Lesson 146: Ether 4–5

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

The Lord commanded Moroni to seal up the recorded vision of the brother of Jared and explained that these writings would be revealed when people have faith as the brother of Jared did. Moroni prophesied that three witnesses would bear testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon in the latter days.

Suggestions for Teaching

Ether 4:1–7

Moroni records and seals up the full account of the brother of Jared’s vision

Invite students to think of an object that is especially valuable to them or their family and that they might want to keep out of the reach of small children. As an example, you may want to display or describe something that is valuable to you.

  • Why would you not allow a child to handle such an object?

  • What would a child need to learn or do before you would trust him or her with the object?

Explain that truths of the gospel are valuable to the Lord. He wants to share all of them with us, but He waits until we are ready to receive them. As students study Ether 4 during this lesson, encourage them to look for principles that can help them prepare to receive truth from the Lord.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Ether 4:1–5, and ask the class to look for what the Lord commanded Moroni to record and “seal up.”

  • What was Moroni commanded to “seal up”?

Explain that Moroni included the vision of the brother of Jared in what is often called the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. (You may want to display the chart titled “The Plates and Their Relationship to the Published Book of Mormon,” which is located in the appendix at the end of this manual.)

  • How did Moroni describe what the brother of Jared saw? (See Ether 4:4.)

To help students learn more about what the Lord showed the brother of Jared, invite a student to read Ether 3:25–26 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord showed the brother of Jared.

  • What did the Lord show the brother of Jared?

Explain that we also learn from 2 Nephi 27:7–10 that the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon contains a revelation of “all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof.”

Invite a student to read Ether 4:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what must happen before the revelation given to the brother of Jared will be made known. Invite students to consider marking what they find in their scriptures.

  • What must happen before God will reveal in our day the knowledge He gave to the brother of Jared?

  • What are some ways in which the brother of Jared demonstrated his faith in the Lord?

Ether 4:8–19

The Lord teaches how we can receive revelation

Remind students that the brother of Jared had previously received great knowledge and help through revelation because of his faith and belief in the words of the Lord. Explain that Ether 4:8–15 records the Savior’s teachings about what can prevent us from receiving truth from Him, as well as what we can do to receive additional truth.

Invite a student to read Ether 4:8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what can prevent us from receiving additional truth from the Lord. You may want to explain that to be accursed in this verse means to become separated spiritually from God.

  • According to verse 8, what can prevent us from receiving additional truth from the Lord? (Contending against the Lord’s word and denying “these things,” meaning the writings in the Book of Mormon.)

  • What do you think it means to “contend against the word of the Lord”?

  • Why do you think that contending against the word of the Lord would prevent someone from receiving additional truth from Him?

Invite a student to read Ether 4:10–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what will happen if we choose to believe the words that the Lord has already given us.

  • How will the Lord bless those who choose to believe His words? (Help students identify the following principle: If we believe the words of the Lord, then He will confirm their truth to us through the Holy Ghost. Invite students to consider marking the phrases in their scriptures that teach this principle.)

  • Why do you think we need to first believe the Lord’s words before we can know of their truth?

  • What are some ways in which we can show the Lord that we believe His words? (Invite a student to record the class’s responses on the board. Their responses may include the following: having meaningful personal scripture study, following promptings from the Holy Ghost, following local Church leaders, studying the scriptures in church and seminary, and following the words of latter-day prophets.)

Invite students to ponder how demonstrating belief in the words of the Lord in one of these ways has led them to receive a confirmation of their truthfulness through the Holy Ghost. Encourage a few students to share what they have experienced.

Refer again to the examples written on the board. Ask students to consider those examples as they silently ponder how well they show their belief in the word of God. Suggest that for each example, they mentally rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 10, with a rating of 10 meaning that the example refers to something they do well. Invite students to write in their class notebooks or study journals about one way they can show more faith in the direction they have received from the Lord. Encourage students to follow through with the goals they have written.

Hold up a piece of cloth. Explain that the Lord taught additional principles that can help us receive revelation. When He taught these principles, He referred to a veil. A veil is a curtain or piece of cloth that is used to cover or hide something.

Invite students to find the phrase in Ether 4:15 that includes the word veil.

  • What kind of veil did the Lord refer to? (A “veil of unbelief.”) How is unbelief like a veil?

  • The word rend means to tear or divide. What do you think it means to “rend [the] veil of unbelief”?

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: The Lord will bless us with further revelation as we …

Ask a student to read Ether 4:13–15 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, searching for things they can do to receive revelation from the Lord.

