At least five groups of covenant people have settled the American Continent:1. The Antediluvians2. The Jaredites3. Lehites4. Mulekites5. Gentiles
TheBook of Helaman covers a short period of time (52 years).It is a testimony that apostasy and total cultural degeneration can occur in one generation.It is alarming that it happened so quickly.Mormon showed how the destruction of the wicked Nephites that occurred in Third Nephi was just.
The Book of Helaman is a record of extremes:Righteous versus Wicked!Helaman, Nephi, Lehi and Samuel the Lamanite are righteous.Kishkumen, Gadianton, and the Gadianton Robbers are wicked.In the government, in the short space of 40 years, there are five chief judges slain, four by stealth and intrigue of those who are evil and the other because of a lack of adequate defense.
Ten Stages from Righteousness to Wickedness
The eventual evolution from righteousness to wickedness and eventual sweeping from the land involves the following ten stages:1. The Lord lead the righteous to the Land of Promise (America).2. He established a covenant with the inhabitants of the land.3. He established laws (a constitution) for self-improvement.4. When the majority break the laws and begin to choose evil over good, they breach the covenant; the judgments of God begin.
5. The Lord sent out prophets and missionaries to warn the inhabitants to repent or be destroyed.6.The inhabitants may choose to:(1) Accept the invitation to repent.(2) Reject outright the message of the prophets and seek to destroy them.(3) Ignore the prophetic warnings.7. If the people reject the message, then initial judgments, natural calamities, wars, plagues, famine, drought, begin to destroy the people.
8. The Spirit of the Lord withdrew from the people.9. The inhabitants increased in wickedness until they were “fully ripe in inequity” and had cast out the righteous.10.The forces of nature, civil war, or conquering hosts destroyed the wicked completely; the righteous members of that society having been led elsewhere.
Modern Manifestation:We don’t “rat” on sinners, especially if their goals are the same as ours.The wicked can disguise themselves in the world; as LDS become more materialistic and image oriented, they become virtually indistinguishable from Satan’s follower’s.
Fourteen Characteristics of Secret Covenants
Helaman 2(Taken from Helaman and Third Nephi)1. Secret Oaths2. Sworn in God’s name3. Goal was to overthrow those in authority4. Satan’s program included murder for gain5. Escape punishment6. Disguised as regular, even exemplary, members of society7. Target any who may expose their evil designs
8. Strength in numbers9. Temporal security through protection and riches10. Might makes right11. Counterfeit sets of tokens and signs12. Easy acceptance into band13. Darkness14.Satan’splan is only as strong as itsadherents
Helaman 2:8What is the purpose of secret combinations?“Beginning in the days of Cain and continuing through all generations, whenever there have been unrighteous and apostate people on earth, Satan has revealed unto them his… secret combinations. Cain first took upon himself the secret oaths as they were administered by Satan; then he killed Abel. Murder, plunder, robbery, power, the destruction of freedom, and the persecution of the Saints have been the objectives of these societies ever since” (Bruce R. McConkie,Mormon Doctrine,698).
Helaman 2:13-14What did secret combinations nearly cause?“Of all the factions that separated themselves from the Nephites none worked so much injury to the people as did the bands of the Gadianton Robbers… To their abominations can be traced the fall and extinction of both the Jaredite and Nephite races” (George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl,Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 5:204).
Helaman 3:1-8“Migration Northward” “Zelph”As a group of Church members, mostly men, were camped on the Illinois River, Joseph and some of the brethren discovered an ancient burial ground. Joseph writes in his journal: “The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot, discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitish arrow, which evidently produced his death. Elder Burr Riggs retained the arrow. The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms; and subsequently the visions of the past being open to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains. The curse was taken from Zelph, or, at least, inpart-oneof his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death. He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites” (History of the Church, 2:79-80).
Levi Hancock recorded the following in his journal relative to Zelph (The following is as found in his journal).“on the way to illinois river where we camped on the west side in the morning many went to see the big mound about a mile below the crossing I did not go on it but saw some bones that was brought with a broken arrow they was layed down by our camp joseph addressed himself to sylvester Smith this is what I told you and now I want to tell you that you may know what I meant this land was called the land of desolation and onendagus was the king and a good man was he there in that mound did he bury his dead and did not dig holes as the people do now but they brought there dirt and covered them until you see they have raised it to be about one hundred feet high the last man buried was zelf he was a white lamanite who fought with the people of onendagus for freedom when he was young he was a great warrior and had his thigh broken and never was set it knitted together as you see on the side he fought after it
gotstrength until he lost every tooth in his head save one when the lord said he had done enough and suffered him to be killed by that arrow you took from his brest these words he said as the camp was moving off the ground as near as I could learn he had told them something about the mound and got them to go and see for themselves I then remembered what he had said a few days before while passing many mounds on our way that was left of us said he there are the bodies of wicked men who have died and are angry at us if they can take the advantage of us they will for if we live they will have no hope I could not comprehend it but supposed it was all right” (Levi Hancock Journal, Church Archives).
