Lesson 145: Ether 3

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

Responding to the Lord’s question—“What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?”—the brother of Jared prepared 16 stones and humbly asked the Lord to touch them “that they may shine forth in darkness” (Ether 2:23; 3:4). Because the brother of Jared had great faith, he saw the Savior’s finger touch the stones. The Lord then showed Himself to the brother of Jared and revealed many things. The Lord commanded the brother of Jared to write what he had seen and heard and to seal up these writings until the Lord would desire them to come forth.

Suggestions for Teaching

Ether 3:1–20

The Lord touches stones to provide light for the Jaredite barges and shows Himself to the brother of Jared

Invite a student to act as scribe. Then ask students the following question and ask the scribe to list students’ answers on the board.

  • What are some things teenagers sincerely pray for?

Ask students to imagine that one of their friends is praying for one of the things listed on the board. This friend would like to know how to improve his or her prayers and actions to be able to receive the Lord’s help and guidance. Encourage students to think about this request as they study the example of the brother of Jared in Ether 3, looking for insights that they might share with their friend.

Remind students that in the previous lesson, they discussed the account of the brother of Jared asking the Lord about how to provide light in the Jaredites’ barges.

Summarize Ether 3:1 by explaining that as part of the solution for lighting the barges, the brother of Jared carefully prepared 16 small stones and carried them to the top of a mountain.

Invite students to read Ether 3:2–3 with a partner, looking for phrases that indicate that the brother of Jared recognized his dependence on the Lord. Ask them to report their findings to each other.

As students read Ether 3:2, they may have questions about the phrases “we are unworthy before thee” and “our natures have become evil continually.” Help them see that when the brother of Jared used these words, he referred to the condition we have inherited “because of the fall.” We are physically and spiritually separated from God, and we further separate ourselves from Him when we sin. Compared to Him, we are weak and unworthy. Without His help, we could never return to dwell in His presence.

  • How would you describe the attitude of the brother of Jared as he prepared to present his solution for lighting the barges to the Lord? (He was humble.)

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: As we humbly call upon the Lord, …

Ask a student to read Ether 3:4–6 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for words and phrases that illustrate the faith of the brother of Jared as he called upon the Lord in prayer.

  • Which words or phrases in verses 4–6 illustrate the faith of the brother of Jared as he called upon the Lord in prayer? (Invite students to consider marking the following phrase in verse 4: “And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man.”)

  • Based on what we discovered in verses 4–6, how would you complete the statement on the board to identify a principle? (Students may give a variety of answers. After they respond, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following principle: As we humbly call upon the Lord, He will bless us according to our faith and His will.)

  • Why do you think it is important for us to exercise faith in the Lord and seek His will when we ask for His help?

Refer to the list on the board from the beginning of the lesson. Invite students to share their thoughts on how someone might show faith in the Lord in those particular situations. After students have shared, refer to the principle you have written on the board.

  • What experiences have you or a loved one had that have helped you know that this principle is true? (You may want to share an experience you have had when you received blessings because you exercised faith in the Lord.)

To help students apply this principle in their lives, invite them to think about a situation in which they need the Lord’s help. Give them time to write in their class notebooks or study journals about one way they can exercise more faith as they humbly seek the Lord’s help. Encourage students to follow through on what they have written.

Brother of Jared seeing finger of the Lord

Show the picture The Brother of Jared Sees the Finger of the Lord (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 85; see also lds.org/media-library).

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Ether 3:7–12. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the brother of Jared continued to exercise faith after he saw the finger of the Lord touch the stones.

  • How did the brother of Jared continue to exercise faith in the Lord?

Point out that when the Lord asked, “Believest thou the words which I shall speak?” the brother of Jared said, “Yea, Lord” (Ether 3:11–12).

  • Why is it significant that the brother of Jared committed to believe the Lord’s words before he heard them?

  • What principle do these verses teach us about how we can exercise faith in Jesus Christ? (Help students identify the following principle: We can exercise faith in Jesus Christ by choosing to believe the words He will speak to us. Write this principle on the board. Invite students to consider writing this principle in their scriptures next to verses 11–12.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Redemptive faith must often be exercised toward experiences in the future—the unknown, which provides an opportunity for the miraculous. Exacting faith, mountain-moving faith, faith like that of the brother of Jared, precedes the miracle and the knowledge. … Faith is to agree unconditionally—and in advance—to whatever conditions God may require in both the near and distant future” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 18–19).

Read aloud the following scenarios. After each scenario is read, invite students to explain why it is important for the person to exercise faith in Jesus Christ by choosing in advance to believe the words the Lord will speak to her or him:

  1. 1.

    A young woman is preparing to receive her patriarchal blessing.

  2. 2.

