Monday, December 31, 2007

Burned to Death

Here is Arnold Friberg's famous painting of Abinadi.

Abinadi's story is an interesting one. It begins in Mosiah 11. The Lord tells him to go preach to the wicked people of King Noah, and to prophesy of the destruction that will befall the people unless they repent. The people don't take too kindly to his denunciations, and try to kill him, but the Lord delivers him. Then we read:
"And it came to pass that after the space of two years that Abinadi came among them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying: Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying—Abinadi, go and prophesy unto this my people..." (Mosiah 12:1). I've always found it odd that Abinadi would show up in disguise, and immediately announce his name. Maybe he got excited in the heat of the moment.

Abinadi, after prophesying before the people, and then before the wicked King Noah and his idolatrous priests, is burned to death because he would not recant his testimony of Christ.

We always imagine that Abinadi is about 85 years old and built like a body-builder, based on Brother Friberg's depiction of him (based on real photographs, of course). So it doesn't seem like too much of a sacrifice for him to go preach to Noah, and go to his death--it's sort of the grand finale of a life well lived--no great triumph, but no great tragedy, either.

But what if Brother Friberg got it wrong? What if Abinadi was 25 instead of 85? What if he was short, had a big nose, skinny legs, and walked with a limp? What if he was in the prime of his life, instead of the end of it? Perhaps this was his first experience in a royal throne room. Maybe it was his first missionary assignment.

The story of Abinadi is incredible even if Abinadi was a old man and a seasoned veteran of missionary work. But the idea of a young man taking on all of Noah's priests--who must have bee fairly well versed in the scriptures (especially since they picked an obscure passage in Isaiah to question Abinadi on, and he delivered a brilliant and scathing sermon off the cuff) and winning, to the extent that they were so angry at him they felt the need to burn him to death, is even more amazing. I guess it gives me hope that I, as young and unlearned and inexperienced as I am, can still do great things in the strength of the Lord.

"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise" (Alma 37:6).

3 comments:

  1. I must say in defense of Friberg is that I love the light that radiates from Abinadi (he did such a great job on showing the light), you can almost feel the power of his words when you look at the painting. And also, people back then worked harder then we do today, of course they had bodies like that. =)

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  2. What if? what a great remark you have made concening Abinadi. Perhaps both the portrayal of panting and your inspired wordy assertion of Abinadi being a younger man are true. It is indeed possible. I see the old man in the spirit and the young man in the flesh. I see a wild and flamboyand personage that will use any unimaginable device to make his point manifest with great zeal for the Glory of God and perfect uprightness towars his fellow men. I picture him different, even like a mad man with his visage as dark as flint, nothing to be desired of him, short of stature and sad as the marred servant. So was the Lord. We commonly see a picture of our reddemers as manly figure in his mid forties disseminating wisdom and statureand not the young fellow in his early thirties whi was an eater and a wine bibber who defied the whited sepulchers or the aged and well respected high priests that ruled the poeple of God. Nevertheless, there is no spiritual son of God older than Jesus Chrirst. Before Abaham is, I AM, he said to shut the mouth of raving wolves and to quench the thirst of blood thirty lions.

    The perception of all truth makes a man think what a true prophet would look like today if he was sent to preach in the middst of so much refinment amongst us.

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  3. What if? what a great remark you have made concening Abinadi. Perhaps both the portrayal of panting and your inspired wordy assertion of Abinadi being a younger man are true. It is indeed possible. I see the old man in the spirit and the young man in the flesh. I see a wild and flamboyand personage that will use any unimaginable device to make his point manifest with great zeal for the Glory of God and perfect uprightness towars his fellow men. I picture him different, even like a mad man with his visage as dark as flint, nothing to be desired of him, short of stature and sad as the marred servant. So was the Lord. We commonly see a picture of our reddemers as manly figure in his mid forties disseminating wisdom and statureand not the young fellow in his early thirties whi was an eater and a wine bibber who defied the whited sepulchers or the aged and well respected high priests that ruled the poeple of God. Nevertheless, there is no spiritual son of God older than Jesus Chrirst. Before Abaham is, I AM, he said to shut the mouth of raving wolves and to quench the thirst of blood thirty lions.

    The perception of all truth makes a man think what a true prophet would look like today if he was sent to preach in the middst of so much refinment amongst us.

    ReplyDelete