Ether 1-6

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 253–259


Introduction

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve wrote: “One of the greatest prophets in the Book of Mormon goes unnamed in the record that documents his remarkable life. He is identified only as ‘the brother of Jared.’ Yet the revelation that unfolded before his eyes was so extraordinary that his life and legacy have become synonymous with bold, consummate, perfect faith” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 14).

The brother of Jared, pleading with the Lord on behalf of his family, provides an example of selfless service, humility, and faith. His life bears record that these qualities lead to divine revelation. Although the scriptural account never mentions it, the Prophet Joseph Smith revealed that this prophet’s name was Mahonri Moriancumer (see the commentary for Ether 1:34 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, p. 136).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Note: Prayerfully study each assigned scripture block and consider the principles in this section before preparing your lessons.

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 136–39.

Suggestions for Teaching

Note: Choose from the ideas in this section, or use some of your own, as you prepare to teach the assigned scripture block.

Ether 1:33. The people of Jared lived at the time of the Tower of Babel. (10–15 minutes)

Show a picture of the Tower of Babel (a full-sized version of the accompanying picture is included in the appendix, p. 308). Ask students to find scriptures in the Old Testament that refer to the Tower.

Tower of Babel

Review Genesis 11:1–9 with your students. Have them use the Book of Mormon Chronology Chart on their bookmark (item no. 32336) to find when this event occurred (approximately 2500–2200 B.C.). Read Ether 1:33 and ask: About how long before Lehi left Jerusalem did Jared and his brother begin their journey?

Before class assign a student to report on how Moroni received the book of Ether (see Mosiah 8:7–12; Alma 37:21–26; Ether 1:2). Read Ether 1:1–4 looking for what was included in the first part of the book of Ether. Ask: Why did Moroni decide not to include some of the writings in his abridgment?

Have students read Ether 1:5; 8:22–23, and ask: Why did Moroni include the material he did? Testify that the Jaredite record stands as a second witness to the Nephite record that if the inhabitants of the promised land do not serve Jesus Christ, they will be destroyed (see Ether 2:8).

Ether 1:33–43; 2:14–16. The prayers of the faithful can bring great blessings and even miracles from heaven. Failure to pray brings the Lord’s chastening. (30–35 minutes)

As a class, sing “Did You Think to Pray?” (Hymns, no. 140). Ask students to explain the phrase “Prayer will change the night to day.” Invite them to share times when prayer lifted their spirits.

Read Ether 1:33 and ask:

  • If something similar to what is described in this verse happened today, how would it affect your life?

  • How might it affect your attitude?

  • What do you think you would do?

Read verse 34 looking for how Jared and his brother, Mahonri Moriancumer, reacted to a world thrown into confusion. Have students scan verses 35–43, and ask:

  • What did the brother of Jared do to avoid the confusion of tongues?

  • What did the Lord tell his people to do?

  • What promises did the brother of Jared receive from the Lord for his people?

  • According to verse 43, why did the Lord make these promises to Jared’s brother?

Read the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:

“Prayer is such a privilege—not only to speak to our Father in Heaven, but also to receive love and inspiration from him. At the end of our prayers, we need to do some intense listening—even for several minutes. We have prayed for counsel and help. Now we must ‘be still, and know that [he is] God’ (Ps. 46:10.) …

“Learning the language of prayer is a joyous, lifetime experience. Sometimes ideas flood our mind as we listen after our prayers. Sometimes feelings press upon us. A spirit of calmness assures us that all will be well. But always, if we have been honest and earnest, we will experience a good feeling—a feeling of warmth for our Father in Heaven and a sense of his love for us. It has sorrowed me that some of us have not learned the meaning of that calm, spiritual warmth, for it is a witness to us that our prayers have been heard” (“Pray Always,” Ensign, Oct. 1981, 5).

Read Ether 2:13–14 and point out how long the interview of the brother of Jared with the Lord lasted (at least three hours). Ask:

  • What was included as part of the revelation to Jared’s brother? (Chastening.)

  • Why did the Lord chasten him?

  • Read Job 5:17 and Revelation 3:19. According to these verses, who does the Lord chasten?

  • How can being chastened by the Lord or priesthood leaders bless us?

Tell students: Imagine you are about to be interviewed personally by the Lord. You are ushered into His presence. He calls you by name and begins to speak. …

Invite students to think of one point of praise the Lord might give them for how they have lived. Have them also think of one aspect of their lives the Lord would want them to improve. Ask: Do you think the Lord would correct you in a loving and caring way?

