Eulogy to King Mosiah II
Of the deceased king Mosiah II, it says that he, “Warred a good warfare, walking uprightly before God.” Cross reference (this isn’t a footnote by the way) 2 Timothy 4:7. Note the similarities in phraseology, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” What Alma wrote was written about 150 (?) years before Paul wrote these words. Yet they are very close. Same idea just in different words.
First year of the reign of the judges a man is brought forth to be judged. His name is Nehor (spoiler alert). What was he like? Verse two says he was large and noted for his much strength. Of all the qualities you could talk about a person, he would have to be particularly ripped to have everyone say he was strong. Probably not John Cena or the Rock ripped but cleanly chiseled. That probably played into why people listened to him. He was a large and imposing man. Probably had a beard. Maybe a hairy chest as well. It’s easy to follow someone imposing like that because subconsciously you are thinking he can protect you and he’s on your side. We’ll talk a little about that later but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Doctrine of Nehor
What did he teach? Verse 3 says that he taught what he termed to be the word of God. This is what all the false teachers use as their excuse. I’m preaching according to my beliefs and because of that, the law has no hold upon him specifically. I’ll list out what he taught:
- Every priest and teacher ought to become popular, not laboring with their hands but being supported by the people.
- All mankind will be saved at the last day.
Something that has always been hard for me is what point do we accept what people are teaching, which you know is false, and when do you stand up and say something? I think when people begin preaching about their “beliefs” to the point their intent is to negatively disrupt and confuse normal life. Take a look at what Nehor is doing. Yes, he is teaching according to his beliefs but It is causing people to become prideful and commit crimes to the point that the law does have hold on them. No longer is their intent to share beliefs but to stir up trouble. The teachings don’t make you a better person but make you worse and more contentious. We’ll see that soon.
Because Nehor is teaching these things so much, many people begin to support him and give him money. If you teach something with enough vigor and for long enough, eventually people will begin to believe you. If you know it’s false, you even begin to deceive yourself. I could go into a lot of example but I refer to a book instead. It’s a really great book and I highly recommend it, “The Marketing of Evil.” I don’t remember the name of the author but pretty much what the author does is go into all these controversial topics that are often furiously debated and talks about the history of them and how the marketing of evil is paraded around as good.
I suppose you could look at Hitler as well. And maybe this is an uninformed comment but Hitler was very charismatic in speaking and getting the people of Germany enthused for his plans. While they may have been good intentions at first, it led to something bad. He gained the support of the people so that he could be allowed to do what he wanted. Same with Nehor. He was gaining the support of the people, beginning to wear costly apparel, beginning to establish a church of Nehor. If it had been allowed to continue, I think it could have led to a king being established.
Cross refernce Acts 8:18. This is the footnote for 5A about people giving Nehor money. It refers us to the story of Simon in the New Testament who tried to buy the Holy Ghost after seeing it conferred on someone. Yeah you can’t do that. Spiritual things do not have a price. Not for sale. Also look at the footnotes for 6b and 6c. It talks about how Nehor was establishing a church after the manner of his preaching. The footnote says unrighteous dominion and church of the devil. Nehor was exercising unrighteous domionion in establishing the church of the devil. Forcing? Being over bearing? I don’t know.
A Latter-Day Example
I’ve found that the devil does indeed confuse people. A lot. More than we think. I’ve found that concerns that people have with our religion, if applied to a normal everyday setting, are easier to overcome. I’ll start with Nehor’s doctrine first. He taught that all the workers (priests and teachers) ought to become popular and be supported by the people. And that, in the end, it didn’t matter what you did because all mankind would be saved in the end. Let’s apply the same doctrine to a store. The Church of Jesus Christ is the store. You voluntarily apply to join the organization. You agree to standards and to work. In return you obtain a salary. In the case of church, blessings. Now, suppose Nehor walks in to the store and begins talking to the cashier. He tells him to stop working and become popular. Why should he work himself when the manager is just going to give him his salary anyway? That makes no sense at all. If that were to occur in real life you would tell the guy to get lost because that doesn’t fly here. You need to work, you need to do your job. The rules do not change once you are popular. And if you don’t work, you don’t get a salary. Simple as that. You agree to join the church, you agree to work. You don’t work, you don’t get the blessings. So if you ever have concerns about what is right, apply it to an everyday setting.
One day, as Nehor is on the way to go teach people who believe on his words, He meets a man who belongs to the church of God. He began to contend sharply with him that he might lead away the people of the church (has a crowd gathered?). But the man withstands him, admonishing him with the words of God. Way to stick up for the church!
It seems like Nehor is the one who instigated this tradeoff. Seems like he is a good missionary, talking with everyone, just working for the wrong church. I’ll spoil the name a verse early. His name is Gideon. the Lord’s promise that he’ll give us the words to speak in the very hour that we need them ring true here. Gideon withstood Nehor. This is the truth. This is the Church of Jesus Christ and it ought to be defended. Gideon did a good job.
Tales of Gideon
Verse 8 says that he was an instrument in the hands of the lord in delivering the people of Limhi out of bondage. When I was younger I always believed Gideon was the same Gideon that attempted to slay King Noah. After looking back through Mosiah, I believe it is the same one. I’ll give a brief rundown of Gideon’s life according to the record we have here in the scriptures.
