The reaction of the crowd of people listening to Samuel the Lamanite is very polarized. Many hear and believe Samuel. These people go find Nephi and are baptized. Those who don’t believe get angry. They don’t like his words, so they cast stones and shoot arrows at him upon the wall. Nothing hurts him or hits him, because the Spirit of the Lord is with him. More believe and go find Nephi.
Why did those that believe go find Nephi?
I think it was because he “was baptizing, and prophesying and preaching, crying repentance unto the people, showing signs and wonders, working miracles among the people, that they might know that the Christ must shortly come—(4)”
He was actively engaged in building God’s kingdom. The newbie believers saw his fruits and knew where to turn for spiritual nourishment.
- Am I actively engaged in building God’s kingdom?
- What seeds am I sowing and what fruits am I reaping?
- Do others see me as a safe place to turn when they want to know more about their Savior?
Hard hearts are angry hearts
The ones who didn’t believe were stirred up to anger. This is the gut-reaction of all mankind. When someone hurts us or says something we don’t agree with, the natural response is to get angry at the offending party. But anger never yields good fruit. Neither does fear.
- Do I ever get angry at others and cast metaphoric stones or arrows at them, like the unbelievers did to Samuel?
- If someone disagrees with me, do I react in anger? Or do I allow the Spirit to calm me, so I can act and not be acted upon?
When their arrows and stones don’t touch him, more people believe and seek out Nephi. These are those who needed a little more pushing to humble them, but they are still humbled.
Those left behind now are the most hard-hearted. The most angry. They cry out to their captains to bind Samuel and take him away. They say he has a devil in him.
Anger usually leads to name-calling and unmerciful judgment of others.
We see this all the time today—especially during this election, from people on both sides. Anger will make us cast stones (names, judgments) at others, label them, think we’re better than them, and mark them as our enemy. Anger hinders our logical brains from engaging, so our intellectual capacity drops to the level of the worst person in the mob we have joined.
Look to Jesus Christ, our Savior, to live.
I believe it is good for us to check our own desires and motives often. To check our surroundings and see if we have gravitated to an angry mob, or if we are standing on our own two feet and can think rationally and listen to both sides of any issue.
Is it Good?
Peter once said to Jesus: “Master it is good for us to be here.” (Luke 9:33)
We should ask ourselves daily and often whether it is good for us to be in certain places. Is it good for us to read a certain book? Is it good for us to associate with certain people? Is it good for us to spend so much time on social media sites or binge-watching the latest Netflix series?
- Are the things we are doing lifting us toward Christ?
- Are the places we are spending time at inspiring us to love more?
- Are the people we hang out with edifying us? Or do they stir us up to anger, fear, or laziness?
- If the Savior were here, could we look Him in the eye and say, “Master, it is good for us to be here” with whatever we are doing at that moment?
Time to Go
Samuel has accomplished the task God asked him to do. So, as the unbelievers froth at the mouth and try to get him arrested, he jumps off the wall and flees back to his own country to preach to them.
And behold, he was never heard of more among the Nephites.” (8)
Three more years pass with the more part of the people being wicked, and “the lesser part walking more circumspectly before God.” (10) After two more years, “there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled.” (13) Angels appear unto wise men and declare great tidings of great joy.
The signs are happening. You would think all the people, even the non-believers, would begin to believe. But they don’t.
Nevertheless, the people began to harden their hearts, all save it were the most believing of the Nephites and also of the Lamanites, and began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom, saying:
Some things they may have guessed right, among so many; but behold, we know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass of which has been spoken.”Helaman 16:15-16
Wow. Even signs don’t convince them. The wicked can justify away any miracle which they see.
Miracles don’t have the power to convert a rebellious soul. Only humility can open the eyes to see the marvels of heaven.
The wicked will always explain miracles away and be angry that they are happening. The righteous will see God’s hand in even the smallest details of their lives.
None of us ever fully utilizes the people-opportunities allocated to us within our circles of friendship. You and I may call these intersectings ‘coincidence.’ This word is understandable for mortals to use, but coincidence is not an appropriate word to describe the workings of an omniscient God. He does not do things by ‘coincidence’ but…by ‘divine design.’”Neal A. Maxwell, Brim with Joy, BYU Devotional, Jan 23, 1996
God is in charge. He knows who I can become and will send the right people and experiences into my life to help me reach my eternal potential, if I trust Him.
The Lord is in the small details of our lives, and those incidents and opportunities are to prepare us to lift our families and others as we build the kingdom of God on earth.”Ronald A. Rasband, By Divine Design, Ensign, Nov 2017, 55-57
A hard-hearted person leans solely on what they can see (empirical truths). The wicked Nephites reasoned away signs and miracles, saying that the idea of Christ was a wicked tradition that kept them ignorant, since it would happen in a far away land.
Trusting God requires seeing beyond what our physical eyes can see. It requires faith, repentance, and pondering.
What are God’s miracles that remind you that He is close, saying “I am right here”? Think of those times, some daily, when the Lord has acted in your life—and then acted again. Treasure them as moments the Lord has shown confidence in you and in your choices. But allow Him to make more of you than you can make of yourself on your own. Treasure His involvement. Sometimes we consider changes in our plans as missteps on our journey. Think of them more as first steps to being “on the Lord’s errand.”Ronald A. Rasband, By Divine Design, Ensign, Nov 2017, 55-57
Faith helps us see things as God sees them.
