Come Follow Me: Moroni 1-6
Joel's monastery was initially founded in the 1970s in Missoula Montana by Joel and other returned LDS missionaries, like me, Gerald Smith. Please return all of your overdue library books.
Come Follow Me: Moroni 1-6
Come Follow Me: Ether 12-15
Ether 12 - On Faith in Jesus Christ
In the days of the last Jaredite king, Coriantumr, we find Ether is the prophet. In just the first few verses, we see just how dedicated he is to his holy calling:
"Ether was a prophet of the Lord; wherefore Ether came forth in the days of Coriantumr, and began to prophesy unto the people, for he could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord which was in him.
"For he did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed, saying unto them that by faith all things are fulfilled." (Ether 12:2-3)
Moroni begins his discourse on faith by telling us about Ether. Here, we see some important points regarding faith in Christ. In reviewing them, we find:
First, he "could not be restrained because of the Spirit." Other prophets have experienced such a power, such as Nephi and Abinadi. However, what seemed to be an occasional power for others seems to have been a continual and daily event for Ether. It may be due to the greater danger Ether found himself in, still it shows that God's power can give great and constant power when the need arises.
Second, Ether "did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun," showing his diligence in doing the Lord's command. God could give Ether great power, because Ether didn't waiver in his faith nor in his efforts. Ether knew that great destruction would come upon the people, and there was only one thing that could save them temporally and spiritually. Declaring repentance and faith in Christ was the only solution to the pandemic of sin.
What does it mean that by "faith all things are fulfilled?" God has a plan. He works his plan through the agency of people. The plan, according to the Book of Mormon, is to bring people to the Promised Land (or into the Presence of God). In creating a new people with a new covenant, he often has to wipe the slate clean on a people that have totally rejected him and his covenant. Only through faith in Christ can the covenantal promises be fulfilled.
Think of the many prophets in the Book of Mormon that preached to Nephites and Lamanites regarding repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. When they obeyed, the people were blessed. When they rejected Christ, calamities set in: wars, plagues, famine. Only repentance and faith in Christ can save a people from annihilation and self destruction.
It is the concept of Creation again. God creates a new people and places them in a promised land with a covenant, just as he did with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Lehi. In Creation, God takes Chaos and reforms it into Order. Through faith, God is able to create worlds, life, and everything else necessary for Order to exist and thrive. To maintain order, which includes life and civilization, sentient beings must believe in Christ, his commandments, and keep the covenant they've made with him. In sinning, people cause an increase in Chaos and Evil, reducing the Order of God. In repenting, Order is restored and the covenant remains intact.
Hope in Christ
Along with faith in Christ comes Hope in Christ. Sometimes we struggle to distinguish between the two, as they seem so interrelated.
"whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." (Ether 12:4)
Faith in Christ is a source of power that allows God and his disciples to create, to save, to serve and to bring order out of chaos. Hope in Christ gives us a vision of future that anchors us in the troubling presence. This is very important for Moroni, as he sees himself in Ether. Both would preach faith and repentance to their peoples. Both would see the destruction of their peoples. Both would be in hiding for years from their enemies. Both were alone. It was Hope in Christ that gave them the strength to continue on even when it seemed all was gone. Even when Moroni said farewell to his dying father, Mormon, or Ether watched as Coriantumr slew Shiz among the Jaredite corpses strewn for miles around, they both had hope in Christ. They hoped for a glorious resurrection. They hoped to be reunited with loved ones, with God, and to dwell in peace after a lifetime of watching violence and evil occurring.
Faith in Christ
As I noted above, faith is a power, even the power of God. Moroni lists many of the miraculous events that occurred because of others' faith in Christ. He discusses the great conversion work among the Lamanites and how the brother of Jared moved a mountain. This list is just a beginning of the powers which God shares with people of faith.
Moroni speaks of the gift given to those of faith. We can be "partakers of the gift." What is the gift? In verse 10, we find that those with faith in Christ were called after the "holy order of God." It is a heavenly gift, the Priesthood after the Holy Order of the Son of God, also known as the Melchizedek Priesthood. Alma spoke about this priesthood, noting that in the premortal existence, righteous men of faith were foreordained to this priesthood (Alma 13). We find that this priesthood is the power of God, shared with mankind, so that we can learn to be like him in all things.
