Helaman 7–12

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 200–204


Introduction

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote of this period of Nephite history: “As the advent of Christ approached, social disorder increased, with burgeoning warfare, murder, and political disarray. To counter this trend and give hope, Nephi invoked the ancient teachings his people knew so well, testifying of these problems and the coming of the Messiah who would resolve them” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 129). As you read these chapters, look for the kinds of problems Nephi warned of and what needed to be done to obtain the Lord’s help and blessings.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 107–9.

Suggestions for Teaching

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

Helaman 7:13–29. The wicked become vulnerable to the temptations of the devil as they seek to gain the riches and praise of the world. The righteous receive the Lord’s greatest blessings by repenting and following His will. (25–30 minutes)

Ask your students to name a prophet, one of their ancestors, or some other person long since dead in whose time they would like to have lived. Have them explain why they chose that person and time. Read Helaman 7:6–9 and discuss Nephi’s feelings about his day.

Write on the board: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities [1997], 1). Explain that there are trials and challenges that make life difficult no matter what age we live in. Ask:

  • What makes our day “the worst of times”?

  • What makes it “the best of times”?

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

“The plan of happiness is available to all of [God’s] children. If the world would embrace and live it, peace, joy, and plenty would abound on the earth. Much of the suffering we know today would be eliminated if people throughout the world would understand and live the gospel” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 30; or Ensign, May 1995, 23).

Discuss how the gospel can help any day be “the best of times.”

To help students understand why Nephi was “filled with sorrow” because of the wickedness of his day (Helaman 7:9), divide the class into two groups and have them search Helaman 7:13–29. Assign one group to look for the iniquities (sins) of the Nephites and the other to look for what Nephi prophesied would happen if they did not repent. Have them report their findings, and then discuss why the Lord sends prophets to warn His people.

Have students compare Helaman 7:21 with Doctrine and Covenants 121:35 and look for two similar reasons people act wickedly. List these on the board as in the accompanying chart, and discuss how these motivations can lead to wickedness.

Helaman 7:21

D&C 121:35

“to get gain”

“their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world”

“to be praised of men”

“aspire to the honors of men”

Read and discuss the following statement, also by Elder Ballard:

“One of Satan’s clever tactics is to tempt us to concentrate on the present and ignore the future. The Lord warned Joseph Smith that ‘Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them’ (D&C 78:10). The ‘things which are prepared for them’ are the promised rewards of eternal life, which come as a result of obedience. The devil attempts to blind us to these rewards. President Heber J. Grant said that ‘if we are faithful in keeping the commandments of God His promises will be fulfilled to the very letter. … The trouble is, the adversary of men’s souls blinds their minds. He throws dust, so to speak, in their eyes, and they are blinded with the things of this world’ (Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], pp. 44–45). He tempts us with the transitory pleasures of the world so that we will not focus our minds and efforts on the things that bring eternal joy. The devil is a dirty fighter, and we must be aware of his tactics” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 45–46; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 36).

Testify that Satan does have the power to lead us astray, but that there is a way to receive the Lord’s blessings despite Satan’s power. Read again Helaman 7:17–19 and look for what we must do to obtain the Lord’s blessings.

Helaman 8:1–10; 11:1–2, 24–34. In order to hold on to power, wealth, and glory, secret combinations fight against those who oppose them and those who try to expose their works of darkness. (20–25 minutes)

Note: See the caution at the beginning of the teaching suggestion for Helaman 1:1–22, 27; 2:1–14 (p. 195).

Write on the board What you don’t know can’t hurt you. Ask students if they think this is a true statement. Have them imagine that an earthquake hit your community. Ask: Would it be more useful to know in advance or to be surprised? Why?

Read Helaman 7:4–5 and discuss the following questions:

  • Who filled the judgment-seats?

  • How did Gadianton robbers gain positions of power and authority? (They pretended to be good citizens, supported each other, and kept secret the fact that they belonged to a band of robbers.)

  • What did these wicked judges do to the righteous? to the guilty? Why?

Refer students to the phrase on the board again and ask: How were good Nephite citizens affected by what they didn’t know?

Have students quickly read Helaman 8:1–7, and ask:

  • What did those involved in secret combinations do when Nephi opposed them?

  • Why were they angry with Nephi?

  • Why do you think they were worried when Nephi “spake plainly” about their secret works? (v. 4).

Read as a class Helaman 11:1–2, 25–33 to find what can happen to a community if secret combinations are allowed to flourish. Have a student read this statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard:

“The Book of Mormon teaches that secret combinations engaged in crime present a serious challenge, not just to individuals and families but to entire civilizations. …

“If we are not careful, today’s secret combinations can obtain power and influence just as quickly and just as completely as they did in Book of Mormon times. Do you remember the pattern? The secret combinations began among the ‘more wicked part’ of society, but eventually ‘seduced the more part of the righteous’ until the whole society was polluted [Helaman 6:38]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 51; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 38).

Ask:

  • What can we do to keep secret combinations from gaining power in our community or nation?

