Book of Mormon Lesson 07 (2 Nephi 6–10)
THE TEACHINGS OF JACOB
In this portion of the Book of Mormon, Nephi recorded inspiring teachings of his brother Jacob, who had been ordained a priesthood leader among the Nephites.
The Prophecies of Isaiah
● Jacob read from the writings of Isaiah and explained them to the people, adding details of visions he had received from the Lord (2 Nephi 6:1–9).
—The return of the people of Judah to Jerusalem.
—The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
—His rejection and crucifixion at the hands of the Jews.
—The scattering of Israel throughout the world.
—The latter-day gathering of Israel.
—The destruction of the wicked who reject the Savior.
—The deliverance and protection of the righteous.
Redemption from Death
Jacob explained temporal and spiritual death (2 Nephi 9:4–9).
● Temporal death is the death of the physical body and the separation of the spirit from the physical body. As a result of the Fall of Adam, all people will temporarily die physically.
● Jacob used the following words and phrases for temporal death:
— “death” (v. 6).
— “the death of the body” (v.10).
— “the grave” (v.11).
● Spiritual death is separation from the presence of God. We are all separated from God as a result of the Fall of Adam. We further separate ourselves from God when we sin (Romans 3:23; Alma 12:16; Helaman 14:18).
● Jacob used the following words and phrases for spiritual death:
— “cut off from the presence of the Lord” (v. 6).
— shut out from the presence of our God” (v. 9″).
— “the death of the spirit” (v.10).
— “spiritual death” (v.12).
— “hell” (v.12).
— “death” (v.39).
● The Savior has provided redemption from both deaths (2 Nephi 9:10–12). Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said, “The atonement of Jesus Christ is of a twofold nature. Because of it, all men are redeemed from mortal death and the grave, and will rise in the resurrection to immortality of the soul. Then again, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, man will receive remission of individual sins, through the blood of Christ, and will inherit exaltation in the kingdom of God, which is eternal life.”1
What If There Had Been No Atonement?
— Because all men sin in this life (Romans 3:23), and
— Because no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God (Moses 6:57),
— When we die our spirits would thus be in a state of uncleanness forever.
— This would put us under the power and dominion of Satan.
— “Our spirits must have become like . . . him.” (2 Nephi 9:9.).
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said:
” The fall brought death. That is not a desirable condition. We do not want to be banished from the presence of God. We do not want to be subject forever to mortal conditions. We do not want to die and have our bodies turn to dust, and the spirits that possess these bodies by right, turned over to the realm of Satan and become subject to him.
“But that was the condition; and if Christ had not come as the atoning sacrifice, in demand of the law of justice, to repair or to atone or to redeem us from the condition that Adam found himself in, and that we find ourselves in; then mortal death would have come; the body would have gone back to the dust from where it came; the spirit would have gone into the realms of Satan’s domain, and have been subject to him forever.”2
The Blessings of the Atonement
Atonement involves reconciliation for sin—paying for an offense to satisfy justice.
● Through the atonement, the bonds of both spiritual and temporal death were broken:
— Resurrection frees us from physical death (separation of body and spirit). This free gift will be given to every person ever born upon this earth regardless of their righteousness of sins. We commemorate this gift when we partake of the sacrament bread each week in Church.
— Christ’s atonement frees us from spiritual death (being cut off from God’s presence) because he satisfied the demands of justice for our sins. (1 Corinthians 6:20, 2 Corinthians 7:23, 2 Nephi 9:50). This forgiveness is conditional. It requires our repentance and our faith in Christ. We commemorate this gift when we partake of the water each week in Church.
What We must Do to Be “Saved in the Kingdom of God”
● Believe in Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel, and come unto Him (2 Nephi 9:18, 41). Faith in Jesus Christ is essential because He is the only one who has paid the price for our sins, and therefore we can obtain forgiveness only through Him.
● Endure crosses of the world and despise the shame of the world (2 Nephi 9:18). To endure the crosses of the world means to bear faithfully whatever burdens life may place upon us (Matthew 16:24, footnote 24d; 3 Nephi 12:29–30). To despise the shame of the world means to ignore the derision that comes from ungodly voices (2 Nephi 9:49).
● Hearken to the voice of the Lord (2 Nephi 9:21). We hearken to the voice of the Lord when we obey every word that proceeds forth from His mouth, in the scriptures and from his servants (D&C 1:38; 18:33–36; 88:66).
● Repent, be baptized, and endure to the end (2 Nephi 9:23–24).
● Be spiritually minded (2 Nephi 9:39; Romans 8:5–8). To be spiritually minded means to apply a righteous spiritual standard to all out thoughts, words, and deeds. To be carnally minded is to apply a worldly standard to these same thoughts, words and deeds. This leads to spiritual death.
● Jacob explained the relationship between law and God’s justice on one hand and his mercy on the other (2 Nephi 9:25–26). Both justice and mercy must be satisfied, and the only way this is possible is through the atonement of Jesus Christ. He satisfies the demands of justice, and then, in mercy He forgives us of our sins on condition of repentance and faith.
Barriers to Our Redemption
● Transgressing commandments and wasting the days of our probation (2 Nephi 9:27).
● Placing learning, money, and other idols above God (2 Nephi 9:28–30, 37).
● Being spiritually deaf and blind (2 Nephi 9:31–32).
● Being “uncircumcised of heart” (2 Nephi 9:33). In ancient Israel, being circumcision was a sign of willingness to make a covenant with God to be set apart from the world by righteousness (Genesis 17:11, 14).
