Abinadi: The Message and the Martyr (Part 2)
Welcome back. In this second lecture, we are going to talk a little more about Abinadi and finish his message to King Noah and his court. As you recall last time, Abinadi came on the scene in Mosiah 11 at about 150 B.C., and then we went through some of the legal charges against him in chapter 12, charges leveled by King Noah and his priests. Then we covered Abinadi’s blistering attack on what the priests were doing with the law of Moses, accusing them of not living it. Then we talked about how Abinadi was transfigured before them. Then we discussed a few of the things Abinadi taught, especially out of the law of Moses and the ten commandments.
That brings us to Mosiah 13, where Abinadi teaches about the types and shadows of the law of Moses. Let’s begin in Mosiah 13:30—31: “Therefore there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him. But behold, I say unto you, that all these things were types of things to come.” Now, Abinadi says it fairly clearly there, but let’s go back to 2 Nephi 11:4 and notice how Nephi put it. I’m just starting to understand what Nephi really meant here. He says:
Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; [That is the purpose of the law, to prove Christ’s coming] and all things [and I am finding all means all] which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.
All things! When I finally got the idea that Christ is the master teacher, the universe is his classroom, and the Atonement is the curriculum, things started to open up for me. To give you an example of how that works, I have provided a chart (see Figure 1). This chart was developed by Brother Robert Norman, who teaches at the LDS Institute at the University of Utah, and I think this is a great insight into one of the types of the Book of Mormon. If all things given by God are the typifying of him, then this book—which is a witness for Christ—its coming forth is a typification, or a shadow, or a symbol, of the coming of Christ.
Figure 1 shows that the Book of Mormon’s coming forth was declared by an angel named Moroni; Christ’s coming forth was declared by an angel named Gabriel. The Book of Mormon came forth in time of apostasy, to restore truth; Jesus Christ came in the meridian of time to an apostate Israel, to restore truth. The Book of Mormon was laid away in a stone receptacle; Christ was laid away in a stone receptacle. The Book of Mormon was taken from that receptacle by a man named Joseph; Christ was put into the receptacle by a man named Joseph. The Book of Mormon came forth after the stone was moved away; Christ came forth after the stone was moved away. At the Book of Mormon’s coming forth, an angel, Moroni, was there to see the coming forth of the plates from the receptacle; at Christ’s coming forth, an angel was there to oversee his coming forth from the tomb. (As a matter of fact, the angel had moved the stone away, not so Christ could get out—resurrected beings don’t have a problem with that—but so people could get in to see that the tomb was empty.) The first to see the plates, Joseph, was forbidden to touch them at first; the first to see Jesus, Mary, was forbidden to touch him. (Remember, he said, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father” [John 20:17]. Those who know Greek say a better translation is “Embrace me not.”) The Book of Mormon was attested to by twelve witnesses, the three and the eight plus Joseph; Jesus Christ had twelve special witnesses. The Book of Mormon is the word of God; of Jesus, the scriptures say: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The Book of Mormon teaches the fulness of the gospel; Christ taught the fulness. The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion; Christ is the cornerstone. All things testify of Christ.
I’d like to take just a minute now to get you thinking a little bit about these types and shadows. All things testify of Christ. If you go through the Old Testament, events, places, names, and people—all things in heaven and earth—testify and bear record of Christ.
Are you aware that Israel leaving Egypt, going through the wilderness, and getting back into Caanan is a symbol of leaving a telestial world, going through a terrestrial millennium, and getting back into a celestial world? Notice the types. As Israel left Egypt (Egypt is a symbol of the telestial world), they went through the desert (a symbol of the Millennium; the earth, during the Millennium, will be a terrestrial world), and then they returned home. How did they get out of Egypt? There were some plagues. The first plague was when Moses turned the water to blood. What was Jesus’ first miracle? He turned water to wine. The last plague Moses brought on was the death of the firstborn; Jesus’ last miracle was the Resurrection of the Firstborn. So what preceded Israel leaving Egypt, when they left the telestial world to get into the terrestrial world, was some plagues. What’s going to happen before this world leaves its telestial status and goes into the millennial terrestrial world? It will be preceded by plagues as well.
