Declare the Truth – Jacob 3:1-14

1 But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart [come unto Christ and are made clean]. Look unto God with firmness of mind [real intent], and pray unto him with exceeding faith [great desire to receive revelation, His word for you], and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction. [He will hear your prayers.]

2 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. [Receive revelation because you are His children, having been born again of the Spirit.]

3 But, wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God [remain in their sins]; for except ye repent the land is cursed for your sakes; and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you [are not lifted up with pride, and whoredoms], nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction.

4 And the time speedily cometh, that except ye repent they shall possess the land of your inheritance, and the Lord God will leadaway the righteous out from among you.

As I read this I hear the Spirit of the Lord telling me that this is the same fate for the United States of America, a land which is under covenant, yet the people ripen in iniquity just as those of the Nephites did many years ago. In a similar manner we are threatened by our enemies and unless we repent the land will be scourged and the righteous will be led out from among them.

5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.

This verse is clear on the seriousness of sexual sin, particularly how “whoredoms” are to viewed by the Lord. Jacob specifies what is acceptable concerning sexual relations, “they should have save it were one wife; and concubines they should have none.” 

6 And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people. [Jacob may have seen the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, or even the great rise of the Indian Nations in the last days.]

7 Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children [Which is the standard for the Lord.]; and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they, in the sight of your great Creator? [The Lord has mercy upon those who are caught in generational iniquity. Sometimes it takes an act of God to break these chains, which often includes sending choice spirits of great faith and courage to break from these generational sins. Such families may struggle with abuse of all kinds, or even unbelief regarding the Gospel.] 

8 O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.

Jacob uses skin color as a metaphor for cleanliness. The Lamanites’ skin was darkened by the Lord as a way to separate them from the Nephites. Our skin color has no bearing in the Heavens with our standing with God. Most of the angels I have witnessed at the Throne were white, but I saw black, brown, and other hues, and they were just as glorious. To be a minority in the Heavenly Realm is something of beauty and praise. Nothing is prized more among the angels than uniqueness of faith and sacrifice. Usually, those of different skin color have had to exercise such magnificent faith to come where they are that although they have the ability to make their skin color white, most choose to remain the same as a witness of their sacrifice. It is a beautiful thing to behold!

9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness [Look in the mirror.], and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers. [For me, this is more than a speech against racism. We should not revile anyone that is different, whether it be skin color, social class, religion, political affiliation, or nationality. What does it mean to revile? It is to criticize in an insulting manner. This is the common language amongst people today. We revile against everything!  It does not mean that we should not stand up for truth and debate those who promote wickedness, but if we wish to draw closer to God we must have His Spirit with us in these endeavors.]

10 Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day. [We are held responsible for the sins that we carry to our children, as they continue the same behaviors.]

11 O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.

It’s not easy to “shake” free from the slumber of sin. A broken heart is a shaken heart. We must feel the awfulness of our situation. Some repent out of fear – not enough. Some repent out of guilt – not enough. We have the most lasting effects when we repent out of love, and often it begins with fear and guilt until we learn to love. Our love for Jesus is built upon turning our hearts to Him. It is impossible to correct generations of unbelief without trusting and loving only Jesus, with no man, family, or institution between us.

12 And now I, Jacob, spake many more things unto the people of Nephi, warning them against fornication and lasciviousness, and every kind of sin, telling them the awful consequences of them. [I bet that was an interesting second half.]

13 And a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, which now began to be numerous, cannot be written upon these plates; but many of their proceedings are written upon the larger plates, and their wars, and their contentions, and the reigns of their kings.

14 These plates are called the plates of Jacob, and they were made by the hand of Nephi. And I make an end of speaking these words.

So far in the Book of Mormon we have heard the words of the prophets Nephi, Lehi, Isaiah, and Jacob. Their words are powerful because they not only tell us what to do, but how to do it. When they tell us to repent, receive revelation, keep the commandments, look to Christ, and they prophecy of His words to us. The language is often harsh and direct. The only pleasing words are to emphasize the blessings that will come to those who keep the commandments. All of them are prophets/seers/revelators, because they reveal God’s word that has not been revealed before and have boldly declared what they have seen. 

