Lesson 45: Jacob 3–4

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

In Jacob 3, we read the conclusion of a sermon that Jacob delivered to his people. Jacob briefly offered words of comfort and promise to the pure in heart. He also rebuked the proud and unchaste among his people, warning them of consequences that would come if they would not repent. Jacob 4 contains words that Jacob was inspired to write for the people who would someday read his record. He testified of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and exhorted his readers to reconcile themselves to God the Father through the Atonement. With a warning voice, he told of Jews who would reject Jesus Christ and the plainness of His gospel.

Suggestions for Teaching

Jacob 3

Jacob comforts and counsels the pure in heart and urges others to repent

Explain to students that sometimes individuals who are striving to obey God’s commandments suffer because of the poor choices of others. Read the following situations aloud, and ask students to ponder similar situations they may be aware of.

  1. 1.

    A young woman is striving to live righteously but suffers because her father is addicted to alcohol.

  2. 2.

    A young man does his best to live the gospel but experiences trials because of his parents’ divorce.

  3. 3.

    A young woman diligently tries to love her family but struggles at home because of her sister’s selfishness and inconsiderate actions.

Remind students that Jacob had been speaking directly to people who were guilty of pride and sexual sins. Then he turned his attention to righteous people who were experiencing trials because of the wickedness of others. As students study Jacob 3 today, invite them to look for truths that can help those who suffer because of the choices of other people.

Invite a student to read Jacob 3:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the counsel Jacob gave to the pure in heart who were suffering because of the wickedness of others.

  • What did Jacob exhort the pure in heart to do? (“Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith.”)

  • What did Jacob promise the pure in heart if they would do those things? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we look unto God with firmness of mind and pray with exceeding faith, He will console us in our afflictions. Invite students to consider marking the words in Jacob 3:1 that teach this principle.)

  • What does the word console mean? (To comfort someone who is sad or troubled.)

Remind students of the scenarios you presented at the beginning of the lesson.

  • How could looking to God with firmness of mind and praying to Him with exceeding faith help the individuals in these scenarios?

  • How has praying with faith helped you during a time of trial?

  • How has the Lord consoled you?

Invite students to read Jacob 3:2 silently, looking for additional counsel Jacob gave. Ask students to report what they find.

Explain that after speaking to the pure in heart, Jacob again spoke to those who were not pure in heart.

Invite a student to read Jacob 3:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to look for the warning Jacob gave to the impure Nephites.

  • What would happen if Jacob’s people did not repent?

Ask students to read Jacob 3:5–7 silently, looking for ways the Lamanites were more righteous than some of the Nephites.

  • In what ways were the Lamanites more righteous than some of the Nephites?

  • According to Jacob 3:5, how did some of the Nephites feel about the Lamanites?

Invite a student to read Jacob 3:9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for two reasons some of the Nephites reviled against the Lamanites. It may be helpful to explain that revile means to criticize in an angry or insulting manner.

  • Why did some of the Nephites revile against the Lamanites? (Because of the Lamanites’ filthiness and the darkness of the Lamanites’ skin.)

Explain that it is wrong to revile or look down upon someone because of the color of his or her skin. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement:

“God loves all of His children and makes salvation available to all. God created the many diverse races and ethnicities and esteems them all equally. As the Book of Mormon puts it, ‘all are alike unto God’ (2 Nephi 26:33)” (“Race and the Priesthood,” Gospel Topics, topics.lds.org).

Remind students that the Nephites also reviled against the Lamanites because of the Lamanites’ filthiness—meaning their sins.

  • According to verse 9, what did Jacob tell the Nephites to remember rather than the Lamanites’ filthiness?

Point out that by telling the Nephites to remember their own filthiness, Jacob was encouraging them to recognize and repent of their own sins.

  • What principle can we learn from Jacob’s words in verse 9? (Help students identify a principle similar to the following: Rather than criticizing others for their sins, we are to recognize and repent of our own sins.)

  • Why do you think this is an important principle to live by?

Ask students to read Jacob 3:10 silently, looking for the warning Jacob specifically gave to the Nephite fathers.

  • What warning did Jacob give the Nephite fathers?

Summarize Jacob 3:11–12 by explaining that Jacob told his people to wake up spiritually and warned them of the awful consequences of sexual sin.

Jacob 4

Jacob testifies that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be reconciled with God

To prepare students to study Jacob 4, ask them to describe different types of exercises they have done and how those exercises have helped them to strengthen their muscles.

  • How is the process of strengthening your muscles similar to the process of strengthening your faith in Jesus Christ? (Both require consistent effort on our part.)

Explain that in Jacob 4, Jacob recorded actions that can help us strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ. Jacob also warned of actions that diminish faith in the Savior.

