Helaman Chapter 12 Critique

Setting: Men are unstable and foolish and quick to do evil—The Lord chastens His people—The nothingness of men is compared with the power of God—In the day of judgment, men will gain everlasting life or everlasting damnation. About 6 B.C.

Verse 1: And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
Olmec religious activities were performed by a combination of rulers, full-time priests, and shamans. The rulers seem to have been the most important religious figures, with their links to the Olmec deities or supernaturals providing legitimacy for their rule. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verse 2: Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
Specifics concerning Olmec religion are a matter of some conjecture. Early researchers found religious beliefs to be centered upon a jaguar god. This view was challenged in the 1970s by Peter David Joralemon, whose Ph. D. paper and subsequent article posited what are now considered to be 8 different supernaturals. Over time Joralemon's viewpoint has become the predominant exposition of the Olmec pantheon. The study of Olmec religion, however, is still in its infancy and any list of Olmec supernaturals or deities can be neither definitive nor comprehensive. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verse 3: And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
The names and identities of these supernaturals are only provisional and the details concerning many of them remain poorly known. The confusion stems in part because the supernaturals are defined as a cluster of icongraphic motifs. Any given motif may appear in multiple supernaturals. For example, "flame eyebrows" are seen at times within representations of both the Olmec Dragon and the Bird Monster, and the cleft head is seen on all five supernaturals that appear on Las Limas Monument 1. To add to the confusion, Joralemon suggested that many of these gods had multiple aspects – for example, Joralemon had identified a God I-A through a God I-F. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verses 4-5: O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world! Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
Olmec Dragon (God I) Also known as the Earth Monster, the Olmec Dragon has flame eyebrows, a bulbous nose, and bifurcated tongue. When viewed from the front, the Olmec Dragon has trough-shaped eyes; when viewed in profile, the eyes are L-shaped. Fangs are prominent, often rendered as an upside-down U-shaped bracket. With the Bird Monster, the Olmec Dragon is one of the most commonly depicted supernaturals. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verse 6: Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide.
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
Maize deity (God II) Another probable supernatural is identified by the plants sprouting from its cleft head. A carved celt from Veracruz shows a representation of God II, or the Maize God, growing corn from his cleft, and also shows this god with the snarling face associated with the jaguar. This deity is rarely shown with a full body. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verses 7-8: O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
Bird Monster (God III) The Bird Monster is often identified with the harpy eagle, although it also has mammalian and reptilian features. The bird monster is associated with rulership. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verses 9-15: Yea, behold at his voice do the hills and the mountains tremble and quake. And by the power of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley. Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake; Yea, by the power of his voice, do the foundations rock, even to the very center. Yea, and if he say unto the earth—Move—it is moved. Yea, if he say unto the earth—Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours—it is done; And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun.
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
Rain Spirit and Were-jaguar (God IV) There is considerable disagreement between researchers whether the Rain Spirit and were-jaguar are one distinct or two separate supernaturals. Christopher Pool, Anatole Pohorilenko, and Miller & Taube each equate the were-jaguar with the Rain Deity, while Joralemon finds them to be two separate supernaturals. Joralemon states that the Olmec rain spirit "is based on were-jaguar features", but is not the were-jaguar per se. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verses 16-18: And behold, also, if he say unto the waters of the great deep—Be thou dried up—it is done. Behold, if he say unto this mountain—Be thou raised up, and come over and fall upon that city, that it be buried up—behold it is done. And behold, if a man hide up a treasure in the earth, and the Lord shall say—Let it be accursed, because of the iniquity of him who hath hid it up—behold, it shall be accursed.
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
Feathered Serpent (God VII) Designated God VII by Scott Pelly, the feathered (or plumed) serpent depicted throughout Mesoamerica first appears in Olmec times, although there is some disagreement concerning its importance to the Olmec.[24] The Feathered Serpent appears on La Venta Stele 19 (above) and within a Juxtlahuaca cave painting (see this Commons photo), locations hundreds of miles apart. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verse 19: And if the Lord shall say—Be thou accursed, that no man shall find thee from this time henceforth and forever—behold, no man getteth it henceforth and forever.
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
Fish or Shark Monster (God VIII) Most often recognized by its shark tooth, the head of the monster also features a crescent-shaped eye, and a small lower jaw. When depicted in its full-body form, such as on San Lorenzo Monument 58 or on the Young Lord figurine, the anthropomorphic Fish Monster also displays crossed bands, a dorsal fin, a split tail. This supernatural's profile is shown on the left leg of Las Limas Monument 1. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verse 20: And behold, if the Lord shall say unto a man—Because of thine iniquities, thou shalt be accursed forever—it shall be done.
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
Banded-eye God (God VI) This enigmatic deity is named for the narrow band that runs along the side of its face through its almond-shaped eye with its round iris. Like many other supernaturals, the Banded-eye God has a cleft head and a downturned mouth. Unlike others, the Banded-eye God is only known from its profile - these renditions are generally concentrated on bowls from the Valley of Mexico (as shown on left), although the Banded-eye God is one of the five supernaturals shown on Las Limas Monument 1 from the Olmec heartland. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verse 21: And if the Lord shall say—Because of thine iniquities thou shalt be cut off from my presence—he will cause that it shall be so.
Note: Pre-Columbian natives were polytheistic pagans.
Marshall Howard Saville first suggested in 1929 that the Olmec deities were forerunners of later Mesoamerican gods, linking were-jaguar votive axes with the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca. This proposal was amplified by Miguel Covarrubias in his 1957 work Indian Art of Mexico and Central America where he famously drew a family tree showing 19 later Mesoamerican rain deities as descendents of a "jaguar masked" deity portrayed on a votive axe. The Continuity Hypothesis has since been generally accepted by scholars, although the extent of Olmec influence on later cultures is still debated. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

Verse 22: And wo unto him to whom he shall say this, for it shall be unto him that will do iniquity, and he cannot be saved; therefore, for this cause, that men might be saved, hath repentance been declared.
Note: Old Testament repentance involved animal sacrifice.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘He who offers the sacrifice of his peace offering to the Lord shall bring his offering to the Lord from the sacrifice of his peace offering. Leviticus 7:28-29.

Verse 23: Therefore, blessed are they who will repent and hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; for these are they that shall be saved.
Note: Old Testament repentance involved animal sacrifice.
His own hands shall bring the offerings made by fire to the Lord. The fat with the breast he shall bring, that the breast may be waved as a wave offering before the Lord. And the priest shall burn the fat on the altar, but the breast shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. Also the right thigh you shall give to the priest as a heave offering from the sacrifices of your peace offerings. Leviticus 7:30-32.

Verse 24: And may God grant, in his great fulness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works.
Note: Sidney Rigdon’s doctrinal weakness was salvation by works.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9.

Verses 25-26: And I would that all men might be saved. But we read that in the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord; Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation. And thus it is. Amen.
Note: Many will not be saved by the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” Matthew 7:13.