As I read through the Book of Mormon, my main purpose is to find ways in which I can apply the teachings in each chapter to my life. I try to ask myself what it is the writer is trying to tell me the reader and why is he telling me these things. Most of the time, the intent of the writer and the personal application are obvious. Other times, it is not so obvious.
This chapter probably falls in between. There are no obvious commandments found in this chapter. There are, however, a few warnings to the Jews and Gentiles which could be considered commandments. But for the most part, this chapter discusses the history and future of the Jews. It talks about certain signs that will take place before the 2nd Coming of Christ.
No Hidden Agenda
I really like the way Jacob begins his discourse to the people. In verse 3 he says, I am desirous for the welfare of your souls.” He goes on in verse 4, “And I speak unto you for your sakes, that ye may learn and glorify the name of your God.” He also tells them that he has always sought to teach them everything (regarding the Gospel) since the creation. And then he continues to teach them “concerning the things which are to come” (v. 4).
I personally believe that all the prophets from Nephi to Jacob, to Joseph Smith to President Hinckley, that they have no other agenda other than welfare of our souls. They have tried to teach us and show us the true meaning and purpose of the Gospel and then exhort us to do what is right so that we may be happy. Unlike so many voices in today’s world who try to sway us to be miserable, the prophets have been a light showing us the way of happiness.
The Messiah, the Jews and the Gentiles
Jacob continues his sermon by reading the words of Isaiah to the people. He tells them that those at Jerusalem have been slain and carried captive into Babylon. The main reason Lehi and his family fled was because of the Lord’s warning to them about Babylon’s eminent invasion. Now Jacob tells them that it has happened. We later learn in Omni 1:15 that the people of Mulek confirm this fulfilled prophecy.
After the Jews are scattered, they are again gathered and Christ manifests himself to them in the flesh, but they crucify him. Then they are “smitten and afflicted” (v. 10) again. But the Lord is merciful to them still and they are gathered again.
Next the Gentiles are warned to “repent and fight not against Zion” (v. 12).
Lastly the Messiah manifests himself a 2nd time to the Jews and again saves them from destruction.
There are a couple of warnings in this chapter. They are pretty generic, but they should not be disregarded. In verse 12 the Gentiles are warned to repent, to not fight against Zion and to not unite themselves with the great and abominable church.
In verse 15 we read that “they that believe not in him (Christ) shall be destroyed” by fire, tempest, earthquakes, bloodsheds, pestilence and famine.
So What Does It Mean for Me?
Obviously the warnings are important. If we don’t repent, we’ll be destroyed (physically and spiritually).
What else is important is the history and the prophecies surrounding the Messiah and the Jews. If we learn about the signs that will take place before the 2nd Coming, then we will be better prepared spiritually. We will know what to look for and as the signs are fulfilled, our faith will increase.
Already the gathering of the Jews has begun and continues to progress. Today we see wars and rumors of wars and all sorts of discord in the world. It will get far worse before Christ comes again.
But if we look for the signs and know what they mean, then we will (hopefully) feel the need to repent and live closely to the Holy Ghost and we will be prepared for His coming.