According to Sterling Allan, Nephi uses wordings in his record which are intentional parallels of other scriptures written by the prophets. Let us consider an example from Nephi’s writings which shows intentional correlations in revealed writing. This example witnesses that the parallels in the Book of Mormon are meant to foreshadow the events of our day. Consider the following verses from 2 Nephi 26:
Great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them.
Wherefore, all those who are proud, and that do wickedly, the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, for they shall be as stubble.
And they that kill the prophets, and the saints, the depths of the earth shall swallow them up, saith the Lord of Hosts; and mountains shall cover them, and whirlwinds shall carry them away, and buildings shall fall upon them and crush them to pieces and grind them to powder.
And they shall be visited with thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes, and all manner of destructions, for the fire of the Lord shall be kindled against them, and they shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts. (2 Nephi 26:3-6)
If one was not aware of the context of these verses, he would most likely thing that they were talking about the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming. But the context is of the destruction of the wicked Lehites on the American continent. Nephi was pointing out the “signs” that would mark the “death and resurrection” of “the Messiah” (2 Nephi 26:3). He concluded this prophecy lamenting, “O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people! For I, Nephi, have seen it… .” (2 Nephi 26:7)
The reason we originally would have thought that these verses spoke of the destruction of the wicked at the Second Coming is because of the language used. In the first phrase Nephi used the words, “Great and terrible.” These words are used elsewhere in the scriptures to describe the latter-day scene (see Joel 2:11, 1 Nephi 12:5). The reason stated for the destruction--“They cast out the prophets, and the saints …”--is also spoken of in latter-day prophecy (see D&C 87:7).
2 Nephi 26:4 & 6 repeat a verse found in the Old Testament, Malachi 4:1, which is given in the context of the latter days. Compare the wording used in Malachi with that used by Nephi in these two verses:
M/4:1 all the proud
26:4 all those who are proud
M/4:1 and all that do wickedly
26:4 and that do wickedly
M/4:1 the day that cometh shall burn them up
26:4 the day that cometh shall burn them up
26:6 the day that cometh shall consume them
M/4:1 saith the Lord of hosts
26:4 saith the Lord of Hosts
26:6 saith the Lord of Hosts
M/4:1 shall be stubble
26:4 shall be as stubble
26:6 shall be as stubble
Five entire phrases within the three verses being compared are virtually identical in their wording. It cannot be said that Nephi “quoted” Malachi, because Malachi was born around 100 years after the death of Nephi. Malachi could not have had access to Nephi’s writings because they were separated by an ocean of water. When the resurrected Lord appeared to the Nephites and quoted from Malachi, he confirmed that “the Father had given unto Malachi” His words (3 Nephi 24:1). Here, then, is an example of direct revelation being responsible for a correlation.
The question still has not been answered as to why Nephi is using terminology that pertains to the latter day destruction when the context says he is talking about the destruction of the wicked among his people anciently. Without an understanding of the concept of parallels, this might remain an enigma to us. With an understanding of parallels, the intention becomes quite clear here. Nephi is pointing out beyond doubt that (as President Benson put it), “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.”
In case we still are not sure that this was the intent of the prophet Nephi, yet another indicator follows. In verse two of the next chapter (2 Nephi 27), he uses five separate phrases that are nearly identical with phrases found in verse two of the preceding chapter. This time, he is speaking of “the last days,” when people “upon all the lands of the earth … will be drunken with iniquity and all manner of abominations” (2 Nephi 27:1). Compare his wording:
26:6 they shall be visited
27:2 they shall be visited
26:6 with thunderings, and lightnings
27:2 with thunder … and with storm
26:6 and earthquakes
27:2 and with earthquakes
26:6 the fire of … the Lord shall be kindled
27:2 and with the flame of devouring fire
26:6 saith the Lord of Hosts
27:2 visited of the Lord of Hosts
So in 2 Nephi 26 the context is set at the time of the destruction of the wicked among his people preceding Christ’s appearance to them. Then in chapter 27 the context is established as being that time when the wicked will be destroyed before Christ’s second coming. Yet the wording used in both instances is virtually identical. In these cases, we would have to say that this was done intentionally through the element of inspiration.
The Lord never comes right out and tells us directly that this is what He is doing, but when we become aware of it there is no doubt. This selective wording is pervasive throughout the canvas of the standard works. The immense cross correlation of scriptures--often from detached sources--into one great whole bears the signature of an omniscient God (“And now it came to pass that when Jesus had expounded all the scriptures in one, which they had written, he commanded them that they should teach the things which he had expounded unto them”--3 Nephi 23:14). By recognizing this technique, we then have a tool for receiving many insights hitherto unknown.
Critics of the Book of Mormon look upon the passages just discussed as “plagiarism;” that Joseph Smith merely copied these passages into the text from the Bible. However, as Nephi sates: “Behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for the signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution--behold, they are they which shall not perish. But the Son of Righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him” (2 Nephi 26:8,9). The reader should note that the phrases “Son of Righteousness” and “healing” are also found in Malachi 4:2, the verse immediately following the one Nephi quoted just six verses prior to this (2 Nephi 26:2 = Malachi 4:1 = 3 Nephi 25:1) Again, Nephi used wording that ties directly into the latter-day deliverance, even though he was talking about the deliverance of his own people, “until three generations shall have passed away.” (2 Nephi 26:9) [Sterling D. Allan, The Vision of All, [www.greaterthings.com/Books/Vision/Overview/nephis-wording.htm], Jan. 9, 2001] [See Vol. 6, Appendix C]
Note* As the reader will come to understand in the commentary on 2 Nephi 27, chapters 25-29 of 2 Nephi represent Nephi’s likening of Isaiah 29 unto his people. Lest anybody think that Joseph Smith just plopped a section of Malachi or Isaiah into 2 Nephi 26:3-6, the reader should be aware that these verses, and especially the phrases in verse 4, lie at the heart of a complex prophetic chiastic structure. Donald W. Parry gives the following chiastic structure for 2 Nephi 26:1-9:
A. And after Christ shall have risen from the dead he shall show himself unto you, my children, and my
B. and the words which he shall speak unto you shall be the law which ye shall do
C. For Behold, I say unto you that I have beheld that many generations shall pass away,
D. and there shall be great wars and contentions among my people
E. And after the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth,
and also of his death and resurrection; and great and terrible shall that day be
unto the wicked,
F. for they shall perish; and they perish
G. because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and
slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up
to God from the ground against them.
H. Wherefore, all those who are proud, and that do wickedly, the day that
cometh shall burn them up
H’ saith the Lord of Hosts, for they shall be as stubble
G’ And they that kill the prophets, and the saints
F. the depths of the earth shall swallow them up, saith the Lord of Hosts
and mountains shall cover them
and whirlwinds shall carry them away
and buildings shall fall upon them
and crush them to pieces
and grind them to powder.
E’ And they shall be visited with thunderings
and all manner of destructions
for the fire of the anger of the Lord shall be kindled against them, and they shall
be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts
D’ O the pain, and the anguish of my soul for the loss of the slain of my people
C’ For I, Nephi, have seen it, and it well nigh consumeth me before the presence of the Lord;
but I must cry unto my God: Thy ways are just.
B’ But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and destroy them not, but
look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for signs which are given, notwithstanding all
persecution--behold, they are they which shall not perish.
A’ But the Son of righteousness shall appear unto them
and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him, until three generations shall have passed away …
[Donald W. Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 100-101]