Notice, as Israel left Egypt, they did it at the time of Passover. Why were they allowed to go? Because of the death of Pharoah’s firstborn. But they did something prior to that. They took a lamb—and notice the symbol of the firstborn male, unblemished, i.e., with no broken bones They slew this lamb and put the blood on the lintels of their doors so the Destroying Angel passed over them and killed the firstborn of the Egyptians. So, the blood of the lamb saved Israel from physical death, as the blood of the Lamb will save us from spiritual death. I don’t know if you have thought about it, but Jesus is the Lamb of God. When Jesus was born, to whom did the angels come? They came to the shepherds. Why the shepherds? Because it was the shepherds’ job to keep track of which lamb was the firstborn, because the sacrificial lamb had to be a symbol of the Firstborn, which was Jesus. When Jesus was on the cross, he was the Lamb of God, and he was being killed. As he was on the cross, the Jews were killing lambs for the Passover, unaware that all the lambs they were slaughtering were really a symbol for the Lamb of God, who was on the cross. This was a symbol of the death of the Lamb at the Passover.
Now, how do we get out of this telestial world into a better world? How did Israel get out of a telestial world? Well, Moses is a symbol of Christ, and he led them out of this telestial world. (Pharaoh was a symbol of Satan and all his hosts.) So where does Moses take Israel? He takes them to the edge of the Red Sea. And what do they do? What are they following? They are following a pillar of light. When they get to the Red Sea, the pillar of light came around Israel and gave light to Israel as it went through the Red Sea. It was darkness to the Egyptians, holding them back. What did the Lord do on the first day of creation? He separated the light from the darkness. And then what did Israel do? They went through the sea. What did the Lord do on the second day? He separated the land from the water. Why did Israel go through the Red Sea? It was a symbol of baptism. They had to be saved by water and by fire. The water is the symbol of baptism, and the fire, or pillar, is the Holy Ghost. Just as they were saved by water and by fire, we are saved by water and by fire. We need to have baptism and the Holy Ghost to get us out of this telestial world, back home.
All right! So Israel went through the Red Sea and then they got into the wilderness, a symbol of the Millennium. What did they eat while they were there? They ate manna. What is manna? It’s bread from heaven. It was a symbol again. It was a symbol of whom? Christ, the bread of life. Where was He born? He was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is “the house of bread,” and that is not by coincidence. What did they drink? They drank water. Where did the water come from? Moses hit the rock. What is the rock? The rock is Christ. In 1 Corinthians 10:1—4 it says they were saved by the manna and the water, the spiritual food and water they had in the wilderness.
So, they were out in the wilderness. They stayed there forty years. Why? Because Moses lost his compass? No! Because forty is a symbol of purification. And you can get the children of Israel out of Egypt, but you can’t get Egypt out of Israel. They had to have the older generation die off and the younger generation led in. They are led in by whom? By Joshua. Joshua is the Hebrew word for the Greek word Jesus. So they went into the promised land, and where did they go? They had to go through the Jordan River. Why the Jordan River? (And by the way, they went through the Jordan River at Passover. You can check the Old Testament. It gives month, day, and year. They went through at Passover.) Why did they go through the river? Because you have to be born again to go into the promised land, because all things testify of Christ.
Now, there are other things that are put in physical symbols by some of our brethren. When the Salt Lake Temple was built, the early Saints put physical symbols there. There are three pillars on the east and three on the west. The three on the east are higher. Why? They are symbols of the First Presidency and the Melchizedek Priesthood. The three on the west are symbols of the Presiding Bishopric and the Aaronic Priesthood. Why there? Because the sun, a symbol of the Son of God, comes up in the east, and the Son will come from the east. The first rays of light hit those pillars on the east, symbolizing revelation to the First Presidency.
The temples we have here in Provo and in Ogden are also symbols. Have you ever noticed the band around them and the pillar. (The kids joke about how at night it looks like a carrot in a bowl of dip!) But it is a symbol of a shadow by day and a pillar by night. It is the pillar of fire and the cloud. When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, that is where they knew to put the tabernacle. During the day, the cloud was over it, and at night there was a pillar of fire. It was a symbol of the presence of Jehovah. (It was called shekinah, a Hebrew word to symbolize “the presence of the Lord.”) They would get up in the morning and the cloud would be afar off, and they knew they had to move the tabernacle over there to follow Jehovah through the wilderness to get out of bondage and to get back home.
