Sherem mockingly responded, “Show me a sign by this power of the Holy Ghost, in the which ye know so much.” The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “Whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man.” 12 There is a difference, of course, between those who are sincerely seeking a sign, meaning a spiritual confirmation or witness of heavenly truth, and those who are just looking to satisfy their vain curiosity. The prophets condemn the latter.
President Joseph F. Smith wrote concerning sign-seekers: “It is a wicked and adulterous generation that seeketh after a sign. Show me Latter-day Saints who have to feed upon miracles, signs and visions in order to keep them steadfast in the Church, and I will show you members of the Church who are not in good standing before God, and who are walking in slippery paths. It is not by marvelous manifestations unto us that we shall be established in the truth, but it is by humility and faithful obedience to the commandments and laws of God.” 13
Elder George A. Smith recounted an occasion when a preacher came to Joseph Smith and, to be convinced of the Prophet’s message, requested a sign, some spectacular manifestation of the power of God. Said the preacher, “I want to see a notable miracle performed; and if you perform such a one, then I will believe with all my heart and soul, and will exert all my power and all my extensive influence to convince others; and if you will not perform a miracle of this kind, then I am your worst and bitterest enemy.” “Well,” said Joseph, “what will you have done? Will you be struck blind, or dumb? Will you be paralyzed, or will you have one hand withered? Take your choice, choose which you please, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ it shall be done.” That, of course, was not the kind of miracle he wanted. 14
Jacob humbly explained to Sherem that he could see a sign only if God willed it, and it would not be to the detriment of anyone other than himself. God smote Sherem. Forced to acknowledge the hand of God in his fate, Sherem pleaded for a gathering of the people so he could admit his sins and confess the Christ, the Holy Ghost, and the ministering of angels.