Book of Mormon
“On the Morrow Come I into the World”
The signs of the Savior's birth vindicate those who have endured in faith.
The Gadianton robbers come to battle against the Nephites.
The Nephites live righteously and prosper, but pride and dissensions arise.
A study of this lesson will help us understand the need to endure faithfully in
times of trial and temptation.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 36 Handout (PDF)
President Ezra Taft Benson: "In the Book of Mormon
we find a pattern for preparing for the Second Coming." (Teachings
of Ezra Taft Benson, p59)
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM 3 NEPHI TO HELP US PREPARE FOR THE LORD'S SECOND COMING?
"And it shall come to pass that
he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord
to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man. And they shall see signs
and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in
the earth beneath."
"And whoso treasureth
up my word, shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, and he
shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and
they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds,
from one end of heaven to the other." (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:37)
3 Nephi 1-5
3 Nephi 1:4-9.
Events leading up to the signs announcing the birth of the Savior.
WHY DO YOU THINK THE PEOPLE WHO DID NOT BELIEVE THAT CHRIST WOULD COME
WERE SO EXTREME IN THEIR OPPOSITION TO THE BELIEVERS?
As we look at our own time, there are certainly those opposed to believers.
- WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT IS THE CASE? (The answer to this question
may give us some insight into why some of the ancient Nephites were so
opposed to the believers)
- The moral lifestyle and eternal principles of the righteous threaten the
wickedness of the opposition.
There are those seeking for power by appealing to the carnality of man and
approving of it.
- A strong majority of righteous believers would reduce or eliminate their
HOW DID THE PROPHET NEPHI RESPOND TO THIS CRISIS?
HOW MIGHT CHURCH MEMBERS BE SIMILARLY CHALLENGED IN OUR DAY?
Consider this excerpt from a letter written by my son who served
a mission in Bulgaria (2000-2001): "Ever since we started the Plovdiv chapel,
we have been getting a lot of bad press. They really do not want it
to go up. Last Sunday they had a huge protest against the building
with 600 people. Day after day, we are getting articles against us,
not just in the Plovdiv papers, but also in the national papers. That really made me sad. It is interesting because I am reading the
New Testament right now. So, it is interesting to see the ties between
doing good works and the opposition that comes with it. People get
to the point that they will see good works and it will only make them more
bitter. It is interesting to read that even though Christ was doing
all of these miracles, they wouldn't believe. Even when Peter cut
the ear of the guard . . . they still did not see that [Jesus] was performing
miracles and took him to be tried. So, it is really disheartening
to see all of this oppression against the church here. Especially
against the members."
We do have challenges in our day. Nephi responded in mighty prayer. My son suggested that we "clinch our teeth and get back to work." The early Saints of this dispensation did both and today we see the results
of their faithfulness.
WHAT SIGNS OF CHRIST'S BIRTH WERE GIVEN IN ANCIENT AMERICA?
No darkness at the setting of the sun (v15).
A new star did appear (v21).
HOW WERE THE PEOPLE AFFECTED BY THESE SIGNS?
"The more part of the people did believe, and
were converted unto the Lord" (v22).
HOW CAN UNDERSTANDING THE SIGNS THAT PRECEDE CHRIST'S SECOND COMING HELP
They should be an additional witness of the Lord's hand in the events upon
this earth. These additional witnesses ought to encourage
us to continue with all diligence.
The rise of the Gadianton robbers.
In 3 Nephi 2 we read that the Gadianton robbers became numerous. They did slay many people, laid waste to cities, and spread death
and carnage (v11).
HOW DID THE RIGHTEOUS NEPHITES AND LAMANITES RESPOND TO THE THREAT AGAINST
THEIR FREEDOM POSED BY THE GADIANTON ROBBERS?
They took up arms against them (v11).
They cried unto the Lord for strength against the time the robbers would
come against them (3 Nephi 3:12).
In 3 Nephi 3 the people banded together for protection and to starve the
robbers out into the open.
