In a previous 5-part series entitled, “The Covenant Path Unveiled,” we uncovered the Savior’s personal teaching of what His true saving doctrine is (3Nephi 11-26). Though the term “covenant path” is not found in scripture, His saving doctrine is referred to by other names in scripture including “my doctrine,” “the doctrine of Christ,” “the gospel” and others. He teaches some important characteristics of His doctrine. He also includes the very few, yet essential steps or milestones that you personally have to fulfill or receive. If you have not yet studied through that 5-part series, I encourage you to do that first before studying this additional witness.
The purpose of that 5-part series was to clarify what the covenant path really is, to unveil the simplicity and beauty of the true covenant path so that it does not lose its meaning, and that you might know the true way to personal redemption. As I stated about the Savior’s own teachings (3Nephi 11-26), my witness is that any other teaching of what the covenant path is other than what is taught by the Savior is rooted in darkness to frustrate your personal journey “in and through Jesus Christ.”
Previously, we have unveiled additional witnesses to the Lord’s witness:
- Witness of Nephi
- Witness of Jacob
- Witness of Enos
- Witness of Jarom, Omni & their posterity
- Witness of King Benjamin
In future posts you will continue to see the witness of more Book of Mormon prophets.
By now you should be reading the Book of Mormon with new eyes. If you have yet to see that the Book of Mormon was restored as an additional witness of the Everlasting Covenant and the doctrine of Christ, I invite you to study The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide. A person that reads the Book of Mormon without this critical understanding may miss the mark all together.
This is part 1 of 2 Abinadi’s witness of the true covenant path. Part one will uncover Mosiah chapters 11-12. Part two will include an index summary of Mosiah chapters 12-16.
I will always invite you to first read it on your own and use the spirit of the Lord to help you see the doctrine of Christ with new eyes. Then feel free to supplement your own reading with mine. Use the spirit to discern any of my messages as the Lord will help you discern. The index that I compiled is only there to help clarify the simplicity and beauty of Christ’s saving doctrine. The outline will follow the exact format from the 5-part series. As always, study these chapters and verses yourself beyond what is listed for more context and personal understanding. Brothers and sisters, this is the doctrine (path) of personal salvation and complete redemption.
Part 1 of 2: The Plight of Abinadi
Before we dig in on the witness of Abinadi (part two), we have to set the scene and remind you of this very rich context which is full of insights. It is here in this context that the witness of Abinadi will come alive if you have spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear. As you do this, I invite you to once again remember the pure intent and divine purpose in which Mormon selected these brief records from within the vast piles of records available to him. I testify to you that every word, every paragraph and every bit of Mormon’s commentary of every record preserved in the Book of Mormon was 100% intentional and inspired. Also, keep in mind that there is a natural man/woman tendency to see what you want to see and likewise also to not see what you don’t want to see. Thus, a broken heart, contrite spirit and the Lord’s spirit of revelation and discernment is a must-have.
Now, let’s understand the leadership of Noah, the leadership under him and the culture that was created. To do that we’ll deep dive into the eleventh and twelfth chapters of Mosiah:
1 And now it came to pass that Zeniff conferred the kingdom upon Noah, one of his sons; therefore Noah began to reign in his stead; and he did not walk in the ways of his father.
2 For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God [both written and personal revelation], but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.
3 And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain.
4 And all this did he take to support himself, and his wives and his concubines; and also his priests, and their wives and their concubines; thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom.
Note: Polygamy is not a doctrine—it has always been a “practice” (same family as policies and procedures) adopted by certain people and cultures throughout history. Polygamy was manipulated into a doctrine as it later became required for salvation or even exaltation by altering Joseph Smith’s original revelations years after the martyrdom (e.g. D&C 101, 132, etc.; see also Joseph Smith Papers and other sources). There is such a thing as a doctrine of family that deserves its own sermon, but this is not the right application of the doctrine of family. This wickedness of polygamy and committing other sin was not necessarily as strange to them as you might think. Remember, it was an accepted practice among the people as evidenced by their knowledge of the escapades of King David and his son, Solomon which would have been contained in the brass plates. Sin and abominations lead to more sin as, “They did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.”
