Scripture Study

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (Helaman 2)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 20 March 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 159

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (Helaman 2)

In Helaman 2, the position of chief judge still stands vacant after the murder of the previous two chief judges in the previous chapter. Helaman is elected to fill the position, but a plot is immediately fashioned to murder him — the hit man, Kishkumen, is again hired to do the job.

However, as the planning proceeds, one of Helaman's servants somehow infiltrates the mob in disguise and learns the details of the plot. This servant offers to escort Kishkumen to the judgment seat to perform the murder but instead he kills Kishkumen en route and foils the plot.

In the above story, the assassination team is fooled by someone who dressed like them, spoke like them, and learned how to appear to be one of them. Of course, it was for a good cause in this case, but it nonetheless shows how someone pretending to be part of the team can derail an effort.

I Strenuously Object (Helaman 1)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 13 March 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 213

I Strenuously Object (Helaman 1)

OK, we're going back to the movies today. Here's some dialogue from a popular movie from some years back. The scene takes place during a trial in a courtroom.

Lawyer 1: "Your Honor, we renew our objection to this testimony, and ask that it be stricken from the record."

Judge: "The objection's overruled, counsel."

Lawyer 1: "Sir, the defense strenuously objects and requests a meeting in chambers so that his honor might have an opportunity to hear discussion before ruling on the objection."

Judge (getting annoyed): "Noted. The witness is an expert and the court will hear his opinion!"

Lawyer 2 (taunting Lawyer 1 when the court recesses): "I strenuously object? Is that how it works? Objection. Overruled. No, no, no, I strenuously object. Oh, well if you strenuously object, let me take a moment to reconsider."

In Helaman 1, chief judge Pahoran has died, and there is an election to appoint his successor. The candidates are three of the sons of the deceased chief judge — Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni. When the votes are counted, Pahoran is the winner and becomes the new chief judge.

Enlarge My Coast (Alma 63)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 06 March 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 561

Enlarge My Coast (Alma 63)

Some years ago, there was a popular book called "The Prayer of Jabez" that focused on the short prayer recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10:

"And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested."

The book explores each of the four basic requests contained in the prayer:

  • "Bless me indeed"
  • "Enlarge my coast"
  • "Be with me"
  • "Keep me from evil"

You can probably see how a nice lesson can easily be built around at least three of the four requests, but it might not be as obvious what is meant by "enlarge my coast."

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean? (Alma 62)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 27 February 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 385

Carrot, Egg or Coffee Bean? (Alma 62)

In Alma 62, Moroni and Pahoran take back the city of Zarahemla. The united Nephites then defeat the Lamanites in a war. At the end of the war, the writer reflects on how different people were affected in different ways by the war:

"Many had become hardened, because of the exceeding great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility" (Alma 62:41)

Seeing how some people became hardened because of the war while others became softened by the same war reminds me of a story that I heard years ago. Here's a version of that story:

Resist Evil and the Enemy Will Flee (Alma 61)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 20 February 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 269

Resist Evil and the Enemy Will Flee (Alma 61)

In Alma 61, Moroni finally receives a letter from the chief judge Pahoran, explaining why no supplies or reinforcements have been forthcoming for the Nephite army. He learns that continued in-fighting among the Nephites has resulted in Pahoran and his supporters being driven out of the city of Zarahemla and a king installed in place of the duly appointed government. As a result, Pahoran has no access to any supplies or reinforcements to assist the Nephite army.

