Helaman 5

Helaman 5:2 they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good

Prior to Mosiah, the Nephites had been ruled by kings. When Mosiah dissolved his own monarchy and established a democratic form of government, it was not for the sake of efficiency. Certainly, a democracy is an intentionally inefficient political system. It's great redeeming quality is the tendency to preserve the rights and freedom of the people. This is based on one simple principle, that it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right (Mosiah 29:26). Mosiah considered the alternative but thought it unlikely, if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land (Mosiah 29:27). Well, congratulations to the Nephites, they have done it again! Their wickedness has exceeded all expectations! Were it not for the perceptiveness and preaching of Nephi and Lehi, they would have been destroyed according to the prophecy.

"In other words, in a democracy or a republic when the majority of the people desire wickedness and become more numerous than they who choose righteousness, the people can no longer be governed by law or by justice.  This principle applies to our own form of constitutional government.  We who live in the United States tend to feel that we would always be protected by the Constitution.  However, some experienced political scientists and jurists have said that if the day ever comes that the majority favor that which is morally wrong, we as a people would not be safe-even with the Constitution... 

"John Adams often expressed his conviction that a nation's liberty is ultimately dependent upon the morality of the people.  President Adams is quoted as saying:  '[The Constitution] was made only, for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other' (Nelson 101)." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Helaman 3 - 3 Nephi 8, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 73)

Joseph B. Wirthlin

"If television viewing choices serve as a valid measure of our society, they who choose evil surely are more numerous than they who choose good." (Finding Peace in Our Lives, p. 218)

Helaman 5:4 Nephi...yielded up the judgment-seat

Like his grandfather, Alma, Nephi found that the judgment-seat took too much of his time. In his proper prioritizing, he left the legal matters to Cezoram, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them (Alma 4:19). This, too, occurred at a time when the judgment-seat was a very important job as the people were changing the laws of Mosiah and ripening for destruction. But Nephi would not make the mistake of getting the cart before the horse. He understood that what was lacking was not wisdom at the judgment-seat but morality in the minds and hearts of the people. Moral fiber cannot be replaced by more legislation.

Today's politicians do the opposite of Nephi and Lehi. They design government programs and policies to make up for the lack of moral fiber in society. Do tax breaks to single parents compensate for broken hearts and broken families? Does contraceptive counseling change the tragedy of immorality? Do stiffer prison sentences control the behavior of the drug or alcohol addict? Nephi's actions declare that he didn't think so.

Helaman 5:6 when you remember your names ye may remember them

"Helaman tells his sons he wishes them to be righteous and that this is why he gave them the names of their 'first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem' (vs. 6), Lehi and Nephi. President George Albert Smith was similarly named. His grandfather, known as George A. Smith, was an apostle and a counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency of the Church. This fact had a great influence upon young George Albert Smith. Once when ill he had a dream in which his grandfather appeared to him. He reports:

"I saw a man coming towards me. I became aware that he was a very large man, and I hurried my steps to reach him, because I recognized him as my grandfather. In mortality he weighed over three hundred pounds, so you may know he was a large man. I remember how happy I was to see him coming. I had been given his name and had always been proud of it.

"When Grandfather came within a few feet of me, he stopped. His stopping was an invitation for me to stop. Then-and this I would like the boys and girls and young people never to forget-he looked at me very earnestly and said:

"'I would like to know what you have done with my name.'

"Everything I had ever done passed before me as though it were a flying picture on a screen-everything I had done. Quickly this vivid retrospect came down to the very time I was standing there. My whole life had passed before me. I smiled and looked at my grandfather and said:

"'I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.'

"He stepped forward and took me in his arms, and as he did so, I became conscious again of my earthly surroundings. My pillow was as wet as though water had been poured on it-wet with tears of gratitude that I could answer unashamed.

