Monarchy to Liberty
Mosiah 23 introduces for the first time in Book of Mormon history the idea of liberation from monarchy. After Alma and his followers fled from King Noah, the people wanted Alma to be their king. Again, as discussed before, the choice of one man will prove to influence the entire course of history in the Book of Mormon. Alma had to choose to either accept the people's request to be their king or to decline their request. Alma's choice was to decline and to teach the people true principals.
He taught them that they should "not esteem one flesh above another" and therefore it was "not expedient that [they] should have a king." (Mosiah 23:7) He reminded them of the wickedness of King Noah and how he was "caught in a snare." He reminded them that they have been delivered out of King Noah's hands by the power of God and that they should "stand fast in this liberty." He furthermore declared that they should "trust no man to be a king over" them. (Mosiah 23:13).
This sermon that Alma delivered to the people perhaps influenced King Mosiah's decision to abolish the Nephite monarchy.
We later will read about this great change in the history of the Book of Mormon in Mosiah 29. In that chapter, we read King Mosiah's last speech in which he sets up the reign of judges and abolishes the monarchy. We do not know if there were wicked kings among the Nephites before King Noah. But it is clear that the bad taste that King Noah left in the people's mouths was so foul that they eagerly embraced King Mosiah's proposal for the establishment of the reign of judges.
Sources of Teaching
Alma also warned the people that they should trust no one to be their teacher or minister "except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments." (Mosiah 23:14). We should not trust just any person to teach us the Gospel. Rather, we ought to limit our sources of information to trusted and valid sources. Among trusted and valid sources are the scriptures, the living prophets, official Church magazines and publications. We would be wise to limit our Gospel teaching to the confines of Church approved material. In this way, we keep far from the edge of introducing apostasy into ours and other's testimonies.
There are two contrasting verses in the book of Mosiah when it comes to dealing with adversity. In Mosiah 19:11 we read how King Noah dealt with the approaching Lamanite army. "Now it came to pass that the king commanded them that all the men should leave their wives and their children and flee before the Lamanites." King Noah did not face adversity … he fled from it.
On the other hand, Alma faced adversity. In Mosiah 23:27 we read, "But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but that they should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them." In contrast to King Noah, Alma showed his kingly attributes by standing with those over whom he had a responsibility. He did not stand behind them or flee … he stood with them. He put his trust in God and encouraged the people to do the same. He knew that the Lord would deliver them and that they need not be frightened.
Do we face our challenges or do we stick our heads in the dirt hoping that all our problems will go away on their own? We must stand up to our challenges with faith in God knowing that we will be delivered and that we will grow stronger from it.
Elder Hales recently spoke of finding peace and joy through tribulation. He mentioned the Lord's response to Joseph Smith while he was in Liberty jail. He continued, "Despite many tribulations in the Prophet Joseph’s life, great things were brought to pass for the Restoration of the gospel in these latter days. Joseph came to understand and has taught us that when he was struggling with a challenge, the Lord did not let him perish. Similarly, tests of our faith are priceless opportunities to discover how deeply the Master cares about the welfare of our souls to help us endure to the end." (Robert D. Hales, “Faith through Tribulation Brings Peace and Joy,” Ensign, May 2003, 15) I encourage you to read this entire article as it has many valuable insights.
Another point from these contrasting scriptures is the demeanor of Noah and Alma. We can almost see the fear in Noah's eyes as he told the people to flee. Alma, on the other hand, must have been calm as he exhorted the people not to be frightened but to trust in the Lord. Many years later on the other side of the world, a fierce storm arose and began to "beat into the ship" that was sailing on a sea. Most of the passengers on the ship were terrified while one remained calm. The calm one asked the frightened ones, "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith." (Matt. 8:26) "And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." (Mark 4:39)
Let us remember Alma's counsel when he said, "whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day." (Mosiah 23:22).