Book of Mormon Events and Latter-day Parallels
Book of Mormon Events and Latter-day Parallels
by Jack Marshall
(Transcript of the September 2005 BMAF Conference held at the Red Lion Hotel )
Brothers and Sisters, this presentation takes about 55 minutes, so I’m going to go at about light-speed to get it down to 45. This presentation deals with Book of Mormon events and latter-day parallels. There were/will be two peoples who had or will have the remarkable experience, after catastrophic destruction, of the Savior appearing to them. One, of course, is recorded in 3 Nephi and the other is a future event. One of the great purposes of the Book of Mormon is to prepare God’s children for the coming of the Savior – whether it is the Second Coming or if you were to step outside and get hit by a Mack truck and it’s your second coming.
Have you come out of a "signs-of-the-times" or "latter-day events" presentation and be hyperventilating? Either it has been taught incorrectly or you’re really a bad sinner. Obviously not the second choice. If you read JS Matthew 24, the Savior’s purpose is, as he continually mentions, to "mine elect." It is always to prepare individuals, not to scare them to death, but to prepare individuals for that monumental event.
Here is a timeline: The Book of Mormon appears to parallel the events of the latter days. You remember Moroni, in Mormon, 9:30-31, says not to be critical of them (the Nephites) but to learn from their experiences, that we might be wiser in our dispensation; that we might not repeat those things that they did incorrectly, but to do those things that they did correctly in their dispensation. (He refers to a slide projected) Notice the top line is Book of Mormon history; the bottom line is the history of the Promised Land, or the staging ground for the going forth of the gospel in this dispensation. Joseph Smith stated that the Promised Land is North and South America. This would be the staging ground for having the gospel taken to the world in this latter-day dispensation.
Lehi and his family are taken to a new world as the old world has rejected the gospel. They now have a new beginning, and notice how the events parallel. Note that in 1 Nephi you have a story of a family, the father being Lehi, and his family being led to a Promised Land. In our history, in preparation for the Americas to be the staging ground of the gospel to go forth, you have the description mentioned in 1 Nephi of "the Spirit wrought upon a man who covered the many waters and came to this land." This man has been identified as Christopher Columbus. So there is a parallel there in the preparation of the gospel to go forth.
Now, you have some population growth taking place during 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi to Mosiah in the Americas. I Nephi 13 speaks of "those who came out of captivity" coming into this land, led by the Lord. Those being the Puritans and the Pilgrims and others who came out of economic and educational and severe government oppression, and are led to this land with the resulting population growth that took place.
In the book of Mosiah, you have the Church being ordered, and then you have Mosiah saying that a king can be a bad deal. Then, from this time forward, by the voice of the people, judges to preside over the people are established. A democracy is the major event that took place then. If you follow our timeline in the Americas, on April 6, 1787 (and, by the way, President Benson said that that was no coincidence), our constitution becomes a working document. We become a republic – by the voice of the people this land will be governed. So, you find parallels as we evaluate the Book of Mormon when the Savior comes and thereafter.
Some major events in the book of Alma are the numerous wars. There at least 15 chapters on wars in this book. The Savior said that among many events that would precede his Second Coming would be wars and rumors of wars. Paralleling events, once again in preparation for the Second Coming of the Savior.
Again, in the book of Alma, you find tremendous missionary work that takes place. The sons of Mosiah get their wake-up call and go to the Lamanites with the gospel, and the tremendous event of the conversion of the Lamanites takes place. So there is great missionary work and great growth in the Church. For the latter-day paralleling event we’ll look at in a moment.
Most of you in the audience have Pioneer ancestry. I’m a first-generation Church member; my ancestry is Chinese; so when your ancestors were crossing the plains, mine were building the railroad for you. Now, more than half of you had ancestors that came from the British Isles and Scandinavia. Those were the hot spots a century ago. The blood of Israel is rich in those countries and most of the leadership came from those wonderful countries. But, the conversion level has slowed down since then, as those of you with missionary children can attest.
