In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites always think of themselves as the good guys. In a movie, they’d ride in wearing the white hat or the gold star, signifying their goodness. Yet, the Book of Mormon demonstrates that often the Nephites are relentlessly blind to their own wickedness and it is the Lamanites who are the most faithful and true.

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Maurine and Scot Proctor have taught Book of Mormon for many years in Institute and have spent extensive time in the Arabian peninsula, following Lehi’s trail. They are the creators of a foundation that has sponsored a multi-year archaeological study of the best candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful in Oman. They have written a book on the Book of Mormon, as well as immersed themselves in the culture, history, and geography. of the scripture.


In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites always think of themselves as the good guys. In a movie, they’d ride in wearing the white hat or the gold star, signifying their goodness. Yet, the Book of Mormon demonstrates that often the Nephites are relentlessly blind to their own wickedness and it is the Lamanites who are the most faithful and true. Enter the scene into the wicked Nephite city of Zarahemla: Samuel the Lamanite. The point is clear.


Hello our friends. We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this is Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast where we are studying Helaman chapters 13-16 from the Book of Mormon in a lesson called “Glad Tidings of Great Joy.” I love to wear jewelry that carries a special significance and our daughter, Michaela, has created a beautiful necklace that does just that. It is a sterling silver, gold-plated necklace with these words delicately inscribed on it: Beloved Daughter of Heavenly Parents. It is a reminder you can wear next to your heart of your divine heritage and makes a great gift for you, your daughters or granddaughters. I thought I would give one to every woman, young and older in our family so that they can always remember who they are. They are available for only $19.99 at That’s You’ll love this necklace because what identity matters more to us? It’s a gift you can really count on.


As Helaman chapter 13 opens, the Nephites have continued to degrade into hopelessness. You probably thought I would say wickedness here, but however rich or heady or proud wickedness is, underneath it all is hopelessness and despair and emptiness with a very shiny façade. Oh, the public relations job the adversary does on wickedness may look alluring and he certainly does a good job selling it, but a river of emptiness flows beneath.

In our world today, we have discarded both the words wicked and evil, pretending they don’t exist, but when you look for the fame, position or Facebook likes people are willing to sell their souls for, you can see that wickedness is rampant among us as well. Lying has become a way of life. Anger is justified as necessary to accomplish anything. People are disdained and canceled. Sexual promiscuity is celebrated. Much of media contains elements that are harmful to the Spirit. Religion is denigrated.

With every chapter we pore over in the Book of Mormon, as we also read side by side the headlines of the day, we marvel at how anything could be so relevant, so right on.


As I was thinking about this podcast and the wickedness of our own world, I wanted to see how many babies were aborted every year and happened upon a tally on the worldometer that kept the numbers current. The number of children aborted this year in the world as of this writing is 26, 416, 145. But as I watched that number click off, I saw that more than one child a second was aborted. And since that tally changed relentlessly in the few seconds I watched, I almost felt like I was watching the death of babies. Scot, you came into the office and said, “What’s wrong? You look so distressed.” I was distressed for the loss of those children and for the wickedness of our own world.


In the eighty-sixth year of the Nephites, they remained in their wickedness when Samuel the Lamanite appeared to give them not only some good news, but the best news possible—that Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Redeemer was soon coming to earth.


Samuel said, “And behold, an angel of the Lord hath declared it unto me, and he did bring glad tidings to my soul. And behold, I was sent unto you to declare it unto you also, that ye might have glad tidings; but behold ye would not receive me” (Helaman 13:7). He had come like the angel in shepherds fields in Bethlehem with an announcement, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). Samuel was going to give them specific information about when Christ would be born.

The Nephites had turned him out—and wouldn’t it be interesting to see exactly how that happened. They may have treated him–the consummate outsider, one of their traditional enemies–with violence, roughness, certainly with rudeness, but the Lord said “he should return again and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart” (Helaman 13:3).


This reminds us of Alma being told by an angel to go back to wicked Ammonihah where he had just been driven out, and the response for both is the same. God asks his prophets to do jobs and take on burdens that would seem all but impossible if it weren’t for the love of the One asking. When you love the Lord, you do what he asks, even if it very hard, which it often is.

This reminds me of a couple who were speaking in our ward having just returned from presiding over a mission in Spain. I think few can truly understand how difficult and non-stop and relentless and exhausting being a mission president and wife is. In addition to carrying the stewardship of sharing the gospel, their phones never stop ringing with crises to be solved. On the way home, they turned to each other and said, “Would you do this again if you were asked right now for three more years?” They shook their tired heads, “No.” Then they asked, “Would you do this again right now if the Lord asked you?” “Absolutely. For the Lord, anything.”