"I have thought of this many times, and I want to tell you...Honor your fathers and your mothers. Honor the names that you bear, because some day you will have the privilege and obligation of reporting to them (and to your Father in heaven) what you have done with their name. (Improvement Era, Mar. 1947, p. 139)" (Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, pp. 357-8)

Spencer W. Kimball

"When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is?  It could be 'remember.' Because all of you have made covenants-you know what to do and you know how to do it-Our greatest need is to remember.  That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every Sabbath day-to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that they . . . may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them. . . . Nobody should ever forget to go to sacrament meeting.  'Remember' is the word.  'Remember' is the program." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Helaman 3 - 3 Nephi 8, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 243)

Helaman 5:8 do these things to lay up for yourselves a treasure in heaven

Orson Hyde

"Whenever I see the hungry and feed him, the naked and clothe him, the sick and distressed and administer to their wants I feel that I am laying up treasure in heaven. When I am educating my children and embellishing their minds and fitting them for usefulness, I am laying up treasures in heaven. I would ask that little boy, who is well educated and well trained, 'What thief can enter in and steal the knowledge you have got?' It is beyond the power of the thief to steal, it is out of his reach, that treasure is laid up in heaven, for where is there a place more sacred than the hearts of the rising generation which beat with purity, and with love to their parents, and with love to God and his kingdom? What better place can you find in which to deposit treasures than that? But all our obligations are not pointing to one source or quarter, there are many ways in which we can lay up treasures in heaven by doing good here on the earth." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 17, p. 11)

L. Tom Perry

"The stories of our early Church leaders really began to live for me when I was a young missionary...There was one episode depicted on the records that would always bring tears to my eyes as my companions and I listened to it. It was the account of Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, who left their wives, children, and humble homes to journey to Great Britain in response to their calls to serve in that faraway land. Elder Orson F. Whitney quotes Heber C. Kimball's record of the event:

"September 14th...President Brigham Young left his home at Montrose to start on the mission to England. He was so sick that he was unable to go to the Mississippi, a distance of thirty rods, without assistance. After he had crossed the river he rode behind Israel Barlow on his horse to my house, where he continued sick until the 18th. He left his wife sick with a babe only three weeks old, and all his other children were sick and unable to wait upon each other. Not one soul of them was able to go to the well for a pail of water, and they were without a second suit to their backs, for the mob in Missouri had taken nearly all he had. On the 17th, Sister Mary Ann Young got a boy to carry her up in his wagon to my house, that she might nurse and comfort Brother Brigham to the hour of starting.

"September 18th, Charles Hubbard sent his boy with a wagon and span of horses to my house; our trunks were put into the wagon by some brethren; I went to my bed and shook hands with my wife who was then shaking with a chill, having two children lying sick by her side; I embraced her and my children, and bade them farewell. My only well child was little Heber P., and it was with difficulty he could carry a couple of quarts of water at a time, to assist in quenching their thirst.

"It was with difficulty we got into the wagon, and started down the hill about ten rods; it appeared to me as though my very inmost parts would melt within me at leaving my family in such a condition, as it were almost in the arms of death. I felt as though I could not endure it. I asked the teamster to stop, and said to Brother Brigham, 'This is pretty tough, isn't it; let's rise up and give them a cheer.' We arose, and swinging our hats three times over our heads, shouted: 'Hurrah, hurrah for Israel.' Vilate, hearing the noise, arose from her bed and came to the door. She had a smile on her face. Vilate and Mary Ann Young cried out to us: 'Goodbye, God bless you.' We returned the compliment, and then told the driver to go ahead. After this I felt a spirit of joy and gratitude, having had the satisfaction of seeing my wife standing upon her feet, instead of leaving her in bed, knowing well that I should not see them again for two or three years."  

"I have often wondered how these brethren, as valiant as they were, could do what they did. Truly they were willing to make any sacrifice asked of them to build the kingdom of God. Truly they were laying up 'treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt' (Matthew 6:20)." (Living With Enthusiasm, p. 36 - 37)

Helaman 5:9 there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved

See commentary for Mosiah 3:17.

Helaman 5:12 it is upon the rock of our Redeemer...that ye must build your foundation

By the spirit of revelation and prophecy, Helaman was privy to two doctrines which were to be taught later during the Sermon on the Mount. The first is that men should lay up for themselves treasures in heaven (v. 8, Matt 6:19-21). The second is that the house of faith must be built upon the rock of the Redeemer (Matt 7:24-7). Thus we see that the Lord did not limit Nephites to Law of Moses doctrines. Rather, he proved that he gives unto all nations according to their diligence, 'Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another...And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever' (2 Ne 29:8-9).

