Helaman 5 – The Nephites continued in wickedness until the majority of them chose wickedness over righteousness. Nephi and Lehi devoted themselves to preaching the word of God. Their father, Helaman, had taught them to remember their Redeemer and to make Him the foundation of their lives. After teaching the Nephites, Nephi and Lehi preached to the Lamanites, who cast them into prison. The Lord miraculously delivered them, and the majority of the Lamanites repented and converted to the gospel.
VS1-4 – Nephi gives the judgment seat to Cezoram, and decides to preach the gospel with his brother, Lehi, for the remainder of his days. The Nephites were becoming so wicked, with more bad than good, he felt this necessary.
VS2 – “ripening for destruction.” Just as a piece of fruit that is too ripe eventually becomes rotten, people become corrupted when they are “ripened in iniquity” (Ether 2:9).
VS5-13 – Helaman counsels his sons to keep the commandments of God, to preach the gospel, and to remember the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.
1, Helaman 5:5–7 (Keep the commandments; remember the righteous examples of ancestors.)
2, Elder Carlos E. Asay (1926–99) of the Presidency of the Seventy: “Though all of Adam’s children may not have received names of significance, many have, and it has made a difference. It made a difference in the lives of Helaman’s sons, Nephi and Lehi. … [See Helaman 5:5–7.]“The record attests that Nephi and Lehi did pattern their lives after their forebears or namesakes and did bring honor to the names given them” (Family Pecan Trees: Planting a Legacy of Faith at Home , 66–67).
3. **President George Albert Smith (1870–1951) :
“One day … I lost consciousness of my surroundings and thought I had passed to the Other Side. I found myself standing with my back to a large and beautiful lake, facing a great forest of trees. …
“I began to explore, and soon I found a trail through the woods which seemed to have been used very little, and which was almost obscured by grass. I followed this trail, and after I had walked for some time and had traveled a considerable distance through the forest, I saw a man coming towards me. I became aware that he was a very large man, and I hurried my steps to reach him, because I recognized him as my grandfather. In mortality he weighed over three hundred pounds, so you may know he was a large man. I remember how happy I was to see him coming. I had been given his name and had always been proud of it.
“When Grandfather came within a few feet of me, he stopped. His stopping was an invitation for me to stop. Then—and this I would like the boys and girls and young people never to forget—he looked at me very earnestly and said:
“‘I would like to know what you have done with my name.’
“Everything I had ever done passed before me as though it were a flying picture on a screen—everything I had done. Quickly this vivid retrospect came down to the very time I was standing there. My whole life had passed before me. I smiled and looked at my grandfather and said:
“‘I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.’
“He stepped forward and took me in his arms, and as he did so, I became conscious again of my earthly surroundings. My pillow was as wet as though water had been poured on it—wet with tears of gratitude that I could answer unashamed.
“I have thought of this many times, and I want to tell you that I have been trying, more than ever since that time, to take care of that name. So I want to say to the boys and girls, to the young men and women, to the youth of the Church and of all the world: Honor your fathers and your mothers. Honor the names that you bear, because some day you will have the privilege and the obligation of reporting to them (and to your Father in heaven) what you have done with their name” (“Your Good Name,” Improvement Era, Mar. 1947, 139).
4. **Spencer W Kimball – “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be ‘remember.’ Because all of [us] have made covenants … our greatest need is to remember.
5. Helaman 5:9–11 (Remember the Atonement of Christ; remember that we cannot be saved in our sins but that we can be saved from our sins through repentance and the power of the Atonement.)
Q – What do you do to remember the Atonement?
