Mosiah 12:1 Abinadi came among them in disguise
After two years of keeping a low profile, Abinadi returns to the work of the prophet-calling people to repentance. Interestingly, he disguises himself and yet quickly blows his disguise by telling them who he is, Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying-Abinadi. Why would Abinadi disclose his name while in disguise? There is no explanation for this apparent incongruity.
The Book of Mormon is the most correct book on the earth. Yet, we still find small, insignificant incongruities and grammatical problems. This underscores what Joseph Smith meant by the phrase "most correct book." Doctrinally speaking, the book has no errors. Spiritually speaking, no false concepts are taught. Everything in the book is designed to bring the reader closer to the Lord-closer to his way of thinking, closer to his purity, closer to his powerful atonement. The Book of Mormon has its own warning to its critics. Speaking of those who take advantage of the Book of Mormon's small incongruities, the Lord told Moroni, Fools mock, but they shall mourn (Ether 12:26).
Mosiah 12:6 the east wind
As in Mosiah 7:31, the Hebrew idiom, the east wind, is used. This phrase means a destruction or a famine. The expression is used many times in the Old Testament. From Easton's Bible Dictionary, "In Palestine this wind blows from a burning desert, and hence is destitute of moisture necessary for vegetation."
"The east wind is a destructive wind which originates in the east, the symbolic direction of Deity's presence. Also called 'the wind of the Lord' (Hosea 13:15), it is 'prepared' by God (Jonah 4:8) for the purpose of destroying the ungodly and unrighteous. The Lord has stated, 'If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction' (Mosiah 7:31). Hence they are 'smitten with the east wind' (Mosiah 12:6; see also Job 27:21)." (Donald W. Parry, Joseph Fielding McConkie, A Guide to Scriptural Symbolism, p. 45)
Mosiah 12:8 yet they shall leave a record behind them
Here the Lord makes an interesting argument. He warns them that if they don't repent that they will be made an example to subsequent generations. In effect, the Lord will make them famous for their iniquity. The Lord has taught us of the real effects of utter iniquity. He has preserved the record of Sodom and Gomorrah, of the Jaredites, of the Nephites, and of all those who have suffered or been destroyed because of their iniquity, even this will I do that I may discover the abominations of this people to other nations.
Mosiah 12:10-12 he also prophesieth evil concerning thy life
In sublime language typical of Old Testament prophecy, Abinadi prophesies of the last days of Noah's life. His life is as a garment in a furnace...a dry stalk of the field, which is run over by the beasts...and a thistle...driven forth upon the face of the land. Mosiah 19 contains the fulfillment of this prophecy. First of all, Noah is almost killed by Gideon. Just as Gideon is ready to kill Noah, the king notices an invading Lamanite army (Mosiah 19:6-7). Feigning concern for his people, he is spared, only to be chased by the Lamanites. While being pursued, he instructs the men to leave their women and children behind and run for their lives (Mosiah 19:11). A group of men follow Noah, leaving their wives and children to the mercy of the Lamanites. They later regret their cowardly deed and tell Noah of their plans to return to the defense of their wives and children (Mosiah 19:19). He commands them not to return. This is his final political blunder. His most strident followers now turn on him. They put him to death by fire, just as he had killed Abinadi. Not only was his life as a garment in a furnace, his entire body became fuel for this furnace of fire.
Mosiah 12:14 behold, we are guiltless, and thou, O king, hast not sinned
Flattery, in the Book of Mormon sense, is to tell the carnal mind what it wants to hear. Noah's people give a great example of such flattery. They justify the wickedness of the king and accuse Abinadi of false prophecy. Obviously, this is just what Noah wants to hear. Such is the job of "yes-men." They agree with and flatter the boss without regard to truth or righteousness.
Mosiah 12:19 they began to question him, that they might cross him
In the conflict between the wisdom of man and the Spirit of God, the latter always prevails. Sherem had hopes of shaking Jacob from the faith (Jacob 7:5), Nehor contended with Gideon but Gideon withstood him (Alma 1:7), and Zeezrom had hopes of deceiving Amulek but by the time he was finished speaking, Zeezrom began to tremble (Alma 11:46). In this same pattern, Abinadi did withstand them in all their questions, and did confound them in all their words.