  • How can the principles of the gospel help combat this influence?

  • What would happen to secret combinations if there wasn’t a “more wicked part” of society?

Elder Ballard continued:

“As a Church, we recognize that the gospel of Jesus Christ, with its saving truths and teachings, provides the most effective preventative and rehabilitative assistance in overcoming criminal behavior. Parents bear the first and greatest responsibility to teach their children principles of gospel living and good citizenship. …

“We should also support the efforts of individuals, organizations, communities, and governments to assist them and help prevent crime. We should work within our respective legal and judicial systems to enact and enforce laws that provide necessary protection against criminals while ensuring essential rights and freedoms. And we should volunteer to support and assist government leaders in promoting programs designed to protect and strengthen families and communities. …

“I know it is sometimes hard to stand for truth and right. Yet we need to be positive examples if we are to help others find a better way. Thankfully, we can draw strength from those who have gone before us. While the road they walked may have been different from the road we walk today, the courage required to be faithful is similar, and their experiences are instructive” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 52–53; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 38–39).

Ask:

  • What solutions did Elder Ballard give that could help us improve our community?

  • How can we support our parents in their responsibility to teach their children?

  • Who can we look to for strength in difficult times as well as times of ease?

  • How can we obtain that strength?

Helaman 8:13–25. All the holy prophets have testified of the coming of Jesus Christ and looked forward to that day. (10–15 minutes)

Invite the students to imagine they are speechwriters for the leader of your country. They have been asked to choose and prepare the most important message that could be given to your country’s people. Ask: What would you write, and why? Read Helaman 8:13–25 looking for the message that all the prophets have declared. Discuss why this is the most important message for everyone. Have a student read the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“As we search for the shore of safety and peace, whether we be individual women and men, families, communities, or nations, Christ is the only beacon on which we can ultimately rely. He is the one who said of his mission, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6).

“In this age, as in every age before us and in every age that will follow, the greatest need in all the world is an active and sincere faith in the basic teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God. Because many reject those teachings, that is all the more reason why sincere believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ should proclaim its truth and show by example the power and peace of a righteous, gentle life” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 22; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 18).

Read or sing “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee” (Hymns, no. 141). Have students write on a piece of paper how they can make Christ more of a beacon in their life. Invite those who would like to share their testimony of Jesus Christ to do so.

Helaman 8–9. The prophecies and promises declared by the prophets will all be fulfilled by the Lord. (20–25 minutes)

Briefly review Helaman 8:1–9, and explain to students that you would like them to help tell the rest of the story. Assign a student who is a good reader to act as narrator and read the following “script”:

  • Act 1: The Murder (Helaman 8:27–28)

  • Act 2: The Test (Helaman 9:1–4)

  • Act 3: Prophecy Verified (vv. 5–9)

  • Act 4: The Innocent (vv. 10–15)

  • Act 5: The Accusation (vv. 16–24)

  • Act 6: The Conviction (vv. 25–38)

Assign other students to take the parts of the five men, the people, the judges, Nephi, and Seantum. Invite them to act out their parts as the narrator reads them.

Read Helaman 9:39–10:1 as a class and discuss why some did not believe Nephi’s words, even though he had shown remarkable signs of his prophetic calling. Select a recent statement by the prophet and share it with your students. Encourage them to always believe in and follow living prophets.

Helaman 10:3–12; 11:4–17. The sealing power of the priesthood is the authority to perform ordinances and other acts that are binding both on earth and in heaven. (40–45 minutes)

Show your students a chain or draw one on the board, and ask what chains have been used for throughout the ages. Discuss these questions:

  • How might some people compare God’s commandments to chains?

  • Why do some people feel restricted by the commandments?

  • How does sin take away our agency?

  • In what ways does keeping the commandments make us free? (Remind students that commandments are not restrictive but point us in a direction that will bring us happiness and freedom; see D&C 59:23.)

Read the following statement by Elder Donald L. Staheli, a member of the Seventy:

“Regardless of our age and stage in life, daily obedience to gospel principles is the only sure way to eternal happiness. President Ezra Taft Benson put it most poignantly when he said, ‘When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 108; or Ensign, May 1998, 82).

Ask:

  • What people find the commandments irritating? Why?

  • What is a quest? (A diligent search or journey toward a noble goal.)

  • How would viewing the commandments as a blessing make a difference in how we obey them?

  • How would having more of God’s power in your life be a blessing?

Tell students that today they will see an example of someone who obtained this power. Read Helaman 10:4 looking for at least two reasons the Lord called Nephi “blessed.” Ask:

  • What does unwearying mean? (Diligent, faithful, without complaint.)

  • In what ways had Nephi sought God’s will?

Read Helaman 10:5 looking for two blessings promised to Nephi.

  • What does it mean to be blessed forever?

  • In what ways did the Lord make Nephi mighty?

  • Besides Nephi’s unwearyingness, what other reason did the Lord give for entrusting Nephi with great power? (He would not ask for anything contrary to God’s will.)

