Lehi, the youngest son of Helaman, chief judge and grandson of Alma, along with his older brother, Nephi, received inspired counsel from a righteous father. Thus the two young men “began to grow up unto the Lord”. In due course, Lehi, as companion to Nephi, achieved remarkable success as a minister and missionary among the Nephite and Lamanite peoples. Both Lehi and Nephi hearkened faithfully to the counsel of their father to live up to the example of their namesakes from Jerusalem—Nephi and Father Lehi—by following in the footsteps of the prophets down through the generations. Both “did remember his their father’s] words; and therefore they went forth, keeping the commandments of God, to teach the word of God among all the people of Nephi”.
Lehi and Nephi shared many experiences. Mormon, compiler and abridger of the Book of Mormon, characterized Lehi as not being “a whit behind him [his brother, Nephi] as to things pertaining to righteousness”. Lehi “knew concerning the true points of doctrine, having [like Nephi] many revelations daily”.
History: Lehi’s ministry took place beginning around 30 BC. It was during that year that his older brother, Nephi, stepped down as chief judge in [Zarahemla so that the two brothers could devote their lives to building up the kingdom of God. Thereafter they went from city to city preaching repentance and baptizing. Together they were responsible for bringing some 8,000 Lamanites living in the vicinity of Zarahemla back into the fold of Christ. Their subsequent mission to the Lamanites in the land of Nephi brought about the convincing of “the more part of the Lamanites” that the gospel message is true. The turning point for this remarkable transformation was the deliverance of Lehi and Nephi from the prison into which they had been cast by a disbelieving Lamanite leadership. This event, which occurred around 30 BC, was perhaps the defining experience of Lehi’s ministry.
The two brothers had languished many days in prison without food when their captors came in to slay them. The two were then “encircled about as if by fire, even insomuch that they the Lamanites] durst not lay their hands upon them for fear lest they should be burned. Nevertheless, Nephi and Lehi were not burned; and they were as standing in the midst of fire and were not burned”. In the wake of a violent earthquake and amidst a cloud of darkness a voice spoke:
Repent ye, repent ye, and seek no more to destroy my servants whom I have sent unto you to declare good tidings.
And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul.
Three times the voice called the people to repent as the earth trembled. Among the observers present was a former Nephite dissenter by the name of Aminadab, whose faith was rekindled by the heavenly manifestation.
And it came to pass that he turned him about, and behold, he saw through the cloud of darkness the faces of Nephi and Lehi; and behold, they did shine exceedingly, even as the faces of angels. And he beheld that they did lift their eyes to heaven; and they were in the attitude as if talking or lifting their voices to some being whom they beheld.
Through the counsel of Aminadab, the other witnesses prayed for deliverance from the oppressive darkness and were granted relief.
And Nephi and Lehi were in the midst of them; yea, they were encircled about; yea, they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire, yet it did harm them not, neither did it take hold upon the walls of the prison; and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.
And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words.
And it came to pass that there came a voice unto them, yea, a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper, saying:
Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world.
And now, when they heard this they cast up their eyes as if to behold from whence the voice came; and behold, they saw the heavens open; and angels came down out of heaven and ministered unto them.
There were some three hundred people who saw and experienced these miracles and then became the missionary force to persuade the majority of their countrymen to forsake their wickedness and enter the fold of the Savior. Thereafter Lehi accompanied his brother Nephi to the [land northward to continue their ministry. He later served in Zarahemla.