6. **Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Full repentance is absolutely essential for the Atonement to work its complete miracle in your life. By understanding the Atonement, you will see that God is not a jealous being who delights in persecuting those who misstep. He is an absolutely perfect, compassionate, understanding, patient, and forgiving Father. He is willing to entreat, counsel, strengthen, lift, and fortify. He so loves each of us that He was willing to have His perfect, sinless, absolutely obedient, totally righteous Son experience indescribable agony and pain and give Himself in sacrifice for all [see Helaman 5:9]. Through that atonement we can live in a world where absolute justice reigns in its sphere so the world will have order. But that justice is tempered through mercy attainable by obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
“Which of us is not in need of the miracle of repentance? Whether your life is lightly blemished or heavily disfigured from mistakes, the principles of recovery are the same. The length and severity of the treatments are conditioned to fit the circumstances. Our goal surely must be forgiveness. The only possible path to that goal is repentance, for it is written:
“‘There is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 101; or Ensign, May 1995, 75).
7. Helaman 5:12 (Remember that Jesus Christ must be our foundation.)
8. Spencer W Kimball – “We, too, are faced with powerful, destructive forces unleashed by the adversary. Waves of sin, wickedness, immorality, degradation, tyranny, deceitfulness, conspiracy, and dishonesty threaten all of us. They come with great power and speed and will destroy us if we are not watchful.
“But a warning is sounded for us. It behooves us to be alert and to listen and flee from the evil for our eternal lives. Without help we cannot stand against it. We must flee to high ground or cling fast to that which can keep us from being swept away. That to which we must cling for safety is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our protection from whatever force the evil one can muster. An inspired Book of Mormon prophet counseled his people: ‘Remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo’ (Hel. 5:12)” (“Hold Fast to the Iron Rod,” Ensign, Nov. 1978, 6).
9. Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy:
“Someone once said you can’t visually tell the difference between a strand of cobweb and a strand of powerful cable—until stress is put on the strand. Our testimonies are that way, and for most of us, the days of stress for our testimonies have already begun. It may not be the death of a loved one. We might not yet have been asked to give up something that is really precious to us, though the time for such a test may well come to us by and by. Our current stress is more likely to come in the form of overpowering temptations, which show us that a shallow acceptance of the gospel does not have the power to cope with the full fury of the powers of darkness. Perhaps there is a mission call to a place of illness and disappointment, when we had planned on a mission to a place of unbounded opportunity. Or perhaps there are too many questions to which our limited knowledge simply has no answer, and those who claim to know more than we do taunt us with what appears to be a persuasive certainty.
“When those times come, our testimonies must be more than the cobweb strands of a fair-weather faith. They need to be like strands of cable, powerful enough to resist the shafts of him who would destroy us. In our days of stress and trouble, we must be built ‘upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, … that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, … and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you, … because of the rock upon which ye are built.’ (Helaman 5:12.)” (The Believing Heart, 2nd ed. , 21–22).
10. ** Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Even firm foundations cannot prevent life’s problems. Wayward children cause parents to grieve. Some broken families don’t get fixed. Gender disorientation is poorly understood. Married couples, for whatever reason, may not be blessed with children. Even in our day, ‘the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money.’ [Helaman 7:5.] Some things just don’t seem fair.“With strong underpinnings, however, we are better able to reach upward for help, even when faced with questions without easy answers. …“Though we don’t know all things, we know that God lives and that He loves us. [See 1 Nephi 11:16–17.] Standing on that firm foundation, we can reach up and find strength to endure the heavy burdens of life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 89–90; or Ensign, May 2002, 76).
Q -In what ways are the temptations of Satan like a storm? How might we compare the rock to Jesus Christ? What do you think it means to build a foundation on the rock of Jesus Christ? What promise did Helaman give his sons if they would build on this rock? How does building our lives upon Christ’s teachings help us weather Satan’s storms and life’s trials?
VS14-19 – Nephi and Lehi preach the gospel with great power among the Nephites and the Lamanites. As a result, many Nephite dissenters return to the faith. In Zarahemla and surrounding areas, 8,000 Lamanites are baptized.
VS20- 52 – Lehi and Nephi are put into prison in the land of Nephi by an army of Lamanites. Events happen in the prison that convert 300 Lamanites.
VS20-22 – Lehi and Nephi are cast into prison, the same one as Ammon. They had no food for many days. Then the Lamanites came in to slay them.
VS23–26 – Nephi and Lehi were encircled with a pillar of fire. It did not burn them, but the Lamanites were afraid to touch them. They told the Lamanites that God was doing this so they couldn’t be slain.
