There is something I noticed about the way Jacob discovers what’s going on. Based on what Jacob says, it led me to wonder if they were even taking action yet?

And it came to pass that Nephi died.1  
And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son. 2

It seems that indulge may not, by definition, suggest that they were practicing, but rather they were only “desiring many wives and concubines.”

Indulge3

1. To permit to be or to continue; to suffer; not to restrain or oppose; as, to indulge sloth; to indulge the passions; to indulge pride, selfishness or inclinations.
 
2. To gratify, negatively; not to check or restrain the will, appetite or desire; as, to indulge children in amusements.

Here is what caught my attention:

“For behold, as yet, ye have been obedient unto the word of the Lord, which I have given unto you.
 
But behold, hearken ye unto me, and know that by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God.
 
Yea, 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.”4

By the help of the Lord, Jacob has detected this flaw in their hearts, but it appears to be in the beginning stages. It’s not clear just yet whether or not they have begun taking multiple wives, or if they are only entertaining the thought of it.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke on this very topic in general conference, and here is what he had to say:

“In the second chapter of the book that bears his name, Jacob condemns men for their ‘whoredoms’ (verses 23, 28). … What were these grossly wicked ‘whoredoms’? No doubt some men were already guilty of evil acts. But the main focus of Jacob’s great sermon was not with evil acts completed, but with evil acts contemplated.
 
“Jacob began his sermon by telling the men that ‘as yet, [they had] been obedient unto the word of the Lord’ (Jacob 2:4). However, he then told them he knew their thoughts, that they were ‘beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable … unto God’ (v. 5). ‘I must testify unto you concerning the wickedness of your hearts’ (v. 6), he added. Jacob was speaking as Jesus spoke when He said, ‘Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart’ (Matthew 5:28; see also 3 Nephi 12:28; D&C 59:6; 63:16)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2005, 92; or Ensign, May 2005, 87–88; italics in original).5

 

The Battle Ground of the Heart

Sin begins in our hearts with our foolish thoughts and imaginations. The Lord told Adam that from our childhood, “sin conceiveth in their hearts”6 During the time of Noah, God saw that “every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart”7 After Samuel the Lamanite finished prophesying, the people began to “harden their hearts,” and “many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which were foolish and vain”8

Our Hearts are the ground upon which God’s word is to be planted.9 The Lord delivered the parable of the sower and gives us the interpretation in Matthew 13:1–23. Receiving the seed represents those who, “heareth the word of the kingdom.” God’s word, or the seed is, “that which was sown in his heart.” Alma compares the word, like our Lord, to a seed.10 Nourishing God’s word in Alma’s parable ends in a tree with fruit that represents Eternal Life.11

Perhaps God wants fertile hearts and not necessarily fertile women. The fertility of the soil or land may have more to do with how well we receive the seed, or the word of God in our hearts. It is God’s word that must be inside of us when we stand at the judgment bar of God.12 When we harden our hearts, rejecting God’s word, we are cursed and we lose light.13 It is no wonder “cursed be the land for their sakes” when the Nephites break God’s commandment to have only one wife.14 They have wrested God’s word and if they do not repent it will not be found in them at the last day.15

I will discuss this more later, but Nephi is the example of one who has his heart softened, Laman & Lemuel are the example of those who harden their hearts against God’s word.

Our Lord said it best,

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
 
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”16

Even the soil, the land, the ground that we build our foundation upon matters in the end. Christ is the rock we should build on, the only sure foundation.17 He is the word.18

 

Joseph’s Revelations

The Book of Mormon was published on March 26, 1830. Joseph had several more revelations in the following years that align with what Jacob is sharing in his sermon about the heart.

From February, 1831:

“Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else. And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.”19

From August, 1831:

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.”20

Later in August, 1831:

“And verily I say unto you, as I have said before, he that looketh on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear.”21

Joseph’s revelations reiterate the commandment given to Moses on Mount Sinai.22 Twice in Joseph’s revelations the Lord restates his saying from The Sermon on the Mount that He repeats at the Temple in Bountiful. This is where he raises the standard given to the children of Israel in the wilderness.23 The Lord takes the lesser law and elevates it to the heart, the requirement to be on Mount Zion.24 Joseph’s revelations challenge the idea of having multiple wives, and seem to align with Jacob’s rebuke to the Nephites.25

>>> Part 2.4 | A Branch of Joseph
 

Notes& Sources

  1. Jacob 1:12
  2. Jacob 1:15
  3. Indulge from the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary
  4. Jacob 2:4–6
  5. From the Book of Mormon Teacher Manual under the heading, “The Lord Delights in Chastity.”
  6. Moses 6:55
  7. Moses 8:22
  8. Helaman 16:22
  9. see Alma 32:28, Alma 33:1,23, Alma 34:4
  10. Alma 32:28
  11. Alma 32:40–43, Alma 33:23
  12. “And Amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death, and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality, and being brought before the bar of God, to be judged according to our works. Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned.”Alma 12:12–13
  13. “And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.”Alma 12:9–11

    “Therefore, thus saith the Lord: Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of the Nephites, except they repent I will take away my word from them, and I will withdraw my Spirit from them, and I will suffer them no longer, and I will turn the hearts of their brethren against them.”Helaman 13:8

  14. Jacob 2:29, Jacob 3:3
  15. Jacob 2:23, Alma 12:13
  16. Matthew 7:24–27, see also: 3 Nephi 14:24–27
  17. Helaman 5:12, Jacob 4:15–16, Moses 7:53
  18. John 1:1,14
  19. D&C 42:22–23
  20. D&C 59:6
  21. D&C 63:16
  22. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14
  23. “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:27–28, see also 3 Nephi 12:27–28
  24. “But blessed are the poor who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs.” D&C 56:18

    “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” Moses 7:18

    “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8, see also, Jacob 3:1–2

    “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” – Jeremiah 31:33–34

  25. I understand you might be saying D&C 132 is Joseph’s revelation, however for the sake of the argument I am suspending the use of that document to explore if Jacob 2:30 is opening a loophole for God to command “his people” in the future, thus allowing D&C 132 to be authentic. I’ll write more about 132 after this project is done.