What’s happening? Nephites are fortifying their lands. The prophet recruits the Ammonite sons.
Why does it matter? These are very real activities that would occur during intermittent peace and siege.
Between the lines: We can learn a lot about covenant keeping and preparation from this chapter.
Quote of the day: “In approximately 64 B.C., the Nephite nation was living in extremely perilous times. Because of iniquity, dissensions, and intrigue, they found themselves in the most dangerous of circumstances. The government teetered on the brink of collapse. The war with the Lamanite nation had been ongoing for years. Nephite dissidents were leaving to join forces with the enemy. Many Nephite cities had been attacked and captured. In the midst of this dangerous and chaotic situation, righteous men were sought after to lead the Nephite armies—men like Moroni and Helaman. These Nephite leaders understood that their nation’s ability to defend itself was in direct proportion to their obedience to the Lord. They constantly struggled to motivate the population to remember the Lord and keep His commandments. At this very critical point in time, after many Nephite cities had been lost and the balance of power seemed to be shifting towards the Lamanites, a miraculous thing took place. A group of people, once Lamanites, now known as Ammonites because they were converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ through the teachings of Ammon, came forward desirous to take up arms in the defense of their newly inherited land, country, and way of life. The fathers of these Ammonite families had previously made an oath to the Lord never to take up arms again. Helaman, the Nephite prophet, counseled these men to keep their promise to the Lord.” ~ RJ Maynes, 2004, Keeping Our Covenants
53:4-5 What are spiritual fortifications we can build today?
“Be like Captain Moroni of old; set up “fortifications” to strengthen your places of weakness. Instead of building walls of “timbers and dirt” to protect a vulnerable city, build “fortifications” in the form of personal ground rules to protect your priceless virtue.” ~ DE Sorenson, 2001, You Can’t Pet a Rattlesnake
53:7 What tasks did the Nephites accomplish between battles when they had some moments of peace?
53:10-13 Why did the people of Ammon almost break their oath to not take up arms?
“The people of Ammon were at a critical moment of their spiritual lives. They had been true to their covenant never to take up arms. But they understood that fathers are responsible to provide protection to their families. That need seemed great enough to merit consideration of breaking their covenant. Their wise priesthood leader, Helaman, knew that breaking a covenant with the Lord is never justified.” ~ RG Scott, 2013, Personal Strength Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ
53:14-16 Why was it a big deal for the people of Ammon to keep their oath?
“As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have also taken upon ourselves sacred obligations. We have done this in the waters of baptism and in the temples of the Lord. We call these obligations covenants. Covenants are promises we make to the Lord. They are extremely sacred in nature. The most important thing we can do in this life is to keep the promises or covenants we have made with the Lord. When we keep our promises to the Lord, He allows us to progress spiritually.” ~ RJ Maynes, 2002, Keeping Our Covenants
53:17 What are some similarities and differences between the covenants the sons of Helaman made and the covenants their parents made?
53:19-21 What set these young men apart from others?
“What we need now is the greatest generation of missionaries in the history of the Church. We need worthy, qualified, spiritually energized missionaries who, like Helaman’s 2,000 stripling warriors, are ‘exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity’ and who are ‘true at all times in whatsoever thing they [are] entrusted’. Listen to those words, my young brethren: valiant, courage, strength, active, true. We don’t need spiritually weak and sem-icommitted young men. We don’t need you to just fill a position; we need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a time for spiritual weaklings.” ~ MR Ballard, 2002, The Greatest Generation of Missionaries