Lesson 43: Jacob 1:1–2:11

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

After Nephi’s death, the Nephites began to “indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices” under the reign of a new king (Jacob 1:15). Jacob and his brother Joseph had been consecrated by Nephi as priests and teachers of the people, and they diligently labored to persuade the people to repent and come unto Christ. Jacob obeyed Nephi’s commandment to record sacred teachings, revelations, and prophecies on the small plates.

Suggestions for Teaching

Jacob 1:1–8

Jacob records sacred truths and labors to help others come unto Jesus Christ

Ask students to imagine that they know a young man whose bishop has counseled him to repent and make a change in his life. The bishop has warned the young man of consequences he may suffer if he continues to commit a particular sin. This young man says that his bishop is too old to understand the way things are today and that the bishop should not interfere with his life or try to control his choices.

  • Do you think this young man understands the role of bishops and other leaders in the Church? Why or why not?

As students study Jacob 1:1–2:11 today, invite them to look for truths Jacob taught about the role of priesthood leaders in the Church.

Explain that Nephi had consecrated his younger brothers Jacob and Joseph as priests and teachers of the people (see 2 Nephi 5:26; Jacob 1:18). Summarize Jacob 1:1–3 by explaining that as Nephi neared the end of his life, he gave Jacob charge over the small plates, which contained the spiritual record of their people.

Invite students to read Jacob 1:4 silently. Ask them to look for what Nephi commanded Jacob to record on the plates, and why. After students have had enough time to read, invite a few of them to tell the class what they have found.

If students do not mention it, point out the last phrase of Jacob 1:4—“for the sake of our people.”

  • What does the phrase “for the sake of our people” mean? (For their benefit.)

Invite a student to read Jacob 1:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to identify what the Lord revealed to Jacob that would help him teach his people. (You may want to explain that “great anxiety” refers to his deep concern for the people.)

  • What did the Lord reveal to Jacob? (He showed him what would happen to the Nephites in the future, and He revealed details about the coming of Christ.)

  • How might knowing these things have helped Jacob in teaching his people?

Explain that in Jacob 1:7–8 we read what Jacob did to help his people. Invite a student to read Jacob 1:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for any words or phrases in these verses that they do not understand.

Invite students to point out phrases in verses 7–8 that they would like to understand better. As students point out these phrases, ask if other students can help explain them. In this discussion, the following definitions may be helpful:

“Come unto Christ”

To come unto Christ, a person “must have faith in Him unto repentance—making the necessary changes to bring their life into agreement with His teachings” (Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service [2004], 2).

“Partake of the goodness of God”

This phrase is an invitation to receive God’s blessings through obedience to the commandments and ordinances of the gospel.

“Enter into his rest”

Entering into the rest of the Lord means enjoying peace in this life and receiving “the fulness of [God’s] glory” in the next life (D&C 84:24).

“Provocation in the days of temptation”

This phrase refers to the ancient Israelites provoking God’s anger by rebelling against Him in the wilderness (see Hebrews 3:8–9; D&C 84:23–24).

“View [Christ’s] death”

One definition of view is to look at or examine attentively. When Jacob wrote that he wanted to persuade people to “believe in Christ, and view his death,” he may have meant that he wanted them to examine the Atonement of Jesus Christ attentively, realize its importance, and gain a personal testimony of it.

“Suffer his cross”

This phrase refers to our willingness to deny ourselves of ungodliness and worldly lusts and to keep the Lord’s commandments (see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 16:26 [in Matthew 16:24, footnote e]; Luke 9:23; 2 Nephi 9:18). It also refers to our willingness to endure and sacrifice as we follow the Savior.

“Bear the shame of the world”

This phrase refers to keeping the commandments despite the worldly pressure, humiliation, and opposition that often come to disciples of Jesus Christ.

Point out that Jacob’s description in verse 7 of what he did for his people can help us understand what priesthood leaders do today.

  • What does verse 7 teach us about what priesthood leaders do? (Help students identify the following truth: Priesthood leaders labor diligently to persuade us to come unto Christ and partake of the goodness of God. Write this truth on the board.)

  • According to verse 7, what will happen if we come unto Jesus Christ and partake of the goodness of God? (Students may identify a principle such as the following: If we come unto Christ and partake of the goodness of God, then we will enter into God’s rest. Write this truth on the board.)

Remind students that God’s rest includes the peace we receive from Him in this life.

  • What are some examples of how we can experience peace as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and live according to His teachings?

Jacob 1:9–2:11

Jacob warns the people about their wickedness

Explain that Nephi anointed a new king over his people shortly before his death. After the death of Nephi, the people began to indulge in certain wicked practices. Invite students to read Jacob 1:15–16 silently. Ask them to look for behaviors that concerned Jacob.

  • What behaviors among the Nephites concerned Jacob?

  • If you had been in Jacob’s position, why might you have been concerned about these behaviors?

Invite a student to read Jacob 1:17–19 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Jacob and Joseph did to fulfill their responsibility as priesthood leaders.

  • What did Jacob and Joseph do to fulfill their responsibility as priesthood leaders?

  • What do you think it means to obtain an “errand from the Lord” (Jacob 1:17)? (To learn what the Lord would have us do.)

  • According to verse 19, what errand did Jacob and Joseph receive from the Lord? (To “teach [the people] the word of God with all diligence” and to warn against sin. After students respond, write the following truth on the board: Priesthood leaders have a divinely given responsibility to teach the word of God and warn against sin.)

