Helaman 1–6

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 194–199


Introduction

Despite the darkness that surrounded the Nephite-Lamanite world, the light of the gospel continued to shine. By the power of “the word of God” (Helaman 3:29), thousands joined the Church and received the promise of salvation (see vv. 24–26, 29–30). The Lamanite nation “utterly destroyed” the Gadianton robbers from among them (see Helaman 6:37). Notice how the Lord’s light offset the powers of darkness and provided hope to those who accepted it. President Ezra Taft Benson declared, “The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words of living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 80).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Note: Prayerfully study each assigned scripture block and consider the principles in this section before preparing your lessons.

  • Murder, intrigue, contention, and divisiveness weaken a nation and make it vulnerable to destruction (see Helaman 1:1–22, 27; 2; 3:17–23).

  • As faithful members pray and “lay hold upon the word of God” (Helaman 3:29), the Church prospers despite the turmoil in the world (see Helaman 3:1–3, 17–35).

  • When people forget the Lord and trust in their own strength, they become weak (see Helaman 4:11–26).

  • The “more numerous” part of the inhabitants of the promised land must choose righteousness or risk being destroyed (see Helaman 5:2–3; 6:37–40; see also Mosiah 29:25–27).

  • When we build our lives on the Savior’s teachings, we find strength to overcome Satan’s temptations (see Helaman 5:12).

  • Servants of God who teach by the power of His Spirit can do more to change the hearts of their enemies than armies (see Helaman 5:13–19, 49–52; see also Alma 31:5).

  • Wicked men are vulnerable to the influence of Satan, “the author of all sin” (Helaman 6:30). From the beginning Satan has taught men to get gain through murder and robbery (see Helaman 6:21–32; see also Moses 5:29–31).

  • The Spirit of the Lord withdraws from the wicked who harden their hearts (see Helaman 6:35).

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 105–7.

Suggestions for Teaching

Note: Choose from the ideas in this section, or use some of your own, as you prepare to teach the assigned scripture block.

video iconBook of Mormon Video presentation 17, “The Pride Cycle” (15:10), covers Helaman 1–12 and can be used with this or the next scripture block (see Book of Mormon Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Helaman 13 Nephi 11. The coming of Jesus Christ to America parallels the Second Coming. (30–35 minutes)

Have students stand up, and then have them sit down when they think forty-seven seconds have elapsed (make sure they do this exercise without a clock or watch). Discuss the following questions:

  • Why was it difficult to determine when the time was up?

  • What would help you be more accurate in your timing?

  • How can this be compared to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? (No one knows the day or hour.)

  • What has the Lord provided to help us know that we are nearing the Second Coming? (Answers might include scriptures, prophets, the Restoration of the gospel, missionary work, and signs of the times.)

Have students stand up again and then sit down when twenty seconds have elapsed. This time have them use a watch or clock. Ask: How can being aware of the signs of the Second Coming help you prepare for that day? Discuss students’ answers.

Read this statement by President Ezra Taft Benson: “The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 3; or Ensign, May 1987, 4). Ask:

  • Based on this statement, how can the Book of Mormon help us prepare for the Second Coming?

  • What parallels can you think of between our day and the events in the Book of Mormon?

Give students copies of the chart “Helaman and 3 Nephi: A Parallel to the Second Coming of Christ” from the appendix (pp. 302–3), or write it on the board. Divide your class into five groups and assign each group one of the five sections of the chart (“Social and Political Turmoil,” “Cataclysmic Events,” and so on). Have them study the verses for their section. When they finish, have the groups report what their verses teach about the Lord’s coming to the Nephites and how that parallels the Second Coming.

Encourage students to watch for parallels to the Second Coming as they study the books of Helaman and 3 Nephi so they can be strengthened in their commitment to be prepared.

weekly iconHelaman 1–6. The gospel of Jesus Christ can cure the spiritual sickness of individuals and nations. (40–50 minutes)

Invite one or two students to tell about a time they were sick and what was done to make them well. Write on the board the headings Sickness, Medication, and Made Well. Have students identify these elements in their classmates’ accounts, and list them under the appropriate headings. Explain that the Nephites and Lamanites in the book of Helaman suffered from another type of sickness and also needed medication to get well.

Read Helaman 4:11–15 looking for the sickness that is described, and list it on the board under the correct heading. Ask the following questions and list responses on the board:

  • What medication was prescribed? (see v. 14).

  • What sign indicated that the people had been made well? (see v. 15).

Have a student read the following statement by Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“The outlook for the world is not encouraging, but we know what the answer is. There is only one answer, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Peace must come from the heart. Men’s hearts must change, and righteousness must rule in the lives of the people of the world before peace can come. May God hasten the day. May the message of the restored gospel go forward in great force, by increasing numbers, that God’s children may escape the calamities which are impending” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1947, 157).

