And They Were Exceedingly Industrious

Ether 10 (Éter 10)

Lo primero que me impresiona de esta lectura es que Shez salió de la casa de su descendiente Het. No fue un hijo de Het, sino un nieto, or tal vez, un biz nieto. Y dice el registro que todos lo demás de su familia o de su casa se habían perecido por motivo del hambre. Hay algo personal en el liderazgo de Shez que tomo sobre sí.

El versículo 2 es una reconocimiento de la importancia de la historia familiar. Shez entendió y reconoció la destrucción de su propia familia, los cuales ya eran la historia. También entendió y recordó la historia más lejano para atrás de Jared y su hermano, y como el Señor los entregó a esta tierra de promisión. Este poder para recordar es significante en su capacidad de avanzar.

En seguida, Shez tiene un hijo llamado Riplákish quien le sigue como rey. Las palabras que describa la relación con su padre (Shez) me hace crear que Shez murió cuando Riplákish era muy joven. Sin saber la razón por lo cual Riplákish salió como lo hizo, escogió no andar en la justia como su padre. Tenía el poder de ser rey, sin el deseo de hacer lo que era bueno. Violó los dos poderes que a Dios le gusta guardar para sí, los poderes para crear y quitar vida. Los tomó erróneamente como derecho propio al ser el rey de la tierra.

La vida de Riplákish es un ejemplo de la falta de autodominio. Se nota al principio y final de estos versículos que trata de su vida, de que la cosa más errante de su comportamiento fue que tuvo muchas esposas y concubinas. Esto es el resultado de un hombre que no pudo controlarse. Todos los esfuerzos y todos los recursos del reino estaban dirigido al orgullo de un solo hombre: el rey. El pueblo suportó durante cuarenta y dos años debajo su subyugación antes que ellos rebelaron contra a Riplákish — un hombre que nunca aprendió autodominio.

En seguida, leemos de un hombe, un descendiente de Riplákish, quien se llamaba Moriantón. Y las escrituras concerniente a Moriantón nos ilustra un punto muy importante: uno puede obrar rectamente con los demás, y todavía andar mal en sus asuntos personales, y así estar separado de la presencia del Señor. (véase vs. 11)

Later in the chapter (changing to English), we read about a period of prosperity in the land that was governed by a series of four successive righteous kings: Levi, Corom, Kish, and Lib. I would have thought little about this except that first, the author goes out of his way to mention what seems to be a random event that was accomplished in the days of Lib: the poisonous serpents were destroyed. Really? They managed to vanquish an entire breed of snake?

(This is a new day of study, but I am still in the same topic.) I am sitting with abundance and the reality of my situation, which words seem very inadequate to express. I’ve gotten lost down a footnote on old age, and found it rather humorous that there was a topical guide entry on the subject: TG – Old Age, but one verse (Psalms 92:14) stood out to me as important. As I am contemplating the prosperity of this world, and the abundance that is possessed herein, I am tempted to lament that I have let so much time pass in prideful vanity. And yet here I am with tools of repentance in one hand, and promises of fruits in old age in the other hand.

Where is the Christ in these verses? I read about kings doing “that which was right [or that which was good] in the sight of the Lord.” Their kingdoms were blessed in temporal abundance. And the kings were blessed with many children. The kingdoms were conferred (by tradition, it seems) to a younger son (not the oldest child like is customary in European royalty). This had the effect of creating longer periods of stability when governed by righteous kings.

But then we have this account of what their prosperity looked like with operations of mining, textiles, agriculture, and trade. The author takes pains to illustrate these different operations and then concludes that:

And never could be a people more blessed than were they, and more prospered by the hand of the Lord. And they were in a land that was choice above all lands, for the Lord had spoken it.

Verse 28

I need to move on after today, but these verses have caused me to consider the abundance of the earth, our connection to it, how willing the Lord is to extend to us his blessings of material goods, and how it is that we are to learn from these matters. So often we read in the scriptures of wicked because of the focus on material goods, and their desires for the things of this world. None of it comes with us in the end of life. But are we not to use these things, and to employ them to our benefit and blessing?

The end of this chapter features a genealogy of men in captivity. Five generations pass: Hearthom, Heth, Aaron, Amnigaddah, and Coriantum. Coriantum has a son named Com who fights to regain kingship over the kingdom, and after many years at war, he eventually regains full dominion over the land.

This is a scenario that has been repeated now multiple times over the hundreds of years of Jaredite civilization. War is required for a king to retain control over the kingdom when wickedness prevails. But what the Brother of Jared lamented about having a king was that it lead to periods of captivity. Verse 31 confirms that very point. And why would this be grievous to a prophet of God? Why would this be contrary to the will of God?

Perhaps it is because it prevents the plan of God from being fully executed. In captivity men are not agents unto themselves. Curious it is that only a righteous king maintains freedom.

