What do John Wooden and the prophet Abinadi have in common? Well, not much, but one thing that they do have in common is somewhat uncommon. They were men who understood that success on the court (whether a basketball court or a court of wicked priests) begins with the basics!
John Wooden was the UCLA basketball coach in the 1960’s and 70’s. He started each year beginning with the basics. He did not presume that his players knew the basics. He started them all from scratch. One of the basics he taught them was the “right” way to tie their shoes. The “right” way was to begin with the RIGHT lace over the left. By tying their shoes in this way he wanted to emphasize doing things RIGHT. Before these seasoned players set foot on the court, they learned how to tie their shoes the “right” way. Silly? Maybe. But 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships (seven in a row from 1967-1973) make it seem like the “right” way to coach.
Abinadi seems to take the same approach with King Noah and his “court”. As the court of wicked priests question Abinadi on Isaiah’s advanced-placement doctrine, Abinadi brings them back to the basics of the gospel–the Ten Commandments. Abinadi knows what Cecil B. DeMille put so eloquently, “Those who have eyes to see will see… the awful lesson of how quickly a nation or a man can fall without God’s law. If man will not be ruled by God, he will certainly be ruled by tyrants—and there is no tyranny more imperious or more devastating than man’s own selfishness, without the law. We cannot break the Ten Commandments. We can only break ourselves against them—or else, by keeping them, rise through them to the fullness of freedom under God. God means us to be free.” (Cecil B. DeMille, BYU Speeches of the Year, 31 May 1957).
You will witness the truth of this statement as you read through the account of the people of King Noah (Mosiah 11-19) as they choose to be blinded by a tyrant rather than to see a SEER (See-er, Moses 6:27, 35-36) of the Lord!
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