1 Nephi 1:18-20 — LeGrand Baker — Why Persecute a Prophet?

1 Nephi 1:18-20

18 Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard.
19 And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.
20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

Perhaps less than most of us, a prophet is unable to disguise the innate power of his own being. Prophets glow. One cannot always see the glow, but one who is aware can feel it. When someone encounters a prophet and recognizes the power that is simply a part of his person, that person is compelled to respond. The response may be love. In that case, the person will acknowledge the prophet’s divine call and follow his lead. Otherwise, the response would be hatred or fear—fear that the prophet can look into one’s soul and see the darkness that is there. In that case, if the person refuses to acknowledge the prophet’s divine call, he will seek to demonstrate that the prophet is a charlatan. To do that, he will seek to show that he has more power than the prophet has. The way he will try to do that may be to smear the prophet’s good name, to physically harm him, or even to kill him. Examples are found throughout scriptural history, from Abel who was killed by his brother Cain, to Isaiah, Abinadi, and the Savior, to the prophet Joseph.

Lehi and his friend Jeremiah were no exceptions to this rule. The easiest way for their enemies to prove that they were false prophets was to prove that they did not have the power to preserve their own lives: so they sought to kill them.


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