Helaman 7 The Burden of a Prophet
The Nephites’ downward slide continues, and no wonder Nephi is discouraged and sorrowful (see verses 6, 9, 14). Verses 4-5 describe things in appalling terms:
- “A state of such awful wickedness”
- “Gadianton robbers filling the judgment-seats—having usurped the power and authority of the land”
- “Laying aside the commandments of God … doing no justice unto the children of men”
- “Condemning the righteous [and] letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money”
- “Held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world”
- “That they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills”
They were indeed “heaping up for[them]selves wrath against the day of judgment” (verse 25) and “ripening … for everlasting destruction” (verse 26). According to verses 17-28, what is the essence of Nephi’s message to the multitudes that had gathered near his garden tower? (See also 8:26; 9:22; 10:11-12, 14).
Helaman 8 The Message of All Prophets
As is often the case, those called to repentance by Nephi are angry with him (verses 1, 4) and accuse him falsely (verses 1-2). They said that Nephi was wrong when he warned of their downfall, because, “we are powerful, and our cities great, therefore our enemies can have no power over us” (verse 6; see also Mosiah 12:14-15). But to back up his testimony, Nephi cites nine additional witnesses of Christ and His power: Moses, Abraham, Zenos, Zenock, Ezias, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lehi, and Nephi (verses 11-23); as well as “all things, both things in heaven, and all things which are in the earth, as a witness” of God (verse 24; see also 2 Nephi 11:4; Alma 30:44; Moses 6:63). Today we receive calls to repentance from our living prophets, and they teach and testify of Jesus Christ. Let us listen.
Helaman 8:1-9; 9:2-5, 16-20, 39-41; 10:1, 13-15, 18 Who Truly Represents God?
A crucial issue that has been at the forefront since our pre-mortal life—and throughout all time—is: “Who are God’s true messengers? Whom should we believe and follow?” Read these verses and note the various reactions to the prophet Nephi, from open-hearted belief to total rejection. Some believed as soon as they heard him speak; some believed only after seeing “evidence;” some went beyond belief in a twisted way, saying Nephi was a god; while some rejected and reviled him.
Against this last group, Nephi remained bold in decrying their behavior, yet still held open the door to repentance: “O ye fools, ye uncircumcised of heart, ye blind, and ye stiffnecked … ye ought to begin to howl and mourn, because of the great destructions which at this time doth await you, except ye shall repent” (9:21-22). Today, how do you respond to the teachings, invitations, counsel, warnings, and testimonies of those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators?
Helaman 10-11 “Blessed Art Thou, Nephi”
Nephi is a powerful example of perseverance. He is left alone and turns toward home, pondering and “much cast down because of the wickedness of the people” (verses 1-3). The Lord sees his efforts: “Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word.… And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will” (verse 4). The Lord then promises, “I will bless thee forever” (likely Nephi’s “calling and election” being made sure), and He gives Nephi greater power in his life and ministry (verses 5-11). The reason for the Lord’s confidence in Nephi? Because Nephi’s will had become fully attuned to the will of the Father: “Thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will” (verse 5; see also Mosiah 15:7).
Find in Helaman 10:16-17; 11:1-21 the remarkable things that were accomplished by the power of God through Nephi, and how these things affected the people, their society, and the church. Also, what impresses you most in Nephi’s prayers? (See 11:3-4, 9-16).
Helaman 11:16-37 “In the Space of Not Many Years”
What went wrong in the short five years between verse 16 and verse 26? With regard to the “contentions concerning the points of doctrine which had been laid down by the prophets” (verse 22) and the fact that “Nephi and Lehi, and many of their brethren … knew concerning the true points of doctrine” (verse 23), do you recognize when false ideas are being put forth? Do you accept the “true points of doctrine” as taught by living prophets today?
What else did the doctrinal falsehoods and contentions lead to, according to verses 27-33? What happened in verses 34-37, and what can we learn from it?
Helaman 12 Mormon’s Editorial
Mormon frequently steps out of the story line to share important lessons drawn from the Book of Mormon record, and this time his commentary fills the entire chapter. He begins with “And thus we can behold” and ends with “And thus it is” (verses 1, 26). Indeed, portions of this chapter (especially the first six verses) have been quoted extensively over the years in our latter-day general conferences. Search for the following in verses 1-8, 23-24:
- What did Mormon write about mortals? What are their primary weaknesses and tendencies?
- What did he say about the Lord?
- Why do we need chastening?
- In what way are we considered “less than the dust of the earth”?
- What is the only remedy?
- In what ways do you see yourself in these verses?
Brother Hugh Nibley wrote: “No matter how wicked and ferocious and depraved the Lamanites might be…. No matter by how much they outnumbered the Nephites, darkly closing in on all sides … and pushed their preparations for all-out war, they were not the Nephite problem…. Their real problem … was to walk uprightly before the Lord” (Since Cumorah, pp. 339-340).
Helaman 7-12 Preparing for the Second Coming
What helps have you seen in these chapters for preparing yourself and helping others prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Which verses stand out for you, and why?