2 Ne 9:2 the Jews...gathered...to the lands of their inheritance, and...their lands of promise.
"This is a promise of the restoration of the Jews to the true Church and fold of God 'when they shall be gathered home.'
"The Lands of their Inheritance (See map #5). When Israel entered Canaan under Joshua, the country was divided by lot 'for an inheritance' among the families of the various tribes. In the division the larger tribes received a larger territory than those with a smaller number of families. The country east of the Jordan was allotted to Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh. The rest of the people were settled between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. To the descendants of Levi, who were devoted to the temple service and literary pursuits, a certain number of cities with surrounding land for grazing purposes were to be allotted. (See Numb. 33:54-34:1-15) The total number of Levitical cities was to be 48, six of which were to be cities of refuge, where one guilty of manslaughter, but accused of murder, might find protection against the 'avenger,' which was the next of kin to the victim. (Numb. 35:1-8) This was the land of their inheritance. The southern boundary was the 'River of Egypt' (Numb. 34:5), which is a brook running through the Sinai peninsula to the Mediterranean south of Gaza. The northern boundary was a line drawn through Hazarenan, which some have identified as the modern Kuryetein, sixty miles northeast of Damascus.
"Their Lands of Promise. This, probably, refers to the entire territory which the Lord promised the descendants of Abraham. (Gen. 15:18-21)" (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 297)
2 Ne 9:4 in our bodies we shall see God
This comment sparks Jacob's discussion of the resurrection. He knows that there is something after heaven and hell. He understands that heaven and hell end in the resurrection to be replaced by kingdoms of different glories. Since the Bible speaks mostly of heaven and hell, and rarely speaks of events thereafter, this concept is important. It was taught by Job who said, And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God (Job 19:26).
The context is clearly talking about seeing God after one is resurrected, but Nephi and Jacob have both learned by personal experience that one who exhibits enough faith and purity of heart can see God while in the flesh. This can only occur when the mortal body undergoes a transfiguration so that it can withstand the presence of God. As Moses explained, But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him (Moses 1:11).
2 Ne 9:5 he suffereth himself to become subject unto man...that all men might become subject unto him
It is amazing to Jacob and Nephi that the being they know as Jehovah, the creator of the heavens and the earth, will be subject to Jewish and Roman political authority. There is a tone of incredulity in Nephi's statement, The Son of the everlasting god was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record (1 Ne 11:32). The events near the end of the Savior's life reflect the fact that He had power over those who became his judges in mortality. He said to Pilate, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above (Jn 19:11). Of his power over death, Christ said, I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again (Jn 10:18). Therefore, the Jewish and Roman authorities would have had no power to take the life of Jesus Christ unless he allowed them to. He was the One who was to lay his own life down, that all men might become subject unto him.
"Modern revelation speaks of our Lord as he that 'ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth ' (D&C 88:6). Christ's rise to the throne of exaltation was preceded by his descent below all things. Only by submitting to the powers of demons and death and hell could he, in the resurrection, serve as our exemplar of a saved being, one who had placed all things beneath his feet. 'I am Alpha and Omega,' he said, 'Christ the Lord; yea, even I am he, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world. I, having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am, even the Father, concerning me-having done this that I might subdue all things unto myself-retaining all power, even to the destroying of Satan and his works at the end of the world, and the last great day of judgment.' (D&C 19:1-2.)" (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 234)
2 Ne 9:7 Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement
The fall of Adam brought death into the world. The atonement must be infinite in that it must conquer death for all of Adam's children. In a more profound sense, it must pay the price for those sins which are committed by the followers of Christ. Those that exercise faith in him are given the promise of forgiveness of sins. How can one count the number of those sins? The infinite atonement means that no matter how many sins need forgiving, no matter how many people turn to the Lord as their Savior, no matter how many mistakes we make, there will never come a point when the redemptive power of the atonement runs out. There is no limit to the power of the atonement to save souls. There is no limit to the number of souls who can receive eternal life through the name of the Only-Begotten. There is no limit to the number of sins a person commits before the Lord says, "I'm sorry, that is one too many!"
This concept is one of the unfathomable truths of God's merciful plan. A mortal trying to fully comprehend the power of the atonement is like a mortal trying to comprehend the concept of eternity, the concept of an infinite amount of matter, in an infinite expanse of space, with an infinite number of kingdoms. Someday maybe we will be able to comprehend in full. For now, it is as Paul said, we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face (1 Cor 13:12).
