In this week’s review of the Book of Mormon, we’ll review chapters 7 to 11 of Mosiah. When we look at the whole of the record of Mosiah, the prominent theme that we see are contrasting examples of righteous leadership and wicked leadership. The Book of Mosiah begins with an example of a righteous king, King Benjamin. Now, here in chapter eleven, we see an example of a wicked king – Noah. We also see this occur with the Kings of Israel in the Tanach/Old Testament. This week we’ll summarize the actions of both of these kings in the book of Mosiah and then consider what leadership looks like at the end of time in the prophecy of Isaiah.
A Righteous and a Wicked King
One of the principles that we see in both the Bible and here in the Book of Mormon is the influence leaders have on the righteousness or wickedness of a people. Righteous leaders produce righteous people and wicked leaders produce wicked people. Here in the Book of Mosiah, we see political and ecclesiastical roles fused in the position of a king and two examples of both righteous and wicked leadership.
Moreover, when we consider how this concept applies to a pure democracy, where the people exclusively select their leaders, the reverse happens. Leaders become a reflection of the righteousness or wickedness of the people.
The prophet Isaiah sees Endtime leadership in two contexts as either political or religious. He sees ineptitude personify both political and religious leaders as the world sinks further into apostasy and transgression.
An example of how Isaiah predicts the failure of Endtime political institutions can be found in Isaiah’s prophecy of America. Isaiah uses Egypt as a codename for an Endtime superpower that can be identified with America in the 19 chapter of Isaiah.
The ministers of Zoan are utter fools; the wisest of Pharaoh’s advisers give absurd counsel. How can you say to Pharaoh, We ourselves are as wise as the first rulers? Where are your wise men indeed? Let them please tell you, if they can discern it, what Jehovah of Hosts has in mind for Egypt! The ministers of Zoan have been foolish, the officials of Noph deluded; the heads of state have led Egypt astray. Jehovah has permeated them with a spirit of confusion; they have misled Egypt in all that it does, causing it to stagger like a drunkard into his vomit. And there shall be nothing the Egyptians can do about it, neither head nor tail, palm top or reed. Isaiah 19:11-15
When it comes to religious institutions, Isaiah predicts that ecclesiastical leaders mislead the people teaching error, oppressing the poor, and persecuting those who return to the Law - the traditional ways. And since Isaiah doesn’t mention any group specifically, we have to assume that he is referring to those who claim to be God’s people.
Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, palm top and reed, in a single day; the elders or notables are the head, the prophets who teach falsehoods, the tail. The leaders of these people have misled them, and those who are led are confused. Isaiah 9:14–16
As for my people, babes subject them; women wield authority over them. O my people, your leaders mislead you, abolishing your traditional ways. Isaiah 3:12
These too have indulged in wine[self-deception] and are giddy with strong drink: priests and prophets have gone astray through liquor. They are intoxicated with wine and stagger because of strong drink; they err as seers, they blunder in their decisions. Isaiah 28:7
We also see this in Ezekiel where the Shepherds of Israel don’t feed their flocks (with either necessities or truth) and scatter them – Ezekiel 34.
Tables of Vomit
When it comes to teaching the truth, these prophets and priests err by teaching falsehoods, which Isaiah calls tables of vomit. Isaiah continues in chapter 28.
For all tables are filled with vomit; no spot is without excrement. Isaiah 28:8.
Wasting the Houses of the Poor
Another theme we see not only in the prophecy of Isaiah, but in other places of the scriptures is that these political and religious organizations oppress the poor by taxing the poor on their necessities, tithing them on their gross incomes.
Jehovah will take a stand and contend with them; he has arisen to judge the nations. He will bring to trial the elders of his people and their rulers, and say to them, It is you who have devoured the vineyard; you fill your houses by depriving the needy. What do you mean by oppressing my people, humbling the faces of the poor? Says Jehovah of Hosts. Isaiah 3:13-15
Probably the most notable example of this oppressing the poor is a bad interpretation of the example of the widow’s mite in the Gospel of Mark. Many laud the generosity of the widow who donates her small amount, but as we see in prior verses, we see that Jesus is really condemning the scribes for stealing from the widows and by extension the poor – they are devouring their houses. Mark 12:38-40.
One of the Endtime tests that Isaiah sets out in his prophecy of the end of the world is to endure persecution from those in ecclesiastical authority. Indeed, being persecuted by one’s own, like Yeshua (Jesus).
Jehovah’s servants—“who are of a humble and contrite spirit and who are vigilant for my word” (Isaiah 66:2)—come under censure by ecclesiastical authorities who feel threatened by their zeal for Jehovah. Such self-righteous “brethren” (’ahekem) “abhor” or “hate” (son’ekem) their zealous counterparts and “exclude” or “thrust [them] out” (menaddekem) from among them, humiliating them. In the end, however—after it has served Jehovah’s purpose of refining his servants and testing their loyalties—their momentary shame (Isaiah 61:7) turns into their persecutors’ everlasting shame (Isaiah 41:11; 65:15).The descent phase of those who are ostracized by abusive authorities thus resembles that of Jehovah’s servant, whom they similarly “abhor” and accuse (Isaiah 49:7; 50:8-9). Both, moreover, follow the pattern of Jehovah himself, whose descent phase includes prosecution by unrighteous authorities (Isaiah 53:7-9).
The Iron Rod
When we look at Endtime leadership, we must ask ourselves how can we endure through the end of the world when we see politicians who mismanage and prophets who err in doctrine, who mislead. Perhaps this is why we see Lehi have a dream at the beginning of the Book of Mormon to hold onto the Iron Rod, which is God’s Law and Word.
God’s Endtime Servant
However, God does not forsake humanity, but He sends the righteous remnant a deliverer – an Endtime Elias/Elijah before the great day of the Lord to turn the hearts of the children back to the law of their fathers and rescue His people from destruction.
Remember ye the law of my servant Moses, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:4-6