"The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior's visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior's second coming. The Nephite civilization had reached great heights. They were prosperous and industrious. They had built many cities with great highways connecting them. They engaged in shipping and trade. They built temples and palaces," said President Ezra Taft Benson in an April 1987 general conference address.
"But, as so often happens, the people rejected the Lord. Pride became commonplace. Dishonesty and immorality were widespread. Secret combinations flourished because, as Helaman tells us, the Gadianton robbers
had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils.' (Hel. 6:38).The people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning.' (3 Ne. 6:12). And
Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world,' even as today. (v. 15.) Mormon noted that the Nephitesdid not sin ignorantly.' " (v. 18.)President Benson noted that there were but few righteous among the Nephites and that Nephi led the Church with great power and performed many miracles, yet "there were but few who were converted unto the Lord." (3 Ne. 6:21.)
"The people as a whole rejected the Lord," President Benson said. "They stoned the prophets and persecuted those who sought to follow Christ." He cited the destructions that occurred at the time of the Savior's crucifixion, the three days of darkness, and how the wicked bemoaned their fate. (See 3 Ne. 8.)
"Then a voice began to speak - a voice from the heavens that was heard throughout the entire land.
"Imagine the feelings of the people when the voice asked, `Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?' " (3 Ne. 9:13.)