Understanding the exchange that is recorded in this chapter is pivotal to conversion and life itself.
The Lord is allowing the Brother of Jared to call the shots in finding a way to light the vessels within the ships that they have built to conduct themselves to the promised land. What then follows is such a significant exchange, and such a revelation of faith that it was actually kept from the people prior to the Savior’s mortal ministry. (See Ether 4:1)
The Brother of Jared sees the Lord’s finger as an answer to his inquiry, and that sends him hiding out of fear that the Lord would smite him. Though the Lord had nurtured him along up until this point, the natural tendency was to fear (or be afraid of) God.
The Lord sees the Brother of Jared’s fear and asks why he had done this. His response was that he thought the Lord would respond violently with him, but the even greater surprise was that the Lord had a body of flesh and blood. (Or at least, this is was the Brother of Jared perceived to be flesh and blood.)
All this leads up to an explanation of the power of the faith of the Brother of Jared. No one prior to the Brother of Jared had exhibited such faith in the Lord that he was permitted to see the Lord as He touched the stones with His finger. (Had no one else seen the Lord prior to this? I wonder about the context of this statement, but I can let it stand.)
The Lord continues to ask questions: “Sawest thou more than this?”
To which the Brother of Jared is overcome with desire: “Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.”
Then the Lord asks another question, and this one catches me off guard: “Believest thou the words which I shall speak?“
On Sat, Jun 18, 2022, I added a noted to my scriptures:
Such an important question! Do you believe that I, your God, am telling you the truth? When we violate a commandment of God is it not always on the premise of faith? If we don’t follow God, it is because we doubt that what He has told us is true. We are assuming that some how God is lying to us.
Or is it that we assume that we could know better than God? What motivation would God have in not telling us the truth? Why would God need to lie?
There are three sets of doctrine that correspond and work with each other here. They are as follows:
- Faith vs. Doubt
- Truth vs. Lies
- Redeemed vs. Fallen
Faith vs. Doubt
In verse 11, after the Brother of Jared asks to see the Lord, the question of belief is placed before him. Do you believe all the words that the Lord shall speak? (future tense) So the first pillar of this argument is faith. And to more fully appreciate it, I juxtapose this to doubt.
In what individuals and institutions do I doubt their truthfulness; in what individuals and institutions do I place my faith in? “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart…” “Doubt not only be believing…” Faith is the integral first step. If I don’t believe that the Lord can show me truth, why would I show up to talk with Him? And that leads me to the next consideration.
Truth vs. Lies
What we choose to believe makes all the difference. Do we believe in lies or do we believe in truth. Conversely, do we doubt the truth, or do we doubt the lies? Doubt lies, believe the truth.
This all sounds extremely simple, but the reality is that we spend the majority of our mortality caught up in this very thing, expending large amounts of energy every day either in believing lies or believing truth. Our belief structure dictates everything about what we do with our time. It is where we place our energies and how we choose to work.
There is a matrix that may help us to visualize this better.
|We doubt that Christ is telling us the truth. We believe that God is lying to us.
|We believe that Christ is telling us the truth. We believe that God is a God of truth and cannot lie.
|We doubt the lies, snares, and false information that the adversary tries to present to us. We see lies for what they really are.
|We believe the lies, snares, misinformation presented by the adversary and mistake it for truth or reality.
Obviously, a diagonal line from bottom left to top right is the desired position of alignment along this matrix, but the reality is that we are usually not that well aligned. However, such a position of alignment where we believe God and doubt the devil (and the institutions that support such) is precisely the orientation that will lead us back into God’s presence.
What makes the Brother of Jared’s position so powerful is it is riveted by conviction and testimony: “I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.” (vs. 12)
This absolute knowledge that the Lord allows the Brother of Jared to express as an answer to a question is the ticket back into the presence of the Lord.
Redeemed vs. Fallen
(I am sitting at the gate for this last point, but realizing that this doctrinal progression doesn’t exactly fit what I’ve observed and learned from the scriptures.) So the underlying doctrine that is supporting this progression is testimony. It is the knowledge or testimony that the Brother of Jared has of God as a being that tells the truth which propels him forward back into the presence of the Lord.
Of course that knowledge first came of belief. And this process of growth from belief to sure knowledge is not documented in the Brother of Jared’s account. We come to this record with the Brother of Jared already in full conversion for three chapters now, having received direction and specific communications with the Lord all along the way.
So in verse 13, when the Lord shows himself to the Brother of Jared, the Lord then reiterates to him the impact of his testimony upon his life:
- Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall;
- therefore ye are brought back into my presence;
- therefore I show myself unto you.
What are the implication of redemption? Being redeemed from the fall? My mind goes to scriptures that discuss the fallen condition of the world in general, the bondage of sin, and the very real weight that this places upon people. Being delivered from this fallen state is significant and huge.
