Jacob 3:1-2– LeGrand Baker — pure in heart

Jacob 3:1-2– LeGrand Baker — pure in heart

Jacob3:1-2
1   But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.
2   O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.

Here Jacob is using one of those golden phrases which are reserved in the scriptures are never trite, yet which sounds so simple that we sometimes read over them without considering their meaning. The phrase is “pure in heart.”

A few weeks ago [Aug. 1999] I did a rather complete look at the word “heart,” and sent it to you. As you will recall, it was used in the Old Testament to mean the place where one thinks and feels. That is, the heart is the seat of one’s emotions as well as of one’s intellect.

I think the best places to look to discover the meaning of “pure” is the Psalms in the Old Testament, and the Beatitudes in the New Testament. Both are written in a temple context, just as Jacob’s sermon is, so that also narrows down the meaning somewhat.

The Psalm which probably comes most closely to saying what Jacob is saying is the 24th, where one reads:

3   Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? [The hill upon which the temple is built] or who shall stand in his holy place? [the Holy of Holies in the temple]
4   He that hath clean hands [hands which are ceremonially cleansed – having received a washing ordinance], and a pure heart [In that Psalm, the Hebrew word which is translated “pure,” is also translated “clean” in Job 11:4, and in Psalm 73:1. It is translated “choice” in Song 6:9 ]; who hath not lifted up [exalted] his soul unto vanity [pride, an illusion, a puff of breath, nothingness], nor sworn deceitfully. [“loves and makes a lie”]
5   He shall receive the blessing from the Lord and righteousness [zedek – correctness in priesthood and temple things] from the God of his salvation.

The Hebrew word translated “blessing” is almost always translated that way when it is a gift which comes from the Lord, but when it comes from a person, the word is translated “present,” as in 2 Kings 18:31. In my mind, it is not a great conceptual leap to go from blessing or present to endowment, which is a self perpetuating gift. So my admittedly untrained mind wonders if our special meaning of the word “endowment” might be an appropriate translation here instead of “blessing.”

As I understand those verses, they mean that one who has received the appropriated ordinances, and has a “pure heart” will receive temple blessings “from the God of his salvation.” Apparently, “from the God of his salvation.” means “from the God of his salvation.”

I think the best place to look for the New Testament (and Third Nephi ) meaning of “pure in heart” is in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” There, the Greek word translated “pure”also may be translated “clean” or “clear.” So the Hebrew and Greek words seem to convey essentially the same meaning.

I think it is important that the Beatitude reaches the same conclusion as the Psalm. That is, “He shall receive the blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” May not be substantially different from, “for he shall see God.”

Alma implies the same thing when he asks, “I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?” (Alma 5:19)

Some, but not all, of the contexts in which that phrase “pure in heart” is used in the Doctrine and Covenants imply the same thing. For example,

Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God. … Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion–THE PURE IN HEART; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn (D&C 97:16, 21; see also, D&C 56:18).

If Jacob was using that phrase in the same way it is used in these other examples, then there is great power in what he says:

1   But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.
2   O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever (Jacob 3:1-2 ).

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