Jacob 7:1 Sherem, the first anti-Christ
The Book of Mormon describes the actions and teachings of three anti-Christs: 1) Sherem, 2) Nehor (Alma 1), and 3) Korihor (Alma 30). The inclusion of their actions and teachings are instructive to us because so many of their false doctrines are prevalent today. Robert L. Millet describes the nature of an Anti-Christ:
"President Ezra Taft Benson has instructed that 'the Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means':
"First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of is divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint.
"Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Nephi 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon is similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time (3; emphasis added).
"Jacob ends a lengthy recitation of and a brief commentary on the allegory of Zenos by pleading with his readers to receive and pay heed to the words of the prophets and traverse carefully that gospel path which is strait and narrow. 'Finally,' he concludes, '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' (Jacob 6:13). This would appear to be a farewell statement, an indication to the reader that Jacob had initially planned to close his record at that point. Subsequently, however, he had an experience worthy of inclusion in a record which would come forth to a cynical and highly secular world--his encounter with Sherem the anti-Christ.
Portrait of an Anti-Christ
"There are certain characteristics of an anti-Christ, certain patterns of belief and practice which we might expect to find among those, like Sherem, who are bent upon overthrowing the doctrine of Christ. Some of these are as follows:
1) They Deny the Need for Jesus Christ...(Each characteristic is discussed in detail)
2) They Use Flattery to Win Disciples...
3) They Accuse the Brethren of Teaching False Doctrine...
4) They Have a Limited View of Reality...
5) They Have a Disposition to Misread and Thereby Misrepresent the Scriptures...
6) They are Sign Seekers..."
(Robert L. Millett, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 175-81)
Jacob 7:2 there should be no Christ
To preach that there should be no Christ and yet to believe in the Law of Moses is to completely misunderstand the reason the Law of Moses was given. We know that the Law of Moses was given by Christ (3 Ne 15:5) and that all aspects of the Law point us to Christ (Jacob 4:5). This is eventually how Sherem gets confounded by Jacob because he teaches the Law and denies the Christ. One cannot teach the Law of Moses and fully understand it unless it is in the context that the Law is a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ (Gal 3:24).
There are a couple of modern day corollaries to Sherem's doctrine. One is that there is no God. To the atheist, the Book of Mormon responds, all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator (Alma 30:44). Ronald Reagan has been quoted as saying, "sometimes when I'm faced with an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner that one could ever serve. And when we have finished eating that magnificent dinner to ask him if he believes there's a cook." (Quote Book #4, compiled by James H. Patterson, p. 5)
"It is also recognized by a majority of the great scientists that there is a God and that he is the source of truth. As Albert Einstein said, 'The harmony of natural law reveals an intelligence of such superiority that compared with it all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection' ("Search for Truth" 7). Similarly, the great space scientist Wernher von Braun has written,
"Anything as well ordered
And perfectly created as is our earth
And universe must have a Maker
A Master Designer
Anything so orderly, so perfect,
So precisely balanced, so majestic as
This creation can only be the product of a Divine Idea...
'There must be a Maker; there can be no other way' ("Creation" 21)"
(Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 348)
"A believing British scientist has observed the following of our especially situated planet:
"[Just a bit nearer to the sun, and Planet Earth's seas would soon be boiling; just a little farther out, and the whole world would become a frozen wilderness.]
". . . If our orbit happened to be the wrong shape . . . then we should alternately freeze like Mars and fry like Venus once a year. Fortunately for us, our planet's orbit is very nearly a circle.
"The 21 percent of oxygen is another critical figure. Animals would have difficulty breathing if the oxygen content fell very far below that value. But an oxygen level much higher than this would also be disastrous, since the extra oxygen would act as a fire-raising material. Forests and grasslands would flare up every time lightning struck during a dry spell, and life on earth would become extremely hazardous.4" (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 7)
The second modern day corollary to Sherem's doctrine is that there was a Christ but he was not the Son of God. One would assume that this doctrine is most strongly held by non-Christians. Ironically, there are Christians of our day who do not believe that Jesus Christ was divine. The following quote demonstrates this:
Elder A. Theodore Tuttle
"Several years ago in a seminary recognized as perhaps the greatest in this country, a doctor of divinity, who had a string of honorary doctoral degrees and who is on the board of directors of one of the largest Protestant churches in America, in lecturing to a large group of students, most of whom already had bachelor of divinity degrees, said, sympathetically:
'I know that it is difficult for you men to teach creeds which you, yourselves, do not believe, but you have the social obligation to do it.'
