unbelief
Week 46 is scheduled for study Nov. 9-15, 2020. The scriptures this week are all about the brother of Jared and how he rent the veil of unbelief, but the lessons are all about how what happened to him applies to us.

Day 1

Ether 1:33–43 – As I cry unto the Lord, He will have compassion on me.

God inspired Moroni to include Ether’s record in the Book of Mormon because of its relevance to our day. How do you feel it is relevant to your life?

In the last of these verses the Lord said to the brother of Jared that He would do as the brother of Jared requested using these words, “thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me.” That immediately made me think of the New Testament parable Jesus gave about the widow who sought vengeance from the judge (Luke 18:1–8).

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. …

The lesson of this parable is given in the first verse – “men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” One of the truths about the brother of Jared is that one of his gifts was the ability to pray effectively. As the Lord put it, he had cried unto the Lord a long time. In the parable the Savior taught that the judge could see that the woman knew he could do something about her situation, and she wasn’t going to go away and stop her petitions until he did something to help her. I’m sensing a pattern here.

The Lord is telling us that he bears with us when we “cry day and night unto him.” He also tells us that He will not let our petitions go unanswered. The question is, will we tire and grow faint before we get our answer?

Getting answers is a complicated process. Sometimes the Lord tells us to stop asking for something, because it is either inappropriate, not the right time, or He has his reasons for not answering us at this time. Some prayers require we grow in specific ways before we can understand or appreciate the answer. Then there are those prayers the Lord is ready, willing, and anxious to answer as soon as we get around to asking the right questions.

One such example of the Lord waiting for His children to just ask is described in the Book of Mormon by Jesus. The Father told Jesus to tell the Jews in Jerusalem that there were “other sheep.” But that is all Jesus was commanded to tell them. The Lord tells the people that God was just waiting to see if the apostles would ask about those other sheep, but they never did, so He never told them about the people in the Americas. It was evidently a lack of faith on their part that they didn’t seek for an answer about that issue. How many instances like this might we be guilty of?

Prayer is not always a simple question and answer. Many times it requires repetition over long periods of time, personal study on our part, and active seeking to learn more so we are ready for the answer to our question. The Lord is compassionate, but just giving out answers is not true compassion. The answers we receive from God are all based on what is best for us and our personal growth. We also need to spend time seeking guidance from the Holy Ghost as to what is most appropriate to ask, and how to ask it. When He reveals to us the what and how, we are guaranteed to get the best answer available for us. Sometimes we ask without seeking for direction, and we can still get answers. Like I said, prayer can be a complicated thing.

Day 2

Ether 2; 3:1-6; 4:7-15 – I can receive revelation for my life.

God inspired Moroni to include Ether’s record in the Book of Mormon because of its relevance to our day. How do you feel it is relevant to your life?

Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I decided to just include a couple of links to articles I have already written about personal revelation. There are more of them on gospelstudy.us, but I thought these two would suffice for today’s lesson.

Day 3

Ether 2:16–25 – The Lord will prepare me to cross my “great deep.”

God inspired Moroni to include Ether’s record in the Book of Mormon because of its relevance to our day. How do you feel it is relevant to your life?

There are trials in our lives then there are TRIALS in our lives. The Jaredites had built these same kind of barges multiple times when needing to cross bodies of water in their travels. But this time they weren’t going to be able to have any access to the outside of their crafts for the entire duration of their voyage across the great deep. This trip presented a whole new variety of challenges they hadn’t faced before.

In our own lives we face trials, but sooner or later we run up against a major trial, one I write as TRIAL. Many parts of our major trials are like other trials that we have gone through before, but in a TRIAL there is always something significantly different that we have never encountered before. We suddenly feel out of our depth, unsure of our self, and uncertain how to proceed. A TRIAL such as this is often accompanied with a fair amount of fear, a sense of abandonment, or sorrow, anger, or depression. All these things combined make us feel like we have been led through the dark to the edge of a deep chasm and told that all we need to do is take one more step.

The problem with taking one more step, when you already sense you are on the edge of safety, is that everything inside you screams that one more step and you will plunge to your destruction. A common reaction is to seize up with terror, because you can’t see how far down you will fall or what lies at the bottom and awaits your arrival. I have had this experience, and I have written about it before.

