There Were No Good Prophets or Priests in Jerusalem
Lehi should have done the Prophet Jeremiah’s job,
(had Lehi truly existed).
The book of I Nephi records that Lehi, Nephi’s father, prayed unto the Lord and received visions from God. He ultimately became a prophet for God in Jerusalem:
“ . . . my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, . . .”48
“ . . . after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, . . . he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy . . .”49
These events are recorded as having followed Zedekiah’s appointment by Nebuchadnezzar as king and therefore also would have followed the siege of Jerusalem and deportation of the mass of Jerusalem residents recorded in II Kings 24:10-17. Lehi’s period of preaching in Jerusalem allegedly lasted about one year before God instructed him to flee Jerusalem with his family.
We have seen already in chapter nine that there were no good people in Jerusalem prior to Zedekiah’s appointment as king. Chapter fourteen will reveal that God had condemned every resident of Jerusalem for idol worship. If Lehi truly existed in Jerusalem as the BkM states, then this writer must ask, when did Lehi repent of his wickedness? The author of I Nephi does not record Lehi as having ever repented before God, only that he prayed unto God with all of his heart.50 In chapter sixteen we will discover that God had stopped listening to the prayers of the people of Jerusalem and had even instructed Jeremiah to not pray for them. Had Lehi truly existed in Jerusalem in the setting of the book of I Nephi his prayers would have gone unheeded for two reasons. Lehi had not repented, and God refused to hear anyway. The Prophet Isaiah who preceded Jeremiah shows the barrier between unrepentant men and God:
“Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid
face from you, that
he will not hear.”51
It is not a matter of God not being able to hear; it is a matter of God not being willing to hear. Having no audience with a Holy God Lehi could not possibly have gained God’s attention and commission as recorded in I Nephi.
As a Jerusalem resident all of his life, Lehi would have lived in Jerusalem during the thirty years preceding Zedekiah’s appointment. If Lehi was the â€˜goodly parent’ spoken of by the alleged writer Nephi, then one must ask why God did not commission him to speak to the people of Jerusalem during that thirty years of Jeremiah’s prophecy. Why did God call Jeremiah from the city of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin to preach to the Jerusalem residents when Lehi dwelt among them and could have done exactly what Jeremiah did? Why did Jeremiah prophesy alone? Where was the alleged Lehi in the following verses while Jeremiah lamented his situation?
Jer. 15:17 I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced;
I sat alone
because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.
Jer. 18:18 Then said they,
Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.
Jer. 20:7 O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily,
every one mocketh me.
Jer. 26:2 Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD'S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD'S house, all the words that I
command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word:
Jer. 26:7 So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.
Jer. 26:8 Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded
to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and
all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.
Jer. 26:9 Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant?
And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.
Would any reader care to argue that Jeremiah would not have appreciated some support and assistance from Lehi, had Lehi truly existed?
One cannot argue that Lehi was not called because he would not have been safe living in Jerusalem as a prophet for that many years. This argument holds no water when we consider God’s instructions to the Prophet Jeremiah who went to Jerusalem by God’s command. The people of Jerusalem as well as those of his own home city Anathoth hated him. God forewarned Jeremiah that he would be hated and promised protection for the duration of Jeremiah’s prophecies:
Jer. 1:7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I
a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
Jer. 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for
with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
Jer. 1:18 For, behold,
I have made thee this day
a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof,
and against the people of the land.
Jer. 1:19 And they shall fight against thee; but
they shall not prevail against thee; for I
with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.
Jer. 11:21 Therefore thus saith the LORD of
the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand:
Jer. 15:20 And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brazen wall:
and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I
with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
Jer. 15:21 And
I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.
God could have as easily called Lehi to do the job Jeremiah did and protected him and his family just like he protected the Prophet Jeremiah. Why then did God not call Lehi to do the task? If Lehi was prophet material as the book of I Nephi suggests, then God would no doubt have commissioned him before the siege recorded in II Kings 24:10-17. Jeremiah would not have been needed, and the book of the prophecies of Lehi might have been in the Bible instead of the book of Jeremiah.
