Lesson 149: Ether 12:1–22

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2012


Introduction

After recounting many years of Jaredite history, Moroni introduced the ministry of the prophet Ether. Moroni then interrupted the historical account to record some of the blessings that come to those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ. This lesson covers Ether 12:1–22, while lesson 150 deals with Ether 12:23–41.

Suggestions for Teaching

Ether 12:1–4

Ether preaches repentance to the Jaredites

Begin class by inviting a student to come to the board and draw some waves and a boat secured by an anchor.

  • Why is it important for a boat to have an anchor?

  • What dangers or difficulties might a boat encounter if it does not have an anchor?

  • What influence do waves have on a boat? (Answers might include that waves cause a boat to move around, drift, or be tossed to and fro.)

Label the boat with the words your life.

  • If the boat represents our lives, what could the waves be likened to? (Answers might include social pressures, adversity, false teachings, or wickedness.)

  • How might a person’s life be like a boat without an anchor? (You may want to suggest that students read Mormon 5:17–18 to help them answer this question.)

  • What are some things the Lord has provided that can act as spiritual anchors in our lives? (Students may give a variety of answers. Many aspects of the gospel could be likened to an anchor.)

Encourage students to look for examples of spiritual anchors as they study Ether 12.

Explain that Ether 12 begins with Moroni’s introduction of Ether, a Jaredite prophet who preached during a time when the people rejected the prophets and lived in wickedness. Invite students to read Ether 12:1–3 silently, identifying anything that impresses them about Ether’s actions. Have them report what they find.

Invite a student to read Ether 12:4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, identifying what those who believe in God can “hope for” despite being surrounded by difficulties and wickedness. As students respond, you might want to point out that the “better world” we are to hope for is “a place at the right hand of God.”

  • What does it mean to have a place at the right hand of God? (To return to His presence and receive eternal life.)

  • How do you think having hope “with surety” is different from merely wishing for something? (In the scriptures, hope refers to having confidence that we can receive the blessings God promises us if we keep our covenants with Him.)

  • According to Ether 12:4, how do we gain hope of receiving a place at the right hand of God? (As students respond, explain that the faith mentioned in Ether 12:4 refers to faith in Jesus Christ.) How does faith in Jesus Christ allow us to hope “with surety” for a place at the right hand of God?

On the board, label the anchor with the words faith and hope.

  • According to Ether 12:4, what happens when someone has hope and faith in Jesus Christ? (Though students may respond with different words, they should express the following principle: When we have hope and faith in Jesus Christ, we will become steadfast and we will abound in good works.)

  • What do you think it means to “abound” in good works? (To do many good things.)

  • What are some good works that “glorify God”? (Answers might include prayer, scripture study, serving others, and developing talents.)

  • Think of people you know who always seem to abound in good works and are not ashamed to glorify God. What are some specific things they do that make them good examples of this principle?

Invite students to ponder times when it has been difficult for them to be steady and to abound in good works. To help students prepare for similar situations throughout their lives, encourage them to look for ways they can increase their faith and hope as they continue to study Ether 12.

Ether 12:5–22

Moroni recounts miracles and mighty works that came by faith

Write the following phrase on the board: I would like to gain a spiritual witness that …

Invite students to suggest any gospel truths, principles, or doctrines for which people may seek a spiritual witness. As students respond, write their answers on the board. (Responses might include a witness that the Book of Mormon is true; living a clean and virtuous life is important; the Word of Wisdom is a law of God; I should prepare to serve a mission.) Invite students to think of a gospel truth for which they would like to receive a spiritual witness or stronger testimony.

Explain that some people have the following attitude: “I will not believe or live according to a gospel principle until I see evidence that it is true.” Invite students to read Ether 12:5–6 silently, looking for how these verses relate to this attitude. Point out that Ether 12:6 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to suggest that students mark this passage in a distinctive way so they will be able to find it easily.

  • According to Ether 12:6, what must happen before we can receive a witness?

  • What thoughts do you have as you think about the phrase “trial of your faith”?

After students respond, you may want to explain that some people mistakenly interpret “trial of faith” to always refer to hardship. The phrase “trial of faith” can describe anything that gives us an opportunity to demonstrate or exercise our faith in Jesus Christ. To help students gain a better understanding of this phrase, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Before the statement is read, ask the class to listen for Elder Scott’s explanation of the phrase “trial of faith.”

“You can learn to use faith more effectively by applying this principle taught by Moroni: ‘… ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith’ [Ether 12:6; italics added]. Thus, every time you try your faith, that is, act in worthiness on an impression, you will receive the confirming evidence of the Spirit. Those feelings will fortify your faith. As you repeat that pattern, your faith will become stronger” (“The Sustaining Power of Faith in Times of Uncertainty and Testing,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2003, 76).

  • How is the process described by Elder Scott different from the attitude of those who want evidence before they will believe or act?

Write the following scripture references on the board: Ether 12:7–12; Ether 12:13–18; Ether 12:19–22, 30–31. Divide the class into three groups, and assign one of the scripture passages to each group. Ask students to look for blessings that came as a result of the faith of the people described in each passage. Encourage them to notice the use of the phrase “after they had faith” or “until after their faith” in verses 7, 12, 17, 18, and 31. (You may want to suggest that students mark these phrases each time they appear.)

After students report what they have found, invite them to summarize what the Lord provides after we demonstrate faith in Jesus Christ. Though students may use different words, they should express a truth similar to the following: If we desire a spiritual witness, then we must first exercise faith in Jesus Christ. Explain that much like spiritual witnesses, miracles do not come until after we have exercised our faith.

Present the following situations to the class. Invite students to explain how the individual in each situation might demonstrate faith in the Lord.

