Once the people fought against God’s prophets, it became clear to those who were paying attention that they had been drawing nigh unto God with their mouths, and honoring him with their lips, but their hearts were far from him (Matt. 15:8-9). They had been “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (ibid.).
The leaders, whom the people followed, and in whom the people had placed their faith, by and large rejected and cast out those God had sent among them with an authentic message. They led many souls to “the ditch” (Matt. 15:14). Those who presided were fearful of what was perceived as opposition to their high and honored standing. Because they weren’t teaching an authentic message, received via an authentic experience, they necessarily took offense when prophets claimed to speak with and for God (Matt. 15:12; 26:33). These leaders wondered at where these prophets had received their authority (Mark 11:27-33).
Because of honesty and open hearts, some believed the message sent by God (Acts 28:24). Because of humility, some of those chose to repent and work righteousness. Because of pride, many cursed God, and the servants God had sent, and damned themselves.
God even sent his Son among them. They despised and rejected Him (Isa. 53:3). They esteemed Him not, and hid their faces from Him, as was prophesied (Ibid.). They were offended because of Him. They were angry at His message and slew their Lord.
God’s children in all generations, and in every dispensation, have had a difficult time recognizing true prophets when they are sent. Joseph Smith taught us that:
“The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God, they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished and imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves ‘in deserts and dens, and caves of the earth,’ and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men” ( Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 206).
Why didn’t God make it as easy for all those previous dispensations as he has for us? Is He not the same yesterday, today, and forever (Morm. 9:9)?