Helaman 13–16

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 205–209


Introduction

Despite Nephi’s efforts to preach repentance and warn his people, they fell further into wickedness. God sent a second witness to warn the Nephites prior to their destruction. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland wrote:

“The degree to which social and religious disorder had come to the Nephites is evidenced by the appearance of a Lamanite … to call the Nephite people to repentance. Openly rejected in the land of Zarahemla, Samuel responded to the voice of the Lord, climbed upon the wall surrounding the city, and ‘prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart’ [Helaman 13:4].

“One of the things the Lord put into his heart was to warn the people of a ‘heavy destruction’ that awaited them if they did not change their ways. ‘Nothing can save this people,’ Samuel shouted from his place upon the wall, ‘save it be repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who surely shall come into the world, and shall suffer many things and shall be slain for his people’ [Helaman 13:6].

“Of this coming—then just five years away—Samuel prophesied of signs and wonders to attend the event, signs and wonders that would be a matter of life and death for the faithful Nephites who would, at the peril of their life, watch for the fulfillment of these promises” (Christ and the New Covenant, 131).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 110–12.

Suggestions for Teaching

weekly icon Helaman 13–16. The President of the Church is a prophet, seer, and revelator. (35–40 minutes)

Display a picture of the current President of the Church. Ask: If a nonmember friend asked you to explain what the President of the Church does, what would you say? Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder John A. Widtsoe, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“The President of the Church is sustained by the people as ‘Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.’ …

“A prophet is a teacher. That is the essential meaning of the word. He teaches the body of truth, the gospel, revealed by the Lord to man; and under inspiration explains it to the understanding of the people. …

“A seer is one who sees with spiritual eyes. He perceives the meaning of that which seems obscure to others; therefore he is an interpreter and clarifier of eternal truth. He foresees the future from the past and the present. …

“A revelator makes known, with the Lord’s help, something before unknown. It may be new or forgotten truth, or a new or forgotten application of known truth to man’s need. Always, the revelator deals with truth, certain truth (D. & C. 100:11) and always it comes with the divine stamp of approval” (Evidences and Reconciliations, arr. G. Homer Durham, 3 vols. in 1 [1960], 256–58).

Ask:

  • How do you feel knowing the Church is led today by prophets, seers, and revelators?

  • What examples can you give that show how the President of the Church is fulfilling these roles?

  • What happens to those who decide not to follow the President of the Church in any of his roles?

Tell students that today they will examine the life of Samuel the Lamanite to better understand the roles of prophet, seer, and revelator. Write the headings Prophet, Seer, and Revelator on the board. Divide your class into three groups, and assign each group one of the roles. Have them quickly read Helaman 13–15 looking for at least two examples of how Samuel filled that role. Have each group choose a student to report their findings to the class.

Discuss the roles of prophet, seer, and revelator and why they are important to the Lord’s Church. Ask:

  • How can you support the President of the Church as he fulfills these roles?

  • How would it help the Church if all members sustained the President of the Church in this way?

Helaman 13. If people continue in wickedness, the time will come when they cannot repent. (25–30 minutes)

Invite students to imagine they are in a forest and are surrounded by trees. Ask:

  • Would you rather travel through a forest during the day or at night?

  • What challenges are there in traveling in a forest when it is dark?

Explain that mortal life can be compared to traveling in a forest. Have students read Helaman 13:29, and ask:

  • What did the Nephites choose in Samuel’s day?

  • What do the words wicked, perverse, hardened, and stiffnecked have to do with choosing darkness?

  • What are some examples of “blind guides” in today’s world?

  • How is following one of these guides the same as choosing darkness?

  • In what ways is darkness manifested today?

Read Helaman 13:1–4, 21–28 looking for at least two ways the Nephites chose darkness over light. Ask:

  • In what ways do people reject the testimony of prophets today?

  • What is the danger of setting our hearts on riches?

Read Helaman 13:5–7 and ask:

  • Where does the path of darkness lead?

  • What was the only way the people could be saved?

  • Why might we consider these “glad tidings”? (v. 7).

