In 12 BC, despite the fact that Nephi and Lehi were receiving revelations from God every day, there were disputes over church doctrine that lead to a group of Nephites breaking away and joining the Lamanites. These people searched and found the secret plans of Gadianton and became robbers. They lived in secret places in the wilderness, committing theft and murder, and causing havoc in the land.
In the space of one year, the robbers became so numerous and strong that they fended off the combined army of the Nephites and Lamanites when they came to attack them in the mountains and wilderness. A great fear of the robbers came over the land, for they caused much destruction, killing many, and abducting women and children.
And so it is seen how false and wavering people's hearts are—how foolish, vain, and evil. They do not want to be ruled by Jesus their God who made them, despite his great goodness and mercy toward them. They will not remember Jesus unless he visits them with death and terror, famine, disease, and all kinds of suffering.
In 6 BC, a Lamanite prophet named Samuel came to Zarahemla to preach to the Nephites. He was thrown out of the city, so he climbed up on the city wall and said, "An angel of Jesus has instructed me to tell you that in less than 400 years Jesus will visit you in his fierce anger and you will be utterly destroyed. Fire will come down from heaven to destroy this city."
"You wicked and perverse generation," said Samuel, "how much longer do you think Jesus will put up with you? Your wickedness and abominations have brought you to the threshold of destruction. Unless you repent, you will be utterly destroyed within four generations. The day will come when you will weep and howl and wish you had repented, but it will be too late."
"Your houses will be destroyed," said Samuel. "Women nursing their young will mourn, for there will be no place for them to flee. And those who are pregnant will be trampled underfoot and left for dead. For Jesus loves his chosen people, the Nephites. He disciplines them because he loves them."
"Five more years will pass," said Samuel, "and then the Son of God will come, and this will be the sign of his coming: the night before his birth will be a night without darkness. You will also see a new star in the sky. And at his death there will be three days with no light. There will be lightning and earthquakes. Mountains will crumble and cities will be destroyed."
Many who heard Samuel's words believed, and went to get baptized. But the majority of the people were angered by his words.They threw stones at him and shot arrows. When they realized they could not hit him, they said, "Seize him and tie him up! He is possessed by a devil, and that is why we cannot hit him!" But Samuel fled the land and was never seen again.
The majority of the Nephites remained wicked, and only became more so over the next few years. In 2 BC, angels appeared to wise men, declaring news of great joy in anticipation of Christ's birth. And yet the people said, "It is not reasonable that a being such as Christ shall come. This is a wicked tradition inspired by Satan to make us servants to the priests and teachers."