Friday, April 30, 2010

Mosiah 20

In this chapter, Gideon says "are not the words of Abinadi fulfilled against us-and all this because we would not hearken unto the words of the Lord, and turn from our iniquities?" What a different world this would be if people not only believed the words of the prophets who are now dead, but the ones who are living. It has always been that the majority of the people will reject living prophets but hold to dead ones. Nearly every prophet in history had been denied by the majority of the people. When they did believe and follow the living prophet, they prospered. When they didn't their society usually suffered in some major way. The same is true of the Savior. When the majority of the people believe and follow him, society prospers. We were a nation founded on Christian values and our nation has prospered like none other in history. The same can hold true for each of us as individuals.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mosiah 19

Was the death of Abinadi the last straw for much of King Noah's people and is that why his kingdom began to fall apart? He's hated enough that Gideon is going to kill him and no one is trying to save his life. It's only because the Lamanite armies attack his life is momentarily saved. The cowardice of Noah is amazing. He wants the men to stay with him for protection so he orders them to leave the women and children behind to be slain by the Lamanites. This is enough for the people and in the end, they fulfill Abinadi's prophecy by burning Noah to death. I wonder if they said something to him like, "All the Abinadi had said was true but you ignored him and now look at what you have allowed to happen to the people. You can die just as you caused him to die." In the end, only the pleading of the women to the Lamanites preserved them. The Lamanites inflict a harsh rule over them keeping them in the land under guard and taking a half of everything they own and produce. All of this typical of what happens when a nation becomes morally corrupt. Noah had allowed the defenses to become weak undoubtedly because the resources that would have been used to maintain a defensive force were funneled into his selfish purposes. By the time the Laminates came, the country was unable to stand against them. It's interesting that Limhi has enough integrity and is recognized by the people as a just man and is made king even though he's Noah's son. He must have been outstanding because normally people would reject any close relative of someone who had brought such disaster upon them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mosiah 18

Alma teaches the people in secret so they aren't discovered by Noah. He ends up with 450 converts who are baptized and organized into a church with a priesthood leader ordained for every 50 people. Alma has the authority given to him to be able to baptize, teach and ordain others but the scriptures don't say who he received the authority from. I like to think he received his authority from an angel but its possible he received it from someone among the people who had authority to ordain. Since the people were in total apostasy and no organized church was among them, it's possible that an angel was the only way to receive ordination. However, it is possible that being ordained a high priest in King Noah's court was originally a valid ordination. It's also a possibility that he was ordained by Abinadi.

I like verse 26 which says that those who were ordained priests by Alma didn't not relay on the people for their sustenance but instead received the grace of God. To me this means they were sustained and supported by God and as a result they waxed strong in the Spirit, received knowledge from God, as well as power and authority. There is much to be spiritually learned by working with our own hands and making our own way in life if our eyes and hearts are open. It's easy to let the duties of life become mundane and ordinary when great things can be discovered by the Spirit if we're sensitive.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mosiah 17

Here we see the difference between courage and cowardice. We have two examples of courage in Alma and Abinadi and the cowardice of Noah. Alma risks his life in pleading for Abinadi and accepting the truth of his words. Abinadi is willing to die for the truth. And Noah, rather than face the truth, tries to have Alma killed and executes Abinadi. It's interesting that Noah won't execute Abinadi because of the sins Abinadi accused him of committing, but executes him for saying the Christ would come. If there is no Christ, there is no redemption. If there's no redemption, there is no sin. By denying Christ, he can continue to justify is wickedness. Noah's cowardice is also evident in that he's afraid of what Abinadi said concerning the judgment Noah will have to face, but not even his fear isn't strong enough to do the right thing.