Since the people would not let Samuel back into the city, he climbs onto a wall, and delivers the tough message that the people must hear. Prophets comfort us, enlighten us, foresee the future, but they also, with the special gifts given to them, must warn us. It is a great act of love from the Lord, that we are offered to be spared from sinking down into utter misery because of blindness. They must tell us clearly and boldly and without apology what we must do to be changed, awakened and saved through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. It is no favor for a prophet to coddle us while we sin.

“It is interesting that the Book of Mormon mentions prophets or prophecy,” note the scholars at Book of Mormon Central. “Although about half of the references to prophets and prophecy in the Book of Mormon involve cases in which the prophet was involved in telling about things to come, they are often shown doing many other things as well. The prophet Alma, for example, was able to know the thoughts of Zeezrom “according to the spirit of prophecy” (Alma 12:7), an act of discerning the present rather than telling the future. Nephi the son of Helaman knew details about wicked events in the recent past, including how their chief judge had been assassinated (Helaman 8:27). Five men present said that if they found that this was true, they would know that Nephi was a prophet (Helaman 9:2). Once again, this is an example of a case where a prophet had knowledge of the past and present, but does not mention the future.” (“What Does the Book of Mormon Teach about Prophets? )


Yet, certainly a key job of a prophet is to warn of what is coming and that is just what Samuel does.

He tells them:

Yea, heavy adestruction awaiteth this people, and it surely cometh unto this people, and nothing can save this people save it be repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, who surely shall come into the world, and shall suffer many things and shall be slain for his people” (Helaman 13:6).

In their wealth, in their having been rewarded for conspiracy, darkness and lasciviousness, they don’t believe it. They are so comfortable in their material well-being. What the prophet is telling them is that life is not always going to be the same. Your blind guides are not only going to lead you right into the wall, but destruction will come upon you. A large destruction, a major destruction.

It reminds me of the way the people of Ammonihah scoffed at Alma’s warning to them. “We will not believe thy words if thou shouldst prophesy that this great city should be destroyed in one day” (Alma 9:4)


That’s such an ironic statement, because, of course, then Ammonihah was destroyed in one day.

Then Samuel gets more specific: “that the asword of justice hangeth over this people; and four hundred years pass not away save the sword of justice falleth upon this people” (Helaman 13:5).

“Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of the Nephites, except they repent I will take away my word from them, and I will withdraw my Spirit from them, and I will suffer them no longer, and I will turn the hearts of their brethren against them.


And four hundred years shall not pass away before I will cause that they shall be smitten; yea, I will visit them with the sword and with famine and with pestilence.

Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your utter destruction; and this shall surely come except ye repent” (Helaman 13:8-10).

Samuel, here is talking about the utter decimation of the Nephite people, which we know, in fact will be fulfilled, but he is also talking about a more proximate destruction that will befall all those he is addressing who don’t repent or take his words with the gravity they deserve. It will begin now in so many ways and it will be more complete at the time of the Savior’s death.


The wicked will not, forever, be allowed to continue in their wickedness.

Samuel spells it out, reminding us how vividly a prophet can see the future that God gives him to see.

But behold, as I said unto you concerning another sign, a sign of his death, behold, in that day that he shall suffer death the sun shall be darkened and refuse to give his light unto you; and also the moon and the stars; and there shall be no light upon the face of this land, even from the time that he shall suffer death, for the space of three days, to the time that he shall rise again from the dead…


“There shall be thunderings, and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble; and the rocks which are upon the face of this earth, which are both above the earth and beneath, which ye know at this time are solid, or the more part of it is one solid mass, shall be broken up… 

“There shall be great tempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys, which shall become mountains, whose height is great.

“And many highways shall be broken up, and many cities shall become desolate” (Helaman 14:20-24)

When a prophet speaks so clearly, why won’t people heed his warning?


Of course, people don’t see their own iniquity, but I also think that people believe that things will always go on the way they have. Things as they are right now have a great hold upon us. We think that what can happen is only what we have experienced so far. We may be slow to take warnings seriously because we are so firmly planted in the here and now and the experiences of our own limited life span.

I remember one night we were in bed during a storm, when suddenly above our heads was a sound whose power was so far beyond anything we had ever heard, it woke us both up. It was not a roar or a thunderclap or an explosion. It was something of a magnitude that had never entered our beings before. The power of the sound knocked our neighbor out of bed. I thought at that moment that earth had collided with another object in space.


