Summary of Jacob

Summary of Jacob

                The Book of Jacob is the third book in the Book of Mormon. Jacob, the brother of Nephi, was given the responsibility of writing down the history of his people. The purpose of this book, in the words of Jacob was to; “…persuade them [everyone] to come unto Christ…” (Jacob 1:7). The book is mainly the teachings between Jacob and his people, which include a lengthy Parable of the Olive Tree: which is an allegory of the scattering and gathering of Israel.

Around 545 BC, Jacob was given the task of continuing the history of the golden plates. At this time Nephi was  soon to pass on, but the people revered him so much that they desired all the kings of the land to be like him and even named after him. The Jacobites, Josephites, and Zoramites all became the people of Nephi or the Nephites, while the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites became the Lamanites.

The Nephites began to be lifted up in pride because they had been so blessed by God, and this led them to do wicked things. But Jacob and his brother Joseph tried as hard as they could to teach the people not to do wicked things. Jacob went to the temple to teach the Nephites. This temple was a copy of the one Solomon made in Jerusalem. Jacob said the people had begun to search for gold and silver. Some were better at locating the gold and silver and because of this, some would show that they were better or of a different social class, so they enhanced their apparel to show off that they were more ambitious and competent that their brothers.

Jacob then prophesied about events which would be fulfilled at the end of the Book of Mormon, around 385 AD, when the Nephites would be completely fallen away from God and wiped out to the last man by the Lamanites.

After a number of years a man named Sherem went around saying there would be no Christ, and for Jacob to preach the gospel of Christ instead of adherence to the Law of Moses was blasphemy. Jacob asserted that every prophesy ever made was really about Christ, and that it was revealed to him that if Christ does not make atonement, all humanity will be lost. Sherem demanded a sign to prove what Jacob said was true. Jacob explained that he would not tempt God.

God smote Sherem, making him fall unconscious for many days. When he eventually regained consciousness, he asked for the people to be assembled so he could make his last sermon. He confessed Christ, and said he had been deceived by the devil, and retracted everything he said about Jacob. He said he feared that he had committed the unpardonable sin, which is lying to God. Then he died.

When Jacob finished writing on the plates he bequeathed them to his son Enos.

Jacob 7

Jacob 7: Testimony of Christ

                There came a man among the Nephites by the name of Sherem, who “…began to preach among the people, and to declare unto them that there should be no Christ….” (Jacob 7:2), he did this with the purpose of overthrowing the doctrine of Christ and confusing the people. Sherem labored diligently that he might lead away many hearts. Indeed, Sherem was “…learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore he could use much flattery, and much power of speech….” (Jacob 7:4)

Sherem sought out Jacob to contend with him. He explained that no man could have a knowledge of Jesus Christ. Sherem was arguing with Jacob when “…the Lord God poured in his Spirit into my [Jacob] soul, insomuch that I did confound him in all his words.” (Jacob 7:9) Jacob asks Sherem if he would deny Christ and Sherem explained that he wouldn’t deny Christ, if there was a Christ. Jacob then asks Sherem if he believed in the scriptures, to which he responded yes. Jacob then explained that he “…did not understand them; for they truly testify of Christ…” (Jacob 7:11)

Often times this contentious manner exists among the world, even when the truth is right before their eyes. Jacob, being filled with the Spirit of God, was able to confound all of the teachings of Sherem. After this conversation Sherem asks Jacob to show him a sign, so that he might know that what he spoke was true. Jacob responds: “…What am I that I should tempt God to show unto thee a sign in the things which thou knowest to be true? Yet thou wilt deny is, because thou are of the devil….” (Jacob 7:14)

Immediately after speaking these words, the power of God came down upon Sherem, causing him to fall to the earth. Out of fear, Sherem called all those who he had preached to against Christ saying that he had been deceived by the Devil and that he feared he had committed “…the unpardonable sin, for I have lied unto God.” (Jacob 7:19) Immediately after Sherem had confessed that he was a liar, who was trying to deceive them, he died. The people of Nephi were overcome with the power of God and fell to the earth. Jacob was pleased with this, for the love of God was restored amongst the people; “…they searched the scriptures, and hearkened no more to the words of this wicked man.” (Jacob 7:23)

Jacob explains that he felt as if his death would soon come, he charged his son Enos with the preservation of the records.

