Mosiah, Chapter 29

What makes one form of government better than another?

The United States experienced a horrible tragedy on September 11, 2001.  I don’t think anyone who was old enough to know what was going on, will forget where they were or how they felt on that day.  I got into my car to drive to work when I heard the news that a plane had flown into one of the twin towers.  I went to work still, but spent the entire day watching the news in my office.  I watched the aftermath of both towers being hit, one plane hit the pentagon, and another plane had been brought down that was also hijacked.  I remember that on my drive home, the radio station played a montage of sound clips that had been recorded that day; people screaming, sounds of buildings crumblings, bits of news coverage about heroes, and a song about time that made me cry.  I did not know anyone personally, who had been in any of those terrible experiences, but you did not have to to feel the attack that had occurred to our nation.  On that day, and several to follow, the United States was the most united that I have ever known it to be.  People were so proud to be American.  It was an awful thing, but great courage, hope, love and patriotism came out of it.

Article of Faith 12 says, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”  We, as citizens of the United States, are expected to follow the laws that are put forth and maintained by the President, congress, and the judiciary branch of the government.  We have a constitution, which explains what makes up these leaders and how they can use the powers given to them by the people.  We also have a bill of rights which is designed to protect the people from the tyranny that can come from those in power.  Our rights are what keep us the free country that God has promised to us.  We maintain these rights as long as we live by the laws that are in place, and as long as our rulers do not take them from us, either by the voice of the people or by their own choice.

After Mosiah had given Alma the records (discussed in my last post), he wanted to know what the people thought he should do about the kingdom.    “And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: We are desirous that Aaron thy son should be our king and our ruler (v. 2).”  However, none of his sons were willing to be the king, but chose to be missionaries instead.  Mosiah told the people, “Behold, O ye my people, or my brethren, for I esteem you as such, I desire that ye should consider the cause which ye are called to consider—for ye are desirous to have a king (v. 5).  Now I declare unto you that he to whom the kingdom doth rightly belong has declined, and will not take upon him the kingdom (v. 6).  And now if there should be another appointed in his stead, behold I fear there would rise contentions among you. And who knoweth but what my son, to whom the kingdom doth belong, should turn to be angry and draw away a part of this people after him, which would cause wars and contentions among you, which would be the cause of shedding much blood and perverting the way of the Lord, yea, and destroy the souls of many people (v. 7).  Now I say unto you let us be wise and consider these things, for we have no right to destroy my son, neither should we have any right to destroy another if he should be appointed in his stead (v. 8 ).  And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said, and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin (v. 9).”  Mosiah had fear for the future of his people, if they would appoint another king who was not the rightful heir to the kingdom.

“Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God (v. 11).”  Mosiah proposed that the people be led by righteous judges instead of a king.  Mosiah tells the advantage there is to having judges who are men of God.  “Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just (v. 12).”  We are not perfect, and therefore our ways can be swayed by the temptations of Satan.  If we are swayed, our judgements are also swayed, but God will not ever change and so his judgements are always just.  “Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you (v. 13).”  If a king is as righteous as King Benjamin, than it is good to have him as a king.

“And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed, to teach you the commandments of God, and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity (v. 14); And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I punished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers (v. 15).”  It takes a lot of work and a strong will to lead the people righteously.

“Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you (v. 16).  For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction (v. 17)!  Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bondage (v. 18 ).”  If a king is not as righteous as King Benjamin, he can use his power to do evil things and lead his people to do the same.

Behold, O ye my people, or my brethren, for I esteem you as such, I desire that ye should consider the cause which ye are called to aconsider—for ye are desirous to have a king.
6 Now I declare unto you that he to whom the kingdom doth rightly belong has declined, and will not take upon him the kingdom.
7 And now if there should be another appointed in his stead, behold I fear there would rise acontentions among you. And who knoweth but what my son, to whom the kingdom doth belong, should turn to be angry and bdraw away a part of this people after him, which would cause wars and contentions among you, which would be the cause of shedding much blood and perverting the way of the Lord, yea, and destroy the souls of many people.
8 Now I say unto you let us be wise and consider these things, for we have no right to destroy my son, neither should we have any right to destroy another if he should be appointed in his stead.
9 And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said, and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin.

