Lesson 48

Jacob 7

“Lesson 48: Jacob 7,” Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2017)


Introduction

Jacob relied on the Lord and on his unshakable testimony to overcome the false ideas and arguments of Sherem, an anti-Christ. When Sherem demanded a sign that would prove Jacob’s words, he was smitten by God. Jacob concluded his record and entrusted the small plates to his son Enos.

Suggestions for Teaching

Jacob 7:1–14

Jacob relies on the Lord as he faces Sherem, an anti-Christ

Before class, write on the board the following statement by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (quoted from “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 72):

“One of mortality’s great tests comes when our beliefs are questioned or criticized” (Elder Robert D. Hales).

Point out that individuals may question or challenge our beliefs in person or through the internet or other media.

Ask students to think of a time when someone questioned or criticized their beliefs. Invite several of them to share how they felt when that happened. You may also want to briefly share an experience from your life.

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: We can overcome challenges to our faith by …

As students study Jacob 7 today, invite them to look for principles that can help them know how to overcome challenges to their faith. (The incomplete statement on the board will help students identify several principles recorded in Jacob 7:1–14.)

Explain that Jacob 7 recounts Jacob’s experience with a man named Sherem.

Invite a student to read Jacob 7:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Sherem sought to do.

  • What did Sherem seek to do?

  • What effect did Sherem have on the people?

  • According to verse 4, why was Sherem able to lead away the hearts of many Nephites? (You may want to explain that flattery is praise given to gain favor or influence.)

  • Why is it sometimes difficult to defend our faith against people like Sherem?

Explain that not all people who question or criticize our faith have the same motives as Sherem. While some people like Sherem deliberately seek to destroy faith, others may question our faith because they are curious or because they have been misinformed concerning our beliefs.

Invite a student to read Jacob 7:5–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Sherem hoped to do to Jacob.

  • What did Sherem hope to do to Jacob?

  • According to verse 5, why could Jacob’s faith not be shaken? (He had received many revelations, seen angels, and heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him.)

Point out that when Jacob’s faith was challenged, Jacob chose to remember past experiences that had strengthened his faith.

  • Based on what we learn from Jacob’s example, how would you complete the statement on the board as a principle? (Students should identify a principle such as the following: We can overcome challenges to our faith by remembering past experiences that have strengthened our faith. Write the second half of this principle under the incomplete statement on the board to begin a list of responses concerning how we can overcome challenges to our faith.)

  • What are some experiences that have strengthened your faith? (You might give students time to ponder this question before asking them to respond. Assure them that they do not need to share experiences that are too personal or private.)

  • How can remembering these experiences help you when someone questions or criticizes your faith?

Invite a student to read Jacob 7:8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what else helped Jacob as Sherem sought to challenge his faith.

  • According to verse 8, what helped Jacob as Sherem sought to challenge his faith? (Invite students to consider marking the phrase “the Lord God poured in his Spirit into my soul.”)

  • What principle can we learn from verse 8 about overcoming challenges to our faith? (Students may identify a principle such as the following: We can overcome challenges to our faith by relying on guidance from the Holy Ghost. Write the second half of this principle under the incomplete statement on the board.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Hales:

Elder Robert D. Hales

“Fortunately, the Lord knows the hearts of our accusers and how we can most effectively respond to them. As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter. And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord” (Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 73).

Remind students that to receive guidance from the Holy Ghost, we need to be worthy to have the Holy Ghost as our companion.

  • What are some ways the Holy Ghost can help us know how to respond to questions or criticisms about our faith?

  • When has the Holy Ghost helped you respond to questions or criticisms about your faith?

Invite a student to read Jacob 7:9–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what else Jacob did as Sherem sought to challenge his faith.

  • What else did Jacob do as Sherem sought to challenge his faith? (Jacob relied on the words of the prophets and shared the testimony he had received through the Holy Ghost.)

  • What principle can we learn from verses 9–12 about overcoming challenges to our faith? (Students may identify a principle such as the following: We can overcome challenges to our faith by relying on the words of prophets and sharing our testimonies of the gospel. Write the second half of this principle under the incomplete statement on the board.)

To help students further understand this principle, you might ask questions such as the following:

  • How can a daily habit of studying the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets help us when others question or criticize our faith?

  • How can choosing to share our testimonies help us overcome challenges to our faith?

Invite a student to read Jacob 7:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened after Jacob shared his testimony with Sherem.

  • How did Sherem respond after hearing Jacob’s testimony?

  • What did Jacob do in response to Sherem’s challenge?

Point out that Jacob did not try to prove the truthfulness of his testimony to Sherem. Rather, he trusted in the Lord and left the outcome in the Lord’s hands.

  • What principle can we learn from verses 13–14 about overcoming challenges to our faith? (Students may identify a principle such as the following: We can overcome challenges to our faith by trusting in the Lord and leaving the outcome in His hands. Write the second half of this principle under the incomplete statement on the board.)

