Jacob 3:1 unto you that are pure in heart
After having called the wicked to repentance in the last chapter, Jacob now consoles and comforts the righteous. Jacob had such love for the righteous of his people that the thought of enlarging their wounds was a burden to his soul. He had said, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained...to enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds...But...I must do according to the strict commands of God and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart, and the broken heart (Jacob 2:9-10). His promise to the righteous is that if they pray with exceeding faith, the Lord will console them and comfort them. This great promise is available to all who diligently seek the Lord.
A woman, who had just found out that her 4 year old boy had epilepsy, records her emotions on the first night in the hospital with her son:
"This was a frightening time for me, and I felt I was the one who most needed comfort and reassurance. My son did not sense my concern as he happily played with the toys in the playroom.
"After he fell asleep, I felt all alone and began praying to Heavenly Father for peace and comfort. I reached into my bag of belongings and felt my Book of Mormon. It was like finding a friend. I wondered which passage to read to find the help I needed at that moment. I prayed again that I would be able to find a scripture that would give me peace, comfort and hope. I opened the Book of Mormon to this passage (Alma 36:3) and as I read, I felt great peace come over me, knowing of God's love for me and my son, and knowing the Holy Ghost was there supporting me in this trial.
"That was 20 years ago. It's been an uphill fight for our family as our son has battled epilepsy and depression. I have never forgotten the promise made to me in that scripture. We rejoice at the very success of our son and recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives." (Betty L. Whiting, Church News, Mar. 28, 1998)
Jacob 3:2 feast upon his love
"To feast upon the love of God is to partake freely of the powers of the Savior's atonement and the blessings of his gospel; it is to 'sing the song of redeeming love,' to glory in the salvation which is his and to eat of that bread of life and drink of those living waters which are the food and drink of saved beings." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 26)
Jacob 3:3 the Lamanites...shall scourge you even unto destruction
Whenever the Nephites prosper and get rich, they become prideful. Usually the next event in the cycle is the appearance of the Lamanites, who stir them up in remembrance with great wars and contentions, And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction (2 Ne 5:25).
Jacob 3:5-7 the Lamanites...are more righteous than you
Doubtless, the Nephites were guilty of religious ethno-centrism. They had become a little self-righteous. Jacob pulls down their pride by explaining that they are more wicked than their brethren. The example Jacob uses is the wicked desire of the Nephites for wives and concubines. He explains that the Lamanites are more righteous in their family relations, for their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands. The history of the Book of Mormon shows that, in general, the Lamanites were faithful to their own family members. The crimes and wickedness of which they were guilty were usually directed against others. The fact that they had integrity in their family relations was acknowledged by the Lord, wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them.
This was not the only time when the Lamanites were more righteous than the Nephites. About 30 BC, Nephi and Lehi converted thousands of Lamanites. They became a righteous people-they did preach with exceedingly great power and authority (Hel 6:5) and cast the Gadianton robbers out of their land (Hel 6:37). Their righteousness culminated in the ministry of Samuel the Lamanite. In the year that Samuel came to prophecy (6 BC) it says, the Nephites did still remain in wickedness, yea, in great wickedness, while the Lamanites did observe strictly to keep the commandments of God (Hel 12:1).
Jacob 3:9 revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins
The Nephites had passed judgment on the Lamanites because of the color of their skin. Such racial prejudice has been the source of endless conflict and injustice in our generation. The scriptures never justify this type of pride, all are alike unto God (2 Ne 26:33), and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons (DC 38:16).
A quote from Professor Ruth Benedict and Dr. Gene Weltfish:
"Race prejudice is, after all, a determination to keep a people down, and it misuses the label 'inferior' to justify unfairness and injustice. Race prejudice makes people ruthless; it invites violence... It turns on this point of inferiority and superiority. The man with race prejudice says of a man of another race, 'No matter who he is, I don't have to compare myself with him. I'm superior anyway. I was born that way...'" (Franklin S. Harris, Jr., The Book of Mormon: Message and Evidences, p. 27)
A prominent journalist, Richard C. Hottlelet, said:
"The matter of prejudice is not a monopoly of the South. There is nothing that we in the North or you in the West can be smug about or sanctimonious about. There is prejudice and discrimination running throughout our society. Black and white is the most spectacular, but there is racial discrimination of other kinds. Every big city in the North and in the Midwest knows of various kinds of discrimination against minorities. There is religious discrimination, too, endemic in the American society, perhaps a product, some of the slag, some of the froth left in the American melting pot which is still bubbling away. But the aspect that I want to address myself to, very briefly, is the aspect of sheer efficiency, of sheer political and economic performance. You cannot bring out of a productive society all that could be if so much of it is turned in upon and against itself...There is loss to the American community of the brain power of children who are denied access to schools, of the productive, creative capacity of men who are not permitted, not given the opportunity to fulfill their promise in their professions, in the fields of science, in the fields of technology. Who is to gauge how much the United States has already lost, and who is to say that the United States can go on blithely booking this loss as though it meant nothing at all?" (Richard C. Hottelet, BYU Speeches of the Year, Feb. 6, 1964)
Spencer W. Kimball
"We do wish that there would be no racial prejudice.... Racial prejudice is of the devil. Racial prejudice is of ignorance. There is no place for it in the gospel of Jesus Christ." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 237)
Jacob 3:9 remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers
Taken as a whole, the history of the Book of Mormon shows that the Nephites were more righteous than the Lamanites. However, the Lord eventually destroys the Nephites for their rebellion. This is justified because they had sinned against the light of the gospel. 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). The Nephites knew the truth and had openly rebelled against it, Now they did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them; therefore they did willfully rebel against God (3 Ne 6:18).
The Lamanites, on the other hand, had become wicked because of the wicked traditions of their fathers. Laman and Lemuel must be held partly responsible for the wickedness of their descendants. Speaking to the children of Laman, Lehi said, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents. Wherefore, because of my blessing the Lord God will not suffer that ye shall perish; wherefore, he will be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever (2 Ne 4:6-7). This promise was repeated to the children of Lemuel, demonstrating that the Lord acknowledged that the Lamanite filthiness came because of their fathers.
Jacob 3:11 the second death
The second death, or spiritual death, is defined as being cut off from the presence of God. This means that you cannot see the face of God, you cannot withstand the presence of God, you will not enjoy the visitation of the Son, and you are not worthy of the smallest portion of the spirit of the Holy Ghost. It is a total and complete separation from God. As described in the scripture, this state happens to those who suffer in hell. It also describes the state of the Sons of Perdition who are cast out after the last soul is resurrected. Therefore, the second death has power upon all those who suffer in hell until the resurrection of the wicked. At that point the second death applies only to the Sons of Perdition, These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels-And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power (DC 76:36-7).
One might be inclined to think that the "first death" must be the death of the mortal body. This is not the case. The Lord explains that the first death is also spiritual and occurs when we leave his presence and come to earth. This is symbolized by the fall of Adam, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death (or second death), which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed (DC 29:41).
Jacob 3:13 a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people...cannot be written
This theme is repeated by other Book of Mormon prophets:
'But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work.
But behold, there are many books and many records of every kind, and they have been kept chiefly by the Nephites.' (Hel 3:14-15)
Certainly, the Book of Mormon is an abbreviated history, designed to bring us to Christ not to inform us of all the doings of the Nephites and Lamanites. The above scripture makes it clear that other records were also kept. Some of these other records were seen by the prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery while in a cave in the hill Cumorah. Brigham Young tells the story:
"Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates... When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: 'This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.'" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 19, p. 40)