Last Sunday in Gospel Doctrine, we discussed Jacob chapters 1-3 in the Book of Mormon. I noticed that Jacob says that his sermon in chapters 2-3 was given “in the temple” (1:17). I looked through the sermon to see if perhaps that setting influenced the content of his message. Jackpot.
Consider just the broadest outline of the address. Jacob begins his sermon by telling the people that he was fulfilling his duty as a servant of the Lord (the “all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth,” he takes pains to note from the start, in 2:4) by bringing them an authorized message (2:2-11, especially verse 11).
The first major doctrinal topic that Jacob broaches, in 2:12-22, is the necessity of giving up our worldly gain and selfish desires for the good of others and the work of the Church. Look at some of the Topical Guide subjects listed in those verses: almsgiving, generosity, welfare, worldliness, good works. Jacob ties these themes of sacrifice in to a general command to obey the commandments (2:21), and, being the Book of Mormon, warns against pride.
Next he teaches them the importance of complete chastity (2:23-35). Then he moves on to teach them the need for purity in their words and behavior towards each other and towards God (3:3-10). Most notably here, he says that the Nephites should not “revile” against the Lamanites, meaning not to use inappropriate speech towards them.
Towards the end of his sermon, Jacob warns the people that this path of discipleship is the way to avoid becoming “angels to the devil” (3:11).
And throughout the whole experience–indeed, standing as quiet supports in the background–are a series of oblique but repeated references to the love of God and His plan to save those who love Him:
- “that I might rid my garments of your sins” 2:2
- “the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul” 2:8
- “I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm” 2:25
But perhaps the best example of this more subtle but most important theme of all is this, in 3:1-2:
But 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.
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.