What’s interesting is that even though all of our neighbors had experienced it, we didn’t find out exactly what it was. Perhaps sheet lightning? We’ve never been sure, but we were knocked out of our sleepiness in an instant.

Think about how surprised, disconcerted and overwhelmed we as a world have all been together with this COVID-19 pandemic. We have never seen anything like it. It came out of the blue. If someone were to have told us on New Year’s Eve what 2020 looked like, we wouldn’lt have believed them. We couldn’t have conceived something that would suddenly disrupt every part of our lives, shutter businesses, disconnect us from each other, cause the deaths of many, cancel all events and travel and throw a shadow over the entire world. It was beyond our comprehension. That reality was not something we had envisioned. In Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is closed for the first time in 700 years. What we have been experiencing is more than unusual.


Several times in the world’s history there have been sudden cataclysms. No one would have believed they were about to happen until they did. One writer reported:

“Between the years 535 and 536, a series of major global climatic events took place that could easily be described as a global cataclysm with catastrophic consequences. Numerous accounts from all over the world from that period describe the sun as getting dimmer and losing its light. Many also described it as having a bluish color.

“The effects were also observed with the moon – it wasn’t as bright anymore. The reduction of the light resulted in the reduction of heat on the planet, no rain, and a very long winter which resulted in crop failures and for birds and other wildlife to perish. Famine and plagues struck many areas and there were a huge number of deaths.

“The catastrophic event struck Korea, the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Australia. While written records do not exist for all countries, archaeological and geological data revealed evidence of the climatic changes. Studies done on the trunks of trees, for example, showed that 536 AD had been the coldest in 1,500 years.

“There are no definite answers why it happened though one theory is a gigantic volcanic eruption– the dust thrown up into the atmosphere could have caused the dimming of the light.” These events were not only catatrosphic in themselves, but they immediately devastated social order.


So just because something isn’t in our experience, as we have so vividly learned this year, doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. We are contracted in our imagination to assume because it hasn’t happened to us, it won’t happen.

Now, these events we have just mentioned had no prophetic warning attached to them and weren’t necessarily attached to wickedness, but we see in the Book of Mormon and in our current lives that prophets, like Samuel, have given warnings that should have been heeded. Destruction could have been completely reversed if the people had forsaken their sins and laid hold upon the atonement of Jesus Christ. When His Spirit is removed by their choices, chaos follows. It is as the night follows the day. Inevitable. It seems too easy to be casual or disbelieving about a prophet’s warning.

It’s hard to believe a hurricane is coming tonight, if it is sunny all day.  

If a prophet gives us a warning, we need to take it seriously. We must believe the prophet and act on his word. We learn this story from the journal of Alexander McRae who was in Liberty Jail with the prophet Joseph Smith. Not only were their conditions deplorable in this mid-winter of 1839, but the Latter-day Saints were being driven from their homes in Missouri by a mob and they needed their prophet leader. They were in jail on spurious charges with no hope of a fair trial in Missouri.


McRae wrote that on the 7th day of February, after counseling together on the subject, the men decided to try to escape that evening when the jailer came with their supper. “But before deciding fully, and to make it more sure,” wrote McRae, “Brother Hyrum asked Brother Joseph to inquire of the Lord as to the propriety of the move.

“He did so, and received answer to this effect—that if we were all agreed, we could go clear that evening, and if we would ask, we should have a testimony for ourselves.”

Remember, they all had to be one in this, according to what the Lord told Joseph.

“I immediately asked,” wrote McCrae, “and had no more than asked until I received as clear a testimony as ever I did of anything in my life that it was true. Brother Hyrum Smith and Caleb Baldwin bore testimony to the same. But Lyman Wight said we might go if we chose, but he would not.”


He said, “After talking with [Lyman Wight] for some time, he said if we would wait until the next day, he would go with us. Without thinking we had no promise of success on any other day than the one above stated, we agreed to wait.

“When night came the jailor came alone with our supper, threw the door wide open, put our supper on the table, and went to the back part of the room where a pile of books lay, took up a book and went to reading, leaving us between him and the door, thereby giving us every chance to go if we had been ready. As the next day was agreed upon, we made no attempt to go that evening.