From now on, everything we read in the Book of Mormon will be from records kept by Alma's descendents, Abinadi's one convert.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mosiah 16

Abinadi finishes his testimony by testifying that if the priests continue to pursue their carnal desires, their will be no redemption for them in spite of the great atonement and sacrifice of the Lord. He shows the priests how if Christ were not to come, there would be no redemption at all, no resurrection, no hope for after this life. But because of Christ, there will be a resurrection, everyone will receive an immortal body and those who have been good will be received into a state of happiness and peace. But people like Noah and the priests will suffer great anguish and the severe consequences that justice requires because they failed to listen to the Lord who had extended his arms of mercy to them, warning them and commanding them to repent. The Lord does this because he loves them and desires that they will understand his great gift that is offered to them. He not only sees the consequences of their actions in their lives, but in the lives of the people who follow them. Abinadi ends his testimony returning to his first question, if you teach the law of Moses, why don't you keep it? The law of Moses is symbolic of the sacrifice of Christ and if they understood and taught the law of Moses correctly, they would also teach that redemption comes through Christ.

Abinadi's arguments are so logical and so powerful that undoubtedly Noah and his priests would have been left sitting their in silence not knowing what to say. But as we shall see in the next chapter, they are so saturated in their wickedness and pride that their being dumb founded is not based on he's right, what should we do? But on how can they get rid of this man so they don't have to face what he says? There is no concern for right or wrong, only concern for their power and position and the desire to continue in their wickedness. These are all, except one, truly wicked men.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mosiah 15

This is another extra special chapter in the Book of Mormon. It is obvious that like Nephi and Moses and the other prophets, Abinadi has seen by vision the birth, life and death of Christ. He gives a powerful testimony of Christ, his ministry, sacrifice, his power over sin and death, and how he is filled with mercy for those who follow him. He explains how Christ also has the title of Father. I think there are four reasons why Christ has the title of Father. One, he is in every way the same as his Father because he is spiritually and physically begotten by the Father. No other being is both physically and spiritually born of the Father. The second reason is, he is the Father of all creation being the creator of the universe including our earth and all life within it. Third, he is a Father by divine investiture of authority having all authority given to him of God. And fourth, he is a Father by reason of the spiritual and physical rebirth that takes place in each person because of the atonement and resurrection.

Abinadi now begins to explain the meaning of the scripture Noah's priests quoted thinking they were going to trick Abinadi into contradicting himself. But Abinadi interprets the passage in such a sublime and powerful way the priests must have been both embarrassed of their lack of knowledge and in awe of Abinadi's. As background, Abinadi tells them what Isaiah 53, that he has just quoted, and explains who the seed of Christ is. He says they are the ones who are his spiritual offspring. They are all those who have heard the words of the prophets (the prophets are also the seed of Christ) and believed their words and believed that redemption comes through Christ. These are his seed. These are the ones who will be redeemed. Then he says shows how this is what is meant by the scripture quoted by the priests, "How beautiful are the feet of those that publish peace." This refers to Christ and all those who testify of him because if it weren't for Christ, all mankind would perish for eternity upon their death. But because of Christ, all will be resurrected and those who are righteous will come forth in the first resurrection and gain eternal life in the celestial kingdom. Abinadi explains that there are three groups of people who will come forth in the first resurrection: those who are the seed of Christ who believed and kept the words of the prophets, the righteous who died in ignorance of Christ, and little children. Then he tells the priests they should be should be scared to death and shaking in their boots because anyone who knows the commandments and turns their back on Christ and lives wickedly as the priests do will face the demands of justice. Mercy will not be available to them and they will not be redeemed.

I am in awe of the power of Abinadi's courageous testimony. The power of his words must have set the priests back on their heels. It certainly affected one of them, the one being Alma.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mosiah 14

Abinadi quotes Isaiah 53, the great prophecy on Christ. Isaiah lived over 700 years before Christ and this prophecy is amazingly accurate. We have the blessing of having seen the prophecy fulfilled and history has proven the truth of what Isaiah said. With Abinadi and King Noah, it's still about 150 years before Christ will come and so they are faced with having a belief and faith in something that hasn't happened yet. We are in a similar situation, we have to have faith and belief that the prophecies of Christ's second coming are true. There as many specific prophecies of Christ's second coming as there were of his birth if not more. The Old Testament is full of symbolism and all things pointed to the coming of a Messiah. But since his birth, all prophecies and all religious events have dealt with the preparation for his second coming and the millennium. So just as the prophets before Christ testified of and prepared the people for Christ's birth, ministry and atonement, all prophets today testify of and are preparing the people for his second coming. Just as the people then had a choice in what they would believe, we have a similar choice today.