Think of the other symbols. Why do you go to bed at night? Because you are tired? No! You die every night. Why do you get up? Because it is time to go? No! It is a symbol of the resurrection. That is why you have to have the morning and the afternoon of the first resurrection. All things testify of Christ.
All the prophets in the Old Testament testify of Christ. Think of Joseph of Egypt. He was a shepherd. Jesus was the Good Shepherd. Do Joseph’s brothers like him? No, they put him in a pit. Jesus was in a tomb. Tradition has it that Joseph was in the pit three days. He came out of the pit, and he got on the right hand of Pharaoh. Jesus came out of the tomb, and he went on the right hand of God. Then the brothers came down to get corn in Egypt. What happened? Did they recognize Joseph? He said, “Hey, it’s me. It’s Joseph.” When Christ was resurrected and appeared in the upper room, did they recognize him. No. He said, “It’s me. Handle me and see.” And there were eleven brothers, and there were eleven apostles. So Joseph is a type of Christ. Moses is a type of Christ. All prophets are Christian prophets, which is fairly unique to the LDS point of view. We will see that as we now get back into the book of Mosiah. I just wanted to say a few things about types and shadows.
Now, let’s go on to Mosiah 13:33—35:
For behold, did not Moses prophesy unto them concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people? Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began—have they not spoken more or less concerning these things?
Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?
Yea, and have they not said also that he should bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, and that he, himself, should be oppressed and afflicted?
Notice, in verse 33, it says, “did not Moses prophesy” and “yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied.” Every prophet has been a prophet, or a witness, for Christ. Let’s just look at another couple of references that show that in the Book of Mormon. Jacob 7:10—11 is one. Jacob is talking to Sherem, an anti-Christ: “And I said unto him: Believest thou the scriptures? And he said, Yea. And I said unto him: Then ye do not understand them; for they truly testify of Christ. Behold, I say unto you that none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ.” All prophets always testify of Christ. One other example of that is in Helaman 8:14—18:
Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.
And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal. [The brazen serpent that Moses lifted up was a symbol of Christ on the cross.]
And now behold, Moses did not only testify of these things, but also all the holy prophets, from his days even to the days of Abraham.
Yea, and behold, Abraham saw of his coming, and was filled with gladness and did rejoice.
Yea, and behold I say unto you, that Abraham not only knew of these things, but there were many before the days of Abraham who were called by the order of God; yea, even after the order of his Son; and this that it should be shown unto the people, a great many thousand years before his coming, that even redemption should come unto them.
Now, this is one of the plain and precious truths that has been lost from the Old Testament: Every Old Testament prophet was a Christian prophet. Helaman even lists some of them in Helaman 8:19—20: “And now I would that ye should know, that even since the days of Abraham there have been many prophets that have testified these things; yea, behold, the prophet Zenos did testify boldly; for the which he was slain. And behold, also Zenock, and also Ezias, and also Isaiah, and Jeremiah (Jeremiah being that same prophet who testified of the destruction of Jerusalem). . . .” And he names others there. All these prophets were Christian prophets.
Now, with that background, let’s go back to Mosiah 14, back to the trial of Abinadi. In Mosiah 14, if you read the chapter heading, you notice Abinadi is going to read or quote Isaiah—I guess he is probably reading from the law there. The priests quoted Isaiah to him to try to catch him in the law. He says, “You like Isaiah? Okay, let’s read Isaiah.” So he begins to read from Isaiah 53, beginning in Mosiah 14 with verse 1: “Yea, even doth not Isaiah say: Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” In essence, he says, “Who has accepted the testimony of the prophets relative to the Messiah [and notice he says] in whom the arm of the Lord is revealed?” The only people who accept it are the ones to whom it comes by revelation. And then he says, in verse 2: “For he [Christ] shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him.” He is talking about Christ here. Christ is going to grow up in the barren soil of Judaism; there will be no nourishment there from that apostate religion.
Now, verse 3: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” See, he looks like any other Jew at that period of time. Now, I don’t know if you are aware, but many many scholars say this is not talking about Jesus; they say this is talking about Israel as a nation. And I ask you, in your heart, do you feel this is talking about Israel or is this talking about Jesus Christ?
Now, verse 4: “Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” I’d like to take a look at what Alma says about how Christ has borne our grief and carried our sorrows and how that works through the Atonement. Let’s go to Alma 7:11—12:
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. [Now, notice, he is not just talking about sin here. He’s talking about pain, whether spiritual or emotional or physical.]