Nourishing and Bearing Our Testimony

“Nourishing and Bearing Your Testimony,” By Elder Gary E. Stevenson, General Conference, Oct 2022


  • Why is it important that we take responsibility for the cultivation of our personal testimony?
  • Why does it seem like this is not a relevant or issue of priority?
  • How are testimonies gained? How are they cultivated? Why is there an urgency or priority in seeking to develop a testimony of Christ and His Work?
  • Why do we have a tendency to believe that a testimony is gained by happenstance? What would be the alternative view of how a testimony should be acquired? How can we ensure that this isn’t something that just happens by chance, but rather that it is intentionally sought after?

Questions from Elder Stevenson’s talk:

  1. Do I know and understand what a testimony is?
  2. Do I know how to bear my testimony?
  3. What are the obstacles in sharing my testimony?
  4. How do I keep my testimony?

Key elements of a testimony:

  • God is your Heavenly Father; you are His child. He loves you.
  • Jesus Christ lives. He is the Son of the living God and your Savior and Redeemer.
  • Joseph Smith is a prophet of God called to restore the Church of Jesus Christ.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s restored Church on the earth.
  • The restored Church of Jesus Christ is led by a living prophet today.

Matthew Cowley, an early Apostle, shared this experience as he departed on a five-year mission at age 17 to New Zealand:

“I will never forget the prayers of my father the day that I left. I have never heard a more beautiful blessing in all my life. Then his last words to me at the railroad station, ‘My boy, you will go out on that mission; you will study; you will try to prepare your sermons; and sometimes when you are called upon, you will think you are wonderfully prepared, but when you stand up, your mind will go completely blank.’ I have had that experience more than once.

“I said, ‘What do you do when your mind goes blank?’

“He said, ‘You stand up there and with all the fervor of your soul, you bear witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the living God, and thoughts will flood into your mind and words to your mouth … to the heart of everyone who listens.’ And so my mind, being mostly blank during my … mission … , gave me the opportunity to bear testimony to the greatest event in the history of the world since the crucifixion of the Master. Try it sometime, fellows and girls. If you don’t have anything else to say, testify that Joseph Smith was the prophet of God, and the whole history of the Church will flood into your mind.”6

“Feed [your testimony] truth. …

“… Nourish yourself in the words of ancient and modern prophets. Ask the Lord to teach you how to hear Him better. Spend more time in the temple and in family history work.

“… Make your testimony your highest priority.”14

President Russell M. Nelson

The Son of Righteousness

Ether 9 (Éter 9)

It impresses me at the start of this chapter that 1) the Lord was able to warn Omer and his household to leave his throne and remove themselves far enough away that they would not be impacted by whatever was able to happen as it pertained to the affairs of the kingdom. 2) It speaks significantly to the character of Omer that he was willing to dwell in a tent far removed from the kingdom and his throne, though he was king of the people.

A significant period of time is covered in few verses. Enough is recounted though to illustrate the destruction of the family of Jared, including his own death upon the throne. What strikes me as significant is the repercussions on the family of the daughter of Jared for her initiation of this secret combination among her own household. Her husband, who she lured into this oath, became the mean of murder of her father (who she sought to help?) and one of her sons. This is my assumption that these were her sons. The record only states is that they were the sons of Akish.

A new morning, and I have re-read the same group of verses at the beginning of the chapter, verses 1-15. For the family of Omer, the Lord was merciful to them. No he didn’t get to be king, but what his family did get to do was live a life in peace. In such circumstances, one’s personal salvation and character development take front and center stage. But alas, the rest of the nation was not so fortunate.

This morning I have contemplated bribery, what it is, and some of the scriptures that warn against it. This was partly what lead to the overthrow of the people and their utter destruction: their hearts were upon riches and gain. They corrupted themselves in gifts of money.

In the middle of this terrible ordeal with Akish, we read of one of his sons and a group of men leaving “civilization” to go live with Omer on the seashore. This son is mentioned by name, Nimrah. The account says that he was angry with his father, and so it was that he left. Why is this brief two-verse account found in the Book of Mormon? Perhaps it illustrates simply a constructive way to respond to anger: to just walk away. He followed the same pattern that the previous king had done.

Was it common knowledge that Omer had left and to where he had gone? Obviously, his household was not there. It’s also noteworthy that Nimrah didn’t travel alone, but for safety, he went in a group with other men. These men saved their own lives.

The reign of Omer ends with his eventual reestablishment upon the throne, upon the near total annihilation of the people of the land.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me this morning. What an interesting account we have in the life of Omer a righteous king, and yet the people are wicked. What an interesting and yet very sad juxtaposition! In Omer we have a righteous king who is powerless to stop the utter destruction of his kingdom.

How do we know this? Because of the end of Omer’s life, he begets a son, Emer. And what does Emer do? Exactly what his father had done. Omer was righteous, so the Lord warned him to flee when the destruction of his people was eminent. Emer was righteous in part because he had the model of his father to follow. Emer’s story and life experience is completely opposite of what his father was called upon to experience, suffer, and endure.