Have students compare Ether 1:43 with Ether 2:14. Ask: How could someone who was so righteous neglect something as important as “call[ing] upon the name of the Lord”? Read the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“How great and continuing is our dependency upon the Lord, which is one of the first and fundamental facts of life, never to be forgotten, even when we are making genuine progress.

“No wonder Jesus prayed so to the Father. And oh, how He prayed, never forgetting to call upon the Father. In this, too, Jesus was unique. Even the very righteous brother of Jared, a truly remarkable man, once was chastised during a visitation from the Lord because he ‘remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord’ [Ether 2:14]. How vital prayer is, therefore, for all of us! How vital it is that even our ‘busyness’ in doing His work not crowd out our prayers to our Father” (Even As I Am [1982], 67).

Read Ether 2:15 looking for how Jared’s brother reacted to the Lord’s correction. Compare his reaction to that of Laman and Lemuel in 1 Nephi 16:1–2. Ask:

  • Why do you think Jared’s brother received the truth so much better than Nephi’s brothers?

  • How do you react when you are chastised?

  • Who decides how you react when you are chastised?

  • What can you do to handle correction better?

Read the following statements. The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

“The Lord deals with this people as a tender parent with a child, communicating light and intelligence and the knowledge of his ways as they can bear it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 305).

Elder Henry B. Eyring, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote:

“If I listen humbly, with the expectation that what matters most will be clear even to a little child, then I will be both meek enough to be quiet inside—and therefore able to hear the still, small voice—and humble enough to take correction easily” (To Draw Closer to God [1997], 33).

Ether 2:7–12. The Americas are a choice land, and the nations that live there must serve God or be swept off when they become ripe in iniquity. (15–20 minutes)

Tell students that you are going to show them one of the most fearsome weapons in history. Hold up a broom, and explain that one of the most severe warnings in scripture involves this “weapon.” Have students find references to a broom in Ether 2. Then have them read Ether 2:7–12.

Explain that these promises and warnings hold true for the nations that presently inhabit North and South America. Ask: What other nations have possessed these lands only to be “swept off” because of iniquity? (The Nephites and the Jaredites.) If desired, share President Marion G. Romney’s statement in the commentary for Ether 2:7–10 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 136).

Point out that Ether 2:7–12 fits the pattern of a covenant, with God promising specific blessings if the people do certain things. Have students quickly review these verses looking for God’s promises and what He expects of the people, and write them on the board. These might include:

God’s Promises to the People

God’s Expectations for the People

•He will give them the land as a land of promise (see Ether 2:7, 9; see also 2 Nephi 1:5–7).

•They will be free from the bondage and captivity of all other nations (see Ether 2:12).

•They must repent of their iniquity (see Ether 2:11).

•They must serve Jesus Christ, “the God of the land” (Ether 2:12; see vv. 8–12).

Ask students how they think their nation is doing relative to the list of God’s expectations on the board. Ask: What can we do to continue to receive His blessings? Testify of the importance of these principles for every nation.

Ether 2:16–3:6. The Lord wants us to rely on Him for guidance, but He expects us to do all we can to solve our own problems. (30–35 minutes)

Read for students Ether 2:16–25. While you read, have them sketch what they believe the Jaredite barges looked like. Discuss their designs. If desired, read the description of the barges in the commentary for Ether 2:16–25 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (pp. 136–37).

Read Ether 2:18–19 and ask:

  • How did the brother of Jared make the barges?

  • How does this show his degree of obedience to the Lord’s commandment?

  • What three problems did the brother of Jared present to the Lord?

Summarize on the board the students’ answers to the third question, as in the left-hand column of the accompanying chart. Have the students read Ether 2:20–25 looking for the Lord’s solutions to the problems, and summarize them, as in the right-hand column.

Problem (Ether 2:18–19)

Solution (Ether 2:20–25)

No light

The Lord asks the brother of Jared what he would like Him to do (see vv. 23, 25).

No steering

The Lord says He will guide the barges (see v. 24).

No air

The Lord instructs him to make holes with removable plugs in the top and bottom of the barges (see v. 20).

Ask:

  • Why do you think the Lord revealed solutions for two of the problems but left it to the brother of Jared to solve the problem of not having light?

  • What are some other scriptural examples where the Lord required an individual’s own effort in solving a problem? (Answers might include Nephi obtaining the brass plates [see 1 Nephi 3–4]; Oliver Cowdery translating [see D&C 8–9].)

  • How can it help us when the Lord requires us to find solutions to our own problems with His guidance?

