We move now into the next book in the Book of Mormon, Helaman. This book is named after the grandson of Alma, whom the previous book was named after.
Alma has died long ago and conferred the records to his son, Helaman. Helaman dies and gives the plates to his brother, Shiblon. Shiblon gives the plates to his nephew, the son of Helaman, who was named after his father.
Helaman, unfortunately is the one to be the Chief Judge at the beginning of the end of the Nephites. As from the beginning of the Earth with Cain, Satan is able to get a hold of the hearts of the people through ways of secret plans, oaths and covenants. Helaman does his best and then dies, leaving the Judgement seat to his son, Nephi. After about 10 years, after many wars and prosperity, the Nephites are grossly wicked, while the Lamanites are good. In fact most of the Lamanites believe in Christ and are stalwart in their testimony of him, unlike the Nephites.
It has come to the point where the Lamanites are so good, that the Lord appoint one to be a prophet and preach to the Nephites. Samuel is his name. He goes to the biggest Nephite city, Zarahelma, to preach to them because the Lord told him to. Only, the people don’t like him at all and force him out. He’s still not done preaching and so he goes up on the wall that surrounds the city and talks to them there.
Samuel urges then to repent and come to the Lord. He reminds them that because the have hardened their hearts, the Sprit has gone from them and they are ripening for destruction. He gives them a pretty good verbal smackdown, not being shy about telling them how bad they are. But then goes on to tell them how they can overcome. He prophesies about the coming of Christ, giving a specific year when he will be born and what the earth will do during that time. He compares them to the Lamanites, telling them what they should be doing.
After he has said all he needs to, they try to kill him by throwing stones and firing arrows at him, but none of them hit him. None. He leaves to go back to the righteous Lamanites. There were many who believed Samuel, which Nephi baptizes and takes care of.
There was many wonderful, insightful things that Samuel said, but one stood out that I have been feeling myself….
Samuel says about the reason the Lamanites are doing so well and are so righteous is because, “…as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, are are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written , which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them-”
Because of the scriptures, the Lamanites are able to look in a record and see the folly of their ancestors and also read the doctrine and principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which then lead them to have faith in the Lord, to repent and to have a change of heart.
Elder Jay E. Jensen, previously of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, gave a wonderful talk on the power we can receive from studying the Scriptures. Through his careful and loving studying of the scriptures, he was able to see what promises the Lord has in store for us if we will study the scriptures.
He lists 3 main categories of Promises: Power, Increase and Other. He gives Samuel as an example of Power in that, “Power to change the heart and disposition”. As we read from the scripture cited above, the scriptures can give the power to change hearts and then become righteous.
Through taking this course and the one previous to this, I have been able to immerse myself in the scriptures and feel the change that is coming over me as a result. I can feel this power working in myself. I have come to truly love the scriptures and the time that I spend in them. I have come to see, from looking back on my life and then looking at the lives of others, why we may feel far away from the Lord, which is the result from not studying our scriptures.
As President Kimball said, “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” (TheTeachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 135.)
While I feel that I had been doing well enough in my spirituality with my Savior and my God, now that I have been feasting on the word, I can see that really, I wasn’t as close as I thought I was. I am so much closer now than I ever have been. I relish in the time I spend in the scriptures and am often sad when I need to leave them to move on with my day.
I love them. Do you?