Mosiah 13

Mosiah 13:3 Touch me not

The life of Abinadi was preserved so that he could finish his message. Nephi was also protected by the power of God when his brothers were harboring murderous thoughts. He said, In the name of the Almighty God, I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh (1 Ne 17:48). The pattern continues with Samuel the Lamanite. Although he was up on the city wall, the stones and arrows could not hit him (Hel 16:2). Because of the power of God that was protecting Samuel, the wicked Nephites would have been no more accurate had they shot at point-blank range. So we see that the Lord will preserve his prophets until they have delivered their message to the very last word.

Elder Cree-L Kofford

"...having been confounded by the word of God's servant and following the command of their king, the wicked priests of Noah attempt to lay their hands on him that they might slay him. At this critical moment in the life of this great man, when his life hangs in the balance, his words reach out to us over a span of more than two thousand years. You can almost see his shoulders square noticeably as he draws himself to his full height and majestically proclaims: 'Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver' (Mosiah 13:3; emphasis added).

"Can you feel the electricity of that moment? Can you begin to understand now why Abinadi is such a special prophet? Words like heroic, courageous, obedient, fearless, powerful, dynamic, and faithful all come flooding into your mind as you replay that moment in Abinadi's life over and over in your mind; and as you do, Abinadi rises to the very heights of what a servant of God should be." (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, p. 71)

Mosiah 13:5 the Spirit of the Lord was upon him; and his face shone

On occasion the Spirit will have such a powerful influence on the individual as to transform their being into a source of light. Like the stones that illuminated the Jaredite ship after being touched by Jehovah, the faces of the prophets become luminescent with the power of God.  Mormon refers the reader to the instance when the face of Moses shone after conversing with the Lord. The brothers Nephi and Lehi had the same experience while conversing with angels, their faces...did shine exceedingly, even as the faces of angels (Hel 5:36).

The Prophet Joseph Smith was noted to have a transcendent luminescence to his countenance when he was particularly full of the Spirit. The following are the accounts of those who witnessed this magnificent transformation:

"Emmeline B. Wells: 'The power of God rested upon him to such a degree that on many occasions he seemed transfigured. His expression was mild and almost childlike in repose; and when addressing the people, who loved him it seemed to adoration, the glory of his countenance was beyond description. At other times the great power of his manner, more than of his voice (which was sublimely eloquent to me) seemed to shake the place on which we stood and penetrate the inmost soul of his hearers, and I am sure that then they would have laid down their lives to defend him.'

"Mary Ann Winters: 'I stood close by the Prophet while he was preaching to the Indians in the Grove by the Temple. The Holy Spirit lighted up his countenance till it glowed like a halo around him, and his words penetrated the hearts of all who heard him and the Indians looked as solemn as Eternity.'" (Truman Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet, pp. 89-90)

After the untimely martyrdom, while many saints struggled to know who was to be the next leader of the Church, a remarkable thing happened during an August conference in 1844. The visage of Brigham Young was luminescent, transformed to resemble the prophet Joseph. Those with spiritual eyes were witness to the events. Jane Snyder Richards wrote:

"After his tragic death I attended the meeting at which President Brigham Young addressed the Saints, and saw his face illuminated and appear as the face of Joseph while the voice of Joseph seemed to address the people through the mouth of Brigham.  I can never forget the divine thrill that passed through the audience on that occasion and the impression that the appearance and voice of Joseph produced upon his hearers.'" (Milton V. Backman Jr., Keith W. Perkins, Writings of Early Latter-Day Saints and Their Contemporaries, A Database Collection, p. 550)

Mosiah 13:9 I finish my message; and then it matters not wither I go

Spencer W. Kimball

"Someone has said, 'Anyone can found a religion,' and Talley-rand answered: 'Yes. If he is willing to die for it.' And the martyr is willing to do exactly that. But the powers of earth and hell cannot take him 'till 'the hour is come.'