Those whose children have served as missionaries in Latin America can verify that the work going for there is tremendous. Do you see a parallel there, as the Lamanites’ descendants come heavily into the Church? Eventually you find in the Book of Mormon that there is a flip-flop as the righteousness of the Lamanites begins to exceed that of the Nephites, to the point where there is even a Lamanite prophet sent to the Nephites.
In the book of Helaman, wars continue and there are secret combinations, political assassinations, and corrupt chief judges. Governmental corruption is rampant before the Savior came. In latter-days we have assassins or attempted assassinations by Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, John Hinkley, and Squeaky Frohm. Before the Savior came to the Nephites, there was extensive government corruption, attempts to rewrite their constitutions and laws, to make illegalities legal within their society. Take a look at the parallels in our society with wars and rumors of wars – there is World War I, World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam. In the Middle East there are wars that seem to be endless. We have organized crime, gangs, government scandals, political assassinations.
The Savior makes it clear that the Book of Mormon helps us to see exactly how these break down, so that, as Moroni says, "we may be wiser than they had been in making their decisions and following the prophets and doctrines of the gospel.
In 3 Nephi, five years before the coming of the Savior, when Lachoneus is killed, the government collapses and everyone just lives in tribes. Here are some possible parallels: you hear Joseph Smith prophesies that the Constitution will hang by a thread. What does that indicate? That our government will have some problems, as will many governments throughout the world. That is Satan’s plan to destroy freedom by destroying governments. Yet, the Prophet teaches that the government will not collapse but be held, honored, and respected. Constitutional law and Priesthood law will be upheld by what people? The saints of God in particular places of refuge in the New Jerusalem and Zion.
Well, you find in 3 Nephi the Savior came. In our paralleling, you find, perhaps, Constitutional problems, government problems, and then the Savior will appear.
In 4 Nephi, for nearly 200 years, there was no lasciviousness, no sins of the flesh, so to speak, everyone dealt justly one with another. They had all things in common, perhaps in reference to probably living the Law of Consecration. There was no tumults, no rioting (they didn’t have Church basketball). What is 4 Nephi an active parallel for future events in our dispensation? What is it an absolute parallel for? It is the Millennium. Every thing you may want to learn and do in the Millennium, just read 4 Nephi and it will tell you very much how it’s going to happen.
Then, as things break down later, you have the destruction of the Nephite civilization at Cumorah in 385 A.D. A possible parallel that we may have in the history of the world will be when Satan is loosed again and then the final battle. It will be different, however, than from the Book of Mormon, because God’s children will win out in this final dispensation. That is just a quick Readers’ Digest overview.
Let’s take some of these more specifically from the Book of Mormon and see if you can see dramatic parallels for our day and age.
Here is the missionary effort, when the Lamanites begin to come in large numbers into the kingdom. We may see parallels today. In Helaman, Nephi and Lehi did preach to the Lamanites with such great power and authority that was given to them, that they might speak. It goes on to say that the Lamanites were astonished and 8000 of them in the land of Zarahemla were convinced of the wickedness and traditions of their fathers, and were baptized. You find this great flip-flop. First of all, the gospel being taken to the Lamanites, and the Lamanites just accepting it with tremendous success in that land.
On December 25, 1925, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, in Buenos Aires, dedicated the whole South American continent for missionary work. Then, in a very prophetic moment, he said "the work will go slowly for a time, as an oak grows slowly from an acorn, not shoot up in a day like a sunflower that grows quickly then dies; thousands will join here and it will be divided into more than one mission, and it will be one of the strongest in the Church. The work here is the smallest than it ever will be. The day will come when the Lamanites will get a chance. The South America mission will be a power in the Church." That was in 1925. Today, nearly three million, or one in four Church members, live south of the border.
You remember he said that the Church will not spring up like a sunflower and die quickly, but like an oak – slowly. Five years later (1930) there are only 73 members, most of whom are of European descent. In 1940 there are only 731 members. In 1950 there are still less than 2000 members; then in 1960 there are less than 10,000. Then, notice what happens: tremendous growth, and it just continues. We, up here in North America, we have these blinders; we don’t see what’s happening down south. This is an exciting time in which to live. You see the parallels that took place in the Book of Mormon.
