Having had so much success on previous missions, he must have looked forward with great anticipation to the sweet privilege of bringing many more souls unto Christ. Such was not to be the case.
He preaches in the North where his message is rejected, then returns to Zarahemla. He prays a top a garden tower attracting a crowd and calling on them to repent or perish.
There are many parallels between what happened to the Nephite government and what is happening to many governments around the world today. The warning for us in the next few verses, are clear. They open the door for us to have wisdom on political matters to do whatever we can to remedy situations within our sphere of influence as instructed in the Lord.
Next, we get a very personal glimpse into the soul of a truly great man as he yearns for "the good old days" of the past. It is a tender insight. (Helaman 7:7-9)
Nephi resorted to a tower that was in his garden which was by the highway to the chief marker of Zarahemla, and bowed himself upon the tower. One might wonder why he would pray from the top of a tower since we do no such thing in our own day. To appreciate the importance of this procedure, we have to understand why Nephite towers were built and what they looked like. They were small personal worship towers that graced the property of some Meso-American peoples. Like the larger pyramids that can be found all over North and South America, these mini towers were sacred places of resort to people wishing to "stand on holy ground" as they worshiped.
Jerry L Ainsworth wrote: The book of Moses speaks of the Lords coming to dwell with his people, who were called Zion in the days of Enoch. The "glory of the Lord" came upon his people and they were blessed upon the mountains and upon high places. (Moses 7:10-17)
The high places may be a reference to pyramid places of worship...
In Central America today the ruins of pyramids are generally crowned with temples or sacred sanctuaries for worship, evidence of sacrifices made at such sites abounds. A similar trend appears in the old Testament. At first Israels high places were used for offering acceptable sacrifices to God. Later, at the corruption of the peoples religion, the high places become sites for idolatrous practices.
Maya Scholars, Linda Schele and David Freded consider the pyramid Temples found in the low lands of Central America to be symbolic sacred mountains that were used for worship.
As Nephi continues, he intersperses merciful reminders that the people can still repent. He strongly counsels them to do so.
Sometimes when people are very far gone, spiritually, it requires rather blunt warnings in order to have any chance of getting them back. We see such a warning in verse 19. Nephi points out how people can turn from righteousness to extreme wickedness to in a short time.
Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said: " The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the Prophet are; the proud who are learned, and proud who are rich. The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them, otherwise the prophet is just giving his opinion, speaking as a man. The rich man feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet."
The words repent and turn both come from the same Hebrew word shuwb, which means to "go back home" or "turn away".
Some things to ponder from this Chapter:
- The Lord forsakes those who harden their hearts and refuse to hear His words, they provoke His anger and he scatters them.
- The Lord does not strengthen or protect those who have turned away from him.
- The Lord is merciful to those who repent.
- Prophets do not speak of themselves, their messages come from the Lord.
- Prophets always declare repentance as opposed to the messages of priestcraft.