Hugh B. Brown
"Keep your eye on the Savior of the world...He will forgive you...Don't be deceived by the wiles of the adversary and think because you may have made mistakes that you have committed the unpardonable sin. This gospel is primarily the gospel of second chance, the gospel of repentance." (The Abundant Life, pp. 270-1)
Boyd K. Packer
"I readily confess that I would find no peace, neither happiness nor safety, in a world without repentance. I do not know what I should do if there were no way for me to erase my mistakes. The agony would be more than I could bear. It may be otherwise with you, but not with me.
"An atonement was made. Ever and always it offers amnesty from transgression and from death if we will but repent. Repentance is the escape clause in it all. Repentance is the key with which we can unlock the prison from inside. We hold that key within our hands, and agency is ours to use it." (LDS Church News, Deseret News, July 13, 1996)
Bruce R. McConkie
"When the prophets speak of an infinite atonement, they mean just that. Its effects cover all men, the earth itself and all forms of life thereon, and reach out into the endless expanses of eternity....Now our Lord's jurisdiction and power extend far beyond the limits of this one small earth on which we de\well. He is under the Father, the creator of worlds without number (Moses 1:33). And through the power of his atonement the inhabitants of these worlds, the revelation says, 'are begotten sons and daughters unto God' (DC 76:24), which means that the atonement of Christ, being literally and truly infinite, applies to an infinite number of earths." (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 64-5 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 113-4)
Marion G. Romney
"Jesus Christ, in the sense of being its Creator and Redeemer, is the Lord of the whole universe. Except for his mortal ministry accomplished on this earth, his service and relationship to other worlds and their inhabitants are the same as his service and relationship to this earth and its inhabitants." (Ensign, Apr. 1976, p. 32 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 114)
Russell M. Nelson
"His Atonement is infinite-without an end. It was also infinite in that all humankind would be saved from never-ending death (see 2 Ne 9:7; 25:16; Alma 34:10,12,14). It was infinite in terms of His immense suffering. It was infinite in time, putting an end to the preceding prototype of animal sacrifice. It was infinite in scope-it was to be done once for all (see Heb 10:10). And the mercy of the Atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by Him (see DC 76:24; Moses 1:33). It was infinite beyond any human scale of measurement or mortal comprehension. Jesus was the only one who could offer such an infinite atonement, since He was born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. Because of that unique birthright, Jesus was an infinite Being." (Ensign, Nov. 1996, p. 35 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 114)
2 Ne 9:8-9 What would happen to us if the flesh should rise no more?
While Christ suffered on the cross, the rulers of the Jews mocked him saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God (Lu 23:35). What would have happened if Jesus had taken the opportunity to save himself? That he had power over death and more than 12 legions of angels at his disposal is without dispute (Matt 26:53). So what would have happened if he used this power? If he got down from the cross, killed the Roman soldiers, the chief priests, and rulers of the people? This would have saved him from death and the resurrection. All these acts would have been acceptable to the justice of God but they would have destroyed his plan of mercy. The fall of Adam would have remained in force, and all of God's children would have been left as Adam was-cast out of the presence of God-forever.
The scriptures teach us of several different things that would happen if the flesh should rise no more:
- All faith is vain (1 Cor 15:17)
- We could not receive a fullness of joy (DC 93:34)
- Those who had died in Christ would inevitably perish (1 Cor 15:18)
- We would have remained in our sins (1 Cor 15:17)
- We would become angels to a devil (v. 9)
- We would become like Satan (v. 9)
While in Gesthemane, Christ prayed Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done (Lu 22:42). What would have happened if the Father had removed this cup? What would have happened if Jesus had decided not to go through with it? Jacob encapsulates the answer in his explanation, our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil. What does it mean to become as Satan, to be an angel to a devil? Again the scriptures tell us of several unpalatable consequences:
- We would have remained in a lost and fallen state (Mosiah 16:4)
- We would remain with the father of lies, in misery (v. 9)
- Like the sons of perdition, we would be cast into the lake of fire, or the second death (Rev 20:14)
- We would return again to [our] own place (to live in the kingdom of Satan) (DC 88:32)
- We must remain filthy (DC 88:35)
- We would have a perfect recollection of all our guilt (Alma 11:43)
- Our words, works, and thoughts will condemn us (Alma 12:14)
- We will not dare to look up to our God (Alma 12:14)
- We would be shut out of the presence of God (v. 9)
- We would be forced, by the justice of God, to suffer as Christ did (DC 19:17-20)
Fortunately, neither the Father nor the Son wanted these terrible things to happen. According to the mercy of the Father, who watched from the heavens as his son plead for another way, He required His Only-Begotten to suffer the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam (v. 21). He was only able to comfort His son by sending him an angel, And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him (Lu 22:43). Because of Christ's great love for us, He partook and finished [His] preparations unto the children of men (DC 19:19).
