This week we arrive at the account of Ether the prophet and are privileged to receive some of the most remarkable passages of scripture in our canon.
Moroni, who abridged this portion of the account, notes that he could not write even the hundredth part even of Ether’s account, but that which he shares with us of Ether’s words, his prophecies and his own commentary provides a wonderful illumination into the nature of God and Godliness.
I Give Unto Men Weakness
Even as Moroni documents this incredible account he laments the awkwardness of his ability to write those things he feels and his weakness in performing the work God has asked him to perform.
The dialog between Moroni and God about the nature of human weakness is absolutely wonderful, as we read:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble.” (Ether 12:27)
Wow. This means that drawing nearer to God will mean having our weaknesses pointed out by Him. He isn’t going to sugarcoat, ignore or gloss over our shortcomings, but highlight them for us.
Not only that but those weaknesses He points out were a gift He himself provided.
We are certainly not naturally inclined to look at our shortcomings as gifts and yet that is their purpose, to provide the means for us to develop humility and trust, to appreciate more fully the role of Christ in God’s great plan of redemption, His goodness and His grace.
Ultimately, allowing ourselves to acknowledge His hand and power alongside our need provides the spark which ignites the fires of faith in our lives.
Q: How might your weaknesses become a gift in your life to help you draw closer to the Savior?
Seeing With an Eye of Faith
Much of Ether 12 revolves around the nature of faith in God, believing in that which we cannot see.
And yet Moroni also speaks of those things we see with an “eye of faith”.
As we discussed this together, it became apparent that faith is very much about where we look and how we envision God in our lives.
Throughout the scriptures we find many instances of individuals looking with an eye of faith including:
- Those Israelites willing to look upon the brazen serpent and be healed
- Peter walking on water as he looked to Christ
- Nephi after being bound upon the ship, noting that he looked unto God
- Looking upon the Liahona to read the Lord’s direction after repenting
- In Lehi’s vision, those willing to look upon the tree of life without paying heed to the derision of those in the great and spacious building
- The Lamananites in prison with Nephi and Lehi turning towards the light
- The condemned Nephites looking forward to Christ’s coming
- The Nephites at the Temple looking towards the voice at Christs coming
- The brother of Jared looking to Christ to touch the stones he had brought
Where we focus our spiritual sight means a great deal.
- Are we finding ways to un-distract our minds such that we can look and consistently see God’s hand and goodness in our lives each day?
- Do we see ourselves as children of loving Heavenly Parents who desire our joy with an intensity and longing we can scarcely fathom?
- Do we look to Christ with the trust to allow His atoning power to help us change and become more like him, as we face our mortal weakness?
- When we close our natural vision in prayer, how wide do we seek to open our spiritual apertures to the Savior’s light to envision His love and sacrifice and to trust in the promises and covenants God has made?
With each of these exercises in faith, in looking, feeling and drawing nearer to God bit by bit we find that His power in our lives is strengthened and grows.
As we begin to taste of the fruits of faith we find ourselves filled with the joy and light described by Lehi partaking of the fruit of the tree.
Hope as an Anchor
This sensation of goodness, edification, knowing that we can find redemption and purpose in God’s light is what fills us with hope.
We come to understand that whatever difficulty we may encounter or darkness we may be called upon to confront, nothing can take away the power and promises of Christ’s coming and the fulfillment of His mission on our behalf.
This is what Job described as he claimed that even in death, he knew he would rise and see his Redeemer again. (Job 19:25-27)
It’s what Paul described when we wrote that nothing we could suffer would be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39)
No wonder Ether wrote: “…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.”
When our minds our truly focused on the hope of salvation, there is little that can distract or derail our determination to exult in God’s goodness even as we continue to pursue that course which will bring us to the greater light and truth of a life focused on Christ.
That they Might Have Charity
Christ instructed Moroni that “faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me–the fountain of all righteousness.” (Ether 12:28)
Having experienced the joy of redemption and hope in Christ we find ourselves desirous to share it so that others might come and partake. This unconditional love we come to feel comes to us and through us from Christ himself.
One of the most telling scriptures in this section is in verse 35-36 where Moroni worries that because of their (the Nephites’) weakness in preparing these words, we (The Gentiles) might not have charity and would in turn lose the blessings and gifts that come of living with Christ’s perfect love. So He prays for God to lend us grace that we might have charity.
The Lord’s reply was that, as wonderful as Moroni’s heartfelt prayers on our behalf were, it is up to us to learn, find and develop this greatest of gifts in our lives, our homes, our communities and our nations.
The Land of Promise
The remainder of the record contains two stories revolving around the covenants associated with the land of promise.
In Ether 13:2 we learn that the land which the Jaredites, Nephites and Gentiles inhabited was dedicated as a choice land from creation and that all who dwell there should serve Him.
The first story plays out in the remainder of the Book of Ether as we read of the destruction of a people who would not learn faith to repentance, hope in redemption nor charity for their brothers and sisters. Hatred and despair, revenge and hopelessness feed on themselves in a vortex that leaves nothingness in its wake.
The second story is that of a New Jerusalem to be established among a Zion people who are one in heart in the land of promised. We read that this would be built in fulfillment of the Lord’s covenants with the remnant of the seed of Joseph who would be preserved.
In our nations and the world over this kind of unity may feel like a distant dream at times, but let us take hope in this wonderful prophecy of Ether.
“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.
And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north coutries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham.”
This is ultimate promise of redemption, the fulfillment of our labors to gather Israel from every part of the earth and the hope we share that we might become one in Him.
As people who have embarked on this covenant journey, we have a ways to go and work still to do.
Yet pursued each day with an eye of faith and hope in all of God’s wonderful promises the day will arrive where we shall know as we are known and see eye to eye with hearts brim and overflowing with a charity that will endure through prayer and never fail.