Lesson 114: Helaman 14

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

Continuing to preach to the Nephites in Zarahemla, Samuel the Lamanite announced the signs that would mark the birth and death of Jesus Christ. He explained that he prophesied of these signs to help the people believe in Jesus Christ and to persuade them to repent of their sins. He taught that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be brought back into God’s presence. Calling the people to repent, he promised that the repentant would be forgiven of their sins but that those who failed to repent would be cut off again from God’s presence.

Suggestions for Teaching

Helaman 14:1–13

Samuel prophesies of signs related to the Savior’s birth

Begin the lesson by asking:

  • What are some signs that can indicate that a storm is coming? (Write students’ answers on the board.)

  • How do people respond when they see these signs?

  • What could be the danger in not recognizing or paying attention to these signs?

  • What kind of signs does God give? Why do you think He gives signs?

As students study Helaman 14 today, invite them to look for signs that Samuel the Lamanite prophesied about and what we can learn from them.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Helaman 14:1–6. Ask the class to follow along, looking for signs that Samuel prophesied of. Invite students to consider marking what they find.

  • What signs did Samuel prophesy of and teach the Nephites about? (The signs of the Savior’s birth, which include great lights in heaven; no darkness for a day, a night, and a day; a new star; many signs and wonders in heaven.)

  • Why do you think these particular signs might have been appropriate for indicating that the birth of Jesus Christ was about to occur? (If students do not mention it, point out that these signs associated with the Savior’s birth involve light or an increase in light to the world.)

Summarize Helaman 14:7–10 by explaining that Samuel taught that “whosoever [would] believe on the Son of God [would] have everlasting life” (Helaman 14:8). Samuel further explained that he had been commanded to call the Nephites to repentance, but because he was a Lamanite and prophesied against the people they were angry with him and sought to destroy him.

Invite a student to read Helaman 14:11–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Samuel said about why he was prophesying of these signs to the Nephites.

  • What truth do these verses teach about how recognizing signs from God can help us? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: Recognizing signs from God can help us believe on the name of Jesus Christ and repent of our sins. Write this truth on the board, and invite students to consider marking the phrases in these verses that teach this truth.)

Note: Because many scripture passages caution us not to seek signs, students might feel some confusion about this discussion of signs. Help them understand that there is a difference between recognizing signs of God’s love and seeking signs for selfish reasons (see Jacob 7:9–14; Alma 30:43–50; D&C 46:9; 63:7–11). When prophets warn against seeking signs, they refer to people who refuse to believe unless they are shown signs, not to people who exercise faith in seeking miracles according to the Lord’s will.

handout iconTo help students understand the relevance of this truth in our day, divide them into small groups and give each group a copy of the accompanying handout.

Signs Preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Explain that as an example of how signs can help us understand future events, and as a parallel for Samuel’s day, we can look at some signs pertaining to the Second Coming. Each reference on this handout contains a description of a sign that precedes the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. As a group, read each reference, write a brief summary of the sign in the space provided, and discuss the questions that follow.

  1. 1.

    Daniel 2:44 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

  2. 2.

    2 Nephi 12:2–3 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. 3.

    Doctrine and Covenants 45:39–44 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • How could understanding these signs and seeing their fulfillment help you believe in Jesus Christ?

  • How could understanding these signs motivate you to repent of your sins?

© 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Note: You may want to make sure students understand the signs described in the scriptures referenced on the handout before instructing them to discuss the two questions as a group.

After sufficient time, invite students to report what they discussed in response to the two questions on the handout.

Point out that the Lord may also bless us with signs that are personal to us. Ask students to think about signs or evidences the Lord has given them to help them believe in Him or feel a desire to repent of their sins. Invite them to write in their class notebooks or study journals about these experiences. (If students need help with this, you might encourage them to think of times when they may have felt the Spirit of the Lord, experienced the power of the priesthood, seen promises fulfilled, or witnessed miracles.)

You might encourage students to share their experiences (but remind them that they should not feel obligated to share anything that is too personal or private). Testify that the Lord provides signs and sends prophets, like Samuel, in our day to persuade people to believe in Him.

Helaman 14:14–31

Samuel prophesies of signs related to the Savior’s death

Explain that after teaching the signs of the Savior’s birth, Samuel said he would teach the Nephites a sign of His death (see Helaman 14:14). First, however, he emphasized the significance of Jesus Christ’s death and Resurrection. As part of these teachings, Samuel used the phrase “spiritual death,” which refers to separation from God’s presence.

Ask a student to read Helaman 14:15–16 aloud.

  • What is the first spiritual death, spoken of in Helaman 14:16? (You might need to explain that because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, we are born into a world where we are separated from the presence of God.)

Invite a student to read Helaman 14:17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how they can overcome the first spiritual death.

  • What truth does this verse teach about how we can overcome the first spiritual death, which was caused by the Fall? (Help students identify the following truth: Through His Resurrection, Jesus Christ redeems all mankind from the first spiritual death, which was caused by the Fall, and brings us back into God’s presence. Write this truth on the board.)

Explain that because the Savior was resurrected, all people will be resurrected and brought back into God’s presence to be judged. In this way, the first spiritual death, which was caused by the Fall, is overcome for all mankind.

Ask a student to read Helaman 14:18–19 aloud. Invite students to follow along, looking for what Samuel said regarding spiritual death.

  • What is the second spiritual death, spoken of in Helaman 14:18–19? (You may need to explain that those who do not repent will be cut off from the Father’s presence again. Invite students to consider marking the phrases “second death” and “cut off again” in verse 18.)

