This week in our review of the Book of Mormon we’ll look at chapters 1 to 4 of the Book of Helaman, but we’ll focus on chapters 3 and 4 where we see that Helaman obtains the judgement-seat and executes his office under Torah law – 3:20. We also see that the Law is the basis for Helaman being prosperous along with the Nephites for whom he is the chief judge. The prosperity that these Nephites experience are the blessings of the Law or what can be called a covenant of life. What many people don’t realized is the Covenant that God made with Israel is two covenants. One is receiving the blessings of the Law or a covenant of life and the other is a covenant with death, whom God curses. So, being in covenant with God is not to be taken lightly. This week we’ll see how these two covenants play out with Helaman and his people, then we’ll look at how these two covenants happen in America since she is also in covenant with God.
The Covenant of Life and Death Introduction
God gave ancient Israel the Law which included blessings and cursings. These blessings and cursings can be called a covenant of life and a covenant with death. Our summary looks like this.
We also see this covenant of life and death in the writings of Isaiah.
Part VI of Isaiah’s Seven-Part Structure (Isaiah 28–31; 55–59) juxtaposes a Covenant of Life with a Covenant with Death. The themes of loyalty and disloyalty that pervade these chapters determine who among God’s people subscribes to one covenant and who to the other. Those who deceive themselves, who rely on human counsel and schemes, comprise God’s people who “covenant with death” (Isaiah 28:14–15; 29:10–15; 30:1–2, 8–14; 31:1). Scoffing at God’s word, they put aside his counsel in favor of their own, only to suffer the “utter destruction” God has “decreed upon the whole earth” (Isaiah 28:14, 17–22; 29:5–6; 30:15–17, 27–28; 31:2–4). Those who heed God’s voice, who inquire at his mouth, on the other hand (Isaiah 28:23; 30:2; emphasis added), don’t act irresponsibly … With them, he makes a Covenant of Life…:
Our Nephite Example
Now let us turn to our example here in chapters 3 and 4 where we see how these covenants of life and death play-out under the Law.
Helaman executes the judgement-seat and receives prosperity under the Law – 3:20.
20 Nevertheless Helaman did fill the judgment-seat with justice and equity; yea, he did observe to keep the statutes, and the judgments, and the commandments of God; and he did do that which was right in the sight of God continually; and he did walk after the ways of his father, insomuch that he did prosper in the land.
The Nephites under Helaman also receives prosperity under the Law – 3:24-32
24 And it came to pass that in this same year there was exceedingly great prosperity in the church, insomuch that there were thousands who did join themselves unto the church and were baptized unto repentance. 25 And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out upon the people, that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure. 26 And it came to pass that the work of the Lord did prosper unto the baptizing and uniting to the church of God, many souls, yea, even tens of thousands. 27 Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name. 28 Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. 29 Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked— 30 And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out. 31 And in this year there was continual rejoicing in the land of Zarahemla, and in all the regions round about, even in all the land which was possessed by the Nephites. 32 And it came to pass that there was peace and exceedingly great joy in the remainder of the forty and ninth year; yea, and also there was continual peace and great joy in the fiftieth year of the reign of the judges.
Some of the Nephite believers who prospered and became wealthy became prideful – 3:33,34
33 And in the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God—34 And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction.
Those Nephites who became prideful broke God’s Law – 4:12,13
12 And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites—13 And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; ….
Those Nephites who broke God’s Law suffered God’s curses – 4:11,13.
11 Now this great loss of the Nephites, and the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them; yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God. 13 And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands.
So now our summary looks like this.
America and the Covenants of Life and Death.
America was founded on biblical principles of liberty of God’s Law-Word from the Torah and has enjoyed unprecedented blessings of prosperity in modern times including being free from an invasion of her enemies and economic wealth – a covenant of life, but prophecies of America foretell a different story as America turns from God as she brings upon her God’s covenant with death. Isaiah lists these judgements that will come upon her in the 19th chapter of Isaiah. Here, America is the modern version of Egypt.
Peace is taken from America – 19:2
2 I will stir up the Egyptians against the Egyptians; they will fight brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor, city against city and state against state.
America loses her way and turns to false sources of information – 19:3
3 Egypt’s spirit shall be drained from within; I will frustrate their plans, and they will resort to the idols and to spiritists, to mediums and witchcraft.
America to suffer serve droughts and famine – 19:5-7
5 The waters of the lakes shall ebb away as stream beds become desolate and dry.6 The rivers shall turn foul, and Egypt’s waterways recede and dry up. Reeds and rushes shall wither;7 vegetation adjoining canals and estuaries, and all things sown along irrigation channels, shall shrivel and blow away and be no more.
America’s economic prosperity dwindles away – 19:8-10
8 Fishermen will deplore their lot and anglers in canals bemoan themselves; those who cast nets on water will be in misery.9 Manufacturers of combed linen and weavers of fine fabrics will be dismayed.10 The textile workers will know despair, and all who work for wages suffer distress.
America is led by inept political leaders who can’t fix her social and economic problems – 19:11-15
11 The ministers of Zoan are utter fools; the wisest of Pharaoh’s advisers give absurd counsel. How can you say to Pharaoh, We ourselves are as wise as the first rulers?12 Where are your wise men indeed? Let them please tell you, if they can discern it, what Jehovah of Hosts has in mind for Egypt! 13 The ministers of Zoan have been foolish, the officials of Noph deluded; the heads of state have led Egypt astray. 14 Jehovah has permeated them with a spirit of confusion; they have misled Egypt in all that it does, causing it to stagger like a drunkard into his vomit. 15 And there shall be nothing the Egyptians can do about it, neither head nor tail, palm top or reed.
America will be taken over by the Anti-Christ (Hand) and suffer terror and dread – 19:4,16,17
4 Then will I deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master; a harsh ruler will subject them, says the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts. 16 In that day the Egyptians will be as women, fearful and afraid at the brandishing hand Jehovah of Hosts wields over them.17 The land of Judah shall become a source of terror to the Egyptians; all reminded of it shall dread what Jehovah of Hosts has in store for them.