Helaman 3:1418 “ands”Semitic LanguageHelaman 3:29, 35“Strait and Narrow”Helaman 3:20, 24-35Some were “lifted up in pride” while others were humble and faithful.Helaman3:27-28Theme of the Book of Helaman!Helaman 1:11-12Swearing by their everlasting Maker! (Moses 5:29).
Whydo the wicked prefer to “tell no man”oftheirdeeds?When you have the spirit,… you don’t mind others seeing what you are doing…When you do not have the Spirit,…You may become secretive and evasive” (John H. Groberg,Ensign,Apr.1986, 70).
Key Elements to Secret Covenants
Secrecy:To avoid consequences of actions, evil people try to defy justice as they “glory in their works for a season” (Moses5:31-murderto get gain).Irony:Their Satanic oath is sworn in the name of God (Moses 5:29).Group Goal:They want to kill the people in authority over them (if they could, they would kill the ultimate chiefjudge-Christ).Disguise:Secret combinations encourage “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” on the surface, evil and good are hard to distinguish; indeed, Satan can appear as an angel of light.
Helaman 3:24-25Prosperityin Our Lives and in the ChurchElder Dean L. Larsen observed a relationship between faithfulness to the Lord and prosperity:Love and harmony prevail. Even the weather, the climate, and the elements seem to respond. Peace and tranquility endure. Industry and progress mark the lives of the people…. (Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 58-59).
Helaman 3:33-34, 36; 4:12The Effect of Pride on the ChurchPresident Ezra Taft Benson expressed thoughts in a similar vein:“Think of the repentance that could take place with lives changed, marriages preserved, and homes strengthened, if pride did not keep us from confessing our sins and forsaking them.”“Think of the many who are less-active members of the Church because they were offended and their pride will not allow them to forgive or fully sup at the Lord’s table.”
“Think of the tens of thousands of young men and couples who could be on a mission except for the pride that keeps them from yielding their hearts unto God.”“Think how temple work would increase if the time spent in this godly service were more important than the many prideful pursuits that compete for our time” (Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 6).
Helaman 3:35What must I do to experience sanctification?“To yield (our) hearts unto God’s is to inquire diligently to know the mind and will of the Almighty; to give away to and follow the impressions of the Spirit; to have now will but God’s will” (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet,Doctrinal Commentary, 3:344).Sanctification has been defined as “the process of becoming free from sin, pure, clean, and holy through the atonement of Jesus Christ (Moses 6:59-60)” (Guide to the Scriptures).Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that yielding our hearts and souls to God is the highest form of consecration to the Lord: “Such totality involves the submissive converging of feelings, thoughts, words, and deeds” (Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 41).
Helaman 4:7What is the narrow neck of land which was “a day’s journey” for a Nephite?“Most would suggest that the ‘small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward’ is describing the mountain pass that provided access to the two lands” (John L. Sorenson,Ancient American Setting, 241, 339).Helaman 4:12-13“Calling of Destruction was becoming sure!”
The Use of Cement by the Ancient Nephites“I have often said and desire to repeat here that when I was a young unmarried man, another young man who had received a doctor’s degree ridiculed me for believing in the Book of Mormon. He said he could point out two lies in thatbook. Onewas the people had built their homes out of cement and that they were very skillful in the use of cement. He said there had never been found and never would be found, a house of cement by the ancient inhabitants of this country, because the people in that early age knew nothing about cement. He said that should be enough to make one disbelieve the book. I said: ‘That does not affect my faith one particle. I read the Book of Mormon prayerfully and supplicated God for a testimony in my heart and soul of the divinity of it, and I have accepted it and believe it with all my heart.’ I also said to him, ‘If my children do not find cement houses, I expect that my grandchildren will.’ He said, ‘Well, what is the good of talking with a fool like that?’ Now, since that time houses made of cement and massive structures of the same material have been uncovered.
“Not very far away from the City of Mexico there is a monument two hundred and ten feet high, built of cement, that was supposed to be a big hill. My first counselor has stood on that monument. You could put forty tabernacles like this one inside of it. It covers more than ten acres of ground and is two and a half times higher than this building. From the top of that monument one can see small mounds, and as these mounds are being uncovered they are found to be wonderfully built cement houses, with drain pipes of cement, showing skill and ability, superior almost to anything we have today so far as the use of cement is concerned” (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report,Apr.1929).
At the site of the ancient Kaminalyu in Guatemala, numerous tombs have been found constructed of cement. From these tombs have been extracted beautiful treasures made of jade, some of which are housed in the National Museum in Guatemala City. One authority on archaeology recalls: As I looked at the cement vaults, I recalled the statements in the Book of Mormon wherein these ancient Nephites claimed to be experts in making cement. Certainly this cement which had remained in good condition for nearly two thousand years was good cement” (Milton R. Hunter,Archaeology and the Book of Mormon, 1:104:5).