To introduce it, I decided I would use the following. After teaching 4th Nephi, I would read a couple of verses from the D&C sections that are pretty explicit about the signs of the times. I would then say, “Well, now the Book of Mormon does not teach about the signs of the times in quite the same way. There are no sections that explicitly talk about the signs. But I believe that the Book of Mormon points them out very effectively.
“The key factors that I believe show this are the following. (1) The Savior came, (2) His coming was preceded by heavy destruction, (3) His coming was followed by a period of great peace lasting a long time, and (4) the book begins as a man is guided in sailing to America.
“Within that framework, I believe you can find many similarities between the history of America and the chronology of the Book of Mormon. The event timings are not the same. All of the details about the events are not the same. But the characteristics of the events are similar in many respects. In some cases, more than one story has similar events.”
I started to list some of them in my mind. Here is what I came up with.
|Book of Mormon Story||Similar Story from American History|
|A man in guided by the Spirit in sailing to and discovering the promised land||Columbus|
|Very few people in a very primitive setting||The struggles of the Pilgrims|
|Initial wars between Nephites and Lamanites||Indian Wars|
|A great farewell speech by a beloved secular leader, King Benjamin||George Washington leads the people and is a beloved leader|
|The Nephites (People of King Limihi) are miraculously freed from their captivity||The Americans miraculously defeat the British in the American Revolution|
|King Mosiah establishes democracy and abolishes the crown||Creation of the Constitution|
|Alma the Elder establishes a church||Joseph Smith restores the church|
|Great leaders travel to distant lands to preach the gospel||The Quorum the Twelve are sent to England to preach the gospel|
|The righteous are persecuted and killed in Ammonihah||The Saints are driven from Ohio, Missouri and Illinois|
|Two great teachers are imprisoned in a jail in Ammonihah and persecuted||Either Liberty or Carthage jails|
|Meanwhile, the missionaries have tremendous success, baptizing thousands, and assisting them to travel to a safe land because of persecutions||The Quorum of the Twelve in England convert thousands who immigrate to Utah|
|The Ammonihahites and the Zormamites secede starting a period of wars, beginning with a very deadly battle in Alma 28||The Civil War|
|Great teachers set the church in order in many areas with many written sermons on the basics of the gospel, including letters to his own family||Brigham Young establishes the church in the West, leaves thousands of recorded sermons|
|A battle with the Lamanites ends with a begrudging promise to stop fighting in Alma chapter 44||WWI|
|The war seems to simply continue after a very wicked man conspires and becomes king||WWII|
|The Nephites defeat the Lamanites because of (1) great leadership, (2) technological advances, and (3) determination because their cause is just.||The US wins the war because of the same attributes.|
|(I am currently reading in Alma, so my analysis will become much less detailed now)|
|The Book of Helaman opens with assassinations of three leaders||John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King are assassinated|
|Wickedness increase very rapidly with the advent of the Gadianton Robbers||Drugs strengthen the Mafia and other organization, and wickedness increases rapidly|
|Periods of wickedness quickly turn into periods of righteousness and then back again||Ditto|
|Cooperation begins among Nephites and Lamanites in battling against the Gadianton Robbers||Political walls are dissolved unexpectedly, allowing preaching the gospel in former communist countries|
|A great prophet preaches to a very large group of people by broadcasting his message from the walls||President Hinckley gives more interviews and talks of the Gospel very openly in many national interviews.|
|A much anticipated event (the sign at the Saviors birth) is met with both fear, belief, and skepticism by the people||Y2K bug has incredible world attention, and is met with fear, belief, and skepticism.|
Well, that last point is what caused me to pause. I realized that that could very well be the sign similar to the sign given at the Savior’s birth. Now, no prophet predicted Y2K (as far as I know), and the event was unusual in that it was more like a “non-event” than a real sign. But I can’t imagine any other event, any specific thing to happen on one night, matching the general characteristics better than Y2K. If that is true (and I believe that it is), then that means we are in the beginning of 3rd Nephi. That is amazing.
Now I know I said earlier that the years can’t be compared exactly. But there are a couple of dates that are interesting. Columbus landed in America in 1492, 508 years ago. That is in the same range as Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem in 600 BC.
Also, I have personally believe that the Savior’s second coming would be around 2000 years after his crucifixion, which would be near (or at least after) 2030 AD. The fact that the sign of his birth, in AD 1, and the Y2K bug in 2000 are similar is interesting, I believe.