In his letter, Pahoran stresses that since his exiled group represents the cause of God, they cannot give up but must do their best to resist the enemy and seek victory for the Lord:

"[God] doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies, but that we should put our trust in him, and he will deliver us. Therefore…let us resist evil…that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God" (Alma 61:13-14)

Neglect: When You Can and You Should, but You Don't (Alma 60)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 13 February 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 277

Neglect: When You Can and You Should, but You Don't (Alma 60)

In Alma 60, the Nephite army still finds itself without reinforcements from the government such that their frustration is running high. Moroni sends another letter to the chief judge Pahoran — this one even more forceful than his previous letter — calling out the chief judge for his apparent neglect of the Nephite army. Here are a few passages from the letter:

  • "Great has been the slaughter among our people…yea, great has been your neglect towards us" (verse 5)
  • "Ye have neglected them insomuch that the blood of thousands shall come upon your heads for vengeance" (verse 10)
  • "I fear exceedingly that the judgments of God will come upon this people, because of…the slothfulness of our government, and their exceeding great neglect towards their brethren" (verse 14)

The word "neglect" is used over and over to emphasize that the government has the resources to provide the army, and that they should be supporting the army, but yet no assistance is being provided.

They can help, and they should help, but they're not helping.

Angry With the Government (Alma 59)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 06 February 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 341

Angry With the Government (Alma 59)

In Alma 59, Moroni sends a letter to chief judge Pahoran, requesting reinforcements for the war against the Lamanites. The Nephite army is in need of additional soldiers as well as food and supplies, so Moroni reaches out to the government to provide these needs. However, as time passes, no assistance arrives. In later chapters, Moroni finds out what is happening from Pahoran's perspective, and then he understands why no assistance has been provided. However, at this moment, he is out in the field with his army, fighting for the Nephite cause and hearing nothing from Pahoran. As a result, "Moroni was angry with the government, because of their [apparent] indifference concerning the freedom of their country" (verse 13).

In the United States at this time, it appears that just about everyone is angry with the government in one way or another. People who oppose the current president and what he stands for are angry with him and the government representatives who support him. People who support the position of the president are angry with the government representatives who oppose what he is trying to do. The anger has spilled over such that regular citizens who support one position are angry with citizens who support the opposite position.

Strengthening Our Small Army (Alma 58)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 30 January 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 363

Strengthening Our Small Army (Alma 58)

In Alma 58, Helaman laments throughout the chapter about how small the Nephite army is. He describes their efforts in reaching out to the government for reinforcements and supplies, but the response is limited. Finally, at their moment of greatest despair, they reach out to the greatest source of strength:

"Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies…Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him" (Alma 58:10-11)

There are many examples in the scriptures of an exceedingly small number of people — even just one person at times — prevailing over overwhelming opposition due to receiving strength from God. Here are a few examples:

Serving God With Exactness (Alma 57)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 23 January 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 373

Serving God With Exactness (Alma 57)

Quite a bit is written in Alma 53 to 57 regarding the 2,000 stripling soldiers led by Helaman. Their claim to fame was that they stepped in for their fathers, who were unable to join the army due to the oath they made to God, and helped defend their nation against the Lamanite army. The stripling soldiers fought in many battles and, though many were wounded, none of the 2,000 were killed in battle.

In Alma 57, Helaman recognizes this group for the great service they have provided. He makes one point in particular to explain their success:

"They did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them" (Alma 57:21)

No Doubt (Alma 56)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 16 January 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 422

No Doubt (Alma 56)

A baseball player steps up to the plate and hits a long fly ball. The crowd comes to its feet in anticipation. The outfielder runs back to the wall and leaps and… Was it a home run? Was it an out? The outcome is very much in doubt until everyone sees whether the ball is in the outfielder's glove.

On the other hand, there are occasions when the batter hits the ball so high and so hard that everyone knows that it's going over the fence. The crowd cheers immediately! This type of hit is known in baseball as a "no doubter."

Doubt is defined as a feeling of uncertainty. The more uncertainty, the more doubt. Any amount of uncertainty, even a very small amount, means that some doubt exists. The only way to have "no doubt" is to have absolute certainty — 100 percent certainty.

Arming Everyone for the Battle (Alma 55)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 09 January 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 301

Arming Everyone for the Battle (Alma 55)

In Alma 55, Moroni has a desire to free the Nephites who are held prisoner by the Lamanites in the city of Gid. The challenge he faces is that Gid is well fortified, with a wall surrounding the city and Lamanite guards keeping watch over the entrance to the city.

