Sunday, February 5, 2017

Limhi (Mosiah 7-22)

Let me tell you about Limhi, an ordinary man.

Here's a king's son, raised in the hollow courts of decadent Noah, in a degenerate colony three generations removed from their mother faith. He knew about his father's wickedness, his crimes and heresies, but just men don't get to choose if they love their fathers. When his father gave the command to evacuate Nephi, Limhi followed.



When his father commanded the men of Nephi to escape with their own skins to serve him in brigandage Limhi did not follow. The greatest honor he could give Noah was to leave him to his foolishness and die with his people, or wait for a miracle. And a miracle came. Not much of one. The Lamanites showed a little mercy. A blessing that commands the body to be healed is as much a miracle as a blessing that commands the sick to be comforted.

Limhi is alive, for now. The Lamanites could have asked for a higher price. Thank God for small favors. Gideon's men come back with grim congratulations: King Noah's been burned alive. Long live King Limhi.

He's responsible for thousands of people, and because they're people they may or may not follow his advice, and because he's king he's responsible for what happens to them anyway. Nobody cares that he's just a spy's grandson, or that nobody in their cities has ever seen the way a proper court work. There are bills to pay, not that that satisfies the Lamanites.

The Lord grants you a miracle, the Lamanite king in chains. That's not all the Lamanites, though. Don't count on peace. Don't even count on escape. Maybe you should have kept running. Maybe your father should have let the holy man go. Maybe your grandfather should have just stopped, stopped before he sold his descendants into slavery.

The Lamanites have mercy again. For a while. Now they're back, and they're mocking you. The tax on goods wasn't enough, they want your dignity, one hundred percent. Your people surrounded themselves with their enemies because their ancestors once lived there. No help from them now, the people have to help themselves, and they try, try, try until the tears of the widows patter like rain on the ground. This is the sort of demographic catastrophe that nations don't recover them, and you're huddled in your walls, more widows than wives, and on the other side are eyes glittering in the darkness.

The search party's back. They couldn't find Zarahemla, though they walked the silent streets of a giants' necropolis. Could they have been more wicked than your people. Has your day of salvation passed as well? Will vultures also pick the bones of Zeniff's farcical dynasty? You know a just God would allow it. Abinadi brought you an olive leaf, a rope into the abyss. Now there's no rope, no peace, and your father's idiot priests stole some grain. It would be really convenient for these patrols if we had more men around. It would sure be nice if they hadn't all been stabbed to death, wouldn't it?

Though God's anger was not turned away, his hand was stretched out still. These aren't priests. They're from Zarahemla, and they know the way back. Limhi's been taking every break he can get but this is something new. There's a place to go, a place my people can live, distant cousins to bind our wounds and comfort our children. If we're going to be slaves, we might as well be slaves to family. We don't deserve freedom, do we?

Gideon, faithful Gideon, is on hand with a plan. Let's give the Lamanites what they want, show them how the people of a master spy do things. We'll give them all the wine they can handle and be gone in the morning. Won't see ya, won't call again. And this is the crazy part, it works. Morning after morning the camp of Limhi wakes up a little closer to Zarahemla, a little farther from the men who killed their fathers, until they're back. Look at those faces, kids. They're your family.

Limhi wasn't a prophet or a prophet's son, but he did the best he could with what he had. No one could turn a profit on Zeniff's expedition, but Limhi managed to cut his losses before everyone died. When the call came he answered. The Lord knew mercy so much better than the Lamanites, and Limhi and his people received it, and that's the happiest ending any of us can hope for.

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