After my divorce, when I was living in a small rural town with my four young children, my priesthood leaders turned their backs on me and basically threw me out of town. My whole life I had been taught that if your family couldn’t help you the church always would. No one in my ward would have anything to do with me. The Primary wouldn’t help me with my daughters because I was a single father. Ditto for the Young Women and the Relief Society. The priesthood quorums couldn’t understand that there was no one to be with my children if I wasn’t home. I had no family to count on in that town. I was very much alone.

With the ultimatums given me by my priesthood leaders I felt completely abandoned by the church and by God. I felt betrayed. I was terrified, angry, insulted by the treatment I had received, and confused by this sudden turn of events. It happened to be about Conference time, and I noted that several of the talks that April mentioned the importance of following the counsel of your priesthood leaders, even if you didn’t agree with them. I really struggled with this. I felt like I was in the dark on the edge of a precipice, being told to take a step out into the darkness. Everything inside me told me I would be destroyed if I did that. I recoiled and hesitated. I knew that obeying my priesthood leaders, despite what I felt about them personally, would lead to me being homeless, and possibly losing my children to the state. Oh how I wept bitter tears.

As I prayed about my situation I finally determined that the gospel of Christ was better than any alternative out there. I had no place else to go that could even begin to offer me the promises and comfort the Spirit of Christ offers. This was a matter of faith, and no matter what happened when I stepped out into the void of the unknown, I would do it because apparently that is what the Lord expected me to do. So no matter the outcome, I chose to follow my priesthood leaders. And yes, it did lead to four months of homelessness. I wept many times, feared for our safety and welfare, and prayed harder and longer than I ever had in my life.

One night, when I was at the end of my rope, and was being kicked out of yet another place because the owners couldn’t handle the wild behavior of my four traumatized children and an unemployed father, I took my case to the Lord. I told Him I didn’t know if I could bear to live under a bridge in my car with my four children. I begged Him to not make me do it. I wept a good part of the night fearing what would happen the next day, but I still followed the counsel of my priesthood leaders, even after four months of homelessness.

Imagine my surprise when I awoke the next morning to a phone call offering me full time work, and by lunch time I was told I could move into one floor of a house immediately, and he would wait for his deposit and down payment on the rent until I got paid! I received a witness in the very center of my soul right then and there that God is intimately aware of me no matter where I am or what is happening with me. I knew then that he may take me to the extremities of my abilities, but at some point He will always bless me for my sacrifices.

This experience was my “great deep.” This was my own personal crossing of the ocean for almost a year. I wasn’t cooped up in a shell being tossed and buried by monstrous waves, and made to hear the thunderous roaring of the seas crashing over my head day and night, but in my own situation that was me crossing my own great deep.

At some point in time everyone who makes covenants with God will be tried and tested to see just how far their faith will carry them. My mother always taught me that sooner or later the Lord will reach into every heart and pull on our heart strings to see how soundly they are tuned. If they hold up then we pass the test. The result is always an outpouring of various blessings meant just for us. This is my experience, and my testimony.

Day 4

Ether 3 – I am created in God’s image.

God inspired Moroni to include Ether’s record in the Book of Mormon because of its relevance to our day. How do you feel it is relevant to your life?

This is a simple concept, though it seems to be difficult for the world to accept. We are actual children of God, and because we are, we look like Him. The whole purpose of coming to earth was for us to gain the physical bodies we lacked in the premortal world. This is our first experience with physical bodies. Even though they pale in comparison to our Father’s body, we are promised that because of Christ’s atonement and resurrection we will all receive a glorified and resurrected body before the day of judgment.

It is a natural part of all living things to give birth in some form. Those beings always grow up to look like their parents. Because God is our Father, we will always resemble Him, that is just the way the universe works.

Day 5

Ether 3:6–16 – Was the brother of Jared the first person to see the Lord?

God inspired Moroni to include Ether’s record in the Book of Mormon because of its relevance to our day. How do you feel it is relevant to your life?

We know that Adam saw God, Enoch walked with God, and others saw God. So for the brother of Jared to see God is not surprising. What is surprising is why and how he saw God. The prophets before the brother of Jared knew the true nature of God and Christ. Refer to yesterday’s lesson of us being created in His image. The brother of Jared hadn’t been taught anything about the true nature of God. We don’t know what he thought of when he prayed, but he wasn’t seeing a person in his mind’s eye, for he had no idea that God had a body.