Ask:

  • What promises have been made to those who take their “medicine”? (Answers might include peace, a changed heart, protection.)

  • What calamities do you think we might escape as we live the gospel?

Divide students into four groups and assign each a chapter from Helaman 1–3, 5. Have each group identify words and phrases that show spiritual sickness, medication, and evidence of being cured. Ask a student from each group to report their findings, and list them under the appropriate headings on the board.

Discuss as a class how the medication prescribed for the Nephites could help people today. Read Helaman 6:1–2, 34–36, and ask each student to write a paragraph describing what these principles mean to them. Invite some students to share with the class what they wrote.

Helaman 1:1–22, 27; 2:1–14. Murder, intrigue, contention, and divisiveness weaken a nation and make it vulnerable to destruction. (35–40 minutes)

Note: Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, foretold: “Bands of Gadianton robbers will infest every nation” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 1979, 131; or Ensign, May 1979, 93). Since secret combinations caused the destruction of both the Nephite and Jaredite nations (see Helaman 2:13; Ether 8:20–21), it is important that we become aware of this serious threat in our own lands. Focus on the eight characteristics of secret combinations listed in the commentary for Helaman 6 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 107), not on particular organizations.

Draw the accompanying illustration on the board. Invite students to read Matthew 12:25 and suggest a caption for the drawing. Ask:

  • What does the phrase “a house divided against itself” mean?

  • How can this apply to a family? a city? a nation?

  • Read Helaman 1:1–8. What brought about the division among the Nephites that is described in these verses?

  • What impact did this division have on Pahoran’s family? on Nephite society?

  • Read 3 Nephi 11:29. According to this verse, where does contention come from?

  • How can it affect you?

Explain that the contention among the Nephites left them vulnerable within and without. Have students scan Helaman 1:9–13 looking for how the Nephites were vulnerable within. Then have them scan verses 14–22, 27 looking for how they were vulnerable without. Ask students which threat they think would be the most dangerous to Nephite society and why.

Review as a class the story in Helaman 2 and discuss the following questions:

  • After the Nephites overcame the Lamanite threat from without, how did they go about filling the judgment-seat? (see vv. 1–2).

  • What threat from within grew in power and influence? (see vv. 3–5).

  • What would be a good name for this threat? (Possible answers include “Gadianton robbers” or “secret combination.”)

  • What was the purpose of this secret combination? (see v. 8).

  • What impact would this combination later have on the Nephite nation? (see vv. 13–14).

Discuss the following questions:

  • What threatens our society from without?

  • What threatens our society from within?

  • Why is it important for us to avoid contention and be united?

Read the following statement by Elder Henry B. Eyring, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and discuss its promises and warnings:

“The sacrament prayer can remind us every week of how the gift of unity will come through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we keep our covenants to take His name upon us, to remember Him always, and to keep all His commandments, we will receive the companionship of His Spirit. That will soften our hearts and unite us. But there are two warnings which must come with that promise.

“First, the Holy Ghost remains with us only if we stay clean and free from the love of the things of the world. A choice to be unclean will repel the Holy Ghost. The Spirit dwells only with those who choose the Lord over the world. …

“The other warning is to beware of pride. A unity which comes to a family or to a people softened by the Spirit will bring great power. With that power will come recognition from the world. Whether that recognition brings praise or envy, it could lead us to pride. That would offend the Spirit. There is a protection against pride, that sure source of disunity. It is to see the bounties which God pours upon us not only as a mark of His favor but an opportunity to join with those around us in greater service” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 88–89; or Ensign, May 1998, 68).

Helaman 3:1–3, 17–35. As faithful members pray and “lay hold upon the word of God,” the Church prospers despite the turmoil in the world. (20–25 minutes)

Invite students to suggest current events that show the turmoil and wickedness in the world. Ask:

  • Do you believe that turmoil is increasing or decreasing? Why?

  • What impact do these events have on the Church and its members?

Write the heading Nephite World on the board. Read Helaman 3:1–3, 17 and look for the condition of the Nephite world. Ask what phrases in these verses show that life became progressively worse, and list them under the heading on the board. (Answers might include “no contention,” “a little pride” [v. 1], “much contention” [v. 3], and “great contentions” [v. 17].)

Write the heading Church of God beside the first heading. Invite students to read Helaman 3:24–26 looking for the condition of the Church. Ask:

  • What did the Church experience during this same time?

  • How would you explain the incredible growth?

  • What similarities do you see between then and now in the world and the Church?