With this pattern of faith in Christ, leading to priesthood ordination and a covenantal relationship with Christ, miracles happen. Again, Moroni lists many that he's read about in the record of the Nephites that his father, Mormon, has abridged.
"And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God." (Ether 12:18)
Gentiles will Mock
Knowing the people of our day, Moroni knows that the writings in the Book of Mormon may not be powerful enough to convert the Gentiles.
"Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing;" (Ether 12:23)
Interestingly, the Lord intentionally allowed the Book of Mormon to reflect the weaknesses of Mormon, Moroni, and even Joseph Smith - who translated the plates through his own weakness. Moroni noted that the writings of the Brother of Jared were so powerful as to overwhelm the reader. That's not what God wants for the Gentiles. He can't save people, except through their own volition and repentance, based on faith in Christ. Yes, many Gentiles have mocked at the Book of Mormon. Many have mocked the Bible. Millions mock Jesus Christ.
They turn back to the chaos. They insist on a creation without the order of God. They refuse to repent and believe. They can save themselves. They have their own morality and self determination. They can create their own Utopian society.
Destruction always follows the wicked who will not repent.
As God explained to Moroni:
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
"Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness." (Ether 12:27-28)
Again, it is faith in Christ and humility that bring us to repentance. It is repentance that brings the grace of Christ to us. Moroni will give a great discourse on faith, hope and charity in his own book. We'll discuss it in depth at that time.
We learn that Ether taught the people about the history from the Creation down to their time. Interestingly, the Jaredite and Nephite Land of Promise, or at least a portion of it thereof, had been under water at some point (during the Creation, during the great Flood, or other period), and was established by God as a Land of Promise to all who would come there with his covenant.
Ether saw that a portion of the House of Israel would replace the Jaredites as the covenant people, and that there would be a future New Jerusalem. This would be similar to the City of Enoch, which existed not long before Jared and his brother at the Tower. As mentioned in the previous lessons on the Book of Ether, Joseph Smith taught that when the City of Enoch was lifted into the air, escaping the great Flood, it was still visible in the sky in the days of the great Tower. Nimrod sought to build the tower, so he could ascend to the City of Enoch and cast God off his throne. It is this reason, according to Joseph Smith that God confounded the languages, ending the conspiracy and secret combination.
"Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.
"And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.
"And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel." (Ether 13:8-10)
Here we find how Moroni ties together the Jaredites with the Nephites, through the promises made to Joseph of old, and how they are then tied to us in our day. All of God's work, ever since the beginning, is tied together, as time is seen in cycles. Creation to Destruction to Creation, as new groups enter into covenant with God in a new Creation cycle. When that people rejects God, they are destroyed, in order to prepare for a new Creation. In these last days, the wicked Gentiles, those who refuse to repent and honor their covenant with God, will also be destroyed. The Gentiles, along with a weary and filthy earth, will be burned and cleansed, leaving room for a new Creation: the Millennium.
The New Jerusalem would be a holy city, similar to Enoch's. It will be a refuge from the violence and storms of the last days (D&C 45), a place where all the righteous will flee to for safety. It will be joined with the ancient Jerusalem in Israel, along with the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of Enoch, when it returns.
The Destruction of the Jaredites
We see the carnage that begins in a few places spread throughout the land. Where contention was primarily found in the opposition group for most of Jaredite civilization, we now see it everywhere. There no longer are any good people in either political party. There is no compromise. There is no compassion. Even when Coriantumr offers to give up his throne peacefully, the enemy insists on his head.
As we continue through the election of 2020, can we see just how contentious many in both major parties have become. Each insisting they have the solutions to the nation's ills, they have forgotten more important things: like forgiveness, brotherly love, and compromise. In the October 2020 General Conference, we see several of our prophetic leaders warning us about contention.
"Righteousness and unity are profoundly significant. When people love God with all their hearts and righteously strive to become like Him, there is less strife and contention in society. There is more unity" ("Hearts Knit in Righteousness," Elder Quentin L. Cook)
"For generations, Jews had been taught to hate their enemies, and they were then suffering under the domination and cruelties of Roman occupation. Yet Jesus taught them, “Love your enemies” and “do good to them that … despitefully use you.”
