Passing of the king, Rise of the judges

Today’s post we’ll be finishing up Mosiah 29. We left off in verse 30 but we’ll begin in verse 32.

God Provides For The Righteous

I think it’s interesting king Mosiah II says there is an inequality among the people. I feel like people weren’t feeling that way at all. I mean, king Mosiah was an exceptional king. He labored for his own support and strove to help the people as much as possible. Maybe unequal in the sense he was king and they were the citizens? He had all the power and they didn’t. Maybe he also realized although the people were equal now, they may not be that way in the future. They may have a king later who leads in an evil way. King Mosiah desired the land ought to be one of liberty, where every man may enjoy his rights and privileges so long as they and their posterity inherit the land. He believed this could not be achieved if there was a king over the land.

This sounds a lot like the Declaration of Independence. What American was destined to become could not be achieved with a king ruling over the country from afar. Cross reference 2 Nephi 1:7. This is Lehi prophesying about the land. he says some very direct stuff. This land (meaning America) is consecrated for those whom God brings here. That it will be a land of liberty and it will never be brought into captivity except iniquity abound. At which point, the land will be cursed for their sakes. Here is my favorite part. Unto the righteous, it shall be blessed forever. That’s cool. Even though the entire land may be filed with wickedness and curses, if you still remain righteous, the land will still be blessed. Maybe not generally speaking, but at least for you personally. It’s interesting how God can do that. One may think, if one person messes up or the entire population messes up, then I’m toast as well. The judgments of God are on their way and I’m going to die despite my righteousness. I don’t think that is how God works. God provides for the righteous, even amongst wickedness. He does this in various ways.

Let’s look at history and in the Book of Mormon. Lehi and his family were righteous. Lehi was a prophet. Jerusalem was a wicked city. Even though wickedness abounded in Jerusalem, the Lord still  cared about Lehi’s family and led them off to a promised land that was better than anything they left behind. The pioneers, LDS saints, who left family, friends and persecution to travel to Utah. What they found here was a promised land of religious freedom and better than anything they left behind. Because they knew they had done what God wanted them to do, God blessed them for that. My own family not too long ago left our house of 10 years and moved to northern Utah, picking up animals in the process. People thought we were crazy. I thought we were crazy. But mom said it was what she felt we ought to do, so we did it, even though it may not have seemed logical. Because of that, we’ve been blessed more than if we had stayed. Thus, the stuff gained was better than anything left behind. That is one way God provides for the righteous even though those around us may not be righteous-he leads them out of wickedness to a better place.

Another way is the Lord provides for the righteous personally, while those around them perish. I’m talking food. My example is Elijah being fed by ravens. The children of Israel received manna from Heaven and there are pioneer stories of people receiving food out of nowhere when they had nothing else. The Lord works on a very personal level and I think the common theme among all these is they weren’t around others when it happened. The pioneers weren’t still in their homes, the children of Israel weren’t back in Egypt for all to see when this happened, and Elijah was told to go to a specific place. Like I said earlier, the Lord works on a personal level. And I think he requires us to leave others or our current place and go somewhere else, so when those miracles do happen, it’s not paraded around for all to see. It’s just you. You receive the miracle and witness. I believe what king Mosiah and what Lehi said is true. This land of America, and any other land God deems promised for you, will be blessed because of righteousness and will be a land of liberty. As Jehovah told Moses, “A land overflowing with milk and honey.”

Verse 33 goes on to say Mosiah said a lot more than what’s written. I’ll list some of the other things he says he talked about.

  • Trials and troubles of a righteous king
  • Disadvantages of having an unrighteous king.

Well that was a shorter list than I thought. It says in verse 33, “He explained it all unto them…” and in verse 35, regarding wicked kings, “unfolded unto them…” King Mosiah sounds like he went into great detail. This wasn’t some little thing. This was probably not a one page letter. It was probably a very long and though out declaration. He is wanting to change the very structure of government that has been place for 508 years already. Of course it’s going to be an essay!

It’s Tough To Be King

Another thing: In verse 33 it mentions two specific things a righteous king has to deal with. Murmuring of the people to the king and having what he called, “travails of soul,” or worrying about the people. As king, you have to deal with a lot of stuff. You are trying to keep the people heading in a direction of prosperity and righteousness. But like it says, even with all this, there are still people who complain and aren’t satisfied. That’s rough because you are trying to do what’s best for everyone. Not only that, but because you are king, you know all the ins and outs of the kingdom. What’s going on, what’s not. You are always worrying about the people. How can we do this? How can we do that? What can we do to solve this problem? All those things you have to worry about. I guess I can see why kings in the past taxed people to support themselves. Being king is a mentally draining thing. Probably physically as well. Here’s the thing, the difference between a righteous king and a wicked king is the Lord sustains the righteous king. He’ll qualify him for the work he has to do. However hard it may be. But as long as the king will put forth his effort and trust God, he will do good. I think the same applies today. Not only with church callings, missionary assignments, fatherhood, motherhood, but also with job requirements as well. If you are doing everything in your power to be righteous, and doing your duty, God will sustain you, qualify you, magnify you, and provide for you. I know this is true. I’ve written in my journal before and told people, the reason I’ve got passing grades in school wasn’t because I studied or did my homework. It was because I prayed and read my scriptures before doing my homework. When you put God first, he puts you first. Sorry, that was a bit off topic but I thought I’d just put in a personal example from my life.

