Helaman, the eldest son of Alma the Younger, was both the leading high priest of his generation and a military hero. Alma gave Helaman charge over “the sacred things” of the Lord , including the plates of brass, the sacred Nephite records, the twenty-four Jaredite plates, the “interpreters” , and the Liahona. His aging father commanded him to take his place as a spiritual leader among the people. “See that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell”. Helaman and his brethren exercised “exceedingly great care over the church, for they were high priests over the church”.
At the same time, Helaman supported Captain Moroni in withstanding the attacks of traitors such as Amalickiah and later Ammoron. Helaman became the leader of the legendary 2,000 stripling warriors in the struggle to defend the liberty of the people. Mormon summarized the character of Helaman and his brethren: “Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni; for they did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words. And thus they went forth, and the people did humble themselves because of their words, insomuch that they were highly favored of the Lord”.
History: Helaman lived from around 100 BC to 57 BC. From his father Alma he received a firm foundation of truth and eternal principles upon which to build his life.
O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.
Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
Alma then shared privately with his son a troubling prophecy concerning the future of the Nephite nation, namely, that they were heading for ultimate extinction “because they shall dwindle in unbelief and fall into the works of darkness,... yea, I say unto you, that because they shall sin against so great light and knowledge, yea, I say unto you, that from that day, even the fourth generation shall not all pass away before this great iniquity shall come”. Thus, Helaman was given a prophetic context for his lifelong mission of blessing the lives of the people and bringing to them the saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that they might maintain favor with God and the blessings of liberty.
The pattern for achieving and maintaining such liberty was summarized by Helaman in his epistle to Moroni, leader of the Nephite armies, concerning the courageous stripling warriors. “But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come”. These words were written around 63 BC amidst an ongoing political revolution.
As a military strategist, Helaman played a significant role in the campaign to save the country from subjugation at the hands of evil tyrants. On one occasion, for example, he led forth his small army of 2,000 young men as a decoy to draw the strongest army of the Lamanites out of the city of Antiparah. After a long flight, the small army turned and fell upon the enemy “as if with the strength of God” and became the decisive factor in helping the army of Antipus, coming up behind the ranks of the Lamanites, to secure an important victory.
When at last peace was again restored in the land, Helaman returned to his ministry “to preach unto the people the word of God; for because of so many wars and contentions it had become expedient that a regulation should be made again in the church. Therefore, Helaman and his brethren went forth, and did declare the word of God with much power unto the convincing of many people of their wickedness, which did cause them to repent of their sins and to be baptized unto the Lord their God. And it came to pass that they did establish again the church of God, throughout all the land”.