CLICK HERE to read 3 Nephi 1.
It is now more than 600 years since Lehi left Jerusalem just before it was conquered by Babylon (verse 1). As we start 3 Nephi, we read that Nephi, Jr. – the grandson of Helaman – is given the records by his father (verse 2). He passes the records on to his son, also named Nephi (verse 3).
It is the time of the birth of Christ, and all the promised signs are starting to happen, with prophecies being fulfilled and miracles happening amongst the people (verse 4). Despite this being in process, non-believers start claiming it is past the five years when Samuel said the two days of light would happen (verse 5). These non-believers began to mock the believers, telling them their faith has been in vain because the signs were not fulfilled as promised (verse 6). This stirred the people up, with non-believers mocking and believers mourning as they waited (verse 7).
But still, the believers did wait – “they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain” (verse 8).
To counteract the faith of the believers, the mocking un-believers set apart a day, saying that if this great sign did not happen by that day, then all the believers should be put to death (verse 9). This grieved the prophet Nephi, and he was “exceedingly sorrowful” when he saw the wickedness of the people (verse 10). To intervene, he “went out and bowed himself upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about to be destroyed because of their faith” (verse 11). He prayed for the whole day (verse 12), and the Lord answered him:
Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets (verse 13).
He said that these things were made known to all people, even before the world was created, and that it was part of the plan we all agreed to before we were ever born (verse 14).
The Lord told Nephi the prophet that it was time, and that He was going to be born, and the people would see the sign as promised – and that very day, the sun set but no darkness came “and the people began to be astonished” (verse 15).
Many who had not believed before, now “fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand” (verse 16). These people knew they were busted, because they had planned the death of the believers, and yet everything was now unfolding exactly has the believers had said it would. So even the non-believers knew now that “the Son of God must shortly appear” (verse 17) because “they knew that the prophets had testified of these things for many years”, and it was now happening just as the prophets had said it would (verse 18).
And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given (verse 19).
All things came to pass, “every whit, according to the words of the prophets” (verse 20), with even the new star appearing just as promised (verse 21).
At this, the non-believers began to tremble, which did make Satan tremble, and so he tried to send lies out amongst the people, “to harden their hearts, to the intent that they might not believe in those signs and wonders which they had seen” (verse 22). Satan wanted to deceive the people and explain away the signs, so that the people would not turn to the prophets, or to God.
But still, many people “did believe, and were converted unto the Lord” (verse 22). And so the prophet Nephi did baptize them, and peace came to the land (verse 23). There were no contentions, except as people learned their scriptures and began to understand (verse 24), and the people confessed their faults as they learned and were “brought to a knowledge of their error” (verse 25). In this way, through repentance, the people did receive “glad tidings” by receiving the words of the prophets (verse 26), and there was peace in the land (verse 27).
Satan was not pleased. He used the Gadianton robbers, still dwelling in the mountains, to begin to slaughter the people (verse 27). Those who were afraid instead of standing in faith did change sides, joining the robbers – causing much sorrow to the believers they abandoned (and also tried to kill) (verse 28). These robbers became so strong that even some of the Lamanite children were led away “by their lyings and their flattering words”, and so “began to decrease as to their faith and righteousness, because of the wickedness of the rising generation” (verse 30).
We must be steadfast, and not be afraid.
We must, more than anything, teach our children how to choose – so they can also be steadfast. We cannot just protect them and isolate them, so that their “choosing muscles” are weak and never used. We must work with them to develop these muscles of their agency, so as to teach them how to choose. Nothing is more important than this, as we – and our children – and their children – must bind Satan by our righteousness, which comes only by choosing the Savior.