Now we come to the reign of wicked king Noah, who is Zeniff’s son, who “did not walk in the ways of his father.” (1)
“For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart.” (2)
He does whoredoms and lays heavy taxes on the people to support his wickedness. He puts down the priests consecrated by his father and puts his own priests in power that “were lifted up in the pride of their hearts” (5). The taxes support their “laziness, and…their idolatry, and in their whoredoms…thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.” (6)
The WHY behind building
King Noah builds “many elegant and spacious buildings” (8) and adorns them in precious metals and such. He builds a spacious palace and a throne decorated with gold. He also builds a temple, but the Lord was not pleased with his vain attempt at spirituality, since King Noah “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.” (14)
- By building the temple, was he trying to ease his conscience by justifying that he was doing something good (along with all the bad)?
- Do I ever justify sin by doing something good to cover it up?
- Is bad behavior such as bullying, hate, bigotry, and pride ever justified by doing a few good things?
King Noah’s example shows that it is our heart we are judged on, not outward acts. Building a “temple” in our lives won’t make up for a stony or hard heart that won’t listen to God.
The next thing Noah does is plant vineyards throughout the land, and his people become wine bibbers. (15)
Infiltration by small numbers
But King Noah’s people soon begin to reap the consequences of sin. It is subtle, but the Lamanites begin infiltrating their land in “small numbers” and slay people while they’re working. (16)
Noah sends guards out to protect the land, but it isn’t sufficient. His father, Zeniff, in the previous chapters, had put guards out to watch for the enemy, and they had been prepared. But Noah doesn’t seem to take the enemy seriously. His pride blinds him to danger. The Lamanites kill the few guards placed about Noah’s people, and they steal more flocks.
Thus the Lamanites began to destroy them, and to exercise their hatred upon them.”Mosiah 11:17
Noah sends an army against his enemy. When Zeniff did this, it says they went with the power of God. God has nothing to do with Noah’s plans. They drive the Lamanites back “for a time” and rejoice “in their spoil.” (18) They aren’t rejoicing because the Lord saved them, like in Zeniff’s day. They revel in sin, taking from the Lamanites and being smug about their victory, which leads God to send a prophet to call them to repentance.
As a reader, we know what is coming. We can see all the signs of pride that will lead to destruction. But are we as aware of the signs of our own pride and wickedness that can lead to our fall?
Call to repent
Abinadi calls them to repentance. A prophet in our day, Pres. Russell M. Nelson, calls us to daily repentance as well.
Just as these people were told they would be brought into bondage if they didn’t turn back to God and repent, so our prophet warns us. Sin leads to bondage—physical, spiritual, or mental.
Noah is crude when he hears of Abinadi, asking, “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?” (27)
Do we ever fall into this prideful trap? If so, there is only one way out. Repentance. If we are trying to justify our actions, instead of repenting of them, maybe we need to stop and ask ourselves WHY.
- Why won’t we listen to the small whisperings of the Spirit to stop and change?
- Why don’t we listen to a prophet of God and change our ways?
- Why are we holding so tight to a tradition, a habit, a sin, a way of life that blocks God from being part of our lives?
When we are prideful and unrepentant, Satan gains power over us and brings us into bondage. Addictions, bad habits, the loss of the Spirit bind our spirits and keep us from progressing spiritually.
When we don’t progress spiritually, we cannot have joy.
We become miserable, like the devil. God leaves us to ourselves, since He will force no man to heaven. He will encourage and entice, but He won’t save us in our sins, but from our sins, when we are ready to leave them behind.
Abinadi tells the people that when they are brought into bondage and cry unto the Lord, He will be slow to hear their cries. Not because God is vengeful, but because if He saved us immediately, we wouldn’t grow and learn from our mistakes. Going through rough times and being in bondage because of bad choices teaches us great lessons that hopefully, we won’t be quick to forget. When we have allowed ourselves to get fully wicked, there are layers and layers of rebellion and pride that must be peeled away, before we become fully humble and repentant.
The goal is NOT to let our hearts get to that point.
King Noah wants Abinadi brought before him, so he can slay him.
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.”Mosiah 11:29
Hard hearts and blind eyes never bring good results, as we will see later.
We need to ask ourselves the hard questions periodically, to stay humble and teachable before God. Why are we building a “temple”?
Are we doing it to cover up or justify sins?
Or are we building it with the purpose of getting closer to God?