There have been many great leaders throughout the world’s history.  Some who have had to help save the righteous children of God from rulers who were not righteous and who had caused them to be in bondage.  Moses led the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry land.  Brigham Young led the pioneers from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley.  “And they did wax strong in love towards Mosiah; yea, they did esteem him more than any other man; for they did not look upon him as a tyrant who was seeking for gain, yea, for that lucre which doth corrupt the soul; for he had not exacted riches of them, neither had he delighted in the shedding of blood; but he had established peace in the land, and he had granted unto his people that they should be delivered from all manner of bondage; therefore they did esteem him, yea, exceedingly, beyond measure (v. 40).”  Moses, Brigham Young and Mosiah were great leaders because they were never selfishly trying to get gain for themselves.  They did not want any of their people to die in order to give them more riches or land, but rather they were peaceful people who wanted to protect their people and keep them free from others as well as from the bondage of Satan.  In D&C 121:41-46 we find traits that make a good leader (either in the Church, or the world in general), “power or influence … maintained by … persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned (v. 41) … kindness, and pure knowledge … without hypocrisy, and without guile (v. 42) … Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost … showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved (v. 43) … faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death (v. 44) … bowels  … full of charity towards all men … household of faith … virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly … confidence wax strong in the presence of God … doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul (v. 45) … Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy … unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth … an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means (v. 46) …”.  This a lot for the people of Mosiah to expect from just one man, and that is why he proposed that several men judge in righteousness instead.

Will we ever have a king again?

There are several different types of government; Monarchy (king or queen), Anarchy (none), Theocracy (by the church), Democracy (by the people), Republic (elected offices representing the people) and a Dictatorship (Dictator).  The United States is a republic.  Some would say it is a democracy, but the people do not have total control of the government, they trust those who are elected to do their will.  We have a democratic process here, but we are a republic.

According to Mosiah, a righteous king would be necessary to rule if possible (v. 13).  In Revelation 17:14 we read, “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”  The greatest king for the people, would be Christ.  During the Millennium, Christ will reign personally upon the earth.  Article of Faith 10 reads, “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”

The manual quotes from The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary about what type of government will exist when Christ reigns.  “In the Church of Christ where the government is that of the Kingdom of Heaven, neither autocracy nor democracy obtains, but government by Common Consent.  That is to say, the initiative in all that pertains to the government of the Church rests with the Head of the Church, even our Lord Jesus Christ, and He exercises this sovereign function through his authorized servants, upon whom He has bestowed the Holy Priesthood; but it is the privilege of the people to accept, or reject, His laws and ordinances, for God has given every individual free agency.  Obedience must be voluntary.  The government of the Church has been called a Theodemocracy.  It is the form of government that will be general during the Millennium.”

“By the voice of the people”

When we are deciding on an issue as a family, it is important for everyone to have a say for it to be a fair decision.  On issues that are opened up to the whole family, meaning those that are not strictly made between mother and father, everyone’s vote should be weighted the same.  (Their may be exceptions, such as on day’s of celebration for one person.)  If someone chooses not to voice their opinion, than they may by stuck doing something that does not make them happy.  If we can come to a decision together, it will hopefully make most, if not all happy, because we want our family to be content.

When we have a national election (or even a state/local election), the average is less than half that actually vote.  Sometimes people don’t vote, because they don’t know what the issues are.  Some don’t vote because of the weather.  Some don’t vote because they don’t know their is an election.  Some don’t vote because it is too much of a hassle to take time from their lives. No matter what the reason, they are giving up their right and responsibility to elect righteous leaders.  In order for those who are righteous and religious to run for office, they must first be taught the importance of having good righteous political leaders as a child.  It all starts in the home.  If our leaders to not live up to our expectations, than those who choose not to have a say may only blame themselves for allowing it to go without a true voice of the people.