Why? Because the cares of the fallen world are not the cares or the concerns of the redeemed. It is not to say that we lead a carefree life or lifestyle (far from it), but our energies and our concerns are focused on different priorities. Correct knowledge and life education can be obtained in ways that are liberating and empowering to engage in the real work of mortality.
The cares of a fallen world typically revolve around self-preservation, usually through deceptive means. The carees of the redeemed are more exalted, looking outward to the needs of others. They are concerned with doing God’s will, not their own.
In verse 13, the Lord tells the brother of Jared that he (the Lord) will show himself unto the brother of Jared. Then in verse 14, we have the words that the Lord uses to describe himself as he is physically revealing himself to the brother of Jared.
- “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people.”
This thought has impressed me for several weeks now, since Father’s Day, that Christ had to be prepared to accomplish the mission that was set before him. This reality, coupled with many other examples, show me that a child can be trained up in the way that they should go. We can prepare our children to do great things.
(I see many successful latter-day saint families preparing their children in this regard, even if my own efforts have not quite materialized in such a fashion.)
- “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.“
There is so much to take away from these two simple statements. He identifies himself ante-mortally as Jesus Christ, where he was otherwise known as Jehovah before his birth. That his titles as both Father and Son are then given here is also significant. Admittedly, this does add a little confusion to understanding the roles of the Godhead, but it is more importantly an accurate statement for Christ to state that he is both Father and Son. (I will not study this further here, though I could easily add more).
- “In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name;”
I’ve jumped ahead to the next two verses. Never had Christ showed himself before to man whom he had created. Therefore, Christ has the power to reveal himself unto man. What’s harder for me to comprehend, though it must be true as Christ has said it, “this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit.” So our spiritual bodies are in the express image of a physical body. Or actually, it is the other way around. Our physical bodies are created in the image of our spiritual bodies.
I end my study today with a lot of questions about the nature of spiritual bodies and how they differ from a physical body. And the Spirit seems to suggest that this is a correct mode of thinking, or rather that I should continue to pursue this line of thought and discussion.
In verse 16, it states Christ created man after the man of his spiritual body. So what was first? Christ in the body of his spirit was first. As an exclusively spirit body, Christ proceeds to create the physical bodies of man and woman after his own image. Image of what? Image of his spirit body.
In the next few verses, Moroni steps in as editor to explain the parallel between this visit of the Lord and his visit to the Nephites after his resurrection. The demonstration of his body, though only in the spirit was similar in manner to the way that Christ showed himself to the Nephites. This is a striking observation, which really causes me to consider differently the nature of spiritual bodies. (We know nothing of this reality.) The other parallel, and arguably the more important one is the ministry of Christ. Moroni points out that Christ ministered unto this man in the same manner as he did to the Nephites. “and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.” (vs. 18)
I don’t know what it is about this particular chapter, but it is rich in significant doctrine. The footnotes are expansive in instruction. Today, I find myself consumed in verse 19 following the footnotes for both “knowledge” and “veil”.
The doctrine of the “veil” I find to be particularly curious because that it is clearly a part of our understanding of the the plan of salvation, but that plan is not really laid out anywhere biblical, and it is really only through the narratives of modern apostles and prophets that we have crafted such a detailed blueprint of what this plan looks like, with the veil playing such a central role at birth and throughout mortality.
Continuing along in verse 20, we’re back to the point that the Brother of Jared could not be kept from seeing Christ because of his faith. And the wording of this verse seems to suggests that the Lord was bound because of the exceptional or exceedingly strong faith of the Brother of Jared: “Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil;” The footnote leads to chapter 12, a much deeper discussion on faith that corroborates this point. (See Ether 12:19–21)
The second point that is presented for consideration is that the Brother of Jared did see Jesus Christ. With his physical eyes he was brought to visually see the ante-mortal Lord. The reality is that we do have actual witnesses of our Lord, both ancient and present.
The Brother of Jared is commanded not to reveal publicly the things which he both saw and heard. Rather he was commanded to treasure these things which were given him.
The word of the Lord is recorded verbatim in verses 21-24. This instruction pertains to sealing up the things which were shown unto the brother of Jared until such a time as the Lord decreed should be appropriate for their coming forth.
In verse 25, the Lord shows the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth, all “which had been, and also all that would be;” Verse 26 explains further that it was the Lord that initiated this action by telling the brother of Jared “that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things—it should be shown unto him;”
The significance of this set of events is simply this: The Lord had given him prior instruction. These verses explain the realization of this instruction received “in times before.” It is the result of the brother of Jared’s faith in the word of the Lord that he had previously received.
This chapter ends with a set of instructions from the Lord to “write these things and seal them up.” The Lord wanted a record made of what had transpired, yet he didn’t want it immediately available until such a time as the Lord saw it fit to make these things available: that is our time.