No Man Knoweth of God’s Ways Save It Be Revealed unto Him

Jacob teaches that revelation is essential to begin to understand God’s ways.

“Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.” (Jacob 4:8)

Questions:

-How much false belief about God has come into being through the ages due to men and women relying on their intellect more than on revelation from God himself?

-Based on Jacob’s teachings, is a lifetime long enough to understand God intellectually?

-Can the Holy Spirit testify to one’s heart what one’s mind cannot yet understand (so it is possible to develop a meaningful relationship with God within a lifetime)?

-If someone despises the idea of receiving divine revelation, how likely is he or she to gain an understanding of who God really is?

All the Holy Prophets Had a Hope of Christ’s Glory Before His Coming

The Nephite prophets, including Jacob, had a clear understanding of Christ’s central role in the Father’s plan hundreds of years before Christ came to earth. Jacob explains that this was true of all true prophets who lived before Christ.

“…We knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us. Behold they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name and also we worship the Father in his name.” (Jacob 4:4-5)

Questions:

-If all of mankind’s hopes rest on Christ’s redemptive power, how likely would it be that the Holy Spirit testified of Christ to all the true prophets who came before Christ?

Look unto God with Firmness of Mind and Pray with Exceeding Faith

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)

Questions:

-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?

Whoredoms Are an Abomination Before Me

Jacob is given revelation from the Lord that the Nephites are beginning to rationalize sexual misconduct based on the actions of David and Solomon.

For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. (2 Jacob 2:23-24)

Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. For, if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. (2 Jacob 2:27-30)

Questions:

-Is a society always cursed when the lure of unbounded sexuality is succumbed to and leads to a multiplicity of crass encounters that harm the souls of the participants?

-Were the men who are being called to repentance in the above verses letting their sexual desires overcome their basic decency toward many of the women around them? And, were they using the practice of plural marriage in their culture’s past as a cover for doing so?

-Are there others in the past, besides David and Solomon, who have practiced plural marriage without God’s sanction?

-When has God sanctioned plural marriage? What does the passage above suggest about why He would do so?

-Do you believe God sanctioned plural marriage as practiced by modern-day prophets such as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young? Or, do you believe they were acting on their own motivations against God’s will? What do you have for reference in judging their motivations?

The One Being Is as Precious in His Sight as the Other

Jacob teaches that those who have treated others poorly—due to a misguided mindset where wealth and achievement are evidence of being superior to others—are acting sinfully in God’s sight. He then provides the reason why this is so.

“…The one being is as precious in his sight as the other. And all flesh is of the dust; and for the selfsame end hath he created them, that they should keep his commandments and glorify him forever.” (Jacob 2:21)

Questions:

-How many treat others in a way that is consistent with the truth that every person is equally precious in God’s sight?

-What kind of spiritual power comes into a person’s life when they consistently repent to the standard of thought and conduct provided by this verse?

-Do you believe that the highest path in life (and the greatest source of joy and peace) is to glorify God?

Seek Ye For the Kingdom of God

Seeing his people seeking after riches, Jacob points their hearts and minds to a much better objective.

“Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you. But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Jacob 2:17-19)

Questions:

-If God knew your heart was in the right place, and that you sincerely desired to create financial prosperity as a way to better serve those around you, would He be slow to bless you in this endeavor?

-How many different types of riches are there besides monetary wealth?

With One Glance of His Eye He Can Smite You to the Dust

When addressing the unrighteous pride and persecution of others that the Nephites were beginning to take part in, Jacob tries to help them understand their true position in relation to God. In so doing, Jacob declares the following.

“O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust! O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls!” (Jacob 2:15).

Questions:

-How many believe in a Being this powerful—one that could (if He wasn’t as patient as He is) obliterate humanity with the glace of His eye?

-Do you believe God has eyes to glance with? Or, do you believe He is without body parts, passions, etc.

Prideful Hearts and Persecution Bring the Judgments of God

The prophet Jacob teaches his people that being prideful, being materialistic, and mistreating others (attitudes and actions that are often closely tied together) are not minor offences in God’s eyes

“…Because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they. And now, my brethren, do you suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold I say you nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.” (Jacob 2:13-14)

Questions:

-What are some of the judgments of God that have been brought upon the people of the earth due to selfishness and prideful class distinctions.

-Is the prideful swagger that some use to cope with life (and prop up their self-esteem) acceptable to God?

Tender, Chaste, and Delicate Feelings Are Pleasing unto God

Before dying, Nephi instructed his younger brother Jacob to continue the sacred record he had begun. Jacob was also called to be a spiritual leader and recorded his teachings to the Nephites at a time when they were beginning to fall prey to wickedness. At the beginning of his speech, he regrets needing to clearly address the sins of some of the people—whose hearts were hardening—in the presence of many of the people whose delicate feelings would be troubled. He concludes his thought by specifically declaring the truth that tender, chaste and delicate feelings are pleasing to God.

“…It grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech concerning you, before your wives and your children, many of whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate before God, which thing is pleasing unto God.” (Jacob 2:7)

Questions:

-Why are delicate feelings pleasing to God?

-Does the callousness of the fallen world tend to break down tender and delicate feelings if one is not vigilant? How does the Spirit of God help one maintain a tender heart despite experiencing environments in the fallen world that can often be cruel and insensitive?

-How is chastity tied to maintaining a tender heart that is capable of delicate feeling?

-Did the Father send the Lamb with the most tender heart (capable of the most delicate feeling) to work out the Atonement for His children? Was Christ’s infinite ability to feel and care a key aspect of His ability to complete His mission as our Savior?

I Am a God of Miracles

The Lord inspired Nephi to include messages in his writing on the Gold Plates that He knew would, in turn, help inspire and direct Joseph Smith as the prophet of the Restoration. Speaking in the first person, the Lord states the following:

“For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.” (2 Nephi 27:23)

The Lord then—through the prophet Nephi—directs Joseph Smith to a specific portion of Isaiah’s writings (comparable to the translation of Isaiah 29:13-24 in the King James Version of the Bible) and restates them directly as a message to Joseph. These words undoubtedly helped the prophet Joseph to understand the scope and meaning of the work the Lord was initiating through him.

“…The Lord shall say unto him that shall read the words that shall be delivered him: Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men—Therefore, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise and learned shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid.” (2 Nephi 27:24-26)

“And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding?” (2 Nephi 27:27)

“And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. And the meek also shall increase, and their joy shall be in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For assuredly as the Lord liveth they shall see that the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off; and they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught.” (2 Nephi 27:29-32)

“Therefore, thus saith the Lord who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob; Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of my hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” (2 Nephi 27:33-35)

Questions:

-How and why will the wisdom and understanding of those who are not aligned with God’s marvelous work fail?

-Will miracles, leading up to the return of Jesus Christ, make it clear that many of mankind’s concepts of truth are deeply flawed (because they did not take into account God’s direct and miraculous interventions in response to true faith among His children on earth).

-How jolting will it be for some as God’s miraculous power begins to be more and more evident for all to see? Will some respond by “working in darkness” to discredit and undermine God’s work?

-Who will be more receptive to God’s miraculous work? Will it be those who are well-established in life through existing systems of wealth and power? Or, will it be the poor who are largely outside of these systems of wealth and power?

-How will the gathering of scattered Israel be part of God’s miraculous work?