"Another man in the same institution, having about the same academic credentials, declared: 'Who knows but what in the year 2004 or some other year, there will live a man who will live more perfectly than did Jesus. Then we will worship him as the Son of God, rather than Jesus. The reason we worship Jesus as the Son of God is because he lived the most perfect life of any man of whom we have knowledge.'" (Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 54 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 161)
Jacob 7:4 he could use much flattery, and much power of speech
Flattery, as used in the Book of Mormon, is to teach doctrines that are pleasing to the carnal mind. Another anti-Christ, Korihor, admitted, the devil...said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind (Alma 30:53). It is flattery to tell the sinner that there is no punishment for sin. It is flattery to tell the atheist that there is no God. It is flattery to tell the servant of Satan that there is no devil. These lies are pleasing to the carnal mind because they fill the heart with rationalization and self-justification. In our day, flattery is still used, both in this doctrinal sense and in the non-doctrinal sense. The next time you are impressed with the speech of a good salesman or politician, notice how many times this is done with subtle compliments and carnal mind candy.
"Anti-Christs are usually glib of tongue and nimble of speech. They are sinister students of human behavior, knowing how to persuade and to dissuade; how to attract and create a following; and how to make their listeners feel secure and at ease in their carnality. An anti-Christ is ostensibly refined, schooled in rhetoric, and polished in homiletics. He is a peerless preacher of perversion. In Faustian fashion the anti-Christ has sold his soul to the devil: his power is not his own; he is but the pawn of him who in the end does not support his own (see Alma 30:60)." (Robert L. Millett, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 177)
Jacob 7:5 I could not be shaken
The anti-Christ presents no personal threat to the individual with a strong testimony. What a great example that Jacob could not be shaken. We should be diligently engaged in strengthening our testimonies so that we cannot be shaken by the anti-Christs of today. Jacob must have found it funny that Sherem thought he could actually shake him from the faith. Jacob goes on to discuss the many revelations which he had received. He also saw angels and heard the voice of the Lord. Earlier, Lehi stated that Jacob had been visited by the Lord, thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed (2 Ne 2:4).
Nevertheless, the strongest testimonies come through the power of the Holy Ghost not by visions, revelations, and divine interventions. The lives of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, Sidney Rigdon, and others are ample evidence that seeing an angel or a vision is not enough. Memories and convictions can fade with time but the most enduring strength comes through the Holy Ghost. This is what the Savior was referring to when he told Peter, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven (Matt 16:17).
Heber J. Grant
"Many men say: 'If I could only see an angel, if I could only hear an angel proclaim something, that would cause me to be faithful all the days of my life!' It had no effect upon these men (Laman and Lemuel) that were not serving the Lord, and it would have no effect today." (Conference Report, Apr. 1924, p. 159)
Elder David H. Cannon
"Ask a man the question how he knows the gospel to be true. Ask him. 'Did you ever see an angel?' 'No.' 'Did you ever see any one raised from the dead? You speak of the resurrection of the dead; have you ever seen anybody that was resurrected?' 'No.' 'How do you know that this gospel is true? What demonstration have you had to satisfy you?' I never have had any miraculous manifestation, but I will tell you what I have had: I have endeavored to render myself obedient to the requirements of the gospel, and as I have done so the Spirit of God has testified to me of its divine authenticity. Any principle that has been revealed from the earliest times until the present, as I have tried to render myself obedient to its requirements, God has given me a testimony regarding it, and my heart and my soul have been satisfied. The hope that is firmly implanted in my heart becomes brighter and stronger as I proceed to render obedience to the requirements made by the gospel through the servants of God." (Conference Report, Oct. 1912, p. 91)
Jacob 7:6 Brother Jacob
Sherem has no love for Jacob. Yet, he begins his discussion with the endearing phrase, "Brother Jacob." This is a good example of the subtle craftiness of his speech. He portrays a love for Jacob that is not there. Nevertheless, Jacob will not be fooled.