It is a curiosity to this writer as to why God would need more than one prophet to speak his message to the people of Jerusalem. It is recorded more than once that Jeremiah preached at the temple to all of the inhabitants of Judah who came to worship:
Jer. 26:2 Thus saith the LORD;
Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word:
When one considers the worship habits of the Jewish people in the temple on the Sabbath weekly, it is difficult to imagine that anybody in Jerusalem missed hearing God’s warnings from the Prophet Jeremiah, including Lehi! Why didn’t Lehi step in earlier and support Jeremiah’s message? Why would God need Lehi to step in late after Jeremiah had already preached for thirty years, preach for only one year after God had already sent to Babylon the majority of the Jerusalem residents, and then run away with his family and leave Jeremiah to continue?
God didn’t need more than one prophet at a time in the same city to ensure all the residents heard the message, and God was not and is not in the habit of using wicked idolatrous unrepentant people to be his prophets. Let’s consider what God had to say about the prophets and priests living in Jerusalem prior to Zedekiah’s reign when Lehi should have stepped forth had he truly existed as recorded in the BkM. Later we will consider what God had to say about all of the Jerusalem prophets after Zedekiah’s appointment. They would have included Lehi had he truly dwelt in Jerusalem.
There were no good prophets or priests in Jerusalem during the forty-one years of Jeremiah’s prophecies. This is why God called Jeremiah out of the land of Benjamin and sent him to prophesy against Jerusalem instead of using a prophet already dwelling in the city:
said not, Where
the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and
the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after
do not profit.
Jer. 2:26 As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and
their priests, and
Jer. 5:1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man,
if there be
that executeth judgment,
that seeketh the truth;
and I will pardon it.
Jer. 5:2 And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.
(God did not pardon the city! This would indicate Jeremiah found no man that sought the truth and executed judgment).
The prophets prophesy falsely, and
the priests bear rule by their means; and my people loveto have it
so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Jer. 6:6 For thus hath the LORD of hosts said, Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount againstJerusalem:
the city to be visited; she
wholly oppression in the midst of her.
Jer. 6:7 As a fountain casteth out her waters, so she casteth out her wickedness: violence and spoil is heard in her; before me continually
grief and wounds.
Be thou instructed, O Jerusalem, lest my soul depart from thee; lest I make thee desolate, a land not inhabited.
Jer. 6:9 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets.
Jer. 6:10 To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear
isuncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold,
the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.
Jer. 6:11 Therefore I am full of the fury of the LORD; I am weary with holding in: I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together: for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with
him that is
full of days.
Jer. 6:12 And their houses shall be turned unto others,
fields and wives together: for I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD.
Jer. 6:13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one
given to covetousness; and
from the prophet even unto the priest
Jer. 8:5 Why
this people of Jerusalem
slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.
Jer. 8:6 I hearkened and heard,
they spake not aright:
no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.
Jer. 8:7 Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but
my people know not the judgment of the LORD.
Jer. 8:8 How do ye say, We
wise, and the law of the LORD
with us? Lo, certainly in vain made heit; the pen of the scribes
are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken:
lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom
Jer. 8:10 Therefore will I give their wives unto others,
their fields to them that shall inherit
from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness,
from the prophet even unto the priest
Jer. 13:13 Then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD, Behold,
I will fill
the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit upon David's throne, and the priests,
and the prophets,
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness.
Jer. 13:14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the LORD:
I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.
Jer. 13:15 Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken.
Jer. 14:13 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold,
say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.
Jer. 14:14 Then the LORD said unto me,
The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.
Jer. 14:15 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning
the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.
Jer. 14:16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of
because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.
Jer. 18:11 Now therefore go to,
speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
And they said, There is no hope:
but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
Jer. 18:13 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things: the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible thing.
Jer. 18:14 Will
leave the snow of Lebanon
from the rock of the field?
shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place be forsaken?
Jer. 18:15 Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways
the ancient paths, to walk in paths,
a way not cast up;
Jer. 18:16 To make their land desolate,
a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head.
Jer. 18:17 I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.
Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with the tongue, and
let us not give heed to any of his words.
Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness.
Jer. 23:10 For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force
Jer. 23:11 For
both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.
Jer. 23:12 Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery
in the darkness: they shall be driven on, and fall therein: for I will bring evil upon them,
the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.
Jer. 23:13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.
Jer. 23:14 I have seen also
in the prophets of Jerusalem
an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
Jer. 23:15 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts
concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for
from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.
