Lesson 112: Helaman 11–12

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012


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

Copy the following diagram on the board. Explain that this diagram represents what is often called the pride cycle.

  1. 1.

    Righteousness and Prosperity

  2. 2.

    Pride and Wickedness

  3. 3.

    Suffering and Destruction

  4. 4.

    ____________________

Ask students to consider what they would write for the fourth element of the cycle. Allow students to discuss possible answers. After some discussion, write Humility and Repentance next to the number 4 in the diagram. Explain that the following scripture activity will show how Book of Mormon people went through this cycle. Point out that this cycle is often seen in large societies, but it can also reflect patterns in the lives of families and individuals.

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?

Before class, copy the following chart on the board. Do not include the italicized answers in the third and fourth columns. If possible, make a copy of the chart as a handout for each student. If this is not possible, ask them to copy the chart in notebooks or scripture study journals.

Elder Russell M. Nelson

Model how to complete the chart by working on the first line together as a class. Invite a student to read Helaman 11:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to give a brief summary of the people’s condition as described in these verses. Write their responses on the chart. Then ask students to identify which stage or stages of the cycle the people were in. Write their responses on the chart.

When students understand how to complete the chart, provide time for them to do so. You might ask them to work individually, in pairs or small groups, or together as a class.

Years of the reign of the judges

Verses in Helaman 11

Description of the people’s condition

Stage(s) in the cycle

72–73

1–2

Contention and wars increase, and the secret band of robbers carries on the work of destruction.

2, 3

73–75

3–6

Because of Nephi’s request to the Lord, famine replaces war, and thousands begin to perish with hunger.

2, 3

75

7–11

The people begin to remember the Lord and humble themselves, and they sweep the band of Gadianton from among them.

3, 4

76

17–20

The people rejoice and glorify God. They are righteous, and they begin to prosper again.

4, 1

77–79

21–23

Prosperity and peace are restored. Contentions are small, and they are resolved by revelations and gospel teaching.

1

80

24–26

The people become prideful, angry, and wicked again. A wicked band of robbers develops again among the people, with their murders and secret plans.

2, 3

80–81

27–35

The robbers cause havoc and destruction, and the armies of the Nephites and Lamanites are unable to destroy the wicked band. The robbers kill many people and carry some people, including women and children, captive into the wilderness. The trials lead the people to remember the Lord.

3, 4

After students have had time to complete the chart, ask them to report what they have learned from the activity. Then ask the following questions:

  • 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.)

  • What could the people have done to avoid the “suffering and destruction” phase of the cycle?

Students may offer many good answers to this question. Make sure they identify the following principle: Through humility and repentance, we can avoid pride and destruction. Point out that the Nephites could have skipped the second and third stages 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.

Invite a student to read Helaman 11:36–37 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, listening for the change that occurred in a short period of time.

  • How long after remembering the Lord did it take for the Nephites to be “ripening again for destruction”? (Four years.)

  • What stage of the pride cycle is described at the end of Helaman 11?

Ask students to identify and 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 what they can do to avoid the second and third stages of the cycle. Encourage them to write specific ideas they receive as they ponder.

Helaman 12

Mormon explains why the Lord chastens people.

Write the following on the board: “And thus we can behold …” Explain that Mormon used this phrase to indicate lessons to be learned from the accounts he recorded.

  • 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?

  • What helps your heart remain steady in devotion to the Lord?

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.)

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

  • Why do you think people sometimes need to be chastened before they remember the Lord? (You may need to explain that the word chasten means to correct someone through punishment or suffering of some kind.)

Ask students to ponder the following question:

  • In what ways might the Lord chasten us today?

To help students answer this question, read the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Divine chastening has at least three purposes: (1) to persuade us to repent, (2) to refine and sanctify us, and (3) at times to redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path” (“As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 98).

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

Invite a student to read Helaman 12:4–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for attitudes that make it difficult for people to remember God. Invite students to report what they find.

Explain that Mormon described people who refuse to let the Lord be their guide as “less than the dust of the earth” (Helaman 12:7). Ask a student to read Helaman 12:7–8 aloud.

  • Why could such people be considered “less than the dust of the earth”? (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.)

Summarize Helaman 12:9–22 by mentioning that in these verses Mormon reminds 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, looking for evidence that shows we are of greater worth than the dust of the earth. You may want to suggest that students mark words and phrases that are important to them.

  • What gift is available to us when we repent and hearken to the voice of the Lord?

  • How is this evidence of our worth to God?

Write the following incomplete statements on the board. Invite students to write a conclusion for today’s lesson by finishing these statements in notebooks or scripture study journals.

And thus I see in Helaman 11–12 that …

And therefore I will …

Testify that as we remember the Lord, hearken to His voice, and repent, we express our humility and faith in Him. In turn, He keeps His promise to bless and prosper us, eventually granting us eternal life.