  • How might it help you to know that it is not necessary for you to prove the truthfulness of your testimony to those who challenge your faith?

Jacob 7:15–23

After Sherem is smitten, the Nephite multitude turns back to the Lord

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Hales:

Elder Robert D. Hales

“Through the years we learn that challenges to our faith are not new, and they aren’t likely to disappear soon. But true disciples of Christ see opportunity in the midst of opposition” (Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage,” 72).

  • What do you think it means to “see opportunity in the midst of opposition”?

Divide students into pairs. Ask each pair to read Jacob 7:15–23, looking for anything good that resulted from Jacob’s encounter with Sherem.

  • According to Jacob 7:22, what had Jacob done to help the multitude?

  • According to Jacob 7:23, how did Jacob’s encounter with Sherem ultimately affect the multitude?

  • What truths can we learn from the results of Jacob’s encounter with Sherem? (Students may identify several truths, including the following: As we appropriately respond to questions or criticisms of our faith, we can help others turn to the Lord. Write this principle on the board.)

Review the principles students have identified from their study of Jacob 7. Invite students to share their testimonies of these principles. You might also share an experience that illustrates the truth and importance of one or more of these principles.

Invite students to respond to the following question in their class notebooks or study journals:

  • What is one thing you will begin doing (or continue doing) to help you prepare for a time when someone challenges your faith?

Jacob 7:24–27

The Nephites defend themselves against the Lamanites; Jacob passes the plates to his son Enos

Invite half of the class to read Jacob 7:24–25 silently, looking for how Jacob described the relationship between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Invite the other half of the class to read Jacob 7:26–27 silently, looking for words or phrases that reflect how Jacob felt as he neared the end of his life.

  • How did Jacob describe the relationship between the Nephites and the Lamanites?

  • What words or phrases did you find that reflect how Jacob felt near the end of his life?

Point out the phrase “we did mourn out our days” in Jacob 7:26.

  • Why do you think the wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites brought sorrow to Jacob?

  • What did Jacob give to his son Enos?

Explain that in the coming lesson students will study the record of Enos. You may want to conclude by testifying of the truths discussed in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Jacob 7:5. “And he had hope to shake me from the faith”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency offered counsel that can help us know what to do when questions, concerns, or events threaten to shake us from the faith:

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“What about doubts and questions in principle? How do you find out that the gospel is true? Is it all right to have questions about the Church or its doctrine? My dear young friends, we are a question-asking people. We have always been, because we know that inquiry leads to truth. That is the way that the Church got its start, from a young man who had questions. In fact, I’m not sure how one can discover truth without asking questions.

“In the scriptures, you will rarely discover a revelation that didn’t come in response to a question. Whenever a question arose and Joseph Smith wasn’t sure of the answer, he approached the Lord, and the results are the wonderful revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. Often, the knowledge Joseph received extended far beyond the original question. That is because not only can the Lord answer the questions we ask, but even more importantly, He can give us answers to questions we should have asked. Let us listen to those answers. The missionary effort of the Church is founded upon honest investigators asking heartfelt questions. Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony. Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding the gospel.

“But they needn’t feel that way. Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a precursor of growth. God commands us to seek answers to our questions [see James 1:5–6] and asks only that we seek ‘with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ’ [Moroni 10:4]. When we do so, the truth of all things can be manifested to us ‘by the power of the Holy Ghost’ [Moroni 10:5]. Fear not. Ask questions. Be curious, but doubt not. Doubt not. Always hold fast to faith and to the light you have already received. Because we see imperfectly in mortality, not everything is going to make sense right now. In fact, I should think that if everything did make sense to us, it would be evidence that it had all been made up by a mortal mind.

“Remember that God has said, ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. … For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts’ [Isaiah 55:8–9].

“Nevertheless, you know that one of the purposes of mortality is to become more like your Heavenly Father in your thoughts and in your ways. Viewed from this perspective, searching for answers to your questions can bring you closer to God, strengthening your testimony instead of shaking it. It’s true that ‘faith is not … a perfect knowledge’ [Alma 32:21], but as you exercise your faith, applying gospel principles every day under any circumstances—apply those principles wherever you are, and whenever it is, you will taste the sweet fruits of the gospel. And by this fruit, you will know of its truth. [See Matthew 7:16–20; John 7:17; Alma 32:41–43.]” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Reflection in the Water” [Church Educational System fireside for young adults, Nov. 1, 2009], broadcasts.lds.org).

To help students respond to questions or criticisms of their faith, you might refer them to the following resources:

  • Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 72–75). In this general conference address, Elder Hales taught about how we can respond to criticism or persecution with courage, tolerance, and charity.

  • True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference. This book contains an alphabetical list of gospel topics and commentary. The First Presidency wrote that one purpose of this book is to help members of the Church “answer questions about the Church” (True to the Faith [2004] 1).

  • topics.lds.org. The Church’s official website contains an alphabetical list of gospel topics and commentary, with links to related study materials and talks, articles, and statements by Church leaders.