When the prophet Nephi gives his second sign revealing how to bring the chief judge’s murder to confession in a way that vindicates Nephi as innocent, there is a strange and rather contradictory reaction among the people.
39 And there were some of the Nephites who believed on the words of Nephi; and there were some also, who believed because of the testimony of the five, for they had been converted while they were in prison.
40 And now there were some among the people, who said that Nephi was a prophet.
41 And there were others who said: Behold, he is a god, for except he was a god he could not know of all things. For behold, he has told us the thoughts of our hearts, and also has told us things; and even he has brought unto our knowledge the true murderer of our chief judge.
1 And it came to pass that there arose a division among the people, insomuch that they divided hither and thither and went their ways, leaving Nephi alone, as he was standing in the midst of them. (Helaman 9:39-10:1)
It is odd that of the people who believe Nephi, consider him a prophet, or even consider him a god, they end up going their ways and leaving him completely alone. It is almost as if they are afraid of what he might say next because if he is as great as they suppose, they will have to listen and obey.
Now, let’s just look at the people who think Nephi is a god. They seem to think that Nephi’s knowledge of their thoughts and the chief judge’s murder means he must be a god. They don’t seem to realize that God can reveal these things to men. That isn’t even on their radar. In fact, it is as if they believe that God will not reveal things to men, so to know things a man can not know must mean Nephi himself is a god. Except here their reasoning breaks down; if Nephi were a god, by their own definition, he would not reveal what he did about their thoughts and the true murderer because gods (as they suppose) do not reveal secrets to men.
Their assumption represents a significant spiritual problem.
This shows us that one of the Lord's purposes of the inspired revelation to Nephi of the chief judge’s murder was to try to get the people to believe in revelation because they were stuck in a rut of thinking that revelation was impossible. Along with those who were caught up in secret combinations, there was also a substantial amount of people that thought God could not and would not reveal things to them. That needed to be addressed. So not only did the secret combinations learn their secret crimes were not hidden from God and could be exposed at any time, but everyone else was to learn that God could and would reveal valuable information in almost prodigal amounts and detail to those who were ready and willing to listen.
So it is worth thinking about what we believe about God’s willingness to give us revelation. Do we believe He will, or do we think He won’t? If He does, are we spiritually ready to receive, or would we, like the Nephites, go our ways lest we hear more than we want to?