Q – As we remain true to our covenants, what blessings can be like a “pillar of fire” surrounding us? How can these “pillars of fire” help us take courage during difficult times?
VS27–34 –The earth shook, but the prison did not fall. Everyone was overshadowed with a cloud of darkness; they were very scared. A voice came out of the darkness saying to repent and not to destroy Lehi and Nephi. The voice was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if a whisper. The earth shook again, and the cloud remained. The voice spoke again saying to repent and the walls shook again. The voice spoke again and the walls trembled as if the earth were going to divide.
VS35–39 – The faces of Nephi and Lehi shined as they conversed with angels. Aminadab told the people to look at Nephi and Lehi and tells them they are talking to angels.
Q – Think of people you know who seem to shine in a world of increasing darkness. What characteristics do they have?
**We are told in the record that Aminadab “was a Nephite by birth, who had once belonged to the church of God but had dissented from them” (Helaman 5:35). His reactions, as recorded in Helaman 5:35, show that he still had some knowledge of what one must do to repent and turn to the Lord. Elder F. Burton Howard of the Seventy gave the following explanation:
“To find the way back, as Aminadab [remembered], one must repent and pray until doubt and darkness disappear and important things can be seen again. …
“… It is possible to return. It is possible for those who have ceased to pray, to pray again. It is possible for those who are lost to find their way through the dark and come home.
“And when they do, they will know, as I know, that the Lord is more concerned with what a man is than with what he was, and with where he is than with where he has been” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 99–100; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 77–78).
VS40-44 – The Lamanites asked what to do to have the cloud of darkness removed. Aminadab told them to repent and develop faith in Christ. They cried unto the voice until the darkness was gone. Then, everyone was surrounded by fire. Nobody was harmed and the walls of the prison did not burn. Everyone was filled with unspeakable joy and glory.
Q – From these verses, what do you learn about repentance? (Help students identify the following truth: When we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and repent of our sins, the Holy Ghost will fill our hearts with peace and joy.)
- VS45–52 – The Holy Spirit filled their hearts. Heavenly Father spoke to the Lamanites, giving them peace for believing in Christ. Angels ministered to them. 300 were converted and they bore testimony of these experiences so that most Lamanites were converted. Those converted laid down their weapons and their hatred. They gave the Nephites back their lands.
- Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “The fruit of true repentance is God’s forgiveness, which opens the door to receive all of the covenants and ordinances provided on this earth and to enjoy the resulting blessings. When repentance is full and one has been cleansed, there comes a new vision of life and its glorious possibilities” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2004, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 2004, 17).
Q – What evidence do verses 45–52 give that those who were converted truly had a “new vision of life,” as Elder Scott said? How can we experience similar blessings? What does verse 47 identify as a source of peace? (See also Mosiah 4:3.)
Helaman 6 – Following Nephi and Lehi’s missionary efforts, the Lamanites increased in righteousness. However, the Nephites became wicked and began supporting the Gadianton robbers, and the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from them.
The power and impact of Nephi and Lehi’s mission among the Lamanites were dramatic. Following their successful mission, notice the following first-time experiences that occurred in the history of the majority of the Lamanites:
- The majority of the Lamanites were converted to the gospel (see Helaman 5:50).
- The Lamanites laid down their weapons and their hatred and false traditions (see Helaman 5:51).
- They freely yielded up the land that belonged to the Nephites (see Helaman 5:52).
- The majority of the Lamanites became more righteous than the Nephites (see Helaman 6:1).
- The Lamanites began to preach the gospel to the Nephites (see Helaman 6:4).
- There was peace in all the land (see Helaman 6:7).
- The Lamanites and Nephites had open travel and free trade with one another (see Helaman 6:8
VS9-14 – The Lamanites and Nephites became very rich in money, food and clothing. There was much joy and peace and prophesying.
VS15-17 – The next year, Cezoram was murdered, and then his son who took over the judgment seat. The people began to grow wicked again because of setting their hearts up on riches and seeking gain.
