Come, Follow Me: February 10 — 16
After Lehi’s family had been in the Americas for about 40 years, we see Jacob filling his calling as a priest and teacher to the Nephites. Jacob had been receiving revelation for many years in preparation for his calling and had seen the Savior in his youth. Jacob had already taught his people “many things.” He had been consecrated to his calling by his brother, Nephi.
Jacob has had some anxiety for his people and refers to Isaiah for words that might help them keep the commandments of God.
Likening the scriptures to ourselves (2 Nephi 6):
Jacob is trying to get the Nephites to liken the scriptures to themselves. Isaiah spoke much about the scattering and gathering of Israel, and the Nephites are a branch broken off from Israel. In verses 6 and 7 Jacob repeats Isaiah’s prophecy that Israel would be carried by nations and their leaders to regather in the land of their inheritance. This would happen leading up to the year that the U.N. voted to give nationhood to Israel in 1948. The Nephites felt like exiles and needed the hope of a regathering.
Beginning in verse 8, Jacob relates how the Lord has shown him that Jerusalem has been destroyed, her inhabitants slain or carried away into Babylon. The Nephites have to accept this information on faith. Finally, years later, when they discover the Mulekites, they can receive the testimony handed down by those who witnessed it.
The Lord has also shown Jacob (verse 9) that the Jews would return from Babylon. Jacob also sees the life of Christ, His ministry and crucifixion. Jacob sees that the Jews would be scattered, smitten, hated, and afflicted. In the future, when they begin to believe in the Savior, they would be regathered.
In verse 12, Jacob says the Gentiles would be blessed if they don’t fight against Zion, but repent and accept the true gospel, and if they don’t become part of the “great and abominable church.” Jacob goes on to say that the Messiah will attempt for the second time to recover the Jews. In the end, those who are His sincere followers will survive His coming, while the wicked will be destroyed.
In verse 15, Jacob says that those who are destroyed will come to “know that the Lord is God, the Holy One of Israel.” How is this comforting to the faithful, that the wicked will see the truth they rebelled against?
Jacob teaches from Isaiah 50 (2 Nephi 7):
All of the chapters of Isaiah chosen by Nephi and Mormon to include in the Book of Mormon have to do with the regathering of Israel. There are two main reasons: First, it was a comfort for the Nephites who missed their homeland and considered themselves wanderers and exiles; and second, the purpose of the Book of Mormon is to regather Israel, save whomever among the Gentiles will believe, and to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ.
In Isaiah 50, God explains that He has not rejected Israel, but Israel has left Him. When He redeems them, they will vanquish their enemies.
Jacob teaches from Isaiah 51 and 52 (2 Nephi 8):
Jacob teaches that we should look to our ancient fathers who were valiant in their faith. We are inheritors of the covenants they made with God and the blessings that spring from those covenants (verses 1, 2). The Lord will comfort Zion and make her bloom and prosper (verse 3). Her people will be filled with joy.
The verbs ‘hearken,’ ‘lift,’ and ‘awake’ are the first words in some of these verses from Isaiah. Joseph Smith received the gold plates on the Jewish high holy day of Rosh HaShanah—the Feast of Trumpets. The message of the holiday is to awake, arise, and gather because the righteous are about to separated from the wicked. How is the coming forth of the Book of Mormon related to these ideas? Read more about it in this article.
In verse 6 Isaiah talks about how everything will pass away but the salvation and righteousness of the Lord are eternal. Why does everything on earth seem lasting to us? Why do we invest in temporary things that decay and rust instead of eternal things?
In verse 7, we are counseled not to fear “the reproach of men” because they are so temporary. Why is this difficult counsel to follow?
In verse 11, we see the regathering again. It is full of rejoicing! The Lord promises the time will come and the wicked will be vanquished. Those who fear the wicked and bow to them are forgetting the Lord their God. What does it mean that fear and faith cannot exist together?
In verses 18 – 20 , Isaiah brings up the prophecy about 2 prophets who will protect Jerusalem during the War of Armageddon. Other verses of scripture talk about these two— Revelation 11:3 –12 and Section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Jacob explains the atonement and judgment (2 Nephi 9):
Jacob summarizes the reason why he teaches from Isaiah in verses 2 and 3—”…they shall beto the true church and fold of God; when they shall be home to the of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise. Behold, my beloved brethren, I speak unto you these things that ye may rejoice, and your heads forever…”
In verse 4, Jacob begins to them a hope greater than a future restoration to their homeland. He begins to teach about the resurrection: even though when we die our bodies decay back into the earth, in our bodies we shall see God. Jacob explains the Fall as part of God’s plan and the atonement of Christ as the guarantee of resurrection and triumph over death.
Verses 9 and 10 are difficult to understand. Without the resurrection, if we remain as spirits, why would we then be subject unto Satan? You might need some extra resources to discuss this. Here are a couple:
In verses 11 and 12, Jacob discusses temporal and spiritual death. What are they? How does the atonement overcome the first and prepare a way for the overcoming of the second?