Mosiah 13

There is a delicate balance between the Lord respecting man’s free agency and the Lord controlling events and their outcomes. Here the Lord protects Abinadi by prohibiting the priests of Noah to kill him. He will still allow them their agency to do this, but protecting Abinadi until he has testified their sins accomplishes two things, he is giving the priest and Noah a last chance to repent (important for Alma), and he is also making them fully accountable for what their actions, especially their desire to murder a prophet. They will be left without excuse. This tells me that no matter how wicked, the Lord will persevere with people until all hope for their redemption is gone. He will not remove the consequences of our actions, but he will not stop trying to help them and bring them back to a fullness of happiness and joy. So here, Abinadi begins his testimony of Christ because the priests and Noah do not understand the scriptures, the need for a redeemer, and their responsibility as leaders and priests to teach the people concerning these things. When he is done, the priests and Noah will know he speaks the truth, it will be a matter for them to accept it or reject.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mosiah 12

The people of King Noah have become so wicked that between verses 2 and 8, Abinadi prophecies 12 things that will happen to the people if they do not change. The final and worst possibility is their complete destruction. They reject Abinadi's prophecies and rationalize their and the king's behavior and testify of their strength and properity. Then the priests of King Noah question Abinadi asking him a question about a passage in Isaiah supposing they know the answer and Abinadi can be caught in a snare when he answers it. He skillfully turns it back on them with his own questions. Abinadi traps the priests in their own words when they say teach the people the law of Moses. Abinadi then lists the ten commandments and shows how they not only don't understand the law of Moses but do not live themselves. Those who are unrighteous will often criticize those who are righteous. They will claim the righteous are unrighteous to make it appear that they themselves are righteous.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mosiah 11

King Noah is the typical immoral and dishonest leader. He ousts all of the legitimate priests and replaces them with people who are like him. He taxes the people an unusually high amount and uses the the money to live lavishly and immorally. They have a victory over the Lamanites and consider themselves so strong they can never be defeated. So he is a corrupt leader who feeds off the people. It says he and the priests were prideful, lazy, idolatrous and committed whoredoms. Their hearts were set on their riches and there harlots and they're drunkards. A nice group of people to be leading the nation, not unlike some of our politicians today.

Enter Abinadi. He goes among the people and warns them of their wickedness saying the Lord will deliver them into the hands of their enemies and they will be placed in bondage. He tells them that after they have suffered and they begin to turn back to him, he will be slow to hear their prayers. Noah hears about Abinadi and wants Abinadi brought before him so he can kill him. It's always interesting that those who don't want to hear the truth, do everything they need to bury it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mosiah 10

Zeniff recounts how they had many wars with the Lamanites having to send children and old men into battle because of their fewer numbers. The Lamanites have raised generation after generation on false traditions concerning how the Nephites and Lamanites became a separate people. To me, this demonstrates how important it is for parents to teach their children truth and correct principles. Lamanites feel they were dealt with unjustly by Nephi and Lehi. Had they taught their children to be just and fair, their children would have sought to find out what is right. At any rate, Zeniff and his people prevail because they are righteous and have the strength of the Lord on their side.

