Samuel the Lamanite was a prophet who warned the Nephite people to repent and prophesied of the birth of the Savior. Believing Samuel’s words brought hardship and persecution to many people. This story could have happened in the land of Zarahemla shortly before the birth of the Savior. You may read the scriptural account in the Book of Mormon, Helaman 13–15. [Hel. 13–15]
“Mathoni, I fear you should not be seen with me anymore,” Zenos said, tracing a pattern in the dust with his staff. “Although we are best friends, your father is angry because my mother and I believe the words of Samuel the Lamanite. He thinks the prophet’s words are only foolish fables.”
“My father has been led away by unbelievers,” Mathoni replied. “That is why he gets so upset when he knows you and I have been together. I think he suspects I am also a believer.”
“When your father comes to know the truth, we can be companions again,” Zenos said thoughtfully. “But until then I think it will be better for you if we do not see each other. Now we must go. It is time for Samuel to speak from the city wall.”
“Farewell, friend,” Mathoni called as the two boys shook hands and went their separate ways.
Zenos hurried to the city wall, his eyes traveling its length in search of the man who so fearlessly taught from the high place. Already a crowd had gathered, some listening and some scoffing.
Samuel’s gentle voice reached Zenos’ ears. “Behold,” he was saying, “I give unto you a sign: for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on His name.”
As Zenos moved closer, he heard one man say, “What sort of fanatic is he—preaching repentance to us? Who is this Son of God he says will come?”
“And behold,” Samuel continued, “this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of His coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before He cometh there shall be no darkness. …
“Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; … and it shall be the night before He is born.
“And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld.”
Suddenly Zenos saw a man nearby pick up a large stone and take aim at Samuel. The prophet was a perfect target, standing on the wall with no place to hide. As the stone sailed through the air, it seemed to be guided off course and missed Samuel. Next an arrow whizzed past Zenos’ ear. It too was meant for Samuel, but missed. Voices rose in anger as more rocks and arrows hurled through the air. Astonished, Zenos watched as Samuel continued to prophesy. Nothing touched him.
“As surely as the Lord liveth shall these things be, saith the Lord. Amen.” Samuel ended his speaking.
No sooner had Samuel finished than Mathoni’s father began to climb the wall shouting, “Take him! Bind him! Away with him!” Others joined in, storming the wall.
Samuel bent to his knees and disappeared over the other side of the wall.
Zenos ran home bewildered and afraid.
His mother was flattening dough to be baked on the hot stones in the fireplace. “What troubles you, my son?” she asked.
“Mother, the unbelievers have driven Samuel away. They threw stones and shot arrows, yet nothing touched him. He prophesied many wonderful things about the coming of the Son of God. I wonder what will happen to Mathoni? His father is a leader among the unbelievers, but Mathoni believes.”
“Perhaps he will find a way to awaken his father to the truth,” Mother answered.
During the next five years Zenos did not talk with Mathoni. Occasionally he saw him on the hillside watching his father’s flocks. Zenos knew without words that life was difficult for his friend.
The murmuring among the unbelievers grew. They sneered at the believers in the streets as they went quietly about their work.
One day Zenos heard Mathoni’s father speaking to a group of men in the marketplace. “The time is past,” he said, “and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled. Such foolish believers do not deserve to live. If the signs foretold by Samuel have not come to pass in seven days, then let us destroy all of the believers.” The crowd of men mumbled in agreement.
Terrified, Zenos grasped his staff and ran home. “Mother! Mother!” he cried. “What’s to become of us? I heard Mathoni’s father—”
“We must stand firm in our faith,” his mother interrupted, “for Samuel prophesied in five years the sign would be given, and the five years are nearly over.”
As the days passed, Zenos was often worried, but his mother showed no outward signs of being afraid. She went quietly about her tasks.
Just before dusk on the sixth day, Mathoni appeared at the door. His voice shook as he warned his friend, “Zenos, you and your mother must flee to the mountains to hide. Tomorrow is the fateful day, and my father will come here first because you have been my friend. Go quickly!”
“Let us pray,” Mother said simply to the two boys, and they all knelt down by the table.
“That’s strange,” Zenos said as they rose to their feet. “The sun has gone down, yet it is still day.”
“It’s the sign, Zenos! The sign!” Mathoni cried.
“Stay with us, Mathoni,” Mother said. “You will not be safe at home.”
Throughout the night the light was as midday, and yet the next morning the sun came up as usual.
“Samuel said there would be a day and a night and a day without darkness,” Zenos exclaimed. “This then is the day before the Son of God is to be born in Jerusalem.”
As darkness came that second strange day, a tall shadow appeared in the doorway of the house, and Mathoni’s father demanded, “What are you doing here in the house of a believer?”
Before Mathoni could answer, he saw a special brilliance in the night sky. “The star!” Mathoni called. “Look, Father. The star!”
Mathoni’s father turned, and through the doorway he saw a new star of unbelievable brightness that lighted up the dark sky. “Never have I seen such a star,” Mathoni’s father said as he dropped to his knees and gazed in wonder at the night sky.
“It’s the sign! Now do you believe, Father?” Mathoni asked.
“Yea, I believe. How foolish I have been. The Son of God is surely born in Jerusalem,” Mathoni’s father said softly.
“The Savior who is born this night in Jerusalem will take away the sins of the world, and you shall find peace and forgiveness,” Mother told Mathoni’s father.
The light of the star shone clearly on the four figures who knelt in the doorway, their faces turned upward toward it.
Mathoni’s father put one arm around his son and the other around Zenos and drew them close. Never again would he come between these two good friends!