Lesson 34: How Could You Have Forgotten Your God?

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 150–54


Purpose

To help class members recognize the cycle that leads from righteousness to wickedness and back to righteousness.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      Helaman 6:1–14. The Lamanites become more righteous than the Nephites. The people are blessed with peace and prosperity.

    2. b.

      Helaman 6:15–10:1. The Nephites become proud and wicked. Nephi calls the people to repentance. After witnessing the events surrounding the murder of the chief judge, some accept Nephi as a prophet, but most remain unrepentant.

    3. c.

      Helaman 10:2–11:6. The Lord gives Nephi the sealing power. Nephi asks the Lord to chasten the Nephites by sending a famine.

    4. d.

      Helaman 11:7–38; 12. The Nephites humble themselves and repent. The Lord sends rain at Nephi’s request and again blesses the Nephites with peace and prosperity. Mormon identifies the cycle of righteousness and wickedness and tells how to break the cycle.

  2. 2.

    Prepare the following wordstrips:

    Righteousness and Prosperity

    Pride and Wickedness

    Destruction and Suffering

    Humility and Repentance

    If you do not want to use wordstrips, write the words on the chalkboard when the lesson calls for the wordstrips.

  3. 3.

    If Book of Mormon Video Presentations (53911) is available, prepare to show “The Pride Cycle,” a fifteen-minute segment. If the videocassette is not available, assign a class member to prepare to briefly explain the events described in Helaman 7:13–29; 8; 9.

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Write the following numbers on the chalkboard: 2, 3, 5, 8, 12

Point out that these numbers follow a particular sequence. Ask class members what the next three numbers of the sequence will be. (The next three numbers are 17, 23, and 30. You may need to explain that the pattern is formed by adding 1 to the first number, 2 to the second number, 3 to the third number, and so on.)

Explain that in the Book of Mormon there is a pattern that is almost as predictable as this sequence. The pattern is repeated many times. By recognizing this pattern, we can avoid doing what led to the destruction of the Nephites.

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

This lesson is divided into four sections. Each section deals with one stage of the pride cycle. At the times indicated, place on the chalkboard the wordstrips that correspond with each section. Draw arrows to connect the wordstrips, as shown below:

pride cycle

1. The people are righteous and are blessed with peace and prosperity.

Read and discuss selected verses from Helaman 6:1–14. Remind class members that Nephi and Lehi had been missionaries to the Lamanites and had helped many of them repent and be baptized. The Lamanites soon became more righteous than the Nephites.

  • What characteristics did the Lamanites have that helped them become more righteous than many of the Nephites? (See Helaman 6:1.) How did the converted Lamanites try to help the Nephites? (See Helaman 6:4–6.) What was the result? (See Helaman 6:7–14.)

Place the wordstrip Righteousness and Prosperity on the chalkboard.

2. The Nephites become proud and wicked. Nephi calls them to repentance.

Discuss Helaman 6:15–10:1. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud. Point out that after the Nephites became prosperous, many of them began to forget God and seek after riches and other worldly things.

Place the wordstrip Pride and Wickedness on the chalkboard.

  • Why does prosperity often lead to wickedness? (See Helaman 6:17; 7:20–21.)

  • Have class members read Helaman 6:21–24 and Helaman 7:4–5 and identify the characteristics of the Gadianton robbers. Which of these elements exist today? How can we appropriately fight evil influences in our communities?

  • Who was the source of the secret combinations? (See Helaman 6:25–30.) What did the Nephites do as Satan “got great hold upon [their] hearts”? (See Helaman 6:31.)

Have class members read Helaman 6:34–38, looking for contrasts between the Nephites and the Lamanites. You may want to summarize class members’ responses on the chalkboard in a chart like the one below:

Nephites

Lamanites

Dwindled in unbelief (verse 34).

Grew in the knowledge of God (verse 34).

Grew in wickedness and sin (verse 34).

Walked in truth and righteousness before God (verse 34).

Lost the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord (verse 35).

Received the Spirit (verse 36).

Built up and supported the Gadianton robbers (verse 38).

Preached the word of God to the Gadianton robbers (verse 37).

  • Why did the Spirit “withdraw from the Nephites”? (See Helaman 6:35.) Why did the Lord “pour out his Spirit upon the Lamanites”? (See Helaman 6:36.) What can this teach us about how we can receive the influence of the Holy Ghost?

Explain that when the Nephites continued in their wickedness, the Lord sent Helaman’s son Nephi to call them to repentance. When Nephi saw the wickedness of the people, “his heart was swollen with sorrow” (Helaman 7:6). He knelt on his garden tower to pray. As he poured out his soul to God, a group of people gathered, curious to know why he mourned for the wickedness of the people (Helaman 7:11).

