Helaman 15:2 wo unto them which are with child
The Book of Mormon helps us to understand Bible passages. In the Bible, the same warning is given to the pregnant, woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! (Matt 24:19, see also Lu 23:29). From the Bible alone, the reader is left to wonder why the Lord specifically mentioned these women. Was some special curse to come upon them? The answer is simple and simply stated in the Book of Mormon. The destructions spoken of will be so violent, that confusion and fear will take hold of everyone. The only recourse will be to flee and to do so as quickly as possible. The Book of Mormon makes clear that the Lord proclaims a special wo upon the nursing and pregnant women because their flight will be slowed down, for they shall be heavy and cannot flee; therefore, they shall be trodden down and shall be left to perish. This prophecy applies to three different times of destruction: those among the Nephites & Lamanites prior to the coming of Christ (3 Ne 8), the destruction of the Jews at the hands of the Romans in AD 70 (JS-Matt 1:16), and the destructions which are to attend the Second Coming (see JS-Matt 1:16,32).
Helaman 15:3 the people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them
Paul spoke on this subject, saying, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (Heb 12:5-6).
"There are several here who will address you, and suppose that they should chastise us a little, do we not deserve it? Still, perhaps some will complain of the speaker for chastising them, when perhaps the first sentences which meet their eyes upon opening the Bible, will convey the idea that every son and daughter whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, but those who are not chastened are bastards and not sons. (Heb 12:8)
"Says one, 'I am willing to be chastened, but I am not willing to have that brother who has just come from England, or some other country, chasten me, but if some one high in authority should do it, I would kiss the rod and reverence the hand that gave it;' but the man who will only receive chastening from the Lord Himself is not in a proper state of mind before Him.
"The Latter-day Saints have been chastened much and often. Many in this congregation have had their corn and wheat stacks burned in consequence of their religion, and have often been called to part with their fathers and mothers, their wives and children, in consequence of their religion. They have been chastened here and there, and perhaps some may think we are being chastened now by the drought and insects. I am willing to take it as a chastisement, and to learn that wisdom and knowledge which I had not before it happened; and if every man could realize and understand it, they would receive it as a prize and as lesson that would qualify them for future duties. Though our chastisements are often hard to be borne, those who bear them patiently, willingly, and submissively, will find that they yield the Gospel fruits of righteousness insomuch that they will know how to be Saints indeed." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 54)
Ezra Taft Benson
"We should learn to accept counsel. All of us need counsel. Sometimes there is need for reprimanding. I do not suppose that any of us who served for any length of time have not been on the receiving end of some pointed counsel that was for our benefit. 'Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth' (Hebrews 12:6)." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 332)
Helaman 15:4 the Lamanites hath he hated
"This is strong language. One would assume that Samuel did not mean to convey the thought that God actually hated the Lamanites, at least not in the sense that mortal men hate one another. Rather, because of their rebellion, because they rejected the light and spurned the association with God through the Spirit that they might have enjoyed, they alienated themselves from the love of the Father. It is not that God does not love them, but that he simply is unable to bless them as he would those who choose the right. 'If you keep not my commandments,' a modern revelation attests, 'the love of the Father shall not continue with you, therefore you shall walk in darkness' (D&C 95:12)." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p.418)
Helaman 15:5 observe to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments according to the law of Moses
When Samuel the Lamanite speaks of commandments, statutes, and judgments, he is not just being verbose. There were specific statutes and judgments in addition to the Ten Commandments. There were also many more commandments than the original ten. Representative examples of each are given.
1-10. Ten Commandments (Ex 20)
11. Ye shall be holy
(Commandments 11-22 are taken from Lev 19)
(8 other statutes are not listed; statutes are taken from Lev 19:19-37,)
(See Ex 21-23; many more judgments and statutes are given)
Under the New Law given in this dispensation, we still have commandments, statutes, and judgments. The commandments are well known. They include the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the commandments given in DC 42, and others found in a hundred other scriptures.
The statutes of the new law are the rules of our religion. They are not always specifically stated in scripture, and some are influenced by modern culture (much as the Law of Moses statutes were heavily influenced by the culture of the time). Some are concerned with personal behavior, and others are concerned with procedural matters. An example of a modern day statute would be that the Church does not encourage cremation.
Finally, judgments are just as prevalent and necessary today. Most of the modern day statutes and judgments are found in the Church Handbook of Instructions which guides Bishops in managing the affairs of the ward and passing judgment as a judge in Israel. Anyone familiar with that handbook knows that the spirit of revelation permeates its pages just like the scriptures. Without it, the church-wide uniformity, which is so remarkable, would quickly crumble and contentions about procedural matters would become commonplace.
