In Mosiah 12-17, the Prophet Abinadi preaches a sermon against the wickedness of King Noah’s government and ecclesiastical arrangements. Both are set up to service the personal desires of the ruling class at the expense of the general population. When the priests of King Noah defend themselves as following and teaching the Law of Moses, Abinadi responds, “If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it? Why do ye set your hearts upon riches?”
The very first condemnation Abinadi has for the priests is that they set their hearts on riches. There are other elements of his criticism, as well, but it is riches that comes first. This is the first thing, as it is a form of having graven images and placing a god of one’s own devising ahead of the God that gave the Law.
After Abinadi concludes his sermon, King Noah demands that Abinadi be put to death. When one of Noah’s priests, a man named Alma, objects and agrees with Abinadi, Noah orders that priest put to death, as well. Although truth is spoken to power, the power refuses to acknowledge the truth and insists upon a fantasy in which lies can substitute for the truth.
Later, Noah makes a formal accusation against Abinadi and basically offers Abinadi one last chance to recant what he has preached. Abinadi refuses and offers a final testimony – and this testimony sways Noah. Noah is ready to release Abinadi at this point, and could very well have repented had not his priests reinforced his greed and pride.
And that is what killed the prophet Abinadi. It was not the caprice of one man, a single wicked king. It was the whole government, the whole wicked structure, that bore down against the prophet. And because it was the government that made war on God, the nation of Noah had become ripe for destruction.