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Pride and Polygamy – Jacob 2:1-35

1 The words which Jacob, the brother of Nephi, spake unto the people of Nephi, after the death of Nephi:

2 Now, my beloved brethren, I, Jacob, according to the responsibility which I am under to God, to magnify mine office with soberness, and that I might rid my garments of your sins, I come up into the temple this day that I might declare unto you the word of God. [The Nephite Temple was similar to the Temple of Solomon, with an outer court layer where the people could gather to be taught.]

3 And ye yourselves know that I have hitherto been diligent in the office of my calling; but I this day am weighed down with much more desire and anxiety for the welfare of your souls than I have hitherto been.

4 For behold, as yet, ye have been obedient unto the word of the Lord, which I have given unto you. [It sounds like it has been a while since he has had to gather the people to make such an announcement or teach them.]

5 But behold, hearken ye unto me, and know that by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God. [An “abomination” is a sin of power and usually is tied to something of a sexual nature that makes unholy that which is holy.]

6 Yea, it grieveth my soul and causeth me to shrink with shame [embarrassing] before the presence of my Maker, that I must testify unto you concerning the wickedness of your hearts.

7 And also it grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech concerning you, before your wives and your children, many of whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate before God, which thing is pleasing unto God; [It is also embarrassing to your wives and children.]

8 And it supposeth me that they have come up hither to hear the pleasing word of God, yea, the word which healeth the wounded soul. [They are expecting to hear words of rejoicing, but no.]

9 Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained, because of the strict commandment which I have received from God [a direct revelation that cannot be neglected], to admonish you according to your crimes, to enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds; and those who have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God have daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds.

10 But, notwithstanding the greatness of the task, I must do according to the strict commands of God, and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart [without sin], and the broken heart [all to God, repenting], and under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God.

11 Wherefore, I must tell you the truth according to the plainness of the word of God. For behold, as I inquired of the Lord, thus came the word unto me [Direct questions yield the best answers.], saying: Jacob, get thou up into the temple on the morrow, and declare the word which I shall give thee unto this people.

12 And now behold, my brethren, this is the word which I declare unto you, that many of you have begun to search for gold, and for silver, and for all manner of precious ores, in the which this land, which is a land of promise unto you and to your seed, doth abound most plentifully.

13 And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they. [The Nephites had begun to divide into classes according to their wealth. This places a wedge amongst the people. We know that having riches isn’t in itself a sin, but when we become proud and callous to others it becomes a cord that binds us to this earth. The test for those who acquire wealth is that they can view their wealth as a stewardship of the Lord and not a sign of their status.]

14 And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.

15 O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his eye he can smite you to the dust! [A strong way for Jacob to express the judgment of God.]

16 O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, O that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this pride of your hearts destroy your souls! [Many hope and pray for wealth, but it is perhaps one of the most difficult trials for those who experience it.] 

17 Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you. [If you view your riches as a stewardship it is easier to do this. You are not expected to be the Bishop’s Storehouse. The Lord will inspire you by the Spirit as to how you can meet this commandment.] 

18 But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

We usually think of riches in terms of money and the things money can buy. However, there are many forms of riches that can lead to pride. Anything that causes one to feel greater than another. This can be our physical beauty, our talents, our family heritage, our church callings, our status in career choice, our vehicle, our clothes, our smile, our intelligence, our experience of the world, our gender, our political affiliation, our friends and associates, and more. None of these things in themselves is sin, but when we use them to place ourselves in a higher class and look down on our brothers and sisters it is damnable to our spirits.

19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. [The point of this scripture is that God will bless His children with the riches of the world if we seek them for righteous purposes. Righteous, meaning it is His will. There are many among the chosen of God who are not called to have the riches of the world in this life, yet are indeed rich. Satan also blesses his followers with riches for the opposite reasons.] 

One nasty unbelief that is common amongst those who follow Christ is that wealth is a sign of someone’s status with God. This is nurtured by the culture of ecclesiastical leaders that come from the high income and career ladders of the world. I’m reminded that Jesus chose from amongst the poor to be his Apostles. Part of the attribute of charity is to see others the way God sees them. We must look beyond the outward appearance.