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
Christ’s atonement is not just for sin. It is to cover anything in our life, as fallen individuals, that we can’t handle on our own, because of the fall of Adam, including sickness, infirmities, and pain.
Do you remember the story in the New Testament of the lady with the blood issue. How long had she had this blood issue? Twelve years. She wanted to come and be with Jesus, but she was afraid to go out in public. Why? According to the law of Moses, if she had this blood issue, she wasn’t supposed to go in public. You weren’t supposed to touch blood. You weren’t supposed to touch anybody who had this kind of thing. So she had to sneak out to see Jesus. She thought, “If I could just touch the hem of his garment, I would be healed.” So she sneaked out hoping that nobody saw her, because she wasn’t supposed to be in public. She leaned over and touched his garment. And she was healed. But as she was trying to get away, and what did Jesus do? He said, “Who touched me?” The disciples said, “What do you mean? There are all these crowds.” And he said, “No.” And then remember what he said? He said, “Virtue is gone out of me” (Luke 8:46). Now, what do we learn from that?
Because of the Atonement, he has taken upon himself not just our sins, but our infirmities, our pain, and our sickness, and we can be healed through him. But when it happens, it taps his spiritual batteries. Virtue went out of him. So, whenever, through the Atonement, he provides this for us, it takes a toll on him. That way he is our personal savior. If you don’t get anything else out of this, I hope you realize that the Atonement works for anything you can’t handle on your own because of this fallen condition brought on by Adam.
Now, let’s go back to Isaiah 53, which is in Mosiah 14, and notice the rest of Abinadi’s discourse here. We were on verse 5: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” See, he suffered spiritual death in the Garden of Gethsemane. He chose to do it. Death is an alienation or separation. He chose to suffer physical death too. He alienated himself. He chose to remove the Father’s Spirit from him so that he could suffer the spiritual death in our behalf.
Now look at verse 7: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter.” Revelation 13:8 says he is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” In verse 8, Isaiah asks—and it’s almost like Abinadi is asking the same thing—”He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare his generation?” (Generation, or genesis, meaning his origin.) He says, who will declare his divine sonship? Remember Nephi’s vision back in 1 Nephi 11? The angel says, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” or, basically, “Do you understand that God will come down?” Abinadi says, “Who is going to declare that?” And then he said, “I am. I am telling you that this is God’s son. This is God who is going to come down on the earth.” Then, in Mosiah 14:8, he explains how that is going to work:
For he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked [i.e., he died between two thieves], and with the rich in his death [Joseph of Arimathaea was a rich man, and Christ’s body was put in his tomb]; because he had done no evil, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet, it pleased the Lord to bruise him. . . .
Who is the Lord there? In the Hebrew Bible it would say “Jehovah.” Jehovah is Christ. It pleased Jehovah to bruise Christ? I think so, and I think we get Mosiah 15:1—8 because Abinadi has to go back and explain that. He has just read that, and it sounds like two different people. He is saying that Christ is Jehovah, and then he says this being comes down—How can they be one person? Abinadi will explain that in chapter 15, which we’ll get to in just a minute. Continuing: “He hath put him to grief; when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed.” How’s he going to have any seed when they are going to kill him? In Mosiah 15, Abinadi is going to explain that Christ’s seed are his children who are born again through him. And how is Christ going to see his seed? He’s going to be killed and go into the spirit world, and he will see his seed there (we learn that from D&C 138). “He shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” He is going to be resurrected and live forever. Verses 11 and 12:
He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
How anyone can read that with the Spirit and say that is just the history of Israel is just about beyond my comprehension, but I think they are looking beyond the mark if they do that.
Now let’s go to Mosiah 15, which is a puzzling chapter and kind of interesting. (If you care to read more about this next topic, there is a four-page discourse by the First Presidency on how Christ is the Father and the Son in James E. Talmage’s book The Articles of Faith. I am going to use that as a basis for what we do here.)
And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.
And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—
The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—
Let’s look at that for just a minute. Reading from that statement by the First Presidency, there are three ways they suggest that Christ is the Father as well as the Son:
First, he is the Father, as the creator of heaven and earth. We know from the scriptures (from John 1:10 and Hebrews 1:1—3) that the Father created the world through Christ, and so, since Christ was the Creator, he can be the Father of this world, kind of like how George Washington is the father of this country and Eli Whitney is the father of the cotton gin. So, Christ can be the Father, first, as the Creator.
