1. Great destruction occurs in the Americas at the time of Jesus’ death.
3 Nephi 8:5 In the first month, on the fourth day of the month
“The New Testament account of the crucifixion of Christ would seem to indicate that the Savior was crucified the very week he became thirty-three years of age. The Book of Mormon not only substantiates this account, but also provides us with an exact date of the crucifixion. According to the Nephite calendar system, the Savior was crucified ‘in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month.’ (3 Nephi 8:5.) Although we are not certain when the first month of the Nephite calendar would occur, if the Nephites were using the same calendar system as the Hebrews, the first month would be in the spring of the year sometime between about the middle of March and the middle of April.” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion To Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 258-9)
3 Nephi 8:6-19 Physical upheavals testify of Christ
“A great and terrible tempest … such as never had been known in all the land” unleashed untold natural destruction (3 Nephi 8:6–7). These physical upheavals were signs in America witnessing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem (see 1 Nephi 19:10–12; Helaman 14:20–21). Some physical upheavals in our day signal the approaching of the Second Coming.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cited the increase of major earthquakes as one of the signs of the Second Coming: “Signs of the Second Coming are all around us and seem to be increasing in frequency and intensity. For example, the list of major earthquakes in The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2004 shows twice as many earthquakes in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s as in the two preceding decades (see pages 189–90). It also shows further sharp increases in the first several years of this century. The list of notable floods and tidal waves and the list of hurricanes, typhoons, and blizzards worldwide show similar increases in recent years (see pages 188–89). Increases by comparison with 50 years ago can be dismissed as changes in reporting criteria, but the accelerating pattern of natural disasters in the last few decades is ominous” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2004). (Book of Mormon INstitute Manual)
3 Nephi 8:20-22 Thick darkness
“This, like much else in the account (e.g., that God ‘did send down fire and destroy them,’ 3 Nephi 9:11), suggests nearby volcanic activity. And indeed, in many cases earthquakes are the preparation for the volcano that follows, as in the Chilean 1960 quake, which triggered the activity of long-dormant volcanoes in the area. Most of the victims of the great catastrophes of Pompeii, St. Pierre (Martinique, 1902), and Mt. Pelee (1906) died of suffocation when earthquake dust, volcanic ash, steam, and hot gasses (mostly sulfureted hydrogen gas) took the place of air. In some areas, the Book of Mormon reports, people were ‘overpowered by the vapor of smoke and of darkness,’ and so lost their lives (3 Nephi 10:13). Even without volcanic accompaniments, however, major earthquakes kick up a terrible dust and, according to Sieberg, are accompanied by phenomenal vapors and astonishingly thick air. In the Assam earthquake such contamination ‘reduced [visibility] to a few feet and made breathing a nightmare.’
“According to 3 Nephi 8:20-21 the ‘vapor of darkness’ was not only tangible to the survivors, but defeated every attempt to light candles or torches for illumination. At present, intensive studies are being made of the destruction of the Greek island of Thera (today Santorini) in 1400 B.C. This catastrophe, well within historic times, is thought to have been eight times as violent as Krakatoa and is described in terms exactly paralleling the account in 3 Nephi. Among other things it is pointed out that the overpowering thickness of the air must have extinguished all lamps.” (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, p. 236)
3 Nephi 8:23 No light for 3 days
“These three days of darkness obviously accord with the three days that the body of the crucified Christ lay in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. How appropriate that the lands of the Book of Mormon be draped in darkness to commemorate the death and suffering of their king! The coming of light each morning ought be a reminder to all of the manner in which our Redeemer brought to an end that long night of darkness we associate with death and ought also be a reminder of the promise granted us, through him, of a newness of life.” (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 39)
3 Nephi 9:8-10 Cities destroyed
‘The Lord’s account of destroyed cities tells a story of great damage. The listing of their fates (see 3 Nephi 8-9) informs us of sixteen named cities that bore the brunt of the natural catastrophe. The list appears to be in two parts: 3 Nephi 9:3–7 gives the names of three destroyed places that we know were located in the land southward, so it is logical that the four cities mentioned with them were also located in the south. 3 Nephi 9:8–10 form a distinct segment of text and probably name cities farther northward. Jacobugath was farther north than all the other cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon for which we know locations. Very likely the others mentioned with it in these three verses were likewise to the north.’ [John L. Sorenson, Mormon’s Map, F.A.R.M.S., p. 118]