Secret combinations played utter havoc among the Jaredites and among the Nephite nation; and we’ll see that they are strong in our day and age. Here are some of the characteristics of secret combinations: "Now when those people were desirous that he (Paanchi) should be their governor saw that he was condemned unto death, therefore they were angry, and behold, they sent forth one Kishkumen, even to the judgment-seat of Pahoran, and murdered Pahoran as he sat upon the judgment-seat." (Helaman 1:9)
Let me do a quick Readers’ Digest version of secret combinations. First, they’ll use murder and terrorism to bring about their designs. See in our society, not just one organization, but how rampant these organizations are in the world, as the adversary tries to work with secret combinations in bringing down the cause of God and freedom. So, they’ll use murder and terrorism as a means of bringing about their purposes.
Another aspect of secret combinations, Helaman 1:11, "He went unto those that sent him, and they all entered into a covenant, yea, swearing by their everlasting Maker, that they would tell no man that Kishkumen had murdered Pahoran." It’s an interesting characteristic of secret combinations that is illustrated in the Book of Mormon. Some of them will justify their evil actions in the name of God. They swore by their everlasting Maker. Now, I could ask you what organizations today would produce horrible atrocities in the name of their God? Some have a symbol of a burning cross. You could say the jihads, or the holy wars.
What other organizations can you think of that in the name of God they will pull off horrible atrocities. The Catholic and Protestant wars were conducted in the name of God. They both believe in the Savior. Then there are those who feel they are of the ‘chosen race.’ The adversary knows that there are 12 tribes that will gather at the coming of the Savior. Two of them are known today who are gathering – the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Joseph. The other tribes must gather, as well. But, what is Satan trying to do with both of those tribes? He gave orders to exterminate both of them, right? The Jews, particularly, all through history, the most recent being the Holocaust. Then, in 1831, Governor Lilburn Boggs says that the Mormons were to be driven from the state of Missouri or be exterminated. More parallels.
The Book of Mormon is to reveal Satan’s plan in the preparation of the coming of the Savior. "Therefore, Kishkumen was not known among the people of Nephi, for he was in disguise . . ." The members of secret combinations will just melt into society. They will have signs and secret words that they use to distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant, that they would not betray them. And, this is not just one organization that use these, they are rampant throughout society and the world. Secret combinations mean two or more people involved in the evil. They want power as one of their main objectives. "Therefore he (Gadianton) did flatter them, and also Kishkumen, that if they would place him in the judgment-seat (which would be equivalent to a presidency or other high governmental position, in order to rewrite the legislation, such as, to make immoralities legal) he would grant unto those who belonged to his band that they should be placed in power and authority among the people; therefore Kishkumen sought to destroy Helaman." (Helaman 2:5) So, these people will get themselves into positions and surround themselves with their cohorts – partners in crime, so to speak.
What will secret combinations do with laws? They will alter the laws, such as the laws that were given to Mosiah by God. Governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous in the Nephite culture and were ripening for destruction.
If we were paralleling Book of Mormon history, where do you think we’d be in ourselves? I’d say the book of Helaman. There are so many parallels in the book of Helaman and our day. "Yea, and this is not all, they were a stiff-necked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor by justice, save it were to their destruction." It seems that the only law that had any effect on them at that time was capital punishment. That may not be the interpretation, but it says that the law could not govern them, nor justice save it were to their own destruction. Either to their ultimate destruction, or to their personal destruction.
Helaman 7:4-5, eventually you see the Gadiantons "filling the judgment-seats – having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, and not in the least aright before him; doing no justice to the children of men." Sounds pretty depressing. There are laws that have been legislated or are in the process of being legislated to make formerly illegal activities be legalized.
