Book of Mormon
�They Did Obey � Every Word of Command with Exactness�
A study of this lesson will help us see that the Lord will strengthen us as we follow the example of Helaman�s valiant young soldiers.
Scripture references for study: Alma 53�63
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
The Two Thousand Sons
The war between the Nephites and the Lamanites continues.
These 2000 young men asked Helaman to be their leader (see Alma 53:19 ). Helaman was a prophet and high priest.
Helaman marched with his army to the city of Judea to strengthen the army of Antipus.
Admonition of the First Presidency issued in 1942: "To our young men who go into service, no matter whom they serve or where, we say live clean, keep the commandments of the Lord, pray to Him constantly to preserve you in truth and righteousness, live as you pray, and then whatever betides you the Lord will be with you and nothing will happen to you that will not be to the honor and glory of God and to your salvation and exaltation. There will come into your hearts from the living of the pure life you pray for, a joy that will pass your powers of expression or understanding. The Lord will be always near you; He will comfort you; you will feel His presence in the hour of your greatest tribulation; He will guard and protect you to the full extent that accords with His all-wise purpose. Then when the conflict is over and you return to your homes, having lived the righteous life, how great will be your happiness--whether you be the victors or of the vanquished--that you have lived as the Lord commanded. You will return so disciplined in righteousness that thereafter all Satan's wiles and stratagems will leave you untouched. Your faith and testimony will be strong beyond breaking. You will be looked up to and revered as having passed through the fiery furnace of trial and temptation and come forth unharmed. Your brethren will look to you for counsel, support, and guidance. You will be the anchors to which thereafter the youth of Zion will moor their faith in man." (CR, Apr 1942)
The War Continues
It is interesting to note as we study these chapters on war, how the innovative strategies of Moroni and other Nephite leaders actually stopped the shedding of blood in many instances. This is a tribute to the greatness of Captain Moroni as a man, a general, and a leader. He revered the sanctity of life and did not wish to inflict death except when absolutely necessary in the preservation of liberty and his beloved nation.
Moroni and Pahoran.
"But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility." (Alma 62:41)
Record your thoughts on the events discussed in Alma 53-63. What principles can you apply to your life from the story of Helaman's two-thousand young soldiers?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Come Listen To A Prophet's Voice by Ezra Taft Benson.
Conference Reports (CR).
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson #32-35: War Chapters
Temporal Warfare – Learning Lessons about Spiritual Warfare
by Dave Hadlock
Aside from the Isaiah chapters, the war chapters can be some of the most difficult for me to read, especially after having read them many times. Hopefully, this will give you some new ideas to consider as you read through them the next time.
In Moses chapter 4, Moses depicts a scene that took place in the pre-mortal realm. He states that Satan was with the Lord God in the beginning and he went before the Lord in some sort of council stating, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost” (Moses 4:1).
It would seem that Satan had good intentions and desired for all mankind to be saved. Yet, if we look more closely at what he was proposing, that was never his intention. The Lord said this about Satan, “wherefore…Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I the Lord God, had given him” (Moses 4:3). Without agency, it is impossible for man to be saved. In fact, without agency and the ability for intelligence to “act for itself…there is no existence” (D&C 93:29). Or in the words of Nephi, without “opposition in all things…it must needs have been created for naught; there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation” (2 Nephi 2:11-12). Nephi continued that “all things must have vanished away” (2 Nephi 2:13). In other words, Satan knew that restricting our agency would have resulted in a wasted creation. The world would have returned to a state of chaos. Without the important building block of agency, there is no existence. It is impossible for mankind to be saved and exalted without the ability to choose. We can’t develop the attributes of deity without making choices.
Thus, I believe Satan never desired for man’s redemption and salvation; but rather (as Moses stated), he desired God’s honor and glory. According to Doctrine & Covenants 29:36, God’s honor is the source of his power. In the pre-mortal realm, Satan was really rebelling against our Father….he was not suggesting an alternative plan for the redemption and salvation of mankind. He desired to usurp God’s power and authority and to bring all mankind into his submission. That war for power and control which began in the pre-mortal realm continues throughout mortality. Satan’s desire is to bring us into his submission. While the Book of Mormon war chapters teach us principles that can help guide us in actual temporal warfare (including justification for war betweens nations and I would suggest between individuals), these chapters also teach us principles in spiritual warfare against Satan’s hosts.
At the commencement of these long series of wars in Alma 43, we read that Moroni, “had prepared his people with breastplates and arm-shields, yea and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing” (Alma 43:19). Almost as an afterthought, we find out that the Nephites were dressed also with a thick clothing. What might this have been and what does this have to do with preparation for spiritual warfare. This is is one of the first things Moroni does in preparation for battle; yet we have little scriptural insight into what he was actually doing.
Our first hint at what Moroni may have been doing comes in Alma 49. The Lamanite leaders had prepared their warriors for battle imitating the preparations of Moroni. In Alma 49:6, we learn that they had “prepared themselves with shields, and with breastplates; and they had also prepared themselves with garments of skins; yea, very thick garments to cover their nakedness.” If they were imitating the Nephites, then we learn from this that Moroni’s thick clothing was made of “skins”. This begs the question…what kind of “skins” is Moroni referring to? Jumping forward in the war chapters to 3 Nephi, we find that the Gadianton robbers were now attacking the Nephites and that “they were girded about after the manner of robber; and they had a lamb-skin about their loins, and they were dyed in blood” (3 Nephi 4:7). It seems that the “thick skins” were lamb skins. If so and if they were imitating Moroni in his preparations for battle, it seems like Moroni was preparing his men for spiritual battle by dressing his warriors in the robes of the lamb, meaning the “Lamb of God” whose blood was shed in sacrifice. While these lamb skins may have served a practical purpose, it is just as likely the Moroni was spiritually dressing his warriors in the robes of their God. If we are fighting for God, he will endow (which means “to dress” from the Greek word enduo ) and empower us to fight in His behalf. He will also give us guidance and principles for so doing. As we look at Mormon practices, I don’t think it is coincidence that most of our ordinances are done at a relatively young age. We are dressed in the robes of the Lamb early in life in preparation for the battles of mortality.
