Friday, January 4, 2013

Ether Chapter 4



Moroni is commanded to seal up the writings of the brother of Jared—They shall not be revealed until men have faith even as the brother of Jared—Christ commands men to believe his words and those of his disciples—Men are commanded to repent and believe the gospel and be saved.

1  AND the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to go down out of the mount from the presence of the Lord, and write the things which he had seen; and they were forbidden to come unto the children of men until after that he should be lifted up upon the cross; and for this cause did king Mosiah keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people.
This verse is somewhat confusing.  Exactly what was Moriancumer supposed to write and when?  What was to be kept secret until after Christ's coming, and what could be revealed in the "due time of the Lord?"
Several important points should be made here.  As pointed out in chapter 3, Moriancumer had two separate visions while on the mountain.  The first was not to be written until the end of his life.  However he was commanded to write the description of the second after he descended from the mount.  These were not be revealed until after Christ's resurrection.  However this restriction may have only applied to the record of the first vision as Ether seemed to have had a knowledge of the second one long before Christ's coming, and Ether's record was translated by Mosiah, and revealed (at least in part) to his people, also before Christ's resurrection.  But then we are told that Mosiah had possession of Moriancumer's writings but kept them secret during his lifetime.  
Valentin Arts has studied this problem and written an excellent essay on it in a paper entitled "A Third Jaredite Record: The Sealed Portion of the Gold Plates."  In this essay he explores the passage of the record from Moriancumer to Mosiah.  It can be found at the Maxwell Institute site (http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=11&num=1&id=281).
2  And after Christ truly had showed himself unto his people he commanded that they should be made manifest.
These records were revealed at the time Christ appeared to the Nephites.  We have no record of this, but Valentin Arts suggests that Nephi, the lead disciple chosen by Christ, probably translated these records using the Urim and Thummim, that had also been passed down from Moriancumer.  Thus these Nephites had access to the full knowledge which had been given to the brother of Jared.  This fact compounds their wickedness when they later rebelled against the fullness of such knowledge.  
3  And now, after that, they have all dwindled in unbelief; and there is none save it be the Lamanites, and they have rejected the gospel of Christ; therefore I am commanded that I should hide them up again in the earth.
The Nephites had rejected this great knowledge and had been destroyed.  Only the unbelieving Lamanites are left (no mention is made of "robbers" but they were probably included in the Lamanites).  Moroni is commanded to hide Moriancumer's record in the earth once again (apparently they had been hidden in the earth before).
4  Behold, I have written upon these plates the very things which the brother of Jared saw; and there never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared.
Moroni transcribed all the revelations that were contained in the record of Moriancumer onto the gold plates.  He doesn't tell us the source of these writings.  It is unlikely that he translated them again from the original source, but probably copied them from previous Nephite translations.  He would have written them in the Reformed Egyptian which was the formal written language of the Nephites.  In all his experience, Moroni has not read or experienced greater things than those recorded by Moriancumer.  
5  Wherefore the Lord hath commanded me to write them; and I have written them.  And he commanded me that I should seal them up; and he also hath commanded that I should seal up the interpretation thereof; wherefore I have sealed up the interpreters, according to the commandment of the Lord.
The Lord felt it important for us to have this record and commanded it to be included on the gold plates.  This would be the sealed two thirds of the golden plates.  At the command of the Lord, Moroni sealed this portion of the plates.  This was probably a physical, as well as a spiritual sealing.  The interpreters, or Urim and Thummim, were also sealed.  This would prevent anyone from using them on the sealed portion of the plates.  
6  For the Lord said unto me: They shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord.
This verse begins a direct, verbatim revelation which Moroni was to pass along to the latter-day readers. The record of the Brother of Jared can become available to the gentiles if they will repent, accept the gospel, and become cleansed from their sins.  We are not told if this refers to all the gentiles, the majority, or a specific righteous group.  If it refers to all the gentiles, it is not likely to occur before the millennium.  
7  And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.
The Lord gives us the requirements for receiving this record.  We must have the same degree of faith that Moriancumer had.  This is a very stringent requirement as we are told that Moriancumer was unique in his degree of faith.  The Lord said: "And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast (Ether 3:15)."  Can we achieve such faith?  Not likely.  We will probably have to wait until the millennium.   When we are shown these things, it will include the revelation of all things in heaven and in the earth.  
Regarding this flood of knowledge which is to come the Lord has said:  "God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now;   Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory; A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.  All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars—All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months, and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times—According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal presence and into his immortal rest (D&C 121:26-32)."

