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Abinadi Continues to Prophesy of the Messiah
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.
2 And then shall the wicked be cast out, and they shall have cause to howl, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth; and this because they would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord; therefore the Lord redeemeth them not.
3 For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil.
There was no chapter break at this point in the 1830 edition. Nevertheless, we have one sentence that may be presumed to be Mormon writing before he continues quoting Abinadi.
Abinadi is speaking of the final judgment, and there are two aspects of that judgment. In the black and white symbolic world, there is good and evil, and there will come a time when they will be separated, even though they are allowed to coexist in this mortality. Therefore, there will come a time when all must stand before God, whose judgments are just. Abinadi begins by describing the unjust. At this final judgment, the wicked are cast out. Their actions on earth have condemned them, and therefore they are not redeemed.
The judgment is upon what they have become, not what they believed. They are carnal and devilish. They have become similar to the one who opposes God, and, therefore, they are, in the end, found to oppose God. Importantly, however, it comes about because they do know good from evil. Fully understanding their choices, they have chosen to subject themselves to the devil. Therefore, while God declares the judgment, it is a natural judgment brought about by their own natures.
4 Thus all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state.
5 But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God.
Abinadi is intent on teaching about the role of the coming Messiah, so he emphasizes that without the Messiah’s intervention, all mankind would be lost. This is certainly not God’s plan, but that is the point he is making. Without the part of the plan where the Messiah provides redemption, all would necessarily be lost and become as the devil. The choices we make are rarely all positive and correct, and any sin would separate us from the spirit of God. Without repentance, we would have no means to reconcile ourselves and learn from our mistakes.
Nevertheless, agency is still operative. Although a redemption will come, in verse 5 Abinadi makes it clear that all still have their agency. If a man or woman persists in choosing their carnal nature, as opposed to their spiritual nature, they are still in that fallen state.
The phrase is used that such an one is “an enemy to God.” The intent of the phrase is to indicate one who is the opposite of God. Abinadi contrasts carnal with spiritual, and, therefore, enemy with one who loves God. The language is intended to describe the two opposite possible poles of experience. The reality of mortal life is that it is rarely so completely divided into the two polar opposites. By using the polar opposites, Abinadi can focus on the importance of the redemption without delving into the details of how such things are worked out through our lives. Nevertheless, he did give us the clue that we would be judged on what kind of person we become. Repentance opens the possibility of becoming better, regardless of any mistakes we might have made in mortality.
Redemption and Resurrection Come Only Through Christ
6 And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.
7 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.
8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.
Abinadi concludes the picture of the world if no redemption were to be made. Without the Messiah coming to the world, there would be no redemption. Without the Messiah rising from the dead, there would be no resurrection, and death would be final.
At the end of this litany of the doom of the world without the Messiah, Abinadi now turns to the glorious declaration that “there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.” All of these dire possibilities need not occur because there is a coming Messiah who will perform the necessary tasks to make it possible that we should live again after death, and that we can be clean again after sin.
In these verses, Abinadi speaks of the Messiah in the past tense. He notes that he is “speaking of things to come as though they had already come.” This is a literary technique also seen in the Bible and has come to be called the “prophetic past.”
9 He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.
10 Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil—
11 If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation—
12 Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy were extended towards them; for the arms of mercy were extended towards them, and they would not; they being warned of their iniquities and yet they would not depart from them; and they were commanded to repent and yet they would not repent.
The result of the coming Messiah’s mission is to light a world that would otherwise be fated to remain in darkness. Through the resurrection, the bands of death will be broken. Then, when all come to the judgment of God, they need not be condemned as wicked. The Messiah’s redemption will allow repentance to guide their agency. They will not be condemned to become as the devil but will have the opportunity to use their agency to become as God.
This final judgment separates the two opposite kinds of people. Those who have become as the devil must remain with the devil, but those who have embraced the way of God will be resurrected to endless life and happiness. When the Book of Mormon speaks of happiness, or of joy, it is speaking of this type of eternal happiness and joy rather than the fleeting happiness of our mortal life.
The final comment emphasizes agency. Those who are condemned were warned. The arms of mercy were extended to them. Nevertheless, Abinadi says that they would not accept the offer. We are judged for what we have chosen to become.
13 And now, ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved?
14 Therefore, if ye teach the law of Moses, also teach that it is a shadow of those things which are to come—
15 Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. Amen.
As Abinadi ends his discourse, he returns to the theme of the priests who have not properly taught the law. In Mosiah 12:27 Abinadi had asked what the priests taught, and they replied in verse 28 that they taught the law of Moses. As part of Abinadi’s accusation against the priests, he had asked, in verse Mosiah 12:31, if salvation came through the law of Moses. His entire discourse that he just finished was to show that salvation came through the Messiah, not the law of Moses. Thus, as he finishes, he returns to the theme of what the priests teach. They might think that they teach the law of Moses, but Abinadi has shown that they are not teaching the means whereby salvation cometh. Therefore, he says to them: “ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved?”
Abinadi declares that “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.” That has been the whole of his message. That was what he had come to declare, and now he has finished.
He testifies to what he has said with an amen. It ends the chapter.
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