But Moroni has a plan. The guards are given strong wine, and they become drunk and fall into a deep sleep. The Nephites then toss weapons over the wall of the city, which are then distributed to the Nephite prisoners. Weapons are given to everyone, "even to their women, and all of their children, as many as were able to use a weapon of war" (verse 17).

When the Lamanites awaken the next morning, they have no choice but to surrender, as all the Nephites — the prisoners inside the walls of the city and the Nephite army outside the city — are now armed and ready for battle. Arming everyone for the battle is the only strategy that could have worked. The Nephite army did not have the same access to the Lamanites that those "on the inside" did, so everyone's participation was needed to win this battle.

What I Said — That's It (Alma 54)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 02 January 2019. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 438

What I Said — That's It (Alma 54)

A few years back, I saw a movie that included an argument between a husband and wife. The husband had agreed to take time off from working and manage the household so his wife could accept a dream job she had always wanted. However, after seeing how difficult it is to deal with all of the issues involving their children and the house, and also seeing how far behind he is with his own work, he decides he needs to get out of this arrangement. When he sees that all of his persuasive arguments are not convincing his wife, he decides to just be assertive to win the argument. That part of the dialogue goes something like this:

Husband: This arrangement is not working. I'm going back to work — and that's it.
Wife: No, actually that's not "it." I love my job, and I'm not quitting. And THAT is it.
Husband: That's not it. The thing I said — that's it. What you said — not it. What I said — that's it.

Wrong for You but OK for Me (Alma 53)

Written by GospelBlog on Wednesday, 26 December 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 352

Wrong for You but OK for Me (Alma 53)

In Alma 53, a group of men desire to enlist in the Nephite army, but Helaman forbids them to do so, telling them they will lose their souls if they participate in the battle. But then another group of men steps forward to enlist, and they are welcomed into the army and even blessed by God with miraculous protection.

How can this be? How can the same exact actions be wrong for some people and OK for others? Don't we all serve the same God?

The answer lies in understanding that although there are some actions that are equally wrong for all and some that are equally required for all, there are other actions that need to be viewed within the context of a person's own individual relationship with God.

The Work of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

Written by Brother Jordan Champine on Monday, 24 December 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 387

The Work of Jesus, the Good Shepherd

The Word of God describes Jesus in several ways. As Jesus was born into this world, the declarations of His advent crowned him with many names foreshadowing all He would grow to become according to the will of God, "…and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus as the man embodied these characteristics and invited all men to believe on His name. Those who did came to know him more intimately thru the "I am" statements of their Savior.

In one such account, Jesus tells the multitude, "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Below is a scripture comparison of the work of Jesus as our good shepherd shown through the account of Ammon at the waters of Sebus in the Book of Mormon. As we contemplate all that Jesus is to us in our life, I pray this exploration of His role as our good shepherd will bring you an extra measure of comfort and joy this holiday season.

The Decoy Play (Alma 52)

Written by Brother Jerry Valenti on Wednesday, 19 December 2018. Posted in Scripture Study Hits 290

The Decoy Play (Alma 52)

You're watching a big football game. Time is running out, and your team needs a big play. Your team's star pass receiver comes into the game. The huddle breaks, and the star receiver lines up on the right side of the field. The quarterback calls the signals and glances over to his right several times. Everybody knows what's coming. The defense knows, too, and shifts some of the players over near the star receiver to make it harder for him to catch the pass that will be coming his way.

The ball is snapped. The quarterback takes a few steps back and watches the star receiver the entire time. He waits, waits, and then turns and fires the ball on the left side of the field where another player — totally overlooked by the defense — is waiting to catch the winning touchdown pass. What happened? The defense was just a victim of the decoy play with one player being used as a decoy to take their focus away from where it really should have been, resulting in a big loss.

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