President Henry B. Eyring: “God is forgotten out of vanity. A little prosperity and peace, or even a turn slightly for the better, can bring us feelings of self-sufficiency. We can feel quickly that we are in control of our lives, that the change for the better is our own doing, not that of a God who communicates to us through the still, small voice of the Spirit. Pride creates a noise within us which makes the quiet voice of the Spirit hard to hear. And soon, in our vanity, we no longer even listen for it. We can come quickly to think we don’t need it” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2001, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 2001, 16).
VS18-40 -The Evils of Secret Combinations
Helaman chapter 6 provides several insights into secret combinations, including how they work, what motivates them, and how they come to power:
- Their two objectives are to get gain and power; then they glory in it (see Helaman 6:17; Ether 8:22; Moses 5:31).
- Secret combinations require general wickedness to survive (see Helaman 6:21, 31, 38).
- Secret combinations thrive on secrecy, violation of which is a capital offense (see Helaman 5:22; 6:22; Moses 5:29, 50).
- Secret combinations involve formal covenant making (see Helaman 6:22; Moses 5:30–31).
- They use murder, violence, threat of violence, plunder, vice, whoredoms, and flattery to get gain and power (see Helaman 2:4–5; 6:17, 23).
- Secret combinations operate on laws contrary to the laws of the country (see Helaman 6:23).
- Satan is the grand conspirator and author (see Helaman 6:26–30).
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:“There can be counterfeit revelations, promptings from the devil, temptations! As long as you live, in one way or another the adversary will try to lead you astray. …“If ever you receive a prompting to do something that makes you feel uneasy, something you know in your mind to be wrong and contrary to the principles of righteousness, do not respond to it!” (“Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 61).
8. Participants have court trials for their own people—not according to the laws of the land but according to their own set of laws (see Helaman 6:23–24).
VS35 – “The Spirit of the Lord began to withdraw”
Elder David A. Bednar:
“We should also endeavor to discern when we ‘withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved’ (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.
“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 30).
VS36 – “The Lord began to pour out his Spirit”
President Henry B. Eyring: “Our students cannot know of God, and so love as they must love, unless they are taught by the Holy Spirit. … Only by the Spirit can they know that Heavenly Father and His resurrected and glorified Son appeared to Joseph Smith. Only by the Spirit can they know that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God. … Only by obtaining those witnesses, placed deep into their hearts by the Holy Ghost, will they be rooted on a sure foundation to stand steady through the temptations and trials of their lives” (“To Know and to Love God” [address to CES religious educators, Feb. 26, 2010], 2, lds.org).
VS37-41 – The Lamanites hunted the Gadianton robbers and preached to them, so there were no more of them among the Lamanites. The Nephites supported them instead and joined with them. The robbers took over the government and were cruel to the poor, meek, and followers of God.
Helaman 7 – Nephi preaches to the wicked Nephites and commands them to repent.
VS1-6 – Nephi returns to Zarahemla because his words are rejected in the land northward. He is very sorrowful when he sees the wickedness of the Nephites and how the government has been taken over by the Gadianton robbers.
VS7-10 – Nephi pours his heart out to God on a tower in the garden of Nephi in Zarahemla. He wishes he had lived in the days of Lehi.
VS11-29 – Certain men see Nephi praying and gather people together to watch him. Nephi sees them, tells them of their iniquity, and tells them to repent.
- If we refuse to repent of our sins, we will lose the Lord’s protection and the blessings of eternal life.
Helaman 8 – After Nephi declared that the people must repent or be destroyed, corrupt judges incited many of the people against him. Some people boldly defended him. Nephi taught that the people who rejected his witness also rejected the testimonies of all the prophets who had come before him, all of whom had testified of Jesus Christ. As a testament that he was a prophet, Nephi revealed that the chief judge had been murdered.
