Lesson 112

Helaman 11–12

“Lesson 112: Helaman 11–12,” 2017 Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)


Introduction

Chapters 11 and 12 in the book of Helaman cover 14 years of Nephite history in which the people passed through a cycle of righteousness and wickedness. This history shows how quickly people can forget the Lord and how He chastens them to help them repent and return to Him.

Suggestions for Teaching

Helaman 11

The Nephites pass through a cycle of righteousness and wickedness

Ask students to think of times when they have felt close to the Lord. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class. Next, ask students to silently think of times when they may have felt distant from the Lord. As students study Helaman 11–12 today, invite them to look for truths that can help them remember the Lord and continually draw closer to Him.

Copy the following diagram on the board. You may also want to provide a copy of the diagram for each student. Explain that this diagram represents what is often called the pride cycle. This cycle is often seen in large societies, but it can also reflect patterns in the lives of families and individuals. Briefly point out each of the four phases in the pride cycle as outlined in the diagram.

diagram, righteousness wickedness cycles

Remind students that even after Nephi had told the people about the death of their chief judge, “they did harden their hearts and did not hearken unto the words of the Lord” (Helaman 10:13). At the end of the 71st year of the reign of the judges, the people were “divided against themselves and began to slay one another with the sword” (Helaman 10:18).

  • At this time, where do you think these Nephites were in the pride cycle?

Invite a student to read Helaman 11:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words or phrases that indicate the people had forgotten the Lord or were prideful and wicked.

  • What words or phrases indicate the people had forgotten the Lord or were prideful and wicked? (Students may mention the phrase “contentions did increase.” Invite students to consider marking this phrase in verse 1.)

Divide students into pairs or small groups. Ask students to read together each of the scripture passages associated with the three remaining phases of the pride cycle. Encourage them to look for words or phrases that describe the people and the stage of the pride cycle they were experiencing. Invite students to consider marking the words or phrases they find. You may also want to invite them to write the phase of the pride cycle next to the verses in which that phase is illustrated.

After students have had time to complete the activity, ask a few students to report to the class what they marked in their scriptures in Helaman 11:2–6 for the “Suffering and destruction” phase.

  • According to Helaman 11:4, why did Nephi pray for a famine? (He hoped that a famine would lead the people to remember the Lord and repent.)

Ask students what words or phrases they marked in Helaman 11:7–11 for the “Remembering the Lord; humility and repentance” phase.

  • According to verses 7–9, what did the people do when they were about to perish because of the famine?

  • What could the people have done to avoid the “suffering and destruction” phase of the cycle? (They could have lived righteously and humbly always, repenting without delay whenever they sinned. If they had lived this way, they still would have experienced some trials, but they would not have needed to endure the terrible suffering and destruction that came as a result of their wickedness.)

Write the following principle on the board: If we choose to remember the Lord, humble ourselves, and repent, we can avoid pride and destruction.

Ask students to list in their class notebooks or study journals several ways in which they can choose to remember the Lord and avoid pride. Invite a few students to report to the class what they wrote.

  • How have the activities you listed helped you to remember the Lord and avoid pride?

Summarize Helaman 11:22–32 by explaining that after a short period of peace, the people again forgot the Lord and became prideful and wicked. A group of Nephite dissenters and Lamanites formed another band of Gadianton robbers. Although two attempts were made to destroy these robbers and murderers, they grew in strength and numbers.

Invite a student to read Helaman 11:32–38 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for phases of the pride cycle that the people repeated. Invite students to consider marking what they find.

  • Which phases of the pride cycle were repeated?

  • According to verses 35–38, how long after remembering the Lord did it take for the Nephites to be “ripening again for destruction” (verse 37)? (Four years.)

  • Why do you think it is important for us to know that the Nephites were ripening again for destruction after only four years?

Ask students to think about specific times when they have seen this cycle to some degree in their own lives or the lives of people they know. Invite them to ponder ways in which they may need to humble themselves and repent so they can avoid the effects of pride. Encourage them to act on any promptings they receive.

Helaman 12

Mormon explains why the Lord chastens people

Write the following on the board: “And thus we can behold …”

  • Based on Helaman 11, how would you complete this statement?

Invite a student to read Helaman 12:1 aloud, and ask the class to look for the way Mormon completed the statement.

  • What does the phrase “unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men” mean to you?

Ask students to study Helaman 12:2–3 silently, looking for other lessons Mormon wanted us to learn from this history of the Nephites. Remind students that Mormon often used phrases such as “we may see” (verse 2) and “thus we see” (verse 3) when he shared truths we can learn from the accounts in the scriptures.

  • In your own words, what lessons did Mormon want us to learn? (Students may give responses such as the following: If we are not careful, our prosperity can lead us to forget the Lord. The Lord chastens His people to stir them up in remembrance of Him. Write these truths on the board.)

  • Why do you think people who are prosperous sometimes forget the Lord?

Explain that the word chasten means to correct someone through punishment or suffering of some kind.

  • Why do you think people sometimes need to be chastened before they remember the Lord?

  • In which of the ways stated in verse 3 might the Lord chasten us today?

  • What are other ways in which the Lord might chasten us?

  • How is the Lord’s chastening evidence of His love?

To prepare students to study Mormon’s words in Helaman 12:4–6, read aloud or display the following list of activities and ask students whether they are quick or slow to do these things. (You could substitute other activities that students might better relate to.) If students are comfortable reporting their answers to the class, you could ask them to do so.

  • Replying to a text (or other message) from a friend

  • Trying something new

  • Getting up in the morning

  • Completing school assignments

Invite a student to read Helaman 12:4–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Mormon said many people are quick and slow to do. Invite students to consider marking the words quick and slow in these verses. Invite students to report what they find.

Refer to the truths written on the board and ask:

  • How do Mormon’s observations in these verses relate to the truths we have discussed in this lesson?

Summarize Helaman 12:7–22 by explaining that Mormon described people as “less than the dust of the earth” (verse 7). Help students understand that Mormon was not teaching that people are of less worth to Heavenly Father than the dust of the earth. Rather, he was drawing attention to the fact that dust always obeys God’s commands, but people often do not. In these verses we read that Mormon also reminded us of the Lord’s great power—that the Lord can command physical elements to move or change and that He can cause a sinful person to be cut off from His presence.

Invite students to search Helaman 12:23–26 silently, looking for additional truths Mormon recorded as he concluded this chapter. Ask students to report what they find.

Review the truths you have discussed in this lesson, and share your testimony of them. Encourage students to apply these truths in their lives.

Commentary and Background Information

Helaman 12:2. If we are not careful, our prosperity can lead us to forget the Lord

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency taught that rather than forgetting the Lord, we can consciously choose to remember Him and all He has given us:

President Henry B. Eyring

“We so easily forget that we came into life with nothing. Whatever we get soon seems our natural right, not a gift. And we forget the giver. Then our gaze shifts from what we have been given to what we don’t have yet. …

“Confronting death and difficulty does return memory and therefore gratitude to righteous people as well as the wicked. But there must be another way to remember, one we can choose. …

“You can choose to remember the greatest gift of all. Next week, you can go to a meeting where the sacrament is administered. You will hear the words, ‘Always remember him.’ You can pledge to do that, and the Holy Ghost will help you” (Henry B. Eyring, “Remembrance and Gratitude,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 12, 13).