8  And he that will contend against the word of the Lord, let him be accursed; and he that shall deny these things, let him be accursed; for unto them will I show no greater things, saith Jesus Christ; for I am he who speaketh.

9  And at my command the heavens are opened and are shut; and at my word the earth shall shake; and at my command the inhabitants thereof shall pass away, even so as by fire.
10  And he that believeth not my words believeth not my disciples; and if it so be that I do not speak, judge ye; for ye shall know that it is I that speaketh, at the last day.
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.
13  Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief.
We have obviously not lived up to our promised privileges  Lack of faith and unbelief prevent us from the greater knowledge which is available to us.
14  Come unto me, O ye house of Israel, and it shall be made manifest unto you how great things the Father hath laid up for you, from the foundation of the world; and it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.
"House of Israel"--Christ is speaking of all the Israelites, the Jews, the remnant of Lehi (Joseph), the Lost Ten Tribes, and any others that may have been scattered or broken off.  
15  Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of(8) mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you—yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.
"Veil of unbelief, wickedness, hardness of heart, and blindness of mind."  This is the spiritual condition of the latter-day Isrealites. These things keep them from knowing of the covenants and blessings awaiting them.  When they turn to him, they will receive these promised blessing.  It may take miracles to bring them to this spiritual reawakening, but the Lord is capable of such things, and if we are fortunate, we may be called to assist in this marvelous work and a wonder.    
16  And then shall my revelations which I have caused to be written by my servant John be unfolded in the eyes of all the people.  Remember, when ye see these things, ye shall know that the time is at hand that they shall be made manifest in very deed.
This John would be John the Revelator, the author of the book of Revelations.  Moroni is aware of his importance from the writings of Nephi.  When Nephi had his great vision he was shown many things up to the end of the world.  But he was told not to write the latter things as this had been assigned to the apostle John.  We read:  "And the angel said unto me: Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things; yea, and also many things which have been.  And he shall also write concerning the end of the world.  Wherefore, the things which he shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew ... And behold, the things which this apostle of the Lamb shall write are many things which thou hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see.  But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them.  And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel.  And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel.  And behold, I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw (1 Ne. 14:20-28)."
Some feel that the writings of John are difficult to understand.  This is because they are written in symbolic language.  In a way this is a disadvantage.  But looking at it another way, those who tampered with the Bible and removed precious truths from it, did not understand John work enough to alter it much.  Obviously, John's prophecies are worth studying, and when we see these things begin to unfold, these promises to the Isrealites will be ready for fulfillment.  
17  Therefore, when ye shall receive this record ye may know that the work of the Father has commenced upon all the face of the land.
"This record" refers to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.  When the gentiles receive the book, and witness the restoration of the gospel, this will be a sign to them that the recovery of Israel has commenced.  This refers to the work of the temporal church, as well as the spiritual church working behind the veil to accomplish these events and bring about these promises.  

Christ himself gave a similar promise when he appeared to the Nephites following His resurrection.
"I give unto you a sign, that ye may know the time when these things shall be about to take place—that I shall gather in, from their long dispersion, my people, O house of Israel, and shall establish again among them my Zion;  And behold, this is the thing which I will give unto you for a sign—for verily I say unto you that when these things which I declare unto you, and which I shall declare unto you hereafter of myself, and by the power of the Holy Ghost which shall be given unto you of the Father, shall be made known unto the Gentiles that they may know concerning this people who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, and concerning this my people who shall be scattered by them; Verily, verily, I say unto you, when these things shall be made known unto them of the Father, and shall come forth of the Father, from them unto you ... And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people.  Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem.  Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.  Yea, and then shall the work commence, with the Father among all nations in preparing the way whereby his people may be gathered home to the land of their inheritance (3 Ne. 21:1-3, 26-28)."

18  Therefore, repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name; for he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned; and signs shall follow them that believe in my name.
Christ extends the warning to all the inhabitants of the earth -- believe the message, repent of your sins, and be baptized.  Those that do this, and endure to the end, will be eligible for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Those that ignore the message, or do not comply when they hear it, will be damned and assigned to a lesser glory.  
19  And blessed is he that is found faithful unto my name at the last day, for he shall be lifted up to dwell in the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world.  And behold it is I that hath spoken it.  Amen.



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