Second, he is the Father by faithful adoption. When we accept him, we are spiritually born again, and spiritually, through the Atonement, we become the children of Christ. We take upon ourselves his name, and that way he becomes our Father. A father begets life. Your earthly father gave you life here in this mortal sphere, and Christ will give you eternal life. In that sense, he becomes the Father.
Third, he is the Father by divine investiture of authority. In Doctrine and Covenants 93:3—5, it tells how that works. It says:
And that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one—
The Father because he gave me of his fulness, and the Son because I was in the world and made flesh my tabernacle, and dwelt among the sons of men.
I was in the world and received of my Father, and the works of him were plainly manifest.
He says, “I was in the world and received of my Father,” meaning Christ gets the Father’s power, his glory, and his name, and the works of him (the Father) were manifest through Christ. He says, “I came, and even though it was me, you were seeing the Father, because I did everything the Father would do if he were here.” So, by divine investiture of authority, Christ is also considered the Father.
Let’s go back to Mosiah 15. I received a letter from my son that I think helps explain what’s going on here in Mosiah 14—15. Over in Mosiah 13:34, Abinadi says, “God himself should come down.” But then in Mosiah 14:10, it says, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.” I wrote and asked my son about this. He said that he was reading in a Spanish Bible, and their Bible has the word Jehovah instead of Lord. Then it says [and this is about Christ]: “It pleased the Lord Jehovah to bruise him.” Well, we know Jehovah is Christ, but to the Hebrews, Jehovah is God. If God is going to come down, how does that work? It seems as if he is contradicting himself. Jared, my son, says that from this it would seem that Jehovah, who is God to the Hebrews, bruised Christ, so they aren’t the same person. It would seem that Jehovah isn’t Christ, because if we are talking about the godhead, it doesn’t make sense that Abinadi says that God himself, Jehovah, would come down to redeem his people. Thus it seems as if Abinadi contradicted himself. But Mosiah 15 isn’t talking about the godhead; it’s talking about the roles of Christ.
Now watch. First Abinadi says, “God himself will come down.” Then go over to verses 4—5, where he says, “And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth. And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit. . . .” See, he’s talking flesh and spirit here as the roles of Christ. We’ve got Christ as a God, and we’ve got him as a man. We’ve got the spirit, and we’ve got the flesh. We’ve got the Father and also the Son.
Now, knowing that he’s talking about Christ and the roles of Christ, let’s back up and reread verse 2: “And because he dwelleth in the flesh [the man] he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father [Jehovah, God] . . .” Jesus is subjecting himself to the will of Jehovah, as over in Mosiah 14:10. And also remember, in Dueteronomy 18:18, Jehovah says, “I will raise them up a Prophet . . . and will put my words in his mouth.” Well, who is the prophet he raises up? First Nephi 22 says the prophet is Christ. Christ is in essence saying, “I am going to raise up a prophet, who will be me, and I will put my words in his mouth.” So we’re talking about roles here.
Mosiah 15:3 says: “The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; [again, God the Father] and the Son, because of the flesh . . .” See, when you have a reference to the flesh, you are talking Son, and when you have a reference to the spirit, you are talking spirit, or Father. Hence, Father and Son. Now, knowing that, watch verse 4: “And they [the Father and the Son? No, the man and the God] are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.” Jesus and Jehovah are one. And thus the flesh (Jesus, the man) becomes subject to the spirit (Jesus, the God, or the Son to the Father), being one God, suffering temptation, yielding to temptation, suffering himself to be mocked, scourged, and so on.
Mosiah 15:7 says: “Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.” Jesus, with both roles, becomes one. Now, verses 9—12:
Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death [this is how he is going to see his seed], taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.
And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed? [He has just told us how Christ is going to be the Father, and then he says, “Who is going to be his seed?”]
Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.
That’s his seed—those who believe the prophets, those who know that Jehovah will come down—and that is Christ—and he will be our Savior.
