Book of Mormon Lesson 34
“How Could You Have Forgotten Your God?”
A. The Pride Cycle
Righteousness and Prosperity===>Pride and Wickedness====>Destruction and Suffering====>Humility and Repentance===>Righteousness and Prosperity ext, ext.
1. This is the cycle the Nephites go through over and over again in the Book of Mormon. We will be talking about this today.
B. Today we will be continuing in the Book of Helaman. These are the last few decades before the birth of Christ. We will se the Nephites growing in pride and wickedness. We will see the Gadianton Robbers gaining more and more power among the Nephites. We will also see the Lamanites becoming more righteous than the Nephites and we will be able to contrast the two groups. We will see how the Lamanites dealt with the Gadianton Robbers compared to how the Nephites dealt with them.
II. The Lamanite become more righteous than the Nephites.
A. Read Helaman 6:1-2
1. The Lamanites, who just a few years ago were ignorant of the gospel of Jesus Christ and were at constant war with the Nephites are now more righteous than the Nephites.
2. Is there something similar happening today? The center of Christianity for at least the last Millennium and a half has been the Western World - Europe and the Americas. But now Europe (and to some degree the US and Canada) have become so secular that it is almost impossible to recognize them as Christian Nations. Pope Benedict has lamented this secularization, noting that the Catholic Church has more in common with the Islamic World, as fare as values go, than it does with secular Europe, although the population of Europe is largely “Christian.”
3. Where is the Mormon Church and Christianity in general growing most rapidly today? Africa, Latin America, parts of South East Asia - the Third World . I see parallels here with the Nephites and the Lamanites.
4. In one of Christianity’s largest denominations today a majority of it’s members in Europe and the U.S. would like to ignore some of the moral laws found in the Bible because they no longer fit with their “enlightened” mind set. It is their members from Africa, the Carribean and Latin America that have actually insisted that they maintain some semblance of Biblical Christian morality. I would argue that were it not for these Christians in Third World countries sanding up to their more sophisticated, western counterparts their particular brand of Christianity may well have become completely unrecognizable as such.
B. The Lamanites become missionaries to the Nephites.
1. Read Helaman 6:3-6.
a. How do you thing the more prideful of the Nephites felt about these lamanites coming to teach them? I suspect with bigotry and disdain.
2. We also read that there was peace in all the land and that both the Lamanites and the Nephites traveled freely between their lands. We learn that with this free trade both groups became rich. We will see that apparently the Lamanites handled this prosperity better than the Nephites.
III. The Nephites become proud and wicked.
A. Read Helaman 6:17-18. Notice that at first the Gadianton robbers were stronger among the Lamanites.
B. Read Helaman 6:20-21.
1. How did the Lamanites deal with the Gadianton Robbers? How did this contrast with how the Nephites dealt with them?
2. Read Helaman 6:37-38
3. In what ways are we, as a society, guilty of “building up” the modern equivalents of the Gadianton Robbers?
i. Voting for our own self interest instead of what is best for the country.
ii. The entertainment industry. Are we supporting the production of filth by the type of entertainment we chose. Every time we go to a movie, watch a television program, buy and album or download a song that is of questionable moral value we are voting with our money for them to make more just like it.
iii. Who do we admire as a society? Who do we want to read about in People Magazine? Are the people we admire and “build up” worthy of our praise?
IV. Show Video for Lesson 34.
A. President Ezra Taft Benson said: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich. The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with the; otherwise, the prophet is just giving his opinion - speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet.”
V. God gives Nephi the sealing power.
A. After this episode some believed Nephi, most ignored him. Nephi prays.
1. Read Helaman 10:3-11. He is given the sealing powers.
B. He asks God to send a famine instead of destruction through war.
1. Read Helaman 11:4
2. The people humble themselves and repent. Read Helaman 11:7. God lifted the famine and they became prosperous again.
3. Just a few years later the Gadianton Robbers rise to power again. Read Helaman 11:36.
VI. Conclusion. Mormon’s Commentary on the Pride Cycle.
A. Read Helaman 12:1-6
B. Gordon B. Hinckley said: “No other written testament so clearly illustrates the fact that when men and nations walk in the fear of God and in obedience to his commandments, they prosper and grow, but when they disregard him and his word, there comes a decay that, unless arrested by righteousness, leads to impotence and death.”
C. What stage of the Pride Cycle are we on as individuals, as a church and as a nation?