I first listened to King Noah Blindness and the Vision of Seers more than a year ago and I’m just getting around to writing a post on it. You’ve probably heard of S. Michael Wilcox before. He’s written many books and has talks on CD like this one. I was surprised when I looked at my past posts that the only one I’ve posted about is Trying to Walk on Water. Hopefully I’ll get around to writing about more of them soon and I’m actually reading another of his books right now.
In high school I took AP English and learned to recognize literary techniques like foreshadowing, irony and motifs. Those types of things can add layers to a book and help the reader understand even more about the message. Brother Wilcox talks about how Heavenly Father’s writings (the scriptures) use literary devices too. He mentions how before all the stories in Mosiah, including the story of King Noah and Abinadi, we are given a hint of what to look for in the rest of the book of Mosiah when we read this in Mosiah 8:20.
“…yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men…”
Brother Wilcox says that this signals the reader to look for things with eyes and seeing. Jumping ahead to the story of King Noah starting in Mosiah 11. It explains that Noah was a wicked man who surrounded himself with the wicked priests. Brother Wilcox suggests that we look at “the people” in this history, not just at the main players. In verse 7, it says of the people:
Yea, and they also became idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering things unto them.
Even though the king and priests were wicked, the people accepted them because they “justified the people in their iniquity” and are soothsayers, telling the people what they want to hear, that it is okay to commit sin because it isn’t bad. It’s natural. It’s natural to commit adultery, to talk dirty to someone you’re not married to, to be selfish and take care of yourself, to steal from others, to wear immodest clothes…, all of the things that still trouble “the people” in the world today.
Then along comes Abinadi who loves God and loves the people so he tries to teach them the consequences of their actions if they do not stop and repent. Do the people want to hear that they are wrong? Of course not.
So Brother Wilcox talks about how important it is for all of us to learn to recognize the Noahs and the Abinadis in our lives. I’m sure you’ve noticed how someone who starts to go down the wrong path pushes away his parents, leaders or friends who try to warn him of the dangers and consequences his actions will lead to. He thinks of them as the enemy who is just judging him, when they really have his best interest in their hearts. Instead, he thinks of those people who tell him that his bad decisions and sins are natural and good are his friends.
Brother Wilcox relates a similar type of relationship in the story of Jezebel and Ahab . Jezebel supported Ahab in his wickedness and Ahab thought she was his “best friend” because she told him everything wrong he was doing was good and she gave him everything he wanted. Then when Elijah comes to help him see the consequences of his actions so that he will repent and be able to feel of God’s love and peace, what is Ahab’s response to him in 1 Kings 21?
Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?
In the CD, Brother Wilcox asks, “Who really loves Ahab and has his eternal happiness at heart? Who is his worst enemy? The true friend will never try to persuade you to disobey your Father in Heaven. They will always encourage you to walk that straight and narrow path. They will not try to broaden it.”
So back to the story of King Noah… The king and priests (except
), seek to kill Abinadi. Alma
Mosiah 11:29 Now the eyes of the people were blinded…
They burn Abinadi and the people continue to follow their wicked king, even when the Lamanites are coming to attack and he orders the men to leave behind their women and children and save themselves. (To make a long story short—er) They run into the wilderness, still blind to the truth. They realize they are safe and then the consequences of their selfish actions. They suddenly and finally see King Noah for what he really is and their sight returns. They burn King Noah to his death.
This is what Brother Wilcox calls a “Noah Moment”. He said that as a bishop and on disciplinary councils he has seen people have a “Noah moment” when they regain sight and suddenly it hits them. They so often say, “Oh, no. What have I done?” He says that so many times he has heard a young woman confess to immorality and suddenly he sees the young man in a different light and often says, “I hate him for what he did to me.” Some people recognize who the Noah and the Abinadi in our lives are too late.
Satan can deceive us and make us think that what we are doing isn’t that bad or blind us of the eternal consequences that do surely follow. Brother Wilcox mentions that one of the dangers of Noah Blindness is that even after our sight returns and we repent, the consequences sometimes show up later. The atonement is real and repentance is a beautiful gift, but some consequences do not disappear when we repent. If someone does something illegal, that may stay on his record. Repentance won’t erase that. If someone takes drugs, she may have health problems later because of it.
Brother Wilcox tells of a story of a young college student he knew who confessed to her problems with immorality. She repented and, as he describes her, was as pure and innocent as any other girl who never had the same problem. She became engaged, but when she told her fiancée of her past, he broke off the engagement. The consequences of her past actions affected her.
When those who love us warn us of the road we are going down, it is because they can see those things down the road that we might be blinded to. I have actually heard some people say that leaders are “threatening” them, when what they are doing is warning them of the outcomes they are building with their choices. We need to be careful to be “cheerfully submissive” and humble enough to listen to those who can help us see because most all of us will have (and have had) some kind of Noah Blindness. Hopefully we can recognize it before it becomes serious and we can take advantage of the atonement sooner rather than later.