2. Survivors hear the voice of the Lord inviting them to return to Him.
3 Nephi 9:10-12 Great destructions
‘In this passage, cities that are particularly wicked in casting out the prophets are burned. The burning of Zarahemla (v. 3) therefore acquires new meaning. These cities thoroughly and violently rejected the gospel. Their burning fulfills Messianic prophecies of God’s wrath in purging the wicked at his coming: “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup” (Ps. 11:6). This verse must have been particularly significant for those who survived these events.’ (Brant Gardner, Second Witness)
3 Nephi 9:14 Come unto me
“‘Come,’ [Christ] says lovingly. ‘Come, follow me.’ Wherever you are going, first come and see what I do, see where and how I spend my time. Learn of me, walk with me, talk with me, believe. Listen to me pray. In turn you will find answers to your own prayers. God will bring rest to your souls. Come, follow me” (Jeffrey R Holland in Conference Report, Oct. 1997).
3 Nephi 9:19 Your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away
3 Nephi 9:20 A broken heart and a contrite spirit
With a growing understanding of the Lord’s grace and mercy, we will find that our self-willed hearts begin to crack and break in gratitude. Then we reach for Him, yearning to yoke ourselves to the Only Begotten Son of God. In our brokenhearted reaching and yoking, we receive new hope and fresh guidance through the Holy Ghost.’ (Neill F Marriott, General Conference, October 2015)
3 Nephi 9:22 Repentance
‘Herein lies the beauty of the gospel: the opportunity for repentance, forgiveness, and life eternal, thus giving meaning to our Savior’s atoning sacrifice.’ (Delbert L Stapley, General Conference, April 1974)
3 Nephi 10:4-6 As a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings
“The image of the hen calling after her chickens to come to the shelter and safety of her wings portrays the love of the Savior, his desire to nourish his children, to keep them safe from their common enemy, Satan, to shelter them from the storms of life, to give them the opportunity to grow and fulfill the promise of their nature.
“The image suggests other ideas as well. The chickens have strayed away from the hen. They have been lured from safety by their desire for adventure or rebellion, out into the tempting world where danger lurks beside every step. The hen calls to her chickens, but they must come of their own volition. They are not forced under her wings; they are invited, even urged, but they must exercise their own agency. In using this metaphor, the Lord designates his call to those of the fallen cities, who are descendants of Jacob, and to those of the house of Israel, who live at Jerusalem, establishing the right of the Savior to issue the call to repentance-they are his people who owe him obedience. And his use of the three verbs: ‘how oft have I gathered you; … how oft would I have gathered you; … how oft will I gather you’ emphasizes his timeless call to repentance-past, present, and future. The Savior’s love is always there. His arms are always extended in mercy as long as there is any hope for his children to return to him. The true nature of repentance is not a test, not an indulgence, but a gift of love. It is one that we must take-it cannot be forced upon us.” (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, 3 Nephi 9-30, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 79)
3 Nephi 10:9 It was in the morning
“Jesus was crucified and died on the cross at 3 o’clock in the afternoon at Jerusalem, and consequently for it to have been just three days and three nights, you might suppose that the darkness must have dispersed in the afternoon. But this book tells us that when the three days and three nights of darkness had passed away it was morning. Now why this discrepancy–for it seems to be one–between the Bible and the Book of Mormon? Can you account for it, and tell why it should have been morning in America? …Now you take a map of the world, and see the difference in longitude between the place where Jesus was crucified, and that where the writer of the Book of Mormon lived, and you will find that it is about seven and a half hours. Now you subtract seven and a half hours from 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and what time would it be when the three hours of quaking and the destruction of cities expired, or when the darkness commenced? Would it not be in the morning? Take away seven and a half hours longitude from 3 o’clock–the time that Jesus expired–and would it not be half past seven o’clock in the morning with the inhabitants of this land, while it was afternoon with the inhabitants in Jerusalem?” (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 15:259)
3 Nephi 10:12 They who received the prophets
‘On one occasion [Karl G. Maeser] was leading a party of young missionaries across the Alps. As they slowly ascended the steep slope, he looked back and saw a row of sticks thrust into the glacial snow to mark the one safe path across the otherwise treacherous mountains.