I am noting the instances where the Lord is referenced in this chapter. Twice at the beginning of the chapter- the Lord was merciful and He warned. Then not until verse 16 in the reign of Emer, we read that it was the Lord who began again to take the curse off the land.

New morning and the first thing that stands out to me is that in verse 16, it wasn’t just Emer who was beginning to be blessed, but it was the house of Emer. In other words, it was the family of Emer.

…the house of Emer did prosper exceedingly under the reign of Emer; and in the space of sixty and two years they had become exceedingly strong,

Verse 16 (emphasis added)

Now why does this matter? Because significantly, prosperity is a family affair.

What did prosperity look like to these people? Having things around them that were both precious, but more importantly, things that were useful.

What is interesting as I continue to read through this digest of a historical account is that repentance is only mentioned when the people were in a state of wickedness. But wasn’t repentance also needed, were not the people actually repenting when they were in a condition of righteousness. Isn’t this what righteousness is: repentance? Repentance, actively changing to align one’s self with God, is what brings peace in this life.

It is General Conference weekend (Oct 2022), and I’ve just considered Bishop Caussé’s talk on Creativity and Stewardship. Going back to verses 16-20 and reading about the house of Emer’s property, I realize that of course this makes sense that the Lord would prosper those who regarded the blessings of God as a stewardship.

At the end of Emer’s life, he has the sacred privilege of seeing the Son of Righteousness before dying. This is a title for the Savior Jesus Christ that I am not well familiar with. “Son of Righteousness” appears three time in the Book of Mormon and themes of healing and peace are also referenced in each instance, except for this one in Ether. A similar phrase is found in the book of Malachi in the Old Testament, but it uses “Sun of righteousness” instead of the “Son”. This passage is referenced by the Savior in 3 Nephi, but it is replaced with “Son.”

Several thoughts are with me:

  • What symbolism is in our sun as a heavenly solar object that is the most fixed and absolute symbol of life upon the earth. Without the sun, the earth, for all that she is, is nothing. Oh how we depend upon the sun for both life and light.

8 But behold, the righteous that hearken unto the words of the prophets, and destroy them not, but look forward unto Christ with steadfastness for the signs which are given, notwithstanding all persecution—behold, they are they which shall not perish.

9 But the Son of Righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them, and they shall have peace with him…

2 Nephi 26:8-9

This passage in 2 Nephi is one of two other places in the scriptures where the title of “Son of Righteousness” is used in reference to the Savior. It is illustrative of steps that may have been taken by Emer:

  • Hearken (to give heed or careful attention) to the words of the prophets
  • To not act violently against the prophets
  • To look for the signs of Christ
  • To withstand persecution for taking such a position

Why would Jesus be called the “Son of Righteousness”? Then who is the “Father of Righteousness”? God the Father.

(Tangential reading: Father, Consider Your Ways )

Continuing on the question of why Jesus is called the “Son of Righteousness,” it lead me to consider the conversation recorded in Mark 10 between the Savior and the rich, young ruler:

And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Mark 10:18

Why did the Savior find it important to point away from Himself and to acknowledge the Father in this passage as being the only source of goodness? A footnote actually takes me full circle back to Ether 4:

11 But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.

12 And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good; he that will not believe my words will not believe me—that I am; and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world.

Ether 4:11-12 (emphasis added)

God the Father is the source of all that is good. When Christ rejected the rich, young ruler’s greeting, He first was deflecting false praise from one who was probably used to using flattery as a means of persuasion. But that Christ also is able to point to the Father in same brief exchange as being the source of all that is good, this makes his response a powerful, double-edged sword.

The Spirit confirms strongly the point that God the Father is the source of all that is good. That all which is good originates with Him, and that I am able to frequently commune with Him, gives me confidence with Him. I can trust the Source of all righteousness.

Christ is not one step behind our Father in terms of righteousness, but in perfect humility, He acknowledges that it is the Father, not Himself, that is that Source of which we have been considering. And in this capacity, He aptly wears the title “the Son of Righteousness.”

Moving on, the generational pattern of the kings between fathers and sons is such in this chapter that where there is righteousness and then wickedness, there seems to be no living connection between the generations.

Emer sees the Son of Righteousness, we don’t know how long his son Coriantum is alive before he becomes king, but he has adopted his father’s righteous patterns. Coriantum was only one generation away from the awful destruction that befell the nation during his grandfather’s (Omer) time as king. Because Omer begat Emer in his old age, it is not likely that Coriantum ever lived to know his own grandfather. This does not appear to be a significant detriment to Coriantum, but then the people also in general were only a generation past the significant destruction. Surely the collective memory was such as to serve the nation as a reminder of what happens in times of wickedness.

