So far we have seen that the history in the first portion of the Book of Mormon (from First Nephi through Omni) parallels the first gathering of the children of Israel to the promised land. We next considered that segment of the Book of Mormon history covered from the book of Omni to the book of Helaman. We noted that it holds many significant comparisons to the events that have transpired during the second gathering of the House of Israel up to the present day.
Columbus was mirrored in Mosiah I, Joseph Smith in Alma the older, Karl Marx in Korihor, and Hitler in Amalickiah. The conflicts of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World Wars I and II resembled similar clashes that occurred in the books of Omni and Alma. The laws of Mosiah were based on the same fundamental principles as the Constitution of the United States of America. Also, the restoration of the Church and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon seem to have been foreshadowed in the Nephites' history.
Up to this point, by merely matching important individuals, events and circumstances of the past, we discovered astounding similarities. If we had attempted this task 160 years ago when the Book of Mormon was first published, we would not have had the benefit of historical hindsight on many of these events. They were yet forthcoming. How could we have compared Amalickiah and Hitler, for example, when Hitler was not born yet? Are we now faced with this dilemma as we see Book of Mormon history roll on through the books of Helaman, Third and Fourth Nephi, and Mormon, leaving us behind in the book of Helaman?
Drawing parallels is much like deciphering parables or metaphors. The reason Jesus spoke in parables was so that his disciples might "know the mystery of the kingdom of God" while the skeptic "may see, and not perceive..., may hear, and not understand...." (Mark 4:11,12.) An intended interpretation awaits to be unfolded, but if we stretch trifling points or overlook important facets, then they lose some or all of their potential impact. "Ye are the salt of the earth," does not mean, "You spoil the soil, making it sterile." We saw significant likenesses between Amalickiah and Hitler, but Hitler was not killed halfway through the War and succeeded by his brother, like Amalickiah was. Without history as a guide, how would we have known what the outcome would be?
So now, as we continue on in Book of Mormon history, past that segment which seems to match our day, how are we to know what ancient elements will find a parallel in our future and which will not? Should we even trouble ourselves with trying to figure this out? Why don't we just hold to established prophecies and maintain them as our guide?
Therein lies the key: other prophecies! We can use them as a standard of comparison, relating Book of Mormon history with prophecy rather than history.
Some prophecies are conditional. Their fulfillment depends on the righteousness or wickedness of the people. The majority of prophecies, however, describe future events the way they will actually happen. Nephi foretold that which he "knew...must unavoidably come to pass because of the great wickedness of the children of men." (1 Ne. 15:4.) Describing similar events, Jesus Christ declared, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, all these things shall surely come...." (3 Ne. 20:46.)
Notwithstanding their unconditional nature, many such prophecies still extend the invitation to repent. Doomed nations are made up of individuals who are free to chose whichever side they will take in the picture that the prophets have painted. They may align themselves with Babylon and fall with it, or they may join God's people and help bring about Zion. Babylon will fall and Zion will be redeemed; which course an individual will take is solely up to him.
We know we are not just puppets acting out a predestined role. Just because God knows what will befall us in the days to come does not mean that our agency is infringed even one iota. God sees what will happen because of what we will do: he doesn't force us to do what he saw.
Pondering the intense tribulations that lie ahead sometimes leads to a defeatist attitude: "What's the use? Why try to make a difference?" Yet if no one did anything, wouldn't the prophetic picture have been different? Would God or Satan have won in the end? Zion will triumph because a handfull of righteous will do everything in their power to fight for the right and put down all evil, leaving the rest to a redeeming God, having deserved his intervention.
Mormon's counsel to Moroni seems most fitting here. He said,
While in some ways the future may look bleak, the great blessings that will be poured out as the Lord sets his hand again the second time to recover his people will more than compensate the Lord's people for their endurance.
The phrase "set his hand again the second time" is found six times in the scriptures. (Isa. 11:11 = 2 Ne. 21:11; 2 Ne. 6:14; 25:17; 29:1; Jacob 6:2.) The first gathering occurred anciently through Moses. The second gathering was inaugurated by Joseph Smith. Now that the Gentiles have essentially had their opportunity to accept the Gospel and have begun to reject it, the time is soon at hand when it will be taken from the Gentiles and given to the House of Israel. (3 Ne. 16:10,11.) Though the Gentiles generally have denied the Christ (2 Ne. 28:32), they have not completely apostatized, for there remain a righteous few among them (28:14). This period of transition is not a "third" time, for the Church and the keys of the preisthood are still in tact and will not be lost from the earth. Nevertheless, this is such a momentous transition, the scriptures describe it as the Lord setting his hand "again" the second time. The Gentiles will be utterly destroyed, the righteous among them becoming numbered among the House of Israel. Those who have hearkened to the word of God have been numbered among the House of Israel. Inasmuch as we seem to have arrived at that prophesied time when the Gentiles are hardening their hearts against the Lamb of God (1 Ne. 14:6), might we expect that the Lord will soon make bare his arm in delivering his people who are of the house of Israel (1 Ne. 22:11)? This is not a third time, per se, because Christ's true church is still on the earth and the keys have already been bestowed. Perhaps, however, this turning point begins what the prophets spoke of when they said the Lord would set his hand "again" the second time. What a glorious time this is to live! Challenging, yes; but what an important destiny is ours to fulfill.
As we now consider the remaining Book of Mormon history for insights to guide us in our quest, our task is to try to match those events with what is prophesied to come in the days ahead. The parallel between the Savior's second coming and his ancient appearance to the Lehites is as plausible as any comparisons we have made between known circumstances of the past. The only difference is that the Second Coming has not yet happened, but it will--as certain as anything that has occurred in the past. We might say, like Mormon did, that "as many things as have been prophesied concerning us down to this day have been fulfilled, and as many as go beyond this day must surely come to pass." (W of M 1:4.)(1)
Attempting this task in this day and age, we have a substantial advantage over the Saints of 160 years ago when the Book of Mormon was first published. The majority of the prophets' words seem to deal with the very day in which we live and those events that are shortly to come. We have a host of prophecies from which we can draw to try to determine what sort of parallels Book of Mormon history holds with our future.
1. The placement of the book of the Words of Mormon, from which this reference is taken, is significant to note. It follows the small plates and introduces the plates of Mormon. But it also falls in the vicinity where the Jaredite records come forth (which event parallels the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in the latter days). Therefore the statement quoted here seems almost an introduction to the prophetic parallels between the Jaredite history and the Lehite history as well as between the Lehite history and latter-day events. Perhaps we could rephrase this statement to say, "The parallels thus far have been fulfilled, and those which follow hereafter will also be fulfilled."
Page last updated on August 13, 2015
"Would God that ALL the Lord's People Were PROPHETS"