Helaman 15:6 they are striving with unwearied diligence that they may bring the remainder...to the knowledge of the truth
Neal A. Maxwell
"Another vital source of renewal is expending some of our energy by striving with the less active. Serving in this way keeps the giver from becoming weary or from fainting in his mind, making possible 'striving with unwearied diligence that they may bring the remainder of their brethren to the knowledge of the truth; therefore there are many who do add to their numbers daily' (Helaman 15:6). Assisting in such reclamation actually gives us added energy. We are energized and empowered, like the father of the prodigal, who ran to greet him 'when he was yet a great way off' (Luke 15:20). Such real love keeps us from becoming too tired to reach out." (If Thou Endure It Well, p. 116-7)
Helaman 15:8 as many as have come to this...are firm and steadfast in the faith
Spencer W. Kimball
"Basically the [descendant of the Lamanites] is intelligent, affectionate, responsive, honest, stable, and is of believing blood. There is every reason to be assured that the red man will remain loyal and true to the gospel and the Church, once he is brought into the fold. We have heard of his traditions and superstitions, of his ferocity and wildness, of his degradation and uncleanness, but let us consider his potential, as revealed by a review of his ancestors.
"The Lamanites have believing blood, as evidenced by these words from the sixth chapter of Helaman:
'And thus we see that the Lord began to pour out his Spirit upon the Lamanites, because of their easiness and willingness to believe in his words.' (Helaman 6:36.)
'...Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith.' (Helaman 15:5-6, 8.)
"As many as were converted of the Lamanites by Ammon and his brethren 'never did fall away.' (See Alma 23:6.)
"It should be noted that the Lamanites were often absorbed by, and were called, Nephites, when they were righteous, and it is true also that the Nephites when they rebelled and became wicked, were oft-times called Lamanites, and there was undoubtedly a considerable mixture among them." (Conference Report, Apr. 1949, p. 106-7)
Helaman 15:9 they have buried their weapons of war
The people of Ammon were legendary among both the Nephites and Lamanites. It had been over 70 years since they had buried their weapons of war with an oath never to take them again. More importantly, they were legendary because of their steadfastness after having converted to the truth, for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end. (Alma 27:27)
Helaman 15:12 in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites
"Contrary to the opinion of those who may have read the Book of Mormon only superficially or who have not read it at all and formed opinions based on hearsay, it does not portray a consistently negative image of the Lamanites. It does suggest a glorious future for this choice people. Samuel the Lamanite testified: 'The promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites; and notwithstanding the many afflictions which they shall have, and notwithstanding they shall be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, . . . they shall again be brought to the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd, and be numbered among his sheep' (Helaman 15:12-13; see also 3 Nephi 5:21-23).
"Significantly Latter-day Saints shall have a role in assisting the Lamanites to achieve their destiny. Nephi spoke of the time when the Gentiles would take the Book of Mormon to the remnant of his people:
'The gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.
And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.' (2 Nephi 30:5-6)
"...In 1947, Elder Spencer W. Kimball envisioned the Lamanites' glorious future. He saw them as leaders in business, law, government, the arts, literature, and in the Church. 'I saw the Church growing in rapid strides and I saw wards and stakes organized. I saw stakes by the hundreds [and] a temple.' The first truly 'Lamanite' stake was organized in Mexico City in 1961, and by 1989, there were 100 stakes in Mexico alone. In 1983 a temple was dedicated there, and within a few years one half dozen temples were opened in predominantly Lamanite areas of Latin America and Polynesia. In 1990, 58% of the Church's 330,877 converts were baptized in Latin America.
"The Lamanites truly are a people of destiny. When Church members more accurately appreciate the image and more fully understand the teachings of the Book of Mormon concerning the Lamanites, they should not feel the least hesitancy or embarrassment about sharing this book and its message with the descendants of these people. On the contrary, they should be eager to fulfill their responsibility to do so." (Richard O. Cowan, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Helaman 3 - 3 Nephi 8, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., p. 262-4)
Helaman 15:15 had the mighty works been shown unto them which have been shown unto you
Those who were once enlightened and then rebelled from the truth are the hardest to reclaim. They will not believe in the most impressive of miracles. Can you imagine seeing the ministry of the Savior, as he healed the blind, cleansed lepers, opened the ears of the deaf, and even brought individuals back to life-can you imagine being a witness to all these wonderful miracles? Would you then conclude that the performer of these miracles was of the devil? What else could Jesus of Nazareth have done to convince them? Hence, he was disgusted at their unbelief, remarking, much as did Samuel, Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon (Gentile cities), they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you (Matt 11:21-2). Like the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida, the Nephites had also received powerful witnesses, and they had been just as stubborn as their Israelite brethren in the Old World.
Helaman 15:16 in the day of my wisdom they shall return again unto me
Spencer W. Kimball
"The brighter day has dawned. The scattering has been accomplished-the gathering is in process. May the Lord bless us all as we become nursing parents unto our Lamanite brethren and hasten the fulfillment of the great promises made to them." (Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 358)