The sign of Sherem
Sherem was skeptical of Jacob's stories about Jesus--He asked for a sign from God--Jacob said God would give him a sign by killing him--God killed
Sherem--Jacob gave his plates to his son Enos--The Nephites and the Lamanites prepare for war.
(7:1-3) There came a man ... whose name was Sherem.|
Sherem, the first freethought martyr in the Book of Mormon [see the story of Korihor for another
(Alma 30)], tells Jacob he is misleading the people in by telling them
(ca. 500 BCE) that Christ will be coming "many hundred years hence."
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.
|7:1 And now it came to pass
after some years had passed away, there came a man among the people of Nephi,
whose name was Sherem.
|7:2 And it came to pass that he began to preach among the people, and to declare unto them that there
should be no Christ. And he preached many things which were flattering unto the people; and this he did that he might
overthrow the doctrine of Christ.
|7:3 And he labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people, insomuch that he did lead
away many hearts; and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he
might come unto me.
|7:4 And he was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could
use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil. ||
He had a perfect knowledge ... according to the power of the devil.
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."
|7:5 And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things
which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had
heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.
|7:6 And it came to pass that he came unto me, and on this wise did he speak unto me, saying:
Brother Jacob, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard and also know that thou goest
about much, preaching that which ye call the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ. ||
|7:7 And ye have led away much of this people that they pervert the right way of God, and keep not the law
of Moses which is the right way; and convert the law of Moses into the worship of a being which ye say shall come many
hundred years hence. And now behold, I, Sherem, declare unto you that this is blasphemy; for
no man knoweth of such
things; for he cannot tell of things to come. And after this manner did Sherem contend against me. ||
|7:8 But behold, the Lord God poured in his Spirit into my soul, insomuch that I did confound him in all his
|7:9 And 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. ||
|7:10 And I said unto him: Believest thou the scriptures? And he said, Yea. ||
|7:11 And I said unto him: Then ye do not understand them; for they truly testify of Christ. Behold, I say
unto you that none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ. ||
God shall smite thee, let that be a sign unto thee.
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."
|7:12 And this is not all -- it has been made manifest unto me, for I have heard and seen; and it also has
been made manifest unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, I know if there should be no atonement made all
mankind must be lost.
|7:13 And it came to pass that
he said unto me: Show me a sign by this power of the Holy Ghost, in the
which ye know so much. ||
|7:14 And I said unto him: What am I that I should tempt God to show unto thee a sign in the thing which thou
knowest to be true? Yet thou wilt deny it, because thou art of the devil. Nevertheless, not my will be done; but
God shall smite thee, let that be a sign unto thee that he has power, both in heaven and in earth; and also, that Christ
shall come. And thy will, O Lord, be done, and not mine. ||
The power of the Lord came upon him ... he fell to the earth.
God gives Sherem a little sign: he kills him.
|7:15 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. And it came to pass that he was
nourished for the space of many days.
|7:16 And it came to pass that he said unto the people: Gather together on the morrow, for I shall die;
wherefore, I desire to speak unto the people before I shall die. ||
|7:17 And it came to pass that on the morrow the multitude were gathered together; and he spake plainly unto
them and denied the things which he had taught them, and confessed the Christ, and the power of the Holy Ghost, and the
ministering of angels. ||
|7:18 And he spake plainly unto them,
that he had been deceived by the power of the devil. And he spake of
hell, and of eternity, and of eternal punishment. ||
I fear lest I have committed the unpardonable sin.
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.)
|7:19 And he said: I fear lest I have committed the unpardonable sin, for I have lied unto God; for I denied
the Christ, and said that I believed the scriptures; and they truly testify of him. And because I have thus lied unto
God I greatly fear lest my case shall be awful; but I confess unto God.
|7:20 And it came to pass that
when he had said these words he could say no more, and
he gave up the
|7:21 And when the multitude had witnessed that he spake these things as he was about to give up the ghost,
they were astonished exceedingly; insomuch that the power of God came down upon them, and they were overcome that they
fell to the earth. ||
|7:22 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. ||
Now, this thing was pleasing unto me, Jacob.
Jacob said that he was pleased with the whole thing, as was, no doubt, God. Hasa Diga Eebowai
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.
(7:23-25) They delighted in wars and bloodshed, and they had an eternal hatred against us.
After God killed Sherem, things got back to normal. The Nephites were righteous and the Lamanites were wicked. So the Nephites built up their military to fight the Lamanites.
(7:26-27a) I, Jacob, began to be old ... wherefore, I said unto my son Enos, Take these plates.
And Jacob grew old, got ready to die, and gave his plates to his son Enos.
|7:23 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.
|7:24 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.
|7:25 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.
|7:26 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, declaring that I have written according to the best of my
knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream,
we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and
hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days.
|7:27 And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave;
wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these
plates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the
commands. And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small;
and to the reader I bid
farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu. ||
(7:27b) I make an end of my writing upon these plates ... and to the reader I bid ...
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 it came to pass [7:1, 2, 6, 13, 15(2), 16, 17, 20, 23, 24, 26]