As a family we read scriptures and have a family prayer at night before bed. I started this years ago when I was married to my former husband. He chose not to participate, so it was just me and my son Joshua for several years. After I married Steve, he and his son, Drew, started to read and pray with us. We sometimes miss a night here or these, especially as the boys have grown older and have social lives (the horror!), but overall we are pretty consistent.
I have read the Book of Mormon many, many times, both alone and with my family. I took a Book of Mormon class at BYU, studied it in Seminary, and studied it in Sunday School. Some of the stories have stuck in my brain, while others have not. The story of Sherem in Jacob Chapter 7 is one I do not remember, while the story of Korihor has always been one I do remember. (Maybe because a certain kid named David Clark teased me when we were in elementary school by calling me "Korihor" until I cried. When we were adults David apologized for his behavior, by the way.)
Why didn't I remember Sherem? This story is equally as important. Both Korihor and Sherem lied and desired to lead people away from God and the gospel. This bothered me, but I set that aside as we read.
In Chapter 7 of Jacob, I was amazed at what Jacob went through dealing with Sherem and the methods Sherem used to try to pull Jacob away. It struck a chord with me. Sherem was leading people away from God and the teachings of the gospel. He was flattering. He was determined. He was well educated. People liked him and many listened and left. Then Sherem turned his charm on Jacob. This made my skin crawl. It felt so familiar.
In verse 5 Jacob says: "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."
I think I had forgotten this story and when I read it this year it felt familiar because this is what my former husband did to me at the end of our marriage.
Until you have someone you care about (I'm not saying Jacob cared about Sherem like a relative or best friend, but I think he cared as a prophet and leader), you have no idea that Satan can really work this way. It is seriously creepy.
You should know I am not well spoken when it comes to arguments. I stink at them. I think of comebacks hours later. While I am fairly knowledgeable about the gospel and the scriptures, I have not had to really defend myself against a Sherem, except for with one person, my former husband. It was literally hell.
Truly, the only way I could defend myself against my former husband (who subsequently left the church and had his name removed from church records) was to tell him over and over basically what Jacob told Sherem. I had been blessed to see and witness many miracles I could not explain. God had spoken to me many times. The Holy Ghost had borne witness to me from a young age that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and this was the church I should belong to. I had seen angels and they had ministered to me. I could not deny what I had experienced and what I believed. I could not deny these things or God. I knew Satan was using him to try to get to me. I could feel it.
When I said these things, he stopped bothering me about it. He had no way to combat against my testimony. Like Jacob with Sherem, I did my best to defend myself. (I think Jacob did a better job, but I'll do better if there is a next time.)
It's no wonder this story was so familiar. It's no wonder it made my skin crawl. Feeling Satan speaking through someone is totally creepy, but feeling it through someone who once had the light of Christ, someone you loved and had a child with, is harrowing. I have never felt anything like it and hope never to again.
I am so grateful for the prophet Jacob for sharing this experience. There have been times I wish that God had given my former husband the sign he was looking for, like God did to Sherem or to Korihor. (He seriously deserves it.) I am watching our son waffle between my former husband's beliefs and world and mine. It is terrifying to watch. I pray daily (many, many times a day) that my son will see the truth and embrace it. I pray that he will be strong and have faith. I pray that he will be able to defend himself against someone like Sherem.