The Will of the Lord

Ether 13 (Éter 13)

I find it very interesting the idea that Ether would have had no written history of the Abrahamic Covenant, the House of Israel, or the seed of Joseph.

At the end of this chapter reading it in Spanish, I’ve made a few notes in the digital scriptures. This is a documentation of how a man lost his soul when he refused to repent. I feel like this is the whole point. It wasn’t just that he “lost his soul”, no the real loss was the control or self-mastery of himself. This is what he rejected when he chose not to repent. Instead he tried to with the sword enforce some other way, a way in which he had no control, but he was purely acting on animalistic instinct.

Ether 14 (Éter 14) & Ether 15 (Éter 15)

I am struggling to have to wade through this passage of scripture with the blood and carnage described herein. In reading this in Spanish, I’ve highlighted in gray, every time a reference is made to a leader’s lack of self-control, or compulsion because of anger. This theme, as mentioned above, has resonated deeply with me this time around.

We destroy ourselves; no one else is responsible for our anger.

There is another thought that impresses me as I contemplate the why of these chapters, and the details that were included in these verses. At the end of chapter 15, after having waded through all these gory details, Moroni makes this statement: “and the hundredth part I have not written” (vs. 33). And then I realize that we were just reading a readers’ digest version of this terrible scene that was captured in Ether’s record.

As I ask myself then why? How do these verses point me to the Christ? Then it occurs to me that He is present and aware of all of this. This is a very small sampling of the Father’s omniscience.

I’ve jumped back to Chapter 13, and I found myself asking why the prophet Ether was blessed to understand everything that he did. As I have contemplated this thought in prayer, it seems significant that a prophet who stood at the end of a civilization (and what is true of Ether, is even more true of Moroni) understood enough of the timetables of God to save a people had they believed. Or rather, I see it both as a point of mercy, but perhaps also justice. The Lord kept nothing hidden from these prophets who stood at the literal end of their civilizations. Though their souls alone were the only ones that were saved, the Lord had provided opportunities for the people’s repentance up until the very end, when the Spirit of the Lord would no longer strive with the depravity of men.

The point of mercy and sense of mission that was given to each of these prophets left them with work to do. They are shown of God the future events of this world, even the establishment of a New Jerusalem and much that pertained unto it. Their work is to prepare a record that will aid in the gathering of a people to inhabit this Holy Place.

I’m struggling this morning with a minor incident in loss of self control. Ether 13:27 is helping me to see why these chapters are included in this book. In great anger, two warring factions come out in battle against each other. What do they hope to accomplish? Surely not a peaceful resolution, surely not increased love and harmony; these things will not be the fruits of their war and violence.

What do you hope to accomplish by your own violent actions? Surely not peace, nor increased love and harmony. Blessed are the peacemakers…

Echos of the great question “What desirest thou?” are ringing through my head this morning.

I am midway through Ether 14, making notes on the actual scriptures as I go. Verse 24 & 25 are particularly insightful, and I am realizing that part of the reason why this particular group of chapters are included in the Book of Mormon has to do with the word of the Lord that had been declared against the people and to illustrate the fulfillment of the Lord’s words.

I have made more notes and highlights in the actual scriptures with these verses of study than I have for other passages of scripture. Parenthetically, I am studying “A Latter-day Saint Theology of Suffering,” by Francine R. Bennion, which gives these last chapters of Ether a much deeper significance.

Questions for pondering:

  • If God is not playing puppet master with these people who will not repent (and I don’t believe he is), how and why is Coriantumr’s life spared when every other soul is destroyed?
  • I believe in divine intervention to a point, but then what of the agency of man?
  • And isn’t that the primary purpose of it all: to learn the laws that govern life and death, sin and repentance, pain and joy?

Agency seems to be the chief discussion point of all this account. I also wonder if we have a tendency to give God too much credit for the actions of men. Trying to understand this, it feels like I assuming that the Father controls more than He does. It’s not that he doesn’t have all power to control and govern, intervene and act on our behalf, but in some or even many ways, does He not prohibit the sun from rising on both the just and the unjust. The test of agency is profound.

I’ve choosen the name for this particular entry, and it comes from the final verse of chapter 15. “Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God.” The title seems to be completely at odds with the rest of the reading. Was it the will of the Lord that the people of Coriantumr being completely destroyed? I don’t think that a God who wepts and desires our eternal welfare and happiness could also desire that a civilization be completely wiped off the face of the earth. Would he and did he allow it to happen? Yes. But is this the just will of God being enacted upon a wicked people? I don’t know, but I don’t think so. Rather, it seems to me that the will of the Lord is that man retain his agency, no matter the dire consequences.

What is certain is that no one was interested in what the Lord desired for the people, with the exception of Ether the prophet. So it is a prophet who seeks to do the Lord’s will, and in this instance (not always), it is a prophet that is preserved. And now at the end of his harrowing record, he expresses his simple conviction and desire to continue to do the Lord’s will, whatever that may be in the end.

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