5 For he put down all the priests that had been consecrated by his father, and consecrated new ones in their stead, such as were lifted up in the pride of their hearts.
He replaced priests with those that would go along with his unrighteous leadership style and culture.
6 Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.
Noah was a telestial kingdom builder. His interests were in establishing a true hierarchy where leaders were asking others to serve the interests of leaders. This is very subtle, but Noah “used” the spiritual or religious side of their societal organization to build up his own temporal kingdom—having the appearance of spiritual by using titles like “priest” or even “high priests” which were empty, hollow and never carried with them gifts of the spirit. Ideally, leaders should be serving the spiritual needs of the people. Contrast Noah with King Benjamin. The kingdom of God is not of this world and is never encapsulated in a telestial religious institution. However, it can be found individually within you (Luke 17:20-21) in the form of the gift of the Holy Ghost (the glory of God placed within you as a transponder).
7 Yea, and they also became idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering things unto them.
Idolatry is placing any person or thing as an intermediary between you and the Lord. This is true no matter the religious title or prestige. A person becomes idolatrous when they believe their salvation is given to them through another person or religious institution—as if their mere association or membership with the institution offers them salvation. The truth is that the scriptures say, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before [the Lord]” (Alma 34:37; Moroni 9:27). If you have been told or taught that a person or any religious institution offers you salvation or exaltation, you have been deceived—”Yea, Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine (the doctrine of Christ); and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them” (D&C 10:63).
Flattery is a literal device of the adversary (see The 3 Voices of Personal Revelation Study Guide). This is true among all people. This is subtle, as all devices of the adversary are, even to leading any person or group of people to an “all is well in Zion” mentality (2 Nephi 28).
8 And it came to pass that king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper;
9 And he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things.
10 And he also caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple, of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass.
There are some that believe there is a relationship between the amount of money or telestial sacrifice put into a building and the Lord’s appreciation of it, or even the blessings placed within it. People apply heavy adornments that are pleasing to the eye in order to capture the attention of others to attempt to send a subtle message of religious or righteous supremacy. This cannot be further from the truth. God can make any place on earth holy. A temple of God is the body or housing for one’s spirit. This is the house that was always meant to be sanctified and purified as if by fire (baptism of fire and Holy Ghost). A broken heart and contrite spirit is the only requirement that the Lord asks in order to receive all that the Lord has to offer.
11 And the seats which were set apart for the high priests, which were above all the other seats, he did ornament with pure gold; and he caused a breastwork to be built before them, that they might rest their bodies and their arms upon while they should speak lying and vain words to his people.
These adornments to these seats were very purposeful. They sent a message of superiority and false authority. Divine authority is only given of God. Titles are not a guarantee of divine authority. A person that accepts or receives a title in order to manage people or operate a religious institution must always receive their authority from the Lord. Authority from the Lord will be known or exhibited only through gifts of the spirit (fruits). A person that accepts or receives a title has organizational authority because it is granted through the people. The opposite of that is a coup where a leader is removed from organizational authority where the people no longer give permission for that person(s) to preside over them. A person can individually and symbolically remove unrighteous spiritual organizational authority over them by repenting. Repentance is merely removing all people/things (idols) that stand between them and the Lord and making a formal commitment, or recommitment, to the Lord. It is part of the Everlasting Covenant—to make the Lord your Prophet (personal revelation), Priest, King and Judge. This is the one thing that the children of Israel could never completely do (as a whole) even to the time when Christ came among them in the meridian of time. Instead of having an eye single to the glory of God, they promoted people (prophets, priests, kings, judges, Pharisees, Sadducees, etc.) to have organizational authority over them. Moses just happened to be the first (D&C 84:18-28) in a long line of unbroken organizational authority.
Lying also includes not telling the complete truth. Vain words means that they assumed the authority to speak by the gift of prophecy (gift of the spirit). Lying and vain words only serve one purpose—to maintain organizational control over a people. Lying and vain words promote bondage while truth will literally set you free. More on this later.
