CLICK HERE to read Helaman 16.
Samuel the Lamanite prophet preached to the people for five years, very nearly until the birth of Christ. Many who came to believe him returned, through the priesthood as they should, to their own Nephite prophet, Nephi, and confessed their sins and were baptized (verses 1, 5). Nephi had continued all this time, preaching and prophesying, crying repentance to the people and baptizing those who responded, showing signs and wonders that told Christ was soon to come (verse 4).
Those who did not believe did not just choose to disbelieve, but they were also angry and tried to kill him – but they could not (verse 2). When they saw that they could not kill the prophet because he was protected by the Lord, even more people believed and were baptized (verse 3), but most of the people did not believe (verse 10) and continued trying to kill the prophet (verse 6). Because the people would not believe him, Samuel returned to teach his own people at home (verse 7).
In this way, the people saw greater and greater polarization of those who did believe and those who did not believe, just as in these latter days of the Latter-days. Those who refused to believe became more hard with greater iniquity than before, doing things contrary to the commandments of God so much that these sins became culturally “normal”, even accepted (verse 12). It was the Law of Opposition in effect, that the closer it got to the time of the Savior’s birth – our great Light – the greater became the darkness of those who did not believe Him. The signs the prophets had given to the people began to be fulfilled (verse 13), even with angels appearing to declare “glad tidings of great joy” (verse 14).
Yet, despite not only the evidence given by the prophets of God, but also the evidence given by the Earth herself, those who did not believe “began to harden their hearts… and began to depend upon their own strength and upon their own wisdom” (verse 15). They explained away the signs and wonders, saying that “some things the may have guessed right”, but that they still know none of it is true (verse 16). Refusing the obvious right in front of them as proof, they used their own reasoning as “logic”, saying: “… it is not reasonable that such a thing as a Christ shall come; if so, and he be the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, as it has been spoken, why will he not show himself unto us as well as unto them who shall be at Jerusalem?” (verse 18).
Even their own logic missed the whole point, revealing their foolishness rather than their clever wit, for Christ coming to all people had been part of the prophecy already given. They did not hear it because they would not listen. So instead of recognizing the sign they themselves were pointing out, they dismissed it as a “wicked tradition… handed down unto us by our fathers, to cause us that we should believe in some great and marvelous thing which should come to pass, but not among us, but in a land which is far distant, a land which we know not; therefore they can keep us in ignorance, for we cannot witness with our own eyes that they are true” (verse 20).
Rather than submitting to the truth and gaining its liberty and freedom, they thought the truth was oppressive and so would not yield to it (verse 21).
These foolish things the people did “imagine up in their hearts… and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come” (verse 22). This is how, despite the miracles and signs coming true, “Satan did get great hold upon the hearts of the people” (verse 23), so that they would not be prepared for the coming of Christ.