Chapter 36: Helaman 5–9

Book of Mormon Teacher Manual, (2009), 128–33


Introduction

Helaman chapters 5–9 recount the difficulties of people who became prideful, lost their way, and embraced wickedness. They also tell of the strength that came to people who remained righteous, true, and faithful to Heavenly Father even when others overwhelmingly disregarded the commandments and the principles of salvation. Students can draw strength from the example of Nephi and Lehi and those who believed their words and teachings. They can see that it is possible to live the gospel and love Heavenly Father even when they are surrounded by the influences of the world. They can “remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that [they] must build [their] foundation” (Helaman 5:12), and they can learn to “look upon the Son of God with faith” (Helaman 8:15).

Some Doctrines and Principles

  • We fortify our lives against evil by building on the foundation of Christ (see Helaman 5:1–14).

  • Faith in Jesus Christ and repentance change hearts and bring peace (see Helaman 5:14–52).

  • Satan is the author of all unrighteousness (see Helaman 6).

  • “Except ye repent ye shall perish” (see Helaman 7; 8:1–12).

  • All prophets testify of Jesus Christ and His Atonement (see Helaman 8:13–23).

Suggestions for Teaching

Helaman 5:1–14. We Fortify Our Lives against Evil by Building on the Foundation of Christ

Ask a student to read Helaman 5:2. Direct students’ attention to the phrase “ripening for destruction.” Show the class a piece of fruit that has become rotten. Explain that 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).

Write Helaman 5:2–3; 6:37–40 on the board. Have students read these verses silently and identify ways the Nephite nation was “ripening for destruction.” Invite students to share what they have found.

Have the students individually read Helaman 5:4–13. Suggest that they highlight the word remember every time it appears in the verses. Ask the students why they think Helaman used this word repeatedly. You may want to have them read the statement by President Spencer W. Kimball on page 269 in the student manual.

  • What are some things we can do that will help us remember the Savior and our covenants every day?

Have students return to verses 5–13 and identity what Helaman encouraged his sons to remember. You may want to list students’ responses on the board. Invite students to think about ways Helaman’s counsel applies in their lives. The following list shows some examples of what the students may find.

Helaman encouraged his sons to remember:

  1. 1.

    To keep the commandments (see verse 6).

  2. 2.

    That they were named after men who set an example of doing good works (see verses 6–7; for information on how the names of great people in the past can inspire us to live righteously, see the statement by President George Albert Smith on pages 268–69 in the student manual).

  3. 3.

    King Benjamin’s testimony of Jesus Christ (see verse 9; see also Mosiah 2–5).

  4. 4.

    That there is no other means of salvation except through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ (see verse 9).

  5. 5.

    That the Savior redeems people from their sins on “the conditions of repentance” (verses 10–11).

  6. 6.

    That they must build the foundation of their lives on Jesus Christ (verse 12).

Have students read Helaman 5:14.

  • What did Nephi and Lehi do because they remembered Helaman’s counsel?

  • How can remembering these doctrines help us?

To help students remember Helaman 5:12 , show them a large rock and ask what would happen to it if someone left it outside in a storm. Read Helaman 5:12. Then show them a handful of sand and ask what might happen to it in a storm.

  • 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?

Share the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (you may need to explain that underpinning is another word for a foundation):

“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).

Invite students to silently ponder the following questions:

  • What are you doing daily to build your life on the foundation of Jesus Christ? What could you do better to ensure that you build your life on His sure foundation?

Share your testimony of Jesus Christ as our sure foundation. Share your thoughts about how we can build on His foundation.

Helaman 5:14–52. Faith in Jesus Christ and Repentance Change Hearts and Bring Peace

Share the following statement by 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).

As students read and discuss the account in Helaman 5, encourage them to watch for evidence of “a new vision of life” among those who responded to the preaching of Nephi and Lehi.

Read Helaman 5:14–19 with students. As you read, have students look for answers to the following questions:

  • According to these verses, what contributed to Nephi and Lehi’s success in preaching repentance?

  • What happened as a result of their preaching?

Invite students to share what they have found.

  • How does true repentance change a person’s heart and bring peace?

Display the picture of Nephi and Lehi on page 130.

Vision

Provide students with an overview of the remaining events in Helaman 5 by asking them to read the chapter heading, beginning with “Nephi and Lehi make many converts and are imprisoned.” Then divide the class into five groups and assign each group one of the following scripture blocks with its accompanying questions. You may want to have the questions written on sheets of paper ahead of time.

Group 1

Helaman 5:20–26

  • 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?

Group 2

Helaman 5:27–34

  • How did those in the “cloud of darkness” feel? How can feeling this way affect our efforts to move forward in faith?

  • How did the message given by the “still voice of perfect mildness” help them overcome the cloud of darkness? In what ways do we hear the same message today?