If you are using the video presentation “The Pride Cycle,” show it now. If you are not using the video presentation, ask the assigned class member to give a brief report of the events described in Helaman 7:13–29; 8; 9.

  • How did the people react when Nephi rebuked them for their wickedness? (See Helaman 8:1–10.) Why did so many remain unrepentant?

  • How did the people react after Seantum confessed to murdering his brother, the chief judge? (See Helaman 9:39–10:1.) After the people debated whether Nephi was a prophet or a god, they left him standing alone. What can keep us from listening to latter-day prophets?

    President Ezra Taft Benson said: “The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich. The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them; otherwise, the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 138).

3. The Lord gives Nephi the sealing power. The unrepentant Nephites face warfare and famine.

Read and discuss selected verses from Helaman 10:2–19; 11:1–6. Point out that the Nephites forgot the Lord and continued in wickedness. Because of their wickedness, the people experienced devastating destruction and suffering.

  • The Lord gave Nephi the sealing power, saying that “all things [would] be done according to [Nephi’s] word” (Helaman 10:5–10). Why did the Lord entrust Nephi with such great power? (See Helaman 10:4–5.)

  • What happened to the people after they rejected Nephi and disobeyed God? (See Helaman 10:18–11:2.) What did Nephi pray for in order to help the people remember the Lord and repent? (See Helaman 11:4.) Why did Nephi pray for famine instead of war? (See Helaman 11:4.) How was Nephi’s prayer answered? (See Helaman 11:5–6.)

Place the wordstrip Destruction and Suffering on the chalkboard.

4. The Nephites humble themselves and repent.

Read and discuss selected verses from Helaman 11:7–38; 12. Explain that the destruction and suffering of the famine influenced the Nephites to turn to the Lord for relief. They humbled themselves and repented.

Place the wordstrip Humility and Repentance on the chalkboard.

  • What can we learn from the Lord’s answer to Nephi’s prayer to end the famine? (See Helaman 11:10–17.) What did the Lord require of the people before He would end the famine? (See Helaman 11:14–15.)

  • How were the people once again blessed for their faithfulness? (See Helaman 11:20–21.)

  • What was the first sign that the short-lived period of humility and righteousness was ending? (See Helaman 11:22.) How did Nephi, Lehi, and their brethren put an end to this contention? (See Helaman 11:23.) In what ways can teaching “true points of doctrine” help us put an end to contention?

  • Following another period of wickedness and destruction by warfare, what helped the people repent and turn to the Lord? (See Helaman 11:28–34.) As we are surrounded by similar conditions of wickedness, what can we do to always remember the Lord?

  • Two years later, the Nephites “began again to forget the Lord their God” (Helaman 11:36). Why do you think people are so quick to forget the Lord? In what ways might we be forgetting the Lord today?

  • Mormon said that “the children of men … are less than the dust of the earth” (Helaman 12:7). On what basis did he make this statement? (Have class members take turns reading verses from Helaman 12:1–6, 8.)

  • We have the freedom to obey or disobey God’s commandments but not to choose the consequences of our actions. What did Mormon say will be the fate of those who disobey? (See Helaman 12:25–26.) What will be the fate of those who repent and obey the Lord? (See Helaman 12:23–24, 26.)

  • Direct class members’ attention to the cycle on the chalkboard. How can people break away from this cycle? (See Alma 62:48–51; Helaman 12:23–24.)

    President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Seek for the real things, not the artificial. Seek for the everlasting truths, not the passing whim. Seek for the eternal things of God, not for that which is here today and gone tomorrow. Look to God and live” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 494).

Conclusion

Read the following statement by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, in which he spoke of the Book of Mormon:

“No other written testament so clearly illustrates the fact that when men and nations walk in the fear of God and in obedience to his commandments, they prosper and grow, but when they disregard him and his word, there comes a decay that, unless arrested by righteousness, leads to impotence and death” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, 10; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, 8).

As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or both of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Avoiding the pride cycle

Ask class members to think about an embarrassing or foolish mistake or choice they have made. Then ask them to think about what they have done to avoid repeating that mistake. Give class members the opportunity to share these experiences.

Discuss why the Nephites continued making decisions that led them from righteousness to wickedness, resulting in destruction and suffering.

  • What can we learn from the Nephites to help us avoid making the same mistakes that they made?

2. “They have testified of the coming of Christ” (Helaman 8:22)

Explain that prophets testify of Jesus Christ, as do all things in heaven and on the earth. Then have class members take turns reading verses from Helaman 8:11–24, looking for the many witnesses of the Savior in those verses. As part of this discussion, you may want to give particular attention to the account of Moses’ brazen serpent:

As a conclusion to this discussion, you may want to read the testimony of the current President of the Church from a current conference issue of the Ensign.