Tell students that Mormon gave his explanation for the Church’s growth in three “thus we see” statements. “Thus we see” is another way of saying “This is what we learn from that.” Have students carefully read Helaman 3:27–30 and list three ways members can help the Church prosper in difficult times. Consider asking the following questions:

  • How does “sincerity of heart” affect our prayers? (see v. 27).

  • What would you say the “gate of heaven” is? (v. 28).

  • What two blessings come to those who “lay hold upon the word of God”? (v. 29).

  • What can we do to become men and women of Christ?

Tell students that not all members of the Church will experience these blessings. Have students read Helaman 3:33–35 looking for the two types of Church members identified in these verses. Ask:

  • What does it mean for a person to “profess” to belong to the Church? (see Alma 5:37).

  • What allowed the humble to become “stronger and stronger” and “firmer and firmer” in the faith? (Helaman 3:35).

Share the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and testify of its truth:

“Truly, the Holy Ghost is a sanctifier, and the extent to which men receive and enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost is the extent to which they are sanctified. In the lives of most of us, sanctification is an ongoing process, and we obtain that glorious status by degrees as we overcome the world and become saints in deed as well as in name” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 266).

Helaman 4:11–26. When people forget the Lord and trust in their own strength, they become weak. (25–30 minutes)

Show students a stick labeled Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21. Read the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve: “There is an old saying that if you pick up one end of a stick, you pick up the other end as well” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1984, 82; or Ensign, Nov. 1984, 66). Demonstrate this principle with the stick. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21 and look for why you labeled the stick with these verses.

sticks with opposites written on each end

Show students other sticks with a choice listed on one end and a consequence on the other. Discuss the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve: “While we are free to choose, once we have made those choices, we are tied to the consequences of those choices” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 7). Invite students to list other choices and consequences that illustrate this principle.

Have students review the chapter heading for Helaman 4 looking for the latest Lamanite conquest. Read Helaman 4:11–13 and ask:

  • What consequences did the Nephites suffer?

  • What choices brought about these consequences?

Have students read Helaman 4:14–20 and tell what Moronihah and others tried to do to help the Nephites. Ask:

  • How did the Nephites respond?

  • What did the future look like for the Nephites?

Read the following statement:

“No matter how wicked and ferocious and depraved the Lamanites might be (and they were that!), no matter by how much they outnumbered the Nephites, darkly closing in on all sides, … they were not the Nephite problem. They were merely kept there to remind the Nephites of their real problem, which was to walk uprightly before the Lord” (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd ed. [1988], 339–40; see also 1 Nephi 2:21–24).

In this serious condition, the Nephites finally realized their plight. Have a student read Helaman 4:21 and invite students to suggest an important word in that verse. Ask:

  • What does the word remember indicate the Nephites were guilty of?

  • How did forgetting the Lord and His prophets affect the Nephites?

Read Helaman 4:21–26 looking for at least five transgressions that the Nephites realized they had made and five consequences of those transgressions.

Helaman 5:2–3; 6:37–40. The “more numerous” part of the inhabitants of the promised land must choose righteousness or risk being destroyed. (10–15 minutes)

Show the class some rotten fruit (or other rotten food item). Discuss the following questions:

  • What is normally done with rotten fruit?

  • How do you know when it is rotten enough to throw away?

  • What are some reasons we throw away rotten food?

Have students read Helaman 5:2–3; 6:37–40 and identify ways the Nephite nation was “ripening for destruction.” (The majority chose evil, they were stiffnecked, they were rebellious, they supported the Gadianton robbers.) Ask:

  • What was the Nephites’ greatest need?

  • How does this compare to our nation? (If the more part of the people are wicked, they also risk destruction.)

scripture mastery iconHelaman 5:12 (Scripture Mastery). When we build our lives on the Savior’s teachings, we find strength to meet Satan’s temptations. (10–15 minutes)

Show students a large rock and ask what might happen to it if you left it outside in a storm. Then show them a handful of sand and ask what might happen to it in a storm. Ask:

  • If you were to build a house, which material would you build on? Why?

  • How are the temptations of Satan like a storm?

  • How is the rock like Jesus Christ?

Read Helaman 5:12 and discuss the following questions:

  • How can we build our foundation on the rock of Christ?

  • How would building on this rock help us weather Satan’s storms and life’s trials?

  • What promise is given to those who build on this rock?

Invite students to review Helaman 5:5–12 looking for a word that stands out. Ask:

  • Why do you think Helaman used the word remember again and again?

  • What can we learn about human nature from this?

Read the following statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and encourage students not to forget it:

“When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is. It could be ‘remember.’ Because all of you have made covenants … our greatest need is to remember” (“Circles of Exaltation” [Brigham Young University devotional address, 28 June 1968], 8).

