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.