● Lying and committing murders and whoredoms (2 Nephi 9:34–36).
● Being carnally minded—focused on selfish pleasures (2 Nephi 9:37–39).
An Invitation to Come unto Christ
● Christ is the keeper of the gate to eternal life (2 Nephi 9:39–41, 45). There is no other person nor way we will obtain exaltation.
● “Feast upon that which perisheth not” (2 Nephi 9:50–52).
● Remember the words of God.
● Pray continually and give thanks.
President Heber J. Grant said, “Of those to whom much is given, much is expected. As we grow and increase in knowledge and in testimony of the Spirit of God, we must also grow and increase in labor and effort for the advancement of the work [of] God or we will lose the Spirit of God. It is not a knowledge that God lives that will save us, it is keeping the commandments of God.”3
GOD REMEMBERS AND KEEPS HIS COVENANTS
● Jacob prophesied that the Nephites’ descendants would “perish in the flesh because of unbelief” and that the Jews in Jerusalem would crucify the Savior and be scattered because of their sins (2 Nephi 10:2–6).
● Despite this, the Lord will not forget his covenants with Israel and will restore them again to their lands and covenants (2 Nephi 10:7–9). We are engaged in that very work today as we “hasten [His] work” of salvation around the world (D&C 88:73).
President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The responsibility of the seed of Abraham, which we are, is to be missionaries to `bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations’ (Abraham 2:9). Moses bestowed upon Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple the keys to gather Israel (D&C 110:11). Now, what is the instrument that God has designed for this gathering? It is the same instrument that is designed to convince the world that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is His prophet, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. It is that scripture which is the keystone of our religion.”4
● The promise of the covenant is still in effect for those who accept the Lord and do his will (2 Nephi 10:10–17). Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “The discouraging idea that a mistake (or even a series of them) makes it everlastingly too late, does not come from the Lord. He has said that if we will repent, not only will He forgive us our transgressions, but He will forget them and remember our sins no more (Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17; Alma 36:19; D&C 58:42).”5
● Jacob’s concluding summary (2 Nephi 10:20–25). We should “cheer up [our] hearts” because the Lord remembers His covenant people.
● Our Need for a Savior.6 Elder Jeffrey R. Holland told the story of a rock climber who was hanging precariously from a steep canyon ledge, with nothing to keep him from falling to his death. Just as his grip began slipping on the sandy surface of the ledge, he felt his younger brother’s hands grasp his wrists and pull him to safety. Elder Holland compared the climber’s experience to our condition in this fallen world:
“There was an actual Adam and Eve who fell from an actual Eden, with all the consequences that fall carried with it. . . . Because we were then born into that fallen world and because we too would transgress the laws of God, we also were sentenced to the same penalties that Adam and Eve faced.
“What a plight! The entire human race in free fall—every man, woman, and child in it physically tumbling toward permanent death, spiritually plunging toward eternal anguish. Is that what life was meant to be? Is this the grand finale of the human experience? Are we all just hanging in a cold canyon somewhere in an indifferent universe, each of us searching for a toehold, each of us seeking for something to grip— with nothing but the feeling of sand sliding under our fingers, nothing to save us, nothing to hold on to, much less anything to hold on to us?. . .
“The answer to those questions is an unequivocal and eternal no! . . . [The] Atonement would achieve complete victory over physical death, unconditionally granting resurrection to every person who has been born or ever will be born into this world. Mercifully it would also provide forgiveness for the personal sins of all, from Adam to the end of the world, conditioned upon repentance and obedience to divine commandments.”7
● In the Garden, Satan sought to “destroy the world” (Moses 4:5–6). “His two-part strategy was as follows:
“1. Get Adam to fall Causing our bodies to die and separating our spirits from God’s presence.
“2. Get Christ to fail Making our redemption from the Fall impossible.
“Satan achieved his first step by tempting Eve and, through her, Adam to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. He knew this would introduce mortality—the ability to die physically. He also knew that they would be cast out of the garden and therefore would be separated from God’s presence.
“Part two of the strategy would have to wait until the meridian of time when our Lord Jehovah came to earth to make His eternal sacrifice. It had to be a perfect and spotless offering to satisfy the demands of justice; there could be no evil in the Christ. If he could have gotten Jesus to sin in any way, or if he could dissuade Him from making His sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane, then Satan’s strategy would have worked. We would have all become subject to him, which is what he wanted from the beginning.
“Thankfully, our Lord did not fail us. He remarked on the last night of His mortal life that He was going into the garden to meet the “prince of this world” (Satan), who, as a result of what Jesus was about to do, would have “nothing in me” (John 14:30). Once an appropriate atonement had been made, Satan’s strategy would fail. Forever. He is now defeated and he knows it. But he is so full of hatred that he continues the battle, hoping to snare as many as possible to suffer with him.”8
1. Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:123.
2. Doctrines of Salvation, 1:122.
3. Millennial Star, 22 Nov. 1896, 133.
4. In Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 107–8; or Ensign, May 1987, 85.
5. In Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 72; or Ensign, May 1989, 59.
6. Copied from Come, Follow Me—for Sunday School, Book of Mormon 2020, February 10–16, 2 Nephi 6–10, “O How Great the Plan of Our God,” 22.
7. “Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 105–6.
8. Dr. Randal S. Chase, Making Precious Things Plain, Vol. 7, Old Testament Study Guide, Pt. 1, Chapter 4, “The Fall of Adam and Eve,” 59–60.