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?
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 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 about God’s law concerning faith, repentance, baptism, and staying true to the end.
“…He commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And if they will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it.” (2 Nephi 9:23-24)
-What does it mean to be damned (click on the link above for the definition)?
-Why does God require outward signs (such as baptism by water) that, when undertaken, don’t necessarily mean a person is truly committed inwardly?
-How popular is the idea of repentance?
-Who is the righteous and perfect Exemplar that we can repent towards and in whose name we are baptized?
-Is it possible to have perfect faith without the help of the Holy Ghost (who gives a perfect witness of Christ’s divinity and God the Father’s divinity)? Is it necessary to renew the power of the Spirit in our lives from time to time in order to obtain or regain that perfect faith?
-Is it possible to obtain an eternal realm of glory in the life to come but still be damned (i.e. be limited in one’s eternal progression)?
-Do some Christian faiths emphasize the initial witness of Christ’s power to save without emphasizing the importance of staying true to that witness—through continual repentance towards Christ’s example—during all the remainder of one’s life?
Lehi, in counseling his sons to choose Christ, also teaches about the most important choices all must make.
“…I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; and not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.” (2 Nephi 2:28-29)
-How can a person look to Jesus Christ in his or her day to day life?
-What does it mean to be faithful to His words?
-How is keeping God’s commandments a path to greater freedom away from captivity?
-What is the will of the Holy Spirit? Can one’s will become one with the Holy Spirit’s will?
While teaching his son, Jacob, Lehi addresses an important connection between the Atonement and the Final Judgment.
“…Because of the [Holy Messiah’s] intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him.”
-How much more meaningful is a belief in a Day of Judgment if it is coupled with the concept that we lived with God before our mortal lives and, in that premortal realm, agreed to come to earth to be tested?
-Would it be possible for anyone to return to God’s presence without Christ’s intercession?
Lehi teaches his son, Jacob, about the power of Christ to bring about the resurrection for all mankind and salvation for those who believe in Him:
“…The Holy Messiah…layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.” (2 Nephi 2:8-9)
-Does the word “Spirit” in this passage have any reference to the Holy Ghost or God the Father’s spiritual strength? Or, is it only a reference to the power of Christ’s individual spirit?
-Do the members of the Godhead do anything without mutual support and approbation for one another?
-Has any spirit, besides Christ, had the power to resurrect his or her earthly body after death? How did Christ’s resurrection ensure that all of God’s children will be resurrected?
-What does it mean to believe in Christ?
-Is it sufficient only to believe? Or, it is more meaningful and pleasing to God if a person is valiant in his or her testimony of Christ?
-Is there a difference between salvation and exaltation?
Lehi continues to teach his son, Jacob, about Christ’s Atonement and all of mankind’s need for it:
“…He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah…” (2 Nephi 2:7-8)
-What does Lehi mean when he states that only those with a broken heart and a contrite spirit can receive Christ’s redemption from sin?
-Does “heart” in this passage refer to our personal will versus God’s will? Is it good to break down our will to make way for God’s will in our lives?
-Can one have anything but a “broken heart” when he or she truly keeps in remembrance the price paid by Christ to redeem those who choose to follow and obey Him?
-How is being prideful (which is the opposite of having a broken heart and a contrite spirit) a false state of being?
-Who among the inhabitants of the earth has God’s law? Who, if any, does not have the law?
Video from Book of Mormon Central:
The very first messages of the Book of Mormon come from an introduction likely written by a prophet named Moroni who lived in the Americas around 400 A.D. To introduce the record his father Mormon had put together and abridged, Moroni declares the following truths about its purpose and meaning:
- “It is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi”
- “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile”
- “Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophesy and of revelation”
- “Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they [the metal plates on which the record was kept] might not be destroyed”
- “To come forth by the gift and power of God”
- “To come forth in due time by way of the Gentile…the interpretation thereof by the gift of God”
- “To show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers…that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever”
- “To…convinc[e] Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations”
- “If there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgement-seat of Christ”
-How important would it be to make meaningful use of a gift, readily available to you in the form of a book, that was brought into being by the power of God?
-If God made covenants with those who lived before our time — who sought His help and guidance in their lives – is there any doubt that He would follow through with the promises He made to them? Could our relationship to God in the present have important ties to those promises He made in the past and is now fulfilling?
Video from Book of Mormon Central: