I love this chapter because Jacob expounds upon the scriptures and bears testimony of the truth of Christ’s Atonement and Resurrection.
“Wherefore, I know that ye know that our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God.” (4)
He then gives further insight into Christ’s atonement. “For it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him.” (5)
Behoove means to be necessary, fit or proper. It was necessary for Christ to suffer (definition: to submit to or be forced to endure; to feel keenly; labor under; undergo, experience) Himself to become subject unto man. He felt keenly what it was like to be a mortal man. He experienced all that we would ever experience. By doing so and dying for us, we became subject unto Him through an eternal law.
For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.”2 Nephi 9:6
The Fall of Adam made it possible for us to come to earth, but it also brought both physical and spiritual death. It cut mankind off from the presence of God, and we had no way back to Him.
Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption.”2 Nephi 9:7
But God didn’t want us to be lost forever. His plan of salvation was prepared from the beginning to rescue us from the Fall by the unlimited power of an Atonement.
What Christ did for us is truly beyond our limited understanding to comprehend; but what we do know should blow our mind and bring us to our knees in humility and eternal thanksgiving. Christ saved us…in every way possible.Tad R. Callister, The Infinite Atonement
Escaping the monster
Jacob talks about the mercy and grace of God in preparing a way to escape the “monster, death and hell.” (10) If we had been subject to death, we “must have become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.”(9)
Satan cannot progress. He is damned, just as a river that is held back. We would have been stopped in our eternal progression, too, if God hadn’t had a plan to redeem us. We would have been “shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself.” (9)
But thank goodness, God’s plan is good. His plan makes death “deliver up its dead; which death is the grave.” (11) But this isn’t all. He saves us spiritually as well.
And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell: wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.”2 Nephi 9:12
How glorious the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ. How magnificent and infinite His ability to save! When you begin to understand what He has done (even just a little), it makes you want to share the good news with others!
Jacob definitely understood what it meant, and glories in the plan of salvation.
“O how great the plan of our God!” It makes it so “all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh, save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect.” (13)
In this mortal state, our spirit and body seem to fight each other for dominance. The body is stronger much of the time. We must battle to have our spirit control our body, so we don’t become captive to the “monster”; but as an immortal and incorruptible soul, our bodies and spirits will complement each other and work together to help us attain godlike status, that seems impossible right now.
Jacob says that ALL men will stand before God to be judged. This fixes the effect of the Fall, that took men out of God’s presence and brings them back into His presence for a fair and righteous judgment. How we leave this life will be where we are in the next. If we have been righteous, we will still be righteous. If we have done filthy, evil things, we will still be filthy and evil.
Full Joy Forever
Jacob goes on to say the righteous will “inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.” (18)
This is an amazing blessing—to have full joy forever. To be worthy of this blessing, we must believe “in the Holy One of Israel” and “have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it.” (18)
Believe means to have a firm religious faith; to accept something as true, genuine, or real; to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something. To believe in Christ means to have faith in Him (and faith is an action word, not just an abstract principle). We act according to our belief, accepting Christ as true and real, and believe He has the power and ability to save us. Faith leads to repentance.
Endure means to undergo (as a hardship) especially without giving in; to regard with acceptance or tolerance; to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding.
The crosses of the world could be things that are heavy to bear. Think of carrying a cross, like Christ did. They are burdensome and awkward to lift and drag. Crosses in our life could be any hardship that weighs us down—illness, loneliness, addictions, cultural or family traditions that might lead away from God, financial problems, job frustrations, children issues, other worldly concerns that pull us down and depress us. To endure the crosses of the world means we remain firm in our testimonies of Christ even as we suffer worldly afflictions and trials.
Jacob praises God for saving us and being holy.
And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.”2 Nephi 9:21
What does Christ ask in exchange for redemption?
He “commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.”2 Nephi 9:23
The key to salvation isn’t secret. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Repentance. Baptism by one holding Christ’s authority. Faith in Jesus. And the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide us. If we don’t repent and do those things, we “must be damned.” A dam stops a river. God’s damnation stops our eternal progression.
Use learning wisely
Jacob warns us about the “cunning plan of the evil one!” (28) Cunning means dexterous or crafty in the use of special resources, or in attaining an end; displaying keen insight; characterized by wiliness and trickery; prettily appealing.
Satan is all of these. He is crafty and skilled. Before his fall, he was one of the elite in heaven—one of the mighty ones that stood alongside Jesus. He doesn’t have the veil over him, so he remembers all that happened in the preexistence, which makes him very good at being cunning. He has keen insight because of that advantage; he knows who we were…and what we can become. He uses every trick available to him, and makes them appealing to tempt us.
Because of the veil over our minds and our mortal bodies we are learning to control, we fit into Jacob’s words perfectly.
O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.”2 Nephi 9:28
We must beware not to think we know better than God or the prophets (who speak for Him). We must not set their counsel aside or we will perish.
But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”2 Nephi 9:29
This is the key to staying true to Christ and partaking of that fulness of joy.
Come Unto Christ
Jacob pleads with his audience to listen and heed his words, which Christ wants them to know. He says, “I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.” (40) / “…come unto the Lord, the Holy One.” (41)
How do we come unto the Lord?
To come unto Him, we must actively seek Him.
“And whoso knocketh, to him will he open.” (42)
God despises (or regards as negligible, worthless, or distasteful) those who are “puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches.” (42) He goes on to say: “Save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.” (42)
God will give no additional light or revelation to anyone who is prideful or who has other idols they worship over Him. If our education, wealth, or position is more important than God and treating others with respect and compassion, we will not receive heavenly enlightenment and joy.
Turn away from your sins.”2 Nephi 9:45
Turning away from something shows you don’t want anything to do with it. Turning away from our sins is true repentance. When we truly want to overcome our sins and be holy like our Savior, we will come unto Christ, believing He can perfect us.
Repentance has to do with the will, not the appearance.
Someone can look righteous, but be far from it in their thoughts and desires. Likewise, someone could be a hardened, rough looking individual (maybe even intimidating or scary on the outside), but if their will is to change and serve God, God will look more kindly on them than the other person who might appear righteous, but who’s heart is calloused and hard…or hiding sins.
Prepare your souls for that glorious day when justice shall be administered unto the righteous, even the day of judgment, that ye may not shrink with awful fear.”2 Nephi 9:46
How do I prepare my soul, so I do not fear?
It seems that one shrinks with awful fear before their Maker at Judgment day because he/she remembers their guilt perfectly. Preparing our souls has to do with repentance. That is the only thing we can do on our own to have Christ take away our guilt and enable us to stand before God with our heads held high—because He pays the price for our sins. When we repent—turn to Christ, He takes our sins, weaknesses, pains away from us so the day becomes glorious, instead of dreaded.
Come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness. / …Remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice.”2 Nephi 9:51-52
Jacob’s counsel on how to Come unto Christ is outlined here:
- Feast upon eternal things that don’t perish (scriptures, service, anything good)
- Remember God’s words (study/ponder scriptures & prophetic counsel)
- Pray continually by day (always have communion with God aloud & in our hearts)
- Give thanks to God at night (night prayer should be full of thanksgiving)
- Rejoice (be happy. This is the end result of coming unto Christ)