"What revolutionary teachings for personal and political relationships! But that is still what our Savior commands. In the Book of Mormon we read, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another”
"....But how do we do this—especially how do we learn to love our adversaries and our enemies?The Savior’s teaching not to “contend with anger” is a good first step. The devil is the father of contention, and it is he who tempts men to contend with anger. He promotes enmity and hateful relationships among individuals and within groups....
"In a persuasive personal essay, the Reverend Theresa A. Dear of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has reminded us that “racism thrives on hatred, oppression, collusion, passivity, indifference and silence.” As citizens and as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we must do better to help root out racism." ("Love Your Enemies,"Pres Dallin H. Oaks)
"Reflecting on this (the destruction of the Nephites after 2 centuries of peace) and other examples of once flourishing societies that later foundered, I think it safe to say that when people turn from a sense of accountability to God and begin to trust instead in the “arm of flesh,” disaster lurks. Trusting in the arm of flesh is to ignore the divine Author of human rights and human dignity and to give highest priority to riches, power, and the praise of the world (while often mocking and persecuting those who follow a different standard). Meanwhile, those in sustainable societies are seeking, as King Benjamin said, to “grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created [them], or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.” ("Sustainable Societies," Elder D. Todd Christofferson)
"I grieve that our Black brothers and sisters the world over are enduring the pains of racism and prejudice. Today I call upon our members everywhere to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice. I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children."The question for each of us, regardless of race, is the same. Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?" ("Let God Prevail," Pres M. Russell Nelson)
As an aggregate of such teachings, we can see that contention is of the devil. Those beliefs, feelings, and attitudes that divide us and keep us from viewing others as God's children and our spiritual siblings, will lead to our own demise, our own holocaust, our own final destruction. Only those who turn to Christ in faith and repentance, who humble themselves so that their weaknesses become strengths, who love their enemies, who let God prevail, will be a part of the New Jerusalem.
Without major changes in our own attitudes and faith, we risk being as the Jaredites and Nephites in their last years. We will change to where the "Spirit of the Lord ceases to strive" with us. At that point, we could still believe in Jesus, and still have our garments stained with the blood of our enemies. As it is, many Americans and others feel blood lust for those who are different than they are: political party, race, religion, etc.
Only in and through Jesus Christ can society sustain itself. Only through faith in Christ and repentance, can we develop and maintain the covenant relationship God has made with us and our ancestors. Only through Christ can we enter into a new Creation of God's Order, escaping the Chaos and Destruction that comes with the natural man and Satan's power. Only through Christ can we build the one true Utopia: the New Jerusalem.
Come Follow Me: Ether 6-11
The Creation Anew
"And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness" (Ether 6:2)
With the beginning of this chapter, we see a new creation occurring. It is reminiscent of the Creation in Genesis chapter one. Everything that occurred in the Book of Ether thus far is similar to the preparations of God to create the world and the skies above. Now we have a repeat. Similarly, we find the same event occur with Noah and the ark, where ancient traditions suggest he may have had shining stone in the ark to give light.
In the barges, we find all things necessary for a new Creation: light, food (plants), animals, and everything needful for the journey. As the darkness and waters in the original Creation and in Noah's flood were chaotic, the shining stones brought order out of dark chaos, and the barges represented safety on dry ground from the chaos of the great waters.
Exactly four centuries ago this month (November 11, 1620), 102 Pilgrims and others landed on Plymouth Rock. For them, the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a tiny and cramped ship, was akin to a new Creation. As the physical and cultural descendants of Jared, Lehi, Mulek, and others are scattered upon the New World today, so 35 million descendants of the Mayflower dwell today in the Americas. With each new creation, the dangers of physical and spiritual chaos had to be overcome, in order to obtain a new Godly Order.
We are reliving the Jaredite and Nephite stories. We are reliving the cycle of Creation and Destruction.
The shining stones also symbolize Jesus Christ, the Light and Life of the World. It is through Christ that Jared, Nephi and the Pilgrims successfully traversed land and sea, through dangers and darkness,
"And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water."(6:10)
Ancient tradition notes that in the Creation, God had to destroy the sea monster, Rahab the sea dragon (Isaiah 51:9). This monster symbolized the Chaos of darkness and water.
Interestingly, even as the barges sank deep into the water, we see,
And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
Even in the deepest and darkest times, they gave praise. It is a key to making it through our tough times, whether dealing with sickness (Covid), poverty, war, or other dangers, we can "always remember" Jesus Christ and give thanks.
