As a note: the various books within the Book of Mormon were originally not given chapter headings. Also, the original Book of Mormon manuscript was presented to the publisher without any punctuation or chapter divisions.
The following caption was written by Mormon to precede the Book of 3 Nephi, as it was named.
And Helaman was the son of Helaman, who was the son of Alma, who was the son of Alma, being a descendant of Nephi who was the son of Lehi, who came out of Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, the king of Judah. [Here we are given an exact timing of when Lehi left Jerusalem.]
1 Now it came to pass that the ninety and first year had passed away and it was six hundred years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem; and it was in the year that Lachoneus was the chief judge and the governor over the land.
2 And Nephi, the son of Helaman, had departed out of the land of Zarahemla, giving charge unto his son Nephi, [Where did he go? He seems to have followed the pattern of Alma the Younger. I will inquire of the Lord.] who was his eldest son, concerning the plates of brass, and all the records which had been kept, and all those things which had been kept sacred from the departure of Lehi out of Jerusalem. [The plates of brass were the bedrock of the Nephites scriptural record.]
3 Then he departed out of the land, and whither he went, no man knoweth; and his son Nephi did keep the records in his stead, yea, the record of this people.
May I ask what happened to Nephi, the son of Helaman? It says at the end of Helaman that he left Zarahemla and was never heard of again? He handed the records over to His son, also Nephi. The Lord said that he went to preach to the same people his grandfather Alma had been. Nephi knew what had occurred with his grandfather and had seen him in the spirit. These people had begun to waver and the prayers of the righteous had made it possible for Nephi to go to them. Nephi followed much of the same course as did Alma, going North into the region near Alaska and then going down the coast toward California. Nephi was older and filled with desire to help these people like his grandfather had done. He handed the records over to his son, also named Nephi, and began his journey. The people were called Marantah, or that’s how it sounded to me. They were a mix of Nephite, Lamanite, and had some other race too. Many were white skinned. Nephi ended his time among them and went south to almost the same area where he too was translated and taken up to heaven. Both him and Alma helped to prepare the final record, assisting Moroni before the record was sealed up. Both of them are no longer in a translated state. (Personal Journal)
4 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the ninety and second year, behold, the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there began to be greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people.
5 But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.
6 And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.
7 And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.
8 But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain. [This shows the great influence the prophet Samuel (the Lamanite) had amongst the people. His words regarding the coming of Christ was considered scripture to them and recognized by the unbelievers as the standard of their belief regarding His coming.]
9 Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.
10 Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this wickedness of his people, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.
11 And it came to pass that he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their fathers. [Reminds me somewhat of the story of Esther in the Old Testament. The people about to be destroyed because of their belief in God.]
12 And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day; and behold, the voice of the Lord [clear revelation] came unto him, saying:
13 Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.
14 Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world [since the Council of Heaven before the population of this world], and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son [A combined effort]—of the Father because of me [Jesus’ Spirit], and of the Son because of my flesh [Jesus’ body]. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.
This verse is significant for two reasons: first, it emphasizes the manner in which the Lord operates amongst His people. He requires them to exercise faith, even until the last second. He reveals his will to Nephi the day before He is to be born. The second thing this shows is that the Lord had not yet entered the body of the fetus to be born. The Lord has told me that it is the choice of the spirit as to when it will enter the body in the womb. The spirit does not usually enter the body at conception, but much later, often just before it is ready to be born.
15 And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled, according as they had been spoken; 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.
Similar miracles will occur at Christ’s coming, yet they will be in reverse: there will be no light in many places due to catastrophes, and then there will be no darkness, as light rises and envelops the earth at His coming. The Lord always shows great signs and wonders in the heavens to announce His great works. When these signs begin to occur in abundance you will know that the countdown has begun and a rapid escalation will occur preceding the Lord’s coming.
16 And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand. [In a like manner shall the world fall down when they see the great sign of the coming of the Lord, the light coming out of the east. It will appear as a planet or new star approaching, and will cause fear to overwhelm the wicked.]
17 And they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, all the people upon the face of the whole earth [the American continent] from the west to the east, both in the land north and in the land south, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth.
18 For they knew that the prophets had testified of these things for many years, and that the sign which had been given was already at hand; and they began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief.
19 And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given. [Where did this light come from? I have yet to inquire of the Lord.]
20 And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.
21 And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word. [This star was a conjunction, which arose from the eastern horizon.]
22 And it came to pass that from this time forth there began to be lyings sent forth among the people, by Satan, to harden their hearts, to the intent that they might not believe in those signs and wonders which they had seen [People began to have other explanations to dismiss what had occurred, much like how some scientists dismiss miracles today.]; but notwithstanding these lyings and deceivings the more part of the people did believe, and were converted unto the Lord.
23 And it came to pass that Nephi went forth among the people, and also many others, baptizing unto repentance, in the which there was a great remission of sins. [The Holy Ghost was bestowed upon them.] And thus the people began again to have peace in the land.
24 And there were no contentions, save it were a few that began to preach, endeavoring to prove by the scriptures that it was no more expedient to observe the law of Moses. Now in this thing they did err, having not understood the scriptures. [They did not understand that Christ’s birth was not the end of the law, but the beginning of His life, which would end in the fulfillment of the law.]
25 But it came to pass that they soon became converted, and were convinced of the error which they were in, for it was made known unto them that the law was not yet fulfilled, and that it must be fulfilled in every whit; yea, the word came unto them that it must be fulfilled; yea, that one jot or tittle should not pass away till it should all be fulfilled; therefore in this same year were they brought to a knowledge of their error and did confess their faults. [Even among the Nephites there were many diverse opinions concerning doctrines and religion, similar to today but more limited.]
26 And thus the ninety and second year did pass away, bringing glad tidings unto the people because of the signs which did come to pass, according to the words of the prophecy of all the holy prophets.
27 And it came to pass that the ninety and third year did also pass away in peace, save it were for the Gadianton robbers, who dwelt upon the mountains, who did infest the land; for so strong were their holds and their secret places that the people could not overpower them; therefore they did commit many murders, and did do much slaughter among the people.
28 And it came to pass that in the ninety and fourth year they began to increase in a great degree, because there were many dissenters of the Nephites who did flee unto them, which did cause much sorrow unto those Nephites who did remain in the land. [The Nephite version of organized crime amongst their people. These Gadiantons used many of the Satanic oaths to gain power.]
29 And there was also a cause of much sorrow among the Lamanites; for behold, they had many children who did grow up and began to wax strong in years, that they became for themselves, and were led away by some who were Zoramites, by their lyings and their flattering words, to join those Gadianton robbers.
30 And thus were the Lamanites afflicted also, and began to decrease as to their faith and righteousness, because of the wickedness of the rising generation. [Mormon specifically notes that after the countdown to Christ’s coming, after the sign had been given, the people began to turn toward darkness, specifically the “rising generation.”]
In America today, the rising generation is more at risk than any time in the history of our country. It took 33-34 years before Christ came to America after the sign of the night without darkness. What is the sign for this generation and how long will our last rising generation ripen in iniquity before His coming in glory? (Read more details at “A Witness of the End of Times.”)
There is a type to this, and it doesn’t mean the years will match, but the pattern should be prayerfully considered.