So we have the reign of Emer, a smaller kingdom being rebuilt from the utter destruction that was realized in Omer’s time. Then we have the reign of Coriantum, who enjoyed a long and prosperous reign of city building, but without children of his own until he became very old. His wife has died having born him no children, and then as a centenarian takes a young maid to wife, who then is able to bear him children.

Com is born to Coriantum in the last 40 years of his life. Com appears to have followed his father’s path in leadership. Com then begat Heth at age 49. So Heth was born after Coriantum had died, and again there is no generational connection between grandfathers and grandchildren. And by the time that Heth would have been sufficient age to stage a rebellion against his father, Com would have been at least 65, or more likely 70 years old or more.

Only five generation have passed between Omer and Heth. From the death of Omer to the birth of Heth, more than 200 years have most likely passed (a guess based off of what is provided). But what’s more significant in this time span is that not one of these kings knew their grandfather. And then we have the terrible betrayal of Heth in which he murdered his father.

Similar to the previous chapter, prophets come among the people to declare repentance. Their warning was that the people should prepare the way of the Lord or that there would be a curse upon the land. This morning when I read “they should be destroyed if they did not repent,” repentance feels different to me. When I read the call to repentance, I don’t see it as a one-time event, as a precaution to avoiding destruction. Rather, the prophets are telling the people that this is the life that you should lead. Repent regularly and often and you will be saved.

I am wondering if there are those who did listen to the prophets, did anyone change or take it upon themselves to do better. Did they avoid the curse that came upon the wicked?

The group effect was a dearth and plague of poisonous serpents which separated the people from their food, and just at the point of perishing, the people were brought to repentance. Somehow in the collective narrative of these people, it was known what they should do in repenting of their sins.

There is a tendency to look at an episode like the one found here at the end of the chapter as fairly basic and transactional event. Yet upon further consideration, why did the Lord have any regard for this people? Why did He send prophets to warn them of their destruction? Why did He chasten them with poisonous serpents? Why did He withhold the rains from their lands until they had remembered to repent? Why does He care?

Because He does!

En el versículo 28, hay una paralela entre el arrepentimiento y el preparar el camino del Señor. O sea, la manera de preparar el camino del Señor es el arrepentimiento. El camino del Señor no es un camino tangible, sino es una manera de existir. Cuando nos arrepentimos estamos preparándonos para andar en el camino del Señor.

En el último versículo, hay mucho para aprender. Dice que cuando el pueblo –se hubieron humillado suficientemente ante el Señor–, esta cláusula no require una exacta forma de humildad, sino que habian llegado a un estado suficientemente humillado para continuar en sus progreso espiritual. Esta frase también sugiera a mi la idea de que hay más espacio para ser más humilde.

La última frase del versículo dice que el Señor tuvo poder para librarlos del hambre. En realidad, es Cristo que tiene poder para librarnos de todo aflicción. Él es quien nos libra del mal de todas las cosas.

General Conference, Oct 2022

Saturday Morning:

President Oaks – caring for the poor.

Sister Browning- quoting Pres. Nelson, nothing brings the spirit more strongly than focus on Jesus Christ.

Listening to Elders Pino and Montoya, feeling peaceful reassurance in the Gospel of Christ. The Spirit often felt in my mission, that I am now realizing that I did feel frequently on my mission.

Sunday Morning

Jeffery Holland – Bearing our personal crosses, including mental illness.

RS 1st Cnslr – a desire for love and be slowly realized can be like a tree that will eventually bring for delicious fruit abundantly.

Elder Gong offers two stories of families being healed in family history work.

The savior helps us heal our relationships with others .

Elder Sitati – Discipleship at home is the true crucible that becomes the foundation of everything else.

Bednar – Parables, and the parable of the rich king’s marriage feast.

Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.

What does it mean to overcome the world? Resistance to sin will increase. Growing to love God and His Son more than anything else.

How to overcome the world?

Great quote from Pres. Benson.

Sunday Afternoon:

Eyeing: Ordinary people can attain such divine attributes. Christ would be the perfect example to emulate.

Study the many names of Jesus. What do these names mean to me?

Add the daily Holy habits of service to others. (This is something that can start in our home.)

Elder Eddy – drink deeply directly from the source.

Elder Stevenson – 5 points of I need to strengthen my testimony of Joseph Smith’s prophetic call.

Ask the Lord how to hear him better.

Quinten L. Cook – Testimony of Jesus Christ and this work. Alma’s concern was to his own children.

Bridle your passions that you may be filled with love.

Secret Combinations

Ether 8 (Éter 8); See also Moses 5:18-52

In the course of his Jaredite narrative, Moroni uses this chapter to expound upon the diabolical tactic of secret combinations. I have found in the footnotes in verse 9, multiple references to secret combinations throughout the scriptures, and how their author is the devil and the origin of such date back to the time of Cain, when he slew Abel.