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that thy might not suffer if they would repent (DC 19:16) Because of His great sacrifice, we do not need to worry about whether the flesh will rise no more. It will-for every person who ever lived on the earth. We are left to rejoice, as did Paul and Jacob, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:55,57). O how great the goodness of our God... O how great the plan of our God!... O the greatness and the justice of our God! (vs. 10,13,17).
"If the resurrection from the dead be not an important point, or item in our faith, we must confess that we know nothing about it; for if there be no resurrection from the dead, then Christ has not risen; and if Christ has not risen He was not the Son of God; and if He was not he Son of God there is not nor cannot be a Son of God, if the present book called the Scriptures is true; because the time has gone by when, according to that book, He was to make His appearance . . . And if He has risen from the dead, He will by His power, bring all men to stand before Him; for if He has risen from the dead the bands of the temporal death are broken that the grave has no victory, if then, the grave has no victory, those who keep the sayings of Jesus and obey His teachings have not only a promise of a resurrection from the dead, but an assurance of being admitted into His glorious kingdom." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 62. as taken from McConkie and Millet's, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 240)
2 Ne 9:9 the devil...transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light
Satan can mimic a true angel in his appearance. In this manner he can convince individuals to preach the doctrine of Satan while they believe that they are doing the work of the Lord. This is what happened to two anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon. Sherem admitted that he had been deceived by the power of the devil (Jacob 7:18). Korihor said, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God (Alma 30:53). Joseph Smith gave us a key to be able to detect Satan when he appears in this form, If is be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him (DC 129:8).
2 Ne 9:10-13 the awful monster, death and hell
Death and hell came into the world through the fall of Adam. "Death" refers to physical death, or the separation of the body from the spirit; "hell" refers to spiritual death, or being cast out of the presence of God. Both death and hell would have force upon our souls for eternity if it were not for the atonement of Jesus Christ. That is why the Book of Revelation explains that the Savior held the keys of death and hell, I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death (Rev 1:18).
Through the atonement death and hell are overcome. Death is overcome for all who live on the earth. Hell is overcome for all but the sons of perdition (DC 76:43-44). Even those of the telestial kingdom will be redeemed in the due time of the Lord (DC 76:31-44). They also are blessed with the ministration of the Holy Ghost and are therefore not cast out of God's presence forever (DC 76:86). For the sons of perdition, it is a different story. They are cast out of the presence of God to rule with the devil and his angels in eternity (DC 76:44).
So, for all but the most wicked-because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received (DC 88:32)-mankind is saved from the grips of that awful monster. Paul taught that the Lord would reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (1 Cor 15 26). John makes it clear that Death and Hell are overcome at the same time when the Savior casts them into the lake of fire:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God...and the dead were judged...And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death (Rev 20:12-14).
2 Ne 9:11 O how great the plan of our God
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland. While there, I noticed the Belfast Coat of Arms, which includes the motto “Pro tanto quid retribuamus,” or “What shall we give in return for so much?” (see Ps. 116:12)
I invite each of us to consider this question. What shall we give in return for the flood of light and truth God has poured out upon us?
Our beloved Father simply asks that we live by the truth we have received and that we follow the path He has provided. Therefore, let us take courage and trust in the guidance of the Spirit. Let us in word and in deed share with our fellowmen the amazing and awe-inspiring message of God’s plan of happiness. May our motive be our love for God and for His children, for they are our brothers and sisters. This is the beginning of what we can do in return for so much.