12 And it came to pass that he built a tower near the temple; yea, a very high tower, even so high that he could stand upon the top thereof and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon, which was possessed by the Lamanites; and he could even look over all the land round about.
13 And it came to pass that he caused many buildings to be built in the land Shilom; and he caused a great tower to be built on the hill north of the land Shilom, which had been a resort for the children of Nephi at the time they fled out of the land; and thus he did do with the riches which he obtained by the taxation of his people.
14 And it came to pass that he placed his heart upon his riches, and he spent his time in riotous living with his wives and his concubines; and so did also his priests spend their time with harlots.
15 And it came to pass that he planted vineyards round about in the land; and he built wine-presses, and made wine in abundance; and therefore he became a wine-bibber, and also his people.
Wine was to be used for the sacrament—a sacred offering. A pretty blatant thing to disregard all things spiritual.
16 And it came to pass that the Lamanites began to come in upon his people, upon small numbers, and to slay them in their fields, and while they were tending their flocks.
The organizational resources that were supposed to be used to set up borders and protection from outside evil were already committed to support the King and his leadership.
17 And king Noah sent guards round about the land to keep them off; but he did not send a sufficient number, and the Lamanites came upon them and killed them, and drove many of their flocks out of the land; thus the Lamanites began to destroy them, and to exercise their hatred upon them.
18 And it came to pass that king Noah sent his armies against them, and they were driven back, or they drove them back for a time; therefore, they returned rejoicing in their spoil.
19 And now, because of this great victory they were lifted up in the pride of their hearts; they did boast in their own strength, saying that their fifty could stand against thousands of the Lamanites; and thus they did boast, and did delight in blood, and the shedding of the blood of their brethren, and this because of the wickedness of their king and priests.
20 And it came to pass that there was a man among them whose name was Abinadi; and he went forth among them, and began to prophesy, saying: Behold, thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me, saying, Go forth, and say unto this people, thus saith the Lord—Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms; and except they repent I will visit them in mine anger.
“Thus saith the Lord” is the proper phrase for a servant of the Lord when exercising the gift of prophecy (gift of the spirit). It delineates between one’s own personal ideas, thoughts, opinions, counsel, advice, etc. and the actual words coming from the Lord. The servant is responsible for making this delineation. It is a false tradition that every word that comes out of the mouth of a servant is from the Lord.
“It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they write. I don’t care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard church works.”Harold B. Lee, “Stand Ye In Holy Places” pg 162-163
“Though general authorities are authorities in the sense of having power to administer church affairs, they may or may not be authorities in the sense of doctrinal knowledge, the intricacies of church Procedures, or the receipt of the promptings of the Spirit. A call to an administrative position of itself adds little knowledge or power of discernment to an individual, although every person called to a position in the Church does grow in grace, knowledge, and power by magnifying the calling given him.”Mormon Doctrine, “General Authorities”
The words of the Lord come through a servant by way of the gift of prophecy because the people collectively are deaf to the voice of the Lord. There is an section in the Appendix A of The Doctrine of Christ Study Guide that has dozens of other quotes on this same subject.
21 And except they repent and turn to the Lord their God [the true meaning of repentance], behold, I will deliver them into the hands of their enemies; yea, and they shall be brought into bondage; and they shall be afflicted by the hand of their enemies.
22 And it shall come to pass that they shall know that I am the Lord their God, and am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of my people.
23 And it shall come to pass that except this people repent and turn unto the Lord their God, they shall be brought into bondage; and none shall deliver them, except it be the Lord the Almighty God.
The Lord in His infinite wisdom, mercy, and even justice allows for people to experience bondage. He does this for multiple reasons, one being that it allows people to experience both light and dark, enabling them to experience opposition in all things. Another reason is that it allows people to see that only the Lord can deliver a person or people both spiritually and temporally. By experiencing temporal bondage, spiritual liberty and freedom (being released from spiritual bondage) is the real lesson to be learned. To be released from spiritual bondage is “salvation”—received when a person receives their baptism of fire and Holy Ghost.