Jacob 3

Jacob 3: Jacob Warns of Sin

                “…behold, 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.” (Jacob 3:1)

This is a great promise that we can all lean on when we are afflicted. If we come to God with a pure heart, he will guide us. Jacob speaks to the Nephites and explains that the Lamanite righteousness had exceeded that of their own righteousness; “…ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts of because of the example ye have set before them…” (Jacob 3:10) We never know who is watching us, and because of that we need to be an example to everyone around us, wether that is our own children, friends, family, co-workers etc.

Jacob finishes this chapter off, by making know the seriousness of fornication, lasciviousness and of all sins, in the eyes of God.

Jacob 2

Jacob 2: Un-Chastity is bad, Seek riches to help your fellow men

 

Jacob speaks to his people saying that he wishes to rid the people of their sins, because he is; “…weighed down with much more desire and anxiety for the welfare of [their] souls…” (Jacob 2:3)

Jacob was inspired from God to tell the people that they were sinning, for many of the people were focused on the riches of the world and looked down on those who did not have as much as they did. Jacob explains to them that; “…before ye seek 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 2:18-19) So, is money bad? No. Money is only bad if you are greedy, if you desire to obtain riches for good then it is ok. It is when money becomes your God that it is bad.

However, Jacob continues to speak to his people about a larger and more serious sin, he explains; “…This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms…” (Jacob 2:23) Jacob explains that in times of old David and Solomon had many wives, which was an abomination to the Lord. God has commanded that men only have one wife, however God can also in some times allow for polygamy to happen; “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 [having one wife].” (Jacob 2:30) In other words unless God commands otherwise, Polygamy should not happen.

What is Polygamy?

                Polygamy occurs when there are more than two partners in a marriage. In this case, seven women marrying one man (or taking hold of one man) would constitute ‘Polygamy’ and more specifically; ‘Polygyny’; which is when a man has multiple wives.

Polygamy in the LDS Church:

                When someone wants to attack The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days [LDS]; or more commonly known as “The Mormons”, Polygamy is almost ALWAYS brought up! Why? Because the LDS Church practiced Polygamy. However, are the “Mormons” the only ones who have practiced Polygamy throughout time? No.

At various times, the Lord has commanded His people to practice plural marriage. However, like the scripture above, Polygamy was to be used within the laws of God, in other words it has only been instituted when and IF God commands. God has initiated this practice, when population of his people was at risk for extinction or in cases such as the scripture above, when women married men to take away the ‘reproach’. Early in the History of the LDS Church, so many people persecuted the church and its members that men were actually killed at an alarming rate. This left many women as widows with children. But as anyone knows women in the 1800’s were not given as many rights as men, and especially not as many rights as married women. Because women had basically no rights as single unmarried women (regardless of being widows) the Lord commanded some of the early Saints to practice plural marriage. The Prophet Joseph Smith and those closest to him, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, were challenged by this command, but they obeyed it. Church leaders regulated the practice. Those entering into it had to be authorized to do so, and the marriages had to be performed through the sealing power of the priesthood.

Many of the men who participated in it did so for legal reasons, and many men kept “one wife”, but had many other legal wives that did their own thing. Like the scripture mentioned above; “…We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach.” – In other words give us your last name and be legally called your ‘wife’, but I will take care of myself. Some who were chosen to practice polygamy were also commanded to have children with their multiple wives; however this was not the common practice throughout the church. Anyone who disobeyed the commandment of God and used Polygamy to have control over women or simply for sexual lust were disciplined by the church.

Contrary to what many people think, the LDS Church does NOT practice Polygamy today! In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should cease teaching the practice of plural marriage;

To Whom It May Concern:

Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy—

I, therefore, as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our Temples or in any other place in the Territory.