The actions of the Lamanites here also give us insight into the manner in which Satan works. He seeks to destroy by imitating the Son of God. One of Satan’s primary methods he uses to subjugate us is to deceive us by transforming himself “nigh unto an angel of light” (2 Nephi 9:9). The Lamanites and Gadianton robbers transformed themselves nigh unto the Nephites by dressing themselves in the robes of the Lamb.
As we read through the war chapters, we can look for strategies that allow us to maintain ourselves free from Satan’s bondage. Strategies that help keep us in a place where we cannot be deceived. Some of these strategies might include the following:
I believe we have more power over evil as we understand Satan’s motives and as we understand his strategies in our own lives. The battle that began in the pre-mortal realm is real and continues in this realm. Satan’s goal is to bring us into bondage. The Book of Mormon can be an instruction manual that shows us ways of fighting wickedness in the world.
This Lesson is one of my favorites. It’s a very valuable example to us of how important the scriptures are. In these few chapters, The Savior quotes Isaiah 54 regarding the scattering and gathering of Israel. He then tells Nephi to make sure to record the prophesy and fulfillment of prophesy given by Samuel the Lamanite regarding the dead rising during the resurrection of the Lord.
Then He quotes Malachi 3 and 4. the last two chapters of what we know as The Old Testament. In one fell swoop over a couple of chapters, The Savior quotes from their existing scriptures (Brass Plates – Isaiah 54 ), has them record a scripture from one of their prophets (Samuel), and finally, He gives them 2 new scriptures (Malachi 3 and 4 ) that they did not know of.
Remember, Malachi lived around 200 years after Lehi left for Jerusalem, so Lehi and his decendants did not have his words. The Nephites were given these scriptures and told that they were for future generations. So we learn a few things from this lesson:
A few quotes from modern prophets regarding these verses can help shed some furhter insight into the meaning of components of this lesson.
“The prophets likened latter-day Zion to a great tent encompassing the earth. That tent was supported by cords fastened to stakes. Those stakes, of course, are various geographical organizations spread out over the earth. Presently, Israel is being gathered to the various stakes of Zion. …
“… Stakes are a defense for the Saints from enemies both seen and unseen. The defense is direction provided through priesthood channels that strengthens testimony and promotes family solidarity and individual righteousness” (“Strengthen Thy Stakes,” Ensign, Jan. 1991, 2, 4 ).
Next, regarding Isaiah 54 . and the metaphor of the Church as the bride and the Savior as the groom, Quoted by The Savior in 3 Nephi 22: 4–10 . Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “The imagery of Jehovah as bridegroom and Israel as bride is among the most commonly used metaphors in scripture, being used by the Lord and his prophets to describe the relationship between Deity and the children of the covenant.
… Christ has, on occasion, been rightfully angry with backsliding Israel, but that has always been brief and temporary—’a small moment.’ Compassion and mercy always return and prevail in a most reassuring way. The mountains and the hills may disappear.
The water of the great seas may dry up. … But the Lord’s kindness and peace will never be taken from his covenant people. He has sworn with a heavenly oath that he will not be wroth with them forever” (Christ and the New Covenant , 290).
Next we have 3 Nephi 23:1 where The Savior says that we should search these words (the scriptures) and study them. On this subject, Elder Henry B. Eyring said: “We treasure the word of God not only by reading the words of the scriptures but by studying them.
We may be nourished more by pondering a few words, allowing the Holy Ghost to make them treasures to us, than by passing quickly and superficially over whole chapters of scripture” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 115; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 84 ).
Finally, one of my favorite quotes is based on 3 Nephi 26 . In this chapter, Mormon records the fact that The Savior expouned ALL things unto the Nephites. Everything from the creation of the Earth to the end of the Earth. As Mormon was about to abridge the record from the large plates of Nephi (see History of Plates Diagram ) regarding this matter, he was stopped and prompted by The Lord to not write them. Rather, he was to record only a small portion, the lesser of the events.
This would be a test to future generations to allow us to prove ourselves to be worthy of the full sealed portions of The Gold Plates. Regarding the sealed plates, President Spencer W. Kimball said: “I have had many people ask me through the years, ‘When do you think we will get the balance of the Book of Mormon records?’
And I have said, ‘How many in the congregation would like to read the sealed portion of the plates?’ And almost always there is a 100-percent response. And then I ask the same congregation, ‘How many of you have read the part that has been opened to us?’
And there are many who have not read the Book of Mormon, the unsealed portion. We are quite often looking for the spectacular, the unobtainable. I have found many people who want to live the higher laws when they do not live the lower laws” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 531–32).Conclusion:
Please take the time to read the scriptures in this lesson (3 Nephi 22 . 23. 24. 25. 26 ). It only takes about 30 minutes or so. Pay particular attention to 23 and 26. In 23, The Savior teaches the value of studying and recording the scriptures, and in 26. we learn of the amazing expounding of the entire gospel and history of the earth.
As Mormon points out, we’re not ready to receive that yet, but just hearing/reading that the account happened is amazing. Remember, we must first take the time to fully understand the principles we have been given: The Atonement (Faith and Repentence). I dare say that none of us has mastered or fully understands The Atonement. This is what’s important to our salvation. Let us study it, and internalize it.