As we study the story of the wicked King Noah and the prophet Abinadi (See Mosiah 11-17.), a scene out of an ’80’s movie comes to mind. From the Star Wars Saga, in Return of the Jedi, one of the opening scenes takes place at the palace of Jabba the Hutt. One of the Rebel freedom fighters, Han Solo, had been frozen and preserved as a prized wall decoration by Jabba. Jabba lived a life of glutton and greed. His palace was the very site of festive parties, with the intoxicating effects of loud music, exotic dancing and disgusting delicacies being devoured. Jabba himself sat in the midst of this scene of gluttonous degradation, passing judgement upon those brought before his court, from around the galaxies, for sentences of punishment.
In the middle of such a courtroom debauchery, the once lightsome, innocent Rebel hero, Luke Skywalker, appeared in front of Jabba, only this time in disguise – under the dark hood of his Jedi cloak. Relying upon The Force, Luke makes his heartfelt appeal to Jabba to free his friend, Han Solo. He also stood there to predict the destruction of Jabba’s evil realm if he would not shun the dark side of The Force, and to change his ways from evil to good.
Just like young Luke Skywalker, the prophet Abinadi had come among the people of Lehi-Nephi to prophesy about the destruction that would come upon the land and people if they didn’t change their ways and turn back to the Lord. After being run out of town the first time, Abinadi returned two years later, in disguise and relying upon his faith in the Lord, to deliver the same message again to the same people. Maybe it wasn’t a hooded Jedi cloak, but Abinadi was in disguise in order to preserve his life long enough to get in front of King Noah. Noah’s predecessor, and father, Zeniff had led the people in righteous living. Upon his passing, his son took over the kingdom and immediately threw out all of the good that his father had established.
When Abinadi appeared in front of Noah and his priests, he made a fervent appeal for them to change their wicked ways and to return to the righteous ways taught by Zeniff – to follow the Lord, to set aside their riches and pride, and to again set their hearts upon caring for each other. When Luke made a similar appeal to Jabba, he was dropped into the pit below to battle the ferocious Rancor. Abinadi was not lowered to the beasts, but was persistent in remaining in front of Noah’s court, rehearsing the dealings of God and His people unto Noah and the priests, and doing everything in his power to bring them to repentance and turning away from their evil ways.
This week, as we continue with the story of Noah and Abinadi, we will see that Abinadi’s missionary success seemed almost disastrous. As he approached his fiery fate, there seems to have been only one who believed his words. Abinadi saw him being chased away by Noah’s guards, and one might assume that Abinadi figured that he, Alma, had been tracked down and also put to death. Little did he know that that one believer of his preachings…that one priest of Noah whose heart was indeed turned from evil to good…that Alma would bring so much good from Abinadi’s teachings, empowering him to establish the Church of Christ in and around the lands of Lehi-Nephi and Zarahemla, and later around many of the other cities of the Nephites and Lamanites.
Abinadi had planted a seed that almost didn’t take root. Yet, because of the faith and light inside of one man’s heart, a nation was preserved for many, many generations. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves about some of the seeds that we have planted: “Why didn’t my friend want to hear more about the church?” “Am I being a good example to my neighbor?” “Do I talk about the Gospel enough at school…or at work?” If we will but open our mouths, we may be able to plant one of those small seeds, as did Abinadi in Alma, and witness many waves of bringing joy to others in our own community. As it is stated in the scriptures, “And again, how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that are still publishing peace!” (See Mosiah 15:16.) Go ahead, plant a seed…or two…or three…or more.