Jer. 23:16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts,
Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart,
not out of the mouth of the LORD.
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
Jer. 23:22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.
How long shall
be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea,
they areprophets of the deceit of their own heart;
Jer. 23:27 Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal.
Jer. 23:28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What
the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
Jer. 23:30 Therefore, behold,
against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
Jer. 23:32 Behold,
against them that prophesy false dreams,
saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
Jer. 23:33 And when
this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What
the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.
the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house.
Jer. 23:37 Thus shalt thou say to
the prophet, What hath the LORD answered thee? and, What hath the LORD spoken?
Jer. 23:38 But since ye say, The burden of the LORD; therefore thus saith the LORD; Because ye say this word, The burden of the LORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD;
Jer. 23:39 Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and
that I gave you and your fathers,
and cast you
out of my presence:
Jer. 23:40 And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.
[Note: Although Jeremiah chapters 22 & 23 follow the first mention of Zedekiah in the book of Jeremiah, they chronologically fit before Zedekiah’s appointment. Let the researcher notice King Coniah (Jeconiah/Jehoiachin) mentioned in Jeremiah 22:24-26 and see God’s future intent, which was fulfilled in the Babylonian siege recorded in II Kings 24:10-17. God said â€˜I will’, which shows future intent rather than past fulfillment; therefore chapters 22 & 23 must precede Zedekiah’s appointment.
Chapters 25, 26, 27:1-11, 35, 36, and 45 apparently also precede Zedekiah.]
We have seen God’s indictment against the Jerusalem prophets and priests in the preceding verses. Jeremiah chapter twenty-four, which we have already considered in chapter four of this book, leaves no question of God’s intent towards all of those who remained in Jerusalem after Zedekiah’s appointment. There are only a few mentions of prophets in Jerusalem after the great deportation of II Kings 24:10-17 because most of the people no longer dwelt in Jerusalem. Let’s consider those references and see what God had to say about the prophets left in Jerusalem after Zedekiah’s appointment, which, according to the BkM, would have included Lehi.
Jer. 29:8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not
your prophets and your diviners, that
in the midst of you,
deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.
Jer. 29:9 For
they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.
Jer. 29:23 Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours' wives, and
have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and
a witness, saith the LORD.
shalt thou also speak to Shemaiah the Nehelamite, saying,
Jer. 29:25 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Because thou hast sent letters in thy name unto all the people that
at Jerusalem, and to Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest, and to all the priests, saying,
Jer. 29:26 The LORD hath made thee priest in the stead of Jehoiada the priest, that ye should be officers in the house of the LORD, for
mad, and maketh himself a prophet, that thou shouldest put him in prison, and in the stocks.
Jer. 29:27 Now therefore why hast thou not reproved Jeremiah of Anathoth, which maketh himself a prophet to you?
Jer. 29:31 Send to all them of the captivity, saying, Thus saith the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite; Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and
I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie:
There is nothing in the book of Jeremiah that would corroborate Joseph Smith’s story about Lehi. There are a multitude of evidences that would indicate the story must be false. Lehi, like the rest of the Jerusalem residents of that time, would have been under God’s condemnation for his wickedness had he truly existed in Jerusalem. Lehi was not needed to speak for God because God had already commissioned Jeremiah to do so. The truth of the matter is that Lehi never truly existed as recorded by Joseph Smith.
We have yet a multitude of evidences to consider that will continue to prove the story written by Joseph Smith called the BkM can be nothing more than a fairy tale. We will see that there were no treasures in Jerusalem for Lehi’s sons to return for. We will consider God’s refusal to hear the prayers of the Jerusalem residents. We will consider the continuing drought initiated by God that prevented Lehi’s family's survival outside the city of Jerusalem as well as the lack of animals Lehi could have had to sacrifice. Many more evidences from the book of Jeremiah await our consideration, but we will take the next few chapters to consider God’s anger, the serious judgments it incurred, and the wickedness of the people that instigated it. Let’s step back in time and get a good view of Jerusalem during Jeremiah’s ministry; the Jerusalem Nephi supposedly grew up in and Lehi allegedly dwelt in â€˜in all his days’.
#48 1 Nephi 1:5, BkM
#49 1 Nephi 1:18, BkM
#50 1 Nephi 1:5, BkM
#51 Isaiah 59:1-2, KJV Bible