If Zeniff was a man of the Lord, and he appears to have been, I wonder why he conferred his kingdom on Noah. Was Noah the oldest and so by birthright given the right to rule? It was a bad choice for sure.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mosiah 9

We’re going back in time now and this chapter begins the record of Zeniff. He is the man who first led the group of people out of Zarahemla back to the land of Nephi, the same group that Ammon has found years later. To begin with, Zeniff had been a mission to spy on the Lamanites in the land of Nephi to determine how to destroy their armies. But during that mission, he saw much that was good in the Lamanite people and did not want to kill them. This upset his commanding officer who was blood thirsty to destroy the Lamanites. He ordered Zeniff to be killed but an uprising rescued Zeniff and the battle ended up killing most of the force. Zeniff and those remaining returned to Zarahemla, but Zeniff was restless to go back to the land of Nephi. He got a permission to take a group back. The Lamanite king agreed to let them settle on land and after twelve years they were established and producing animals and food. The Lamanite king saw that they could become strong enough to overpower them so he sent forces to kill the people and take their food and animals. In the first battle, Zeniff’s people win killing over 3,000 of the Lamanites while only losing 279 of their own people.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mosiah 8

King Limhi’s people have tried to find their way back to Zarahemla but failed. In their expeditions, they have found the remains of the people of Jared who migrated separately to the new world at the time of the Tower of Babel. They found the 24 gold plates of the Jaredites that Joseph Smith wasn’t allowed to translate and the Lord sealed them so he couldn’t. However, Limhi asks Ammon if there is someone who can translate them and he tells them that King Mosiah can because he is a seer and can use the urim and thummim. Limhi thinks that a seer must be greater even than a prophet, probably thinking at that a prophet can foretell things while a seer can know things past and present. Ammon explains that seer is a prophet and a revelator also. He explains that a seer can know things and behold things that are past and present, that all things can be made known to him. And this is what we sustain our prophets and apostles to be, prophets, seers and revelators.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mosiah 7

In Omni verse 27, a large group of people who evidently missed the land of Nephi where Nephi’s temple is, left Zarahemla and went back to the land of Nephi and they were never heard from again. King Mosiah agrees to let Ammon lead 16 people back to Nephi to see what happened to them. They find them and their appointed king Zeniff. After learning that Ammon and his men are not Lamanite spies, Zeniff is hopeful that Ammon will be able to lead his people in an escape from the Lamanites back to Zarahemla and he calls the people together to speak to them.

Getting the people to flee will be difficult because of their great fear of the Lamanites. Zeniff recounts how the Lamanites have killed Abinadi and how they will lose the help of the Lord because they will dwindle in unbelief. Then he makes a promise, “If ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.”

This promise is based on a principle that can bless our lives. Whenever our lives are governed by fear, we are in bondage because fear stops us from acting, and our inaction keeps us from enjoying the real desires of our hearts. If we move forward trusting the Lord, we can move through the fear and find the blessings we seek. I know for a fact that the things we fear are never a reality and do not come to pass. Satan uses fear to keep us from enjoying the important things of life, what we would most want and what the Lord would also want for us. And the fear I believe to be the most common and universal is the fear to love and be loved. Whether it is the fear to love another person or to love the Lord or both, that fear keeps us from experiencing the greatest thing life has to offer us and it is what the Lord wants us to experience more than anything else in this life.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mosiah 5 and 6

This chapter deals with taking upon you the name of Christ and what that implies. Since I wrote about that in Your Divine Purpose, I’m going to focus two words as they are used in this chapter: faith and knowledge. These really are two simple principles and so important. The people say they have faith in the words the King Benjamin spoke, and because of that faith, they know of their truth and are sure of it. As a result, they say the Spirit has manifested unto them great views of that which is to come and it has brought to them a great knowledge. Later, in verse 13, King Benjamin tells them that the way to know the Savior is to serve him and drawing the logical comparison of a servant and a master. If a servant never meets or serves a master, he asks how could the servant ever know him? If we put that in today’s vernacular, we would say, “If I never met my boss and never worked for him, how would I know anything about him?” For us, if we believe the words of King Benjamin (or any prophet or scripture), we can gain great views of that which has come and come to a great knowledge.