Verse 13 says: “Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy, that has not fallen into transgression, I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began? I say unto you that they are his seed.” The prophets are Christ’s seed. And notice in verse 14, Abinadi answers the question raised at the beginning: “And these are they who have published peace.” Remember, they asked, “What does Isaiah mean here?” And he gave this big long speech. He was supposed to be on the defensive, but he was really on the offensive, saying, “Wait a minute, don’t interrupt me. I haven’t finished. I have to give this speech.” So he says:
And these are they who published peace, who have brought good tidings of good who have published salvation; and said unto Zion: Thy God reigneth!
And O how beautiful upon the mountains were their [all the past prophets’] feet!
And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace!
And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever!
[All future prophets will testify of Christ, and not only that, but verse 18]
And behold, I say unto you, this is not all. For O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord [Christ himself], who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people. (Mosiah 15:14—18)
The ultimate preacher of peace will be Christ himself.
Now, let’s look at verse 19: “For were it not for the redemption which he hath made for his people, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, I say unto you, were it not for this, all mankind must have perished.” Remember, the correlations we discussed between Abinadi and Benjamin? Benjamin says this same thing, and he says it just maybe a little more clearly. Let’s go back to Mosiah 4:6—7 and see how Benjamin words this:
I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world . . .
I say, that this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world.
The atonement is in place even before the foundation of the world. Now, you have to ask yourself—and let’s go back to Mosiah 15—How does Abinadi do this? This is a masterful discourse. He didn’t know what scripture they were going to bring up. They brought up this thing from Isaiah, and he carefully weaves Isaiah, the law, the fulfillment, the prophesy—all of his message—together, under the threat of death. He really has access to all the prophets, so who is he going to go to? Isaiah, the prophet of prophets. Isaiah is the prototype. Abinadi could have used Zenock, Zenos, or any of these prophets, but he goes to Isaiah, because Isaiah’s the main prophet. Abinadi is obviously in a transfigured state to be able to do this.
He is really going to level an indictment at these priests now. Let’s read Mosiah 15:20—21:
But behold, the bands of death shall be broken, and the Son reigneth, and hath power over the dead; therefore, he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead.
And there cometh a resurrection, even a first resurrection; yea, even a resurrection of those that have been, and who are, and who shall be, even until the resurrection of Christ—for so shall he be called.
This is the first time the word resurrection comes up. It gets more complex as the book goes on. It is barely mentioned in 1 Nephi (where it just says, “Jesus arises from the dead”); in 2 Nephi, it teaches that we will all rise from the dead; but here in Mosiah 15 is the first time the word resurrection is mentioned. And he mentions the “first resurrection” in verse 22:
And now, the resurrection of all the prophets, and all those that have believed in their words, or all those that have kept the commandments of God, shall come forth in the first resurrection; therefore, they are the first resurrection.
They are raised to dwell with God who has redeemed them; thus they have eternal life through Christ, who has broken the bands of death.
And these are those who have part in the first resurrection; and these are they that have died before Christ came, in their ignorance, not having salvation declared unto them. And thus the Lord bringeth about the restoration of these; and they have a part in the first resurrection, or have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord. (Mosiah 15:22—24)
Now, he had a limited understanding here of this, but later Alma makes reference to this. That’s why he asked some questions about the resurrection and the spirit world and the space between death and resurrection. What I’d like to do is to take a moment and show you how understanding unfolds from here to Alma and then into the Doctrine and Covenants, where we really understand what this is all about. Turn to Alma 40:4, where we learn more about this resurrection. This is where the Book of Mormon is really beautiful on doctrine. If the rest of the world had this, they would really understand what’s going on, because most of the world reads 1 Corinthians 15:44, where Paul says you will be raised to a “spiritual body,” and thinks that a “spiritual body” is a spirit body. They think we will be resurrected like a spirit. Well, a spiritual body is a physical, tangible, spiritual body, like Christ’s physical spiritual body. That is very clear in Alma 40:4—5:
Behold, there is a time appointed . . . [Notice, he says there is a time appointed, but he is not sure about some things. Skip to verse 5:]
Now, whether there shall be one time, or a second time, or a third time, that men shall come forth from the dead, it mattereth not; for God knoweth all these things; and it sufficeth me to know that this is the case—that there is a time appointed that all shall rise from the dead.
So, there is an order to this thing. There is a time for people to come forth.
Let’s turn over to Alma 40:19:
Now, whether the souls and the bodies of those of whom has been spoken shall all be reunited at once, the wicked as well as the righteous, I do not say; let it suffice, that I say that they all come forth; or in order words, their resurrection cometh to pass before the resurrection of those who die after the resurrection of Christ.