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: We can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ by choosing to …

Divide the class into four groups. Ask one group to search Jacob 4:5, another group to search Jacob 4:6, a third group to search Jacob 4:10, and the final group to search Jacob 4:11. Invite each group to look in their assigned verse for something Jacob taught that can help us strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ. After sufficient time, ask a student from each group to report what his or her group found. Based on what students report, you could complete the statement on the board to convey the following principles:

  • We can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ by choosing to believe in Him and by worshipping the Father in His name. (See Jacob 4:5.)

  • We can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ by choosing to search the words of the prophets. (See Jacob 4:6.)

  • We can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ by choosing to take counsel from His hand. (See Jacob 4:10.)

  • We can strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ by choosing to be reconciled to God through the Atonement of Christ. (See Jacob 4:11.)

  • What do you think it means to “take counsel from [the Lord’s] hand” (verse 10)?

  • What does it mean to be reconciled to God? (If necessary, explain that the word reconcile means to bring into harmony. We are brought into harmony with God through the Atonement of Christ as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, receive the ordinances of the gospel, and keep our covenants.)

Remind students that Jacob recorded his testimony of Jesus Christ more than 400 years before the Savior was born on the earth. Ask a student to read Jacob 4:13 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for how Jacob and other prophets were able to know of the coming of Jesus Christ and other events that would occur in the future.

  • How were Jacob and other prophets able to know of the coming of Jesus Christ and other events that would occur in the future?

Ask a student to read Jacob 4:14 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for the actions of many of the ancient Jews that indicate they lacked faith in Jesus Christ.

  • What actions of many of the ancient Jews indicate they lacked faith in Jesus Christ?

Explain that verse 14 includes the phrase “looking beyond the mark.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that in this verse, “the mark is Christ” (“Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King,” Ensign, Dec. 2007, 45). You may want to invite students to consider writing this statement in their scriptures next to Jacob 4:14.

  • What do you think it might mean to look beyond the mark? (To center our lives on anything other than the Savior and His gospel.)

  • What principle can we learn from Jacob 4:14 about the consequences of centering our lives on anything other than the Savior and His gospel? (Help students identify the following principle: If we center our lives on anything other than the Savior and His gospel, then we will become blind to the truth and we will stumble and fall spiritually.)

Invite a student to come to the board to write students’ responses to the following question:

  • What are some examples of things someone might center his or her life on other than Jesus Christ and His gospel?

After students have created a list, ask:

  • What are some things you have done to make Jesus Christ and His gospel higher priorities over these things? How has doing that strengthened your faith in Christ?

Summarize Jacob 4:15–18 by explaining that Jacob prophesied that the Jews would reject Jesus Christ. Jacob also wrote that he would explain how the Jews would eventually be able to receive the blessings of the gospel. These verses provide an introduction to the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, which is recorded in Jacob 5.

Testify that students can strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ by focusing their lives on Him and on the truths of His gospel.

To conclude the lesson, ask students to consider what they will do to focus on the Savior throughout the next few days. You may want to suggest that they write their plans in their study journals. Consider inviting a few of them to tell the class what they plan to do.

Commentary and Background Information

Jacob 4:4. Old Testament prophets testified of Jesus Christ

More than 400 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Jacob said that all the prophets before him had testified of the Savior (see Jacob 4:4). Some may wonder why the Old Testament does not contain more about Jesus Christ. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles quoted Nephi’s explanation about “plain and precious things” being “taken away” from the Bible (see 1 Nephi 13:26–29) and then observed:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Surely the most plain and precious of all truths lost from the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, are the clear and unequivocal declarations of the mission of Jesus Christ, his foreordained role as Messiah and Savior of the world, and the covenantal elements of his gospel, which have been taught from Adam down through each succeeding dispensation. Thus the Book of Mormon’s highest purpose is to restore to the universal family of God that crucial knowledge of Christ’s role in the salvation of every man, woman, and child who now lives, has ever lived, or will yet live upon the earth” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 6–7).

Jacob 4:5. Worship the Father in the name of Jesus Christ

Jacob’s writings provide an important insight into the law of Moses and the Old Testament. In Jacob 4:5, we learn that prophets prior to Jacob’s time worshipped Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, showing that they knew of the Father and the Son as distinct individuals. Jacob’s words indicate that the law of Moses was far more than simply a set of strict commandments and legal codes, as some modern scholars claim. The law of Moses testified of Jesus Christ and led the righteous to sanctification through His Atonement.

Jacob 4:10. “Take counsel from his hand”

President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988) of the First Presidency explained the importance of knowing and following the Lord’s counsel:

President Marion G. Romney

“I do not think that many members of the Church consciously [follow] the persuasions of men or their own counsel instead of heeding the Lord’s. However, when we do not keep ourselves advised as to what the counsel of the Lord is, we are prone to substitute our own counsel for His. As a matter of fact, there is nothing else we can do but follow our own counsel when we do not know the Lord’s instructions” (Marion G. Romney, “Seek Not to Counsel the Lord,” Ensign, Aug. 1985, 5).