Thursday, May 31, 2012


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”
Mosiah 11:3-4.

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).


King Noah and His Kingdom, Part 2

“For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness”
Mosiah 11:2.

Noah was a polygamist who walked after the desires of his own heart. There have been times when the practice of plural marriage has been authorized by revelation and commandment, and at other times received God’s censure (D&C 132:29, 34-35; Jacob 2:23-24). Noah and his priests weren’t the first, or the only people in history that sought to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which are written about ancient kings (ibid.). His example and teachings caused his people to commit sin, though neither he nor his people believed they were living in sin (Mosiah 12:13-14).

Like the Pharisees’ reaction to the Lord, Noah and his people were surprised “that we should be condemned of God or judged of this man (ibid.). They were surprised that somebody would challenge their righteousness. The wicked priestly class of Christ’s day was surprised at His message of admonition and repentance. In their view, they were the only people actually keeping all of the commandments. To them, even Christ and his disciples transgressed “the tradition of the elders” (Matt. 15:1-3). Christ taught them that it was precisely by way of their tradition that they “transgressed the commandment of God” (ibid.). Their pride had blinded them.

Remember, this story is being told to us in retrospect through the lens of a righteous prophet-writer. It is that prophet-writer who makes it clear to us that Noah and his people were wicked. Prophets have a very different view of history, and of the unfolding current events than do those who belong to or sympathize with Babylon. Because prophets commune with God, they are able to see things as God sees them.

If we were to read a history about Noah and his people written by their own hand it would, of course, be highly complimentary. Conspicuously absent from the record would be any details about human failure and weakness, especially of the king. Their record would tout their accomplishments. It would tell us about what great progress they made in the kingdom by way of building projects, for example. They certainly kept and preserved records. Otherwise, how would Mormon know so much about them.

Since the king and his priests spoke “flattering,” and “lying and vain words” unto the people we shouldn’t expect that their record would reflect a greater degree of honesty (Mosiah 11:7, 11). The ultra-religious always think they’re better than they really are, and they’re happy to talk about it.

The wickedness and abominations of Noah and his priests led them to pride. Their pride led them to boast in their own strength. They believed that it was not possible that they should be brought into captivity, or into bondage. They thought that because they had “prospered in the land,” they would always prosper (Mosiah 12:15). But it was not to be so.