    A young man is awaiting his mission call and assignment.

  3. 3.

    A young woman is praying for guidance on how to help a friend.

Encourage students to consider whether they have enough faith in the Lord to commit to believe and follow what He will reveal to them even before He reveals it.

Ask a student to read Ether 3:13 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the brother of Jared experienced after he committed to believe the words the Lord would speak to him.

  • What did the brother of Jared experience?

Invite students to study Ether 3:14–20, either individually or in pairs. Ask them to identify gospel truths the brother of Jared either learned or had confirmed to him during his experience in the Lord’s presence. You may want to suggest that they mark these truths in their scriptures. Invite students to report what they find. As students report, help them identify the following truths, and write them on the board:

Jesus Christ was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem us (see Ether 3:14).

God created us in His own image (see Ether 3:15).

Jesus Christ showed Himself in the spirit before He was born in the flesh (see Ether 3:16).

Jesus Christ’s physical body is in the likeness of His spirit body (see Ether 3:16–17).

Jesus Christ ministers to people to help them know that He is God (see Ether 3:18).

Invite students to choose one truth on the board that they feel is important to know or is particularly meaningful to them. Ask a few of them to share which truth they chose and why it is meaningful to them.

Point out that the brother of Jared learned these truths about Jesus Christ after exercising faith in Him. Add the following truth to the list on the board: As we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, we will come to know Him better.

Ether 3:21–28

The Lord commands the brother of Jared to write the things he has seen and to seal up his record

Summarize Ether 3:21–28 by explaining that the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to write down the things he had seen and heard and to seal up his writings. The Lord also explained that He would prepare a way for the writings of the brother of Jared to be translated in the future—through two stones. These stones were part of what is called a Urim and Thummim (see D&C 17:1; see also Bible Dictionary, “Urim and Thummim”).

Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths you have discussed and encouraging students to apply what they have learned today—to exercise their faith in Jesus Christ by choosing to believe the words He will speak to them.

Commentary and Background Information

Ether 3:7, 9. The Lord asks questions of the brother of Jared

The Lord asked questions of the brother of Jared: “Arise, why hast thou fallen?” (Ether 3:7). “Sawest thou more than this?” (Ether 3:9). The scriptures include many examples of the Lord asking questions even though He already knows the answers. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught why the Lord asks such questions:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“It is a basic premise of Latter-day Saint theology that God ‘knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it’ [2 Nephi 9:20; see also D&C 38:1–2]. The scriptures, both ancient and modern, are replete with this assertion of omniscience. Nevertheless, God has frequently asked questions of mortals, usually as a way to test their faith, measure their honesty, or develop their knowledge” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 19–20).

Ether 3:15. “Never have I showed myself unto man”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presented a possible explanation for Jesus’s statement that He had never shown Himself to man prior to showing Himself to the brother of Jared:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Christ was saying to the brother of Jared, ‘Never have I showed myself unto man in this manner, without my volition, driven solely by the faith of the beholder.’ As a rule, prophets are invited into the presence of the Lord, are bidden to enter his presence by him and only with his sanction. The brother of Jared, on the other hand, seems to have thrust himself through the veil, not as an unwelcome guest but perhaps technically as an uninvited one. … Obviously the Lord himself was linking unprecedented faith with this unprecedented vision. If the vision itself was not unique, then it had to be the faith and how the vision was obtained that was so unparalleled. The only way that faith could be so remarkable was its ability to take the prophet, uninvited, where others had been able to go only with God’s bidding” (Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 23).

Ether 3:16. “This body … is the body of my spirit”

While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr. emphasized that through the account of the brother of Jared, we learn about the Savior’s premortal body and godhood:

Elder Cecil O. Samuelson

“Nowhere in the scriptures is a clearer account given of the nature of the spirit body of the Lord Jesus Christ and, indeed, of the characteristics of our own spirits. The brother of Jared not only saw the finger of the antemortal Jesus Christ but indeed perceived His entire spirit body (see Ether 3:6, 13). Understanding the premortal godhood of Jesus Christ together with our own spiritual identities prior to our births in the flesh is a great blessing and advantage” (Cecil O. Samuelson Jr., “The Brother of Jared,” in Heroes from the Book of Mormon [1995], 185).

Ether 3:23–24. “These two stones”

The two stones that the Lord gave to the brother of Jared were part of what is called a Urim and Thummim. “There is more than one Urim and Thummim, but we are informed that Joseph Smith had the one used by the brother of Jared (Ether 3:22–28; D&C 10:1; 17:1). … A partial description is given in [Joseph Smith—History 1:35]. Joseph Smith used it in translating the Book of Mormon and in obtaining other revelations” (Bible Dictionary, “Urim and Thummim”).