Sunday, September 6, 2015

Several Unusual Men – Noah, Gideon and Limhi Part V

As stated in an earlier post, when evil men lead, they bring suffering and pain to all the people, by 1) providing opportunities for people to sin through being shown it is all right to live evil lives, and 2) by allowing and even joining into the evil practices that people begin to live.
It is as though people feel chained to good behavior and righteous living because of the nature of society in general, and for some reason feel they need to be free from such a life, though that life has always proven, for individuals and societies, to the best option. However when that society breaks down, many of those people who had been living good lives and were better off, revert to evil practices and embrace an entirely new way of life that is always in the long run a worse path to take.
    When king Noah chose not to follow the righteous path of his father, Zeniff, who had been leading the Nephites on a better course, had driven the Lamanites out of their land, the people lived free of those wars, evidently without being taxed, were led by righteous and morale priests, who believed in the sanctity of marriage and family, where planting and harvesting one’s own crops and produce was a standard part of life.
    All of this, then, was replaced by extremely high (20%) taxes, wars with the Lamanites, by evo;and idolatrous priests, and were forced to labor exceedingly to support iniquity—they now had kings and rulers with multiple wives and concubines, the welfare of the people was immaterial and their leaders were lifted up in the pride of their hearts (Mosiah 11:1-7).
    Yet, the people, or a large portion of them, followed king Noah into his evil world, evidently without a murmur. They could have objected, they could have insisted on the righteous paths of the past, but they did not.
    They followed him willingly!
    When Noah planted vineyards round about in the land and built wine-presses, and made wine in abundance, becoming a wine-bibber (drunkard) and also his people, they were not forced into this path, but followed it willingly.
    Despite warnings and calls to repentance, the people continued in their evil ways, mirroring, as people often do, the evil of their leaders. Rather than maintain the righteous living of king Zeniff, they followed Noah. The Lord had warned the king and his people that “except they repent and turn to the Lord their God, 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” (Mosiah 11:21). It was Abinadi, who warned Noah and his priests in his dying moments, “Ye shall suffer, as I suffer, the pains of death by fire” (Mosiah 17:18). While that promise was fulfilled, another remained: “Ye shall be smitten on every hand, and shall be driven and scattered to and fro, even as a wild flock is driven by wild and ferocious beasts” (Mosiah 17:17).
Now, with the example of Abinadi who sealed his testimony with his life, they at last rid themselves of a wicked king. But they had yet to suffer the penalty of their own sins—affliction at the hands of the Lamanites.
    A warrior named Gideon lived among the Nephites at this time—a time of desperation, evil and death. They had chosen to follow king Noah of their own volition—they were not forced to do so. They chose to give up their earlier righteous paths and followed the evil of their new king. Gideon, on the other hand, was not of that ilk.
    He was evidently born in the Land of Nephi, either in the city of Nephi or the city of Shimlon. He had no hand in the martyrdom of Abinadi, was not involved in any of Noah’s evil deeds, and as a faithful Nephite leader, he was a strong man and an enemy to King Noah (Mosiah 19:4-8). He is one of those men who did not follow in the evil paths of his fellow Nephites after king Zeniff’s death. This is even more remarkable when we realize that Gideon was the Captain of the King’s Guard, involved as a military leader, and evidently a key figure in the Nephite victory over the Lamanites after Noah’s death.
    He not only was blessed with much courage and valor, he was a just man and wise. He became an instrument in the hands of God in delivering the people of Limhi out of bondage. When he became aware of what Noah planned, leaving the women and children while effecting an escape with the men and his guard and priests, Gideon drew his sword in anger to threaten king Noah, who had already put Abinadi to death and sent his guards to search out and kill Alma.
    Being the coward he was, king Noah fled, choosing what he thought was the safety of the tower next to the temple that was about eight stories high with evidently a winding staircase of which being on higher stairs, Noah envisioned obtaining the advantage. But Gideon was unconcerned as he pursued the king up the stairs to the tower lookout point where the king now stood, no doubt terrified for his life and casting his eyes about for some means of escape from this entrapped position.
Obviously, Satan was not through with him yet, and in the distance, Noah saw a huge Lamanite army approaching from the Land of Shemlon and were actually already within the borders of the Land of Nephi.
    This tower near the temple, one of several that had been built in the land, was a “very high tower, even so high that one could stand upon the top thereof and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon, the latter possessed by the Lamanites; and he could even look over all the land round about” Mosiah 11:12).
    Seeing this, and hoping for his salvation, Noah cried out in the anguish of his soul, drawing Gideon’s attention to the distant army: “Gideon, spare me, for the Lamanites are upon us, and they will destroy us; yea, they will destroy my people” (Mosiah 19:7).
    However, “the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life”; nevertheless, Gideon, finding himself betwixt and between, “did spare his life” (Mosiah 19:8).
    One of king Noah’s sons had stayed behind to defend the women and children. Though he was not like his father, he “was desirous that his father should be not be destroyed” (Mosiah 19:17). One wonders how a righteous man like Limhi survived to adulthood in Noah’s court. What did Limhi go through as a boy, watching his father assemble a harem, promote drunkenness, squander the people’s money, and corrupt the laws of the kingdom? Perhaps Limhi knew his grandfather, Zeniff, before he died. Certainly Limhi’s life more closely followed that of his grandfather. Perhaps he read Zeniff’s own record, and learned from him that the people must depend on the Lord, and that it is the king’s place to serve his people, not to profit from them.
    As the son of the king, albeit an evil king, the kingdom was conferred upon him by the people. And also Limhi, being the son of the king, having the kingdom conferred upon him by the people, made oath unto the king of the Lamanites that his people should pay tribute unto him, even one half of all they possessed.
    So here were a people who paid no taxes and were subject to only themselves and their king under Zeniff, but wanted to be free.
In their choice, they chose their kind of “freedom” under the evil king Noah, which resulted in paying tribute to the Lamanites and being subject to the Lamanite king the rest of their lives if they remained in the city of their forefathers. It is not unlike the kinds of choices we have each day, and all mankind has—choose freedom under the Lord, or choose the shackles that Satan calls “freedom” under him.
    Whatever Limhi’s life had been like before, he was such a man that the people, defeated and in bondage, chose him to be their king. His reign began as he “made oath unto the king of the Lamanites that his people should pay tribute unto him, even one half of all they possessed” (Mosiah 19:26). Such is this thing some people call “freedom.”

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