Helaman 5:13–19; 49–52. Servants of God who teach by the power of His Spirit can do more to change the hearts of their enemies than an army. (35–40 minutes)

Draw a picture of a sword on the board. Have students recall events that show the power of the sword to this point in the Book of Mormon. (Many people were killed by the sword and many cities were conquered.) Ask how persuasive a person with a sword is. Share the following testimony by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency:

“Accept our testimony, which is the same testimony that each of you can bear, that God our Eternal Father lives, our Father, the ruler and the governor of the universe, to whom we may look and with whom we may speak in prayer. Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, the Son of the living God, who gave his life to atone for the sins of all mankind. These two visited the earth to usher in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times, and conferred upon him who became Prophet great and grand keys which are the bedrock of this work. Such is our faith; such is our witness; such is our testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 116; or Ensign, May 1993, 94).

Ask students whether the sword or the testimony would be more persuasive. Review Alma 31:5 and explain to students that today they will see examples of the power of the word (see also Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12).

Have students quickly read Helaman 4:15–20. Ask:

  • How much territory had the Nephites lost to the Lamanites?

  • In what manner had they attempted to regain their lands?

Explain that Helaman’s sons Nephi and Lehi grew weary of the wickedness of their people and set out to reclaim them. Have students read Helaman 5:13–19, and discuss the following questions:

  • Who did Nephi and Lehi preach to first?

  • Who did they preach to in Zarahemla?

  • What evidence is there that the Lord was with them?

  • What was the result of their mission?

Explain that the experience of Nephi and Lehi in prison in Helaman 5:21–50 is an excellent example of the power of God’s word. Since this account is very readable and inspiring, invite students to read it individually. Write the following questions on the board and have students look for the answers as they read:

  • Who imprisoned Nephi and Lehi?

  • How were Nephi and Lehi treated in prison?

  • How did the Lord protect His servants?

  • What effect did the word of God have on the Lamanites?

  • What happened to the prison walls?

  • What entered the hearts of the Lamanites after they cried to God?

  • How many were converted?

  • What did those who were converted do?

Read to the class Helaman 5:51–52 and ask:

  • What impact did the mission of Nephi and Lehi have on the Lamanites?

  • What did the Lamanites do with the Nephite lands they had taken?

Testify of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to change the hearts of individuals and nations.

Helaman 6:21–32. Wicked men are vulnerable to the influence of Satan, “the author of all sin.” From the beginning Satan has taught men to get gain through murder and robbery. (25–30 minutes)

Read the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“The heart is an incredible pump. It has four delicate valves that control the direction of blood flow. These valves open and close more than 100,000 times a day—36 million times a year. Yet, unless altered by disease, they are able to withstand this stress almost indefinitely. No man-made material developed to date can be flexed so frequently and so long without breaking.

“Each day an adult heart pumps enough fluid to fill a 2,000-gallon tank” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 111; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 85).

Ask:

  • What do you find most impressive about the heart?

  • What kind of life can a healthy heart provide? a diseased heart?

  • What would you be willing to do to keep your heart healthy?

Have students read Proverbs 23:7, and ask:

  • What “heart” does this verse refer to? (Our spiritual heart, our desires and feelings.)

  • Why is it important to keep our spiritual heart as healthy as our physical heart?

  • Why do you think Satan is interested in the hearts of men?

  • What happens to a person whose heart is influenced or controlled by Satan?

Write the following references on the board and discuss what they teach about the heart: Matthew 5:27–28; 2 Nephi 28:19–20; Doctrine and Covenants 121:34–36. Review Helaman 6:1–5, 15 noting the following points:

  • The Lamanites were for the most part more righteous than the Nephites. Lamanites preached throughout Nephite lands exhorting the Nephites to repent.

  • Many of the Nephites were unrepentant and grossly wicked, even conspiring in the murder of their chief judges (see also v. 19).

Have students quickly read Helaman 6:17–33 and mark the word heart each time it occurs. Discuss what Satan did to “get hold upon the hearts of the children of men” (v. 30). Ask:

  • What happened to Nephite society because of Satan’s influence?

  • What can we do to keep Satan from getting a hold on our hearts?

Discuss the following statement by Elder Marvin J. Ashton, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“We must constantly emphasize the truth that we love that to which we give time, whether it be the gospel, God, or gold. Often we hear expressions of love for the scriptures, including Jesus’ teachings. Those who study, practice, and apply the truths not only know them best, but are fortified to use them for guidance all along life’s paths. The man who most appreciated the opportunity of tithe payment is he who experiences the joys and blessings that come through sacrifice, and obedience to that law. Our appreciation and love of the gospel and its teachings will always be in proportion to our service and commitment to the gospel” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1981, 31; or Ensign, May 1981, 24).