Lesson 144: Ether 2

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012


After departing from the Tower of Babel, Jared and his brother and their families and friends were led by the Lord through the wilderness. The Lord instructed the brother of Jared to build eight barges to carry his people over the sea to a land of promise. As the brother of Jared and his people obeyed the Lord in faith, the Lord gave them the guidance and direction necessary to be successful in their journey.

Suggestions for Teaching

Ether 2:1–12

The Jaredites begin their journey toward the promised land

To help students see how following the instructions we receive from God can prepare us to receive further guidance and direction from Him, conduct the following activity:

Before class, hide something representing a treasure in the room where you meet. Prepare a series of three or four clues that guide students to the treasure. You will give the first clue to the students. That clue will lead to the next one, which will lead to the next one, and so on until the students find the treasure. After they have found the treasure, ask:

  • What would have happened if you had ignored the first clue? (They would not have found the second clue.)

Invite students to review Ether 1:41–42 silently, looking for the Lord’s first set of instructions to guide the Jaredites to the promised land.

To help students see how the Jaredites responded to these instructions, invite a student to read Ether 2:1–3 aloud.

  • How did the Jaredites respond to the Lord’s first set of instructions?

Invite a student to read Ether 2:4–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the blessing the Jaredites received after they followed the first set of instructions.

  • What happened after the Jaredites followed the Lord’s first set of instructions? (The Lord gave them additional instructions through the brother of Jared.)

  • What can we learn from this account about how to receive guidance from the Lord? (Students may use different words, but their answers should reflect the following principle: As we act in faith on direction the Lord has given us, we can receive further guidance from Him. You may want to suggest that they write this truth in their scriptures next to Ether 2:6.)

To help students better understand and apply this principle, invite them to think of an impression or prompting they have received recently from the Lord. Then read the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles about how we often receive revelation:

Elder Richard G. Scott

“It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father’s capacity to respond. While sometimes it’s very hard, it results in significant personal growth” (“Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 9).

Invite students to answer the following questions in notebooks or scripture study journals. You may want to write them on the board or read them slowly so students can write them down.

  • When have you followed a spiritual prompting and then received further direction from God?

  • Why do you think we sometimes need to respond to a spiritual prompting before we can receive additional revelation?

Summarize Ether 2:8–12 by explaining that the Lord told the brother of Jared that when the Jaredites arrived in the promised land, they would need to “serve him, the true and only God” (Ether 2:8) if they were to become the great nation He had promised they could become. If they did not serve Him, they would be “swept off” the land (Ether 2:8–10). Moroni said that this was an “everlasting decree” (Ether 2:10), meaning that it would apply to all who would live in that land.

Ether 2:13–15

The Lord chastens the brother of Jared for not calling upon Him in prayer

Invite students to read Ether 2:13–15 silently, looking for what the Jaredites did when they reached the seashore.

  • What did the Jaredites do? (They pitched their tents and stayed at the seashore for four years.)

  • Why did the Lord chasten the brother of Jared?

  • What lessons can we learn from Ether 2:14? (Students may identify different truths, including the following: The Lord wants us to call upon Him regularly in prayer; the Lord is not pleased when we fail to call upon Him in prayer; and the Spirit will not strive with us if we are sinful.)

Ask students to think about their own personal prayers as you read the following statement by Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy:

“Daily fervent prayers seeking forgiveness and special help and direction are essential to our lives and the nourishment of our testimonies. When we become hurried, repetitive, casual, or forgetful in our prayers, we tend to lose the closeness of the Spirit, which is so essential in the continual direction we need to successfully manage the challenges of our everyday lives” (“Securing Our Testimonies,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 39).

Write the following questions on the board before class. (Or you may want to prepare them on a handout or read them slowly so students can write them down.) Give students two or three minutes to write brief responses to these questions in notebooks or scripture study journals.

How do you feel about the frequency of your personal prayers?

How do you feel about the sincerity of your personal prayers?

In your personal prayers, do you feel that you truly communicate with Heavenly Father? Why or why not?

If you could make one change to improve your personal prayers, what would it be?

Ether 2:16–25 (also Ether 3:1–6; 6:4–9)

The Jaredites build barges to cross the ocean to the promised land

Ask students to think of a challenge they might have or an important decision they might need to make, now or in the future. For example, they might think about a difficult family situation, challenges in school, deciding whom to marry, or choosing a profession to pursue. Invite them to ponder how the Lord might give them direction or help. As they study the rest of Ether 2, encourage them to look for principles that will help them receive the Lord’s help in making good decisions.

Invite a student to read Ether 2:16–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord told the Jaredites to do to progress toward the promised land. When the student has finished reading, ask if someone would like to come to the board and quickly draw what they think the Jaredites’ barges may have looked like.

Copy the following chart on the board without including the answers in the bottom three rows. Provide the chart as a handout or ask students to copy it in notebooks or scripture study journals.

Ether 2:18–19

Ether 2:20–25; 3:1–6; 6:4–9

Problem with the barges


What the Lord did

What the brother of Jared did

No air

Make holes that can be opened and closed in the top and bottom of the barges

Gave the brother of Jared instructions

Made the holes

No steering

Wind will blow the barges toward the promised land

Caused the wind to blow

Trusted in the Lord

No light

Prepare special stones and ask the Lord to touch them so they will shine

Advised the brother of Jared about things that would not work and instructed him to find a solution that would work

Touched the stones after the brother of Jared prepared them

Prepared the stones and asked the Lord to touch them so they would shine in the darkness

Invite students to search Ether 2:18–19 on their own to find the three problems that the brother of Jared noticed in the barges.

  • What problems did the brother of Jared notice? (Write students’ answers in the first column of the chart, as shown. Encourage them to do the same on their copies of the chart.)

