Book of Mormon Lesson 17: "A Seer . . . Becometh a Great Benefit to His Fellow Beings"

by | Apr. 20, 2012

Sunday School

Behold what wonders God hath wrought! Truth springs out of the earth; the gold plates are translated by the gift and power of God; and the voice we hear is one that whispers from the dust. It is the voice of all the Nephis, of Alma and Amulek and Abinadi, of Ether and Mormon and Moroni of all the Nephite and Jaredite prophets. It is the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ, who ministered among the Nephites, inviting them to feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet and to thrust their hands into his riven side. It is the voice of doctrine and testimony and miracles. It is the voice of God speaking to men through the Book of Mormon.

Knowing beforehand what should come to pass in the last days, the Lord Jehovah spoke by the mouth of Isaiah relative to the Nephite peoples who should "be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire." Because they forsook the Lord and fought against Zion, it should be with them "as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite." Because they rejected the gospel and fought against the truth, they should be destroyed.

But a record would be preserved, and through it the great things revealed to their prophets would be known again. "And thou shalt be brought down," the prophetic word intones, "and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust." The spirit and tone and tenor of the message shall be familiar. A like account, one dealing with the same truths, the same laws, and the same ordinances, is found in the Bible. (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, p.151  p.152)

In the book of Mosiah, there are people all over the place. Groups of Nephites among the Lamanites; groups of Lamanites wandering around lost in the wilderness. Wicked kings and wonderful kings. Wicked priests and seers and martyrs and fashbacks within flashbacks. The doctrine of Mosiah is wonderful, but without some understanding of the history, the book can be most confusing. 

The following are the most significant movements of people in the book of Mosiah:

-A group of Nephites attempts to return to the Land of Nephi from Zarahemla to live there (Omni 1:27,28; Mosiah 9:1,2).
-A second group, under the leadership of Zeniff returns to the land of Nephi and settles there (Omni 1:29,30; Mosiah 9:3-7,ff).
-Alma and a group of believers flee into the wilderness. They finally settle in Helam (Mosiah 18; 23:1-5,18).
-Noah's wicked priests under the leadership of Amulon flee into the wilderness (Mosiah 19:20,21). -They steal Lamanite wives (Mosiah 20:1-5), and settle in a place called Amulon (Mosiah 23:31).
-Limhi sends men to search for the land of Zarahemla. They become lost in the wilderness, wander for many days, and find Jaredite ruins and 24 gold plates. (Mosiah 21:25-27; Ether 1:1,2).
-Mosiah II sends 16 men under the leadership of a man named Ammon to look for the colony of Zeniff (Mosiah 7:1-5,ff).
-Ammon leads King Limhi, son of Noah, and his people, out of bondage and back to Zarahemla (Mosiah 22:11-13).
-The Lamanite army that pursues Limhi becomes lost, and then discovers Amulon and his people (Mosiah 23:30-32). Then they stumble upon the land of Helam; Alma and his people are placed in bondage.
-Alma and his people escape from the Lamanites and are led by the Lord to Zarahemla (Mosiah 24:16-25). 

The book of Mosiah suggests one other important insight. At one time or another, almost everyone in the book is afflicted with blindness. They cannot see clearly those things that matter most to them. There are solutions for these problems, solutions that come from the scriptures and from seers and from repentance.

One of the best definitions of a seer found anywhere in the scriptures is given by Ammon. What question did Limhi ask of Ammon that caused Ammon to speak of seers? (Mosiah 8:12)

What other titles are associated with the title of seer according to Ammon? (Mosiah 8:16) Which men do we sustain today as prophets, seers, and revelators? 

Can you identify the role of a seer as described by Ammon (Mosiah 8:17,18) How do our present prophets, seers, and revelators fulfill these vital functions? Ponder the following illustration from President Boyd K. Packer.

