Nephi was heartsick. He had tried hard to teach the Nephites to live righteously, but they would not forsake their wicked ways. As he went toward his home, Nephi heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; … behold, I will bless thee forever; … yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.”
The Lord then commanded him to warn the Nephites, saying, “Except ye repent ye shall be smitten, even unto destruction.”
Instead of returning home, Nephi went back among the people to deliver the Lord’s message. He pleaded with them to repent of their wickedness, but they refused to listen. They even tried to put Nephi into prison. But because the power of God was with Nephi, the Spirit took him away from them.
And it came to pass that Nephi went forth in the Spirit, from place to place, crying repentance until everyone received the message. But the wicked people became more wicked and started killing each other with swords. Then a secret band of robbers, started by an evil man named Gadianton, swept through the land, bringing war among the Nephites.
Nephi was afraid his people would be destroyed. He loved them and wanted them to have another chance, so he prayed, “Let there be a famine in the land, to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God, and perhaps they will repent and turn unto thee.”
The Lord answered Nephi’s prayer, sending a great drought. No grain or fruit would grow. People became hungry, and many died. When the Nephites realized that they might all perish, they finally remembered Nephi’s words and humbled themselves. They repented of their wickedness, pleading with Nephi to ask the Lord to end the famine that had plagued them for nearly three years.
When Nephi knew that the people had truly repented, he prayed for rain. The Lord heard his prayer and caused rain to fall upon the earth. The fruit and grain grew, and the people had food. The Nephites thanked God, rejoicing because of His goodness to them. At last they recognized Nephi as a prophet and respected the power and authority of the priesthood he held.
While the people kept the commandments, they prospered in the land. Their cities grew, and the Church spread until most of the Nephites were members. With righteousness came peace and prosperity. But when life became easier and more comfortable, the Nephites became prideful. They forgot the Lord and the blessings He had given them and thought only of their riches. Once again, the Gadianton robbers became powerful, and the people returned to their wickedness.
Wars and destruction spread throughout the land, and the Nephites feared for their lives. Because of these afflictions, they again remembered the Lord; but as soon as He blessed them, they turned back to their evil ways. For years Nephi patiently tried to teach his people, using the power the Lord had given him. But each time the Nephites were blessed with peace and flocks and herds and worldly riches, they became proud and forgot the Lord. Then they would be plagued with troubles until they humbled themselves and repented of their wickedness.