Approximately 600 B.C.
Lehi was a Hebrew prophet (and likely a merchant as well) and contemporary of Jeremiah. Following a dream from God, Lehi took his family to the wilderness and eventually made his way with them to the Promised Land somewhere in the Western Hemisphere.
Preparation and Calling
We do not know of Lehi’s preparation or calling as a prophet.
Interaction with God
The prophet Lehi is referred to several times as having visions and prophecies, usually centered on the destruction of Jerusalem, the coming Messiah, and his own descendants. He was obviously close to his Father in Heaven and earned His trust, at least sufficient to be saved from Jerusalem’s destruction in order to begin a new branch of God’s chosen people in a faraway country where they could preserve God’s truth and covenants.
Lehi was a prophet in the Jerusalem area. He was likely also a successful merchant familiar with life and trade in the desert. But then God warned him to take his family and the family of Ishmael—perhaps in part because Ishmael’s daughters were prime candidates to marry Lehi’s sons—and flee into the wilderness. They traveled for several years, then constructed a boat and made the long voyage to the New World. Despite the rebellious attitudes and actions of two of Lehi’s sons, as long as Lehi was yet alive, he was able to keep the family together.
In addition to the visions that Lehi had that usually centered on the destruction of Jerusalem, the coming Messiah, and his own descendants, he taught powerfully of the plan of salvation and of the promised blessings reserved for his righteous posterity in this new promised land.
Living with the Prophet
Imagine that your father came home one evening and told you that God wanted the family to pack up some of its stuff (leaving the majority of everything that you collectively and personally own) and move to the desert. Some of Lehi’s children went willingly, some went along but complained bitterly almost the entire time. Which would you do? Which do you do when you are asked to do something that will result in the good of someone else? Commit to serve and obey God without complaint, for He will ask only that which is good of you.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 1, s.v. “Lehi.”
Book of Mormon, Reader’s Edition, ed. Grant Hardy.