Group 3

Helaman 5:35–39

  • The faces of Nephi and Lehi shined as they conversed with angels. In our day, how are those who receive heavenly messages like a light for us?

  • Think of people you know who seem to shine in a world of increasing darkness. What characteristics do they have?

Group 4

Helaman 5:40–44

  • What did the people in the cloud of darkness want to know?

  • How can Aminadab’s response to their request provide a pattern for those who seek to come out of spiritual darkness?

  • What does verse 44 identify as a result of turning to the Lord in faith and repenting?

Group 5

Helaman 5:45–52

  • 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.)

After students have had sufficient time to answer their assigned questions, invite them to share their responses.

As you conclude this portion of the lesson, invite students to ponder how they would complete the following statements:

Because of what I have studied today, I know

Because of what I have studied today, I feel

Because of what I have studied today, I want to

Helaman 6. Satan Is the Author of All Unrighteousness

Explain that Helaman 5:14–52 can be read as an example of building on the rock of Jesus Christ. Similarly, Helaman 6 can be read as an example of building on a sandy foundation. As you teach this block of scripture, make sure students understand that Satan is the author of all the instability described.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 93:37–39 with students. You may want to suggest that they cross-reference this passage to Helaman 6:21.

  • According to Doctrine and Covenants 93:37, what are we able to do when we have light and truth?

  • What allows Satan to take light and truth from us?

Ask students to read Helaman 6:9–17 silently.

  • In what ways can a love of material wealth lead us to lose the light and truth of the gospel?

Ask students to quickly scan Helaman 6:17–40 and identify behaviors of increasing darkness, or wickedness, among the Nephites. Give special emphasis to verses 27–30, 35, and 40. Ask them to share what they have found.

Have students read Helaman 6:1–4, 20, 36–37 to contrast the behavior of the Nephites with the behavior of the Lamanites.

  • At a time of great wickedness among the Nephites, what enabled the Lamanites to prosper spiritually?

  • How were the Lamanites’ actions different from those of the Nephites?

  • How were the Lamanites’ attitudes and actions towards the Gadianton robbers different from those of the Nephites?

Conclude this teaching idea by reading Doctrine and Covenants 50:23–25. You may want to suggest that students cross-reference this passage with Helaman 6:21 and Doctrine and Covenants 93:37–39.

Helaman 7; 8:1–12. “Except Ye Repent Ye Shall Perish”

Read Helaman 7:1–9, 22–24 with students.

  • According to these verses, what led to Nephi’s great mourning?

  • What did Nephi identify as the only way the Nephites could avoid being “utterly destroyed”?

Read Helaman 8:1–9 with students.

  • In what ways did the people react to Nephi’s words?

  • Why do you think people who are guilty of transgression sometimes respond to words of truth by being angry? What are some spiritual consequences of this behavior?

Conclude by reading the statement by Elder F. Burton Howard on page 271 in the student manual.

Helaman 8:13–23. All Prophets Testify of Jesus Christ and His Atonement

This teaching idea centers on the testimony that Nephi delivered, not the miraculous circumstances surrounding it. If students are unfamiliar with the account of Nephi’s prophetic announcement of the murder of the chief judge and identification of the murderer, you might consider assigning a student ahead of time to relate the events that are described in Helaman chapters 8–9.

Share the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (also available on the companion DVD A):

“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).

Help students see that like many other prophets, Nephi risked his life to testify of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

Ask a student to read Helaman 8:13–15.

Invite students to look at the picture of Moses and the brazen serpent on page 272 in the student manual. You may also want to have them read Numbers 21:5–9 and 1 Nephi 17:41.

  • To be healed, the only thing the Israelites had to do was look at a brass serpent. But many did not “because of the simpleness of the way” (1 Nephi 17:41). What are some “simple” actions we have been asked to do that demonstrate faith in Jesus Christ?

  • Why do we sometimes hesitate to do things that seem too simple?

  • From Helaman 8:15 we learn that the brass serpent was a type, or symbol, of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. In what ways can we “look upon the Son of God with faith”?

Have students read Helaman 8:16–23 silently.

  • What impresses you about the testimonies of these prophets?

  • What do you see in verse 23 that can help us understand why these prophets risked persecution, danger, and death to testify of the Savior?

  • How can reading or hearing the testimonies of prophets strengthen our testimony? (See D&C 46:13–14.)

Share your thoughts and feelings about how the testimonies, counsel, and commandments given by prophets help us know how to “look upon the Son of God with faith” and “live, even unto that life which is eternal” (Helaman 8:15).

Write the following chart on the board, leaving out the explanations listed under “Characteristics of Prophets.” Invite students to read the verses listed on the left side of the chart. Then invite them to come to the board and list what they have found about the characteristics of prophets. Possible answers are listed below, along with some cross-references that students may want to note in their scriptures.

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).