Someday “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess” that God’s ways are just and His plan is perfect. For you and me, let that day be today. Let us proclaim, with Jacob of old, “O how great the plan of our God!” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2016/10/o-how-great-the-plan-of-our-god?lang=eng)
2 Ne 9:14 we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt
In the resurrection, we will not suffer the limitations of memory which we now have. Our personal computers will be able to find files much better than they do now. There is scientific and anecdotal evidence that the brain stores everything which happens to us in our lives. Our inability to recall certain events does not mean the information is not there.
Neurosurgical experiments, done on awake patients, have shown that electrical stimulation to different portions of the brain can stimulate the recall of events in the subject's life that had long since been forgotten. The experiments bring the memories back with the same vividness as if the events took place yesterday. Placing the electrical stimulation on different portions of the human cerebral cortex will produce the recall of different events, suggesting that all events in one's life are recorded somewhere in the brain.
We commonly hear of people who believed they were about to die say, "my life flashed before my eyes." How could these memories flash into one's consciousness if they were not already stored in the brain? If this is the case, and the scripture suggests it is so, we would be wise to repent of those things which we do not want to remember at that day. Then we will be as the righteous who shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness.
"God has made each man a register within himself, and each man can read his own register, so far as he enjoys his perfect faculties. This can be easily comprehended.
"...Let your memories run back, and you can remember the time when you did a good action, you can remember the time when you did a bad action; the thing is printed there, and you can bring it out and gaze upon it whenever you please.
"...Man sleeps the sleep of death, but the spirit lives where the record of his deeds is kept--that does not die--man cannot kill it; there is no decay associated with it, and it still retains in all its vividness the remembrance of that which transpired before the separation by death of the body and the ever-living spirit. Man sleeps for a time in the grave, and by-and-by he rises again from the dead and goes to judgment; and then the secret thoughts of all men are revealed before Him with whom we have to do; we cannot hide them; it would be in vain for a man to say then, I did not do so-and-so; the command would be, Unravel and read the record which he has made of himself, and let it testify in relation to these things, and all could gaze upon it. If a man has acted fraudulently against his neighbor--has committed murder, or adultery, or any thing else, and wants to cover it up, that record will stare him in the face, he tells the story himself, and bears witness against himself. It is written that Jesus will judge not after the sight of the eye, or after the hearing of the ear, but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity the meek of the earth. It is not because somebody has seen things, or heard anything by which a man will be judged and condemned, but it is because that record that is written by the man himself in the tablets of his own mind--that record that cannot lie--will in that day be unfolded before God and angels, and those who shall sit as judges." (Journal of Discourses, pp. 77-9)
2 Ne 9:15 Who will be at the judgment-seat of Christ?
We always imagine that Christ will be our judge. However, He is not the only one who will judge us at the judgment-seat. Nephi declared, I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat...and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things (2 Ne 33:7,11). Moroni also will be at the judgment-seat, we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood (Ether 12:38). The Savior gave the responsibility of judging the twelve tribes of Israel to his apostles (Matt 19:28) and the responsibility of judging the descendants of Lehi to the disciples of the Americas (3 Ne 27:27). Therefore, the Savior and his servants, who wrote the scriptures before us, will judge us according to our faithfulness to the light we had received in mortality.
2 Ne 9:16 they who are filthy shall be filthy still
This phrase suggests a willful rebellion against God. The D&C teaches this principle beautifully:
'he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.
'...That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.' (DC 88:24,35)
2 Ne 9:16 the lake of fire and brimstone
"A man is his own tormenter and his own condemner. Hence the saying, They shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The torment of disappointment in the mind of man is as exquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone. I say, so is the torment of man." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.357)
2 Ne 9:20 O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things
The 1981 Institute Manual on the Book of Mormon states:
"As one reads 2 Nephi 9 one notices the interesting way that Jacob approaches each of his subjects: always in terms of God's goodness and greatness. For instance verse 8 begins, 'O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace!' Verse 10 begins, 'O how great the goodness of our God.' Look also at verses 13, 17, 19, and 20. Each item Jacob mentions is an attribute of God: God is full of wisdom, goodness justice, mercy, and holiness.