Perhaps the saddest line in the account of Cain found in the book of Moses is the realization of Cain: “…for these things are not hid from the Lord.” (Moses 5:39)

Another truly sad point is the aftermath of the family dynamics of Akish, whom the daughter of Jared lured into this trap. I feel saddest for the daughter of Jared who believed the lie that she was getting gain or doing some great thing in helping her father to regain his throne.

I have a lot going through my mind this morning. First there is this prompt to make notes about organized wickedness. That is what the Lord, through Moroni is warning us about. What started in the heart of one women, was spread to her father, her soon-to-be husband, and then all his friends and family (see vs. 17). Organized wickedness involves others.

This chapter deals with secret combinations as they pertain to murder (the ending of life), but organized wickedness in sexuality (the creation of life) is not much further behind, and is also an organization that seeks to hide itself for the sake of power and gain.

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.

Verse 16 (emphasis added)

People are kept in darkness under secret combinations, subjected to falsehoods and lies to the assistance of those who seek power. (I’m having a hard time not drawing strong parallels to our current political climate.)

An interesting side tangent to this is then the false notion that all organization is corrupt, including organized religion.

Secret combinations are a hot ticket to the immediate and swift end of civilized society. When an entire nation embraces them, then is that nation destroyed. There is no preserving force working in their behalf. The vengeance of God, in avenging the blood of the saints who have fallen prey to such as uphold these works, is upon them.

Verse 21 gives even heavier importance to the destructive nature of secret combinations, or organized wickedness: “And they have caused the destruction of [the] people.” It is not just wickedness, it’s the concerted effort of wickedness, organized so as to create a web of allegiances and networks. This is what destroys civilization: being sworn by covenants to associations with those that would promote the works of darkness and in demanding allegiance by penalty of death.

One of the most insidious consequences of secret combination, and the motivation behind those that support and endorse it, is to “overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries;” Why would the devil be so bent on destroying freedom? The obvious answer is that it limits an individual’s ability to choose. (Salvation can only be secured by choice.) In the context of secret combinations, as soon as someone is invited to enter into this pact, their freedom is taken from them. They have only the ability to accept it or suffer the consequence of death (which frankly seems the better option, because one exits mortality without the consequences of sin).

Coming to the end of this chapter, I am asking myself what is my obligation in recognizing and avoiding secret combinations? Two things come to mind: 1) be aware of the realities in the world that we live in. 2) Focus on the future and the day when satan will no longer have control over the hearts of the children of men. (see verse 26)

The Spirit of the Lord bids me to revisit this chapter once more before moving on. In verse 7, we read that Jared experienced great sorrow because of what he had allowed himself to do with his heart: “for he had set his heart upon the kingdom and upon the glory of the world.”

This conditioning of the heart, this is something that is completely controlled by the individual.

Extending forgiveness can take tremendous courage and humility. It can also take time. It requires us to put our faith and trust in the Lord as we assume accountability for the condition of our hearts. Here lies the significance and power of our agency.

“Christ Heals That Which Is Broken,” Amy A. Wright, April 2022 General Conference (emphasis added)

Heart – Guide to the Scriptures

1 Samuel 13:14

2 Nephi 25:16

Proverbs 23:7 (all of the chapter is informative)

Matthew 5:8

I feel that all of this is God instructing me in what I must do to get to Him.

Another day spent focused on the key word “heart,” looking for ways in which it was addressed in the last General Conference has rendered a fruitful and meaningful search that I could spend more time than I have available for this morning.

President Nelson’s latest prophetic counsel “to end conflicts that are raging in your heart, your home, and your life” shows me that he understands enough to direct the issue squarely at the condition of our hearts. He continues, ” Bury any and all inclinations to hurt others—whether those inclinations be a temper, a sharp tongue, or a resentment for someone who has hurt you.”

Elder Dieter F. Utchdorf’s latest council also bids me to pay keen attention to the condition of my heart: “Our Heartfelt All.” (This is also a discussion on consecration.)

Family History is Personal

I don’t want to forget what I have learned today. So before we sit down for dinner, I am taking time to type up what has happened.

I have received my commission into family history in a most extraordinarily personal way. We are coming out of a weekend of stake conference and I’ve just recovered from another personal bout of mental sickness, but which also was nothing less than an afront of the adversary of my soul, perhaps one of the most powerful that I’ve received in recent history. But the revelation that has opened upon my mind and heart this afternoon is multifaceted and expansive.

As I was in the kitchen with my oldest son, Aaron, I stood musing with him about this state of mental illness that indeed has been a part of me for a very long time now. As I tried to explain this observed phenomenon to Aaron, Rachel came in and also began to contribute to the conversation. She aptly pointed out that there may be some inherent family trauma that is influencing this “illness”, “weakness” or whatever I want to call it.

It’s a field of study that is being developed that links family trauma to generations, past, present, and future. This idea of family trauma as an influencer of current behavioral challenges is a compelling argument for temple and family history work, because it allows me to both understand what is wrong in myself and affords me the opportunity to heal what has been broken in my past and in my family’s past.

