“Lehi is a great prophet. The experiences he had in fulfilling the mission God gave him parallel those of other prophets. He shows the devotion, the openness to the Lord’s will, and the determination to follow the Lord’s direction that we look for in the ideal of a prophet.”
“Dreams and visions dominate Lehi’s life; he is called by the Lord in a vision in which he sees Christ and the twelve apostles (1 Ne. 1:6–14.) In another prophecy he foretells the Babylonian captivity, the ministry of the Messiah, and the preaching of the gospel to the gentiles. (1 Ne. 10:3–14.) Even the journey into the wilderness was commanded in a dream. (1 Ne. 2:1–3.) In other dreams Lehi was commanded to send his sons back to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of Laban and later to persuade Ishmael and his sons and daughters to join them. (1 Ne. 3:2–4, 1 Ne. 7:1–2.)”"Nephi makes it clear that no matter how close he himself came to the Lord, the revelation that dealt with where the family should go came to Lehi. The Lord spoke to Lehi “by night, and commanded him that on the morrow he should take his journey into the wilderness.” (1 Ne. 16:9) "
“Lehi was a strong man, not because he relied on his own wealth, power, or talents, but because he relied completely upon the Lord”
- Marshall R. Craig (1977) professor of English at Brigham Young University, high councilor in the Springville Utah Kolob Stake.
In light of the Mormon view of prophets generally, and of Lehi in particular, as expressed by Marshall R. Craig in an official church publication (“official” by sanction of the leaders of the church, regardless of whether it is “official” in the secular sense of being voted on, or the organizational sense of having been installed between the pages of one or another set of scriptures, or the imprimatur sense of a publicly pronounced vatical sanctification), where did Lehi go wrong? Why did Lehi falter as no other prophet did? Why did Lehi, the great and powerful prophet leading an entire nation (in embryonic form) across dreaded seas, crumble in his faith to the point that he could not continue to follow the dictates and inspiration of the invisible God without some visible, material, mechanical tool for his “inspiration” and “guidance.” A combination compass-ouiji board-(magic eight-ball, the incomparable “Liahona”?
Does his need for a tool to guide him and to tell him the Lord’s will suggest spiritual weakness on Lehi’s part?
Does God’s need for a physical tool to guide a prophet suggest that God has restricted powers of communication with his chosen prophets?
The “faithful” answer must be something like, “God can do what he wants. Besides, this way, he was certain to get his message across. Besides, Lehi’s children were losing faith; they needed something they could believe in if they were to follow their father into the wilderness. Etc.” But what is the reasonable answer? What objective reason is there, that would apply in every such case? Moses had to lead a people for forty years. If anyone needed a ball to lead a people into, through, and across a wilderness, it was him. Moses’ family doubted him, too, yet God didn’t give him a magic ball to convince them of his leadership role. Now, I admit, according to the Old Testament, Elijah got a chariot. Whether literal or figurative, that was a means for he himself to go somewhere, not to tell others where to go, nor what was on the Lord’s mind. Elijah himself spoke for the Lord; the chariot did not. He had a mantle, and handed that down, but that was a symbol of his office, not a tool for conveying messages or telling people where to go.
Lehi was led mostly by “dreams and visions.” His propheteers can only hope he interpreted them correctly, and hope they, too, are not crediting them with more weight than they can logically, even faithfully, support.