Something about those sticks impressed him, and halting the company of missionaries he gestured toward them and said, ‘Brethren, there stands the priesthood. They are just common sticks like the rest of us—some of them may even seem to be a little crooked, but the position they hold makes them what they are. If we step aside from the path they mark, we are lost.’
I bear witness, my brethren and sisters, fellow students, that in this Church men are as they indeed must be—called of God by prophecy. May we learn in our youth this lesson; it will see us faithful through all of the challenges of our lives. May we learn to follow the brethren.’
(Boyd K. Packer, Follow the Brethren, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 23 Mar. 1965], p. 10)
He that hath the scriptures, let him search them
‘Search the scriptures-search the revelations … and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 11-12.)
3. Jesus Christ descends from heaven and teaches the people
“It is clear that 3 Nephi contains some of the most moving and powerful passages in all scripture. It testifies of Jesus Christ, His prophets, and the doctrines of salvation. What a blessing it would be if every family would frequently read together 3 Nephi, discuss its sacred contents, and then determine how they can liken it unto themselves and apply its teachings in their lives!
“Third Nephi is a book that should be read and read again. Its testimony of the resurrected Christ in America is given in purity and beauty.” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, p. 43)
3 Nephi 11:1-2 The temple
‘It happened at the temple in Bountiful. Of course it did. If you and yours had survived such an experience—a devastation that destroyed all general communication and interaction—when you were able, you would make your way to the home of the person whose voice you had heard. If the phones were not working and the roads were impassible for cars, you would go to the stake center or the ward building, or, if possible, to the temple. A “great multitude” had come there, “marveling and wondering one with another . . .” And they were “conversing about this Jesus Christ.”’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSliving.com)
3 Nephi 11:3 A small voice
“On the one hand, the voice of the Lord speaks softly, for it is a ‘still small voice,’ even ‘a still voice of perfect mildness’-‘a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper’; it is ‘not a harsh voice,’ neither is it a loud voice, but rather a voice that pierces to the very soul of man, causing the heart to burn. On the other hand, the voice of the world speaks loudly, imitating thunder, or some great and strong wind, the crashing earthquake, or the raging fire. The voice of the Lord says, ‘Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved.’ Indeed, it is the voice of the Lord that says to the righteous of every age: ‘I will not leave you comfortless,’ for ‘peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.’ The finger-pointing voice of the world, in contrast, is but the echo of the voice of Satan-the slanderer, that ‘accuser of [the] brethren’-and it is the voice of accusation, of naysaying, of character assassination, gossip, and falsehood; it is the voice of ridicule and scorn, always speaking against the cause of Christ, promoting vice in the name of some virtue, and, like Korihor, speaking with missionary zeal.” (Mark McConkie, The Father of the Prophet, p. 135)
3 Nephi 11:5-6 They did hear the voice
‘The people hear the voice speaking, but they don’t understand its words until the third time. This has other parallels in scripture; in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, for example, Eli does not understand that it is God’s voice calling Samuel until the third time the boy tells Eli that he heard a voice calling his name (1 Samuel 3:1–9).
And in Joseph Smith’s account of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (now canonized as part of the LDS book of scripture called the Pearl of Great Price), the angel Moroni tells Joseph the same information about the golden plates’ history and significance several times with almost no variation.