So many eternal truth “puzzle pieces” started falling in place for me, once I realized that the gospel of Jesus Christ is an intimately, personal thing because family history is personal. This kind of rapid fire, personal revelation within a matter of moments seldom happens for me. But today, it came very fast and very clear. I feel as if I could expand upon this subject, or really any other gospel theme or topic ad hoc ad infinidum (when needed or as necessary, forever). The Spirit of the Lord is that strongly with me in this matter.

[They] Did Execute Judgment in Righteousness

Ether 7 (Éter 7)

In the first five verses of the chapter, we are three generations removed from Jared and his brother. That’s all it took for their children to be brought into captivity. It was the king who was brought into captivity. Perhaps this is why everyone except Orihah rejected the opportunity to be king, because there was an understanding that this curse would come upon the posterity of the king? And though Orihah spent his lifetime in executing his office in righteousness, it only took two generations after him (really just one) for rebellion to settle in.

There is not a lot of interaction in these verse between the Lord and those featured in these records. There is a verse that states the Lord sent prophets among the people to cry repentance. I find it curious that the king enacted laws to protect the prophets so that they could teach the people.

I have been praying about this particular chapter and am anticipating the upcoming chapters, and am wrestling with why this is important to me now.

The order of the kings that reigned area as follows:

  • Orihah – credited with executing judgment in righteousness all his days.
  • Kib – taken into captivity by his own son, Corihor.
  • Shule – restores kingdom to his father, and is subsequently appointed as king. Also credited with executing judgment in righteousness.

It is hard to understand the depth and development of a people with such a cursory overview. But this account does point out one universal similarity, and I think this is why this included here: “The people were brought unto repentance.”

How? Through prophets which came “prophesying that the wickedness and idolatry of the people was bringing a curse upon the land…” Their success was secured through the king “executing judgment against all those who did revile against the prophets.”

(There is more for me to internalize/digest in verses 25-26. What assumptions about these records am I making that make the Lord look transactional? Does this not really mean that the people began to progress again in that they repented?)

My thoughts go in couple of different directions this morning as I contemplate, and have contemplated now for several days these accounts of the affairs of the kings and their family power struggles. The question in my head though is this: does God preserve a nation because of the righteousness of the king or because of the righteousness of the people over whom the king governs?

And the immediate answer that comes to mind is the dialog between the Lord and Abraham concerning the righteous inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorah:

23 ¶ And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

Genesis 18:23-33

During the reign of Shule, there came prophets among the people. Some of the people reviled against the prophets and mocked them. Shule responded by executing judgment against all those who did revile against the prophets.

I am intentionally paying very close attention to the wording that is being used and the assumptions that I am interpreting from what is written. What kind of judgments? It is not described. Was this verbal warnings, monetary fines, imprisonment? Was it not a penalty or punishment, but some other type of judgment? It doesn’t say that the people were punished, but rather that judgment was executed against those who did revile the prophets.

This judgment, whatever its nature, cleared the way that the prophets had access “go whithersoever they would; and by this cause the people were brought unto repentance.” (vs. 25, emphasis added.)

At the end of my studies yesterday, I solicited my wife’s interpretation (which tends to be less justice/penalty oriented) on the phrase “execute judgement”. Another way of looking at this which leaves nothing hidden is to replace the word “judgment” with the word “decision.” And the word “execute,” aside from being associated with the death penalty in modern, American society, simply means “to carry out or put into effect”.

So we might safely say that a possible meaning of the latter end of verse 24 is simply “that king Shule did [put into effect a decision] against all those who did revile against the prophets.” And what was the decision? “He executed [or carried out] a law throughout all the land, which gave power unto the prophets that they should go whithersoever they would.”

I appreciate this because there is thence forth nothing mysterious about what kind of judgment King Shule executed against the reviler of the prophets. He simply enacted a law that gave free speech to the prophets. That’s all he had to do, and consequently repentance was brought unto the people and peace was restored to the land.

And as a secondary point of validation on “execute judgment”, the translation in to Spanish is thus: “sometió a juicio”. It means to be put on trial, but it also literally means to submit or subject to judgment. The word “execute” and its harsh interpretation that I brought with it is no where to be found in the translation.

In the last verse of the chapter, King Shule is accredited with having no more wars during the remainder of his days, remembering “the great things the Lord had done for their fathers,” and again (at it is listed here a consequence of his capacity to remember), “executing judgment in righteousness all his days.”

This is a echo to both President Hinckley from my childhood who spoke often about the pioneers and their struggles, and also the words of Alma the Younger in Alma 5 (vs. 3-13) who spoke of the conversion of their parents just one generation earlier.

Stones to Shine in Darkness

Ether 6 (Éter 6)

I am struck by the profound significance and symbolism of verse 3:

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.