A Momentous Occasion

In verse 37 and 38 something remarkable happened. After reading the declaration/ epistle king Mosiah sends out, the people are convinced of the truth of his words and the entire population expressed a willingness to answer for all their own sins and have equality. This must have had quite a profound effect on the people. I don’t know how many people lived in Zarahemla at the time but let’s say it has the same population as Sibu (Where I was living in Malaysia at the time I wrote this.), about 255,000 people. All of them changed. The most remarkable part to me is everyone was willing to answer for their sins. This reminds me of a conversation I had with my mom about her favorite prophet, Jonah. One day, my mom was in Sunday school and the class was studying Jonah. The teacher remarked one of the main points of Jonah is people change, even people whom others consider wicked. Even entire civilizations can change. As evidenced in the story of Jonah and also here with king Mosiah. My mom said she had never thought of it that way. She said what happened with Jonah and Ninevah needs to happen today. You need to have entire cities change. You need entire cities like king Mosiah had. Ones that are willing to turn to God, repent of their sins and have equal chance for every man.

What happens next? The people gather themselves together and cast votes for who they think was qualified for the judgment sea. There was no campaigning, no spinning, no bribes, no donations towards candidates. All they did was vote. It must have been small enough of a city someone could get the majority vote. It probably happened like this: the votes came in, the person who had majority was informed the people had chosen him to be a judge over the land and he was asked if he would accept this assignment. If so and if he promised to do his duty to the best of his ability, according to the commandments of God, he became the judge. But I don’t know for sure that’s how it happened. I wasn’t there.

In verse 39 it says the people rejoiced a lot because of the liberty that had been granted unto them. Choice is always better than no choice. Even if people choose the wrong and you know they will in advance, it’s better to let them have their agency than not. When you grant liberty to people, there is more risk, and not as much certainty. And I think we all mess up more often than not. I think if liberty is continually extended, people will eventually learn and figure out how to go about things the right way. Because people are naturally good and want to do the right thing.

I’m trying to make connections with what I read to what I want to write about. In order to extend freedom to someone, you have to see the big picture. Take God for example. His plan for us is to come to earth, learn, progress, grow and become like Him. He gives us freedom to go about in the way we want. He sees us for who we are and what we can become. An eternal perspective. That probably allows him to be patient with us and allow us to continue to choose while nudging us in the right direction. Comparing back to what’s happening in the scriptures, king Mosiah saw the big picture. He saw the benefits that would come from having judges rather than a king. He saw what people could become if they had liberty to choose. He saw the impact it would have on the people. He probably also saw all the negative stuff that would come from it. But even that was better than risking kings forever more. Because king Mosiah had that perspective, he was able to extend freedom. In our own lives, the more we let people choose for themselves, the better. Don’t get me wrong, if someone is fixin’ to do something stupid, I’ll warn them. Or if it’s something they can’t afford to mess up on, I’ll try to talk them out of making the wrong choice. But when it comes to leadership positions, I think it is best to follow the counsel of Brigham Young: Teach correct principles and let the people govern themselves.

The Passing Of A Great King

Verse 40 is wonderful. What they say about King Mosiah after he passed away is something I hope to be one day.  I don’t think the words that are written can convey the love the people had for him. The first and last part of the verse put that in perspective, “…esteem[ed] him more than any other man…esteem[ed] him, yea exceedingly beyond measure.” Probably when ever he was brought up in a conversation, people became happy and pleased because it seems like everyone loved him.

Alma the the son of Alma is chosen by the voice of the people to become the first chief judge over the people. This is Alma the younger who was destroying the church just a few chapters ago. He becomes the first chief judge and also is the spiritual leader of the church, being a high priest. His father, Alma gave him charge concerning the affairs of the church as well. Cross reference Alma 2:16. Looks like the one who holds the judgement seat is also called the governor. Alma has a lot on his shoulders. Governor over the people as well as high priest over the church. It’s like being governor of the land and also being the prophet. There is much that needs attending to. I wonder how Alma felt about it. Most likely good because he accepted.

One cool thing I think I read in the institute manual for the Book of Mormon. I don’t know where it was though. It was saying the Nephites were operating only under the Melchizedek Priesthood when they arrived in the New World. Ismael was a descendent of Ephraim and Lehi of Manasseh. They had no one with them from the tribe of Levi, or the people authorized to use the Levitical, or Aaronic priesthood. Alma the younger has the Melchizedek priesthood and that is by what authority he is officiating in the church.

That’s it for Mosiah 29. One thing I decided to do when I began this project was to do a life review every time someone passed away. In Mosiah 29, Both king Mosiah II and Alma the elder pass away. My next post will be life sketches as best as I can figure them. I will be writing about what they may have experienced as kids and any other important figures they may have grown up with. Thanks for reading!

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