It would seem that people need time to adjust to hearing divine voices and receiving angelic visitations; they are so overwhelmed at first that they are liable to miss the all-important spiritual message that is to be imparted. God and his messengers repeat their teachings so that people will have a chance to attend carefully to the words.’ (Jana Reiss, The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained)
3 Nephi 11:7-8 Behold my Beloved Son
“How few people in all the history of the world have heard the actual voice of God the Father speaking to them. As the people looked heavenward, ‘they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them’ [3 Nephi 11:8].
“A glorious, resurrected being, a member of the Godhead, the Creator of innumerable worlds, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, stood before their very eyes!” (Ezra Taft Benson in Conference Report, Apr. 1987).
3 Nephi 11:13-15 Arise and come forth unto me
‘This personal, intimate involvement of the Savior with 2500 people is a wonderful witness of his individual concern for us and our welfare. He had just descended from heaven. 2500 people had heard a whisper. He had told them who he was and what he was. There were no doubters in the crowd. And yet he extended this invitation.’ (Ted L Gibbons, LDSliving.com)
3 Nephi 11:22 There shall be no disputations among you
‘Brothers and sisters, if we are obedient to the commandment of love, there will be no disputations, contention, nor hatred between nor among us. We will not speak ill of one another but will treat each other with kindness and respect, realizing that each of us is a child of God. There will be no Nephites, Lamanites, nor other “ites” among us, and every man, woman, and child will deal justly one with another.’ (Robert F Orton, General Conference, October 2001)
3 Nephi 11:25 Having authority
“Some students have raised the question as to why the words of the baptismal prayer in the Book of Mormon differ slightly from the prayer listed in the Doctrine and Covenants. In this dispensation the Lord has counseled us to use these words in baptizing a person, after calling the candidate by name: ‘Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.’ (D&C 20:73.) The only difference in the two prayers is the introductory statement. In the Book of Mormon the disciples were counseled to say ‘having authority given me of Jesus Christ,’ whereas in this dispensation we are told to say ‘having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.’
“…[One] possibility for explaining this difference is that the disciples in the Book of Mormon received their authority directly from Jesus Christ; therefore, they rightfully could say ‘having authority given me of Jesus Christ.’ However, in this dispensation priesthood bearers have been given the power to baptize from John the Baptist, who was commissioned by Jesus Christ to come to earth and restore this authority. Therefore, in this dispensation we use the words ‘having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.'” (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 262-3)
3 Nephi 11:29 Avoid contention
“Where people have that Spirit with them, we may expect harmony. The Spirit puts the testimony of truth in our hearts, which unifies those who share that testimony. The Spirit of God never generates contention (see 3 Nephi 11:29). It never generates the feelings of distinctions between people which lead to strife (see Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 131). It leads to personal peace and a feeling of union with others. It unifies souls. A unified family, a unified Church, and a world at peace depend on unified souls” (Henry B Eyring, in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 86).
3 Nephi 11:32 The Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me
“…God’s love (understood as his desire for a relationship with us) is unconditional. In fact, God commands all men and women everywhere to repent and come to him (3 Nephi 11:32). He desires to redeem us, to glorify and exalt us equally and unconditionally. Does God desire to have an eternal relationship with all his children? Yes, and in this sense God’s love is unconditional. ‘All are invited, none is excluded.’ But it takes two people to have a relationship. A relationship, by definition, requires two points of reference, and only some of God’s children love him back and agree to enter into the desired relationship. He does not initially love them any more than the others, but in time the relationship of love that is possible with them is much, much greater than it is with those who reject him. They ‘abide in his love.’ (Jn 15:10)
“Many of God’s children will not love him. They will not accept the proposal of the Bridegroom, though he loves them dearly. They will never experience the joys the gospel marriage brings. However, that is not because God is unwilling or because they failed to meet conditions that would have rendered him willing. It is because they will not accept his proposal; they will not come to the wedding. Though he loved them first, they did not love him back, and by their choice the relationship will not be as great as it might have been-they refuse to ‘abide in his love.'” (Stephen R. Robinson, Following Christ, p. 149 – 150)