20 October 2012

Jacob 6-7: The sign of Sherem

In chapter 6, Jacob tells us about Jesus, who will be coming 500 or so years in the future. He warns the Nephites that they must believe in Jesus (centuries before he was born) or they'll burn forever in hell. Of course, he and his older brother, Nephi, along with their dad, Lehi, have said this many times before. But since this is the Book of Mormon, he says it again. You just can't repeat stuff too often when you're engraving it on metal plates.
Will ye ... deny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption, which hath been laid for you?
Know ye not that if ye will do these things ... ye must go away into that lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever, which lake of fire and brimstone is endless torment. Jacob 6:8-10
Jacob finally stops preaching and says goodbye, saying he won't see us again until the wicked are beaten with "the pleasing rod of God" (which is a strange thing to say since he returns in the next chapter).
O be wise; what can I say more? Finally, I bid you farewell, until I shall meet you before the pleasing bar of God, which bar striketh the wicked with awful dread and fear. Amen.  Jacob 6:11-12
In chapter 7, a guy named Sherem shows up from out of nowhere and begins to "preach many things" that "might overthrow the doctrine of Christ." Now you might think that there wouldn't be much "doctrine of Christ" in North America 500 years before Jesus was born. But if so, you haven't read (or don't entirely believe) the Book of Mormon.
There came a man ... whose name was Sherem. He began ... to declare unto them that there should be no Christ ... that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ. Jacob 7:1-2
Sherem was a smooth talker with "perfect knowledge" and "the power of the devil." He said that Jacob had mislead the people "into the worship of a being which ... shall come many hundred years hence." But "no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come."
He was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge ... according to the power of the devil. And it came to pass that he came unto me ... saying: Brother Jacob ... thou goest about much, preaching that which ye call the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ. And ye have led away much of this people ... into the worship of a being which ye say shall come many hundred years hence ... this is blasphemy; for no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come. Jacob 7:4-7
Jacob asks Sherem if he denies that Christ will come. Sherem answers that although he doesn't believe it now, he could be convinced if Jacob could show him a sign. Jacob responds by saying, "Thou art the devil ... but if God shall smite thee, let that be a sign unto thee."
I said unto him: Deniest thou the Christ who shall come?
And he said: If there should be a Christ, I would not deny him; but I know that there is no Christ, neither has been, nor ever will be ... And it came to pass that he said unto me: Show me a sign.
And I said unto him ... thou art of the devil. Nevertheless, not my will be done; but if God shall smite thee, let that be a sign unto thee. Jacob 7:9-14
And (wouldn't you know it?) that's exactly what happens in the very next verse:
And it came to pass that when I, Jacob, had spoken these words, the power of the Lord came upon him, insomuch that he fell to the earth. Jacob 7:15
It took another five verses and three and-it-came-to-passes for God's sign to take effect, but in verse 20, Sherem finally gives up the ghost. (But not before he publicly "confessed the Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost," admitted that he "had been deceived by the power of the devil," and said that he fully deserved and expected to go to hell.)
And it came to pass that he said unto the people ...  I desire to speak unto the people before I shall die. And it came to pass that ... he ... confessed the Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost, and the ministering of angels. And ... that he had been deceived by the power of the devil. And he spake of hell, and of eternity, and of eternal punishment. And he said: I fear lest I have committed the unpardonable sin ... for I denied the Christ ... And it came to pass that when he had said these words he could say no more, and he gave up the ghost. Jacob 7:16-20
Jacob said that he was pleased with the whole thing, as was, no doubt, God. Hasa Diga Eebowai
Now, this thing was pleasing unto me, Jacob, for I had requested it of my Father who was in heaven; for he had heard my cry and answered my prayer. Jacob 7:22
You see, God doesn't mess around in the Book of Mormon. Believe whatever the church leaders tell you, without any evidence, without any sign. Because if you ask for a sign, God will give you one, all right. The sign of Sherem.

Challenge: How did Jacob respond to Sherem's skepticism?
Answer: By asking God to kill him. (Jacob 7:14)

After God killed Sherem, things got back to normal. The Nephites were righteous.
And it came to pass that peace and the love of God was restored again among the people; and they searched the scriptures, and hearkened no more to the words of this wicked man. Jacob 7:23
And the Lamanites were wicked.
And it came to pass that many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; but it all was vain, for they delighted in wars and bloodshed, and they had an eternal hatred against us, their brethren. And they sought by the power of their arms to destroy us continually. Jacob 7:24
So the Nephites built up their military to fight the Lamanites.
Wherefore, the people of Nephi did fortify against them with their arms, and with all their might, trusting in the God and rock of their salvation; wherefore, they became as yet, conquerors of their enemies. Jacob 7:25
And Jacob grew old, got ready to die, and gave his plates to his son Enos.  
And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, wherefore, I conclude this record ... And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos, Take these platesJacob 26-27
The last word that Jacob engraved on his plates was a strange one for a 6th century BCE North American Israelite writing in reformed Egyptian to use: adieu.
And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid ... adieu. Jacob 27
And that ends the Book of Jacob.

The next book in the Book of Mormon is the little book of Enos, which was written by Jacob's son.  I'll get to one that soon.

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