After students have identified the problems, invite them to study Ether 2:20–25; 3:1–6; 6:4–9. (Note: The passages in Ether 3 and 6 will be covered in greater detail in lessons 145 and 147.) Give them time to complete the rest of the chart individually.

When students have had enough time to complete the chart, ask the following questions to help them identify principles from the experience of the brother of Jared:

  • Based on the solution to the concern about air, how does the Lord sometimes help us solve our problems or answer our questions? (Sometimes the Lord tells us how to solve a problem and expects us to follow His instructions.)

  • Based on the solution to the concern about steering, how does the Lord sometimes help us solve our problems or answer our questions? (Sometimes the Lord takes care of the solution Himself.)

  • Based on the solution to the concern about light, how does the Lord sometimes help us solve our problems or answer our questions? (Sometimes the Lord requires us to come up with a solution and ask for His approval and help in carrying it out.)

Write the following principle on the board: As we call upon the Lord and do our part to solve our problems, we can receive the Lord’s help. To help students apply this principle, ask them to consider the important decision they thought about a few minutes ago. Then ask them to ponder the following questions:

  • What do you think the Lord might expect you to do in making this decision?

  • What might the Lord do to help you?

  • How can you demonstrate trust in the Lord as you think about this decision?

Give students a few minutes to write about what they have learned today. Share your testimony that when we faithfully call upon the Lord and do our part to solve our problems, He will direct us and help us according to His wisdom and power.

Commentary and Background Information

Ether 2:4–5. Answers to prayers

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“It is vitally important to recognize that the Lord also responds a third way to prayer by withholding an answer when the prayer is offered. Why would He do that?

“He is our perfect Father. He loves us beyond our capacity to understand. He knows what is best for us. He sees the end from the beginning. He wants us to act to gain needed experience:

“When He answers yes, it is to give us confidence.

“When He answers no, it is to prevent error.

“When He withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth. We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act.

“Most often what we have chosen to do is right. He will confirm the correctness of our choices His way. That confirmation generally comes through packets of help found along the way. We discover them by being spiritually sensitive. They are like notes from a loving Father as evidence of His approval” (“Learning to Recognize Answers to Prayer,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 31–32).

Ether 2:14–15. The Lord’s chastening as an expression of love

Referring to Ether 2:14–15, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles marveled at the brother of Jared’s strength of character and God’s loving forgiveness:

“It is difficult to imagine what a three-hour rebuke from the Lord might be like, but the brother of Jared endured it. With immediate repentance and prayer, this prophet again sought guidance for the journey they had been assigned and those who were to pursue it. God accepted his repentance and lovingly gave further direction for their crucial mission” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 15).

Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord taught, “Whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you” (D&C 95:1).

Ether 2:22–23. Prayer must be combined with effort

Many people have said that we should pray as if everything depends on the Lord and work as if everything depends on us. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that he often heard President Gordon B. Hinckley say, “I don’t know how to get anything done except getting on my knees and pleading for help and then getting on my feet and going to work” (“Spiritual Capacity,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 16).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

Ether 2:8–12. “Whatsoever nation shall possess [the land of promise] shall serve God, or they shall be swept off”

Write promised land on the board. Ask students what they think makes a place a “promised land.” They might respond that a promised land is a place that God prepares for a group of people. God makes promises to the people who journey to that land and eventually live there. Help students understand that while this is true, Moroni explained that God sets certain conditions in order for the people to receive the benefits of His promises.

Copy the following chart on the board, but do not include the answers in the second row. Ask students to search Ether 2:8–12 to find the information to write in each box.

God’s promises to the Jaredites

God’s expectations of the Jaredites

He will give them the land as a land of promise.

They will be free from bondage and captivity and from all other nations.

They must serve Jesus Christ, “the God of the land” (Ether 2:12).

They must repent of their iniquities.

After students have completed the chart, ask:

  • What consequences did Moroni say would come to the people who would not live up to God’s expectations for them? (You may need to explain that the phrase “swept off” means to be destroyed.)

Explain that later in the Book of Mormon, we see that the Jaredites and Nephites were “swept off” of the promised land because they did not serve the Lord. As President Ezra Taft Benson taught, these promises and warnings are also true for the people who currently live in North and South America:

“This consecrated land has been placed under the everlasting decree of God. That decree is recorded in the sacred Book of Mormon, a new witness for Christ, in these words:

“‘For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. …

“‘Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ’ (Ether 2:10, 12).

“The eventful destiny of America has also been revealed to God’s prophets. To Joseph Smith the Lord revealed that ‘the whole of America is Zion itself from north to south’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1938, p. 362). Further, the Lord decreed this land to be ‘the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, … the holy sanctuary of the Lord’ (Ether 13:3). To serve God’s eternal purposes and to prepare this land for Zion, God ‘established the Constitution of [the United States of America], by the hands of wise men whom [He] raised up … and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood’ (D&C 101:80). …

“… Too many Americans have lost sight of the truth that God is our source of freedom—the Lawgiver—and that personal righteousness is the most important essential to preserving our freedom” (“A Witness and a Warning,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 31, 33).

  • In what ways might the promises and warnings in Ether 2:8–12 apply in our lives? (As students respond to this question, help them identify the following principle: If we repent and serve the Lord, we will be free from the bondage of iniquity.)

To help students better understand how this truth applies to them, read the following statement by Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“The fate of [the Jaredites and Nephites], as recorded in scripture, is a testimony to all the world: if we don’t have the word of God or don’t cling to and heed the word of God, we will wander off in strange paths and be lost as individuals, as families, and as nations” (“Holy Scriptures: The Power of God unto Our Salvation,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 26).

Give students time to write about what they can do to live according to this principle and how they might encourage family members and friends to do the same.