Most young boys have a hero whom they admire and follow. Jacob admired his big brother Nephi. He followed Nephi through the wilderness and across the great sea. To Jacob, Nephi must have been a wonderful hero.
Jacob had never known the riches and comforts of the life in Jerusalem as his older brothers and parents had. He was born to Lehi and Sarah in the wilderness after they had left Jerusalem. His home was a tent as, with his parents and brothers and sisters, he journeyed the long and difficult road to the great sea.
Jacob knew hunger and weariness. He saw his brother Nephi hunt for food for the families when they were starving. He saw Nephi with heroic words stay the anger of Laman and Lemuel.
While Jacob was yet very young, his father, Lehi, grew old. Lehi called his sons to him for a father’s blessing. He urged them to “put on the armor of righteousness.” Then to Jacob, he said, “My firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; … and thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed.”
Jacob, like his brother Nephi, suffered much sorrow from the rudeness of his brothers Laman and Lemuel. They became so angry and wicked that they planned to kill Nephi. The Lord warned Nephi to take all who wanted to serve the Lord and to go quickly into the wilderness.
Jacob went with Nephi and all who would follow him. They traveled for many days. And they called the place where they stopped Nephi, and thereafter these people were known as the Nephites. With Nephi’s help Jacob learned to build homes. He helped Nephi build a temple. And Nephi consecrated Jacob and his younger brother Joseph to be priests and teachers over the people. Jacob taught the people about Jesus Christ, who was to come.
Now, there came a man among the people of Nephi, whose name was Sherem. He could speak well and used much flattery and many flowery words. He said many things that were not true and tried to destroy Jacob’s faith and his testimony of Jesus.
Sherem went to Jacob and said, “I have heard that you go about much, preaching that which you call the gospel of Christ. You change the law of Moses into the worship of a being who you say will come hundreds of years from now. Now I, Sherem, declare unto you that this is blasphemy; for no man knows of such things.”
Then Jacob, inspired of the Lord, asked Sherem, “Do you believe the scriptures?”
When Sherem answered that he did, Jacob continued. “Then you do not understand them, for they testify of Christ. And this is not all. I have heard and seen him, and it also has been made known to me by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Sherem asked, “Show me a sign by the power of the Holy Ghost if you know so much.”
And Jacob answered, “What am I that I should ask God to show you a sign? You would not believe it anyway. Nevertheless, not my will be done; but if God wants to smite you, let that be a sign unto you that he has power, both in heaven and in earth, and also that Christ shall come.”
When Jacob had spoken these words, the power of the Lord came upon Sherem and he fell to the ground. After many days he asked that all the people gather before him, for he felt he was about to die, and he first wanted to talk with them.
Sherem spoke plainly to the people and said he had been deceived by the power of the devil.
“I am afraid,” he said, “for I have lied to God—I denied the Christ.”
And when those who had gathered heard Sherem, they were astonished. Shortly afterward Sherem died.
Then the people turned to Jacob and for a time peace and love of God were again among his people.