This conjures up the symbolism or spiritual definition of Light in my mind. Also how important it is that men, women, and children all be brought to the light. The Lord has given us this earth and has given himself as the Light that we might not cross this mortal experience in darkness.

That’s the point. The Lord knew the Jaredites were about to embark in a difficult and long journey. He knew that without intervention they would be in darkness. Having light, having the ability to see, was extremely important to the Lord.

My mind has veered off into left field contemplating the time that they had in their barges. What did they do with the time that they had. There was eight barges, eight different experiences.

This reminds me of both recent and distant experiences that I have had working with groups of youth. One group in both my recent experience from manning a “pioneer games” activity and one group from my distant experience as a youth counselor had different, more elevated experiences than all the rest. Greater creativity, greater unity, just all-around better spirits. I cannot say what made the one group stand out from the majority. But I have had these experiences where I’ve witness successful community experiments work.

I’ve made a couple of notes in the actual scripture texts, but I think the thing that continues to resonate with me is how the brother of Jared and those that were with him didn’t loose sight of the Lord and his divine providence upon them. “…They did have light continually…” (vs. 10); “And they were taught to walk humbly before the Lord; and they were also taught from on high.” (vs. 17) Earlier in the journey of the Jaredites, there was a season where the brother of Jared forgot to call upon the Lord, but by the time they came to build the barges and cross the ocean, there was no lacking in their faith from that point on.

Returning to this again on a new day, this act of providing the Jaredites with light in their barges is also to me an act of kindness from the Lord. I am reflecting in my own life about my acts of kindness to improve the conditions of living for my children and others around me.

In verse 12, the Jaredites arrive at the promised land and oh what gratitude and joy! What richness and abundance had just been handed to them from the Lord. It was hardly anything of their own labor or efforts, It was entirely a gift from God.

Walk Humbly before the Lord (vs. 17)

I am going through a series of self-imposed alignment exercises while I’m study this morning, standing at my work station and I am brought to consider the phrase “walk with God”. Notice that it is not “stand with God” rather we are to “walk with God”. Movement, in a forward direction, appears to be a part of the plan for our progression/salvation. We have to be willing to move with God. God is not a static being. Standing is not his natural state of being? We are designed to move and always being moving forward.

TG- Walking with God

At the end of this chapter, Jared and his brother have grown old. The brother of Jared desires to know of his people what they would do for them before they departed mortality. The people request to have a king anointed over them. This was “grevious unto them.”

I am struggling with my own weaknesses as a father this morning. Yet I cannot imagine being in the position of the Brother of Jared: having labored his whole life to follow God and to have secured a land of promise for his people, then for their final request to be subjection to a king — “Surely this thing leadeth into captivity.” (vs. 23)

There is nothing in this record about how the Brother of Jared reconciled the people’s request within himself, or how it is that he sought council from the Lord in this matter. We only know that in the end, the brother of Jared conceded to the requests of the people.

The more that I am sitting with this final exchange, the more that it confuses me. The brother of Jared says that a king will bring the people into captivity, which is true. Yet the people want a king. Yet, none of the sons of the brother of Jared, nor any except for one of the sons of Jared would accept appointment to be king. What part of the people wanted a king if no one was willing to be a king? Did most share the same reservation that the brother of Jared had in establishing a king? Why were they refusing to be king? Were there no other precedents for alternative forms of government?

It was the youngest son of Jared who became king. “…For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” (Luke 9:48) I don’t have answers to this this morning, only observations.

In the Mouth of Three Witnesses

Ether 5 (Éter 5) — See also Doctrine and Covenants 17

This chapter provides instructions to the translator of the text regarding witnesses. A film entitled “A Day for the Eternities” addresses this time period in the translation process. I find the placement of this chapter interesting, because of the timeline of historical events and the timing in which Joseph Smith would have come across this set of instructions. He mostly likely was found with Oliver Cowdery in the Peter and Mary Whitmer home at Fayette, New York, as their guests.

In verse 1, Moroni reminds the reader and Joseph (the translator) that: “… I have told you the things which I have sealed up; therefore touch them not in order that ye may translate; for that thing is forbidden you, except by and by it shall be wisdom in God.”

The footnote on the verse goes back to the previous chapter and the most detailed description we have of the things that were revealed unto the Brother of Jared. And there is a promise as well:

6 For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.

7 And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.

Ether 4:6-7 (emphasis added)

So even though there is a section of the Book of Mormon that is still sealed, Christ can show unto anyone these very same things to those that will exercise faith in seeking Him. Repentance is required. Becoming clean before the Lord is required.

The last two verse of this chapter re-emphasis the point of repentance. For a long time, I have misunderstood the essence of this principle. My efforts to repent were trite and more vain repetitions, which I sensed God did not want, but which I wrongly supposed that I had no need of repentance. Now I see it differently, and I cannot say what has changed in my approach. Only I know that I am in grave need of the refining influence of repentance, for I have much to change that I am powerless to do on my own.