One case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, in the Spring of 1889, but I have not been able to learn who performed the ceremony; whatever was done in this matter was without my knowledge. In consequence of this alleged occurrence the Endowment House was, by my instructions, taken down without delay.

Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.

There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.

Wilford Woodruff

President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Lorenzo Snow offered the following:

“I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing, and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding.”

Salt Lake City, Utah, October 6, 1890

Jacob 1

Jacob 1: Wickedness Prevails Among the Nephites

                Jacob picks up the story of the Nephites nearly 55 years after Lehi had left Jerusalem with his family to travel to the Promised Land (America). Nephi gives command to his brother Jacob to continue the history of the people, known as the People of Nephi, or, the Nephites.

Jacob explains that he and his people; “…labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest…” (Jacob 1:7) Jacob explains that his brother Nephi was growing old and because his people loved him as a king, they were desirous that future kings be called after him in the manner of 1st, 2nd, 3rd Nephi and so forth. Jacob explains that Nephi did grow old, and did die.

We learn from Jacob that there were many groups; Lamanites, Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Leumeulites and Ishmaelites. However, Jacob chose to categorize the people who were against the Nephites as “Lamanites” and those people for the Nephites as “Nephites”.

“It came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices… they also began to search much gold and silver, and began to be lifted up somewhat in pride.” (Jacob 1:15-16)

                Jacob, seeing this great wickedness went to the Temple to teach the people, explaining that he and his priests would take; “…upon [themselves] the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon [their] own heads if [they] did not teach them the word of God with all diligence…” (Jacob 1:19)

Jacob begins his Seven Chapter section of the Book of Mormon…

2 Nephi 11

2 Nephi 11: Jacob sees the Savior

                Jacob testifies to his people that he has seen Christ, but he says that it is not just his word to believe, but the words of all the witnesses that have seen God.

“…wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words.” (2 Nephi 11:3)

God has said that by the word of 2-3 witnesses his word shall be established. Jacob is not the only one claiming to have seen God and therefore testifies to the people that he has seen Him. He writes this down as a record to his people and all future generations, as well as the testimonies of others who say they have seen of Him.

Jacob testifies that a Savior would need to exist; “…that save Christ should come all men must perish. For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.” (2 Nephi 11:6-7)

2 Nephi 9

2 Nephi 9: The Last Days and the Spirits of the Dead

                Jacob speaks to his brethren and tells them that he has come to the knowledge of the things he is about to teach as being part of the covenants of the Lord, that was promised through the house of Israel. Jacob explains that he knew; “…he has spoken unto the Jews, by the mouth of his holy prophets, even from the beginning down, from generation to generation, until the time comes that they shall be restored to the true church and fold of God; when they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise.” (2 Nephi 9:2)

In the Last Days, the Jews will come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, even Jesus Christ. Jacob explains to his people that he teaches of these things, so that they may be filled with joy, because of the promised blessings the Lord has in store for them.

What is the meaning of Life?

                Jacob knows that many of his people, and many of us in present day are searching for the answers to questions like; what is the meaning to life? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going after death? Etc. Jacob explains; “…I know that ye have searched much, many of you, to know of things to come; wherefore I know that ye know that our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God.” (2 Nephi 9:4)

Jacob makes the obvious point, we all must die. Has there ever been a recorded history of mortal men living forever? No. However, this does not mean that our life does not go on after death. If one is to believe that we have life after death, that means that there must be some sort of plan for this, correct? Our Heavenly Father has a plan for us, this plan was created before the world was!

Jacob explains this Plan of Salvation;

“…it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him. For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more.” (2 Nephi 9:5-7)

Let’s step back and understand what Jacob is teaching. We know that Jesus Christ was sent to earth (our Redeemer) to Redeem us from our sins! What sins? In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve something called Agency, this Agency would allow for Adam and Eve to make their own choices, even if they were contrary to the commandments of God. This was necessary for God to give His children the ability to choose for themselves, whether they wanted to follow good or evil. This gave our life meaning and purpose, however, God was not about to leave us without a plan to return to Him.