"Every person builds a house of faith.  We do so knowingly or unknowingly.  And every builder soon learns that a good building with bad foundations is worse than useless; it is dangerous.  As one Christian writer has observed, 'If the stability of buildings depends largely on their foundations, so does the stability of human lives.  The search for personal security is a primal instinct, but many fail to find it today.  Old familiar landmarks [will be] obliterated.  Moral absolutes which were once thought to be eternal are being abandoned' (Stott 22).  Thus our house of faith can be no more secure than the foundation upon which it is built.  Foolish men build upon the shifting sands of ethics and the marshlands of human philosophies and doctrines.  The wise build upon the rock of revelation, heeding carefully the living oracles, lest they be 'brought under condemnation ... and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house' (D&C 90:5).  All that we do as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must be built upon a foundation of faith and testimony and conversion.  When external supports fail us, then our hearts must be riveted upon the things of the Spirit, those internal realities which provide the meaning, the perspective, and the sustenance for all else that matters in life.

"...Surely the supreme challenge of this life for those of us who aspire to Christian discipleship is to build our lives on Christ, to erect our house of faith, a divine domicile in which he and his Spirit would be pleased to dwell.  There is safety from Satan and his minions only in Christ.  There is security only in his word and through his infinite and eternal power.

"How, then, do we build on Christ?  In a day when the winds are blowing and [the waves are] beating upon our ship, how do we navigate our course safely into the peaceful harbor?  What must we do to have our Savior pilot us through life's tempestuous seas?  Amidst the babble of voices-enticing voices which threaten to lead us into forbidden paths or which beckon us to labor in secondary causes-how do the Saints of the Most High know the Way, live the Truth, and gain that Life which is abundant?  The revelations and the prophets offer us some simple yet far-reaching suggestions: (the author goes on to describe four steps: 1) Treasure up his word, 2) Teach his doctrine, 3) Sustain his servants, and 4) Trust in and rely upon the Lord.)" (Robert L. Millet, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Helaman 3 - 3 Nephi 8, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, pp. 26-8)

Richard G. Scott

"Anchor your life in Jesus Christ, your Redeemer. Make your Eternal Father and his Beloved Son the most important priority in your life-more important than life itself, more important than a beloved companion or children or anyone on earth. Make their will your central desire. Then all that you need for happiness will come to you." (Ensign, May 1993, pp. 32-4 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 377)

Helaman 5: 16 the land of Zarahemla, among the Lamanites

The land of Zarahemla was never the province of the Lamanites. However, Nephi and Lehi are preaching while Zarahemla is still under Lamanite military occupation. Moronihah was only successful in obtaining one-half of the cities lost, and most of these were further north in the land of Bountiful (see Hel 4:16-19). This means that the heart of Nephite lands including their capital city were still under Lamanite occupation.

Helaman 5:17 they did preach with great power...they did confound many of those dissenters

In the annals of Nephite history, it is a rare thing for dissenters to be converted back to the Lord. In the days of the sons of Mosiah, only one of the Amalekites and none of the Amulonites ever repented and returned to the Lord (Alma 23:14). Mormon's comment was as follows, 'thus we can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things' (Alma 24:30). The preaching of Nephi and Lehi must have been incredibly powerful to win the hearts of such hardened dissenters.

Helaman 5:18 they had what they should speak given unto them

When a servant of the Lord preaches the truth, he does a wonderful thing. When he does it with power and authority from God, and by the spirit, then his power to confound is increased, he speaks as a mouthpiece for the Lord, and his words are scripture: 'they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants' (DC 68:3-5). This promise was given to the disciples of Christ's day (Matt 10:19-20) and to his servants of the last days, 'lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; for it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say' (DC 100:5-6).

Helaman 5:30 they heard this voice...of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper

The voice is heard three times but it is not the voice of an angel nor is it that 'still small voice' of the Holy Ghost. The voice heard was that of Jehovah. Remarkably, there is a perfect mildness and gentleness to his voice in spite of the fact that he is calling the people to repentance. This is the pattern he has established for us, 'And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness' (DC 38:41).