Some of the most impressive stories of the wicked devices of mortal wisdom are found in the life of the Savior. Those who challenged Jesus of Nazareth were invariably humiliated by his wisdom. Some asked, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath days? that they might accuse him (Matt 12:10). Others tried to trip him up with the question, Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? (Matt 22:17) The chief priests were sure of their own authority. Therefore, they inquired, By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority? (Matt 21:23) The Pharisees inquired, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? (Matt 19:3). In each of these instances the tempter was embarrassed by the wisdom of the Lord's answers. After several such episodes, they realized they were outmatched. From then on, they durst not ask him any question at all (Lu 20:40).
Mosiah 12:20 what meaneth the words which are written
Whether this priest is trying to ask Abinadi a question he wouldn't know, or whether he is sincerely wondering about the meaning of the scripture, we don't know. At any rate, Abinadi doesn't give the answer right away. He takes this opportunity to call them to repentance (v. 25) and teach them about the Law of Moses. Without this background, the answer will not make sense to them, so he does not finish giving his answer to this question until Mosiah 16. Therefore, Abinadi demonstrates that not every answer should be given immediately. Often, there is wisdom in a delayed answer. The Lord gives us delayed answers to our prayers for the same reason, we are not always ready when we ask.
Mosiah 12:21 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings
Abinadi explains that those who bring good tidings and publish peace are the prophets, I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began (Mosiah 15:13). He acknowledges that the greatest prophet to which this refers is the Lord himself, the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people (Mosiah 15:18).
This scripture is not limited to the prophets and the Lord. All who teach of the salvation wrought through Christ's infinite atonement are doing the same thing-bringing good tidings and publishing salvation. Every missionary, teacher, and leader who has taught these saving principles has beautiful feet. The Lord spoke to the early Elders of the Church as follows, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you (DC 62:3).
"What position can any man occupy on the face of the earth, that is more noble, God-like, high and glorious than to be a messenger of salvation unto the human family?" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 319)
Carlos E. Asay
"I like what Paul had to say about preachers or missionaries. He instructed the Romans: 'For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!' (Romans 10:13-15.)
The feet, the voices, the faces, and the whole being of those preachers who share saving truths will always be precious and beautiful to new converts, especially to those who have suffered in their sins. In the eyes of those who have learned of Christ and of his power to save, there are few if any blemishes in the missionaries who walked long distances to bring the gospel message." (The Seven M's of Missionary Service, p. 136)
Franklin D. Richards
"'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.' It is that excellence of the knowledge of God that makes men and women beautiful, and makes their acts delightful when they are performed in righteousness in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I rejoice when I look around and contemplate this precious privilege...Here let me say, that every officer in the Church...and every sister that is the wife of such an husband should feel...that it is her privilege and duty to administer blessings, comfort and happiness to her husband, to her children, to her family and household. Every one in all the Church should be filled with a spirit of blessing. The authority of the Priesthood should cause a gushing forth from the fountain of the heart, a bubbling forth of streams of blessing, of consolation, of comfort and of rejoicing, each should try to help and benefit the other in every possible way." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 26, p. 100)
Mosiah 12:21 What are the good tidings?
The good tidings are the message of the gospel. Abinadi explains the important components in chapter 15. He instructs us that the Lord had to redeem his people or else all mankind must have perished; he explains that the Savior has broken the bands of death so that all can be resurrected (Mosiah 15:19-20). In essence, he describes how the atonement saves us from spiritual death and physical death. This is the good news of the gospel.
Mosiah 12:22 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice
Abinadi's interpretation of this phrase touches on the importance of missionaries acting as watchmen on the tower. Referring to this phrase, he prophesies that the time shall come that the salvation of the Lord shall be declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (Mosiah 15:28).
Mosiah 12:22 they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion
We will borrow from some other scriptures to demonstrate the meaning of this phrase. First of all, around the time of the Second Coming, the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven to its rightful place in the Americas. The Book of Mormon testifies that the land of the Jaredites was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord (Ether 13:3). When the Lord shall cause Zion to come down out of heaven, his servants and saints will see eye to eye with Him. John phrases the concept as follows, Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (1 Jn 3:2, see also Moroni 7:48).
