The forty-ninth year of the reign of the judges saw the effects of the great leadership of Helaman. The main problem was the Gadianton band of robbers (v. 23). Being “established in the more settled parts of the land” must refer to the bigger cities. The same pattern exists in our day. The secret combinations, note they are plural, function wherever large bodies of people reside. There works of darkness and secrecy are easier to carry out among the masses. That they were “not known” by those in the government is an indication that the secret combinations of our day are farther advanced than they were in Helaman’s day. Our governments know of them and their work. The government tries to control their actions and protect the people, but laws of privacy and personal rights often hampers the government in their endeavors. Certain areas of certain cities in our day seem to be controlled by the secret combinations.
The great prosperity in the church is also a parallel to our day (v. 24). Thousands and tens of thousands are today being baptized into the church (v. 26). The building of temples, the growth of business, opportunities for education, and the multi-media inventions are amazing to the older generations of the Church, and even amazing to some of the younger generations. In these prosperous times, the challenge is to remain faithful in spite of the worldly things that surround us.