24 Yea, and it shall come to pass that when they shall cry unto me I will be slow to hear their cries; yea, and I will suffer them that they be smitten by their enemies.
25 And except they repent in sackcloth and ashes, and cry mightily to the Lord their God, I will not hear their prayers, neither will I deliver them out of their afflictions; and thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me.
“Except they repent” is the theme of the Lord as it relates to receiving salvation. He is teaching eternal principles. Principles are spiritual.
26 Now it came to pass that when Abinadi had spoken these words unto them they were wroth with him, and sought to take away his life; but the Lord delivered him out of their hands.
Why would Abinadi’s own people reject him and his message so much to even seek his life? This speaks volumes about the people’s knowledge of the scriptures (written records/plates). The message of spiritual salvation and even temporal bondage was unfamiliar to them at this point having spent years enveloped in their culture of idolatry—idolatry where they became so dependent upon a king (considered a spiritual leader). Nephite law allowed for the people to be placed in prison if there were active teachings against their laws (stirring them up). The problem is that they saw Abinadi’s message as contrary to their own law/gospel teachings. This is an obvious sign of apostasy. Apostasy is falling away from the Lord’s doctrine, not necessarily a religious institution’s teachings. Abinadi was protected in this case because his work as a servant was not yet completed.
27 Now when king Noah had heard of the words which Abinadi had spoken unto the people, he was also wroth; and he said: Who is Abinadi, that I and my people should be judged of him, or who is the Lord, that shall bring upon my people such great affliction? [King Noah is not denouncing the Lord. Rather he is saying, “There is no way that God would ever be displeased with us. If the Lord is displeased, it is because of this Abinadi guy—he’s the troublemaker.” This is pride and vanity.]
28 I command you to bring Abinadi hither, that I may slay him, for he has said these things that he might stir up my people to anger one with another, and to raise contentions among my people; therefore I will slay him [the legal punishment if found guilty could have been prison]. [This was his legal rationale for charges to be brought against Abinadi. These were punishable crimes in Nephite law if you were to stir up contention. Remember, their society was a hybrid religious/secular where laws of the land would seem hyper-religious by today’s standards in America even. However, this same intolerance exists among fear-based religious institutions today.]
Ok, there is something really, really important that you need to understand here. This is absolutely critical to your personal progression. King Noah believed these were his people—believing he was the lawgiver and owned or mediated the Lord’s relationships with each person. Not because he truly loved his people, but because the people served the purpose of sustaining his leadership and organizational authority. Contrary to Noah’s belief, the truth is that the Lord owns each and every relationship with every soul. A true servant does not even stand between the Lord and a soul. As a matter of fact, the sign of a true servant is that they know they don’t own the relationship, and instead will always point a soul to the Lord to work out their own relationship with the Lord. A true servant knows that the Lord personally bestows every ounce of glory upon a soul through that same personal one-to-one relationship.
Contrast messages from one with divine authority vs. one who has organizational authority with title only.
A true servant knows that the Lord owns that relationship with each unique soul. Their message is a message of faith, liberty and freedom. Their message might look something like this:
“Repent, seek the Lord with an eye single to His glory. I encourage you to seek the Lord in all things. Make Him your Prophet (personal revelation), Priest, King and Judge. I have complete hope and faith in the Lord. I trust Him to help you and guide you in all things. I would never think of questioning the Lord in His omniscience and perfect knowledge of each soul. He has a perfect knowledge of each soul’s strengths, weaknesses, and needs. I have complete trust that the Lord will meet each person where they are no matter where they are at on the path. Seek all the gifts of the spirit and exercise them as the Lord guides. Seek a baptism of fire and Holy Ghost so you can be personally taught by the Lord in all things. Demonstrate your faith and loyalty to the Lord by doing as the Book of Mormon says, which is to “work out your own salvation” personally with the Lord” (Alma 34:37; Moroni 9:27).
