The Lord speaks plainly. The gospel is elegant in its simplicity and easy for the humble and contrite to understand: “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (D&C 93:24). But men have a way of imposing a laminate upon the gospel truth to make it more sophisticated and complex, and to make themselves the intended interpreters upon whom others must depend for the key to the mysteries. This is an act of pride that is described by Jacob as “looking beyond the mark.” What does this image call to mind? Consider the following:
EVIDENCE: Looking Beyond the Mark (Jacob 4:14)
A unique expression in the Book of Mormon is “looking beyond the mark,” i.e., the boundary set between good judgment and mere tradition, the frontier separating practice that depends on the promptings of the Spirit and practice devised of men. If one looks beyond this mark, then he or she ventures into unknown and dangerous territory. The ecclesiastical leaders in Judah to whom Jacob refers preferred complexity and superficial patterning over essence and purity of content. Thus they overlooked the vital truths concerning the Atonement of the Messiah. Hugh Nibley states that in the Zadokite Fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls, “the false teachers of the Jews are charged with having ‘removed the mark which the forefathers had set up in their inheritance,’ and there is a solemn warning to ‘all those of the members of the covenant who have broken out of the boundary of the Law,’ or stepped beyond the designated mark.” Nibley says that the early Christian gospel declared that Israel erred in looking “for that which is beyond the mark.” (See Echoes, 477).