However, his voice is not always perfectly mild as if a whisper. Before he appeared to the Nephites, a voice of doom was heard from the heavens (3 Ne 9). At the dedication of the Kirtland temple, the Savior appeared and when he spoke, 'his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah' (DC 110:3). When He returns again, his voice will be 'as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder' (DC 133:22). But the voice of judgment had not yet come upon the Lamanites in this prison. There was time for them to repent, and the warning voice of the Lord was appropriately mild and gentle.

Helaman 5:33 marvelous words which cannot be uttered by man

The language of mortality is inadequate to express certain sublime and supremely spiritual topics. The concepts can be uttered but not by man with his imperfect language and lack of understanding. Hence, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon could not convey many things which they saw during the vision of the three degrees of glory. Of these things, Joseph wrote, 'great and marvelous are the works of the Lord...which he commanded us we should not write while we were yet in the Spirit, and are not lawful for man to utter; Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God  bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves' (DC 76:114-7). Hugh Nibley gives a practical example of this principle.

Hugh Nibley

"'...so great and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man.' Well, the question arises, how can you tell me something about them and the words he said? Can you give me an idea? The multitude did hear and bear record, and somebody comes and says, 'Well he said marvelous things. Did you understand it?'

"'Yes, we understood it with our hearts.'

"'Well, tell me what he said. Can you give me an idea?'

"And then he says, 'No, I can't.'

"'Can't you give me some idea?'


"I walk into a room where there are a lot of quantum physicists, highest bracket, having a conference. I listen to them for a while and then go out. Somebody says, 'Well, Mr. Nibley, can you tell me what they said in there?'

"I say, 'Heavens, I can't tell you. I can't even dream what they talking about; it was way out [there].' There are plenty of things you can hear and not report or understand or anything else. Yet at the time you could have been enormously impressed." (Teachings From the Book of Mormon, Lecture 75, p. 358-9)

Helaman 5:36 they were...lifting their voices to some being whom they beheld

From the narrative, we are left to discern for ourselves the identity of the individual with whom they conversed. It is not hard to imagine that they were speaking to the Lord--even as Moses did when he was transfigured, and 'the skin of his face shone while he talked with him' (Ex 34:29). Aminadab's interpretation of events was that they were speaking with angels (v. 39). This observation is much like that of Nebuchadnezzar and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and  Abed-nego. The three righteous Jews were cast into a burning furnace but remained unscathed. Nebuchadnezzar saw a fourth individual in the midst of the flames who he referred to as an "angel", although, in reality, the "angel" was Jehovah, 'the form of the fourth is like the Son of God' (Daniel 3:25-28). In conclusion, Moses conversed with Jehovah, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were preserved by the pre-mortal Savior himself, and Nephi and Lehi were also conversing with Jehovah, but to do so they first had to be transfigured.

Bruce R. McConkie

"Transfiguration is a special change in appearance and nature which is wrought upon a person or thing by the power of God. This divine transformation is from a lower to a higher state; it results in a more exalted, impressive, and glorious condition...

"By the power of the Holy Ghost many prophets have been transfigured so as to stand in the presence of God and view the visions of eternity. Speaking of such an occasion in his life, Moses recorded: 'Now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.' (Moses 1:11; D. & C. 67:11.) On another occasion, when Moses came down off the mount, having communed with the Lord for 10 days and nights, 'the skin of his face shone,' so that he had to 'put a vail on his face' as he talked with the children of Israel. (Ex. 34:29-35.)