When the next evening came, the case was very different. The jailor brought a double guard with him, and with them six of our brethren, to wit, Erastus Snow, William D. Huntington, Cyrus Daniels, David Holeman, Alanson Ripley and Watson Barlow. I was afterwards informed that they were sent by the Church. The jailor seemed to be badly scared. He had the door locked and everything made secure. It looked like a bad chance to get away, but we were determined to try it. So when the jailor started out, we started too. Brother Hyrum took hold of the door and the rest followed. But before we were able to render him the assistance he needed, the jailor and guard succeeded in closing the door, shutting the brethren in with us, except Cyrus Daniels, who was on the outside.


“The scene that followed defies description. I should judge from the number that all the town and many from the country gathered around the jail, and every mode of torture and death that their imagination could fancy was proposed for us. But they were so divided among themselves that they could not carry out any of their plans.”

The prophet had said the Lord had told them they had to act and go on Feb. 7, if they could act as one, and they didn’t heed.

Now, from his stance on the great wall of Zarahemla, unable to enter through the gate, Samuel has given a warning of what will happen to the wicked people. They have cast out the prophets, mocked them, cast stones at them and slayed them because they wanted to walk in their own way. As the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants describes it: “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:16).

This ends up not only hurting individuals, but entire nations are blighted by this philosophy which on its surface seems so compatible and easy.


The pursuit of riches and power make the Nephites easily duped, conniving, dishonest, and greedy, heedless of who they hurt, but they can do all this without conscience because they have abandoned God. The kind of prophet they want instead is someone who would come among them and say: “Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.

“Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him (Helaman 13:27,28).

How much they insisted on being justified instead of reprimanded or corrected.


The great majority of the Nephites have utterly turned from the covenant, and without a place to turn for truth, could be easily led along. Their hearts were hardened, and they reveled in their riches and trampled the poor.

Samuel summed up the issue well by using the Lord’s own words, “If they will not repent, and observe to do my will, I will utterly destroy them, saith the Lord, because of their unbelief notwithstanding the many mighty works which I have done among them” (Helaman 15:17).

In fact, even now, they were only spared because of the righteous who are still in the land, but, “when ye shall cast out the righteous from among you, then shall ye be ripe for destruction” (Helaman 13:14). It is ironic that they would cast out the very people who are saving them.


Now, instead of living in a promised land, where the blessings of protection and prosperity have been upon them, Samuel said, “behold a curse shall come upon the land”. Remember that as we learn in Deuteronomy, covenant blessings also come with covenant cursings. A covenant blessing is called a baraka. I’ll say that again. Baraka. A covenant cursing is a galala.

God will remove His spirit from those who willfully rebel against His covenant after He has given them so much, and then chaos follows as Satan leads the people along.

So in this cursed land, “whoso shall hide up treasure in the earth shall find them again no more, save he be a righteous man and shall hide it up unto the Lord” (Helaman 13: 17,18).


Samuel tells the people their riches will become “slippery” (Helaman 13: 31,33), using the word three times and “slipped” once. The Lord gave them their riches and He is rightfully taking them back. The curse would bring losses hard to explain. “Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone” (Helaman 13:34).

That may sound a little like the garden tools in your garage.

The disobedient may cry out, but it is all in vain. In the covenant spelled out in Deuteronomy, obtaining and keeping riches is dependent on obedience to the Lord and understanding clearly who has been the Giver of the gift.

“And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God; for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God…ye shall surely perish” (Deut. 8: 17,19).


The people will cry out, “O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets…O that we had remembered the Lord, our God in the day that he gave us our riches,” (Helaman 13:33), but it will be too late.

Samuel says, “Yea, except ye repent, your women shall have great cause to mourn in the day that they shall give suck; for ye shall attempt to flee and there shall be no place for refuge.” (Helaman 15:2).

Why did the Lord send Samuel with such harsh pronouncements? Because the Nephites have been a chosen people of the Lord; yea, the people of Nephi hath he loved”, which means they have been in the covenant. Also, he has chastened them because he loveth them: (Helaman 15:3).

Now, as Elder Neal A. Maxwell used to say, that may be a snowy doctrine for some of us.


Elder D. Todd Christofferson noted, “Sadly, much of modern Christianity does not acknowledge that God makes any real demands on those who believe in Him, seeing Him rather as a butler “who meets their needs when summoned” or a therapist whose role is to help people “feel good about themselves.” It is a religious outlook that “makes no pretense at changing lives.” ‘By contrast,’ as one author declares, ‘the God portrayed in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures asks, not just for commitment, but for our very lives. The God of the Bible traffics in life and death, not niceness, and calls for sacrificial love, not benign whatever-ism.’

