Friday, November 26, 2010

What we can learn from Jacob’s account of Sherem the anti-Christ

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.
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.
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. (Jacob 7:1-3)
“he [Sherem] sought much opportunity that he might come unto me [Jacob]” – When I read this recently I struck me that Jacob must have had many encounters with Sherem, not just the one that is recorded in the rest of this chapter. Sherem was a militant anti-Christ, so he was very persistent in trying to spread his beliefs around. Evidently he marshaled all the powers of sophistry and rhetoric he could. “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” (Jacob 7:4). What a test that must have been.

When I realized Jacob must have had multiple conversations with Sherem, suddenly this account became a lot more valuable to me. The world is increasing in secularism and we may have people who come to us often, trying to shake us from our faith and using much flattery and powers of speech according to the power of the devil.

So how does Jacob stands up to this continual barrage if Sherem seeks him out so often? What is his secret, and can we use it to help us today?
And he [Sherem] had hope to shake me [Jacob] 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. (Jacob 7:5)
Jacob doesn’t take credit for his strength. He cites the many revelations, the many things he had seen, and the angelic visitations and the voice of the Lord as what kept him from being shaken. Because Jacob remembered all the times he had received revelation, his testimony was steadfast.

That is the key for us today—remembering all the revelations the Lord has given us, all the ways our prayers have been answered, and all the tender mercies of the Lord to us. I think this is one of the reasons why it is so important to keep a journal (and a scripture journal) so that we can accumulate that evidence of God in our lives in a way so that it will have greater weight with us than the words of unbelievers who try to shake our faith. Then we can bear testimony of what we know. Jacob does this too.
9 And I [Jacob] said unto him [Sherem]: 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.
10 And I said unto him: Believest thou the scriptures? And he said, Yea.
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.
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. (Jacob 7:9-12)
I remember a time when I talked to a coworker and he said he didn’t know if there was a God or not. I told him I knew there was a God and I had had too many answers to prayer to not know. I told him gently, yet with confidence, “You know there is a God.” And he agreed with me; he said believed in YHWH of the Bible. (Obviously, this conversation had a happier result than Jacob’s.)

Will you share with me an experience you’ve had when your experience with revelation and your testimony helped you withstand militant unbelief?


Anonymous said...

You know, for me militant unbelief has been easier to deal with than steady attacks on my testimony.

Growing up in the South, on more than one occasion, someone would angrily try to tell me I was going to hell, or that I didn't know Christ, etc. Usually, that kind of outright anger made me shake my head in pity. Even at a young age, it didn't make me question my own religion.

However, when I was older, I was taking a Women's Studies class in college. The course and the instructors were trying to break down the "shackles" of faith - or at least it felt that way. I went to school in Utah, and while they didn't attack me, directly, often they attacked religion. This situation - my religion being attacked - happened on more than one occasion during college.

The attacks were more academic than militant, and it was a little harder for me to overcome than some over-zealous Baptist.

Like Jacob, I found my strength in the scriptures. I have found that Heavenly Father will arm us with strength when we go to Him often - especially in prayer and scripture study.

While I don't want to rattle off the details of various times that I outright defended my religion, I can say that I felt like I was being questioned, and that the Spirit confounded the words of the questioners. They may not have been convinced of my position, but they stopped questioning me. And I left with a stronger testimony.

Well, interesting post. I love thinking about scriptural situations like these. A while ago, I wrote on a similar subject (prophets dealing with Anti-Christs) - I posted it here if you want to check it out.

Thanks for the food for thought.

Michaela Stephens said...

thatgoodpart, thanks for sharing your experience. I think I know what you're talking about with the Women's Studies class.

Thanks for the link to your post. It was very good and I really couldn't have said it any better myself.