It’s so important to have faith in something, to believe it is true. A person can start with something simple as a starting point. If they act on that belief, the Spirit will confirm the truth of that belief and reveal more truth. It isn’t true, the Spirit will let them know that also and because of that that a correct truth will replace the error. A most important thing for them is to not fear the truth or what the reactions of people might be who have not yet learned it.

When you act on a belief, learn it’s truth, that is both an act of faith and brings us knowledge. When we continue in that knowledge, we come to more truth. Since all truth is revealed through the Spirit, it will eventually lead us to the source of all truth and that is our Father in Heaven and Christ.

Mosiah 6

Mormon gives us a little history telling us of the great unity of beliefe among all of the people except children who are too young to understand. In chapter 26, these children will become rebellious. Mormon also tells us of King Benjamin’s death three years after conferring the crown upon Mosiah and how Mosiah is much like his father, working along side the people so he does not burden them with having to support him.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mosiah 4

Mormon describes the people of King Benjamin as having a peace of consciousness. I think this is a great gift that the Lord gives us when we live our lives right. Peace of consciousness puts things in perspective. When we have it, everything else seems to fall into place. King Benjamin’s people obtained this by allowing the atonement to remove the objectionable things that were a part of their lives. When our lives conform to the Lord’s will, not the church’s (although there is a connection there), not other people’s will, but to the Lord’s, we discover that our life is where it should be. Then like it says of King Benjamin’s people, we come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, we understand his power, his wisdom, and just how extensive his patience and understanding of us is. Some people feel they just can’t be that perfect, or they shouldn’t be forced to be a certain way. But there is no need to be perfect and the Lord doesn’t force to be anything. We are already who and what we should be. The Lord just makes us a little better. I believe that deep inside, we understand our own uniqueness and we don’t want to ever lose that. We will do anything to hold onto it because to be someone else would be to betray our own selves. The Lord doesn’t want us to lose that uniqueness either.

King Benjamin teaches that if we can come to understand our dependence on God, if we will be humble, pray every day and be steadfast in our belief, we will always have a reason to rejoice because we have this peace of consciousness. King Benjamin promises that we will grow in our knowledge, not just of God, but a knowledge of his glory. He explains that this is to grow in the knowledge of what is true.

I like what he says about caring for the poor. If we have the means, we should give without ever judging why the person is poor. If we don’t have the means and our hearts are such that we would give if we could, that is sufficient to the Lord. He also says that all of these things should be done in wisdom and in order. To me, the order is the fast donation program. It also means that I will give when I can to others who need it, but I don’t have to give to every person on the street that I see.

Finally, King Benjamin says we should govern our words, are thoughts and our deeds. That is a good way to govern our life.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mosiah 3

An angel has come to King Benjamin in the night. I wonder who he was, if he could have been Nephi. That would make sense to me. The angel testifies to King Benjamin of the coming of Christ and his testimony starts with verse 5 and goes to the end of the chapter. King Benjamin is quoting the angel’s words to the people. King Benjamin would have known about Christ’s coming, but having it testified of by an angel must have been a deeply moving experience and impressed on his mind the importance of his bearing witness of this to the people. This great prophecy of Christ is the only prophecy of his birth that we have where Mary is mentioned by name.

It is in this verse that we learn more of the Savior suffering in the atonement for our sins to the extent that it caused him to bleed at every pore. The angel testifies of the resurrection and also clarifies something that hasn’t been discussed very much yet and that is how the atonement covers children and people who have never had the opportunity to learn the gospel, who sinned without knowing they were sinning. The angel also tells Benjamin the importance of the name of Christ which will greatly have an effect on his people and we’ll learn more of in Chapter 5.

The angel also tells how it is possible to put of the natural man and become a spiritual person. To me this is how we tune into our best selves, how we learn to not be selfish, to find more meaning and purpose in life and how we can have deeper and more loving relationships.