The prophet Joseph Smith has said:
'By a little reflection it will be seen that the idea of the existence of these attributes in the Deity is necessary to enable any rational being to exercise faith in Him; for without the idea of the existence of these attributes in the Deity men could not exercise faith in Him for life and salvation; seeing that without the knowledge of all things, God would not be able to save any portion of His creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which He has of all things, form the beginning to the end, that enables Him to give that understanding to His creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in Him.' (Lectures on Faith, fourth lecture, v. 11, p. 43)
2 Ne 9:21 he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature
James E. Talmage
"Christ's agony in the garden is unfathomable by the finite mind, both as to intensity and cause. The thought that He suffered through fear of death is untenable. Death to Him was preliminary to resurrection and triumphal return to the Father from whom He had come, and to a state of glory even beyond what He had before possessed; and, moreover, it was within His power to lay down His life voluntarily. He struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible. It was not physical pain, nor mental anguish alone, that caused Him to suffer such torture as to produce an extrusion of blood from every pore; but a spiritual agony of soul such as only God was capable of experiencing. No other man, however great his powers of physical or mental endurance, could have suffered so; for his human organism would have succumbed, and syncope would have produced unconsciousness and welcome oblivion. In that hour of anguish Christ met and overcame all the horrors that Satan, 'the prince of this world' could inflict. The frightful struggle incident to the temptations immediately following the Lord's baptism was surpassed and overshadowed by this supreme contest with the powers of evil.
"In some manner, actual and terribly real though to man incomprehensible, the Savior took upon Himself the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of the world. Modern revelation assists us to a partial understanding of the awful experience. In March 1830, the glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, thus spake: 'For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent, but if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I, which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit: and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink -- nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.' (DC 19:16-9)
"From the terrible conflict in Gethsemane, Christ emerged a victor. Though in the dark tribulation of that fearful hour He had pleaded that the bitter cup be removed from His lips, the request, however oft repeated, was always conditional; the accomplishment of the Father's will was never lost sight of as the object of the Son's supreme desire. The further tragedy of the night, and the cruel inflictions that awaited Him on the morrow, to culminate in the frightful tortures of the cross, could not exceed the bitter anguish through which He had Successfully passed." (Jesus the Christ, pp. 613-4).
2 Ne 9:23 they must repent and be baptized
"The teachings of Jacob clearly indicate that the early Nephites considered baptism an essential ordinance of the gospel. (2 Nephi 9:23-24.) Nephi also taught the necessity of baptism (2 Nephi 31:5-13), and then, referring to the baptism of the Savior, he counseled his followers to 'do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water' (2 Nephi 31:17).
"Concerning baptisms by the early Nephites, Joseph Fielding Smith has written:
The Book of Mormon teaches us that baptism for the remission of sins was a fundamental principle of the gospel among the Nephites from the time of Lehi all through their history. ...
All through the Book of Mormon there are references to baptism as an ordinance for the remission of sins. What their word for baptism was is not revealed, but in the translation the Prophet Joseph Smith used the familiar expression of our time. (Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:66.)
"The Lord indicates in the Pearl of Great Price that baptism has been practiced as an ordinance of the gospel since the fall of Adam (Moses 5:58; 6:52), with Adam himself being baptized (Moses 6:64-65). The purpose and necessity of baptism is clearly and beautifully explained by the Lord in this scripture. (Moses 6:52-63.)
"The following statement provides additional information on the baptisms performed before the birth of Christ:
In the former ages of the world, before the Saviour came in the flesh, 'the saints' were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to come, because there never was any other name whereby men could be saved; and after he came in the flesh and was crucified, then the saints were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, crucified, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, that they might be buried in baptism like him, and be raised in glory like him, that as there was but one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and father of us all, even so there was but one door to the mansions of bliss. Amen. (Times and Seasons, 3:905.)
(Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 139)
2 Ne 9:25 where there is no law given there is no punishment
Orson F. Whitney
"What is Sin? Sin is the transgression of divine law. A man sins when he violates his conscience, going contrary to light and knowledge-not the light and knowledge that comes from his neighbor, but that which has come to himself. He sins when he does the opposite of what he knows to be right. Up to that point he only blunders. One may suffer painful consequences for only blundering, but he cannot commit sin unless he knows better than to do the thing in which the sin consists." (Cowley & Whitney on Doctrine, pp. 435-436 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 119)
2 Ne 9:26 the atonement satisfieth the demands of justice upon all those who have not the law
The atonement has power to save those in a state of innocence. In particular, this applies to two main groups, children and those who have not the law given to them. This principle is taught in the law of sacrifice as found in the law of Moses, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord....[the priest] shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering...the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them (Lev 4:2,20).