"Abinadi when threatened by Noah's soldiery, cried out: 'Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver; . . . therefore, God will not suffer that I shall be destroyed at this time...Ye see that ye have not power to slay me, therefore I finish my message . . . and then it matters not whither I go, if it so be that I am saved.' (Mosiah 13:3,7-9. Italics author's.) Life had been pleasant, but even death was not bitter, for as God has said: '...those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them.' (D. & C. 42:46.)

"It will be recalled that Peter was released from prison by an angel and protected in many ways 'till his work was finished.' And Paul likewise. No violence could take his life until he had borne his testimony to Rome and Greece and other lands. But finally he made the prophetic statement to Timothy:  'For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.' (II Tim. 4:6,7.) There was no fear in his approach to eternity--only assurance and calm resignation to the inevitable martyrdom which he faced. He did not want to die but was willing thus to seal his testimony of the Redeemer.

"Though the Savior had numerous times been in most hazardous situations, it was clear that his life could not be taken until his work was finished. A large crowd of people had surrounded him, and there was much tumult in the temple, '...they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not come.' (John 7:30.) And again: '...Jesus walked into Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.' (Ibid., 7:1.)" (Conference Reports, Apr. 1946, p. 46)

Mosiah 13:10 what you do with me, after this, shall be as a type and a shadow

The justice of God repaid wicked king Noah for his murder of Abinadi. The Lord granted him the same painful death that he had prepared for the prophet of God. We are later told that Noah had angered his fleeing people such that they caused that he should suffer, even unto death by fire (Mosiah 19:20). Imagine if he had treated Abinadi with appropriate respect and love. He would have been requited with the same. However, like Pontius Pilate, he responded more to political pressure than spiritual promptings, and Abinadi's death became a type and a shadow for Noah's.

Mosiah 13:12 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image

The second of the Ten Commandment, the proscription of graven images almost seems to be inapplicable to us. Who would make an object of wood, stone, gold, or silver, and worship it as their god? Although foreign to us, certainly, the practice was common among the Ancients. "In a world filled with myriads of deities which were worshiped by men, the stark and simple truth of God's lordship over Israel is here proclaimed and its acknowledgment demanded-nothing more." (The Torah: A Modern Commentary, ed. by W. Gunther Plaut, p. 541).

The prophets had to remind the Jews that graven images only provoke the Lord to anger. Prophesying of Israel's rebellion, Moses said, the Lord shall scatter you among the nations...And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat nor smell (Deut 4:27-8). Elder LeGrand Richards explains how the sectarian notion of God approximates the worship of a graven image.

LeGrand Richards

"Let us examine the description of the God of the Presbyterian Church:

'There is but one living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible...' (Presbyterian Church Confession of Faith, chap. 2, art. 1, quoted from Liahona,op. cit., p. 269)

"These are but typical examples of the gods worshiped by Christian churches during the nineteenth century. Here are the gods that Moses told Israel they would encounter as they were scattered among the nations-gods 'which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.' How could a God without body, parts, or passions be expected either to see, hear, eat, or smell? How could any child of God be expected to understand, much less to love and be loved by, such an incomprehensible God as the above tenets would lead him to worship?" (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, p. 13)

Spencer W. Kimball

"Idolatry is among the most serious of sins. There are unfortunately millions today who prostrate themselves before images of gold and silver and wood and stone and clay. But the idolatry we are most concerned with here is the conscious worshiping of still other gods. Some are of metal and plush and chrome, of wood and stone and fabrics. They are not in the image of God or of man, but are developed to give man comfort and enjoyment, to satisfy his wants, ambitions, passions and desires. Some are in no physical form at all, but are intangible...