To help students understand this principle, ask the following questions:

  • Why is it important to understand that Church leaders seek to teach us what the Lord wants us to know? How might keeping this in mind influence our attitude when we listen to them teach?

  • Why is it a blessing to have Church leaders who warn us of sinful attitudes and behaviors?

  • What did Jacob say would be the consequences if he and Joseph did not perform their responsibilities? (You may want to explain that the phrase “their blood would come upon our garments” [verse 19] means that Jacob and Joseph would be partially responsible for the sins of the people if they did not perform their responsibilities.)

Ask students to think about how they would feel if, like Jacob, they were in a leadership position and were inspired to call people to repentance for immorality, worldliness, and pride.

Divide the class into pairs. Invite the partners to take turns reading to each other from Jacob 2:2–3, 6–7, 9–11. Ask them to look for phrases that indicate Jacob’s feelings about his task of calling the people to repentance. You may want to invite students to consider marking what they find. After sufficient time, invite several students to report their findings to the class.

  • What do these phrases indicate about Jacob’s feelings toward calling his people to repentance?

  • Why do you think Jacob performed his duty to call his people to repentance even though it was so difficult for him? (Make sure students understand that although Jacob found this responsibility difficult, he carried it out because he cared about the people and he wanted to obey God’s commands.)

Review the truths listed on the board. Invite a student to read aloud the scenario presented at the beginning of the lesson about a young man who was defensive when his bishop counseled him to repent and make a change in his life.

  • How might the truths we have discussed today help the young man understand why his bishop was inviting him to change?

  • When has a Church leader blessed your life by encouraging you to live righteously? (Remind students to not share anything too personal or private.)

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or study journals about (1) what Church leaders have taught them recently and how they can apply it in their lives or (2) how they can apply what they have learned today in their callings and other church responsibilities. (You may want to write these instructions on the board.)

Consider sharing your testimony of the truths taught in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Jacob 1:18. “Consecrated priests and teachers”

President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) explained the meaning of the phrase “priests and teachers” in Jacob 1:18:

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“The Nephites officiated by virtue of the Melchizedek Priesthood from the days of Lehi to the days of the appearance of our Savior among them. It is true that Nephi ‘consecrated Jacob and Joseph’ that they should be priests and teachers over the land of the Nephites, but the fact that plural terms priests and teachers were used indicates that this was not a reference to the definite office in the priesthood in either case, but it was a general assignment to teach, direct, and admonish the people” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. [1957], 1:124).

Jacob 1:19. “We did magnify our office unto the Lord”

President Thomas S. Monson explained what it means to magnify a calling:

President Thomas S. Monson

“What does it mean to magnify a calling? It means to build it up in dignity and importance, to make it honorable and commendable in the eyes of all men, to enlarge and strengthen it, to let the light of heaven shine through it to the view of other men.

“And how does one magnify a calling? Simply by performing the service that pertains to it” (Thomas S. Monson, “The Sacred Call of Service,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 54).

Jacob 1:19; 2:2. “Answering the sins of the people upon our own heads”

Those who have leadership duties in the Church bear a sobering responsibility. Jacob taught that when leaders neglect to teach the word of God to those whom they are called to lead, they become partly responsible for the people’s sins. When speaking to the brethren of the priesthood, President John Taylor (1808–1887) elaborated on the responsibility Jacob described:

President John Taylor

“If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor [2001], 164).

Jacob 2:8. The “word of God … healeth the wounded soul”

When new information is confusing or bothersome to gospel learners, it is better for them to seek answers from God, who knows all things, than to conduct a general search on the internet or turn to anti-Mormon material. Going directly to God for answers shows our faith in Him and allows us to receive answers through the Holy Ghost. We should also turn to the scriptures and the words of latter-day apostles and prophets, which can answer difficult questions and heal wounds. The following scriptures teach us where we should turn and what we should do when we have challenging questions or concerns:

  • Jacob 2:8—The “word of God … healeth the wounded soul.”

  • James 1:5–6—“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, … and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith.”

  • Moroni 10:5—“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

video iconJacob 1:7–8. Video presentation—“Strengthen Thy Brethren”

To help students understand and feel the importance of the truth that priesthood leaders labor diligently to persuade us to come unto Christ and partake of the goodness of God, consider showing the first part of Elder Mervyn B. Arnold’s talk “Strengthen Thy Brethren” (stop the video at time code 2:49). This video is available on LDS.org. Before showing the video, invite students to listen for how the priesthood leader described in the video labored diligently to help a young man in his ward come unto Christ.

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Jacob 1:17–19. Responsibilities of priesthood leaders

To help students further understand the principle that priesthood leaders have a divinely given responsibility to teach the word of God and warn against sin, you could invite a student to read aloud the following account given by President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

President Boyd K. Packer

“The other day I received a letter of apology, as I have on many occasions. It came from someone I do not know. This letter told how resentful and angry that member had been for a long period of time toward me because of a talk I had given. It was a request for forgiveness.

“I am quick to forgive. I am only an agent both in giving the talk and in extending forgiveness.

“… It is so easy to resist the teaching and resent the teacher. That has been the lot of the prophets and apostles from the beginning. …

“Typically those letters of apology say, ‘I could not understand why you felt the need to make me feel so uncomfortable and so guilty.’ Then, out of their struggle, there emerges an insight, an inspiration, an understanding of causes and effects. Finally they come to see and understand why the gospel is as it is” (Boyd K. Packer, “Teach the Children,” Ensign, Feb. 2000, 15–16).

  • How do you think we can avoid being offended when priesthood leaders preach against sin?