This fact is what sets the brother of Jared apart from all others who had ever seen God up to that point. The brother of Jared’s faith in God was so absolute that God could no longer prevent him from knowing the truth. It was the brother of Jared’s degree of faith in God that tore the veil and allowed him to see the finger of God he asked for. Once he saw what he had asked for he immediately asked to see the rest of Him. His faith had become knowledge.

FHE/Personal Scripture Study

Ether 2:16–3:6 – Finding answers through prayer

First of all let’s look at a couple of key verses that teach us a lot about how well the brother of Jared obeyed the Lord (Ether 2:18–19).

18 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me.

19 And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish.

The Lord had commanded the barges to be built. The brother of Jared could see that there were deficiencies in the barges, but he built them exactly as the Lord had commanded they be built. After the job was done, exactly as he had been commanded to do it (I’m trying to emphasize the point here that he didn’t try to alter the Lord’s design when he saw what he considered to be flaws in what he had been told to build), it was only then that he went to the Lord to report on his progress then ask the Lord how they would deal with the shortcomings in the design. Notice he didn’t correct the Lord or complain about the obvious problems. He simply asked the Lord how He wanted them to deal with these things he saw as challenges they would have to overcome while still using the Lord’s design.

Obviously the brother of Jared was a smart man. In verse 19 he outlines three big problems for the many barges they had built. The barges had no light in them, no way to steer them, and no air flow, which would cause them all to die of suffocation. I would say these are three pretty significant defects, yet they still built all 8 barges exactly as instructed. Now that if faith!

God answered the brother of Jared’s last concern first, and He only addressed his last concern. He told them to cut holes that could be stopped up in both the top and bottom of the vessels for air. I don’t know if this means he was planning on the vessels being able to roll in the water, but it would at least be a way for them to get air to breath.

After they had cut the holes as directed, the brother of Jared went back to the Lord to ask about the issue of light. He was being very patient with the Lord, for he had asked about three things, but had only received an answer about one. Now he was back again asking for further light (pun intended).

Interestingly enough, the Lord didn’t just say, “Well, what do you want Me to do about it?” Instead, He first gave a description of the limitations the Jaredites would be facing during their crossing. Taking those limitations into consideration the brother of Jared had to come up with a solution on his own and bring it back to present it to the Lord. Oh, and in the Lord’s list of limitations of the voyage He told them they wouldn’t have to worry about steering the ships, because He was going to use the winds and the waves to carry them across the sea to where He wanted them to go. It was that method of transport that caused these difficulties the brother of Jared needed now to solve.

Fire takes lots of air, and they weren’t allowed to have any fire. They would be short on air, and there was no other form of light they possessed besides fire. The only thing the brother of Jared could think of would be if God imparted some of His own glory, however that worked, into some stones he knew he could make. Somehow he didn’t seriously consider using regular stones. He felt he needed clear stones for this to work, so he had thought this out and had decided that he would have to create two stones per ship, so 16 stones in total. The stones needed to be clear so God’s glory could shine from them. And this is what he brought before the Lord.

When we are given difficulties to solve, these are the kinds of situations we are also given. Sometimes the Lord’s instructions are obviously not complete, driving us back to our knees to ask for further clarification. Are we humble and submissive when we approach the Lord about an “obvious” flaw in the Lord’s instructions? Or do we tell the Lord we have done exactly as commanded then ask how we should deal with these difficulties we have identified? At no time did the brother of Jared ever tell the Lord that His plans were faulty or not up to standards. At no time did he ever indicate to the Lord that he was unhappy with what the Lord had given him so far. He always approached the Lord in complete humility and deference.

Finally, the brother of Jared was patient with the Lord’s timing. He originally pointed out three problems, but the Lord only answered one of them. He went and fixed that one problem then went back and asked about the next problem. He was fortunate that the Lord handled both the other problems at the same time. When we see many problems and go to the Lord, do we expect Him to help us solve everything at once, or are we patient and work hard on solving what the Lord gives us at this moment in time? Are we willing to wait until the Lord sees fit in His wisdom to give us further direction?

Click the link below to print out

a PDF version of this article.

BoM Week 46

(Ether 1-5)