘No.’
“ ‘How is that?’
“ ‘Well, I haven’t had any results from my work. I have wasted my time and my father’s money. It’s been a waste of time.’
“Brother Callis said, ‘Haven’t you baptized anyone?’
“He said, ‘I baptized only one person during the two years that I have been here. That was a twelve-year-old boy up in the back hollows of Tennessee.’
“He went home with a sense of failure. Brother Callis said, ‘I decided to follow that boy who had been baptized. I wanted to know what became of him. …
“… ‘I followed him through the years. He became the Sunday School Superintendent, and he eventually became the branch president. He married. He moved off the little tenant farm on which he and his parents before him had lived and got a piece of ground of his own and made it fruitful. He became the district president. He sold that piece of ground in Tennessee and moved to Idaho and bought a farm along the Snake River and prospered there. His children grew. They went on missions. They came home. They had children of their own who went on missions.’
“Brother Callis continued, ‘I’ve just spent a week up in Idaho looking up every member of that family that I could find and talking to them about their missionary service. I discovered that, as the result of the baptism of that one little boy in the back hollows of Tennessee by a missionary who thought he had failed, more than 1,100 people have come into the Church.’
“You never can foretell the consequences of your work, my beloved brethren and sisters, when you serve as missionaries” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinkley , 360–61).
A. Abinadi did not shrink from a very difficult and in the end deadly assignment from the Lord. Although in his life he never saw the fruits of his labors, if it had not been for him we would not have the rest of the BoM. And he taught the most important thing there is to teach in this world, the saving power Jesus Christ. I testify that I know that Christ lives and that thought his Atonement we can be saved. Amen.
Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual
Hinckley, Gordon B. - Standing for Something