Elder Christofferson said, “I would like to speak of one particular attitude and practice we need to adopt if we are to meet our Heavenly Father’s high expectations. It is this: willingly to accept and even seek correction. Correction is vital if we would conform our lives ‘unto a perfect man, [that is,] unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:13). Paul said of divine correction or chastening, ‘For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth’ (Hebrews 12:6). Though it is often difficult to endure, truly we ought to rejoice that God considers us worth the time and trouble to correct.”


Elder Christofferson said, “Divine chastening has at least three purposes: (1) to persuade us to repent, (2) to refine and sanctify us, and (3) at times to redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path.

“The Lord declared, ‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent’ (Revelation 3:19). Again He said, ‘And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer’ (D&C 105:6; see also D&C 1:27).

In addition to stimulating our repentance, the very experience of enduring chastening can refine us and prepare us for greater spiritual privileges. Said the Lord, “My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom” (D&C 136:31). In another place He said, “For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified” (D&C 101:5; see also Hebrews 12:10). As Elder Paul V. Johnson said… we should take care not to resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature.” (D. Todd Christofferson, “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten”


Gerald Hansen, Jr. summed up the warning that Samuel gave well: “in our case, as in the case of the Nephites, we have had opportunity to know for many years not only that great destructions will occur, but also why. Knowing what we know, is it possible that some in our day who have the truth will dwindle in unbelief, like the Nephites, and become so wicked that they will be destroyed?

“As we have seen, Mormon’s point in the book is to show the goodness of God and the foolishness of humankind. As he depicts this foolishness and unmasks the fundamental problems of Nephite society in the book of Helaman, it becomes increasingly easy to see how we are repeating the same mistakes today.” (How Can We Avoid he Same Fate as the Nephites?”


What we most remember about Samuel’s prophecies is this:

“This will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.

Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.


“And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.

“And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven.

“And it shall come to pass that ye shall all be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth. (Helaman 14: 3-7).

Five years time. An astonishing showing of light to usher in the birth of Jesus Christ. Two things to note here. First, Samuel has made two very precise prophecies, the sign of Christ’s coming and that in 400 years the Nephites will be destroyed. This points to the precision in the Lord’s plan. We don’t know exactly what caused that day, a night, and a day without any darkness, but we do know that this kind of celestial event had to put in place millions, maybe billions or trillions of years before. The Father we worship is a God of order with events planned out well in advance so that all of the universe participates in its unfolding.


Remember in Genesis, during the creation that the lights in the firmament of the heaven were meant “for signs and for seasons” (Genesis 1:14). The Lord, as Creator, perfectly prepared his signs, to the end that the people might believe and He can convey that to a prophet to meet His own purposes. This is a God who makes cycles and signs and comets that show up only once in several thousand years and all in a perfect orchestration to teach His children. Second, it appears that there was a day, a night, and a day, but also a new star, and then beyond that signs and wonders in the heavens.” These appear to be separate events, not just one.

Still, the more part of the Nephites did not believe Samuel’s words, and “when they saw that they could not hit him with their stones and their arrows,” they said the power of the devil was in him (Helaman 16:6).


They also began to rationalize away everything Samuel had said: “We know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass, of which has been spoken” and “it is not reasonable that such a being as a Christ shall come; if so, and he be the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, as it has been spoken, why will he not show himself unto us as well as unto them who shall be at Jerusalem?”)Helaman 16: 16-18)

Here’s another irony. In mortality, we have such limited experience, it is foolish to say, this can’t happen because I haven’t seen it before. Much lies ahead that we haven’t seen before, and so much of it will be glorious beyond our possibility of reckoning.


With arrows and stones being flung at him, Samuel did flee “unto his own country, and began to preach and prophecy among his own people” (Helaman 16:7), never to be heard from again. Many of the Lamanites, following the people of Ammon, had also buried their swords in repentance. Once they had been enlightened by the gospel, they had remained firm and steadfast in the faith.

If the mighty works had been shown to them, which had been shown unto the Nephites, the Lamanites would have never dwindled in unbelief. We admire the four sons of Mosiah for preaching to the dangerous Lamanites. Samuel was just as courageous coming to preach to the hardened Nephites. Let us not be like them.


We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this has been Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. Don’t forget to look at our necklaces that have engraved “Beloved Daughter of Heavenly Parents” at Give the ones you love a divine reminder of who they are, and wear it next to your heart as well. Thanks to Paul Cardall for the beautiful music that begins and ends this podcast and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins, our producer.