Read the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

“Clearly the brother of Jared was being tested. God had done his part. Unique, resolutely seaworthy ships for crossing the ocean had been provided. The brilliant engineering had been done. The hard part of the construction project was over. Now the Lord wanted to know what the brother of Jared would do about incidentals” (Christ and the New Covenant, 16).

Ask:

  • What do you think Jared’s brother may have learned from the way the Lord helped him solve his problems?

  • How might this have helped him later?

  • In what ways do you think the Lord has tested you?

  • How has the knowledge you gained from these tests helped you?

Read Ether 3:4–6 and ask:

  • How did the brother of Jared decide to solve the problem of not having light?

  • How did the Lord respond to the brother of Jared’s request?

  • What impresses you most about the Lord’s response?

Read the commentary for Ether 2:23 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 137).

Testify that the Lord loves us and wants us to progress. He wants us to rely on Him for guidance, but He expects us to do all we can to solve our problems.

weekly iconEther 3. If we are righteous and obedient and seek the things of God, our faith in Jesus Christ can grow until we are worthy to have all things revealed to us. (50–55 minutes)

Draw the accompanying continuum on the board. Ask students: How would you describe someone with great faith? Discuss the characteristics they name and list them under Great Faith on the continuum.

Assign the examples below to four students. Have them read their assigned example and decide how much faith they think the person in the example has. (Note: Explain that the Lord may reveal what is in a person’s heart to His servants, but in general we do not have the ability to judge another person’s faith. The point of this exercise is to explore qualities of faith to help us better understand them and evaluate ourselves.) Have the four students write the name of the person in their example where they think it belongs on the continuum of faith. Invite the students to explain why they wrote the names where they did. Allow the class to agree or disagree and tell why.

  • Nadre does not enjoy reading the scriptures. He claims they are boring. He does not pray much either. He says that he gets much closer to the Lord by going on nature walks and meditating than by studying and praying.

  • Auggi studies the scriptures and doctrines constantly. In fact, he would rather read and study than just about anything. He feels that he gets much more out of reading and studying than he does going to meetings and home teaching. He hasn’t been home teaching in months, but he does not feel that it matters much if he diligently studies the gospel.

  • Mori tries hard to apply what he studies in the scriptures and Church publications. He knows he is far from perfect but also believes that it is important to strive to always live the gospel. He prays regularly for divine help to grow more obedient and spiritually stronger.

  • Sonya gives up! She is tired of all the expectations made of her. She has tried hard to be perfect for years but has found she just can’t do it all on her own. She has become very bitter.

Have students read James 2:14–20, and ask:

  • What characteristics of the faithful are noted in these verses?

  • Which of the people in the examples resembles these characteristics best?

  • Who in the scriptures had this kind of faith?

  • Do you know anyone personally who has this kind of faith?

Have students quickly review Ether 1:34–43; 2:16–21 looking for evidence of the brother of Jared’s faith in the Lord. Invite students to share their findings, and list them on the board. Your list might look something like this:

  • The brother of Jared was highly favored of the Lord (see Ether 1:34).

  • He “cried unto” the Lord (see vv. 34, 43).

  • He went to work as the Lord commanded him (see Ether 2:16).

  • He made the barges exactly according to the Lord’s specifications (see v. 18).

  • He did “as the Lord had commanded” (v. 21).

Ask how the brother of Jared measures up to the qualities of faith noted in James 2:14–20. Explain that the truly faithful person is one who acts.

Read Ether 3:1–6 looking for other characteristics of faith shown by Jared’s brother. Invite students to share their findings, and add them to your list on the board. Answers might include:

  • He went to work making the stones and brought them to the Lord (see v. 1).

  • He expressed deep humility over his weakness and fallen nature (see vv. 2–3).

  • He testified that God has all power (see vv. 4–5).

Read the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

“For all of his self-abasement, the faith of the brother of Jared was immediately apparent—in fact, we might better say transparent in light of the purpose for which the stones would be used. Obviously Jehovah found something striking in the childlike innocence and fervor of this man’s faith. ‘Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this.’ In a sense there may be no more powerful expression of faith spoken in scripture. It is almost as if the brother of Jared was encouraging God, emboldening him, reassuring him. Not ‘Behold, O Lord, I am sure thou canst do this.’ Not ‘Behold, O Lord, thou hast done many greater things than this.’ However uncertain the prophet was about his own ability, he had no uncertainty about God’s power. This was nothing but a single, assertive declaration with no hint of vacillation. It was encouragement to him who needs no encouragement but who surely must have been touched by it. ‘Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this.’” (Christ and the New Covenant, 17).

