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Jacob 6

 

A Covenant Plan of Salvation

      (2 Nephi--Enos)


 

Jacob 6:1 Behold, This Is My Prophecy:

 

     After recording the allegory of Zenos on the small plates, Jacob says the following:

           And now, behold, my brethren, as I said unto you that I would prophesy, behold, this is my prophecy--that the things which this prophet Zenos spake, concerning the house of Israel, in the which he likened them unto a tame olive tree, must surely come to pass. (Jacob 6:1)

 

     According to McConkie and Millet, the reader should note here that Jacob is saying that Zenos's prophecy is his own prophecy. No doubt Jacob had studied and pondered and prayed much over this allegory, and now Zenos's words had become Jacob's words, and it was as though the prophetic allegory had been delivered to and by Jacob originally. Alma would later declare the following after testifying to the people concerning spoken by the fathers:

           Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

           Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.

           And moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true, even so according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me, which is also by the manifestation of the Spirit of God. (Alma 5:45-47; see also D&C 18:34-36)

 

     In his last general conference address, Elder Bruce R. McConkie began a penetrating sermon on the atonement of Christ with the following words:

           In speaking of these wondrous things I shall use my own words, though you may think they are the words of scripture, words spoken by other apostles and prophets. True it is they were first proclaimed by others, but they are now mine, for the Holy Spirit of God has borne witness to me that they are true, and it is now as though the Lord had revealed them to me in the first instance. I have thereby heard his voice and know his word. (Conference Reports, April 1985, p. 9)

[Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. II, pp. 77-78]

 

Jacob 6:4 He Remembereth the House of Israel, Both Roots and Branches:

 

     Robert Millet notes that Jacob 5, the allegory of Zenos, is the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon. And who is being quoted to give such a message? A prophet of the brass plates, Zenos. What is Jacob's purpose in quoting Zenos? To give a panoramic vision of the destiny of the house of Israel, from premortal times to millennial times. It is the things God has in store for his chosen people. As Jacob declares in chapter 4, "I will unfold this mystery unto you" (Jacob 4:18). Millet then asks, What is the message of the allegory of Zenos? That God just will not let covenant Israel go. God will honor his covenants. He will work with her, and he will cut that tree, and he will prune that tree, and he will dung that tree, and he will do whatever it takes. Look in chapter 6 and see if this isn't a great summary. It isn't that we have to know the particulars of Jacob 5. (I hope we don't to be saved! I know a couple of them.) But it's maybe the greater message of Jacob 6:4-7 [that we need to know]:

           And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people; but as many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

           Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts.

           Yea, today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts; for why will ye die?

           For behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit, that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire?

 

There really is the central message of the allegory.

     Remember, that one of the major purposes of the Book of Mormon was to establish the essential truthfulness of the Bible (see 1 Nephi 13:40). For many years, you know, we have approached this in the wrong direction. We have gone out trying to prove the Book of Mormon from the Bible. The Lord never intended that. The Lord's purpose is that he knew there would come a time when the Bible itself would be in question. So he raises up a prophet, restores to him ancient records, gives him power to translate them, and they come forth and help establish essential truthfulness. That is why the Lord would say, in the 20th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, that the Book of Mormon is given for the purpose of proving to the world that the holy scriptures are true. [Robert L. Millet, "The Prophets of the Brass Plates," Video Transcript, FARMS, 1996, pp. 10-12, 3-4] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 13:40; Alma 33:11; Helaman 8:17]

 

Jacob 6:7 Nourished by the Good Word of God:      

 

     In testifying of the central message of the allegory of Zenos, Jacob queries "after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit, that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire?" Readers with note a similarity between Jacob's words and the words of Paul to Timothy concerning the ability of every creature of God to be sanctified by the word of God and prayer: "If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained." (1 Timothy 4:6).

     McConkie and Millet note that many years later, in writing of the manner in which converts to the Church were made and fortified in his day, Moroni observed: "And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end. And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith." (Moroni 6:3-4; italics added) [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. II, pp. 77-78]

 

Jacob 6:8 Quench the Holy Spirit:      

 

     In testifying of the central message of the allegory of Zenos, Jacob queries "Will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ . . . and quench the Holy Spirit . . .? (Jacob 6:8)

     McConkie and Millet note that many years later Amulek would plead with the Zoramites:

           And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things [the necessity of calling upon the Lord while it is yet day], and that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God, and that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ; that ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth. (Alma 34:37-38; italics added)

 