20 And now, my brethren, I have spoken unto you concerning pride; and those of you which have afflicted your neighbor, and persecuted him because ye were proud in your hearts, of the things which God hath given you, what say ye of it? [What are you going to do about it?]

21 Do ye not suppose that such things are abominable unto him who created all flesh? And the one being is as precious in his sight as the other. And all flesh is of the dust; and for the selfsame end hath he created them, that they should keep his commandmentsand glorify him forever.

22 And now I make an end of speaking unto you concerning this pride. And were it not that I must speak unto you concerning a grosser crime, my heart would rejoice exceedingly because of you. [It always helps to start with the less bad news before you hit them with the whopper.]

23 But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity [Sin is to be out of harmony with God’s law. Iniquity is to do something that is highly inappropriate, this word implies something of a grosser nature.]; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.

24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. [This is a very direct statement from a prophet of the Lord. He doesn’t go into any detail regarding David and what he did, yet clearly teaches to his people that they are not to do this thing.]

25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.

26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old. [They are commanded not to have polygamous relationships like “them of old.” This would include those who excuse their actions by citing Abraham and Jacob.]

27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; [This is very clear. Only one wife, no concubines, no exceptions.]

28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women [honoring women with purity]. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.

This verse fills my heart with joy as I consider the Lords love for his daughters. Men are to honor His daughters in how they respect, nurture, and serve them. Men who exploit women for sexual appetites or anything else are separating themselves from God. A man and woman who honor each other equally are preparing themselves for exaltation. This is God’s purpose for an eternal marriage. The relationships that are nurtured in this life have the potential to become eternal in the worlds to come if we keep our covenants to each other and God. The temple marriage is an earthly ordinance which only has merit if it is made perfect by the spiritual marriage ordinance, which is performed by Christ Himself.

29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me [establish a new branch of Israel because you have become ripe in iniquity], I will command my people [from the House of Israel]; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. [And they shall follow the path that you have not.]

This verse is often used as a caveat to make exception for this commandment.

What does it mean “to raise up seed unto me?” It is far more than to expedite the number of children born to a family who worships Jesus. The only time “a people” have been commanded to have a polygamous marriage was in the case of the people of Israel. Moses stated that a man was to marry his brother’s widow. It was part of the law to prevent these women from becoming destitute. Brigham Young established polygamy as a law among the LDS. This broke from the teachings of Joseph Smith, as the church made polygamy its core doctrine until it was ended in 1890, 46 years after Joseph was murdered. Section 132 was the revelation cited as the source of this commandment.

31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.

32 And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.

33 For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.

The Lord doesn’t allow unrighteous polygamy to continue amongst his people when it takes hold, because of the prayers of his fair daughters. Either it is snuffed out, or they are visited with destruction. 

34 And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before; and ye have come unto great condemnation; for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done. [Lehi also taught against polygamy.]

35 Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds. [How does a “heart die?” When there no longer exists any trust between a husband and wife, or a parent and child, the heart cannot be fixed. There is a difference between forgiveness and trust. Forgiveness is letting go of the pain. We receive forgiveness from the Lord when he “lets go of our sins,’ but we must still forgive ourselves. For those who have had their hearts killed by an abuser, they can let go, but are not required to trust them. If they can gain a spouse’s trust again the marriage can be rebuilt. For those dealing with a broken marriage it is a difficult thing to determine how to move forward. The Lord makes all things right according to our faith.]

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Blood and Sins – Jacob 1:1-19

1 For behold, it came to pass that fifty and five years had passed away from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem; wherefore, Nephi gave me, Jacob, a commandment concerning the small plates, upon which these things are engraven. [Nephi was about 70 years old.]

2 And he gave me, Jacob, a commandment that I should write upon these plates a few of the things which I considered to be most precious; that I should not touch, save it were lightly, concerning the history of this people which are called the people of Nephi.

3 For he said that the history of his people should be engraven upon his other plates, and that I should preserve these plates and hand them down unto my seed, from generation to generation.

4 And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I should engraven the heads [the principal part] of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our people.