He’s telling the order. Their resurrection comes to pass before the resurrection of those who die after the resurrection of Christ.
Now, to put all this together, let’s go to Doctrine and Covenants 133. I have provided a chart that depicts what we will look at here (see Figure 2). What is the difference between the morning and the afternoon of the first resurrection and the last resurrection, and so on? The Lord has revealed to Joseph some things that will help us understand this: “Yea, and Enoch also, and they who were with him; the prophets who were before him; and Noah also, and they who were before him; and Moses also, and they who were before him” (D&C 133:54). You are getting the major dispensation leaders. From Moses to Elijah, and from Elijah to John, who was with Christ in his resurrection. So these people (including the people of the city of Enoch, who were translated at the time of Christ) have become resurrected beings. That is the beginning of the morning of the first resurrection.
Now, to get the rest of the order of this, we go to section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants and read a few verses there. “And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him” (D&C 88:96). At the time of the Second Coming, people who are alive, whether they are living a celestial or a terrestrial order, will be spared. The telestial will be burned. The celestial will be caught up to meet Christ. Joseph Fielding Smith says the terrestrial won’t be caught up, but will be spared.1 Then he goes through the order of the resurrection.
Now, look at Figure 2. I have entitled it “Order of Resurrection.” I have looked at many charts depicting this, and they all seem to get so complicated. I have tried to simplify this to look just at the big picture here. Notice the wording here. The resurrection begins with the very best and ends with the very worst. The first to be resurrected is Christ. Who’s going to be the very last? The sons of perdition, those who came to earth and got bodies. Anybody who gets a body will be resurrected. Anybody who was cast out before they got a body will have no part in the resurrection. So it starts with the best and goes to the worst, and from the left to the right, we see this.
Are you aware that the morning and the afternoon of the first resurrection are not scriptural terms? You hear those in patriarchal blessings, but you won’t find that in scripture. This is what it’s talking about. We just read in Doctrine and Covenants 133 that the celestial people from the time of Adam down to Christ is the beginning of the morning of the first resurrection. Let’s now read Doctrine and Covenants 88:97—98:
And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—
They are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.
So it continues. It begins with the best, the celestial people, but it goes in order. There is a time appointed. The celestial people from the time of Adam to Christ are first, and then the celestial people from the time of Christ to the Second Coming are next. And then those at the time of the Second Coming, which we just read about. And it goes on after the celestial people to the terrestrial people. Notice that this is the afternoon of the first resurrection. This whole thing is the first resurrection, or the resurrection of the just.
In Doctrine and Covenants 88:99 it talks about those terrestrial people—and I had to include that one line there; I hope it is not confusing—and celestial people born during the Millennium. Once the Millennium begins, there will be mortals here on earth. They will live, on the earth, mortal lives to the age of a tree, or one hundred. Instead of dying or being put in a box and having a funeral, they will be changed in the twinkling of an eye to a resurrected being. Elder McConkie says those people will not have to pass any tests.2 Those are celestial people who will be coming to the earth during the Millennium. That’s why we had to include some celestial people in what we are terming the afternoon here. But the main thing is that all of those together are the first resurrection—that’s up through the Millennium.
Then the last resurrection, or the resurrection of the unjust, or the resurrection of the damned, it says in scripture, will include the telestial people (see D&C 88:100—101). Then the final ones are the sons of perdition. And so you have from best to worst.
When we talk about final judgment, the idea of being resurrected with different kinds of bodies comes from Doctrine and Covenants 88. Let’s just look for a minute at verse 20 of that section: “That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified.” Verses 27—28 of section 88 say: “For notwithstanding they die, they also shall rise again, a spiritual body. They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body.” So there are celestial bodies, terrestrial bodies, and telestial bodies. The final judgment is really an assignment of kingdoms. There isn’t going to be some big surprise at the final judgment. It won’t be like getting a grade in school, where you think, “Oh, I only got a B+.” You aren’t going to be at the final judgment and think, “Oh, I only got a terrestrial+” or whatever. You will be resurrected with a terrestrial, celestial, or telestial body. Elder McConkie says, interpreting 1 Corinthians 15:39, that they will be as different as fish, fowl, and beasts,3 and you will know. It will be evident. You won’t say, “Gee, is that a fish?” You will know. That is the order of the resurrection, and we get that from latter-day revelation. You don’t get it just by reading, say, 1 Corinthians.
