My wife, Kendra, shared with me some insights she picked up as she pondered King's Mosiah's actions near the end of his life, the dramatic actions in which a king would voluntarily step down and try to create a new legal system based on written law and a system of judges responsive to the voice of the people.

King Mosiah has several sons, but none of them were willing to be king. A king without a clear heir or with contending heirs (something he feared could happen) was a recipe for chaos and civil war, as Mosiah had just learned from the newly discovered record of the ancient Jaredites that he had translated with the power of God. Coupled with the recently reported experiences of the Nephite colony of King Zeniff through King Noah, he had seen more fully than ever the dangers of the throne. It must have been the great concern of his final days, a matter of intense prayer and study, and the new system he bestowed upon his people was brilliant and surely inspired.

Even with all his concern and all his efforts to prevent chaos and civil war, it still happened. A few short years later Amlici would rise, wrapped in robes of patriotism seeking to restore the old, proven ways of rule by king--and he just happened to be the ideal man for the occasion, even if it meant civil war to put him in power.

The impact of the Book of Ether on Mosiah's thinking seems so strong in reading the closing chapters of Mosiah. I love the deep relationships between various parts of the text and the subtleties that are woven throughout this intricate, ancient text.

By the way, as we learn from the Book of Mormon, man's quest for power must never be underestimated. Restraint through checks and balances and other means will always be needed to hold back man's and government's unlimited appetite for power.
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