To help students understand the path of darkness, display the accompanying drawing on the board. Include the scripture references, but leave off the other words. The references can be in a different order, but verse 38 should be at the end of the path. Invite students to read each verse and look for what Samuel warned would happen to the Nephites if they did not repent. As the students identify the warnings, write key words next to each reference similar to the ones given here.

v. 8—lose
the Spirit

v. 10—utter
destruction

v. 37—surrounded
by demons

path

v. 9—wars
and famines

v. 31—riches
become “slippery”

v. 38—too late
to repent,
destruction is
made sure

Invite a student to read the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“It is possible for people to get so far in the dark through rebellion and wickedness that the spirit of repentance leaves them. …

“[The Nephites and Lamanites who left the Church after Christ’s coming] sinned wilfully, and therefore salvation cannot come to them. It was offered to them, and they would not have it. They rejected it. They fought it and preferred to take the course of rebellion” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:194–95).

Ask:

  • How does this statement relate to the Nephites’ situation?

  • How can it apply to us?

  • What can we learn from Samuel’s warnings?

Conclude by asking students to share other scriptures that teach this principle, and have them mark the scriptures that mean the most to them. Invite them to consider what they can do to repent of their sins.

Helaman 13:12–14. The Lord often spares the wicked for the sake of the righteous. If the wicked cast out the righteous from among them, they are ripe for destruction. (10–15 minutes)

Read several newspaper headlines that show wickedness occurring today. Ask students:

  • How have conditions in the world changed during your lifetime?

  • What concerns you about the direction that many in the world are going?

  • What can you do to help save them?

As a class, read Alma 10:22–23 and Helaman 13:12–14 and discuss the following questions:

  • What can the righteous do to spare the world from destruction?

  • What must we do to be considered righteous?

  • What might happen to the world if it cast out the righteous?

Read 3 Nephi 1:9 and ask:

  • What were the unbelievers going to do?

  • According to Helaman 13:12–14, what would have to happen to the unbelievers if they killed the believers?

Remind students of what happened to the city of Ammonihah when they killed and drove out the righteous (see Alma 16:2–3). Read 3 Nephi 9:3 and look for what eventually happened to the city of Zarahemla. Testify that the Lord will punish the wicked according to His word.

To help students understand that there are still many good people living on the earth, share the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball, then Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve: “Of course, there are many many upright and faithful who live all the commandments and whose lives and prayers keep the world from destruction” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 7; or Ensign, June 1971, 16).

Helaman 14:2–6, 14, 20–25. Samuel the Lamanite declared the signs of Christ’s birth and death. (25–30 minutes)

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:38, and discuss it as a class. Tell students that they will see an example of this principle as they study Helaman 14. Make an overhead transparency of the accompanying chart or draw it on the board, and work through it as a class. Or give students copies of the chart as a handout and have them complete it individually or in small groups. You could also have students draw a representation of what they read.

Signs of the Birth of Jesus Christ

Helaman 14

Prophecies

3 Nephi 1

Fulfillment

v. 2

v. 13

vv. 3–4

v. 15

v. 5

v. 21

Signs of the Death of Jesus Christ

Helaman 14

Prophecies

3 Nephi 8

Fulfillment

vv. 20, 27

vv. 19–23

vv. 21–22

vv. 5–7, 17–18

v. 23

v. 12

v. 24

vv. 8–10, 13

Read Helaman 14:25 and look for another sign of the death of Jesus Christ. Then read 3 Nephi 23:9–13 and ask:

  • What prophecy did the resurrected Lord remind the Nephites about?

  • What did the disciples say about this prophecy?

  • What did Jesus Christ command them to do?

  • Why are the Resurrection and the fulfillment of prophecy important to you today?