In verse 14, Jacob says we will eventually have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt. How will that happen? He says that the righteous will gain a perfect knowledge of their righteousness. How might a righteous person not see his own righteousness while he is in mortality?
After we are resurrected, we will be judged. For those who are truly wicked, why will their suffering be like a lake of fire and brimstone? Most Christians take this literally and visualize the wicked in a fire that lasts forever. But the term “Outer Darkness” for the Sons of Perdition does not sound like a place of flames, but a complete absence of light, far away from the radiance of God. How can guilt be like a fiery furnace? How can the separation from The One we love most be like torture?
In verse 21, Jacob says God wants to save everyone. The ones who refuse are the ones who are not exalted in eternity. In verse 23, Jacob says we must repent of our sins, be baptized, and endure to the end to regain the presence of God.
In verse 25, Jacob discusses the fact that if there is no law, there is no punishment. Many other Christian faiths do not believe this. They believe that if you never learn of Christ during mortality, you go to hell. They feel the evidence of Him is strong enough that you should have figured it out. Our belief that those who never learned of Christ in mortality will have a chance in the Spirit World is the most inclusive view of the afterlife. Have you ever been punished for breaking a law you didn’t know about? How did it feel?
In verse 27, Jacob condemns those who have a thorough understand of the laws of God but willfully reject them. Where do we see this happening in the Book of Mormon? What are the results?
In verse 28, Jacob talks about men who are learned who think they are wise. A few years ago, Brandon Flowers, a Latter-day Saint and the lead singer of the band, The Killers, was invited on a talk show in Europe. To his surprise, the invitation was a setup. The producers had invited an atheistic scholar to come on and shred Flowers’ religious beliefs. Why is this typical of the world we live in?
In verse 30, Jacob condemns the rich who care not for the poor. What kinds of things do you see in society today where this happens? Jacob then lists the sins that can condemn us before the Lord and warns his people very frankly. Then in verse 44, he says, “…Behold, I take off my garments, and I shake them before you; I pray the God of my salvation that he view me with hiseye; wherefore, ye shall know at the last day, when all men shall be judged of their works, that the God of Israel did witness that I your iniquities from my soul, and that I stand with brightness before him, and am of your blood.” What does Jacob mean? Why does he do this?
Jacob prophesies of Christ by name (2 Nephi 10):
We now have Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob who have been shown views of the future that are unpleasant and discouraging in many ways, but joyful in others. In Chapter 10 of 2 Nephi, Jacob begins by talking about the righteous branch of Israel that has been broken off and is located far from the Holy Land.
In verse 2, Jacob talks about seeing in vision that many of his descendants will be destroyed because of unrighteousness. But he is encouraged that God will try to redeem the souls of many with the coming forth of the record the Nephites are keeping.
In verse 3, Jacob says that as recently as the night before this sermon, an angel told him about the Messiah and gave him His name—Christ. In verse 3, Jacob also says that Christ will come among the Jews and they will crucify Him: “…there is none other nation on earth that wouldtheir .” Remember that all other nations on earth (except breakoffs from Israel, such as the Lost Tribes) were pagan. What would have happened if Jesus had performed His miracles in Greece, where they acknowledged an “unknown God” in addition to their many others. Can you imagine them saying, “Wow, you’re a God! We’ll build a temple in your honor next to the temple of Zeus”? Jesus would have been no threat to their priestly class.
This statement by Jacob does not mean the Jews were the most wicked society on earth. Far from it. What it does mean is that the Jewish leaders were the most threatened by the teachings of Jesus. How were His teachings and miracles threatening to them? This would make a great discussion.
But then Jacob says in verse 4, “For should the mightybe wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God.” Think about the story of Jonah and how the pagan peoples of Nineveh repented. Why might the Jews dig in their heels and stiffen their necks at Jesus’ teachings while pagan societies soften and repent?
In verse 6, Jacob talks about the punishments God would inflict upon the Jews. What does it mean to sin against knowledge? How is that the case here?
Beginning in verse 7, Jacob talks about how the Jews would be physically regathered. Right now the population of Israel is about 8.7 million people, most of whom are Jews. At the beginning of 2018 there were about 14.5 million Jews in the world. Zionism, the idea that Jews should return to Israel as their ancestral homeland, began in the late 1800s and immigration has proceeded in waves ever since.
Jacob says the Americas would be a blessed land for the Gentiles, a land of liberty as long as the inhabitants are righteous. In verse 16, God condemns anyone who fights against Zion, whether Jew or Gentile.
In verse 22, Jacob says, “For behold, the Lord God hasfrom time to time the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure. And now behold, the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off, wherefore he remembereth us also.” He mentions the “isles of the sea,” and it seems like the Nephites felt like they were on an isle of the sea. We have no idea how many branches of Israel have been broken off and whether they have kept records or been led by prophets. We know of the Lost Tribes, whom Jesus visited after He taught the Nephites, but there may be others.
We do expect the “return” of the Lost Tribes as prophesied in the Bible. They will have records which Latter-day Saints will be excited to have. What will other Christian churches do when more scriptures are presented to them? It will be interesting to find out.