Here we have the Plan of Salvation, God knew that Adam and Eve would disobey Him, but this was all part of the plan. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God by following the enticing’s of the Devil they were cast out of the Garden of Eden and thus given the opportunity to prove themselves in the world and become the first parents of all the Spirit Children of God. Because man was in a “fallen” state, i.e. we were unable to be in God’s presence. God gave us the Resurrection through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, who DIED FOR OUR SINS! Because Jesus Christ died for our sins, we were given a gift from God, Salvation! Because of Jesus Christ, we know had a way to return to God! But, we again have to use our Agency… Follow Jesus Christ on the pathway back to God? OR Follow Satan on the pathway to disobedience and destruction?

If God had not given us a Redeemer, Jesus Christ… we would have been dead spiritually. The Free gift of Salvation is ours to take as long as we can be a disciple of Christ. This means that we are disciple-ined (disciplined in the teachings of Christ, i.e. we follow His commandments). Jacob goes on to teach his people and praise God; “….O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh, save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect.” (2 Nephi 9:13) God’s plan for us is perfect, we must choose who to follow in this life.

The purpose of Life? Follow God’s commandments, obtain knowledge and become as perfect as we can in this life. If we make mistakes, we recognize the mistakes and move past them, always bettering ourselves and those around us.

Jacob teaches that in the next life, when were are judged; “…we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and the irrighteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness…. it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God.” (2 Nephi 9:14-15)

The only thing that goes with us into the next life is our knowledge and memories. Nothing else will go with us, therefore we should strive to value friendship and family… love for our neighbor and our God. Jacob explains that after we die, those; “….who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.” (2 Nephi 9:16) Essentially not much changes from the time we die. If we are miserable in this life and only desire material wealth… we will desire material wealth in the next life. If we are happy with our life and the basics we have, we will enjoy the next life.

Those who follow God will be delivered from the devil in the last days! “…he [Jesus Christ] cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day… 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… 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 9:22-24) Jesus Christ died for all our sins that we might be given a chance to prove ourselves in this life, be baptized and follow His commandments until the day the Lord calls us home.

No Law… No Punishment

                “…he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him. For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 9:25-26)

God has given us laws and commandments so that there might be punishment and reward. For those who follow the commandments, the Lord has sent His Son to die for our sins, so that we can return to our Heavenly Father! Jacob warns of those who have been given the law, and chose to disobey… knowing full well that they are doing wickedness; “…wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation, for awful is his state!” (2 Nephi 9:27)

Wo unto those who think they are WISE:

Jacob explains that many who think they are wise, are actually foolish.

“…O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.” (2 Nephi 9:28)

Wo unto the…

  • “…unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.” (2 Nephi 9:30)
  •  “…wo unto the deaf that will not hear; for they shall perish.” (2 Nephi 9:31)
  •  “…Wo unto the blind that will not see; for they shall perish also.” (2 Nephi 9:32)
  • “…Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day.” (2 Nephi 9:33)
  • “…Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.” (2 Nephi 9:34)
  • “…Wo unto the murderer who deliberately killeth, for he shall die.” (2 Nephi 9:35)
  • “…Wo unto them who commit whoredoms, for they shall be thrust down to hell.” (2 Nephi 9:36)
  • “….wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them.” (2 Nephi 9:37)
  • “…wo unto all those who die in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins.” (2 Nephi 9:38)

Jacob encourages his people to follow the Lord and not to give into the enticing’s of the Devil; “…But behold, my brethren, is it expedient that I should awake you to an awful reality of these things? Would I harrow up your souls if your minds were pure? Would I be plain unto you according to the plainness of the truth if ye were freed from sin? Behold, if ye were holy I would speak unto you of holiness; but as ye are not holy, and ye look upon me as a teacher, it must needs be expedient that I teach you the consequences of sin.” (2 Nephi 9:47-48)

Because Jacob was called of God to speak unto his people, he must act as a teacher unto them… so that they might become holy. Jacob exhorts [urges] his people to follow God, that they might be quenched of their spiritual thirst

“Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and 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 9:50-51)

2 Nephi 6

2 Nephi 6: Jewish History

                Jacob speaks to the people of Nephi, he explains that he is anxious and desirous of them, that they might have welfare unto their souls. He explains that Nephi has told them much of the history of the world, but that he would like to read to them the words of Isaiah to give them a better history of their own people, the Jews.  Jacob explains that they might be likened unto themselves, because they too are part of the house of Israel.