The ultimate purpose of the adversary . . . is to disrupt, disturb, and destroy the home and the family. Like a ship without a rudder. Without a compass, we drift from the family values that have anchored us in the past. Now we are caught in a current so strong that unless we correct our course, civilization as we know it will surely be wrecked to pieces . . .
This crisis of the family is no surprise to the Church. We have certainly known what was coming . . . .

The scriptures speak of prophets as “watchmen] upon the tower" who see Athe enemy while he [is] yet afar off" (D&C 101:54) and who have Abeheld things which are not visible to the natural eye . . . [for] a seer hath the Lord raised up unto his people." (Moses 6:36)

Thirty-three years ago the brethren warned us of the disintegration of the family and told us to prepare. . . .

The weekly family home evening was introduced by the First Presidency. . . .

Parents [were] provided with excellent materials for teaching their children, with a promise that the faithful will be blessed. . . .

All agencies of the Church have been reshaped in their relationship to one another and to the home. . . .

The entire curriculum of the Church was overhauled, based on scriptures. 

And years were spent preparing new editions of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. . . .

We can only imagine where we would be if we were just now reacting to this terrible redefinition of the family. But that is not the case. We are not casting frantically about trying to decide what to do. We know what to do and what to teach.

The course we follow is not of our own making. (Elder Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, May 1994, p. 20)

What Ammon said to Limhi about 200 B.C. is certainly true in our day: “A seer can know of . . . things which are to come." (Mosiah 8:17)

What traits or behaviors does Limhi recognize in people which make a seer a great benefit to them? (Mosiah 8:20,21)

Ponder recent conference addresses based on topics that are concerns for you. Can you think of experiences in which the counsel of a seer has provided a great benefit to you?

Zeniff encountered difficulties in establishing his colony among the Lamanites. One of the causes of this difficulty was that the Lamanites felt they had been "wronged," were therefore “wroth," and consequently taught their children to "hate" the Nephites (Mosiah 10:12-17)). How do the traditions of the past stir people up to hate each other? Why are such traditions perpetuated? Can you think of examples of similar situations happening in families, communities, nations, or the world in the year 2012?

Note what the record of Zeniff suggests that we do to overcome this problem? (Mosiah 9:1 - “when I saw that which was good among them . . .") How will looking for the good in others help cure the problems of hatred and animosity? How did Zeniff try to end this conflict? (By talking with the King. See Mosiah 8:5,6) What steps could we take in our lives to develop this quality of looking for the good in others? I have noticed that in my own family, when the children arouse me to feelings of frustration and anger, that those feelings can be controlled if I take the time to reflect on all the good things they do.

In what ways was the experience of the sons of Mosiah similar to the experience of Zeniff? (Alma 26:23-26) What suggestion did some Nephites make for dealing with the Lamanites? What action did the sons of Mosiah take to overcome the hatred between the Nephites and Lamanites? (They preached the gospel to them)


What King Noah do to “change the affairs of the kingdom." (Mosiah 11:1-19) Because of the rapid degeneration of the Nephites under King Noah, the Lord sent a prophet to call them to repentance. Where was Abinadi from? (Mosiah 11:20: he was a “man among them" (emphasis added).

As you reflect on the monarchy of Noah, think of how he compares with Benjamin. Placing these two leaders side by side teaches a great lesson about great leadership.

Use the following verses to compare King Benjamin and King Noah:

Reference     Subject     Reference
Mosiah 11:2   Wickedness Mosiah 2:13
Mosiah 11:3,4   Riches     Mosiah 2:12,14
Mosiah 11:5,7   Religion   W of M 1:15,16
Mosiah 11:6   Service     Mosiah 2:11
Mosiah 11:14   Motives   Mosiah 2:15

Long years ago I was living in Logan, Utah, going to school, working full time, raising a family. I always had too much to do and too little time to do it. One day as I raced west on 10th North from USU to my home, I flew past a policeman with his radar running. He was after me in a heartbeat and I pulled over and waited for him. I was exceeding the speed limit by a large margin, and expected to be hit with a financial liability of federal proportions. But for some reason he gave me a warning only, enjoined me to go easy on gas pedal, and drove away. I offered a quiet prayer of gratitude and went home to tell my wife how good the Lord had been.

