Zeniff’s son’s name was Noah. Just like Noah from the Bible who built an ark. Only this Noah was a king and he was a bad king. We know he was a bad king because he did bad things. He made other people work for him while he sat and watched. And with his money he threw parties but only invited people who were wealthy like him. He was also bad at doing his job. He left their land unguarded and some people died.
How did this happen? Noah had a father who taught him that he was good and how to be good. But Noah did not believe it. He wanted to believe it. He tried to be good. He tried to be smart and strong and capable. But still he doubted that he was good, because he wasn’t always good. Sometimes he wasn’t smart, or strong, or capable. Sometimes, he was bad. You see, Noah was missing something. And what he was missing was God.
Noah was trying to be good and strong and capable all by himself, without God’s help. He thought that is what being good meant. But he was wrong. And as a result, he did lots of silly things like hoarding gold, and spending too much money, and using people to serve him so that he was never hungry or unhappy. He thought that if he made himself feel important, he would feel that he was good. Only it didn’t work. The more he tried to convince himself that he was good the more he felt uncertain.
And so he gathered people who would tell him what he wanted to hear. He called them priests. And they all told him that he was good and that everything he did was good. And they said this so much that they all began to believe it. If anyone said otherwise, Noah put them in jail.
But that didn’t stop a man named Abinadi. Abinidi was not a king. He was just somebody who knew about God and who knew that Noah was not happy. And that no matter how much gold or food or pleasure Noah got, he would never be happy. To be happy, Noah needed to understand God.
When Abiniadi told Noah, Noah tried to have Abinadi thrown in prison, but it didn’t work. No one could touch Abinadi because he was shining like a flashlight. God had lit him like a match. And his face shone bright and beautiful. And while Noah and his priests should have noticed how beautiful God can make people, they instead were angry. But there was nothing they could do. And so they listened.
Abinadi tried to explain how Noah was good and could be good but that he would never believe it until he believed in Jesus. He tried to explain that God and Jesus are good, and when we let them into our lives more, they fill us up with goodness until it shines through from our eyes and our hearts like Abinadai, shining right in front of them. And that once Noah believed in Jesus, he would be happy and content and then he could be a better King.
But the priests had spent so much time convincing Noah of what he wanted to hear they had forgotten what was true. If truth was yellow and fiction was red, they had mixed them together so often that everything had become orange.
And so they said, “We do believe in God. And he wants us to be happy. Why are you coming around being rude and saying mean things about Noah? If you were sent here by God, he would have told you to tell us that we are good because that is what God does.”
Well, they were partly right, but they were also partly wrong. They were orange. Abinidi explained that God is good and wants us to be good. That we are good because God is good. But that if we don’t remember God, we will stop believing that we are good and begin to do bad things. And that’s how it works. That’s how we can do both good and bad things even if we are good and God is good.
But the priests couldn’t understand. They would not see the red from the yellow. They said, “We believe in God. There now you have it. Are we good yet?”
And Abinidi said no. It was not about believing in God. It was about having God. It was the difference between looking at a picture of a dog and holding one in your lap. Or the difference between being hungry and taking a big bite of your favorite meal. It was the difference between looking out the window and taking a step out the door.
But still, the priests could only see orange. And so when Abinidi had finished, they killed him. And that was the worst thing they could have done and they did not feel any better. They just felt more angry. And more angry. And more angry.
And Noah asked them to tell him again that he was good. And they told him that he was good. But he still did not believe it.
All artwork by Lauren Blair.
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