Samuel the Lamanite stood on the walls of Zarahemla and boldly preached repentance and faith in Christ. This message should not have been controversial in the capital of the Nephite nation, but some felt so offended they justified attempting to kill Samuel.
How could the people who had been repeatedly saved by God and inherited the traditions of Christianity arrive to the point that killing a prophet seemed like a good idea?
Though there are numerous correct answers to the question, perhaps the most significant was the lack of a particular spiritual gift – the power to see signs.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, this gift is called “diversity of operations.”
“And again, it is given by the Holy Ghost to some to know the diversities of operations, whether they be of God, that the manifestations of the Spirit may be given to every man to profit withal.”
This gift is a magnification of the innate abilities to perceive good and evil that are given to us all, as taught by Mormon:
“For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night. For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.”
The power to recognize that something comes from God, or that something is a sign or message from God, is vitally important.
The lack of this ability led the children of Israel to murmur against Moses. It led them to seek a King to be like other nations. It justified reverence of Baal and other false gods. It kept Jerusalem from heeding the warnings of Jeremiah and of Lehi. It gnawed away at the culture in Zarahemla until people could not even recognize that the message of Samuel the Lamanite was from God.
In spite of the lack of ability to see signs, Samuel still offered the Nephites several easily recognizable events to help encourage them to regain the ability they had lost… These events included a night without darkness at the birth of Jesus, a new star, great destruction surrounding the crucifixion, and that many saints would arise and appear to many.
One would imagine when these signs began to be manifest, the people would diligently work to safeguard the renewed ability to recognize messages from God. Unfortunately, after only a short time, the people again ceased believing in the predictions of the prophets.
The tendency to neglect this gift is not reserved for people in ancient times. Even now, people tend to have difficulty recognizing messages from God.
One would imagine that a member of the First Presidency would be accepted in a place like Utah, but just like Zarahemla with Samuel, conference tends to expose individuals who are unable to recognize messages from heaven. They murmur about incompatibilities with social and political stances instead of recognizing the miracle that God literally speaks through modern prophets and apostles. They sling metaphoric stones and arrows at spiritual titans like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, who sacrificed much to provide comforts they take for granted.
As general conference approaches, ensure that your power to hear the spirit is functioning correctly. Prepare so that when prophets and apostles speak, you will recognize the message of God. Do not neglect your power to see signs.
- Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020, August 31- September 6.
- “Preparation for the Second Coming” -Elder Dallin H. Oaks, April 2004
- “Beware of Pride” -President Ezra Taft Benson, April 1989
- “To Make a People Prepared for the Lord” -Elder Delbert L. Stapley, October 1975