My husband is currently the Gospel Doctrine teacher in our ward. Today he was teaching a lesson on Mosiah 11-17, better known as the Abinadi chapters. These chapters are packed full of a lot of “meat” of the gospel. Abinadi is an interesting character. A true messenger, or prophet, of the Lord who is chosen by the Lord from among the people, but he is not a church leader, he is what we’d call today a “rank and file” member of the church, perhaps even an outcast. “And it came to pass that there was a man among them whose name was aAbinadi; and he went forth among them, and began to prophesy…” We really don’t know much about how he received his divine mandate to preach repentance to the people. The people already had a “King” or presiding religious and political ruler, Noah.
Abinadi’s main message at first, “Behold, thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me, saying, Go forth, and say unto this people, thus saith the Lord—Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms; and except they repent I will visit them in mine anger. And except they repent and turn to the Lord their God, behold, I will deliver them into the hands of their enemies; yea, and they shall be brought into bondage; and they shall be afflicted by the hand of their enemies. “ (Mosiah 11:20-21)
The people and then King Noah seek to take away the life of Abinadi but the Lord preserves his life. King Noah calms his people, “Who is Abinadi, that I and my people should be judged of him, or who is the Lord, that shall bring upon my people such great affliction?” The community hardens their hearts to the words Abinadi had preached to them.
Two years go by and the Lord commands Abinadi to go back; he does so in disguise and then immediately begins to prophesy, telling the people who he is. He is taken prisoner and brought before King Noah where he preaches astounding doctrine and is burned at the stake for his message.
During one point in the the lesson my husband focused on where Abinadi came from and who gave him authority to preach and prophesy to the people. The people already had their “prophet king” in King Noah. My husband taught that God’s pattern throughout scripture is to call or choose a prophet from the outcasts, the “lesser-knowns” of society. Abinadi’s genealogy cannot be determined from his name. His only credential was his message.
Our bishop slipped into the lesson during this part. A good discussion was happening in regards to this idea, that God can choose any man or woman to be His messenger and that we, as disciples of Christ, should judge a man or woman by their message and not their “birthright”, “genealogy” or “leadership lineage”. It was an insightful lesson.
*Two days after teaching this lesson my husband was released from his calling. The bishop was very angry that the lesson on Abinadi had perhaps planted the idea in the minds and hearts of the ward members that God might speak through someone other than the First Presidency and the Apostles.