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Monday, June 10, 2013

Book of Mormon Class ~ Helaman 3

Taught by Sue G.

The Book of Mormon is not primarily a history of ancient inhabitants of the Americans, rather, as stated by Moroni in the title page of the Book of Mormon, it is holy scripture which bears witness of Christ and shows how the Lord deals with people.  It's contents are intentionally selected to give us hope and encouragement, to warn us against evil and to continually remind us of the power of the Savior's Atonement to cleanse and heal as he invites us to return safely to Him and the Father.

Mormon is an inspired master teacher.  As he begins, he will seemingly casually mention pride, as if it were just a side issue.  But before this chapter is over, he will develop the theme of pride more, demonstrating that it can grow into a spiritually devastating illness among members.  
(Helaman 3:33-34)

Helaman pauses in his record to tell about the large group of Nephites who left Zarahemla and migrated to the North.  They establish nine thriving civilization that covers the entire land and building houses, Temples and synagogues.  He verifies that many records were kept during this period chiefly by the Nephites.  He returns to his record to say that Helaman is filling the judgement seat with justice and equity, walking in righteousness.  Tens of thousands are converted to the Church and are baptized.  The Church prospers exceedingly.  Helaman dies and his son Nephi assumes the judgment seat.

We read that these Nephites become expert in using cement to construct not only their houses, but entire cities.  Trees were few, so other means had to be devised.   Mormon provides many historical details stating that these people were experts in the use of cement, a claim which was much criticized early on by Book of Mormon critics, but one that has now been well proven by archeological findings.   In fact, cement began to be used extensively in Meso America around this time (46 B.C.).  Found in the Valley of Mexico, the oldest known concrete has been dated at approximately 200 B.C. after which it was used on a large scale as exemplified in the immense ruins of  Teotithuacan near Mexico City. In Guatemala archaeologists have unearthed 2,000 year old cement tombs and burial vaults.  (Helaman 3:7)

Next Mormon mentions the people of Ammon, (the Lamanite converts who joined the Church during the 14 year missions of the four son's of Mosiah).  They were originally known as the Anti-Nephi-Lehis. (Alma 23:17)  The 2,000 stripling soldiers, led by Helaman some 13-15 years ago at this point in the Book of Mormon history, were son's of these converts.

Mormon seems to almost always use the word dissensions meaning apostatasies in conjunction with people leaving the Church and/or adopting wicked lifestyles. (Helaman 3:14)

A repeating theme of the Book of Mormon is that righteousness brings prosperity, not only spiritually but also in terms of physical and financial well-being. 

The great increase in Church membership among the Nephites before the coming of the Savior is similar to the great increase in members of the Church in our last days before the second coming,  This prosperity and growth of the Church is almost startling to many of us and the rapid growth in the days of Helaman, surprised the leaders of the Church in his day.  (Helaman 3:25-26)   There was a training meeting where a member of the quorum of the twelve was told by way of prophecy, to stop thinking in terms of 10-15 million members of the Church, rather they were counseled to raise their sights to 50-100 million and beyond as they prepare for modern-day growth in the Church.

We are told that the Nephites response to persecution included:

  • fasting
  • prayer
  • increased humility and faith
  • yielding their hearts to God
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, "It is only by yielding to God that we can begin to realize His will for us.  And, if we truly trust God, why not yield to His loving Omniscience.  After all, He knows us and our possibilities much better than we do"  (Helaman 3:35)

Major concept:
In order to become pure and holy, we must yield our hearts to the Savior.  Helaman 3:28

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