Write on the board Ye receive no witness until after ___ _____ __ ____ _____. Have students read Ether 12:6 to fill in the blanks. Read Ether 3:6–8 and ask:

  • How is forgiving others a trial of your faith?

  • What might the promised witness be?

  • How had the brother of Jared’s faith been tried and tested?

  • What do you think the phrase “the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared” means? (v. 6).

  • Why do you think the brother of Jared fell to the earth after seeing the finger of the Lord?

  • How do you think you would feel if you had this experience?

Have a student read aloud Ether 3:9–12, and ask: What did the Lord say was the reason the brother of Jared could see His finger? Point out that the Lord knows all things and yet still asked the brother of Jared the questions in verses 7, 9, 11. Ask: How might answering these questions have helped the brother of Jared? Help students understand that the questions could increase his faith, confidence, and knowledge. If desired, share the following statement by 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” (Christ and the New Covenant, 19–20).

Read Ether 3:13–17 and ask:

  • What did the brother of Jared learn about himself at this time? (see vv. 13, 15).

  • What do these verses say the brother of Jared saw?

  • What did the brother of Jared learn about Jesus Christ?

  • What can we learn about the Lord from these verses?

If students are confused about the Lord’s statements that “never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast” (v. 9) and “never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created” (v. 15), consider sharing the following statement by Elder Holland:

“The potential for confusion here comes with the realization that many (and perhaps all) of the major prophets living prior to the brother of Jared had seen God. …

“This issue has been much discussed by Latter-day Saint writers, and there are several possible explanations, any one—or all—of which may cast light upon the larger truth of this passage. Nevertheless, without additional revelation or commentary on the matter, any conjecture is only that and as such is inadequate and incomplete.

“One possibility is that this is simply a comment made in the context of one dispensation and as such applies only to the people of Jared and Jaredite prophets—that Jehovah had never before revealed himself to one of their seers and revelators. Obviously this theory has severe limitations. …

“Another suggestion is that the reference to ‘man’ is the key to this passage, suggesting that the Lord had never revealed himself to the unsanctified, to the nonbeliever, to temporal, earthy, natural man. …

“Some believe that the Lord meant he had never before revealed himself to man in that degree or to that extent. …

“A further possibility is that this is the first time Jehovah had appeared and identified himself as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with the interpretation of the passage being ‘never have I showed myself [as Jesus Christ] unto man whom I have created.’ That possibility is reinforced by one way of reading Moroni’s later editorial comment: ‘Having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus’ [Ether 3:15, 20].

“Yet another interpretation of this passage is that the faith of the brother of Jared was so great he saw not only the spirit finger and body of the premortal Jesus (which presumably many other prophets had also seen) but also some distinctly more revealing aspect of Christ’s body of flesh, blood, and bone. … A stronger position would suggest it was only the spiritual likeness of that future body. In emphasizing that this was a spiritual body being revealed and not some special precursor simulating flesh and bone, Jehovah said, ‘This body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit … and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh’ [Ether 3:16]. …

“A final explanation—and in terms of the brother of Jared’s faith the most persuasive one—is that 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. Said Jehovah, ‘Never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. … Never has man believed in me as thou hast.’ 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.

“That appears to be Moroni’s understanding of the circumstance when he later wrote, ‘Because of the knowledge [which came as a result of faith] of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil. … Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus’ [Ether 3:19–20]” (Christ and the New Covenant, 20–23).

Read Ether 3:18–21 looking for what happened next. Ask:

  • Who ministered to the brother of Jared?

  • Why could Jared’s brother “not be kept from beholding within the veil”? (v. 19).

  • What do you think it means that the brother of Jared “had faith no longer”? (v. 19).

  • Why do you think he was commanded not to tell anyone what he had seen and heard?

  • How do you know when an experience in your life is too sacred to share with others? (see Alma 12:9; D&C 63:64).

Read Ether 3:22–28 and ask:

Refer again to Ether 12:6 and ask:

  • What was the witness that came after the trial of the brother of Jared’s faith?

  • Who can receive such a witness? (All who exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.)

Read Doctrine and Covenants 67:10; 93:1. Testify that great blessings are available to all of us based on how we exercise our faith in Jesus Christ.

Ether 3:21–4:18. When we are prepared, the Lord will reveal more sacred records to us. (25–30 minutes)

Ask if there is anyone in the class who has a driver’s license (or you could use your own). Have the student come to the front of the class and display the license. If there are any students in the class who do not have a license, ask why. Discuss the requirements for getting a driver’s license, and list them on the board. These might include:

  • Be the proper age.

