Jacob declares God’s will and voice concerning the promised land in the Americas. Along with being a land of inheritance for Lehi’s descendants, it will also be a land of freedom and liberty for all people—a place where Zion will be reestablished with the King of Heaven as its King.
“…This land, said God, shall be a land of thine inheritance, and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land. And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles. And I will fortify this land against all other nations. And he that fighteth against Zion shall perish, saith God. For he that raiseth up a king against me shall perish, for I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words.” (2 Nephi 10:10-14)
-Are all parts of the Americas a promised land? Or, is the promised land referred to in this passage more localized?
-Are there other promised lands outside the Western Hemisphere? (See link to a definition of promised land above)
-Why will God fortify the American promised land against all other nations? What or who will He be protecting?
-How will Zion be established within the American promised land? Has it already begun to be established?
-How will Lehi’s descendants be involved in the establishment of the American Zion?
-Will the establishment of Zion in the Americas be a source of marked conflict? Or, will it be a more peaceful, organic process?
-How important is it to hear God’s words? Do you believe the Book of Mormon is God’s word? How can you find out if it is or isn’t? (see Moroni 10:3-5)
Jacob proclaims the Lord’s voice and will regarding the gathering of the Jewish people in the last days. Much of the prosperity and strength granted by God to the greatest Gentile nations will be linked to their role in gathering and helping the Lord’s ancient covenant people.
“…Behold, thus saith the Lord God: When the day cometh that they shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth, unto the lands of their inheritance. And it shall come to pass that they shall be gathered in from their long dispersion, from the isles of the sea, and from the four parts of the earth; and the nations of the Gentiles shall be great in the eyes of me, saith God, in carrying them forth to the lands of their inheritance. Yea, the kings of the Gentiles shall be nursing fathers unto them, and their queens shall become nursing mothers; wherefore, the promises of the Lord are great unto the Gentiles, for he hath spoken it, and who can dispute?” (2 Nephi 10:7-9)
-Based on the above passage, is it likely God’s favor will be upon any nation that fights against the house of Israel or the Jewish people in the last days?
Jacob, around the years 559 to 545 B.C., teaches that Christ would come to earth among the only nation who would kill Him rather than repent.
“It must needs be that Christ…should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God. For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God. But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.” (2 Nephi 10:3-5)
-Is there a phenomenon where those who have truth and light from God and then do no live according to it fall into deeper spiritual darkness than those who never had such truth and light?
-Were there many in the Jewish nation that Christ was born into that had succumbed to such spiritual darkness?
-Were there also many Jews during that time who, despite the wickedness around them, showed exceptional spiritual strength and stayed close to God and His Spirit?
-What is priestcraft? And, why is its practice such a powerful source of evil?
Jacob reiterates God’s promise, also given to his brother Nephi, that his father’s descendants in the Americas will again receive the peace and strength of the restored Gospel (after a time of apostasy, great trials, and destruction).
“…Behold how great the covenants of the Lord, and how great his condescensions unto the children of men; and because of his greatness and his grace and mercy, he has promised unto us that our seed shall not utterly be destroyed, according to the flesh, but that he would preserve them; and in future generations they shall become a righteous branch unto the house of Israel.” (2 Nephi 9:53)
-Do you believe that God cares deeply enough about the righteous desires of his children on earth, that He would promise to fulfill them (as He did in the case of Lehi’s family and others in ancient times regarding their descendants)?
-Can you enter into a covenant relationship with God wherein He promises to care for and bless your posterity (to the degree they will let Him)? What about a covenant relationship related to other righteous desires of your heart?
-How would you know God had accepted the covenant? How would you know what God’s specific promises are and what your specific obligations are?
-Is there a church now in existence through which God makes such covenant relationships and makes the related blessings and obligations clear? If so, how did God give the priesthood of this church the authority to officiate the covenant relationships in His name?
-Are the descendants of Lehi becoming a righteous branch of Israel now? Are they largely awake to the covenant blessings that have been established for them? Or, is the awakening still in its early stages?
Jacob provides keys to true joy.
“…Remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice.” (2 Nephi 9:52)
-Can prayer establish a connection with God and, thereby, help a person live in the joy and peace of His Spirit?
-Does the joy and peace that comes from the Spirit testify of God’s power to lift and save one’s soul?
-Does having that testimony from the Spirit help one to exercise faith in Jesus Christ day by day?
-In light of the above questions, how are prayer and gratitude related to both joy in this life and salvation in the eternities?