Another interesting aspect of Sherem's use of this phrase is that it suggests that the saints of the Book of Mormon referred to each other as brothers and sisters, much like the members of the Church today.
Jacob 7:6 I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you
"Satan would always rather capture a spiritual general than one of lesser rank. And be it remembered that the Lord himself was not immune from personal confrontation with the evil one (see Matthew 4), and that Christ in turn said to Peter, the chief apostle, 'Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat' (Luke 22:31). And thus it is that Sherem 'sought much opportunity' (Jacob 7:6) to engage Jacob the prophet." (Robert L. Millett, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 177)
Jacob 7:7 they...keep not the law of Moses which is the right way
"It is strange indeed that Sherem, an anti-Christ, would argue for the sufficiency of the law of Moses when, in fact, the law was given by God to point toward the coming of Christ. The irony and inconsistency of Sherem's argument continues with his use of revelation-the law of Moses-to deny the principle of revelation.
"Consistently, those who have opposed the Prince of Truth have maintained the same ironic and inconsistent arguments. Jews of the meridian dispensation-in the name of loyalty to Moses and the law-rejected him of whom Moses and the law were co-witnesses. Today those professing to be fundamentalist Christians reject modern revelation in the name of the Bible-a book whose fundamental purpose is to attest that the Lord has never had a people to whom he did not speak by revelation. They angrily spurn the Book of Mormon-a book which is a perfect testimony of him whom they profess to proclaim." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 85)
Jacob 7:7 man...cannot tell of things to come
The arguments of Satan rarely hold up to scrutiny. Accordingly, Sherem's argument has holes in it. He declares that man cannot know the future and yet he is sure that there will never be a Christ (v. 9). If man can't know the future, Sherem can't know whether there will be a Christ or not.
The natural man has no means to know the future. He does not believe in prophets, and he has no access to the spirit of prophecy. Therefore, the natural man will agree that man cannot tell of things to come.
Neal A. Maxwell
"In sum, many maintain that we simply cannot know the future; that angels do not minister to man; and furthermore that we cannot accept the word of those who testify otherwise! For some this amounts to an article of faith: 'We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural; it is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of the survival and fulfillment of the human race. As non-theists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity.... No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.' (Humanist Manifesto II, Encyclopedia of American Religions: Religions Creeds, J. Gordon Melton, ed. [Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988], p. 641.)
"Fortunately, as Latter-day Saints we know better, having been blessed with the witness of the Spirit." (A Wonderful Flood of Light, p. 75)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Many in the world hold back from making the 'leap of faith' because they have already jumped to the Korihor conclusions, such as 'God never was nor ever will be; there is no redeeming Christ; man cannot know the future; man cannot know of that which he cannot see; whatsoever a man does is no crime; and death is the end.'
"One basic limitation of worldly wisdom is its lack of longitudinality and of precious perspective. Worldly wisdom cannot 'see afar off,' and without a spiritual memory and spiritual will, past mistakes are repeated and folly is resumed!" (Church News, Aug 22, 1992, "Vital Truths are Expressed in Life")
"I have great faith in the words of the prophets. I believe, as Isaiah said, that known unto God are all of his works from the beginning, and he has permitted his prophets to speak of those things, and when you stop to analyze what prophecy really is, no mortal man of himself could...know the future events of the world and portray them to the world except by the power of the Holy Ghost.
"That is what Peter meant when he said,
'We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' (2 Peter 1:19-21.)" (Conference Report, Apr. 1955, p. 121)
Jacob 7:11 ye do not understand them; for they truly testify of Christ
Familiarity with the scriptures does not ensure familiarity with God or the things of the Spirit. In fact, one who reads the scriptures and interprets them to support the plan of Satan is worse off than the individual who has not read them, some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing (Alma 41:1), and if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction (Alma 13:20). Those familiar with the scriptures, who quote and interpret them incorrectly, are the ones who teach "the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture." The Book of Mormon, itself was brought to light to combat these many misunderstandings, And this I do that I may establish my gospel, that there may not be so much contention; yea, Satan doth stir up the hearts of the people to contention concerning the points of my doctrine; and in these things they do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them (DC 10:63).
