After Nephi’s death, the Nephites began to “indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices” under the reign of a new king (Jacob 1:15). Nephi’s two younger brothers, Jacob and 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. True to his divinely given responsibility, Jacob called his people to repentance, warning them of the sins of pride, the love of riches, and sexual immorality. He taught about the dangers and consequences of these three prevalent sins.
Jacob warns the people of their wickedness
Consider what you would say in the following situation: One of your friends at Church expresses a negative attitude toward his or her priesthood leaders and says, “They don’t seem to be in touch with the real world. They keep warning about choices that aren’t a big deal. I wish they wouldn’t spend so much time telling us all the bad things we need to avoid. They should just talk about positive things.”
Think about why priesthood leaders sometimes warn against sin. Jacob recorded that after Nephi’s death (see Jacob 1:9), the people began to engage in certain wicked practices. Read Jacob 1:15–16, and identify what the people were doing that concerned Jacob.
You may want to circle the word began in Jacob 1:15–16. Why is it a blessing to have priesthood leaders who warn us about problems when or even before they begin? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Read Jacob 1:6–8, and identify why Jacob and his fellow leaders were counseling the people of Nephi against sin. Why do you think priesthood leaders in your family, as well as local and general priesthood leaders, warn you about sin and teach you the gospel so diligently? You may want to mark the phrases in Jacob 1:7 that teach the following truth: Priesthood leaders labor diligently to help us come to Christ.
Read Jacob 1:17–19, and look for any additional reasons why Jacob and his brother Joseph were laboring so diligently to teach the people.
What do you think it means to receive an “errand from the Lord” (Jacob 1:17)? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
You might want to mark any other phrases that help teach the following principle: Priesthood leaders have a divinely given responsibility to teach the word of God and warn against sin.
Ponder for a moment about why it is important to understand that Church leaders are held accountable for their efforts to teach us what the Lord wants us to know.
As you read Jacob 2:1–3, 6–7, 10–11, look for phrases that indicate how Jacob felt about his difficult task of calling his people to repentance.
Think about what the following phrases teach you about Jacob’s motivation to complete his difficult task: “I this day am weighed down with much more desire and anxiety for the welfare of your souls” (Jacob 2:3) and “I must do according to the strict commands of God” (Jacob 2:10). Write in your scripture study journal a response to the following questions:
When have you felt a priesthood leader’s love and concern for you?
When have you felt that a priesthood leader’s words or actions were inspired by God to help you?
Reflect again upon the situation presented at the beginning of the lesson. Think about how you would answer your friend based on what you have studied today.
Jacob chastises his people for their pride
To help you prepare to study what the Lord commanded Jacob to teach, think about blessings the Lord has given you in the following areas: family, friends, Church leaders and teachers, artistic and musical abilities, athletic skills, talents, schooling, opportunities to grow, gospel knowledge, and material goods. Think of other ways the Lord has blessed you.
Read Jacob 2:12–13, and identify what the Nephites were seeking. Notice that Jacob taught that “the hand of providence” had blessed the Nephites with riches. This phrase refers to our Father in Heaven.
Write in your scripture study journal why it is important for you to remember that the Lord has given you the blessings and abilities you have.
If we are not careful, we can allow ourselves to be lifted up in pride after we receive the blessings we seek, like the Nephites did. In the space provided, write what you think it means to be “lifted up in the pride of your hearts.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
As recorded in Jacob 2:13, what did Jacob say were several causes of the Nephites’ pride? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Think of a modern-day person or group of people who mistreat, ignore, or persecute others because they “have obtained more abundantly” than those they mistreat (Jacob 2:13). For example, because some people have more money, more friends, more athletic ability, or even a greater knowledge of the gospel than someone else, they may mistakenly think they are better than others or even persecute them. Ponder if there has been a time in your life when you have acted in a prideful manner.
Read Jacob 2:17–21, and mark phrases that could help you overcome pride.