Let’s go back to Mosiah 15 to finish off Abinadi. Abinadi has talked about the seed; he’s talked about the resurrection; and now, in verses 26 and 27, he hits turns on these priests:
But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have willfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection. [See what he is saying to them? He’s saying, “You men are excluded from the first resurrection!”]
Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim.
Abinadi is telling them, “He can’t redeem you. It’s the law! You are going to be raised with this kind of body.” Concerning that concept of not redeeming the rebellious, let’s look at a few lines of Exodus 34:5—7:
And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.
And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord God, [notice his attributes here:] merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, [he’s going to do everything he can] and that will by no means clear the guilty [or, as the JST says, “clear the rebellious”].
Abinadi says, “You men have rebelled against the Light. You are not going to be a part. You ought to fear and tremble, because the fiery wrath of God is coming after you.” Then he makes a major prophecy in verse 28: “And now I say unto you that the time shall come that the salvation of the Lord shall be declared to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.” That hasn’t been said before. Up to this time, it has just been mainly to Israel.
Now, let’s go to Mosiah 16:1:
And now, it came to pass that after Abinadi had spoken these words he stretched forth his hand and said: The time shall come when all shall see the salvation of the Lord; when every nation, kindred, tongue, and people shall see eye to eye and shall confess before God that his judgments are just.
See that line, “see eye to eye.” That is from the original scripture in Isaiah. He is saying that the time is going to come. This is going to happen.
In verse 5 it says, “Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God.” He hits this same point again. Notice, in Mosiah 16:6 we get a verb shift: “And now if Christ had not come into the world [had not come is past tense], speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.” Verses 7—8: “And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection. But there is a resurrection.” Abinadi is talking about it as if it were a done deal.
Let’s go back to Jarom 1:11. Notice the way he puts it. (By the way, in Jarom 1:2 we get a line we never get in the Bible. It’s “the plan of salvation.” That is latter-day revelation. That is not in the Bible, and most Christians think this whole thing kind of unfolded. They don’t realize there was a plan from the beginning, that there was a Savior from the beginning.) Verse 11: “Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was.” For every Book of Mormon prophet, the Atonement is already a done deal. It was already in place, before Adam was even set on the earth.
Back to Mosiah 16. Abinadi goes on and summarizes in verses 13—15:
And now, ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved?
Therefore, if ye teach the law of Moses, also teach that it is a shadow of those things which are to come—
Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. Amen.
Some people think that if Christ had not completed the Atonement, another person would have been brought in. That is not true. Go back to Mosiah 3:17, where Benjamin says: “And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.”
I gave provided a copy of the words from some hymns (see Figure 3). There is no other name. There is not a man waiting in the wings in case Christ didn’t do it. “There was no other good enough.” “For us the blood of Christ was shed / For us on Calvary’s cross he bled / And thus dispelled the awful gloom / That else were this creation’s doom.” There is no other way. He’s the only way. He’s the only name by which we will be saved.
The rest of the trial is academic. The priests charge Abinadi with blasphemy in verses 7—8, because he said God would come down. They don’t really burn him at the stake, as I see it. It says in Mosiah 17:13 that they scourge him with faggots, which probably means they have burning sticks with which they jab him. And then he falls to the earth and suffers death by fire. He has one convert: Alma. Alma’s descendants keep the records for over four hundred years. Alma’s words and Abinadi’s words have influenced millions of people and will influence billions of people.
What can we get out of this? How do we apply this to our lives? Just as I was coming over here, I got my Church magazine. I opened it up, and guess what I saw on the back of the magazine. The November Ensign contains Isaiah 52:7, Abinadi’s scripture, the one with the priests of Noah. So, what’s our message? “How beautiful upon the mount are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings.” And who is that? The prophets, and their words are here in the Conference Report for us to read and apply in our lives. If we don’t, we will be in the same plight as the priests of Noah. I testify to you that we have prophets and apostles, seers and revelators, and we need to read their words. I leave this witness with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), 1:86; 2:296—7.
2. Bruce R. McConkie, “The Salvation of Little Children,” Ensign (April 1977): 6.
3. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1979), 115.