     Many years later, Paul would implore of the Thessalonian Saints: "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:16:21; italics added) [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. II, p. 80]

 

Jacob 6:13 I Bid You Farewell, Until I Shall Meet You before the Pleasing Bar of God:

 

     According to John Tvedtnes, Jacob made a formal ending to his book at Jacob 6:13: "Finally, I bid you farewell, until I shall meet you before the pleasing bar of God, which bar striketh the wicked with awful dread and fear. Amen." Jacob evidently had no intention of writing more. However as an afterthought, he added the story of Sherem, then updated the preface to his book, where he had--following Nephi's example--left space for an explanation of the book's contents. [John A. Tvedtnes, Book Review of Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Covering Up the Black Hole in the Book of Mormon, in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3 1991, p. 193]

 

Jacob 6:13 I Bid You Farewell:

 

     Jacob ends his speech with the words, "I bid you farewell, until I shall meet you before the pleasing bar of God, which bar striketh the wicked with awful dread and fear. Amen" (Jacob 6:13). Brant Gardner notes that Jacob's words appear to be an absolute farewell, appropriate to a dying man. Yet Jacob clearly lives for years after this discourse, as will be apparent in the next chapter. Why the finality of this statement?

     Sidney Sperry previously has written the following opinion on this situation:

           It is very probable that Jacob meant to end his book at this point; the quotation seems to imply that fact. However, later events caused him to add the historical matter now found in the last chapter of his record. (Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium, p. 266)

 

     However, according to Gardner, the problem with this analysis is that it recognizes the finality of the statement, but misses the intended audience. Here Jacob is addressing his own people, whereas in his final statement in Jacob 7:27 ("to the reader I bid farewell") there is no question but that Jacob is speaking to the later readers of his text. The fact that the first farewell was made in the context of a recorded sermon suggests a different explanation.

     Gardner suggests that this discourse of Jacob represents Jacob's final discourse as a head priest. What is final is not his life, but his position, and it is the termination of his functioning in that position that evokes Jacob's "farewell" here in Jacob 6:13. Jacob's farewell is a formal one, which places his position as a mouthpiece for God against the actions of his people and their leaders. He declares that the ultimate judgment between them (the congregation he is exhorting and himself) will be at the bar of God.

     Now one might say, What evidence may be presented for this hypothesis? The first is the apparent marginalization of Jacob. In this sermon he appears to have little power, and exerts only the power of personal testimony in his discourse. Secondly, by the words of his sermon there is a very clear cultural shift occurring in the population, evidenced by multiple wives and concubines. The apparent influx of ideas and trade from outside influences has led to social stratification and the seeking of riches among his people. (See the commentary on Jacob 2-3.) Thus, it would only be a matter of time until the wealthy and socially elite would gain greater say in the governance of the community. Since the evidence of this sermon suggests that there was little or no repentance after his first sermon, we would have the situation of a prophet verbally attacking the character of the leaders of the community. That is a situation that such leaders would not long endure, and since they had not and would not conform themselves to Jacob's requests for repentance, the next logical step would be for the removal of Jacob from an official position.

     This suggested removal of Jacob from a position in the official religious structure explains some interesting subtleties in the story of Jacob and Sherem which follows. [Brant Gardner, "Brant Gardner's Page, "http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Jacob/ Jacob5.htm, pp. 9-11]

 

Jacob 6:13 The Pleasing Bar of God:

 

     According to Corbin Volluz, both Jacob and Moroni speak of the "pleasing bar of God," before which all mankind shall be judged (Jacob 6:13; Moroni 10:34). Though the word bar as used in this context obviously has legalistic implications, it is interesting that the foremost definition of the word bar is "a straight piece (as of wood or metal) that is longer than it is wide, and has any of various uses (as for . . . support). " (Merriam-Webster, Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary) The definition of a bar as a long-shaped piece of metal fits the description of the iron rod leading to the tree of life. It will be remembered that the fundamental interpretation of the rod of iron is "the word of God" (1 Nephi 11:25). One of the most common scriptural uses of the phrase the word of God is as a name for Jesus Christ. Therefore, the bringing of all people before the rod of iron (judgment bar or word of God) to be judged of their works may symbolize the scriptural verity that Christ will be the judge of all mankind (John 5:22), and that all will be brought to stand before him in that great judgment day to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil (Revelation 20:12-13) [Corbin T. Volluz, "Lehi's Dream of the Tree of Life: Springboard to Prophecy" in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 2/2, Fall 1993, p. 31]