The Savior himself testified that the scriptures were given specifically to testify of Him, Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (Jn 5:39).
Jacob 7:11 none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ
It is truly remarkable that those most familiar with the scriptures were those first to reject the Savior during his mortal ministry. How could they have misunderstood the prophecies regarding the Christ? How could they have accused the Savior of working through Beelzebub? They certainly did not understand the scriptures as Jacob did. If they had, they would have understood that the Law of Moses was given to typify the life and sacrifice of Christ. They would have understood the many marvelous prophecies regarding the Messiah. Note the interaction between the resurrected Lord and the two disciples on the way to Emmaus:
'And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them....
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.' (Luke 24:13-15,25-27)
Nephi, speaking of the coming of Christ, taught the same principle:
'And now behold, Moses did not only testify of these things, but also all the holy prophets, from his days even to the days of Abraham.
Yea, and behold, Abraham saw of his coming, and was filled with gladness and did rejoice.
Yea, and behold I say unto you, that Abraham not only knew of these things, but there were many before the days of Abraham who were called by the order of God; yea, even after the order of his Son; and this that it should be shown unto the people, a great many thousand years before his coming, that even redemption should come unto them.
And now I would that ye should know, that even since the days of Abraham there have been many prophets that have testified these things; yea, behold, the prophet Zenos did testify boldly; for the which he was slain.
And behold, also Zenock, and also Ezias, and also Isaiah, and Jeremiah, (Jeremiah being that same prophet who testified of the destruction of Jerusalem) and now we know that Jerusalem was destroyed according to the words of Jeremiah. O then why not the Son of God come, according to his prophecy?...
Our father Lehi was driven out of Jerusalem because he testified of these things. Nephi also testified of these things, and also almost all of our fathers, even down to this time; yea, they have testified of the coming of Christ, and have looked forward, and have rejoiced in his day which is to come (Hel 8:16-22).
Jacob 7:12 if there should be no atonement made
Without the grace and mercy of the infinite atonement, all mankind would be lost-all would have been doomed to suffer with the devil and his angels, our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery (2Ne 9:9).
Because of this infinite atonement, almost all the wicked will eventually be redeemed from hell. To be resurrected with a telestial body constitutes redemption from hell. A soul redeemed from hell has, in this sense, been saved. It is the sons of Perdition which, although they will be resurrected, will not be resurrected with any glory whatsoever. Of these the scriptures say, the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord after the sufferings of his wrath. For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead, through the triumph and the glory of the Lamb (DC 76:37-39). This scripture does not mean that the sons of Perdition will not be resurrected, only that they will not be redeemed (inherit a kingdom of glory). They are the only ones who are truly and completely "lost." Were it not for the atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind would be forced to suffer the same fate, only without the benefit of the resurrection.
Jacob 7:13 Show me a sign
Ironically, those who seek for a sign are actually giving a sign. They are showing the world that they are evil and adulterous. This can be proven with the words of the Savior and Joseph Smith.
"Jesus taught that it is an 'evil and adulterous generation that seeketh after a sign' (Matthew 12:39). Joseph Smith added that this principle 'is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man' (TPJS 157; compare 278).
"Why is this so? How does a disposition to seek after signs relate to seeking after carnal pleasures? Simply stated, those who have given themselves up to their lusts, who desire that which will satiate the flesh, who have exhausted their passions in their search for the sensual-also seek for physical manifestations of spiritual sensations. They demand proof! Unable to recognize and acknowledge eternal certainties, they insist that the truths associated with the area with which they are least familiar -- the spiritual -- be manifest and translated into that realm they have come to know more surely than any other--the fanciful and the physical. The adulterous are those who worship at the altar of appetite, whose thresholds for gratification are ever rising, and who thereby demand something extraordinary to establish the truthfulness of a claim. Ironically, this claim may only be verified by the quiet and unobtrusive whisperings of the Spirit. Spiritual blindness and the spirit of adultery are thus common companions. Of this fascinating but pathetic phenomenon, Elder Neal A. Maxwell has written:
"First of all, the people of the world cannot presume to command God to provide them with signs. A person can neither be a disciple and command the Master nor can he require 'perpetual renewal of absolute proof.' Some behave, however, as if they would set forth the conditions under which they will believe--complete with specifications; they then invite God to 'bid' on their specifications! ... Sign seekers, like adulterers, often do have a clear preference for repeated sensation. Those who do not understand why adultery is intrinsically wrong will also fail to understand why faith is a justified requirement laid upon us by God. We are to walk by faith and to overcome by faith (see D&C 76:53).... By contrast, the faithful, who are intellectually honest but are confronted with new and present challenges, sing of the Lord, 'We've proved Him in days that are past.' . . . Those who are adulterous have also a strong preference for 'now' rather than for eternity. Impatience and incontinence quite naturally, team up.
