Leaders of integrity or infamy found in The Book of Mormon provide the fodder for spiritual growth and self-improvement. It was made for us.
In the 19th year of the Reign of Judges, or judge leadership of the ancient Nephite democracy, (about 76 B.C.) Alma, high priest and religious leader of his nation, called a personal interview for his son Helaman.
During this interview, Alma determined Helaman's allegiance to the teachings of the Church of Christ and his convictions about the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by Abinadi (martyred prophet who converted Alma's father to Christ) and handed down from high priest to high priest. Helaman needed to continue the traditions of his fathers based on the belief that a Savior would come.
This article profiles Helamanm, one of several characterizations of Scriptural leaders providing a connection to the reality of their existence, people--not just stories.
Helaman was a missionary on the errand of the prophet Alma when he received his first instructions regarding his own prophetic calling. As it appears from reading about most people in The Book of Mormon, Helaman, a young man full of potential, had to mature quickly during a time in Nephite history when turmoil seemed to rule.
Helaman, the son of Alma the Younger, the son of Alma the founder of the Church of Christ among the Nephites, was tasked with the opportunity to carry on the spiritual legacy of his grandfather.
Rendering of Helaman
A Little Family History & Culture
On the cusp of the defeat of the Lamanites in the nineteenth year (73 b.c.), an enemy by vow never to return to aggression, the Nephites turned their attention to the social needs of a recovering society.
And they had much from which to recover. About the sixteenth year of the reign of Judges, the Nephites absorbed a group of refugees following a terrible conflict with the Lamanites. Thousands of Lamanites converted to the institution of Judaism based on the coming of Jesus Christ and sought to live their lives observing the Law of Moses until Christ fulfilled it.
These new converts to the Church of Christ sought asylum among the Nephites. Public authorities diligently provided for the welfare of these people, who, at that time, did pose a cultural and social strain civically.
Toward the end of the seventeenth year (75 b.c.) a self-identified antichrist entered the nation creating no small stir for the Church of Christ before he met an unfortunate end. Nephites were on a spiritual and cultural high due to the unyielding efforts of Alma and his supporters.
Chief Captain Moroni offered all his devotion to the physical preparation of the Nephites to defend themselves against the Lamanites in the military. Prosperity blossomed with Alma's close relationship to the head of the civilian government. serving as the head of the Church of Christ.
Alma waged battle on a different front because the army that sought to destroy the Nephites that Alma prepared his armies against belonged to an evil source of inhuman nature, the devil, and his angels.
Nephite religious and cultural practices at that time hemmed on an understanding that the Law of Moses was a preparatory function of the higher manifestation of Christianity that would occur after the Atonement of Jesus Christ, one who had been prophesied for centuries among the Nephites.
The key to destroying any great society is to attack their guiding philosophies. Evil attacked the Nephite nation on all fronts--attacking the freedom of the Nephites, like it attacks the freedom of democratic nations in modern times. God provided the Nephites with a warrior to thwart the physical destruction of the Nephites, but only because their spiritual resolve was high.
Alma, the son of Alma, had guided the cultural and religious aspects of the Nephites for decades, as the chief judge, the highest civilian office in the land--similar to a US Supreme Court Justice.
Alma relinquished his public service position so that he could devote all his efforts to serve the Church. Nephihah, on his recommendation, and also a Church member, took the position of Chief Judge. Alma still maintained a strong connection to civic activities.
During Chief Captain Moroni’s public administration in the military, Alma was an older man, passing on the authority to officiate for the church, which he planned to bestow on his son, Helaman.
It was a custom among the Nephites to pass not only offices of religion to their sons but public offices also—a nepotistic society. This type of culture created no small stir of ambitious men who wanted a piece of that power structure, a cultural climate that the Adversary used to his advantage.
Changing of the Guard
Alma the Younger, as Mormon--the author of the majority of The Book of Mormon--, referred to him, sensed his time among his people as high priest drawing to a close, so he received the gratification of hearing his chosen son, when asked if he believed the teachings provided him his entire life and if he would keep them, say, “Yea, I believe all the words which thou hast spoken,” Alma 45:5. And “Yeah, I will keep thy commandments with all my heart,” Alma 45:7.
Helaman's spiritual affirmations came as a pleasure to Alma thinking back to his sordid past of rebellion against the gospel tradition. Though his road led eventually to salvation after many prayers on his behalf by the Church, specifically his father Alma, the First, it was the product of a severe repentance process.
With Helaman, there would be no delicate process to endure before he could lead. Alma told Helaman of the struggle he had as a youth rebelling against the Gospel with the warning to learn from his errors, and he did.
The changing of the guardians of the Church of Christ would go smoothly. Alma the Younger, could have confidence that the records of the Nephites and the spiritual heritage started by Alma the Older would endure another generation.
Alma gave Helaman his charge of the Church and blessed him, the Church, and the land for righteousness' sake. Helaman faced an uphill battle, Alma learned from revelations of the secret prophecies handed down from the days of Nephi centuries before.
The prophecies were not to be revealed to the Nephites by command of God that the Nephite nation would be destroyed due to its rejection of the theological teaching of Jesus Christ four hundred years in Helaman’s future.
As the new high priest, Helaman had to bear the weight of that knowledge, while helping as many of his flock find peace and joy in the teachings who would listen.
Helaman reorganized the Church’s leadership positions after his installation, calling new priests and teachers throughout the nation just in time to witness a dissension rise within the government and the church among the Nephites. With the prophecy of total destruction of the Nephites looming over his head, it is conceivable that he saw the division among his people with added apprehension.
Helaman, faithful his entire life to the teachings passed to him by his father Alma and the nation called the Nephites, stood firm as the new high priest of the land when voices from within cried for separation in the Church and civic authority. The next recommended reading is in the following link:
- True to the Faith: Helaman
Helaman, the son of Alma the Younger, the son of Alma the founder of the Church of Christ among the Nephites, would have the opportunity to carry on the spiritual legacy of his grandfather.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2018 Rodric Anthony Johnson