The Book of Mormon teaches this principle in several different locations. King Benjamin's sermon includes the following, his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned (Mosiah 3:11). Mormon teaches that both children and those without the law will be saved, For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law, for the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law (Moroni 8:22).
The scriptures go so far as to say that those without the law will come forth in the first resurrection, And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection; and it shall be tolerable for them (DC 45:54). They will come forth in the first resurrection after those who are "the first fruits" (or those who come forth in the morning of the first resurrection). For the most part, they will inherit the terrestial kingdom and will be resurrected as "those who are Christ's at his coming" (or those who come forth in the afternoon of the first resurrection). See DC 88:98-9 and DC 76:71-73. If you are still confused by this doctrine, read Mosiah 15:24-25, Heb 5:2, DC 137:7, and Mormon Doctrine, p. 640.
2 Ne 9:27 wo unto him that has the law given...and that transgresseth them
Both of the scriptures in the book of Mosiah which teach of the redemption of those who were ignorant the laws of God are followed by warnings to those who have the law given to them. Jacob does the same thing. The Lord is merciful with the ignorant because they don't know better. For those who have the law given, obedience is the best option. For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation (DC 82:3). Mosiah 3:12 states, But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! When Abinidi was teaching the wicked king Noah and his priests, he warned them against their sinful state, because they had the law given to them. Their sin was particularly heinous because of their willful rebellion against God:
But behold, and fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first resurrection.
Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for he cannot deny justice when it has its claim (Mos 15:27-8).
2 Ne 9:28 When they are learned they think they are wise
Ezra Taft Benson
"The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and proud who are rich. The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them otherwise, the prophet is just giving his opinion-speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet." (1980 BYU Speeches of the year, p. 29 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 120)
Ezra Taft Benson
"Increasingly the Latter-day Saints must choose between the reasoning of men and the revelations of God. This is a crucial choice, for we have those within the Church today who, with their worldly wisdom, are leading some of our members astray. President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., warned that the 'ravening wolves amongst us from our own membership and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep's clothing, because they wear the habiliments of the Priesthood....We should be careful of them.'" (Conference Report, Oct. 1967, p.34 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 121)
Ezra Taft Benson
"Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right." (Ensign, Nov. 1993, p.16)
Boyd K. Packer
"There is almost a universal tendency for men and women who are specialists in an academic discipline to judge the Church against the principles of their profession. There is a great need in my mind for us, as students and as teachers, to consciously and continually subjugate this tendency and relegate our professional training to a position secondary to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, rather than to judge the Church and its program against the principles of our profession, we would do well to set the Church and its accepted program as the rule, then judge our academic training against this rule." (BYU Speeches of the year, 1969, p. 6 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 119-20)
Theodore M. Burton
"A university education, I believe, would be desirable for every intelligent man and woman....A little learning is a dangerous thing, and too many men and to many women who have become experts in a tiny field of learning think that because they are trained in that field of learning, they are experts in all fields of learning. Many men who are well-trained in one limited field feel that this equally qualifies them to express learned opinions in the field of faith and religion...Now, brothers and sisters, in our Church in this day and age, when education is becoming more and more popular and more and more necessary, there is grave danger of intellectual apostasy...(2 Ne 9:28-9). What causes intellectual apostasy?...Principally out of vanity and pride. They want to impress others with their learning. To put it indelicately, it is the problem of the swelled head, because that is exactly what the Prophet said" (Conference Report, Apr. 1961, pp. 128-9 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 121)
2 Ne 9:30 wo unto the rich...their treasure is their god
When Paul said, the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10), he understood the trap that the rich often fall into. They are guilty of violating the first commandment, thou shalt have no other gods before me (Ex 20:3). Loving money more than God is one of the best latter-day examples. We worship other gods when we fail to place the Lord first in our lives. One clue is seen in our speech, conversation, and desires. If we have placed the Lord first in our lives, we will talk about spiritual matters, we will be concerned with the spiritual development of our children and family members, we will not be Sunday-only Christians. If you listen to the conversations and concerns of people, you will see that they often talk about material goods, cars, houses, etc. Often times the "concern for other people" is really a cloak for the opportunity to share gossip and frivolous speculations. If we love money and gossip more than God, we are unlikely to be able to hide it. Our love of the mammon of unrighteousness will be evident in our conversations and actions. The Lord has promised us, however, that if we seek the kingdom first, He will take care of the rest, But seek ye first the kingdom of god, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt 6:33).