VS1-10 – Some judges who were of Gadianton’s band were angry with Nephi for what he said. They did not want to touch Nephi themselves, so they tried to stir up the people in anger against him to take him to trial. Some people said he spoke the truth. Others were afraid.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “We need to remember Edmund Burke’s statement: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ [Attributed in John Bartlett, comp., Familiar Quotations, 15th ed. (1980), ix.] We need to raise our voices with other concerned citizens throughout the world in opposition to current trends. We need to tell the sponsors of offensive media that we have had enough. We need to support programs and products that are positive and uplifting. Joining together with neighbors and friends who share our concerns, we can send a clear message to those responsible” (“Let Our Voices Be Heard,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 18).
VS11-24 – Nephi teaches that all prophets testify of Jesus Christ
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “When you read the Book of Mormon, concentrate on the principal figure in the book—from its first chapter to the last—the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. …“… Great prophets of the Book of Mormon—in their own way and time—testified of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Among them were the brother of Jared, Zenock, Neum, and Zenos. Testimonies of Jesus Christ that predated His birth in Bethlehem were also recorded from King Benjamin, Abinadi, Alma the Elder, Alma the Younger, Amulek, the sons of Mosiah, Captain Moroni, the brothers Nephi and Lehi, and Samuel the Lamanite. In a seemingly endless sequence of prophetic proclamations—testimonies of ‘all the holy prophets’ [Jacob 4:4] for ‘a great many thousand years before his coming’ [Helaman 8:18]—the Book of Mormon makes the solemn declaration that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1999, 87; or Ensign, Nov. 1999, 69).
Characteristics of Prophets
|Scripture||Characteristics of Prophets|
|Helaman 7:17–19||They always teach repentance (see also Ether 9:28; D&C 6:9; 11:9).|
|Helaman 7:29||Their message is from the Lord (see also Amos 3:7; D&C 1:38).|
|Helaman 8:1, 4, 7||Their message often angers the wicked (see also 1 Nephi 16:1–3).|
|Helaman 8:13–16||They always testify of Jesus Christ (see also Jacob 7:11).|
|Helaman 8:24||Other evidences exist that support their message (see also Alma 30:44).|
|Helaman 8:27–28||They prophesy or tell of things that others do not know (see also Mosiah 8:17).|
VS14-15 “The Brazen Serpent”
- As a witness against wickedness and as a testimony of Christ, Nephi referred to an incident in the Old Testament when the children of Israel were being plagued by “fiery flying serpents” (1 Nephi 17:41; Numbers 21:6–9). The prelude to the Israelites’ trouble was speaking evil of God and His prophet (see Numbers 21:5), just as the corrupt judges of Nephi’s day were doing. The lifting up of a brass serpent by Moses was a type (a symbolic representation) of the crucifixion of Christ. When the people looked upon the brass serpent, they were healed. Nephi’s use of this story emphasizes that we “should look upon the Son of God with faith” and live (Helaman 8:15; see also John 3:14–15). Through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, the poisonous venom of Satan was overcome for all who would repent. He then reminded the people that all of the prophets had testified of Christ (see Helaman 8:16–23).
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Divinely deliberate and serious symbolism is involved. Without this needed elaboration, the Old Testament episode of the fiery serpents does not give us a fulness of spiritual insight that can clearly be ‘for our profit and learning.’ (1 Nephi 19:23.) The symbolic emphasis in this episode is upon both the necessity and the simpleness of the way of the Lord Jesus. Ironically, in Moses’ time many perished anyway. The promise for the future is as follows: ‘And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.’ (Helaman 8:15. See also 1 Nephi 17:41; Alma 37:46.) “Thus, now we have the verified and amplified analogy, thanks to the precious and plain things given to us in ‘these last records.’ “The whole episode points toward the need to look upon Jesus Christ as our Lord, likewise a simple but unwaivable requirement. How plain and precious in any age!” (Plain and Precious Things , 22).
- To have a “contrite spirit,” as expressed in Helaman 8:15, is to be humble, repentant, and receptive to the Lord’s will.
Q – In what ways can we “look up on the Son of God with faith?”
VS27-28 – Nephi prophesies of the murder of the chief judge by his own brother. He does this to prove the power he has as a Prophet to prophesy.