"Modern idols or false gods can take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, and numerous other material deflectors from the path to godhood. What difference does it make that the item concerned is not shaped like an idol? Brigham Young said: 'I would as soon see a man worshipping a little god made of brass or of wood as to see him worshipping his property.'(JD 6:196)" (Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 40-41)

Mosiah 13:15 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain

The Lord was so serious about this commandment that, in the days of Moses, its violation was punishable by death. Moses asked the Lord what he should do with a young man who had blasphemed. The answer, Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him (Lev 24:14). Indeed, the Law of Moses was a very strict law (v. 29). If the same punishment was rendered today, most of the people in this country would have been stoned to death. Indeed, Satan has made the phrase, "Oh my God!", an exclamation of everyday use. It must have been first uttered in holy supplication to the Maker but Satan cheapens and trivializes everything. So that now, this phrase and many others are used all the time without any deference to the individual whose name they blaspheme. The one who swears may soon forget their idle words but the Lord won't forget for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

   'Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, even Jesus Christ.

   Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips-

   For behold, verily I say, that many there be who are under this condemnation, who use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority...

   Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit' (DC 63:60-64).

Gordon B. Hinckley

"Let me tell you of an experience I had when I was a little boy...I came home from school one day, threw my books on the table, and took the name of the Lord in vain...My mother heard me. She was shocked. She took me by the hand and led me to the bathroom. She...then proceeded to wash my mouth out with that terrible soap. She...said, 'Don't let me ever hear such words from your lips again.' I hope I have never used the Lord's name in vain since that time. When President Spencer W. Kimball underwent surgery years ago, he was wheeled from the operating room to the intensive care room. The attendant who pushed the gurney which carried him stumbled and let out an oath using the name of the Lord. President Kimball, who was barely conscious, said weakly, 'Please! Please! That is my Lord whose name you revile.' There was a deathly silence; then the young man whispered with a subdued voice, ' I am sorry' (See Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 198)." (Ensign, May 1996, p. 94 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 219)

Mosiah 13:16 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy

Under the Law of Moses, the Sabbath day was a sign of the covenant between the Lord and the children of Israel. Much of the Law of Moses is concerned with teaching the people the difference between clean and unclean, between holy and unholy. The Sabbath was part of that same theme. The Lord explained to the children of Israel that the significance of the Sabbath day (other than that it represents the pattern of the creation) is that it is to remind the unholy that the Lord is the one who sanctifies them, I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them (Ezek 20:20). At this time, the Lord was dealing with a very stubborn and spiritually immature people. Therefore, he applied what seems to be harsh punishment for disobedience. The punishment for violating the Sabbath day was to be put to death (Ex 31:14).  We should be thankful that the Lord is more lenient with us today. But this punishment for violating the Sabbath demonstrates how important the principle is to the Lord.

Joseph B. Wirthlin

"The Lord said: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy' (Ex. 20:8) and made Sabbath day observance a sign between Him and the people to indicate their obedience. (See Ex. 31:13-17). That commandment and sign have never been rescinded. In our day, standards for keeping the Sabbath day holy are lowered a little at a time by some individuals until practically anything seems to become acceptable. The sign between the Lord and His covenant peoples is trampled underfoot as Church members skip Sunday meetings to seek recreation at lakes and beaches, in the mountains, at sports arenas, and at theaters. Parking lots at supermarkets and discount stores often are full on Sundays. Many store owners feel compelled to open their doors on Sundays because of the demand for the merchandise and services. The people who misuse the Sabbath lose the blessings of spiritual food and growth promised to those who keep this commandment." (Ensign, Mar. 1993, p. 71 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, pp. 194-5)

Spencer W. Kimball

"I realize that some people must work on the Sabbath; and when they do, if they are compelled, that is, of course, a different situation. But men and women who will deliberately use the Sabbath day to develop business propositions, to increase their holdings, to increase their income, I fear for them. I think the Lord was speaking to them when he said: 'Woe unto them that call evil good, . . . ' (Isa. 5:20.) Sometimes we salve our consciences by saying that the more we get the more we can give to the worthy causes, but that, of course, is a subterfuge. There are people who work on the Sabbath not through compulsion but because the income is attractive, and others who work voluntarily to get the 'time and a half' that Sabbath work gives them." (Conference Report, Oct. 1, 1953, p. 54)