Now contrast that with a message from someone that has been given organizational authority and a title only (prophet, priest, king, judge, seer, revelator, Pharisee, Sadducee, elder, apostle, pastor, president, etc.) that does not or cannot exercise divine authority and power through the gifts of the spirit. Their message would be a message subtle fear. Their message might look something like this:
“We fear that you cannot correctly discern the Lord’s voice from the voices of darkness and even your own voice. Therefore it is unsafe for you to venture out into a 100% personal relationship with the Lord. We must intervene on your behalf. Trust us. Even though the scriptures say that you must experience opposition in all things, including personal knowledge of light and darkness, we cannot afford to have you be led astray. Therefore, we have established volumes of written oracles that define the boundaries of truth and what is right or wrong. Please stick to them and do as we have counseled. Do not question them. If you do, you might have a personal problem and be lacking faith. Because of this fear, we have established an order among the people where if you have concerns you should seek for counsel and direction within this hierarchy whose revelation is of a higher quality and more meaningful than your own personal revelation. You should be very weary of exercising gifts of the spirit on your own, including the gift of revelation. You would hate to get a different answer than those with organizational authority. Demonstrate your faith and loyalty to the church by maintaining an ‘active’ membership status and certification of worthiness. If you have thought about leaving our organization, I must instill in you a healthy fear by asking you to ponder, ‘Where else will you go for socialization, acceptance, verification of what is truth or not, and your certification of worthiness?’ Just a little forewarning, because we love you with all of our hearts, don’t speak publicly against our organization or any of its leaders (‘stir up my people to anger one with another, and to raise contentions among my people’ Mosiah 11:28) that we have so lovingly provided or we will be forced to bring official charges of apostasy against you (“therefore I will slay him”) for not safeguarding the purity, integrity, and good name of the institution” (not even focused on the Lord’s name by the way.)
The contrasts should be obvious but the primary point is that one is focused on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ while the other is focused on faith in arm-of-flesh and an institution. The scriptures are very clear on where one receives salvation and exaltation and it is not the latter—burn it into your heart and mind. One is about spiritual freedom and liberation while the other is about subtle spiritual bondage.
You might think it would be an obvious choice if I told you that each soul is making a decision between love and loyalty to the law or love and loyalty to the Lawgiver. However, in many cases, like this one, who the lawgiver is may not be so obvious. The king and his leadership have convinced the people that they are the lawgivers and therefore the people cannot discern between the lawgivers and the true Lawgiver. Can you?
29 Now the eyes of the people were blinded; therefore they hardened their hearts against the words of Abinadi, and they sought from that time forward to take him. And king Noah hardened his heart against the word of the Lord, and he did not repent of his evil doings.
They were blinded because they placed idols (people/things) in front of them and could not see the glory of the Lord having been taught that all things would and should be provided through a king and his leadership. Abinadi was offering the people spiritual freedom and liberation, having the utmost hope and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As a true servant would do, he was pointing them to the Lord to receive all things in and through their personal relationship with the Lord. Keep in mind, this was the reason the organizational authority sought to remove Abinadi. He was a threat to the organizational authority.
Continuing into chapter twelve:
1 And it came to pass that after the space of two years that Abinadi came among them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying: Thus has the Lord commanded me [equivalent of “thus saith the Lord”], saying—Abinadi, go and prophesy unto this my people, for they have hardened their hearts against my words; they have repented not of their evil doings; therefore, I will visit them in my anger, yea, in my fierce anger will I visit them in their iniquities and abominations.
2 Yea, wo be unto this generation! And the Lord said unto me: Stretch forth thy hand and prophesy [gift of the spirit], saying: Thus saith the Lord, it shall come to pass that this generation, because of their iniquities, shall be brought into bondage, and shall be smitten on the cheek; yea, and shall be driven by men, and shall be slain; and the vultures of the air, and the dogs, yea, and the wild beasts, shall devour their flesh.
3 And it shall come to pass that the life of king Noah shall be valued even as a garment in a hot furnace; for he shall know that I am the Lord.