"Such erring individuals or generations also have a strong preference for meeting the needs of 'me' over attending to others, a lifestyle which speeds selfishness on its endless, empty journey.
"By making demands of God, the proud would attach conditions to their discipleship. But discipleship requires of us unconditional surrender to the Lord. Hence the proud neither understand nor really love God. Therefore they violate the first commandment by seeing God as a sign provider upon request; as a function, not a tutoring Father (58-59).
"Sign seekers have one thing going for them when it comes to convincing an audience-the servants of the Lord will not stoop to cheap theatrics to win the hearts of observers. In fact, 'faith cometh not by signs but signs follow those that believe. Yea, signs come by faith, not by the will of men, nor as they please, but by the will of God' (D&C 63:9-10)." (Robert L. Millett, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 181-2)
Jacob 7:14 yet thou wilt deny it, because thou art of the devil
Sign seekers always claim that they will believe after seeing a sign. The truth is that they are so wicked that they will not believe even if they receive the exact sign they ask for. Look at what happened in the ministry of the Savior. He had healed the sick, raised, the dead, given sight to the blind, and opened the ears of the deaf. Yet, the sign seekers wouldn't believe. Finally, the Savior said, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt 12:39). To the disciples, the Savior taught about sign seekers in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. In the end of the parable, the rich man, while in hell, laments that Abraham would not send someone from the dead to testify to his family that they should keep the law and turn to the Lord. The answer (foreshadowing the raising of Lazarus) is as follows, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Lu 16:31). The Jews didn't believe after witnessing the raising of Lazarus (Jn 11) or after the resurrection of the Savior. So it is with sign seekers.
Jacob 7:14 if God shall smite thee, let that be a sign
Jacob is careful not to take credit for the sign of Sherem being smitten. He acknowledges that it is the Lord which is smiting him and that this should be for a sign that the Lord has power and also, that Christ shall come. And thy will, O Lord, be done, and not mine. It must have been by the power of the Spirit that Jacob knew that the Lord would smite Sherem. There have been many instances in which the Lord has stayed his hand when wicked men blaspheme against God. For instance, at one point in his ministry the Savior was rejected by the Samaritans, the disciples thought vengeance was in order, And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them (Lu 9:54-56). Also, Amulek and Alma were forced to witness righteous women and children being cast into a fire. Amulek asked whether the power of God should be used to preserve these saints. Alma's response was, The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just (Alma 14:10-11). Thus we see that the striking of Sherem and Korihor (Alma 30:49-56) are exceptions to the rule. The prophets, Jacob and Alma, had to closely follow the Spirit in using the powers of heaven to smite these anti-Christs.
Jacob 7:18 he had been deceived by the power of the devil
The devil can appear as an angel of light. Such a communication can seem to be divine. Satan may have appeared to Sherem as an angel of light. Yet the prophet, Joseph Smith, gives us a secret by which we may know whether an angel is of the Lord or a messenger of Satan:
'When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.
If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.
If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear-
Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.
If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.
These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.' (DC 129:4-9)
Jacob 7:19 I fear lest I have committed the unpardonable sin
The unpardonable sin is to blaspheme against the Holy Ghost. Notice the similarities between what Sherem did and the language used in DC 76 to describe the sons of Perdition,
'Those who know my power...and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power-...
Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame' (DC 76:31,35).
