CLICK HERE to read 3 Nephi 2.
It is now six hundred years since Lehi left Jerusalem, one hundred years since King Mosiah, and ten years since the Savior was born (verse 5-7). Like the rest of the world, even here the people began to reckon their time since the great light, and so considered it to be year ten (verse 8).
As the people chose fear over faith, they “began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen” (verse 1).
When we turn away from God, we lose our testimony – that which had been given to us is taken.
Without their testimony, the people had to deal with what had happened – they could not pretend it hadn’t happened – and so instead, they began to explain it away, “and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing” (verse 2). The people were no longer “falling away”, but already fallen now, growing “strong in wickedness and abominations” (verse 3).
Because the people chose wickedness, even despite the prophets sent to them, they became worse and worse, more and more depraved (verse 10). Contentions turned into wars, even so that many cities were destroyed (verse 11). The Nephites and Lamanites had to join together to fight the Gadianton robbers (verse 11), who were destroying everything for wealth and power.
So the believing Lamanites united with the believing Nephites against the non-believers (now joined as Gadianton robbers) “for the safety of their lives and their women and their children… and also to maintain their rights, and the privileges of their church and of their worship, and their freedom and liberty” (verse 12). The Nephites were very nearly destroyed, because so many of them had deserted to the other side, and so few of them remained to battle evil (verse 13). There were more Lamanites, who began to be called Nephites because they were believers (verse 16).
The believers, called Nephites, were able to drive the Gadianton robbers back into the mountains (verse 17), but anytime they gave into wickedness or allowed contentions, the Gadianton robbers gained the advantage (verse 18). When the people were not united in peace, they were scattered by afflictions and dissension – leaving themselves vulnerable to attack (verse 19).