I want to meet Jacob. You know … the first born to Lehi’s family in the wilderness. If you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, let me explain. In the Book of Mormon, one of the first prophets we read about is Nephi. He is loved by the people and an incredible person to say the least. His younger brother is Jacob. There are many things unique about Jacob. One is that he came to be known as the first born in the wilderness in the days of Lehi’s tribulation (his words). So he was reared in difficult circumstances and no doubt learned to appreciate the help of his mother and father and the Lord. The record is pretty silent about Jacob as a boy, but he soon learns his role and as a man takes the responsibility of safeguarding the plates. He even engraves a record of his own, which lives on in perpetuity.
Something happened to me the other day that was perhaps a first for me. I was doing my morning scripture reading in Jacob. I particularly enjoy the book of Jacob. Jacob seems to understand and appreciate the challenges faced by men and doesn’t mix any words about what steps are necessary to find happiness and recognize the great plan of redemption that has been laid for us. He talks of honoring women and treating them with the respect and adoration they deserve. It is good reading for everyone but especially for men and particularly those in the Church conferred the priesthood.
But on this particular occasion, I was listening to the scriptures online from the Church website. Jacob pleads with his readers to follow Christ. He denounces the love of riches, pride, and infidelity. And he talks of our reconciling ourselves with God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It’s an emotional plea in our behalf, and the concern of Jacob for our welfare is very apparent. Well it was at this point and in this state of mind that I began listening to chapter 6.
Before I realized what was happening, tears flowed from my eyes and fell from my chin to the ground. I was so touched by his words, his concern, and the promises he reminds us are ours if we will but follow Christ. I listened to it several times. I frequent this chapter quite often to enjoy these words again-and-again. He speaks of God cleaving unto us as we cleave unto him. Cleave is not a passive verb. Rather, it is an action word and even more so a verb full of passion. According to Jacob, we aren’t supposed to only submissively acknowledge the words of Christ. We are to embrace the Lord with all our hearts. He says it this way:
5 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.
Jacob has just explained somewhat the parable of the vineyard and how God stretches forth his hands unto mankind all the day long; and yet many of us are stiff-necked and argue to the point that we harden our hearts rather than accept His gift and be saved in the kingdom of God. I love Doctrine and Covenants 45, and what it has to say.
3 Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
4 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.
Dearly borne with a price beyond comprehension, the Atonement of Jesus Christ was accomplished to provide a paramount gift in our behalf. God has all power in heaven and on earth. As we are nourished by his word, we come to know of his great mercy and learn to love the scriptures which witness of him. Jacob knew it. He eloquently testified of this. And he and his brothers kept a record of their family and their people. I have brothers just like those men who follow the book of Jacob and kept the record safe for a purpose they could not fully understand. Reading these words gives me increased love, compassion, and hope for them and for me.
These few books that follow Jacob and precede Mosiah are comparatively brief, but they are some of my favorite. I marvel at the wisdom and honesty of these men and their courage. Enos repented in a way he describes as ‘wrestled with the Lord’ and at last received forgiveness for his sins. Jarom, Omni, Mormon; each one has a unique story, and others (eg Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki), they all in turn kept the records. Faith, hardship, choices, and preservation of the plates according to the commandments of God were their lot. They share heartfelt memories from their lives.
Incredibly, I have brothers that in many ways are similar to those discussed in this record, and I would wager that you know people like this, too. We only have a few of their accounts; still, those we do have paradoxically include pain, suffering, dedication, joy, and influential words that carry an important message for us today a thousand years later.
We all have memories and experiences to share. Imparting these messages and stories to others helps lift and edify them and others. Today we have the means and enormous responsibility of using our experiences to edify and build those around us. Our interactions can bless lives and they should.
I would like to say more regarding these men, since I am only briefly referencing their story. But their record is available to you as well in the Book of Mormon. Besides, I can’t wait to begin reading about King Benjamin and Mosiah next.
So like them, I make an end of my speaking. Brethren, adieu.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.