3 Nephi 3:25 says that they did repent of all their sins.
3 NEPHI 4:7-10.
WHY DIDN'T THE RIGHTEOUS NEPHITES AND LAMANITES FEAR THE GADIANTON ARMY?
They trusted in the Lord.
This is a great lesson as we face adversity in life!
Do we supplicate the Lord for strength and protection as we face these
An interesting system of justice - see
3 Nephi 5:1-6.
"The Nephite approach to the captured Gadianton
members was remarkable in light of many trends in our present society. Modern societies expend millions of dollars trying to psychoanalyze and
rehabilitate criminals. Notice the twofold approach of the Nephites,
who understood the Gadianton conspiracy posed a real threat to both the
government and the Church. The Nephites preached the gospel to the
robbers to see if they would be converted. If converted, the Gadiantons
were freed--a remarkable bit of jurisprudence in and of itself! If
the Gadiantons refused to repent, they "were condemned and punished according
to the law." (Book of Mormon Student Manual, p113)
3 Nephi 6
A few short years after the great battle against the Gadianton robbers,
the record states that "there became a great inequality
in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up"
WHAT INEQUALITIES EXISTED THAT THREATENED THE CHURCH?
They began to be distinguished by their ranks:
Their chances for learning (v12).
Some were ignorant because of their poverty.
There were those who were proud and humble (v13).
Satan did stir the people up to do all manner of iniquity tempting them
to seek for power, authority, and riches (v15).
WHAT INEQUALITIES MIGHT CAUSE PROBLEMS IN THE CHURCH TODAY? HOW CAN WE
HELP ELIMINATE THESE INEQUALITIES?
3 NEPHI 6:15-18.
HOW DID SATAN GAIN SO MUCH POWER AMONG THE NEPHITES WHO HAD BEEN RIGHTEOUS?
"...tempting them to seek for power, and authority,
and riches, and the vain things of the world" (v15).
WHAT METHODS DOES SATAN USE TO GAIN POWER OVER RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE TODAY?
Power, recreation, carnality, wealth.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell warns us about the power of these great temptations:
"Unlike Jesus, sometimes we first provide access for
and then augment our own temptations. By paying even small heed to a temptation,
we thus forget that temptations are like a poison gas—they spread through the
time and space available to them. Once inside and rebuked, they are not easily
"Another advantage of dispatching temptations is this: The
human mind is remarkably retentive. We must be careful of what we allow in our
mind, for it will be there for a long time, reasserting itself at those very
times when we may be most vulnerable. Just as harmful chemicals heedlessly
dumped in a vacant lot can later prove lethal, so toxic thoughts and the
mulching of the wrong memories in the vacant corner of the mind also take their
"What happens, of course, when we persist in savoring
temptations, whether they are temptations of wealth, power, status, or
sensuality, is well portrayed by what we read of another people in another time:
'Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power,
unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the
puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and
riches, and the vain things of the world.' (3 Ne. 6:153 Nephi 6:15).
"This people actually lost both personal and social
control, as these words vividly portray: 'And thus, in the commencement of the
thirtieth year—the people having been delivered up for the space of a long time
to be carried about by the temptations of the devil whithersoever he desired to
carry them, and to do whatsoever iniquity he desired they should—and thus they
were in a state of awful wickedness." (3 Nephi 6:17).
"Surely it should give us more pause than it does to think
of how casually we sometimes give to him who could not control his own ego in
the premortal world such awful control over our egos here. We often let the
adversary do indirectly now what we refused to let him do directly then."
(We Will Prove Them Herewith, p44-45)
HOW CAN WE BETTER RECOGNIZE AND RESIST SATAN'S INFLUENCE?
- Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: "The Lord has given
us prophets to guide us and keep us from evil if we will accept and follow their
instruction. The Lord would say to us today as he said to the ancient
Israelites: 'Be not afraid nor dismayed . . . for the battle is not yours, but
God's. . . . Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe
the prophets, so shall ye prosper.' (2 Chronicles 20:15, 20)....