Read Helaman 10:6–10 looking for words that describe how the Lord would make Nephi “mighty in word and in deed” (v. 5), and write these on the board. Ask:

  • How can having power over the earth help a prophet keep his people humble?

  • What is the sealing power? (The authority to perform ordinances and other acts that are binding both on earth and in heaven.)

  • How can it be used to bless people?

  • How can it be used to chasten people?

  • How can the sealing power bless your family forever?

Share and discuss the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“This, then, is the doctrine of the priesthood. … This is the power we can gain through faith and righteousness.

“Truly, there is power in the priesthood—power to do all things!

“If the world itself was created by the power of the priesthood, surely that same power can move mountains and control the elements.

“If one-third of the hosts of heaven were cast down to earth by the power of the priesthood, surely that same power can put at defiance the armies of nations or stay the fall of atomic bombs.

“If all men shall be raised from mortality to immortality by the power of the priesthood, surely that same power can cure the diseased and the dying and raise the dead.

“Truly there is power in the priesthood—a power which we seek to acquire to use, a power which we devoutly pray may rest upon us and upon our posterity forever” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1982, 50; or Ensign, May 1982, 34).

Have students read Helaman 10:11–12, 15–16. Ask:

  • What was Nephi commanded to do after he received the sealing power?

  • How did he respond?

  • What can you learn from Nephi’s example?

  • Has obeying without delay ever been a blessing to you or someone you know? How?

  • How did the Nephites respond to Nephi’s testimony?

  • What did the Lord do to protect him?

Remind students of the Lord’s promise to make Nephi “mighty in word and in deed” (Helaman 10:5). Divide the class into two groups. Have one group read Helaman 11:1–6 and the other Helaman 11:11–17. Have each group look for evidence that Nephi became mighty in word and deed. Invite them to share their findings with the class.

Show students the chain again and ask:

  • In what ways could the commandments seem at first to restrict Nephi?

  • In what ways did the commandments give him freedom?

Write on the board the quote by President Ezra Taft Benson about making obedience a quest (see Elder Donald L. Staheli’s statement in the first part of this teaching suggestion). Discuss the following questions:

  • What can you do to make obedience more of a quest in your life?

  • In what ways can obedience “endow us with power” at school? at home? with our friends?

weekly iconHelaman 12:1–6, 23–26. People and nations pass through cycles of righteousness and wickedness. They can avoid these cycles by repenting and following God. (40–45 minutes)

Write on the board the following statement by Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, leaving a blank in place of the word history: “I guess one of the greatest mysteries of mortality is why mankind fails to learn from history” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 19; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 16). Ask students to guess the missing word, and discuss their answers. Fill in the blank with the missing word and ask: What evidence can you think of that suggests that this statement is true?

Read this statement to students: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana, The Life of Reason; or the Phases of Human Progress, 5 vols. [1905], 1:284). Tell students that the Nephites failed to learn from their history, and as a result they repeatedly passed through cycles of righteousness and wickedness. First the Lord would bless them for their obedience. Then they would grow proud and begin to sin. Then the Lord would chasten them with destruction and suffering. Finally they would humble themselves and repent, the Lord would bless them, and the cycle would begin again.

arrow

1. Blessings &
Prosperity

Helaman 3:25–26, 32; 11:20–21; 3 Nephi 6:1–9

arrow

4. Humility &
Repentance

Helaman 4:14–15, 20–26; 11:7–11, 15; 3 Nephi 5:1–6

The
Cycle

2. Pride &
Wickedness

Helaman 3:33–36; 4:11–12; 6:16–17; 3 Nephi 6:13–18

arrow

3. Destruction &
Suffering

Helaman 4:1–2, 11, 13; 11:1–6; 3 Nephi 9:1–12

arrow

To illustrate this cycle, display the accompanying diagram on the board or as an overhead transparency. Divide the class into four groups and assign each a different part of the cycle. Have them read the scriptures that go with their part of the cycle and discuss them with their group. When they finish, have them report their findings to the class. Ask:

  • Where in the cycle do you think your country is right now? Why?

  • When the Lord chastens a nation for its wickedness, do faithful members of the Church also suffer? (see the first statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in the teaching suggestion for 2 Nephi 25:1–8, p. 69).

  • Read Helaman 11:34–36. According to these verses, how quickly can the cycle repeat itself?

Invite students to read Helaman 12:1–6 and mark words that describe the cycle. Have them review the same verses looking for reasons people tend to repeat history. (They forget God and consider His counsel to be nothing.) Ask:

  • What can we do to avoid this cycle?

  • Read Helaman 12:23–26. What is Mormon’s counsel for avoiding the cycle?

  • Who are those who are blessed?

  • What does it mean to hearken to God?

  • Who will be saved?

Consider asking the following questions:

  • In what ways do people pass through a “personal pride cycle”?

  • What parts of the cycle would we want to experience again and again?

  • What have you found that helps you stay humble and repentant?

Share 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).

Discuss how this counsel can help us avoid the cycle.