How simple is this injunction though: “And if it so be that they repent and come unto the Father in the name of Jesus, they shall be received into the kingdom of God.” (vs. 6) There is no complicated list of qualifications for admission into the kingdom of God. Only two things are required: 1) repent and 2) come unto the Father in the name of Jesus.

The final verse of this chapter is one that demonstrates that Moroni is speaking from a position of clear knowledge of events as they pertain to the end of the world. “…for ye shall know that I have authority when ye shall see me, and we shall stand before God at the last day.” (vs. 6, emphasis added) This is not a conditional statement, but rather a future reality.

Moroni doesn’t have permission to reveal unto us anything of events that had been shown him of the last days or the end of times, but this statement is fact: that we shall stand before God and Moroni will be there as a witness of the truth.

I thought I was done with this chapter, but then I was brought to consider “the parable of the tares of the field” found in Matthew 13:36–43. Verse 41 has resonated with me since my morning prayers of yesterday: “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;” (emphasis added).

The feeling that I have as I contemplate this is one of complete peace. Why? Back to my prayers.

Strangely, I’ve found this obscure teaching from Joseph Smith that assimilates the work of the three witnesses to the parable of leaven found in this same chapter of Matthew, bringing this study full circle again. (Only the Spirit of the Lord can do something like this.)

It Persuadeth Men to Do Good

Ether 4 (Éter 4)

Faith is at the crux of all things. Without faith, we do not progress spiritually. Without faith, we do not fulfill our purpose. We do not understand who Christ is without faith.

Y para los fieles, hay grandes promesas si siguen fieles hasta el final.

These verses are a hidden treasure to me, on par with other more well know passages where the voice of our Lord is more readily known. Herein are several promises of faith, or a set of strong motivators to seek after faith. These promises have resonated deeply with me this morning. Partly because of the blessings that I have already received. Partly because of the hope of greater insights and blessings yet to be received.

The middle of this chapter is a long quotation that Moroni includes here of the word of the Lord Jesus Christ directly from the His mouth. I have to work to remind myself that this is Jesus speaking. He even addresses here this mortal tendency to doubt His words even though they be His words.

And he that believeth not my words believeth not my disciples; and if it so be that I do not speak, judge ye; for ye shall know that it is I that speaketh, at the last day…

…He that will not believe my words will not believe me—that I am; and he that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me.

Verses 10 & 12

The thing that I am appreciating most about this obscure passage is how familiar His voice is in these passages: these are the words of Christ.

I have gone back to the beginning of the chapter and been caused to consider the revelation given to the brother of Jared that he was subsequently commanded to seal up and keep hidden from the world until the faith of the people should be sufficient to understand all these things, according to the will of God. There was a period of time wherein the Nephites, after Christ’s personal ministry to them, were given this revelation, but then it was taken away.

The only way to get the Lord to give this knowledge back to us is to, as a group, increase in our faith. It is not a solo enterprise.

Back in this long quoted passage which comes straight from the mouth of the Lord:

But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record. For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good.

Verse 11 (emphasis added)

If these are not the words of Christ, these words exhorts us to judge for ourselves. But if they are the words of Christ (and I believe they are ), then this is of momentous importance. Furthermore, this verse 11 resonates so deeply with me, because of my personal experience with the Book of Mormon over now many, many years. I believe the things which Christ has spoken, and I have been visited time and again with the manifestations of the Spirit, and because of this reality (this is my lived reality), I know its true.

I stood in a testimony meeting recently in a distant city, and testified of the Christ. It seemed strange to me how simple and strong that witness came to me, and with such clarity. Yet, this verse 11 offers to me an explanation of why that happened the way that it did, and why it was so. I know this is true.

I need to sit with the comparison that is found in verse 12, and my interpretation of this precept, many times erroneous.

“And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for agood cometh of none save it be of me. I am the same that leadeth men to all good;”

Elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, we can read similar passages that offer even more of a comparison between Christ and the devil:

  • “…For there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh from the devil.” – Omni 1:25
  • “For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.” – Alma 5:40
  • Moroni 7:12-17 offers the most detailed insights on the topic.

I am now returning from a weekend at youth conference. The verses I read today talk about the mysteries of God being revealed to those who have faith sufficient to believe.

This chapter ends with the words of Christ telling us, telling me that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and my faith in the Christ will bring me to understand that the Father hath made covenants with our fathers long ago which impact me today. We are witnessing the fulfillment of promises made by God millennia ago. We are a part of the time that John saw in revelations and which are being now fulfilled. The time has already come and the work is already commenced. Those that now believe and are baptized shall be saved in the Kingdom of God.

These final verses ARE the words of Christ. This is His voice telling me what I must know to return to him. And because these things are not logical, tangible, nor able to be proven with scientific means of observation (exclusively), they will always be discounted by the world. And yet this is where the truth IS.

And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world. And behold it is I that hath spoken it. Amen.

Vs. 19