"In addition to the scriptures and the words of
modern-day prophets, the promptings of the Spirit can help Latter-day Saints to
discern clearly what they must do to be on the Lord's side.
"To be on the Lord's side, we need to learn that true
principles will lead us to peace and happiness in this world, and to glory and
exaltation in the world to come. We also need to learn that choosing the other
side will only bring us problems, heartache, and sorrow....
"We must be cautious of seemingly small thoughts and
actions that can lead to large consequences. Just a little anger, unkindness, or
disobedience; a dishonest deed; a few unclean thoughts; a little pornography;
one experiment with drugs; a few lies; a little fraud; or a feeling of hate can
lead us into the camp of the adversary. Giving just an inch here and there can
put us close enough to the line that one slip will take us right over it....
"The Lord said, 'Remember the sabbath day, to keep it
holy' (Exodus 20:8), and made Sabbath day observance a sign between him and the
people to indicate their obedience (see Exodus 31:13-17). That commandment and
that sign have never been rescinded." (Finding Peace in Our Lives,
3 Nephi 7
The chief judge of the land was murdered (v1).
In the aftermath of that destruction, the people divided into factions
(tribes) of family, kindred, and friends. The government of the land
was destroyed (v2).
As noted above, President Benson states that we find in the Book of Mormon
a pattern for the Second Coming. Recall the following statement from
Joseph Smith: "Even this nation will be on the
verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution
is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the Staff upon which the
Nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very
verge of destruction" (quoted in Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pp623-624).
The only government that existed at this time was within each tribe (v3).
"And the regulations of the government were destroyed,
because of the secret combination of the friends and kindreds of those
who murdered the prophets" (v6).
This fall from righteousness happened in the space of six short years.
Those who were wicked joined together under the head of a man by the name
of Jacob (v9-10).
The remainder of the tribes joined in a loose confederation in opposition
to the followers of Jacob (v11).
Nephi did administer among the people and they were angry with him (v20).
A few were converted (v21).
Consider again President Benson's statement that within the Book of Mormon we find
a pattern for the Second Coming.
- WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO US IN OUR TIME?
- Hugh Nibley: "And how is it with us?
Speaking to our own society, the Book of Mormon does not mince matters, but
goes right to the point. The power of God has been denied, the churches have
become defiled, there are 'great pollutions upon the face of the earth, . .
. murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all
manner of abominations' and all for one reason: 'For behold, ye do love
money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your
churches, more than ye love the poor. . . . Why do ye adorn yourselves with
that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the
naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?'
(Mormon 8:37-39). The final warning of the Book of Mormon is that the people
of the land have been destroyed because of their concern for the vain things
of the world, and always their destruction has come through the same
instrumentality, 'secret combinations, to get power and gain' (Ether 8:22).
We are warned that such combinations, built up to get power and gain, will
again be the overthrow and destruction of America if they are allowed to get
the upper hand (Ether 8:21-22).
"And they do not gain the upper hand by any genius or
skill of their own, but only with the active consent of the people who
'suffer these things to be' (Ether 8:23), yielding to fair promises because
they themselves love and admire power and gain (Ether 8:17). This is the
message of the Book of Mormon to the Gentiles (Ether 8:23), and its message
to the Church is like unto it: 'And if ye seek the riches which it is the
will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people,
for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the
riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as
the Nephites of old' (D&C 38:39)." (An Approach to the Book of
- WHAT ACTIONS DO WE NEED TO TAKE WITHIN OUR OWN LIVES AND AS LATTER-DAY
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the events recorded in 3 Nephi 1-7.
How can an understanding of these chapters motivate you to be more diligent in
obeying the commandments? What are the consequences for disobedience?
Personally? As a community? As a nation?
Resources Used In This Lesson
An Approach to the Book of Mormon by Hugh Nibley.
Book of Mormon Student Manual.
Finding Peace in Our Lives by Joseph B. Wirthlin.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
We Will Prove Them Herewith by Neal A. Maxell.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
01 August 2016