Jacob speaks the words of Isaiah;

“…Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.  And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their faces towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” (2 Nephi 6:6; see also: Isaiah 49:22)

Jacob reminds the people of Nephi that he reason for leaving the ‘Old World’ and coming to the ‘New World’ was because Jerusalem was to be destroyed (and at this point had already been destroyed) and for this purpose Lehi was led by God to safety with his family. Jacob explains that even though the people were destroyed that God will have them return, however they would also crucify their Savior.

Jacob continues to explain the Jewish people; “…shall be scattered, and smitten, and hated; nevertheless, the Lord will be merciful unto them, that when they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, they shall be gathered together again to the lands of their inheritance.” (2 Nephi 6:11) Jacob explains that not only will the Jews be blessed, but also the Gentiles; “…if it so be that they shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church, they shall be saved; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children; and for this cause the prophet has written these things.” (2 Nephi 6:12) Jacob explains that those who fight against Zion shall ‘lick up the dust of their feet’ as Isaiah had explained in old.

Jacob explains that those who fight against Zion and believe not on the Lord shall be destroyed; “…both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine. And they shall know that the Lord is God, the Holy One of Israel.” (2 Nephi 6:15)

2 Nephi 2

2 Nephi 2: Agency is Important

                Lehi speaks to Jacob and promises him that God; “…shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” (2 Nephi 2:2) Jacob shall find comfort and shall dwell in safety with his brother Nephi. Lehi explains that; “…the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” (2 Nephi 2:4) Lehi goes on to explain that men are instructed to know good from evil and by the laws that are given unto mankind, we shall be justified. Lehi then explains that NO man can return to the presence of God without the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ. Even though Salvation if FREE, one has to have a broken heart and contrite spirit in order to accept this free gift.

“…redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth… 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 2:6-8)

Why does God permit suffering?

Lehi goes on to explain that there needs to be opposition in all things! He answers the grand old question; why does God permit suffering?

“…it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.” (2 Nephi 2:11)

But why is this? For if there was no opposition in all things, there would have been no reason for our creation, for our very being! All things would; “…have been created for… naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.” (2 Nephi 2:12)

Atheists claim that there is no God, others who believe in God claim no need to follow God’s commandments, because salvation is free and no works are required for entering the Kingdom of God.

Lehi explains that this is not so;

“…if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” (2 Nephi 2:13)

Science explains that every action, has an equal and opposite reaction. Here we see that there must be opposition in all things. We also see that without anything to be acted upon, all things would have vanished. Who or What acted first in the creation of all things? Science explains that everything was created from the Big Bang. We do not have to discredit science, for the universe most likely was created by something similar to what science has explained as the Big Bang. But what caused that? One could easily argue that science, as we know it, was created by a higher power. God must exist, or we would not exist.

Everything has its opposite

                From the very beginning, God has given us the ability to CHOOSE for ourselves. This choice is known as agency. We have been given the gift of agency, to ACT on our own accord, to be our own AGENTS. Go has given us this agency, and the ability to act as our own agents so that we could exist and have a reason for existence. After God had created the earth, the fowls of the air and the fields, God created our first parents [Adam and Eve] and gave the opposition; “…it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.” (2 Nephi 2:15)

The Fall of Mankind: The Purpose of Mankind

                After rebelling against God in the pre-mortal existence, Satan was cast out of heaven and became a fallen angel. He was there [because God permitted him to be there] when Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden. God did this, so that man could be their own agents. In order to choose for themselves, God needed to place opposition to the good. After being tempted by the devil to partake of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were cast out into the world so that men might be.

“And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.” (2 Nephi 2:21)

God gave the children of men [all mankind] a time of probation [their lives] to repent and follow the commandments of God that they might one day return to live with their Heavenly Father. Nevertheless, we were given the ability to choose to return to our Father in Heaven.