"Similarly, when the Three Nephites 'were caught up into heaven, and saw and heard unspeakable things,' they were transfigured. 'Whether they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell; for it did seem unto them like a transfiguration of them, that they were changed from this body of flesh into an immortal state, that they could behold the things of God.' (3 Ne. 28:13-17.) Paul had a similar experience (2 Cor. 12:1-4), as also did Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. (D. & C. 76; Teachings, p. 107.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 803)

Helaman 5:41 Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom

'The Book of Mormon does not expressly give the identity of the people who are in the prison at the time of the miraculous manifestation mentioned in Helaman 5. However, a clue as to who these people were is given by Aminadab when he said unto them, 'You must repent, and cry unto the voice, even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom.' (Helaman 5:41.) The only time Alma and Amulek and Zeezrom were on a missionary trip together was to the apostate Zoramites who were then living in the land of Antionum. (See Alma 31:1-8.) The Zoramites later fled from this area and joined with the Lamanites in the greater land of Nephi, and from this statement by Aminadab we learn they have now occupied the land of Lehi-Nephi, which had just been deserted by Limhi and his people.

Again, the Book of Mormon proves to be a very complex book but also a wonderfully consistent one." (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 241)

Helaman 5:41 when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed

Jeffrey R. Holland

"'Ye shall have faith in Christ, . . . and when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you.'(Helaman 5:40-41.)

"This brightness of hope and unspeakable joy in God's power and comfort comes, even in everyday matters for me, only as I prayerfully exert my right to his Spirit. If in my heart I go to God the moment I feel even the slightest intimation of fear (or darkness or worry) instead of waiting to let it accumulate, if I speak to God even as my most trusted friend, my wisest counselor, and stay there in my heart or on my knees talking to him long enough, I can always see a ray of light at the edge of those dark shadows. Most often I can then leave his presence with my heart singing. This does not mean that my troubles have dissolved-they probably haven't-but I somehow have the power to see above and around and through those clouds of darkness with greater calm and peacefulness. I know that he will, with time, help me to dissipate them completely.

"Out of sorrow and despair we are, through the comforting, protecting grace of God, lifted out of our weakness to the very summit of spiritual, peaceful transcendence that, without the 'Father of all comfort' could only be dreamed about from afar." (On Earth As It Is In Heaven, p. 40)

Helaman 5:45 the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven

It is remarkable that the Spirit of the Lord was poured out so abundantly upon these unbelievers. The event was Pentecostal, for they were filled with the Spirit and 'they could speak forth marvelous words.' (See Acts 2:1-13)

Helaman 5:46 there came a voice...a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper

After this fantastic manifestation of the Holy Spirit, another voice is heard. This time, the voice says, 'Peace, peace be unto you because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world.' This must be the voice of Elohim, who always intervenes to introduce his Son (see 3 Ne 11:7; Matt 3:17 and JS-Hist 1:17). The quality of this voice is much like that of the Son, 'pleasant...as if it were a whisper.' The voice of Elohim is more graphically described right before the appearance of the Savior to the Nephites, 'it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn' (3 Ne 11:3).

Interestingly, the scriptures give us a description of the voices of all three members of the Godhead. The descriptions are remarkably similar. The voice of Elohim is 'a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper...a small voice [that] did pierce them that did hear to the center' (Hel 5:46; 3 Ne 11:3). The voice of Jehovah is described as, 'a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul' (Hel 5:30). The voice of the Holy Ghost is described by Joseph Smith as, 'the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, and often times it maketh my bones to quake' (DC 85:6). Certainly, it is the Holy Ghost which speaks to us with a still, small voice to guide us through mortality, but the voice of God is one, just as the mind, will, and purpose of God is one. Therefore, if we were to hear the voice of the Father or the Son, it would sound much the same.

Helaman 5:47 Peace, peace be unto you

Ezra Taft Benson

"The gospel is the only answer to the problems of the world. We may cry peace. We may hold peace conferences. And I have nothing but commendation for those who work for peace. But it is my conviction that peace must come only by following the teachings and the example of the Prince of Peace." (Title of Liberty, pp. 213-4 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 378)

Helaman 5:52 they did yield up unto the Nephites the lands of their possessions

Moronihah had spent years trying to recover the cities lost to the Lamanites. His hard work had resulted in the regaining of half of all their possessions (Hel 4:10). What happened to the other half? They remained under Lamanite control until Nephi and Lehi had performed this great work among them. After converting to the Lord, the Lamanites willingly gave up their unrighteous dominion. This is probably the best example in the Book of Mormon of the principle taught in Alma, 'the preaching of the word had a...more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else' (Alma 31:5).