Jacob 3:8 — LeGrand Baker — ‘holy, without spot’
8 O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.
Ancient Israelite temples were both the same and different from ours. As I read the following:
38 For, for this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was (D&C 124:38).
I see the very strong suggestion that the temple ceremonies which were revealed in the Nauvoo temple were also performed in Moses’ tabernacle and Solomon’s temple. There were smaller rooms and a staircase mentioned as being a part of Solomon’s temple, but no mention is made of how they were used. There also seems to me to be enough evidence in the pre-3 Nephi portion of the Book of Mormon to suggest they had the same temple rites as we have. Yet their temples had some dramatic features which ours do not. Some of those features had to do with burnt offerings and sacrifices which have since been discontinued. One, perhaps the most striking, of the features was the huge golden throne sitting against the back wall of the Holy of Holies. This was the throne of God on earth, and represented his throne in the temple of heaven.
The dramatic conclusion of the New Year Festival (their 22 day covenant renewal ceremonies) occurred in the Holy of Holies when the newly anointed king, adopted as a son of God, sat upon his Father’s throne, and presided in God’s stead over earthly Israel. Some scholars have suggested that the king’s adoption and enthronement was symbolic of the adoption and enthronement of each of the persons who watched the ceremony.
While that is probably true, it is certainly true that the adoption and enthronement of the king represented the prediction of a similar event which would take place after death when each individual returned to God to be presented to him as he sat upon his heavenly throne.
Jacob’s statement can probably best be understood in connection with the drama of that ancient royal temple ceremony.
That accounts for context of Jacob’s statement, but it does not account for his remarkable comment about their skin color “when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.”
It seems to me that the skin color in Jacob’s statement is also symbolic.
When Heber C. Kimball spoke at the funeral of President Jedediah M. Grant (Journal of Discourses 4: 135-138.) he said that President Grant had been in the spirit world several times before his final death, and that when he returned to his body President Grant “could look upon his family and see the spirit that was in them, and the darkness that was in them; and that he conversed with them about the Gospel’, and what they should do, and they replied, ‘Well, brother Grant, perhaps it is so, and perhaps it is not,’ and said that was the state of this people, to a great extent, for many are full of darkness….” When I first read that, it reminded me of Moroni 10:33 which reads, “…then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.” If I understand those statements correctly, it is better to be a person of light, than a person of light who is partly darkness – “spot” may be Moroni’s description of that darkness. While I readily admit that Jacob says he is talking about skin color, it still seems to me that his observations may not be about skin color at all, but about personal darkness. He may be saying essentially the same as President Grant and Moroni said.