Mosiah 12:23 the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem
"Redeem means, (1) To buy again something that has been sold, by paying back the price that bought it. (Lev. 25:25;27:20)(2) To deliver and bring out of bondage those who were kept prisoners by their enemies. (Deut. 7:5;32:6) Cruden's Concordance of the Bible. Jerusalem had been sold, figuratively speaking, by the apostate Jews. They had perverted the ways of the Lord, and, too, they had abandoned the covenant their fathers had made with the Lord at Mount Sinai. The land of Jerusalem was the land of their inheritance. The Mosaic Law provided that land which had been sold, among other things, could be redeemed. However, a price was demanded for its redemption....There was only One who could meet the prescribed terms. That One was their King! Isaiah said, 'He hath redeemed Jerusalem'; not with money or with the might of a great army, but He hath Redeemed it with the blood that was shed on Mount Calvary; the Redemption brought about by Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 130)
In addition to its spiritual redemption, The Old Jerusalem is not fully redeemed until the Savior comes amidst a vicious battle between the Jews and a group of nations from the north. After a 3.5 year siege of Jerusalem, the Savior will come to redeem them from their military enemies (Rev 11:2, Zech 14:2-3). As mentioned above, He will also come to declare spiritual redemption to those who should have known that he is the Messiah.
Elder George Q. Morris
"'Break forth into joy, sing together ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. 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.' (Isa. 52:9-10.)
"And this looks to the time when the Lord Jesus Christ is to stand on the Mount of Olives, and the people will gather about that mount, and they will say, 'What are these wounds in your hands and in your feet?' And he will say unto them, 'These are the wounds received in the house of my friends.' Then they will recognize him--Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world." (Conference Reports, Apr. 1960, p. 101)
Mosiah 12:24 all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God
Based on DC 133:3-11, one can deduce that this phrase is referring to the Second Coming. However, Abinadi explains that all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God again at the final judgment (Mosiah 16:1). This occurs after the Millennium and the little season where Satan is loosed. It is the time when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, when the sheep are separated from the goats, and when those who cannot be sanctified...must remain filthy still (DC 88:35). At that time, even the vilest of sinners must confess before God that his judgments are just (Mosiah 16:1).
Mosiah 12:25 Are you priests, and pretend to teach this people
Carlos E. Asay
"Noah's apostate priests had read the words of Isaiah but had not inquired of the Lord or searched for the proper meaning of the words handed down by their fathers. Like others who had failed to give 'heed and diligence' to the word of God, the 'mysteries of God' had been withheld from them (see Alma 12:9-10). Therefore, Abinadi had reason to answer them in a condemning manner: 'Are you priests, and pretend to teach this people...'" (The Seven M's of Missionary Service, p. 135)
Mosiah 12:27 Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding
The language of the Book of Mormon is often unusual yet sublime. Here Abinadi accuses the priests of not applying their hearts to understanding. They had apparently read Isaiah yet still remained condemned because they had done nothing to try to understand his prophecies. Many of us have fallen under the same condemnation. Some of us read Isaiah with little hope of ever understanding its meaning. Some read the book of Revelation with little effort applied to comprehending its message. Even the writings of the plain and precious prophets of the Book of Mormon can be read on a superficial level. To do this is to miss the deeper meanings, to miss the quiet whisper of the Spirit, and to risk falling into hypocrisy like Noah's priests. The scriptures weren't given to us to be read. They were given to us to be searched. The difference is that the searcher has learned to apply his heart to understanding.
Mosiah 12:31 Doth salvation come by the law of Moses?
Now Abinadi turns the tables on his accusers. They have explained that they teach the Law of Moses. Abinadi asks them a fair question about the law they presume to understand. The answer is not an easy one, especially for someone who doesn't understand the importance of Christ's Messianic mission. That is why Abinadi doesn't really criticize them for their answer, which was that salvation does come by the Law of Moses. He later explains that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement...that they must unavoidably perish (Mosiah 13:28).