Helaman 14:15–19. Jesus Christ’s death and Resurrection overcome the physical and spiritual deaths that resulted from the Fall. His Atonement allows those who repent to escape a second spiritual death, which comes on Judgment Day as a result of our sins. (15–20 minutes)

Relate the following story recounted by a Latter-day Saint educator:

“When I think of life hereafter, I am reminded of the story of an army chaplain who comforted an LDS boy who had been caught in a crossfire in the Battle of the Bulge. This soldier was near death. By looking at this soldier’s dog tag, the chaplain discovered that he was a member of the Church. The chaplain [said], ‘Son, I’m not a member of your church, but would you want me to pray for you?’ This young man replied, ‘Yes, I would like you to pray for me.’ So this chaplain knelt down, and two men of God prayed. The soldier [later] said, ‘I distinctly remember these words of the chaplain: “Oh, God, help us to so live that when the time comes for us to die we shall not be afraid to die, and that after we die we shall not be afraid to live again.”’” (Stan H. Watts, The Blessings of This Day, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [23 Nov. 1971], 2).

Read Helaman 14:15–19 and discuss the following questions:

  • According to these verses, what types of death can a person suffer? (Note that besides physical death, mankind suffered a first spiritual death when Adam fell, and the unrepentant suffer a second spiritual death after final judgment.)

  • What is a spiritual death?

  • How does the death of Jesus Christ save us from the first spiritual death?

  • How can His Atonement save us from the second spiritual death?

  • How can being repentant prepare us to “not be afraid to live again”?

Explain that the Nephites of Samuel’s day resented the warnings he delivered. Ask: Is it possible to be dead spiritually and think we are still spiritually alive? How? Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“There are many people in this Church today who think they live, but they are dead to the spiritual things. And I believe even many who are making pretenses of being active are also spiritually dead. Their service is much of the letter and less of the spirit” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1951, 105).

Ask: What can we do now to avoid spiritual death in our own lives? Read Mosiah 2:41 and look for the blessings that come to those who prepare in this life for the next one.

Helaman 15:1–10. God loves His children. We can receive His blessings by repenting and keeping His commandments, but we cannot receive His blessings when we sin. (25–30 minutes)

Invite students to share what they fear more than anything else. List their answers on the board and discuss them. Ask: What should we fear even more than the items on the board? Have students read Helaman 15:9 looking for what the Lamanites feared. Ask:

  • What were the Lamanites willing to suffer rather than commit sin?

  • Why do you think they feared sin so much?

Read 2 Nephi 4:31 and look for what Nephi prayed for.

To see how the Lamanites came to this attitude toward sin, read Helaman 15:4–8. Have students list what led the Lamanites to faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and a change of heart, and discuss their answers. The following questions might help your discussion:

  • What part did the Nephites play in starting the Lamanites on the path of salvation?

  • What do you think it means to be “in the path of their duty”? (v. 5).

  • What did the converted Lamanites try to do?

  • What part did the scriptures play in their conversion?

  • What can we learn from their experience?

Have students read Helaman 15:1–3, 17 and contrast what they know about the Lamanites with what these verses teach about the Nephites. As part of the discussion you might want to ask the following questions:

  • What did Samuel warn would happen to the Nephites if they chose not to repent?

  • Why does the Lord chasten His people? How might He do it?

  • How can punishment be a manifestation of love?

  • How might the Nephites have received Samuel’s warnings if they had been afraid to sin?

Testify that fearing sin and its punishment can motivate us to live so as to escape the judgments that came to the Nephites. However, there is a higher motivation that can keep us safe and clean. Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“It is an inspiration to look into the eyes of young men and women who love the Lord, who want to do the right thing, who want to build lives that are productive and fruitful of great good. They are working hard to develop skills that will bless them and the society of which they will become a part. They are serving missions for the Church in unprecedented numbers. They are clean, bright, able, and happy. Surely the Lord must love those of this choice generation of youth who learn and serve in His Church. I love them, and I want them to know that” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 90; or Ensign, May 1996, 66).