  1. 1.

    A young woman wants to receive a witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

  2. 2.

    A young man has a strong desire to help his loved ones accept the gospel.

Invite students to ponder a time when they or people they know have received spiritual witnesses or miracles after demonstrating faith in the Lord. Invite a few students to share the experiences they thought of. (Be sure students understand that they should not feel obligated to share experiences that are too personal or private.) You may also want to share an experience.

Invite students to recall the gospel truth of which they would like to receive a spiritual witness. Invite them to write in notebooks or scripture study journals something they might do to exercise more faith in the Lord.

Scripture Mastery—Ether 12:6

To help students memorize Ether 12:6, invite each student to write the verse on a piece of paper, leaving out key words or phrases and inserting blank spaces in their place. Once they are done, give students a minute to try to memorize the verse, mentally filling in the blanks on their papers.

Ask students to exchange papers with someone close to them. Each student should read his or her new paper aloud, trying to fill in the blank spaces from memory. Time permitting, have students repeat the activity by exchanging papers again.

Invite students to take their papers home and use them to recite Ether 12:6 to a parent. Encourage them to ask their parents about a time when they showed faith in Jesus Christ and received a witness or miracle they had been seeking.

Conclude with your testimony of the principles taught in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Ether 12:4–6. What is hope?

In Ether 12, Moroni’s teachings about the principles of hope and faith reveal that the two are closely linked. He defined faith as “things which are hoped for and not seen” (Ether 12:6) and taught that our hope for salvation “cometh of faith” in Jesus Christ (Ether 12:4). The booklet True to the Faith teaches the following about hope:

“When we have hope, we trust God’s promises. We have a quiet assurance that if we do ‘the works of righteousness,’ we ‘shall receive [our] reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come’ (D&C 59:23). … The principle of hope extends into the eternities, but it also can sustain you through the everyday challenges of life” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 85–86).

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf defined hope as follows:

“Hope is a gift of the Spirit. [See Moroni 8:26.] It is a hope that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power of His Resurrection, we shall be raised unto life eternal and this because of our faith in the Savior. [See Moroni 7:41.] This kind of hope is both a principle of promise as well as a commandment [see Colossians 1:21–23], and, as with all commandments, we have the responsibility to make it an active part of our lives and overcome the temptation to lose hope. Hope in our Heavenly Father’s merciful plan of happiness leads to peace [see Romans 15:13], mercy [see Psalm 33:22], rejoicing [see Romans 12:12], and gladness. [See Proverbs 10:28.] The hope of salvation is like a protective helmet [see 1 Thessalonians 5:8]; it is the foundation of our faith [see Hebrews 11:1; Moroni 7:40] and an anchor to our souls. [See Hebrews 6:19; Ether 12:4.]” (“The Infinite Power of Hope,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 21–22).

Ether 12:6. “The trial of your faith”

President Gordon B. Hinckley related a story that illustrates the principle of receiving a witness after the trial of our faith:

“Let me give you a story of a woman in São Paulo, Brazil. She worked while going to school to provide for her family. I use her own words in telling this story. She says:

“‘The university in which I studied had a regulation that prohibited the students that were in debt from taking tests. For this reason, when I received my salary I would first separate the money for tithing and offerings, and the remainder was allotted for the payment of the school and other expenses.

“‘I remember a time when I … faced serious financial difficulties. It was a Thursday when I received my salary. When I figured the monthly budget, I noticed that there wouldn’t be enough to pay [both] my tithing and my university. I would have to choose between them. The bimonthly tests would start the following week, and if I didn’t take them I could lose the school year. I felt great agony. … My heart ached. I had a painful decision before me, and I didn’t know what to decide. I pondered between the two choices: to pay tithing or to risk the possibility of not obtaining the necessary credits to be approved in school.

“‘This feeling consumed my soul and remained with me up to Saturday. It was then that I remembered that when I was baptized I had agreed to live the law of tithing. I had taken upon myself an obligation, not with the missionaries, but with my Heavenly Father. At that moment, the anguish started to disappear, giving place to a pleasant sensation of tranquility and determination. …

“‘That night when I prayed, I asked the Lord to forgive me for my indecision. On Sunday, before the beginning of sacrament meeting, I contacted the bishop, and with great pleasure I paid my tithing and offerings. That was a special day. I felt happy and peaceful within myself and with Heavenly Father.

“‘The next day I was in my office; I tried to find a way to be able to take the tests that would begin on Wednesday. The more I thought, the further I felt from a solution. …

“‘The working period was ending when my employer approached and gave the last orders of the day. When he had done so, with his briefcase in his hand he bid farewell. … Suddenly, he halted, and looking at me he asked, “How is your college?” I was surprised, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The only thing I could answer with a trembling voice was, “Everything is all right!” He looked thoughtfully at me and bid farewell again. …

“‘Suddenly the secretary entered the room, saying that I was a very fortunate person! When I asked her why, she simply answered: “The employer has just said that from today on the company is going to pay fully for your college and your books. Before you leave, stop at my desk and inform me of the costs so that tomorrow I can give you the check.”

“‘After she left, crying and feeling very humble, I knelt exactly where I was and thanked the Lord for His generosity. I … said to Heavenly Father that He didn’t have to bless me so much. I only needed the cost of one month’s installment, and the tithing I had paid on Sunday was very small compared to the amount I was receiving! During that prayer the words recorded in Malachi came to my mind: “Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10). Up to that moment I had never felt the magnitude of the promise contained in that scripture and that this commandment was truly a witness of the love that God, our Heavenly Father, gives to His children here on earth’” (“We Walk by Faith,” Ensign, May 2002, 73–74).

Ether 12:6. “Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith”

President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

“Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 15).