So they usurped the government; they changed it, doing no justice to men. Then in verse 5, you can see this today, "condemning the righteous because of their righteousness;". A seminary student out in the valley, a student body president in one of the high schools, when it came time for graduation was told by the principal that he could not offer even a non-denominational prayer. There was a verbal minority who said they would be offended and they would sue. (Can you relate today – condemning the righteous.) The young man conducting the commencement exercises came to a part where he said, "This is where we would ordinarily offer a little prayer, but we can’t because I’m told there is a handful of people who would be offended and they’d bring a lawsuit against the school." (It’s really not against the law but people are so threatened by a lawsuit.) So he continued, "But if we could pray, it would sound like this," and he offered a prayer.
"Letting the wicked go unpunished because of their money." Get you legal ‘dream team’ together. "And, moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills." So, tremendous corruptions in their laws.
Then, you can see how secret combinations can spread. "And it came to pass that the Nephites did build them up and support them, the more wicked part of them, until they had spread over all the land of the Nephites, had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works, and partake in their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations."
What did the Lamanites do about the secret combinations? They arrested them, put them in jail, and taught them the gospel—and they eradicated the secret combinations. The gospel is the answer. This is an interesting verse, because it talks about the more righteous part of the Nephites being seduced by the secret combinations, until the more righteous joined them in their secret murders and combinations. In our parallels, what would the secret combinations be and how could they seduce the righteous? It sounds like those being seduced really don’t have an understanding of what they are doing in the society, but they are joining in the spoils, and even their murders.
Here is a scenario. We used to live in Victorville, California, and I would watch the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Friday nights going to Las Vegas, 189 miles away. Same thing on Sunday night, heading back to Los Angeles. Who built up Las Vegas? The mob did. So, all those people are going there to participate in gambling; and they are not terrible, horrible people going there to gamble. They’re people like my mother. She’s wonderful but she isn’t a member of the Church, and she sends me lottery tickets for my birthday. The more righteous, everyday people, begin to join in the spoils. Is that not understandable? Secret combinations – and I don’t think they really have an understanding of what they are doing.
Here’s another scenario about people joining in their murders: Several years ago I was reading in a newspaper when the government really began to put pressure on the drug cartels in Colombia. These cartels are huge, extremely wealthy secret combinations, and they run the nation. They assassinated several attorneys general in the country. So the United States begin putting pressure on them. (Our government surrounded the Panamanian president Noriega right in his palace because he was a drug-runner. The drugs were coming right through his country.) The Medellin drug cartels even blew up a Colombian jetliner with 212 people aboard, in retaliation for the government going along with the United States in trying to stop the drug movements.
Now, follow along to see how the more righteous can join in their spoils. Who put the bomb on the plane? An assassin, right? The cartel paid the assassin. Who paid the cartel? The drug pushers. Who paid the pushers? The users out on the streets. Who are the users? They could be some seminary kid just being curious after a seminary dance, just experimenting with a ‘joint’ out there. Multiply this by millions, and you have hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into these horrendous cartels. More secret combinations, with the more righteous and innocent in the United States joining with them in their spoils.
Look at this statement by President Hinckley, "When we deemed it prudent that for reasons of personal safety we remove all of our American missionaries from one of the South American nations (Colombia), it was not an easy decision, because we have many wonderful Latter-day Saints there. The people there are receptive of the gospel and, for the most part, they are good people, law-abiding and desirous of doing what is right; but the very life of that nation is threatened by powerful men in the drug cartel. There would be no such problem in the people of the United States and other countries refused to becoming a market for these narcotics; it is a supply and demand situation. There is a ready supply to meet the demand. (Now notice this sobering statement; and I don’t know is some high school kid who is messing around with drugs would even have a clue about this.) Everyone who partakes of these illicit drugs has on his hands some of the blood of those who have been killed or wounded in the fight to stop the cultivation and exportation of these destructive products." The more righteous are joining them in their secret combinations and their murders.
