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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Book of Mormon ~ Helaman chapter 8

Taught by Sue G.

*Keep in mind that which Mormon selected to include in the plates, from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, was to help us with specific issues we would face in our day.  In these chapters especially, we are being given an inspired course in political science, Mormon is showing us what works to preserve freedom, agency and what types of things work to destroy them.

Nephi continues preaching repentance to the people of Zarahelma, the corrupt judges try to incite the people against Nephi.  He reminds the people that every holy prophet from the beginning testified of the Savior. 

Centuries earlier, Nephi had referred to the brazen serpent raised by Moses as an emblem of the Messiah to come (2 Nephi 25:20)  Alma also taught that this symbol pointed to Christ (Alma 33:14-22)  Through the brass plates of Laban, all the Nephite prophets had access to the account of Moses lifting the brazen serpent.  Nephi commands the people of his day to open their eyes and look upon the Savior as the Israelites look upon the serpent for healing.

As we begin chapter 8, we hear the angry cries of the corrupt judges who claim that Nephi has violated their government by the statements he made.  This can easily remind us of similar cries among those today who claim that any mention of God, religion prophecy, scripture, or use of the terms "good and evil", "right and wrong" etc., is offensive to the laws and freedoms of the land.

Helaman 8-4
As with the leaders of the Jews who stirred up the people against Jesus, so it is also with these leaders of the Nephites.  They wanted to be rid of Nephi, but they wanted to make it look legal or at least make it look like the will of the people.

Helaman 8:6
While some express anger against Nephi, others are beginning to believe him.

Helaman 8:7-9
Those who wanted to see Nephi destroyed so that he could no longer expose their wicked deeds are forced to back off.

Helaman 8:11-12
Many throughout the ages have claimed to believe past prophets of God, but have refused to believe the current prophets.  It is a much used pattern of deception used successfully by the devil.  These Nephites have fallen into the same trap. Nephi will point out that those who reject current prophets are actually rejecting past prophets.  

Helaman 8:14:15
Nephi will now point out that Moses was not the only prophet who testified of Christ, whom many of these Nephites and Gadianton robbers are rejecting.

Helaman 8:16-18
Nephi will mention three prophets not mentioned in the Bible, Zenos, Zenock and Elias who lived after Abraham and who also testified of the coming of Christ.  These Prophets were obviously mentioned in the Brass plates of Laban which basically contained the old Testament up to about 600 B.C.

Zenos is mentioned 12 times in the Book of Mormon.
Zenos doctinal messages included the following:
1- redemption in Christ (Alma 34:7
2- Destruction at the time of Christs death (Helaman      14:20-28
3- Prayer & worship (Alma 33:2-11
4- The destiny of Israel
5- The destruction at the time of the Saviors second advent (2 Nephi 25:13

Elder Bruce R. McConkie has suggested that these later prophets found common source in a more ancient prophet namely Zenos.  Once the Lord has revealed his doctrine in precise language to a chosen prophet, he observed there is no reason why he should not inspire another prophet to choose the same words in presenting the same doctrine on a subsequent occasion.  It is much easier and simpler to quote that which has already been given in perfection.

Elder McConkie has declared "I do not think I overstate the matter when I say that next to Isaiah himself - who is the prototype, pattern, and model for all the prophets - there was not a greater prophet in all Israel than Zenos.  And our knowledge of his inspired writings is limited to the quotations and para phrasing summaries found in the Book of Mormon.  In a future day the faithful will like Lehi and Alma be able to search the brass plates and study many remarkable miracles of the prophet Zenos.

Zenock is referred to five times.  In each case his message centers on the Messiah.
1- He taught that the Son of God would come to redeem his people. (Alma 34:7 & Helaman 8:18-20)
2- He spoke of the Lords anger with the people for their refusal to understand the mercies which has been bestowed upon them.  (Alma 33:14-17)
3- He prophesied that the Savior would be crucified (1 Nephi 19:10) and that great destruction would accompany his death (3 Nephi 10:14-16)

Nephi is "surrounding himself" with others who have testified of Christ as he tries to help these Nephites realize that the Savior will come .  In fact, Jesus will be born to Mary in Bethlehem in a little over 20 years from this time.

Helaman 8:19-20
Since Jeremiah was right about the destruction of Jerusalem why wouldn't he be right about the coming of Christ?

Nephi adds his powerful testimony to that of past prophets.  He is continuing to bear testimony of the much available evidence that prophecy is indeed fulfilled.

He recalls the destruction of Jerusalem which was prophesied by Jeremiah and others, at which time wicked King Zedekiah was captured, forced to watch as the conquerors killed his sons before his eyes, then put out his eyes and took him as a trophy of war. (Jeremiah 39:6-7)  He calls on the fact that descendants of King Zedekiah, the Mulekites, live among them even now are solid evidence that Jerusalem was destroyed as prophesied.

Helaman 8:22-24
The last lines in verse 24 go along with Moses 6:63.  A major message here is that there is an abundance of evidence all around us all the time that God exists.  Nephi is basically pointing out that only the Spiritually blind and the intentionally rebellious could possibly miss or ignore this fact.

One of Nephi's major objectives in this chapter has been to show that the Lord does inspire his prophets such that they can know of things which others do not know .  They can thus inform others of their safety and protection or can warn them of dangers and coming destruction.  Nephi is blessed with this power as he tells these people that their chief judge has just been murdered buy his own brother.

We should all remember to be so grateful for a living Prophet today to guide and direct us by the Lord. Let us never take that for granted!

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