-What is keeping your heart from rejoicing?
-Is it freeing to know that according to God’s word we should let our hearts rejoice in the beautiful hope and truth of which the Spirit testifies?
Continuing with the theme of how important it is to turn to the true and living God, Jacob quotes Isaiah chapter 55 verse 1 before stating the following:
“…Remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.” (2 Nephi 9:51)
-Are the most important things eternal or temporal?
-How important is it to decide what you are going to “invest” in with your time and efforts during mortality? Will laying up treasure in heaven or pursuing worldly attainments be the priority for you?
-Where will the deepest joy come from (even in mortality)?
-Do you believe Jacob’s message that making the eternal and spiritual the priority is the best investment?
-Is remembering Jesus Christ’s prefect love and His saving power a primary source of spiritual strength and delight?
Knowing his people had a clear knowledge of God’s law, Jacob pleads with them to not be entangled in sin but to turn with a repentant heart toward the true God.
“…Turn away from your sins; shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast; come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation. Prepare your souls for that glorious day when justice shall be administered unto the righteous, even the day of judgment, that ye may not shrink with awful fear; that ye may not remember your awful guilt in perfectness, and be constrained to exclaim: Holy, holy are thy judgments, O Lord God Almighty–but I know my guilt; I have transgressed thy law, and my transgressions are mine; and the devil hath obtained me, that I am prey to his awful misery.” (2 Nephi 9:45-46)
-Are you actively preparing your soul for the Day of Judgment?
-Who must you rely on to be prepared?
-To prevent being bound by the chains of sin, does a reliance on Christ need to be a constant daily endeavor? Is participating in this daily endeavor the difference between being spiritually-minded and being carnally-minded?
-Why will any remaining guilt be remembered with perfectness at the Day of Judgment?
-How can all guilt be washed away before the Day of Judgment?
Jacob testifies that those who humbly seek God’s influence and saving power in their lives will receive it, while those who embrace the wisdom and praise of the world will shut themselves off from God.
“…Whoso knocketh, to him will the [Lord God] open; and the wise and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them. But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever—yea, that happiness which is prepared for the saints.” (2 Nephi 9:42-43)
-How can the fact that God loves all his children be reconciled with Jacob’s message that He despises those who are “puffed up” in the wisdom and praise of the world? Is it a case of God hating the sin but still loving the sinner? It is that He despises what they are doing to themselves and others by treating mankind’s wisdom and praise as being the most important?
-Have you experienced the Lord opening the doors of his love and wisdom to you?
-How does one go about knocking in order to seek these blessings from the Lord?
-Will seeking the Lord’s light and wisdom fail if one does not do so in the depths of humility?
Jacob realizes his teachings about…
…are going to be hard for some to hear.
This being the case, he pleads with those who hear these messages not to rebel against the truth but to reconcile themselves with God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“…Give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if you do ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken. O then my beloved [brothers and sisters] come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.” (2 Nephi 9:40-41)
-How easy is it for most people to perceive and accept the greatness God, and His righteous standards, in relation to their shortcomings and sins?
-Do many feel it is easier to avoid facing the unclean aspects of their lives in relation to God than it is to square up to the truth of the situation and ask God for help to become clean through His power?
-Are many of the ideas and philosophies of the world popular because they help people avoid facing God and the uncomfortable aspects of seeking forgiveness?
-Is being willing to face one’s uncleanness, and work with God to remedy the situation, one of the main aspects of what Jacob calls righteousness? Would a person who continually strives to recognize their weaknesses, and do this work of repentance, be prone to judge others harshly who have similar mortal frailties? Is it impossible to be righteous and self-righteous at the same time?
-Will anyone be able to hide from the reality of his or her relationship with God at the time of the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment?
Jacob teaches that seeing and acting as led by the Spirit of God is the way to eternal life with God. When translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was prompted to translate some of Jacob’s message in language very similar to the King James version of Paul’s words as found in Romans 8:6.
“…Remember the awfulness in transgressing against the Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.” (2 Nephi 9:39)
-What characteristics and actions result when a person is controlled by carnal desires? (see Wo Unto All Those Who Die in Their Sins)
-If the path of least resistance in this fallen world is to be carnally-minded, how does one become spiritually-minded?
-Are most of the popular trends and opinions in the world based on a carnally-minded perspective?
-What can one do to become more spiritually-minded? (See links below for a sampling of what the Book of Mormon teaches in answer this question.)