Notice that Abinadi is not taking claim to this bold prophesy—that he will die by fire. This is the Lord’s statement about his personal relationship with Noah and how Noah is accountable to the Lord. Abinadi has complete hope and faith in the Lord’s words and promises, and does not hesitate to stand behind them by boldly declaring them.
4 And it shall come to pass that I will smite this my people with sore afflictions, yea, with famine and with pestilence; and I will cause that they shall howl all the day long.
5 Yea, and I will cause that they shall have burdens lashed upon their backs; and they shall be driven before like a dumb ass.
6 And it shall come to pass that I will send forth hail among them, and it shall smite them; and they shall also be smitten with the east wind; and insects shall pester their land also, and devour their grain.
7 And they shall be smitten with a great pestilence—and all this will I do because of their iniquities and abominations.
8 And it shall come to pass that except they repent I will utterly destroy them from off the face of the earth; yet they shall leave a record behind them, and I will preserve them for other nations which shall possess the land; yea, even this will I do that I may discover the abominations of this people to other nations. And many things did Abinadi prophesy against this people.
Verses 1 thru 8 are a recitation of the Lord’s promises that will undoubtedly be fulfilled. Again, the Lord does this out of love, mercy, justice and his perfect omniscience about what is best not only for a group of people but for each individual among them. This includes the chance that the lessons of their utter destruction can benefit others that come after them.
9 And it came to pass that they were angry with him; and they took him and carried him bound before the king, and said unto the king: Behold, we have brought a man before thee who has prophesied evil concerning thy people, and saith that God will destroy them.
10 And he also prophesieth evil concerning thy life, and saith that thy life shall be as a garment in a furnace of fire.
11 And again, he saith that thou shalt be as a stalk, even as a dry stalk of the field, which is run over by the beasts and trodden under foot.
12 And again, he saith thou shalt be as the blossoms of a thistle, which, when it is fully ripe, if the wind bloweth, it is driven forth upon the face of the land. And he pretendeth the Lord hath spoken it. And he saith all this shall come upon thee except thou repent, and this because of thine iniquities.
13 And now, O king, what great evil hast thou done, or what great sins have thy people committed, that we should be condemned of God or judged of this man?
14 And now, O king, behold, we are guiltless, and thou, O king, hast not sinned; therefore, this man has lied concerning you, and he has prophesied in vain.
15 And behold, we are strong, we shall not come into bondage, or be taken captive by our enemies; yea, and thou hast prospered in the land, and thou shalt also prosper.
16 Behold, here is the man, we deliver him into thy hands; thou mayest do with him as seemeth thee good.
17 And it came to pass that king Noah caused that Abinadi should be cast into prison; and he commanded that the priests should gather themselves together that he might hold a council with them what he should do with him.
In verses 9 thru 17, you should see the evidence of who the people see as the lawgivers. Their loyalty is to the king and the kingdom, not to the Lord. They see the king as infallible. The people give the king complete authority to execute Abinadi even before a court is convened. Interestingly, if the king does choose to execute Abinadi, it will never be questioned because the king receives his organizational authority from the people. The people are in essence executing Abinadi long before the king declares a sentence of execution.
18 And it came to pass that they said unto the king: Bring him hither that we may question him; and the king commanded that he should be brought before them.
19 And they began to question him, that they might cross him, that thereby they might have wherewith to accuse him; but he answered them boldly, and withstood all their questions, yea, to their astonishment; for he did withstand them in all their questions, and did confound them in all their words.
20 And it came to pass that one of them said unto him: What meaneth the words which are written, and which have been taught by our fathers, saying:
They knew and had access to records of the teachings of “the fathers.” They had the ability to learn them, know the records and receive personal salvation for themselves, and become a witness of it. This was not a situation of ignorance. In coming chapters you will see the stark difference between these organizational authorities and the divine authority of Alma and Alma the Younger.
21 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good; that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth;
22 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion;
23 Break forth into joy; sing together ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem;
24 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God?