In your scripture study journal, write two or more of the phrases that you found in Jacob 2:17–21, and explain how those phrases can help you overcome pride. Some of the following questions may be helpful to consider as you complete this assignment: What do you think it means to seek the kingdom of God? To obtain a hope in Christ? How would seeking the kingdom of God and obtaining a hope in Christ influence how you view and treat others?
Imagine that your mother, father, or leader asked you what you studied today. Write down one principle from Jacob 2:17–21 that you could use to answer them. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
One principle in Jacob 2:17–21 is: We should seek the kingdom of God above all other interests.
Write in your scripture study journal one way you can use the blessings and opportunities the Lord has given you to help build the kingdom of God and bless the lives of others.
Jacob chastises his people for sexual immorality
The following statement was made by President Ezra Taft Benson. Guess what two words go in the blanks:
“The plaguing sin of this generation is ____________________ ____________________” (“Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign, May 1986, 4; look at the end of the lesson for the correct answer).
Read Jacob 2:22–23, 28, and mark phrases Jacob used to describe the seriousness of sexual immorality. It may be helpful to understand that the word whoredoms refers to sexual sins.
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained some actions that violate the Lord’s law of chastity: “Any sexual intimacy outside of the bonds of marriage—I mean any intentional contact with the sacred, private parts of another’s body, with or without clothing—is a sin and is forbidden by God. It is also a transgression to intentionally stimulate these emotions within your own body” (“Making the Right Choices,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 38).
Homosexual acts and viewing pornography also violate the Lord’s law of chastity.
Notice how the Nephites sought to excuse their sins, as recorded in Jacob 2:23–24. Take a moment to think about how people seek to excuse sexual immorality today.
One of the sins of the Nephites was the unauthorized practice of plural marriage. Jacob taught the Lord’s commandment that a man should be married to only one wife (see Jacob 2:27). Having more than one wife without the Lord’s authorization through His appointed priesthood leaders is an example of a sexual sin. In God’s eyes, sexual sins are very serious (see Alma 39:5).
The Lord’s people are authorized to practice plural marriage only when the Lord commands it (see Jacob 2:30). At certain times in the history of the world, the Lord has commanded His people to practice plural marriage. For example, plural marriage was practiced in Old Testament times by Abraham and Sarah (see Genesis 16:1–3; D&C 132:34–35, 37) and by their grandson Jacob (see D&C 132:37), and it was practiced for a time during the early days of the restored Church, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 132:32–33, 53). However, God commanded His prophet Wilford Woodruff to end the practice of plural marriage (see Official Declaration 1 in the Doctrine and Covenants).
Read Jacob 2:31–35, and mark phrases showing some of the negative consequences of sexual sin.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
According to Jacob, how does sexual immorality affect families?
Some youth may rationalize that they can be sexually immoral because they are not married and, therefore, are not unfaithful to a spouse, and they do not have children. How might immorality affect a teenager and his or her family?
Why do you think the Lord considers immorality to be such a serious sin?
Review the beginning of Jacob 2:28, and mark what the Lord delights in. (Note that though Jacob specifically mentioned women in this verse, it is equally true that the Lord delights in the chastity of men.) This verse teaches the principle: The Lord delights in chastity.
Based on what you have learned today, consider why the Lord delights in the chastity of His children. Think about your family, as well as the family you hope to have in the future. How will living according to the Lord’s law of chastity bless you and them? Ponder how the choices you are making to be chaste and clean delight the Lord.
You can remain clean. If you have already sinned against the law of chastity, you can repent and become clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you think of one or more ways you can better guard yourself against breaking the law of chastity. If you have committed any sexual transgressions, do whatever is necessary, including meeting with your bishop or branch president, to confess what you have done in violation of the Lord’s law of chastity.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Jacob 1–2 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher:
Answer to the missing words in the quotation at the beginning of this lesson: President Benson said, “The plaguing sin of this generation is sexual immorality.”