CLICK HERE to read Jarom.
Jarom is another one chapter book in The Book of Mormon. He was the son of Enos, and continued the record passed down to him as his father commanded. Like his father, he understands that he is writing for the benefit of people far into the future. But he also knows, like his father, that what will benefit the people is the plan of salvation. So he does not write a great deal, and he does not share his own prophesies or his own revelations.
“For what could I wrote more than my fathers have written? For have not they revealed the plan of salvation?” (verse 2).
HA! I love this guy! He says, “get it already!” “You know better!” “You know what to do, just do it!”
I love it.
But the people will not, and do not.
This is the sad-est and scary-est type of situation with people: when they know what to do, and even understand why, but will not do it. It is the ultimate stubborn-ness, the refusal to submit, the very stiff-neck that will not bow to the Father’s command.
So something has to be done about it, Jarom says.
“Behold, it is expedient that much should be done among this people, because of the hardness of their hearts, and the deafness of their ears, and the blindness of their minds, and the stiffness of their necks…” (verse 3).
Yet still, the Lord is merciful, ever inviting them to look to Him and what He is waiting to give.
“God is exceedingly merciful unto them” (verse 3).
The evidence? Because He has not yet destroyed them.
We know, from every situation described in scripture, from the Old Testament to the New to the Book of Mormon, this is always the case: the Lord invites us to respond to Him, and that is where we get our provision and protection and blessings. When we do not go to Him, He is unable to give us these things. This leaves us in our own bondage. Still then, He calls for us to turn to Him, so that He can deliver us from bondage. When we do, He rescues us and then is able to bless us with all He has to offer. When we do not, our own consequences of our own choices are the result.
So still, Jarom says, the Lord is waiting, ever merciful, hoping we turn to Him.
And when we do, He does bless us and protect us and provide for us! Even by the Holy Spirit, who does correct and instruct and guide: “And there are many among us who have many revelations, for not all are stiffnecked” (verse 4).
And who is not stiffnecked? Those who “have faith (and) have communion with the Holy Spirit” (verse 4). To be worthy of the Holy Spirit means we are being an obedient people, which does open up even more access to the Spirit who does sanctify us to make us worthy-er. It’s an upward-spiral kind of process, and a gift to us while we navigate mortality.
Jarom tells the story of his family navigating mortality, with it now being 200 years later. “The people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land. They observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord. And they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme. And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict” (verse 5).
This is a comparison text, meaning he is comparing what makes the Nephites “set apart” from other people in the land. He points out that their strength comes from their obedience to the Lord, and their observance of the Holy Sabbath is evidence of that consecration. Then, specifically, their words are also consecrated – they do not use profane language and they do not curse God. The laws they followed were strict, because it was necessary for them to be set apart in order to be made holy.
It’s a good reminder to us in the world in which we live, when cuss words are excused by using initials without saying the whole word, when it is easier to buy a pizza on Sunday than cook a home meal, and when it is easier to blame God for real life problems and for the people that make our lives difficult. But these things are not right, and such behaviors are a slippery slope into the world. It dulls the line that sets us apart, and sometimes even moves the line over so that we think we have not crossed the line and yet are engaging in behavior that is not set-apart-behavior.
And it is hard, because there are more of them than there are of us (verse 6).
So the pressure is intense.
And what counts as crossing-the-line gets more and more subtle.
But we are still at battle, in the same war we fought in Heaven, and should be fighting to keep that line obvious and clear, plain and simple. We should not be crossing it.
The world, even Satan, will try to make us cross the lines.
This is the battle.
“And it came to pass that they came many times against us, the Nephites, to battle. But our kings and our leaders were mighty men in the faith of the Lord, and they taught the people the ways of the Lord; wherefore, we withstood the Lamanites…” (verse 7).
Not only did they withstand the enemy (by doing what they were told), but they also “fortified” themselves. This means protection more than what is necessary just to survive. So instead of just building a wall around the city, there were also defenses and towers and extra things.
The prophets have said that instead of praying just once a day, we should be praying morning and night. The prophets have said that very soon, praying only morning and night will not be enough, and that Family Home Evening once a week will not be enough. Already we are told to read our scriptures for an hour a day, and soon that will not be enough to be in tune with the spirit to navigate each day. We will be required to do more, to fortify ourselves, to keep ourselves strong and well and safe.
But these people were obedient, and did these things.
And they multiplied, and were blessed with provision and protection, working hard to do what was required to keep themselves strong and safe and well and protected.
“inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land” (verse 9).
Inasmuch is more of that “to the degree”.
As much as you put in the work to keep your family safe and provided for, they will be safe and provided for.
As much as you put in the work to be spiritually nourished and strengthened, you will be spiritually safe and nourished.
His love for us is unconditional, absolutely.
But what we get out of that relationship is absolutely dependent upon what we put into it.
His love is unconditional; the blessings are covenant-based, and so therefore very conditional.
The Lord sends us prophets to remind us of this, just as He always has:
“the prophets of the Lord did threaten (warn) the people of Nephi, according to the word of God, that if they did not keep the commandments, but should fall into transgression, they should be destroyed…” (verse 10).
It’s that simple.
If you want financial blessings, follow the laws of tithing and avoiding debt.
If you want a loving spouse who is kind, be a spouse with a gentle and sweet spirit.
If you want peace in your home, love your family without feeding contention.
If you want physical strength in some form, obey the word of wisdom – not just be refusing the “forbidden” things, but also doing the part about eating what is healthy and getting good exercise regularly and often.
If you want intimacy, then protect your chastity and/or be faithful (even emotionally).
It’s that simple, plain and simple.
His laws are not complicated.
They are not laws, as in oppressive rules.
They are laws, as in physics: if you want this, do this and that will happen.
He is telling us how the system works; we only need to do what He says to get the results He has promised.
It’s so, so simple.
“Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them” (verse 11).
So the prophets and apostles and priesthood leaders continue to teach us today, through General Conference, Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School, Home Teaching, and Priesthood Blessings.
This is the way. Walk in it.
“And it came to pass that by so doing, they kept them from being destroyed….” (verse 12).
They are trying to help us.
Do what they say.
“for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance” (verse 12)
This is the ultimate love, the ultimate friendship. The deepest love and the strongest friendship is one that will tell the truth, not one that will set aside truth for convenience. These leaders taught those people the truth, and it saved our lives. So our leaders teach us the truth, and heeding their counsel will save our lives.
Even when the truth “pricks” our hearts, because it is hard work to do.
But it is the work that will save us.