  • Pass an eye test.

  • Take a driver’s education course.

  • Pass a written test.

  • Pass a driving test.

  • Pay a fee.

  • Get permission from a parent or guardian.

Ask if anyone in the class has ever heard of the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon and, if so, what they know about it.

Have students scan Ether 3:21–28; 4:1–8, 14–16 looking for answers to the following questions:

If it would be helpful, read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Of this much we are quite certain: When, during the Millennium, the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon is translated, it will give an account of life in preexistence; of the creation of all things; of the Fall and the Atonement and the Second Coming; of temple ordinances in their fulness; of the ministry and mission of translated beings; of life in the spirit world, in both paradise and hell; of the kingdoms of glory to be inhabited by resurrected beings, and many such things (see, e.g., Ether 1:3–5)” (Doctrines of the Restoration: Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, ed. Mark L. McConkie [1989], 277).

Explain that just as there are certain requirements you must meet to receive a driver’s license, there are also requirements that must be met before the contents of the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon will be revealed. Ask students to name these requirements based on Ether 4:1–8, 15–16. Answers might include:

  • Repent of iniquity and become clean before the Lord (see Ether 4:6).

  • Exercise faith in Christ like that of the brother of Jared and become sanctified (see v. 7).

  • Not contend against the word of the Lord or “deny these things” (v. 8).

  • Rend the veil of unbelief (see v. 15).

Read 3 Nephi 26:3, 8–10 and look for when additional scripture will be revealed. Ask:

  • What did the Savior teach the Nephites? (see v. 3).

  • What is one purpose of the Book of Mormon? (To try our faith; see v. 9.)

  • What must we do to receive “greater things”? (v. 9).

Ask students if they believe we are ready to receive the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. Read the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“The Lord has promised us greater knowledge, greater understanding than we find in the Book of Mormon, when we are prepared to receive it. …

“Now the Lord has placed us on probation as members of the Church. He has given us the Book of Mormon, which is the lesser part, to build up our faith through our obedience to the counsels which it contains, and when we ourselves, members of the Church, are willing to keep the commandments as they have been given to us and show our faith as the Nephites did for a short period of time, then the Lord is ready to bring forth the other record and give it to us, but we are not ready now to receive it. Why? Because we have not lived up to the requirements in this probationary state in the reading of the record which had been given to us and in following its counsels” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1961, 19–20).

Ether 5. The Lord uses the law of witnesses to testify of His work. (10–15 minutes)

Invite students to imagine they are scribes for the Prophet Joseph Smith as he translates Ether 5. Ask them to write on a piece of paper the main idea of each verse as you slowly read this chapter of Ether. Ask:

  • As a scribe, what thoughts came to you upon hearing verse 2?

  • What hope might have come to you upon hearing verses 3–4?

Read the commentary for Ether 5:2–4 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 138).

Ether 6:1–12. The righteous are often led by the Lord to safety. (15–20 minutes)

Share newspaper or magazine reports of a recent powerful storm. Ask:

  • What is the best way to survive a terrible storm?

  • Where can you go for safety in a storm?

  • Why is light such an important aid to automobiles, airplanes, and boats during storms?

  • How can some aspects of life be compared to a powerful storm?

  • Why do we have “storms” or trying times in life?

  • How can we prepare for the storms of life?

  • What do the prophets and apostles do to help us find safety from life’s storms?

  • What light can guide us through the storms of life?

Read Ether 6:1–4 and ask:

  • How did Jared and his people prepare for their ocean voyage?

  • How did the Lord help prepare the family of Jared to cross the great sea?

  • According to verse 4, in whom did the people trust for their safety? (They worked hard to prepare themselves but “commend[ed] themselves unto the Lord.”)

Read Ether 6:5–11 looking for the conditions of the Jaredite voyage. Ask:

  • Who caused the great winds? Why? (see v. 5).

  • Why do you think the Lord didn’t calm the sea?

  • Have you ever been seasick? How do you think you would have managed on this trip?

  • How did the Lord bless the Jaredites in their travels? (see vv. 7, 10).

  • How long were they on the sea? (see v. 11).

  • What did the Jaredites do during their stormy passage? (see v. 9).

  • Read verse 12. How did the Jaredites show their gratitude when they reached the promised land?

Ask students how they might compare the Jaredites’ sea crossing to their own lives. Testify that in times of trouble we can turn to the Lord for help. He will guide us to safety if we are willing to follow Him. Sing or read “Master, the Tempest Is Raging” (Hymns, no. 105).