Now, with Samuel the Lamanite, is there a parallel? Possibly one day we may have in the Quorum of the Twelve a man with the last name of Gonzalez or Gomez, right? At any rate, here you have a Lamanite who came forth as a great leader within the Church. The Book of Mormon makes it very clear that before the Savior came that righteous individuals were inspired to know of his coming. You have Nephi stating that it was 600 years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem to the birth of the Savior. Samuel says that in "five years cometh the Son of Man to redeem all those who will believe on his name." So, here are many righteous individuals who know of the coming of the Savior – a possible parallel.
Do you remember – in Joseph Smith Matthew it says that the time of the coming of the Savior no man knoweth not even the angels of Heaven? But notice Joseph’s own commentary on that particular verse. He says, Christ says no man knoweth the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh. This is a sweeping argument of sectarianism against Latter-day Saintism. Did Christ say this as a general principle throughout all generations (in other words, that no man knows the day or the hour of his coming, not even the angels of God)? Oh, no. He, Jesus, spoke in the present tense – no man then living upon the footstool of God knew the day or the hour, but he did not say that there was no man throughout all generations that should not know the day or the hour. No, for this would be in flat contradiction to other scriptures. God has said, ‘ He will do nothing but he reveal unto his servants the prophets.’ Consequently, if it is not made known unto the prophets it will not come to pass."
Now, isn’t that comforting? What’s the great message? Follow the Prophet. I don’t know that the Prophet who will usher in the coming of the Savior will know the exact day or the hour. But I do know this, and testify, that those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear, and hearts to feel, and those who are willing to respond, he’ll have us where we should be when we should be doing what we should be doing in preparation for the coming of the Savior. So, here is a parallel – Samuel saying it is going to be ‘these events’ that will be a sign of his coming. This is a paralleling event that Joseph the Prophet teaches us. The Prophet who will usher in the Second Coming will understand the signs and direct the people.
Here is the Savior with his tender mercies – the signs he gives will be dramatic in the last days. His purpose is not to punish but to prepare; to extend his arm of mercy; to reach out and to prepare those who are willing to respond. So there will be some dramatic spiritual signs and warning that will be given. Typically you have physical catastrophic events that are warning signs before the Savior comes. And you have these spiritual signs that are given. One such is that prophetic signs begin to be fulfilled. 3 Nephi 1:15, ". . . for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness; and the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came." Remember that this is a prophecy of the Savior being born in the Old World – the sun will set and there will be a day and a night and a day as if there were one day. The message, of course, is "The Light of the world is coming." Recall that when Jesus was crucified there was darkness over the land as the Light of the world was extinguished. One of the last events in our dispensation before the Savior comes are the miraculous warning signs, the tender mercies of the Lord.
Notice what Zechariah says what will happen right before the Savior comes, "It shall come to pass in that day that the light shall not be clear nor dark but it shall be one day, which will be known to the Lord, not day nor night, but it shall come to pass that at eventime it shall be light." What is going to happen before the Savior comes? Exactly what happened as Samuel announced. The sun will set and it will remain light.
You also have catastrophic events that will take place. Look at D&C 88:25-26, Again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law; wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it." The point being that this earth has a spirit, although not as you and I have; all of God’s creations have purpose, reason and spirit. You can see how this earth parallels our lives. It had a creation, we had a creation. It had a baptism with the flood; did you have a baptism? It will be sanctified by fire, just as we seek to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, right? When will this earth be sanctified by fire? At the coming of its Savior. This earth will die – you and I will die. The earth will be resurrected – we will be resurrected. Once the earth will be resurrected what will she be? She’ll be our Celestial Kingdom.
Remember Enoch had a vision of this earth, and he hears the earth speak in a spiritual sense. (Moses 7:48-49) The earth says, ". . . Wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face? And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? Wilt thou not bless the children of Noah?
Brothers and Sisters, do you believe that natural catastrophic events are increasing on the earth? Not because we have greater media coverage and technical abilities, but that they are actually happening. Earthquakes are increasing. As D&C 88 says there are tempests and storms and waves heaving themselves beyond the shore. Do you see that happening? This is after the authorized testimonies of the missionaries to teach and to gather the people. The Lord says that he will give testimonies of earthquakes, lightnings, tempests, and storms – those kinds of natural catastrophic events. These are to invite the people back – not to punish them, but as a means or incentive.