Jacob 7:21 the multitude...were overcome that they fell to the earth
Apparently the confession of Sherem made quite an impact. They were so affected that they were overcome with the Spirit. Intense spiritual experiences often have the effect of draining one's physical strength. This seems to be the case with Lehi following a vision he received (1 Ne 1:7). Three other examples of this phenomenon are as follows, 1) Daniel sees the Lord in a glorious vision, then remarks, and there remained no strength in me (Dan 10:8), 2) king Lamoni had been overcome by the spirit for two days, when he awoke he announced, I have seen my Redeemer.... Now, when he had said these words, his heart was swollen within him, and he sunk again with joy; and the queen also sunk down, being overpowered by the Spirit (Alma 19:13), and 3) Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw the vision of the three degrees of glory together while at the Johnson farm in Hiram, Ohio. There were other men in the room who witnessed their countenances as they received D&C section 76. One of these men, Philo Dibble recorded the scene as follows, "Joseph sat firmly and calmly all the time in the midst of a magnificent glory, but Sidney sat limp and pale, apparently as limber as a rag, observing which, Joseph remarked, smilingly, 'Sidney is not as used to it as I am.'" (Juvenile Instructor, May 1892, pp. 303-4) See also 1 Ne 17:47.
Jacob 7: 24 many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites
When we think of missionary work among the Lamanites, we often think of the success of the sons of Mosiah (Alma 17-26). These brave missionaries were not the only ones to attempt to preach to the Lamanites, they were just more successful. Jacob records that the Lamanites of his day had an eternal hatred against us. This hatred, born of the devil, did not allow them to soften their hearts long enough to accept the message of a missionary.
Jacob 7: 26 we being a lonesome and a solemn people...wherefore, we did mourn out our days
"The Nephites never ceased to think of themselves in those melancholy terms. Five hundred years after Jacob, Alma could write that his people were both blessed and sorrowful in their wandering state. Because of their isolation, he says, God gives them special revelation, and glad tidings 'are made known to us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored' (Alma 13:23). God, he says, has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land (Alma 26:36)." (An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 142)
Jacob 7:27 I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave
The following is an appropriate tribute to this great Book of Mormon prophet-Jacob.
Jeffrey R. Holland
"Jacob, the believer. Jacob, the foe of the anti-Christ. Jacob, the unshakable. By definition all Book of Mormon prophets had great faith and were unyielding in their convictions. All had a deep witness of the mission and divinity of Christ. But in a life only sketchily documented (Jacob's teachings are limited to thirty-one pages in the Book of Mormon, and many of those are devoted to the quotations of other prophets), and although he considers his contribution to the Book of Mormon to be small (see Jacob 7:27), nevertheless this prophet comes to us in word and deed as absolutely rocklike, solid, invincible, unshakable.
"Indeed it is Jacob, at least as much as any other in the Book of Mormon, to whom Helaman's great declaration applies: 'Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall' (Helaman 5:12)...
"Another element of Jacob's steadfastness is the fact that such concern for the salvation of both immediate and extended family has created in him a kind of special sensitivity to-or more accurately a deep aversion to-the temptations of the world and the serious effects of sin. His forthright response is evoked even when the people were only beginning to labor in sin, when their 'thoughts' were unholy even though in behavior and performance they were still obedient to the commandments Jacob had given them (see Jacob 2:4-5).
"As one student of Jacob has counted, of the seventeen times such phrases as 'grieveth me' and 'burdeneth my soul' are used in the entire Book of Mormon, eleven of those utterances are by Jacob." (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, pp. 33-38)
Jacob 7:27 Brethren, adieu.
The student of the Book of Mormon should be aware that this translation by Joseph Smith has been frequently criticized. The detractor says, "how can Joseph Smith use this French word (adieu) in an English translation?" They use this as an example of a mistake in the Book of Mormon. It is ironic for them to criticize the last word of the book of Jacob when the rest of the book is filled with the words of Christ. If the doctrine of Christ wasn't enough, the book contains the beautiful and obviously inspired allegory of the olive tree. For someone to read all these things and then complain about a term which was obviously used colloquially in Joseph Smith's day is remarkable. These detractors probably sympathized with Sherem because they serve the same master.
"It is interesting to note that there is a Hebrew word Lehitra 'ot, which has essentially the same meaning in Hebrew as the word adieu has in French. Both of these words are much more than a simple farewell; they include the idea of a blessing." (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.163)