Trust in the Lord…
The Book of Mormon story of Korihor, the anti-Christ, is a cautionary account in the choices we make in who we can trust and follow and who will support, abandon, or even turn on us in our hours of need or despair.
Korihor was a man who lived in the days of Alma the Younger. He was a man who taught vain and flattering words among the people of Nephi that there would be no Christ and that men should live in a manner according to their own pleasure, arguing “that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime” (Alma 30:17). Therefore, by his teachings he led “away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof” (Alma 30:18).
Later, after causing a curse of dumbness upon himself by seeking a sign of Alma, Korihor confessed in writing that he was directed to teach such evil by the adversary himself, “…the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he 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; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me” (Alma 30:53).
This account of Korihor reminds me of a cautionary tale, a fable from early twentieth century Russia, told in many forms before and since, called “The Scorpion and the Frog.” A frog is approached by a scorpion, which cannot swim, asking the frog to transport it across a river on its back. The frog at first resists knowing that the scorpion may sting, but the scorpion argues that if it did that, they would both drown. Giving way to what seems a logical case, the frog agrees to the arrangement. Partway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog, dooming them both to drown. With his dying breaths the frog asks, “Why would you sting me knowing we would both drown?” The scorpion replied, “I couldn’t help it. It’s in my nature.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley told a similar tale of an encounter of a boy and a rattlesnake on a high mountain.
“The snake was cold and pleaded with the young man to pick it up and take it down where it was warmer. The boy listened to the enticings of the serpent. He gave in. He gathered it up into his arms and covered it with his shirt. He carried it down the mountain to where it was warm. He gently put it on the grass. When the snake was warm it raised its head and struck the boy with its poisonous fangs. The boy cursed at the snake for striking him as an answer to his kindness. The snake replied, ‘You knew what I was when you picked me up.’ Warn your children against those with poisonous fangs who will entice them, seduce them with easy talk, then injure and possibly destroy them.” (September 2000, General Relief Society Meeting).
Korihor tried to persuade Alma to pray and ask God to lift the curse, but Alma discerned by gift the heart of Korihor and knew that he would again lead the people astray if the curse was lifted. Therefore, Korihor was left to his own devices, going from house to house begging for his support. He reaped what he sowed, and Satan did not come to his aid. Korihor knew Satan for what he was when he came to him, but he listened to his vain flattery and determined to live life for today instead of thinking of the consequences to himself and to all whom he led away. He knew the scorpion for what he was, that it was in his nature to destroy him, and he willingly played the part of the scorpion himself.
In the concluding verses of Alma 30 we read the final disposition of Korihor. Eventually he begs his way to a neighboring community of Nephite dissenters, like unto himself in so many ways. The Zoramites also perverted the ways of the Lord and followed against light that scorpion, that rattlesnake, that led away the hearts of men only to abandon them in their hour of need. One would think he would find some comfort among friends, but there are no true friends in Satan‘s realm. They ran upon him and stomped him to death, used up and worthless for the anti-Christ cause in which he had once eagerly engaged. “Thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.” As the viper’s venom coursed steadily through his body toward the beating heart, the serpent would only say to Korihor’s bewildered pleas, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”
In contrast, as we read in the final verse of Alma 31 regarding the missionaries led by Alma to preach unto the Zoramites, the Lord supports his people, He loves His children, He stands with and strengthens His servants, He guides us in our triumphs and gives us peace in Christ when the weight of the world falls upon us. “And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and He also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith.”
It is my prayer that we will trust in the Lord and let it be known unto Him and unto all men where we stand. We stand with the Lord. We give no trust to scorpions or vipers that with forked tongues seek to dissuade us from the Lord’s path of security, searing our hearts and conscience so as to not feel His Spirit, dullening our minds to not perceive His voice. Trust in the Lord, for He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and with Him we are never deceived and ever safe. He is our most trusted friend, our true Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.