Notice the nature of Abinadi's first warning to the people of Noah. He mentions judgments that will come upon them “except they repent” (Mosiah 11:20,21,23,25). Abinadi is giving the people of Noah a warning ticket, warning them to change their ways. What was the response of the people to this warning of Abinadi? (Mosiah 11:26; 12:9) Why were the people angry with Abinadi but not with Noah? (Mosiah 11:29) What parallels can you see today? How do wicked people react to the words of a prophet? Why would so many rather follow the example of a man who leads them in wickedness? Consider the teaching of Samuel the Lamanite about this matter.

As the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil. But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall 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 desirethand 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 13:26-28))

After two years, Abinadi came again among the people, this time in disguise, to deliver a second message (Mosiah 12:1). Notice that the nature of his message has changed rather dramatically. The judgments he enumerates are not conditional. Again and again Abinadi employs phrases like, “I will visit them in mine anger",or “it shall come to pass" or “they shall be smitten." (See Mosiah 12:1-7) The only conditional warning of this message is the final one:

And it shall come to pass that except they repent I will utterly destroy them from off the face of the earth . . . (Mosiah 12:8).

Just one week after my first meeting with the policeman on 10th North in Logan, I met him again, in the same place and for precisely the same reason. He remembered me, and I am quite confident that the thought of a warning ticket never crossed his mind on this second occasion. He wrote me up and he wrote me up hard! And I deserved a significant pain in my pocketbook because I had utterly ignored the first warning. 

For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul. (2 Nephi 26:11)

Sooner or later, the Lord will stop writing warning tickets, as he did with the Nephite colony in the land of Nephi.

When Abinadi gave his second warning, what did the people say in defense of Noah? (Mosiah 12:13-15) 

What would cause a person to reject an Abinadi in favor of a Noah? Who are the Noahs in our lives? Who are the Abinadis of our lives? How might one justify rejecting an Abinadi to follow a Noah?

Since we are in the season of General Conference [I am writing this about one month before April Conference, but most of you will read it after conference], perhaps you will pardon one additional observation on this matter.

When Jehoshaphat, king of Judah traveled to visit Ahab, king of Israel, Ahab invited Jehoshaphat to join him in a campaign against Syria to retake Israelite possessions that had been captured by the Syrians (1 Kings 22:2-4) Jehoshaphat was willing, but he wanted to know that the Lord thought about it and asked Ahab to enquire of God before the battle. Ahab brought in 400 false prophets who encouraged the battle and predicted success (1 K. 22:6). 

Jehoshaphat was still not satisfied: “Is there not here a [true] prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him?" (1 K. 22:7). The answer of Ahab to this question teaches a wonderful lesson about prophets.

And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, [There is] yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil (1 K. 22:8).

Consider why Ahab and Noah hated the prophets that spoke to them and of them, and then consider the lesson. How ought we to react when the prophets say things we do not like to hear? It seems to me that if a message comes to us from the prophets and seers that we do not want to hear, that message is probably one we desperately need to hear. At least that was true for Noah and his people.

Ahab rejected the words of Micaiah, and died as Micaiah had prophesied. Noah rejected the words of Abinadi, and died as Abinadi had prophesied. What statement did the Lord inspire Abinadi to make about the way in which Noah would eventually be valued? (Mosiah 12:3) Who would place that value on him? (Mosiah 19:18-20: the same people who earlier defended him) 

Find a pair of glasses and take a look at them and through them. Glasses correct physical problems with vision. Even so, we sometimes need spiritual lenses in order to see the good in others as did Zeniff, and in order to distinguish between the Noahs and Abinadis that we meet in our lives.
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