The great thing about this prophecy is how positive it is. The angel tells King Benjamin that the Lord has heard his prayers and recognized his righteousness, and because of those two things, the angel is appearing to him. The angel commands King Benjamin that he is to teach the people what he will say so he and the people can find joy and rejoice. Promises fill the chapter and we can’t help but feel better about life and ourselves if we ponder the meaning of how these promises effect each of our lives and the lives of those around us.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mosiah 2

I have always pictured King Benjamin as a kind, loving grandfather figure. He tells everyone that he’s no better than they are, that is not going to accuse anyone of anything, or condemn them, but in order to fulfill his responsibilities as a prophet, he must teach them certain things so that once the people know, they will be responsible. As a prophet, if he doesn’t teach them, he will be accountable for their sins. That is a heavy and fearful responsibility. He asks the people to open theirs ears so they will hear, their hearts so they will understand, and their minds so the mysteries of God can be seen. I shut these down far too often.

There are many memorable and important verses in this chapter, but what I gather from them is isn’t explicitly said. What impresses me is that God wants us to do two things, one is be true to our best selves, who we really are, to do those things that we know make us a better person. To do that, I have to look deep inside and honestly ask myself on a continual basis if I’m being true to the person that God knows I am, the one I seem to lose track of. The second thing is, I have no conception of how much God blesses me every day. I am totally unaware of the number of times that he has guided me and protected me without my knowing it. If I were aware, I think I would be amazed. King Benjamin tells us that each breath we take is because God gives it to us. I think from that, we can know that he is blessing us every moment of every day, even at times when we don’t deserve it. And if we are true to who we really are, much greater blessings will flow, far beyond what we would have expected. Too often, we sell ourselves far too short.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mosiah 1

Two things that relate to each other are talked about in this chapter. Aside from these two things, what's important historically is King Benjamin explaining that he's going to name Mosiah as the next king. But with the two things that stand out to me, one is King Benjamin's telling his sons that if weren't for the brass plates, the people would have have digressed until they became the same as the Lamanites. The other is that King Benjamin is going to give the people a name that will distinguish them from all other people. If it were not for scriptures, people would cease to be spiritual. The world spirituality is the pathway to finding the essence of one's own being. So meditation and other things are used to enable a person to go deep into their thoughts and feelings and discover who they are at the core. This is good and people would be better for doing it. But true spirituality is when a person is able to establish an ongoing relationship with God through the Holy Ghost. This enables a person to not only discover who they really are, but enables them to know God, their purpose in life, and to receive revelation which gives them knowledge that transcends what the person can discover for themselves. When a person is truly spiritual, and has the testimony of Christ, and has taken upon themselves the name of Christ, they become different from all other people in the world. To me the message is, how important the scriptures are, and how important it is to take upon ourselves the name of Christ in order to gain spirituality.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Words Of Mormon

When you think of the setting of these verses, they become very meaningful.
This could be the very last thing that Mormon wrote and it is very poignant
in places. He knows his life will not last much longer and has seen most of
his people and his family killed. To understand the setting, we have to
consider where we are in relation to what's been written on the plates.

Nephi made two sets of plates, the small and the large. Nephi first started
engraving the large plates writing the history of his people. While doing
this, the Lord commanded him to make a set of smaller plates and write more
sacred things on them along with an abbreviated version of their history.
Everything up to now that we've been reading was on these smaller plates.

The large plates continued to be written on up to the time of Mormon and
Moroni and the end of the Book of Mormon. Because there was so much
rcorded, Mormon wrote a shortened version on his own set of plates. Joseph
Smith first started translating Mormon's plates and got up to the point
where we are in the Book of Mormon, but Martin Harris lost that translation.

Before Mormon gave his plates to Moroni, he found the small plates of Nephi.
He saw a small amount of space for engraving on them so he wrote these
words, the Words of Mormon, at the end of the small plates saying how he was
inspired to attach the small plates to his own. He says the Spirit
whispered to him to attach them for a wise purpose that he didn't
understand. He hoped that it would help convert his people some time in
the future.

Mormon also gives a bit of background to take us into the Book of Mosiah.