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.

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