2 Ne 9:31-2 wo unto the deaf that will not hear
When Jacob is warning the deaf and the blind, he is obviously referring to those who are spiritually deaf and spiritually blind. Their deafness and blindness was a product of their willful rebellion against the prophets, the deaf that will not hear and the blind that will not see. The Old Testament scripture which most closely resembles this concept is found in Jeremiah, Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not (Jer 5:21). See also Isaiah 6:9-10.
2 Ne 9:39 to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal
Christ fasted for forty days while he communed with his Father prior to beginning his mortal ministry. At the end of this time period, he was tempted by Satan. Satan tempted the Master with carnal temptations. The first thing he offered was bread. The Savior, of course, refused. Contrast this with the famished Esau, who after wandering in the field (probably for no more than 1-2 days), sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for some red pottage (Gen 25:29-33). The Savior is a good example of one who is spiritually-minded; Esau is a good example of one who is carnally-minded.
The scriptures are replete with explanations of this principle. In King Benjamin's sermon, he states, For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father (Mosiah 3:19).
The eighth chapter of Romans beautifully teaches that man cannot please God if he follows his carnal desires, they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom8:8). Instead, we must please God by putting off the natural man and following the enticings of the spirit. If we do, we will become the sons and daughters of God, if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Rom 8:13-4).
According to Alma the carnal state is a state contrary to the nature of happiness (Alma 41:11). This occurs from following the plan of Satan, for his words are pleasing to the carnal mind (Alma 30:53). Much of current advertising methods, primetime TV shows, music videos, magazines, and popular music appeal to the carnal mind. That is why the brethren have been so faithful to warn us of their influence.
In a Church News article, Bruce L. Olsen remarked:
"You are part of the media generation. You are growing up in an era which looks to the media for news, information and entertainment. There is no doubt that your generation has the possibility of being the best informed of any that has lived.
"...Today's media can have a positive effect on you....Of course, the opposite can also be true. Vulgar videos, foul language, taking the Lord's name in vain, obscenity, deviant sexual behavior, and violence have become the cornerstones of much of today's media fare.
"Just look at a few statistics:
- Youth spend about 23 hours a week watching TV. By age 70 they'll have spent seven years in front of the tube.
- American youth watch an average of 14,000 sexual references - not counting commercials - a year.
- Youth view 2,000 beer and wine commercials a year. They watch an hour of music videos on weekdays, two on weekends. About 75 percent of music videos have sexual themes, and 50 percent have violence.
- A study by the national Coalition on Television Violence points out that by the time an American is 18 years old, he or she will have witnessed 32,000 murders and 40,000 attempted murders on television.
- The percentage of R-rated movies has increased 61 percent since ratings began in 1968.
- Nearly 33 percent of all close relationships on TV involve conflict or violence.
- Male/female associations on TV tend to over-emphasize the physical aspect of relationships. Couples tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time expressing love physically rather than through acts of kindness, sacrifice and service.
- Sometimes called 'Raunch'n'roll,' teenagers listen to an estimated 10,500 hours of rock music between the seventh and twelfth grade.
- By the time a student leaves high school he or she will have spent 24,000 hours in front of the television, twice the amount of time that will have been spent in the classroom.
"The list, of course, is much longer, but what is important is how your exposure to such events affects you. You might feel that your family life, education, standards and values make you 'immune' to such influences. They don't. Dr. Fredric Wertham, a psychiatrist, notes, ' . . . my work convinces me that no immunity exists. Harm is harm. . . . There may be defenses against a snowball, but there are not against an avalanche.'
"Too many teenagers and adults want to pass off exposure to sleazy media as having no effect. They are simply wrong. What is portrayed as the norm in the media often becomes accepted standard of expectation and behavior.