5 For because of faith and great anxiety, it truly had been made manifest unto us concerning our people, what things should happen unto them. [Often it is faith and anxiety which leads us to ponder and pray over things. If you feel anxious about anything it is a good time to reach out to God seeking revelation, and then to act on those thoughts given.]

6 And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of Christ and his kingdom, which should come. [What is the difference between revelation and prophecy? Revelation is God’s word to you. Prophecy is God’s word given to you to share to others.]

7 Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness. [Lehi often compared their journey to the children of Israel, this was a motif used commonly amongst the people of Nephi.]

8 Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger [judgment against], but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world [to overcome the world]; wherefore, I, Jacob, take it upon me to fulfil the commandment of my brother Nephi.

9 Now Nephi began to be old, and he saw that he must soon die; wherefore, he anointed a man to be a king and a ruler over his people now, according to the reigns of the kings.

10 The people having loved Nephi exceedingly, he having been a great protector for them, having wielded the sword of Laban in their defence [was referred to as the King’s Sword], and having labored in all his days for their welfare—

11 Wherefore, the people were desirous to retain in remembrance his name. And whoso should reign in his stead were called by the people, second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings; and thus they were called by the people, let them be of whatever name they would.

12 And it came to pass that Nephi died.

13 Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites.

14 But I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish them by these names, but I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi, and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites, or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings. [During the reign of the kings it was according to race and skin color, but later in the Book of Mormon it becomes more a political ideology.]

15 And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son. [Polygamy is introduced to the people. Jacob immediately calls it out as wicked.]

16 Yea, and they also began to search much gold and silver, and began to be lifted up somewhat in pride.

17 Wherefore I, Jacob, gave unto them these words as I taught them in the temple, having first obtained mine errand from the Lord.

18 For I, Jacob, and my brother Joseph had been consecrated priests and teachers of this people, by the hand of Nephi.

19 And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.

Jacob and Joseph were set apart as priests in the temple and teachers to the people by Nephi. Jacob had a relationship with the Lord like Nephi in that He could receive the gift of revelation and prophecy. When the Lord gives a servant a command to preach “repentance and correction” they must do it or they themselves would be held accountable for the sin of their negligence. Often, unrepentant sins afflict a family for many generations before a correction is made. If a servant of God fails to intercede, they carry that responsibility into the next life to correct what they have done. The sins of their generation are upon them. 

Today we too carry the responsibility to do all we can to follow the revelation the Lord gives us, to tell those to whom we have been commanded to be corrected and to repent. We must be cautious to follow the Spirit and not our own emotions, which may turn others away and have the opposite effect. I find that it is best to approach those to whom I have a stewardship with love and patience. I ask questions and reason with them. I don’t speak harshly unless the Holy Ghost constrains me to do that. I have been able to help many family and friends this way. Sometimes getting people to repent is like getting your children to eat their vegetables, but if you don’t try you may have to deal with something worse later.

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What is Eternal Life?

From the beginning man has sought the power of immortality, the elixir of life that would somehow prevent them from growing old. The ancient Patriarchs lived many hundreds of years through certain means that was available to them.  The Egyptians attempted to also extend their lives eating an unknown powdered gold recipe called “ormus.” The pseudo-science of alchemy was determined to unlock the Philosopher’s stone, as they called it, so they could live forever. Today, science searches for the hidden gene that may prevent aging.

In contrast to this, Jesus offered His followers “Eternal Life” if they followed Him according to the will of the Father. What kind of immortality was He teaching His followers?

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 13:14-16

Jesus, the man from the little village of Nazareth, offered everlasting, or “Eternal Life,” to all those that would follow Him according to the will of His Father. He compared Himself to the brazen serpent (a resurrected being of light) raised up on the cross, that all one must do is look and they would not die. However, Jesus was not teaching the extension of the physical life, but the immortal glory of being in the presence of God.

