King Noah and His Kingdom, Part 3
“And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain.
And all this did he take to support himself, and his wives and his concubines; and also his priests, and their wives and their concubines; thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom”
Noah laid a heavy tax on his people of all they possessed, and did not use those moneys collected for a righteous purpose, but to support his own endeavors (vv. 3-4). With that money he built many “elegant and spacious buildings,” made of the very finest materials and crafted with the finest workmanship to beautify his kingdom, including the temple and the land “near” it (vv. 8-10, 12). King Noah loved money and things more than he loved God and people.
It was for this very reason that the early saints were unable to secure Zion. Lorenzo Snow said Latter-day Saints' early failure to secure Zion was "because of their love of money," and that "the Lord could have sustained the people against the encroachments of their enemies had they placed themselves in a condition where He would have been justified in doing so" (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p. 159). You cannot serve God and Mammon (Matt. 6:24). We are blind if we believe that we would do any better than the early saints at such a heavenly endeavor. The early saints at least made the attempt. We don't know where to begin in our competitive society.
Noah had not abandoned the temple as we might suppose of someone who is “abominable in the sight of the Lord” and full of “all manner of wickedness,” but he and his priests considered themselves worthy to continue worship within it. He even did occasional renovations of fine work “within the walls of the temple” to beautify it (v. 10). Mormon points out that the people supported the king and his priests in their iniquity (v. 6). Not because they sought iniquity, but because of their trust in the arm of flesh. They acted as enablers in a vain cause.
They only wanted to hear “smooth things” preached unto them. This was “a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits…Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon: Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant” (Isa. 30:9-13).
Noah and his kingdom sought not “the welfare of Zion,” but rather to further the cause of Babylon, that they “may get gain and praise of the world” (2 Ne. 26:29). Their practice of priestcraft was to them priesthood and authority. But it was to the Lord nothing more than men who sought to gratify their pride, and who exercised “control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men” (D&C 121:37).
Through his example, teachings, and policy, Noah changed the affairs of the kingdom. It’s actually much easier to do than we might suppose, and even one man can do it. Because he cared more about himself, and his “vain ambition,” Noah was unable to do any good thing with his kingdom because the heavens had withdrawn themselves (Ibid.). He was therefore left to kick against the pricks, and to “fight against God” (v. 38).