But without faith, we will reject even empirical evidences of God’s hand in our lives, as the wicked Nephites did. They “began to reason and to contend among themselves” (17) about spiritual matters, explaining the doctrine of Christ away, as a silly fable their fathers told them to keep them in line. Notice the anger involved, in the contending with each other.
Faith has nothing to do with what the physical eyes can see.
But if we choose faith, we choose joy. We choose ultimate happiness. We choose to allow the Spirit into our hearts and souls to change us.
The Lord loves to be with us. It is no coincidence that when you are feeling His Spirit and acting on first promptings that you feel Him as He promised: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”Ronald A. Rasband, By Divine Design, Ensign, Nov 2017, 55-57
The majority of the Nephites are wicked, but there is a smaller part of them who have chosen to be faithful unto Christ and look for the signs given them by the prophet, Samuel.
How did these believers stand true to their faith during such turbulent, wicked times?
They looked to the prophet, not the worldly or political leaders of their times. They worked to stay humble before God, not contending with their brothers and sisters to win an argument.
One thing that stood out to me about the unbelievers is how they called the righteous people and their doctrine of Christ evil.
And they will, by the cunning and the mysterious arts of the evil one, work some great mystery which we cannot understand, which will keep us down to be servants to their words, and also servants unto them, for we depend upon them to teach us the word; and thus will they keep us in ignorance if we will yield ourselves unto them, all the days of our lives.”Helaman 16:21
The evil people projected their own agenda onto the righteous. They basically gaslighted them, trying to gain power over the righteous by making them question their reality. If you want to learn more about gaslighting, to protect from being manipulated by this mental abuse, read this article in Psychology Today. This tool is used by leaders in power today. It’s good to be aware of it, to not be deceived by the tactic. Evil is called good and good is called evil daily in our world.
Another tool the wicked used was justification and conspiracy theories.
And many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come.”Helaman 16:22
Is our nation “much disturbed” today? That was facetious, ha ha. I’ve caught our own US president spreading rumors or contentions in many adlib speeches. He imagines stories and speaks of them as though they are truth, setting up his audience to fear what he has just described (which is not based on facts) as reality. Gaslighting again. [I don’t say this to get in a political argument. I am stating what I’ve seen and saying beware of this tactic (on both sides), so we aren’t manipulated by it.] These “foolish and vain” (and usually very biased) imaginings stir up division and fear among us. Don’t be caught up in angry mobs stirred up by these “rumors and contentions.”
We should be concerned with building God’s kingdom first, not some political party or agenda. When worldly concerns become more important and we spend our time obsessed with worldly things and push God to second priority, we can quickly be caught in dangerous territory. Pride and anger creep into our thoughts and attitudes, before we are even aware of them, leading us to harm our fellowmen (I’m counting words in this, because that’s usually how we harm each other). We think we’re better or smarter or more informed than our neighbors, and get angry at everything and everyone that doesn’t fall into our neat, tidy box of what we feel is right.
We live in turbulent, confusing times. Our prophet today has counseled us how to not be deceived and led away by the cunning adversary.
Without our Redeemer’s infinite Atonement, not one of us would have hope of ever returning to our Heavenly Father. Without His Resurrection, death would be the end. Our Savior’s Atonement made eternal life a possibility and immortality a reality for all.”Russell M. Nelson, Revelation for the Church, Revelation for our Lives, 2018
I love how Pres. Nelson talked about the meetings with him and the other apostles, how they come with differing views and opinions, but seek to unite.
In our meetings, the majority never rules! We listen prayerfully to one another and talk with each other until we are united. Then when we have reached complete accord, the unifying influence of the Holy Ghost is spine-tingling!”ibid, Nelson
Think of how different this world would be if we each set our ego aside to work toward some of the principles our prophet and his brethren use when they meet. They listen prayerfully. They talk until they are united. If we only used that first principle of listening prayerfully to others, the world would be a more peaceful place and we would not have so much anger and hate.
I have found that as I prayerfully study the words of the prophet of God and carefully, with patience, spiritually align my will with his inspired teachings, my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ always increases. If we choose to set his counsel aside and determine that we know better, our faith suffers and our eternal perspective is clouded.”Neil L. Anderson, The Prophet of God, Ensign, May 2018, 26-27
The prophet gave us this guidance and counsel in 2018:
Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.
To be sure, there may be times when you feel as though the heavens are closed. But I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek.Russell M. Nelson, Revelation for the Church, Revelation for our Lives, 2018
Our prophet is optimistic about the future, but also not naïve about the troubling days ahead.
We live in a world that is complex and increasingly contentious. The constant availability of social media and a 24-hour news cycle bombard us with relentless messages. If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation.
Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.
My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation….Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.”ibid, Nelson
Our prophet’s words are so much more hopeful and comforting than the fears and lies that Satan spreads. If we seek to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost with us, we will not fear. If we do fear, maybe we need to work on coming unto Christ more fully, instead of relying on the confusing, conflicting, and chaotic messages and opinions of the world.
The book of Helaman ends with these words about the Nephites.
And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people upon all the face of the land.”Helaman 16:23
Let’s not give Satan or any man or woman hold upon our hearts. Let us be meek and humble and repentant before God, so our hearts belong only to Him, the Giver of Peace, the Healer of Pain, the Bringer of Light, Truth, and Life.