After warning of the consequences of rebelling against God and His Spirit (see previous post, Those Who Rebel Against God…), King Benjamin touches on the joy in store for those who whole-heartedly receive God’s commandments and Spirit.
“…I pray that ye should awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression. And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.” (Mosiah 2:40-41)
-How easy is it to be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to one’s spiritual welfare?
-What does it take to “hold out faithful to the end” in keeping the commandments of God?
-Is a state of never-ending happiness possible without an element of progression?
King Benjamin gives a stark warning to those who have the light of the true gospel yet rebel against the Spirit of the Lord.
“…Our fathers…spake that which was commanded them of the Lord; therefore, they are just and true. And now I say unto you my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths, that ye may be blessed, prospered and preserved. I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples.” (Mosiah 2:35-37)
“Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.” (Mosiah 2:38-39)
-Seeing that Benjamin is addressing those among his people who had been immersed in the gospel from a young age, is this stark warning less applicable to those who weren’t so immersed?
-Is the warning still applicable, to a lesser degree, to those who had lesser light and knowledge in their lifetime and rebelled against it?
-Why can those who rebel against God in mortality stay asleep to their guilt? Why is it impossible for them stay asleep to their guilt at the time of the Resurrection and Judgment?
King Benjamin teaches of our reliance on God for everything we have.
“…In the first place he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him. And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast? And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves: I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.” (Mosiah 2:23-25)
-How does God see our indebtedness to Him? As a perfect Being with perfect love for His children, would he ever use the indebtedness for anything other than a means for good?
-Is it possible to allow God to lift you to your full potential if you don’t recognize your indebtedness to Him?
Benjamin testifies that every promise God makes is kept, including his promise to bless those who keep His commandments.
“…All he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.” (Mosiah 2:22)
-Is the typical person’s awareness capable of perceiving all the ways that God blesses him or her?
-Is it typical to look for blessings in a narrow zone of reality and then assume blessings were not realized?
Jacob testifies of the merciful and persistent manner in which God works with the house of Israel.
“…How merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (Jacob 6:4)
-Does God only stretch forth his hands towards the “House of Israel all the day long”? Or, does He reach out continually to all His children on earth?
-If God blesses the earth through the house of Israel, does He reach out to them first and in the most direct manner?
-Why would He focus on specific groups of people in order to bless the inhabitants of the earth in general?
The prophet Jacob describes the power that comes to those who are pure in heart, look to God with firmness of mind, and pray with exceeding faith:
“…I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction. O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.” (Jacob 3:1)
-What does it mean to be pure in heart? How can one obtain purity of heart?
-Do some expect remarkable blessings without looking to God with firmness of mind and without praying with exceeding faith?
-Do some keep their head bowed stubbornly in sorrow rather than receiving the pleasing word of God and rejoicing in the power of His love?
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 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 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?
After expressing his eternal trust in the Lord, Nephi also emphasizes how the Lord is standing ready to pour out blessings upon those who ask for that which is right in His eyes.
“Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss.” (2 Nephi 4:35)
-How can we learn to ask not amiss?
-Is it tempting to ask God to override others’ free will? Are there circumstances where He would do so?
-If a prayer is not answered, does that mean the prayer was amiss?
-What is the difference between the timetables one might have in his or her mind for an answer to a righteous prayer and the Lord’s timetable for answering the prayer?
-How does God give liberally to those who ask righteous things of Him?