This is a very strategic, yet deceptive point by the King’s leaders. This person questioning Abinadi is quoting Isaiah in verses 21-24. First, he is trying to demonstrate their authority through their familiarity with Isaiah’s words. Then, he is suggesting that because they are in a position of organizational authority that they are, in fact, the authorities. They have a mentality that as long as there is no one to counter the words and culture that has been created, then “all is well.” They are making Abinadi out to be the bad guy by saying he is stirring up the people and suggesting that as long as no one contends with the leadership then they are doing their job appropriately, because the people are lulled into a sense of general happiness or contentment (carnal security). But you know that in that culture, no one would stand up to the king and his leadership, because they know they would be told they were wrong, discredited, and ultimately be placed in prison.
As a counter move, Abinadi will explain these verses from Isaiah three chapters later (#15) in a different context through the gift of prophecy. It’s also notable that the Lord quotes them to the people of Bountiful in 3 Nephi and these same words of Isaiah were revealed to Joseph Smith in section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
25 And now Abinadi said unto them: Are you priests, and pretend to teach this people, and to understand the spirit of prophesying, and yet desire to know of me what these things mean?
Notice that Abinadi is challenging them based on their fruits—the gifts of the spirit. The fact that they did not know the meaning, meant that they did not have the gifts of the spirit that would be inherent in a true servant of the Lord. Abinadi is really starting to draw a line between organizational authority and divine authority.
A Prophet is a gift of the spirit where one receives the words of the Lord and conveys them to others as they are given without altering His words. A Seer is a gift of the spirit where one can literally see past, present, and future. This is part of a personal relationship with the Lord where questions are presented and the Lord teaches through seeing (which is nothing more than very vivid visions). Think of the guided experience that Nephi had in 1 Nephi 11-15. A Revelator is a gift of the spirit where they are a teacher of new truth or even a revealer of true or new doctrine.
There are offices in institutions that are accompanied by titles (Pharisee, elder, pastor, apostle, priest, teacher, etc. These are exactly what they are—titles. Titles are given to “operate” with authority (for structure/organization) within the institution. The exception is if a person has the personal relationship with the Lord where they have received salvation and exaltation from the Lord in mortality and are able to exercise these gifts of the spirit uninhibited. Some of these gifts of the spirit can include prophet, seer, revelator, and others but is totally dependent upon the personal relationship with the Lord. A true servant means that the person has direct access to the Lord to receive a response equal to their seeking, knocking, and asking. Unless a person is exercising these gifts of the spirit, they are only leveraging the title as their organizational authority.
To delineate between a person sharing their own personal opinion, advice, and counsel and that of the Lord’s own truth, a true servant will accompany it with “thus saith the Lord” or preface their remarks with explaining that the words or experiences come directly from the Lord. This is a fruit of a true prophet, seer, revelator. This is the point that Abinadi is making here. A true servant (having gifts including prophecy, seership, revelator) will be able to seek the Lord for understanding and explanation on any subject or topic in the history of the earth and beyond. Because of the relationship that exists between the Lord and that servant, anything can be asked and the Lord will reveal it in a way that will make sense to the person or in a way that they can receive it. It’s in this personal relationship that He truly desires to reveal, bestow, guide, teach, exalt, and empower in ALL things.
A true servant would not be content to say, “The Lord has chosen not to reveal that to us and does not want to explain this to us.” A true servant would never be content with, “We don’t have enough information in history to explain this.” A true servant would never offer apologies or try to reply to controversial questions with, “The Lord has not revealed that to us.” To promote these philosophies is the “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (JSH 1:19) and is rooted in “unbelief” (D&C 84; The Book of Mormon is very plain on this that if gifts of the spirit are not present or actively pursued by all, it is because of unbelief.)
Instead, if a true servant does not know the answer to a question, it is because they have not yet asked the Lord—for when they ask the Lord, the Lord will reveal it gladly. To a true servant, a mystery is simply something that they have yet to inquire of the Lord about. The Lord is a revealer to true servants that seek, knock, and ask being the same yesterday, today, and forever and will forever be no respecter of persons. This is the Lord God—the only true and living God. For a true servant, He is “living” within them—being one with Him as He is one with the Father—and “true” because he never ceases to be God—full of truth, light, glory and power.
All can be true servants. Seek, knock, ask and you shall receive line upon line, precept upon precept in a Master-apprentice relationship where the Lord desires nothing more than to bestow His glory upon you—to the point to where nothing is withheld. Anything less is unbelief.
26 I say unto you, wo be unto you for perverting the ways of the Lord! For if ye understand these things ye have not taught them; therefore, ye have perverted the ways of the Lord.
They are guilty of speaking in vain, which is to speak on behalf of the Lord without divine authority.
27 Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise. Therefore, what teach ye this people?
They have not sought the Lord personally to receive divine authority regardless of their title and organizational authority.
28 And they said: We teach the law of Moses.
29 And again he said unto them: If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it? Why do ye set your hearts upon riches? Why do ye commit whoredoms and spend your strength with harlots, yea, and cause this people to commit sin, that the Lord has cause to send me to prophesy against this people, yea, even a great evil against this people?
The doctrine of Christ has existed on this earth since it was first taught to Adam and Eve. The law of Moses existed in parallel to the doctrine of Christ. The law was intended to help people see the need to go directly to the Lord and receive everything from Him. Instead, many people chose to love the law as a sign of their righteousness, and they even promoted other mortals to be their intermediary with the Lord (e.g. Moses).
30 Know ye not that I speak the truth? Yea, ye know that I speak the truth; and you ought to tremble before God.
31 And it shall come to pass that ye shall be smitten for your iniquities, for ye have said that ye teach the law of Moses. And what know ye concerning the law of Moses? Doth salvation come by the law of Moses? What say ye?
32 And they answered and said that salvation did come by the law of Moses.
Again, they believed and taught that the law offered salvation. Also remember they were portraying themselves as the lawgivers and therefore guilty of causing the people to sin. We already have seen they have no fruits of the gifts of the spirit, but this is also a true sign that the king and none of their leaders had ever truly repented, they did not have hope in God, they did not have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and they certainly never received their baptism of fire and Holy Ghost. If they had, they would have been testifying of the divinity and unbelievable power of the Lord. They would be pointing all people to a personal relationship with the Lord where each soul could receive all things from the Lord. They would have never taken any authority upon themselves and much more.
33 But now Abinadi said unto them: I know if ye keep the commandments of God [personal revelation] ye shall be saved; yea, if ye keep the commandments which the Lord delivered unto Moses in the mount of Sinai, saying:
34 I am the Lord thy God, who hath brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
35 Thou shalt have no other God before me.
36 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing in heaven above, or things which are in the earth beneath.
Having Gods before you is to have idols which include people or things. In this case, they had set themselves up as idols to the people and established the law for salvation with them being the lawgivers.
37 Now Abinadi said unto them, Have ye done all this? I say unto you, Nay, ye have not. And have ye taught this people that they should do all these things? I say unto you, Nay, ye have not.
In this situation, all parties are guilty, though—the king, the leadership and the people. None of them knew the true Lawgiver and therefore did not understand His law, and most certainly didn’t hear the Lawgiver’s voice, because they chose instead to place the lawgivers‘ voice(s) above the true Lawgiver—thus their sin of idolatry declared by Mormon.
Both the leadership and the people are accountable and responsible for the idolatrous culture that is created and perpetuated from person to person, family to family and generation to generation. In all cases, it requires at least one person to awaken to the voice of the true Lawgiver to be able to expose the apostasy and begin the process of replacing false traditions with Christ’s doctrine. In this case, that one person was Abinadi. In the part 2 of this post you will see how Abinadi’s willingness to boldly testify of God’s words against the establishment will lead to a small restoration of truth. He died a martyr for the Lord and His truth. It didn’t have to end that way, but despite the Lord’s willingness to leave this people to their own destruction, it has a silver lining. Is there any question why Mormon was inspired to include this record and his own commentary in the Book of Mormon?
“… yet they shall leave a record behind them, and I will preserve them for other nations which shall possess the land; yea, even this will I do that I may discover [reveal, teach] the abominations of this people to other nations …” [that they might benefit from it.]
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