What if Adam did not Fall?

                Some look at the Fall of Adam as the ‘Original Sin’ that prevents us from having a paradise in this life. These same people claim that if Adam and Eve would not have partaken of the fruit, that we would be living in paradise in the Garden of Eden. All of the world’s problems today, would not exist. But, we too would not exist!

“…if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end… they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:22-25)

                ADAM FELL, THAT MEN MIGHT BE! Without the fall of Adam and Eve, WE WOULD NOT EXIST! God is all knowing, the opposition in the Garden of Eden was all part of the plan, He had for His children! Because Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, men were destined to be apart from God. But, God had this in mind, when he called a Savior for mankind!

“…the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.” (2 Nephi 2:26)

God made it possible for Jesus Christ to come and die for all our sins! Through His Atonement and Sacrifice we ARE ALL SAVED from the Original Sin. Jesus Christ RESTORED our ability to return to God! This ability to return to God, is FREE. Salvation is FREE. But, we are all FREE to choose good from evil. Therefore it is our choice to accept Salvation.

“…men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” (2 Nephi 2:27)

Satan chose not to follow the Plan of Salvation, and because of His rebellion he was cast out of the presence of God. We, being FREE agents, have the ability to choose to follow God. If we choose to follow God, we must follow His commandments. Only then, can we accept His free gift of Salvation.

1 Nephi 18

1 Nephi 18: Crossing the Sea to the Promised Land

                Nephi and his family continue the construction of the ship, a ship that was not built; “…after the manner of men…” (1 Nephi 18:2) Nephi finishes the ship and sees that it; “…was good, and that the workmanship, thereof was exceedingly fine…” (1 Nephi 18:4) After Nephi’s brothers saw the craftsmanship of the ship, they did humble themselves before the Lord.

Nephi explains that while in the wilderness (before building the ship), Lehi [Nephi’s Father] had two sons ‘Jacob’ and ‘Joseph’. Nephi and his entire family loaded up the ship with all their provisions and went forth across the ocean as the wind blew. After traveling the sea for the space of many days, Laman and Lemuel and their families began to dance and sing with “…much rudeness…” (1 Nephi 18:9) In other words, they were rioting and rebelling. Nephi was filled with fear that the Lord would be angry with them, and for this purpose they might be swallowed up in the sea. Nephi began to speak with his brothers, to try and persuade them to repent of their actions; this of course only angered his rebel brothers.

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“…it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me [Nephi]  and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness;  …it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass [The Liahona], which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work.” (1 Nephi 18:11-12) Because of the wickedness of Laman and Lemuel, they did not know which direction to travel and their arose a great storm and tempest that caused the ship to be pushed back for three days, and on the fourth day the storm worsened.

“…after we had been driven back upon the waters for the space of four days, my brethren began to see that the judgments of God were upon them, and that they must perish save that they should repent of their iniquities; wherefore, they came unto me, and loosed the bands which were upon my wrists, and behold they had swollen exceedingly; and also mine ankles were much swollen, and great was the soreness thereof. Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.” (1 Nephi 18:15-16) Even though Nephi was miserable, broken down physically and mentally… he praised the Lord!

Laman and Lemuel had caused the entire family to be stricken with great affliction, but even with this, they would only soften their hearts if they knew they would be on the brink of destruction. The Lord knows each and every one of us, and He knows that sometimes we need horrible things to happen to us in order for us to wake up and hear his crying voice. Laman and Lemuel both had to be brought right up to the point of destruction in order to realize the power of God and repent of their actions.

Laman and Lemuel loose the bands of Nephi, and Nephi did take the compass; “…and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm….it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land.” (1 Nephi 18:22) The Lord wants us to be obedient and sometimes He has to use extreme measures in order for us to hear His voice and follow His command.

“…it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land… and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.” (1 Nephi 18:24) Because they hearkened unto the voice of the Lord they were delivered and did arrive in the Promised Land as the Lord had promised.  In the Land of Promise they did find; “…beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.” (1 Nephi 18:25)