  • Based on what we read in verses 13–15, how would you complete the statement on the board to convey a principle? (Write students’ responses on the board. Answers may include the following ways to state the principle: The Lord will bless us with further revelation as we come unto Him. The Lord will bless us with further revelation as we pray with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.)

To help students understand these principles better, consider asking the following questions:

  • What does it mean to you to come unto the Lord? (Answers may include studying His words, turning our hearts to Him, repenting, and following and obeying Him.)

  • What does it mean to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? (To be humble, repentant, and receptive to the Lord’s will [see Guide to the Scriptures, “Broken Heart,” scriptures.lds.org].) Why are these attitudes necessary as we pray for continuing revelation from the Lord?

Invite students to contemplate how they might incorporate these principles in their efforts to receive revelation.

Summarize Ether 4:17–19 by explaining that the Lord declared that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon would be a sign that the latter-day work of God had commenced. He also urged all people to repent, come unto Him, and be baptized.

Ether 5

Moroni declares that three witnesses will see and bear testimony of the plates

Explain that Ether 5 contains Moroni’s counsel to Joseph Smith about his translation of the Book of Mormon.

Invite a student to read Ether 5:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and to imagine what it may have been like for Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon and realize that this counsel was written directly to him by Moroni over 1,400 years earlier.

  • What did Moroni say about the plates he had “sealed up”?

  • According to Ether 5:2–3, what would Joseph be privileged to do with the plates?

Ask students if they can name the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and recall what they experienced. (If students need help, invite them to read “The Testimony of Three Witnesses” at the front of the Book of Mormon.)

Explain that in the late 1830s a spirit of faultfinding spread among the members of the Church. During this period, many Saints left the Church, including the Three Witnesses. Although David Whitmer never returned, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris later rejoined the Church. But even while the Three Witnesses were not members of the Church, none of them ever denied the experience they had had with the golden plates, and they continued to testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. (See Dallin H. Oaks, “The Witness: Martin Harris,” Ensign, May 1999, 36–37.)

  • How does the fact that the Three Witnesses maintained their testimony of the Book of Mormon even while they were not members of the Church help confirm the truthfulness of their testimony?

Invite a student to read Ether 5:4–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for three additional individuals who bear record of the Book of Mormon.

  • According to verse 4, who are three additional individuals who bear record or testify of the Book of Mormon? (The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.)

You may want to share your testimony of the Book of Mormon and invite students to apply the principles you have discussed today.

Commentary and Background Information

Ether 5. The Testimony of the Three Witnesses

President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency said:

President James E. Faust

“As a young Aaronic Priesthood boy, I received a firsthand confirmation of the remarkable testimony of the Three Witnesses concerning the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. My stake president was President Henry D. Moyle, and his father was James H. Moyle. In the summertime Brother James H. Moyle would visit his family, and he would worship with us in our little ward in the southeast of the Salt Lake Valley.

“One Sunday, Brother James H. Moyle shared with us a singular experience. As a young man he went to the University of Michigan to study law. As he was finishing his studies, his father told him that David Whitmer, one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, was still alive. The father suggested to his son that he stop on his way back to Salt Lake City to visit with David Whitmer face-to-face. Brother Moyle’s purpose was to ask him about his testimony concerning the golden plates and the Book of Mormon.

“During that visit, Brother Moyle said to David Whitmer: ‘Sir, you are an old man, and I’m a young man. I have been studying about witnesses and testimonies. Please tell me the truth concerning your testimony as one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon.’ David Whitmer then told this young man: ‘Yes, I held the golden plates in my hands, and they were shown to us by an angel. My testimony concerning the Book of Mormon is true.’ David Whitmer was out of the Church, but he never denied his testimony of the angel’s visitation, of handling the golden plates, or of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Hearing with my own ears this remarkable experience directly from Brother Moyle’s lips had a powerful, confirming effect upon my growing testimony. Having heard it, I felt it was binding upon me” (James E. Faust, “A Growing Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 54).

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency said:

President Henry B. Eyring

“The Three Witnesses never denied their testimony of the Book of Mormon. They could not because they knew it was true. They made sacrifices and faced difficulties beyond what most people ever know. Oliver Cowdery gave the same testimony about the divine origin of the Book of Mormon as he lay dying. … That they continued to affirm what they saw and heard in that marvelous experience, during long periods of estrangement from the Church and from Joseph, makes their testimony more powerful” (Henry B. Eyring, “An Enduring Testimony of the Mission of the Prophet Joseph,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2003, 90).