Using the same logic, one could ask, "Does salvation come by the higher law that was taught by the Savior?" The answer is the same, salvation doth not come by the law alone. Salvation is only possible through the atonement, regardless of which law you are under. Salvation cannot come by the law because no one is capable of meeting all the requirements of the law, For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did (Heb 7:19). Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Rom 3:20).
Mosiah 12:35 Thou shalt have no other God before me
By the law of witnesses, the gospel principles of greatest importance are repeated in at least three different locations in the scriptures. The Ten Commandments, therefore, are found in Ex 20, Deut 5, Mosiah 12-13, and DC 42 (commandments 6-9), to mention a few. It is only appropriate that the Ten Commandments appear somewhere in the pages of the Book of Mormon.
The commandment to have no other gods before Jehovah is more expressively rendered in the New Testament rendition, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind (Lu 10:27). This first commandment is the single, key beginning to a relationship with our Maker. The Creator of the Universe doesn't like taking second or third place to our worldly interests. Therefore, he has declared in unmistakable language, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Ex 34:14).
The latter-day prophets have continually warned that the saints need to beware of idolatry, not the old-fashioned, idol worship version, but the version in which the desires and thoughts of the heart are not centered on the Lord. In this respect, our pursuit of wealth, our hobbies, our careers, and our recreational pursuits can become our gods. This form of idolatry is more insidious but no less pernicious.
Spencer W. Kimball
"Many worship the hunt, the fishing trip, the vacation, the weekend picnics and outings. Others have as their idols the games of sport, baseball, football, the bullfight, or golf. These pursuits more often than not interfere with the worship of the Lord and with giving service to the building up of the kingdom of God. To the participants this emphasis may not seem serious, yet it indicates where their allegiance and loyalty are.
"Still another image men worship is that of power and prestige. Many will trample underfoot the spiritual and often the ethical values in their climb to success. These gods of power, wealth, and influence are most demanding and are quite as real as the golden calves of the children of Israel in the wilderness." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 41-42)
Mark E. Petersen
"God will not favor us if we put him in second place in our lives and if we follow after worldly things regardless of what they may be. The command of the Savior was: 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.' (Matthew 6:33). In revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord taught that we must have an eye single to the glory of God." (Old Testament Institute Manual, p. 127)
"...the Latter-day Saints are drifting as fast as they can into idolatry...drifting into the spirit of the world and into pride and vanity." "We wish the wealth of things of the world; we think about them morning, noon and night; they are first in our minds when we awake in the morning, and the last thing before we go to sleep at night." (Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, p. 334)
'So money is the name of the game by which the devil cleverly decoys the minds of the Saints from God's work to his. 'What does the Lord want of us up here in the tops of these mountains?' Brigham Young asked twenty years after the first settling of the Valley. 'He wishes us to build up Zion. What are the people doing? They are merchandizing, trafficking and trading.' 'Elders are agreed on the way and manner necessary to obtain celestial glory, but they quarrel about a dollar. When principles of eternal life are brought before them--God and the things pertaining to God and godliness--they apparently care not half so much about them as they do about five cents.'.... 'Are their eyes single to the building up of the Kingdom of God? No; they are single to the building up of themselves.' 'Does this congregation understand what idolatry is? The New Testament says that covetousness is idolatry; therefore, a covetous people is an idolatrous people.' 'Man is made in the image of God, but what do we know of him or of ourselves, when we suffer ourselves to love and worship the god of this world--riches?' Had the Latter-day Saints gone so far? They had, from the beginning; when the Church was only a year old, the Prophet Joseph observed that 'God has often sealed up the heavens because of covetousness in the Church.' Three years later, God revoked that 'united order' by which alone Zion could exist on earth (D&C 104:52-53)--in their desire for wealth, the Saints had tried to embrace both Babylon and Zion by smooth double-talk. The Mormons would have to wait for their blessings until they learned their lesson: 'If the people neglect their duty, turn away from the holy commandments which God has given us, seek for their own individual wealth, and neglect the interests of the kingdom of God, we may expect to be here quite a time--perhaps a period that will be far longer than we anticipate.'" (Approaching Zion, p. 37)