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KnoWhy #176 - Why Did Helaman Compare Christ to a Rock? (Helaman 5:12)

TitleKnoWhy #176 - Why Did Helaman Compare Christ to a Rock? (Helaman 5:12)
Publication TypeKnoWhy
Year of Publication2016
Corporate AuthorsBook of Mormon Central Staff
PublisherBook of Mormon Central
Place PublishedSpringville, UT
KeywordsChief Judge; Foundation; Imagery; Jesus Christ; Judgment Seat; Lehi (Son of Helaman); Missionary Work; Nephi (Son of Helaman); Redeemer; Refuge; Rock; Symbolism

Helaman 5 gives an account of how Nephi, the son of Helaman, gave up the chief judgment-seat to go with his brother, Lehi, to preach the word of God to the “stiffnecked” Nephite people (Helaman 5:1–4). The text implies that Nephi chose to do this because he remembered some words of counsel from his father, Helaman, who had implored his sons to remember several important ideas and principles. One of these principles was “that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation” (Helaman 5:12). This phrasing is common in the scriptures and is highly reminiscent of the language of the first generation of Lehites, after whom Helaman’s sons were named. The first Nephi, the son of the patriarch Lehi, had often referred to the Lord as the “rock.”

In the imagery of the Hebrew Bible, the rocks are a place of refuge and safety from storms, hail, and arrows in the whirlwind, and the Lord is ultimately the rock and refuge of Israel. Scriptures such as Isaiah 25:4 describe Jehovah as a place of refuge from the storm, when times of trouble arise. Others, such as Isaiah 28, depict the Lord as the cornerstone of the temple, a sure foundation upon which to build. The imagery common to these passages, that the Lord is the Rock, inspires faith in the idea that despite all that the Adversary has to throw at believers, they can seek refuge and safety in Christ. They can be sure that if they build their lives upon Him, His Atonement, and His Gospel, they will be building on a safe and secure foundation.

Citation Key2234

Scripture Reference

Helaman 5:12