“And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land (v. 27).”  If most people choose evil (or allow evil to be chosen), then the judgment of God is upon all the people.

Their are four governmental principles that guided the reign of the judges (discussed in an Ensign article, “Six Nephite Judges: A Study in Integrity” from September 1977).  In this chapter of Mosiah we read, “Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord (v. 25).”  First, the law rules in society, not force, authority, or personality.  Second, the voice of the people determines the procedures of the law to support and preserve their freedom.  Third, the people recognize that the correct principles of law were given to man by God, through prophets.  “Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people (v. 26).”  And forth, (also see verse 27 above) the people must be committed to “the necessity for a spiritual foundation of that law in society.”

These ideas are fleeting in our nation currently.  A greater number of the people in America are choosing to deny that their is a God, or that God has a place in our government.  They don’t believe that our laws should be based upon good morals, but upon the concept of equality to all.  Our freedoms are not a right that we may always have.  They are earned by our morality.  The voice of the people in our nation, should keep our leaders responsible for what they do, just as it did for the judges in the Book of Mormon.  We have a system in place that is designed to keep our leaders from overstepping their bounds.  If the system is used as originally designed then it works.  The system is, a president who can veto laws if they do not seem right and can present laws to congress, congress who rights the laws based on the support of the people, and the judiciary branch who upholds those laws.  Their is a problem is beginning in our system today.  The judiciary has begun to create laws in addition to enforcing them, congress has begun to create laws which force people to do things their way rather than allowing the people to have a say, and the President is using his power of “personality” in both the judiciary and congress, to make things go his way.

“And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge (v. 28).  If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people (v. 29).”  This was the form of checks and balances that they used with the judges.  As long as the majority were righteous, their would not be a misuse of their power.  That is the most important piece of the entire system, righteousness.  When we loose it, we loose the balance and Satan gains a stronger hold over the people, through the leaders.

I agree wholly with what Mosiah tells his people in verse 32, “… I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.”  I want all the people in America to feel that this is a land of liberty.  I know that the only way for the people to feel this way, is if they come to Christ and are willing to live a moral lifestyle.  Otherwise, we are split, and some feel freedoms where others do not.  I pray that the side that feels that they have freedoms continues to be the side who are trying to live the gospel.

Mosiah’s words convinced the people.  “Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins (v. 38).  Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges, to judge them according to the law which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them (v. 39).”  We need to have the same desire to use the liberty that has been given to us, so that we can choose more righteous leaders.

Qualities of a great leader

Their have been some pretty wicked rulers in the history of the world.  Some that delight in shedding blood.  Some who are greedy and always want more.  Some who oppress those who want to live righteously.  Their have also been some pretty righteous leader like King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon.  Their are clear differences between the two.

“And they did wax strong in love towards Mosiah; yea, they did esteem him more than any other man; for they did not look upon him as a tyrant who was seeking for gain, yea, for that lucre which doth corrupt the soul; for he had not exacted riches of them, neither had he delighted in the shedding of blood; but he had established peace in the land, and he had granted unto his people that they should be delivered from all manner of bondage; therefore they did esteem him, yea, exceedingly, beyond measure (v. 40).  And it came to pass that they did appoint judges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land (v. 41).  And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church (v. 42).  And now it came to pass that Alma did walk in the ways of the Lord, and he did keep his commandments, and he did judge righteous judgments; and there was continual peace through the land (v. 43).”  Mosiah was one of those good leaders and the people loved him for it.  Alma became the first chief judge, because he was trusted by the people and because his father had trained him well.  He was righteous and kept the commandments, which helped to bring peace to the people.

Alma (the elder) and Mosiah (the elder) both died and the judges began to reign in Zarahemla over the Nephites.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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