I studied Ether 1-5 in my Come, Follow Me lessons this week. As you may know, many of the verses in these chapters are about prayer and revelation. The book of Ether begins at the Tower of Babel when the Lord confounded the language of the people. Jared sent his brother to inquire of the Lord three times.
The first prayer was a plea that the Lord would not confound their language or the language of their families. The second prayer was a plea that the Lord would not confound language of their friends. The third prayer was a question whether the Lord would drive them out of the land. If so, where would the Lord take them?
The answers to the first two prayers were that the Lord did not confound the language of Jared, his brother, their families, their friends, and their friends’ families. The answer to the third prayer was that the Lord would go before them into another land “which is choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42).
The Lord went before Jared and his group and led them to a place named Moriancumer. We learn from the Prophet Joseph Smith that Moriancumer is part of the name of the brother of Jared, but in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, he is known only as the brother of Jared.
The group lived in tents in the land known as Moriancumer for four years. At the end of the four years, the Lord visited the brother of Jared. It was not a pleasant visit because the Lord chastened the brother of Jared for three hours. Why was the Lord so upset with this man? He did not remember to pray!
The brother of Jared repented of his sin, and the Lord continued to instruct him about building barges and outfitting them for the trip to the chosen land. Under the directions of the Lord, Jared and his group built eight barges. They were each “the length of a tree” but considered “small.” They were “light” and “tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish” (Ether 2:16-17).
Once the barges were built, the brother of Jared took three questions to the Lord. The first question was about lig.ht. The barges were dark inside them, and he wanted to know if they were to travel to the chosen land in the dark. The second question was about steering the barges, and the third question was about fresh air.
The Lord answered only the third question: “make a hole in the top, and also I the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood” (Ether 2:20).
The work was done, and the brother of Jared returned to the Lord with his question about light. The Lord answered with a question: “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire” (Ether 2:23).
In the middle of the discussion about light, the Lord answered the question about how to steer the barges: “ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth…. I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come” (Ether 2:23-24). In other words, Jared and his people would not be steering the barges because the Lord would be directing them.
Then the Lord asked a second time, “what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?” (Ether 2: 25). The brother of Jared apparently did not have an answer for the Lord because we are not given more of the conversation.
The next chapter tells us what the brother of Jared did. He went to an exceedingly high mountain with the name Shelem and found some rocks. He did “molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass.” (Ether 3:1). He carried the sixteen small stones to the top of the mountain to talk with God. There he showed the stones to the Lord and humbly asked the Lord to make the stones shine.
And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.
Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understand of men. (Ether 3:4-5)
The Lord reached out his finger and “touched the stones one by one with his finger” (Ether 3:6). The brother of Jared saw the finger of the Lord and “was struck with fear” and fell to the earth (Ether 3:6). The Lord wanted to know why the man had fallen, and the brother of Jared replied, “I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood” (Ether 3:8).
The Lord told the brother of Jared, “Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith” (Ether 3:9). Did you see anything else? No, Lord, “show thyself to me” (Ether 3:10).
11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?
12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.
13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: 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.
14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.
15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
16 Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirt will I appear unto my people in the flesh. (Ether 3:11-16).
The brother of Jared was chastened by the Lord for three hours for not calling upon the name of the Lord. However, this man developed such faith that he could not be kept without the veil. His faith thrust him through the veil where he saw Jesus Christ. Because of his faith, the Lord showed the brother of Jared all the earth and its inhabitants. Then He told the brother of Jared to write what He had seen. However, he was not to show the writing to anyone but to seal it up along with the Urim and Thummin given to him by the Lord.
King Mosiah was given the record of Ether and the Urim and Thummin. He translated the writings of the brother of Jared but kept the information hidden from the Nephites until after the Lord visited them after His resurrection. The Nephites had the information, but Moroni sealed it up again and told Joseph Smith not to touch it. This information is contained in the Sealed Portion of the Golden Plates from which the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ was translated. The Book of Mormon tells us that when we have faith like unto that of the brother of Jared, we will receive the Sealed Portion.