"And they did land upon the shore of the promised land. And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them." (6:12)
Seems reminiscent of the Pilgrim landing in what they also viewed as a "promised land." Again, the cycle repeats and we do well to consider the stories of the Nephites and the Jaredites as our story.
That the people desired a king suggests a few things. First, after these many years in the New World, where would the people get the concept of wanting a king? For me, it is possible that by this time they had integrated with peoples already in the New World (as had happened with the Nephites), and saw that other groups had kings. For the Brother of Jared, the desire for a king was problematic. He had seen what King Nimrod had done at the Tower of Babel, creating a mighty people that fought against God (see my previous lesson). The Brother of Jared would have them led by a prophet and have God as their king. So concerning was this problem that all of Moriancumer's sons refused to be king. Only one of Jared's four sons would agree to be king, perhaps knowing that if any other took the throne there may not be a righteous person leading the people.
And so Orihah becomes the first Jaredite king. He rules in righteousness among the people, but only 2 generations later, we begin to see intrigue, secret combinations, and the intense search for getting gain.
“And also in the reign of Shule there came prophets among the people, who were sent from the Lord, prophesying that the wickedness and idolatry of the people was bringing a curse upon the land, and they should be destroyed if they did not repent. And it came to pass that the people did revile against the prophets, and did mock them. And it came to pass that king Shule did execute judgment against all those who did revile against the prophets. And he did execute a law throughout all the land, which gave power unto the prophets that they should go whithersoever they would; and by this cause the people were brought unto repentance” (Ether 7:23-25).
“And it came to pass that they all sware unto him, by the God of heaven, and also by the heavens, and also by the earth, and by their heads, that whoso should vary from the assistance which Akish desired should lose his head; and whoso should divulge whatsoever thing Akish made known unto them, the same should lose his life. And it came to pass that thus they did agree with Akish. And Akish did administer unto them the oaths which were given by them of old who also sought power, which had been handed down even from Cain, who was a murderer from the beginning. And they were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms. And it was the daughter of Jared who put it into his heart to search up these things of old; and Jared put it into the heart of Akish; wherefore, Akish administered it unto his kindred and friends, leading them away by fair promises to do whatsoever thing he desired. And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God; For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man…..And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites…. And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed….” (Ether 8:14-22).
“Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning” (Ether 8:24-25).
“For so great had been the spreading of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people” (Ether 9:6).
"And it came to pass that Coriantor dwelt in captivity all his days."And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and prophesied of great and marvelous things, and cried repentance unto the people, and except they should repent the Lord God would execute judgment against them to their utter destruction;fathers."And they did reject all the words of the prophets, because of their secret society and wicked abominations."And it came to pass that Coriantor begat Ether, and he died, having dwelt in captivity all his days." (Ether 11:19-23)
Come Follow Me: Ether 1-5
Come Follow Me: Mormon 7-9
“…I would speak somewhat unto the remnant of this people who are spared, if it so be that God may give unto them my words, that they may know of the things of their fathers; yea, I speak unto you, ye remnant of the house of Israel…” (Mormon 7:1).
“Know ye that ye are of the house of Israel.”
“Know ye that ye must come unto repentance, or ye cannot be saved.”
“Know ye that ye must lay down your weapons of war, and delight no more in the shedding of blood, and take them not again, save it be that God shall command you” (Mormon 7:2-4).
“Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God….”
“And he bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead, whereby man must be raised to stand before his judgment-seat.”
“And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end” (Mormon 7:5-7).
“And ye will also know that ye are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; therefore ye are numbered among the people of the first covenant; and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the example of our Savior, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment” (Mormon 7:10).
“Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches. Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands; And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places. Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day” (Mormon 8:28-31).
Class warfare creates division and contention. Christ teaches unity, love and charity. The wicked embrace war and often give it a patriotic title to get the people to embrace it. Mormon just called us to lay down our weapons of war (especially for offensive wars, which America now engages in, as we remain long term occupying other lands).“And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (Mormon 8:36-37).
The people become so sinful, they are a pollution. Wherever they go, the clean and pure are defiled and made filthy.“O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ?” (Mormon 8:38).
“Behold, I say unto you that ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell” (Mormon 9:4).
“ O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day” (Mormon 9:6).
“And again I speak unto you who deny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the interpretation of tongues” (Mormon 9:7).
“I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are” (Mormon 9:11).