Mosiah 13:20 Honor thy father and thy mother

The fifth commandment is the first which is concerned with our relationship with our fellow man. It is also the first commandment with promise (Eph 6:2). While the world continues to look for diets, exercise programs, and spas which can guarantee a long life, the saints understand that longevity comes from living the commandments, particularly the Word of Wisdom and the honoring of parents. The promise is that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

The punishment was just as strict for those who violated this commandment. The punishment dishonoring your parents was death, And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death...And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death (Ex 22:15,17). Again we see how the law was a very strict law (v. 29). Maybe the only reason longevity is promised for obedience to this law was because you were killed if you didn't keep it!

James E. Faust

"I have frequently walked by a rest home that provides excellent care. But it is heart-rending to see so many parents and grandparents in that good care facility so forgotten, so bereft of dignity, so starved for love. To honor parents certainly means to take care of physical needs. But it means much, much more. It means to show love, kindness, thoughtfulness, and concern for them all of the days of their lives. It means to help them preserve their dignity and self-respect in their declining years. It means to honor their wishes and desires and their teachings both before and after they are dead....Besides being one of God's commandments, the kind, thoughtful consideration of parents is a matter of common decency and self-respect. On their part, parents need to live so as to be worthy of the respect of their children. I cannot help wondering about parents who adopt the attitude with their children, 'do as I say, not as I do'....Children often take license from their parents' behavior and go beyond the values the parents wish to establish." (Ensign, Nov. 1986, pp. 9-10 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 55)

Mosiah 13:28 salvation doth not come by the law alone

Abinadi is responding to the question he posed to the priests in Mosiah 12:31. Their answer was incorrect because it excluded the saving power of the atonement. It assumed the law alone was enough. Abinadi corrects them as did the author of Hebrews, For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect...For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (Heb 10:1,4).

Mosiah 13:29 a very strict law; for they were a stiffnecked people

We have reviewed some of the Ten Commandments under the Law of Moses. We have seen that the punishment for blasphemy, violating the Sabbath day, and dishonoring one's parents is death. Yet, there were many more sins for which the punishment was the same:  idolatry (Deut 17:3-5), murder or manslaughter (Lev 24:16), adultery (Lev 20:10), stealing a slave (Ex 21:16), bestiality (Ex 22:19), incest (Lev 20:11-12), or homosexuality (Lev 20:13). Therefore, the punishment affixed for more than half of the Ten Commandments was death. Capital punishment may be harsh by modern standards but the Lord was trying to teach a stiffnecked people who had known the idolatry of the Egyptians not the faith of the Patriarchs. It probably didn't take long for the people to get the message after the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath was ordered by the Lord to be stoned to death (Num 15:32-36). Nor would they have taken the name of the Lord in vain after witnessing the death of the blasphemer (Lev 24:14).

Mosiah 13:30 a law of performances and of ordinances...to keep them in remembrance of God

The Law of Moses was filled with symbolic reference to the life and mission of the Savior, all these things were types of things to come (v. 31). Robert Millett said, "In a sense the Law of Moses was given as a type of 'spiritual busywork' a system and pattern that would keep the people constantly involved; with everything pointing toward the coming Savior and Redeemer." (CES Symposium, Aug. 1986, p. 99 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 219)

How ironic it is that the law was kept for centuries but the Savior, to whose life the law pointed, was rejected by the keepers of the law? The people had lost sight of the meaning of the many symbols. That is like forgetting what a red light signifies. What good is a traffic light if no one remembers what it symbolizes? Such is the Law of Moses without remembering that it is the schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ (Gal 3:24).

"Ethics without doctrine is like the body without the spirit-it may have the same appearance but is void of the power of life.  The Ten Commandments, independent of the fulness of the gospel, are little more than an anemic theology in the hands of social reformers, being bereft of the laws and ordinances of the gospel.  Similarly, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, detached from the testimony of Christ's divine sonship, is but a curriculum for a civics class rather than a testament of those verities by which one obtains everlasting life." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 213)