21 And except they repent and turn to the Lord their God, behold, I will deliver them into the hands of their enemies; yea, and they shall be brought into bondage; and they shall be afflicted by the hand of their enemies.

22 And it shall come to pass that they shall know that I am the Lord their God, and am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of my people.

23 And it shall come to pass that except this people repent and turn unto the Lord their God, they shall be brought into bondage; and none shall deliver them, except it be the Lord the Almighty God.

24 Yea, and it shall come to pass that when they shall cry unto me I will be slow to hear their cries; yea, and I will suffer them that they be smitten by their enemies.

25 And except they repent in sackcloth and ashes, and cry mightily to the Lord their God, I will not hear their prayers, neither will I deliver them out of their afflictions; and thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me.

It is interesting to point out what Abinadi did NOT do.  He did not attempt to overthrow the priests.  He did not attempt to take control of the church.  He did not attempt to gain followers.  He did nothing but deliver his message encouraging everybody, including the priests and the king, to repent and be redeemed.  He confined his preaching to the bounds set by the Lord. This alone was enough to earn him the ire that followed:

26 Now it came to pass that when Abinadi had spoken these words unto them they were wroth with him, and sought to take away his life; but the Lord delivered him out of their hands.

At least some of these people show that they belong in group 7, as they attempt to murder Abinadi.

27 Now when king Noah had heard of the words which Abinadi had spoken unto the people, he was also wroth; and he said: Who is Abinadi, that I and my people should be judged of him, or who is the Lord, that shall bring upon my people such great affliction?

Who is Abinadi? He holds no office. He is not commissioned by us.  Noah holds the keys and  didn’t consecrate him.  Who is Abinadi to judge us?  He’s way outside of his stewardship, so he has no right to receive such a revelation.  Any revelation that God wants to give, he can give through Noah or the priests.  A loving God wouldn’t let his people go astray. Why else would you have a king with priesthood keys, if God’s just going to call someone from left field?

The same objection can be applied by husbandmen to servants in any generation.  The husbandmen are the chief priests.  They have a rightful claim on the management of the vineyard.  They have procedures in place for perpetuating their institution (DC 42:11).  The servants come from outside of those procedures, authorized by the Lord himself.

28 I command you to bring Abinadi hither, that I may slay him, for he has said these things that he might stir up my people to anger one with another, and to raise contentions among my people; therefore I will slay him.

Why not be positive, Abinadi?  Why not focus on all the good the church does?  Aren’t you worried that your criticisms will damage someone’s testimony? Don’t you remember the quote that was inserted into the History of the Church and attributed to Joseph Smith?

I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives. (History of the Church, 3:385)

Doesn’t Christ hate contention (3 Nephi 11:29-30)?  Shouldn’t Abinadi have kept the truth hidden, since presenting it required him to contend with those who believed false traditions?

Noah was right: Abinadi’s words certainly had stirred up the people to anger.  Is that one of the fruits of a true prophet?  Aren’t we supposed to get warm, happy, peaceful feelings when we hear truth?  The flattery of the priests certainly made the people feel those things, because it told them all was well, they were on a ship to salvation, and the Lord was at the helm.   Why didn’t Abinadi’s message make them feel those positive things?

If a man like Abinadi came to teach the Latter-day Saints, would we expect his message to please us? Would he tell us all is well?  Would his words agree with the flattering sermons we preach to each other?  Would he point to our richly decorated buildings as evidence that Zion prospers? Do we place our trust in the religious authority and institution those buildings symbolize? Do we set our hearts on riches?  Do whoredoms not run rampant among the LDS today, perhaps even more so than among King Noah’s people?   Do we value the flattering words found in our magazines and manuals over the plain truth of scripture? Do we force the words of scripture through the filter of our traditions rather than simply reading them for what they say, when we bother to reference them at all?  Do we use the scriptures a source of marketing buzzwords by taking phrases out of context and applying them to our programs in an attempt to give the impression of divine approval?

29 Now the eyes of the people were blinded; therefore they hardened their hearts against the words of Abinadi, and they sought from that time forward to take him. And king Noah hardened his heart against the word of the Lord, and he did not repent of his evil doings.

If a man like Abinadi came to us without official credentials, with a troubling message, contradicting our traditional doctrines by simply reading and expounding the scriptures, preaching repentance, testifying of our idolatry, and laying bare our spiritual disconnection, would we would react any differently than Noah’s people?

The people rejected Abinadi because of their hard hearts and blind eyes.  How do we know if our eyes are blind?  What would we expect to see if our eyes weren’t blind?

2 Peter chapter 1, a scripture on which Joseph Smith fixated in his last years, is written to people who had converted to Christ and been purged from their sins.  The author of the epistle describes the next steps in their spiritual development:

 “5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall neverfall:

 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

These verses describe a binary path.  If the people cultivate the attributes listed in verses 5-7, their callings and elections will be made sure, they will know Christ personally, and thereby be received into “the church and kingdom, and the elect of God” (DC 84:34).   If they don’t develop those attributes, they will be “blind, and cannot see afar off.”   Therefore if you survey a population and find that few of them, if any, are making their calling and election sure, you could safely say that “their eyes were blind”, as were Noah’s people.

‘Blind eyes’, in the scriptures, isn’t a term applied only to people who don’t see the value in religion; it describes highly religious people who don’t receive the second comforter and make their calling and election sure.   In fact, in 2 Peter 1 and Mosiah 11, it describes God’s covenant people specifically.  Though most Latter-day Saints will think it is normal for few among them to receive those blessings, and will think it is appropriate that they don’t really know how to obtain them, that has never been an acceptable status quo for the Lord.  When God’s people are not receiving those blessings, and when their leaders are not qualified to teach them to do so (having not done so themselves), God will send servants to invite them to repent.

The blindness of Noah’s people should remind Latter-day Saints of our continued condemnation.  In our case, our “darkened” minds stem from our refusal to simply read and obey the scriptures by coming unto Christ (D&C 84:49-58).

Thus Abinadi, with no earthly authority but the truth of his message, using only persuasion and pure knowledge, invited his brothers and sisters to repent.