President Spencer W. Kimball, in an address to the students at Weber State College, cautioned this way:
"'Each person must keep himself (or herself) free from lusts, from adultery and homosexuality and from drugs. He must shun ugly, polluted thoughts and acts as he would an enemy. Pornographic and erotic stories and pictures are worse than polluted food. Shun them. The body has power to rid itself of sickening food. The person who entertains filthy stories or pornographic pictures and literature records them in his marvelous human computer, the brain, which can't forget such filth. Once recorded, it will always remain there subject to recall.'" (LDS Church News, Deseret News, Jun 8, 1991)
2 Ne 9:40 the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness
The word of God can cut the wicked to the very center. This concept is taught with the imagery of the sword, For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow (Heb 4:12). Mormon tried to speak with the sharpness of a two edged sword to his people in a desperate attempt to get them to repent. But when he speaks the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them (Mor 9:4). Nephi learned this principle firsthand from his older brothers. He was left to conclude, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center (1 Ne 16:2).
2 Ne 9:41 the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel
There is no way into the celestial kingdom except through gate make available by the atonement of Jesus Christ. He is the keeper of the gate. He will only open the gate to those who knock, And whoso knocketh, to him will he open (v. 42).
"Let me give you a definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell." (Discourses of Brigham Young, compiled by John A. Widstoe, p. 416)
2 Ne 9:44 I shook your iniquities from my soul...and am rid of your blood
The watchman on the tower has a responsibility to warn the people of impending danger. Ezekiel taught that the watchman was responsible if he did not fulfill his responsibility, if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand...if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way...his blood will I require at thine hand (Ezek 33:6-8). Jacob echoed these words, we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments (Jacob 1:19).
Jacob is always concerned that he cry repentance to the people so that he is not held accountable for their sins. In the next several verses, he explains that he would not be calling them to repentance if they were pure, Would I harrow up your souls if your minds were pure? Would I be plain unto you according to the truth if ye were freed from sin (v. 47)? He did not enjoy this duty, but he couldn't shrink from it without being responsible, it grieveth my soul and causeth me to shrink with shame before the presence of my Maker, that I must testify unto you concerning the wickedness of your hearts (Jacob 2:6). Those bishops, stake presidents, and higher authorities must follow the example of Jacob in their respective stewardships.
2 Ne 9:49 my soul abhorreth sin
It takes a lot of purification and sanctification before there is no more room in your soul for even the entertainment of a sinful thought. This is the state of God for he cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance (Alma 45:16). This is the degree of godliness we must strive for while on the earth. It is a state reached by few.
Immediately after their conversion, king Lamoni and his servants had a change of heart so dramatic that they had no more desire to do evil (Alma 19:33). Jacob had developed this as a permanent quality. The qualities of godliness and purity exemplified by this phrase are difficult to master. We are not likely to be successful in this endeavor without divine help.
"The Holy Ghost is a sanctifier....One who lives worthy of the guidance and cleansing influence of the Spirit will, in process of time, become sanctified. Sanctification is the process whereby one comes to hate the worldliness he once loved and love the holiness and righteousness he once hated. To be sanctified is not only to be free from sin but also to be free from the effects of sin, free from sinfulness itself, the very desire to sin. One who is sanctified comes to look upon sin with abhorrence (cf .Mosiah 5:2; Alma 13:12; Alma 19:33)." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 263)
2 Ne 9:53 our seed shall not utterly be destroyed
If the Nephites were destroyed in 385 AD, how could the descendents of Jacob and Joseph, presumably numbered with the Nephites, have survived this great battle?
It should be remembered that the division of the people into these two camps, the Nephites and the Lamanites, is a vast oversimplification. Jacob records, Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites. I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish them by these names, but I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites, or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings (Jacob 1:12-13). The Book of Mormon record states that there were Lamanites among the Nephites and Nephites among the Lamanites. These had chosen their allegiance based on religious and political lines and not racial lines. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the promise was given to Joseph (in 2 Ne 3:3) that some of his seed would be preserved even after the final destruction of the Nephites. This means that some Josephites and Jacobites who had defected to the Lamanite side would merge with Lamanite society (see Alma 45:13-4) and their blood would be preserved. DC 3:16-17 explains that the blood of Joseph, Jacob, Nephi and Zoram was preserved and that the testimony of the Book of Mormon was to come to their descendants in the last days.