  • What can we do to avoid the second spiritual death, spoken of by Samuel? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we repent, then we will not experience the second spiritual death.)

To help students understand these two truths about the first and second spiritual deaths, consider displaying the following diagram or providing students with copies of it. Invite different students to read aloud each of the numbered statements in order as you guide the class through the diagram.

After discussing the diagram, remind students that Samuel had told the Nephites he would give them a sign of the Savior’s death. Divide students into pairs or small groups, and ask them to read Helaman 14:20–27 together, looking for the signs of the Savior’s death. Invite them to consider marking what they find.

  • What signs of the Savior’s death are mentioned in these verses?

  • What do you notice about the signs of the Savior’s death, as compared to the signs of His birth? (If students do not mention it, point out that these signs involve a lack or loss of light, as well as incredible natural disasters and destruction in the Americas.)

Remind students that recognizing signs from God can help us believe in Jesus Christ and repent of our sins. Invite a student to read Helaman 14:28–29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for different ways in which we can choose to respond to the signs that God gives.

  • What are two opposite ways in which we can choose to respond to the signs that God gives?

  • What principle can we learn from these verses about choosing to not believe in the signs we receive from God? (Use students’ responses to identify the following principle: If we receive a knowledge of the truth but choose not to believe it, then we bring upon ourselves our own condemnation. Write this principle on the board, and invite students to consider writing it in their scriptures next to Helaman 14:28–29.)

Explain that the word condemnation refers to being pronounced guilty or worthy of punishment. To help students better understand how we might bring condemnation upon ourselves, invite a student to read Helaman 14:30–31 aloud.

  • What do these verses teach about how we might bring condemnation upon ourselves?

You might illustrate this principle by giving students the following analogy: Imagine you are preparing to take a difficult test in a math class and the teacher informs you that in order to pass the test you will need to understand and use a certain equation. The teacher then gives you the equation to study.

  • What would you choose to do in this situation?

  • What would be the consequence of choosing to not believe your teacher and rejecting the knowledge he or she is offering?

  • How does this analogy relate to the principle we learn from Helaman 14:28–29?

Share your testimony of the truths you have discussed in this lesson. Invite students to recall any signs or evidences they have received from God and to consider if they are choosing to believe in or reject those signs. Encourage students to faithfully live according to the signs and evidences God has given and to continue to believe in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins.

Commentary and Background Information

Helaman 14:14–29. Samuel’s prophecy of the Savior’s death

Samuel’s prophecy about the death of Jesus Christ is one of the most specific prophecies recorded in the scriptures. The following chart outlines portions of this prophecy, including their fulfillment. (In addition, the footnotes for Helaman 14:20–27 refer to some passages that describe the fulfillments of Samuel’s prophecies.)

Prophecy of the Savior’s Death

Fulfillment

Helaman 14:20, 27

Sun darkened for three days

3 Nephi 8:19–23

Helaman 14:21

Thunder, lightning, earthquakes

3 Nephi 8:6–7, 12

Helaman 14:22

Earth broken up

3 Nephi 8:17–18

Helaman 14:23

Great tempests; mountains laid low and valleys become mountains

3 Nephi 8:5–6, 12, 17–18

Helaman 14:24

Highways and cities destroyed

3 Nephi 8:8–11, 13–14

Helaman 14:25

Graves open and resurrected Saints minister to people

3 Nephi 23:9–13

Helaman 14:15–19. Because of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we will overcome death

Samuel the Lamanite described the difference between physical death, the first spiritual death, and the second spiritual death, as well as how the Savior’s Atonement helps us overcome these deaths. Prophets and other Church leaders have also taught these truths.

Physical death. While serving as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Earl C. Tingey taught:

Elder Earl C. Tingey

“Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the physical body. Because of the Fall of Adam, all mankind will suffer physical death” (Earl C. Tingey, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 73).

The first spiritual death. Spiritual death is being “cut off from the presence of the Lord” (Alma 42:9).

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) explained that physical death and the first spiritual death are results of the Fall of Adam and Eve:

President Spencer W. Kimball

“Our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. By eating the forbidden fruit, they became mortal. Consequently, they and all of their descendants became subject to both mortal and spiritual death (mortal death, the separation of body and spirit; and spiritual death, the separation of the spirit from the presence of God and death as pertaining to the things of the spirit)” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The True Way of Life and Salvation,” Ensign, May 1978, 6).

Spiritual death was introduced into the world by the Fall of Adam and Eve. As we are born into a fallen world, we inherit this condition—we are separated from the presence of God. Samuel the Lamanite referred to this condition as “the first death” (Helaman 14:16).

Samuel the Lamanite taught that all of Heavenly Father’s children who lived in mortality will overcome physical death and the first spiritual death through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ (see Helaman 14:17). Many other scriptures also testify of this truth (see 2 Nephi 2:9–10; 9:15, 22, 38; Alma 11:43–44; 12:12–15, 24; 42:23; 3 Nephi 26:4–5).

The second spiritual death. The second death is an ultimate or final spiritual death—being cast out of God’s presence forever because of unrepented personal sin (see D&C 76:37).

The Savior has also provided help to overcome this second spiritual death. He suffered for our sins so He could offer us the opportunity to repent. But to those who do not repent, “there cometh upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness” (Helaman 14:18). This means that a person with unresolved sin cannot remain in God’s presence after he or she is brought back to Him for judgment.