One of the most profound writings of Joseph Smith is this translation from the Book of Moses. In this passage, the Lord reveals the details regarding how we receive the gift of Eternal Life:

“That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, [in the similitude of the physical birth] which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul [the physical body], even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, [Eternal Life] of water [baptism], and of the Spirit [baptism of fire], and be cleansed by blood [Gift of the Holy Ghost], even the blood of mine Only Begotten [because of the Atonement]; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; For by the water ye keep the commandment [as a witness to the Father that you accept His Son]; by the Spirit ye are justified [separated from sin by the cleansing of the baptism of glory or fire], and by the blood ye are sanctified [made holy by the atonement of Christ, which lifts one to be able to stand in the presence of God];Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven [counted among the exalted]; the Comforter [the attributes of having received the gift of the Holy Ghost:]; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.” Moses 6:59-61

This information helps us to understand how we receive Eternal Life, but what is it exactly?

Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John. This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son—” D&C 88:3-5

The Lord made the promise to His Apostles that He would send them the Holy Ghost, which would abide in their hearts. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the promise of Eternal Life.

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

The Jews therefore strove [quarreled] among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life [the promises of the Sarament]; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. [The Atonement] As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. [This is Eternal Life, to know God. John 17:3]

This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.” John 6:48-58

The hope that we may live in the presence of God is to have Eternal Life. All life is eternal in that our spirits do not go away, but Eternal Life is to know what God knows, and to have our spirits elevated in light and glory.

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Nephi’s Farewell – 2 Nephi 33:1-15

1 And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. [The type of writing that Nephi used (reformed Egyptian) did not give the same degree of expression as we have in the English language. It must have been frustrating to try and instill the power of the words that Nephi desired. The gift of translation assisted Joseph Smith to include some of that in the record, but even Joseph was limited to his own vocabulary. This leaves the reader, us, the need to have the Lord reveal the intent of the words, so that we can have the power of the message given to us.]

2 But behold, there are many that harden their hearts [have no desire] against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught. [Where are treasure is, there will our heart be also. The Book of Mormon is a treasure to those who seek an understanding.]

3 But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry. [There is a connection between the passion of a servant and what the Lord is willing to entrust to them. Pay attention to how often you will read that they “cry to the Lord.” That does not go unnoticed by Him. I remember for years crying out to God to hear my voice on behalf of me, my family, and those I prayed.  And then in the stillness He came.]

4 And I know that the Lord God will consecrate [bless] my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal. [Nephi prays that God will bless this record that he has written that it will persuade others to come unto Christ.]

5 And it speaketh harshly against sin, according to the plainness of the truth; wherefore, no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil. [He has preached against the sinner.]

6 I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell. [I like the idea of teaching in as plain a manner as possible. Nephi would have used a lot of bullet points if they knew about those in his days.]

7 I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat. [I hope you will have the opportunity to meet Nephi some day!]

8 I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.

9 I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.

10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. [I am unaware of a single record that preaches of Christ outside of the Bible more forcefully than the Book of Mormon. There are essentially four reasons people dismiss this book: first, if its not the Bible it is not of God. Second, they heard negative things about Joseph Smith. Third, they heard negative things about Mormons. Fourth, they haven’t found enough convincing evidence to prove its authenticity. Maybe five; they have not interest in reading something about Christ. For those that dig in, it’s like finding an enormous treasure in their back yard.]

11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.

12 And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day.

13 And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come.

14 And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, [Bible] and also my words [BofM], and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God [all revelation], behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day.

15 For what I seal on earth, shall be brought against you at the judgment bar; for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen.

The force and power of Nephi’s writings are evident as you read the Book of Mormon. He has a certain way of writing that is different that others in the coming chapters. Each has their own writing style and witness. The power of the first two books of the Book of Mormon are such that the record could have ended here and we would have the Book of Nephi and not the Book of Mormon! But the Lord works through multiple witnesses, so there are more records added to complete the Book of Mormon for us. 

Two of the most important prophets of the Book of Mormon are Nephi and Mormon. Nephi began the record under commandment, and Mormon abridged the thousand years of history for the book. Is it any surprise that Nephi came to Joseph Smith in his home as a boy to tell him of the record? There is a mistake in the history that it was Moroni. Moroni was involved in retrieving and protecting the plates. But Nephi was the official introduction. The Lord is in every detail.

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