King Noah’s Court
Back in King Noah’s reign, Gideon became angry with the king. He was part of the small force that went to find Alma the Elder and his people. When they returned in vain, he became mad, along with the others. It doesn’t say why but it may have had something to do with the unfair treatment of Alma and his people. I’m looking at the end of Mosiah 18 and the beginning of Mosiah 19 by the way. Gideon gets mad, draws his sword and chases the king to slay him. He chases him up a tower but king Noah sees the armies of the Lamanites coming and asks Gideon to spare his life. He does. King Noah commands the men he sees to flee, leave behind the women and children and save yourselves. Some men do and flee with king Noah and his priests. The rest stay and show the Lamanites their daughters. The Lamanites have compassion on the people and spare everyone on condition they pay tribute to the Lamanites 50% of what they have. They agree. Gideon sends men secretly into the wilderness to search for king Noah, priests and men who had run away with them. They find them but the priests and king Noah are not present. The men of Gideon find out that the men had grown angry with king Noah and had said that if their wives and dauaghters had been hurt because he commanded them to leave, then they would seek revenge on him. Noah tells them not to return. They get angry and burn him. They were going to do the same to the priests but they ran away. Gideon’s men return with the other men, King Limhi becomes ruler over the people.
Captain of the Guard
Over in a different part of the land….King Noah’s priest kidnap Lamanite girls, 24 of them. The Lamanites find out and think that king Limhi’s people do it. The Lamanites march away to king Limhi’s area to war. King Limhi meets with the Lamanite king and discover why they’ve come up to war. Gideon, who at this time is the king’s captain (he probably also was captain under king Noah as well.) Hears about this. He reminds king Limhi about the priests of his fahter. King Limhi was going to search among his own people for the Lamanite girls but Gideon convinces him it must have been the priests of Noah. They inform the Lamanite king and he is pacified towards them and goes with them back to his waiting armies. The Lamanite king pleads to his army on behalf of King Limhi’s people. They agree and go back to their own land.
But the Lamanites are stirred up to anger towards King Limhi’s people (not sure why). They come up to the borders round about and harass King Limhi’s people. They can’t kill them because of the oath their king made. They smack them around and put heavy burdens upon their backs. The people complain a lot to king Limhi to do something. They want to go up to war against the Lamanites that are harassing them. They go up to battle them three times but every time they lose. Many of the people are killed. There is great mourning in the land, particularly because there are now more women than men in the city. The people humble themselves and stick together. They keep an eye out for the priests of king Noah because they have come in and stolen grain and other precious things. The priests are in big doo-doo. Not only have they kidnapped 24 girls but also stolen from king Limhi’s people. Two civilizations are mad and looking for them.
The Lamanites stop slapping them around until the time that Ammon and his brethren come (Ammon from King Mosiah II. Not the one who converted Lamoni.) Ammon comes with men and all are thrown into prison because they are thought to be priests. When they find out they aren’t they rejoice because they come from the land of Zarahemla. King Limhi had tried to find them by sending out a band of men but they didn’t find anything except plates detailing what had happened to the people whose bones lay near the plates. King Limhi is rejoicing because King Mosiah has the gift of interpretation. They all enter into covenant to serve God and desire to be baptized. But they have not the power so they have to wait till they return to Zarahemla.
Ammon and company begin discussing how King Limhi’s people can return to Zarahemla. No other way can be found except to make a run for it. Bu the Lamanites are too numerous for that. Plus king Limhi’s people wouldn’t be able to hide for long. Gideon comes forth and puts forth a suggestion. He says that the Lamanites at the back wall at night are drunk. He suggests they pay tribute to them with wine that they are extra drunk and then everyone leaves the city through the backgate, passing by the Lamanites by way of a secret pass. According to as he said, it is done and the people of king Limhi are led by Ammon and his brethren to Zarahemla. The Lamanites find out and send an army after them. But after two days of pursuing them, become lost in the wilderness.
We don’t hear of Gideon again till Alma 1:8. Chronologically speaking, 30 years pass before the scriptures mention him again. Maybe we could figure out how old he is? I always imagined by the tie he contends with Nehor, he is old and retired. In verse 9 of Alma 1, it says that Gideon was stricken with years. Let’s go back and see if we can guess approximately how old he was…91BC-121BC is 30 years. If he was around during king Noah’s time, that’s another 39 years back because king Noah began ruling in 160BC. That’s an estimate but we’ll roll with that. So far he is 69 years old. I would think that he would be at least in his twenties by the time he is king Noah’s captain. Add to that another 20 years. That puts us at 89 years old give or take. Meaning he was born in 180 BC. That means that Gideon was born around the same time Mosiah I began ruling and was born approximately the same time that king Benjamin was born. Yeah he’s an old fart. My guess is that when he had this exchange with Nehor, he was anywhere from 85+ years old. Long life.
Back to the story of Gideon withstanding him with the words of God. Nehor gets ticked and draws his sword and begins to hit Gideon. Short temper! But the words of the righteous pierce the wicked to the soul. Take a look at how fast Satan stirred Nehor up to anger. Nehor was proselyting and Gideon was resisting. Nehor gets fed up with the resisting and kills him (Gideon being stricken with age and not being able to withstand his blows.) That escalated quickly. If all missionaries were like Nehor, there would be a lot less people in the world. Satan stirred up Nehor’s anger so much that he slew Gideon. Satan had great hold upon that guy.
Cross reference 1 Nephi 18:17. This is saying that Lehi and Sariah were stricken in years as well. So Gideon is Lehi old. I wish I could know how old he was. Lehi died approximately 10-11 years after they left Jerusalem. He must have been pretty old.
Thanks for reading! See you next post!