Listen to what Elder James E. Talmage says, "The materialist may say that there is no relationship between the righteousness of men and earthquakes, or between men’s probity and floods, but there is. Nature seems to be in intimate relationship with man. Thus, the sins of mankind may produce calamity in the form of destructive phenomena, which may properly be called ‘natural,’ and human righteousness may invoke peaceful and beneficent cooperation of the owners." Then, President Marion G. Romney says, "Calamities will come as a result of cause and effect. They follow naturally and inevitably the sins of mankind in the ungenerate state of the race."
So, what causes this earth to revolt and repulse in natural and catastrophic events? It’s because of the wickedness that takes place on her surface. She repulses about that. Thus, when Jesus, her Creator dies, what takes place on the earth? Horrific upheavals, is it not? Now, please don’t draw a parallel that where catastrophic events take place there are more wicked people there, but it is just a natural cause and effect. The earth is a divine creation, just like you and I are divine creations. When that which takes place in our life goes contrary to God’s law, then we repulse at it with emotional and physical upheavals, feelings of guilt. It is no different with the earth, when those things that go contrary to here divine nature, she repulses at them. So you find in the Book of Mormon these catastrophic events.
Under Lachoneus, and this was 17 A.D., and 17 years before the Savior comes (and I’m not trying to draw a parallel that when this happens in our dispensation that you have this many years – just the closeness of it), he does something unprecedented in the Book of Mormon. Because of the secret combinations (Gadianton robbers), the proclamation of Lachoneus had gone forth throughout all the face of the land, and they had taken their horses, and their chariots, and their cattle, and all their flocks, and their herds, and their grain, and all their substance, and did march forth by thousands and by tens of thousands, until they had all gone forth to the place which had been appointed that they should gather themselves together, to defend themselves against their enemies. They did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and in one body, and they did fear the words which had been spoken by Lachoneus, insomuch that they did repent of all their sins; and they did put their prayers unto the Lord their God, that he would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down against them to battle." (# Nephi 3:22, 25) What is that an absolute parallel of a future event? Someday, at least on this continent, that much of the membership of the Church will gather to a New Jerusalem. Elder McConkie felt like the place of safety and refuge and gathering of the saints would be the Orient for those that live there; Europe for European saints; North America for us.
You have an unprecedented event in 3 Nephi 4:11. What might this be a parallel of? "And the battle commenced in this the sixth month; and great and terrible was the battle thereof, yea great and terrible was the slaughter thereof, insomuch that there never was known so great a slaughter among all the people of Lehi since he left Jerusalem." What might that be a parallel of a future event before the Savior comes? Armageddon. Then, five years before the coming of the Savior, in 3 Nephi 7, the people were divided against each other, they separated into tribes, every man with his family and kindred, and they destroyed the government of the land. D&C Section 45:68 tells us that the type of war that will be held on this land is not foreign invasion. "And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety." What type of ward does that seem to indicate? It seems to be anarchy, right? What causes anarchy? Economic crisis; governmental collapse, those types of things.
The Book of Mormon is powerful and testifies of future events. I hope you don’t feel doom and gloom in this. What a blessing to have things spelled out before they happen? What an advantage is that? This is a playbook, so to speak, before the events happen. Our Savior and our Heavenly Father, merciful and tender in preparing you and me and all of God’s children, with the commission to Israel that he says in Isaiah, "I have called you to declare the word," not only to declare the word to the world, but to be a light unto the Gentiles; to be an example.
I love the Book of Mormon; and let me read the Savior’s testimony of the Book of Mormon from D&C 17:6. He says, speaking of Joseph Smith, "And he has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true." There is no finer testimony than that of our Lord and Savior, and I bear my testimony in gratitude for the Book of Mormon and its power to lay out the plan and help us to prepare for that blessed event some day – in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.