Helaman 15:11–13. The Lamanites are a people of promise. (5–10 minutes)

Invite students to read Helaman 15:11–13 looking for what Samuel prophesied about the Lamanites “in the latter times.” Ask: How do you think this prophecy is being fulfilled? Share the following statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“The Lord chose to call them Lamanites. They are fulfilling prophecies. They are a chosen people with rich blood in their veins. They are casting off the fetters of superstition, fear, ignorance, and prejudice and are clothing themselves with knowledge, good works, and righteousness. And this Church is elated to have an important part in bringing about this transformation. …

“Yesterday they were deprived, weakening, vanishing; today thousands are … in regular seminaries and institutes. … Numerous are receiving secular as well as spiritual training in Mexico, South America, and Hawaii and the isles of the sea. Many are now in college and large numbers in full-time mission service. Tens of thousands are now eligible for superior training and service through church organizations in all the Americas and in the Pacific. Lamanite-Nephite leaders are now standing forth to direct and inspire their people. The day of the Lamanite is come, and tomorrow will be even better” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1965, 70–71).

Helaman 16:1–3, 6–8. God protects His servants until they have fulfilled the mission He has sent them to do. (10–15 minutes)

Invite students to share times they feel the Lord protected them from harm. Ask: Why do you think the Lord protects His children? Discuss students’ answers. Ask if they can think of times the Lord has allowed His children to be harmed. (Answers might include the deaths of Abinadi, Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ.) Ask: Why might that be? (Note: Be careful that students do not get the impression that God does not love those He allows to suffer or die. The point of this discussion is that God protects His servants until they have fulfilled their missions.)

Review with students Samuel’s mission to Zarahemla by reading the chapter headings for Helaman 13–15. Have students estimate how long Samuel stood and preached on the walls of the city. Read Helaman 16:1–3, 6–8 and look for the reaction of the Nephites to Samuel’s message. Discuss the following questions:

  • Why couldn’t the Nephites hit Samuel with their stones and arrows?

  • What impact did this experience have on some of the Nephites?

  • How did “the more part of them” react?

  • Why do you think the Lord protected Samuel? (His mission was not over; see v. 7.)

Read with students Helaman 5:12 and discuss how, like Samuel on the wall of Zarahemla, we can stand firm against the buffetings of Satan.

Helaman 16:4–5, 13–23. Signs and wonders are given by the Lord to confirm the faith of the righteous. The wicked reject His signs and wonders, depend on their own wisdom, and do not comprehend the things of God. (20–25 minutes)

Before class cut out a star and tape it somewhere in your classroom. (It should be in plain sight but somewhere students ordinarily wouldn’t look.) Ask students if they noticed anything different about the classroom. When they identify the star, ask how many noticed it before it was pointed out to them. Ask:

  • Why did some of you not notice the star at first?

  • How many of you would have noticed it if I had pointed it out as you came into the classroom?

  • How can this be compared to what a prophet does?

Read Helaman 16:4–5 and ask:

  • What is the role of a prophet in relation to “signs and wonders”?

  • Why does God give signs and wonders?

  • How can the fulfillment of signs affect our belief?

  • How might that affect the way we live the gospel?

Read Helaman 16:13–14 and look for two things that began to be fulfilled. Ask: What hope can this give us as we wait for the signs of the Second Coming to be fulfilled?

Explain that not everyone believes in the signs and wonders that God provides. Doubters think they have good reasons for their disbelief. Have students silently read Helaman 16:15–23 and look for at least four arguments the doubters used to explain away the signs. Invite students to share their findings, and consider listing them on the board. These might include:

  • They depended on their own wisdom and suggested that “some things they may have guessed right” (v. 16; see v. 15).

  • They determined that “it is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come” (v. 18).

  • They called the story of Christ “a wicked tradition” (v. 20) and said they would have no way to know if Christ had been born in a distant land (see vv. 19–20).

  • They accused believers of using “the mysterious arts of the evil one” to keep the people ignorant and dependent on their teachers (v. 21).

Discuss with students what we can do to keep from being deceived by such arguments. Testify of the importance of listening to and obeying the Lord’s prophets. Conclude by reading the following statement by Elder Henry B. Eyring:

“There seems to be no end to the Savior’s desire to lead us to safety. And there is constancy in the way He shows us the path. He calls by more than one means so that His message will reach those willing to accept it. And those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets whenever people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 32; or Ensign, May 1997, 24).