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Book of Mormon Sunday School Lesson 45 “Never Has Man Believed in Me As Thou Hast” (Ether 1-6) (Second look)

Posted by NathanG on November 29, 2008

I don’t have much to add to what has already been posted.  Here are the notes from JimF.  Here is a nice discussion on prayer from JanetLisonbee.

Two points that I am struck by in this lesson:
The brother of Jared’s experience on Mount Shelem seems to be an endowment-like experience.  The location is a mountain.  He goes to the mount after fulfilling certain commandments and seeking light, and probably some knowledge as well.  After asking the Lord to touch the stones, he sees the finger of the Lord touching the stones, and after a short discussion sees the Lord face to face.  He receives the urim and thummim (whether one of the 16 stones or something separate, I don’t know) which has similarities to the white stone references in Revelation and D&C 77.  After he is in the presence of the Lord his experience is vastly different from mine (which gives me something to think about).  It is at this point that he receives the revelation that makes up the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon.  (As a side, it is interesting that Moroni took the time to rewrite the revelation and seal it as part of the Book of Mormon when the Lord told the brother of Jared it was sealed because it was in an unknown language.  It essentially goes from one unknown language (Adamic tongue I presume) to another unknown language (reformed Egyptian).  Why did Moroni do that?)  Anyway, my experience once in the Celestial room is unfortunately a realization that my kids are likely tormenting our babysitter and I rarely have time to sit and ponder and receive revelation.

The second point relates to the revelation the Brother of Jared receives, which is the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon.  We already have one version of this and it is titled “The Revelation of St. John the Divine.”  Ether 3:25 explains it is a revelation of all the inhabitants of the earth past and future.  If we then return to 1 Nephi 14:20-27 we see that Nephi was going to be shown the end of the world, but that he would not write about it, but it was ordained that John would write about it, and then in verse 26 “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”.

8 Responses to “Book of Mormon Sunday School Lesson 45 “Never Has Man Believed in Me As Thou Hast” (Ether 1-6) (Second look)”

  1. BrianJ said

    Very interesting thoughts about Bro of Jared’s/John’s/Nephi’s revelations.

  2. Robert C. said

    Thanks for the thoughts, Nathan.

    During this lesson, I was struck by the wording in Ether 1:33ff and how Jared approaches his brother in a way that makes the Bro. of Jared seem like a Christ-figure, praying on behalf of Jared and Jared’s friends.

    Also, I was really struck by the secrecy themes in these first several chapters (e.g., the Bro. of Jared’s name, the veil, the sealed portions of the BOM, etc.), and the warnings/implorings toward the Gentiles (us, presumably…) to overcome their unbelief and have these greater things made manifest, and how all of this relates to the stone themes Nathan mentioned.

    Finally, the kingship themes in Ether 6 are interesting to think about in light of the role they likely played in the shift from kings to judges in Nephite society. Am I right in thinking that the first second King Mosiah translated these plates after Limhi brought them back, and that this was probably an impetus for changing from the system of kings that they had adopted? This is something I’d like to start studying in earnest, so reading recommendations are welcomed (I know that Noel Reynolds, in particular, has written a fair bit on this topic, so I plan to start reading his stuff on this first—so other recommendations or particular works by Bro. Reynolds would be esp. appreciated).

  3. BrianJ said

    Robert: I just want to make sure I understand your musings. You think that the people of Zarahemla read the translated Jaredite records and took them as a warning against having kings? If so, my first thought is “interesting idea.” My second thought is “I don’t think there’s any support for it.” And my third thought is “Make sure you understand what Robert is suggesting before you do anymore thinking on this.”

  4. NathanG said

    Robert,
    Very interesting thought. I had always thought that Mosiah had king Noah’s recent history and his sons rebellions to push him to switch to kings. He would also have had the brass plates with something similar to what we have in Judges. I haven’t ever thought of what impact the Jaredite record had on the Nephites. Thanks for a nice topic for thought.

  5. Robert C. said

    BrianJ, yeah that’s basically my musing. Check out, for example, Mosiah 28:11ff. Note, I was actually only thinking of Moisah 8:11-13 discussing King Mosiah’s translation gift—I’d forgotten about this more direct reference to the Jaredite record in Mosiah 28, situated just prior to the discussion in Mosiah 29 of kings and judges….

    (In checking Hardy’s The BOM: A Reader’s Edition, the original chapter break between chapters 12 and 13 seems to have been Mosiah 28:19. So, the kingship reference seems to have been, originally as it is now, in separate chapters, contrary to my hope for finding some sort of more direct, positive support for my conjecture.)

  6. BrianJ said

    Okay, I think my hesitation was based on where to place causation. It seems very clear that The Reason Mosiah even considered a system of judges was because his sons refused the throne, and it seems equally clear that they refused it out of preference for the ministry. But once that process was set in motion, your argument is compelling that the Jaredites’ history, along with the experience of Limhi’s people, motivated Mosiah toward some alternative system. We must remember, however, that Mosiah was pretty hard set on passing the kingship to his son—it takes being rejected four times for him to consider anything else. Makes one wonder who the other likely candidates might have been (non-Nephite nobles, untrusted cousins, etc.?)….

    Nathan, as for the brass plates, it’s probably worth distinguishing between the judges of Israel and the judges of Nephites. The OT judges are really military leaders and seem to gain their power on the national stage much the same way as a warlord in Northeast Africa. The Book of Judges records a series of leaders who start off good (Deborah) but gradually decline into a messy, messy state (Samson comes to mind!). This is followed by kings, which is also a failure (from a certain viewpoint). So it looks like Mosiah tries for something completely different: an elected system of leaders. (I know that you already know all this, I’m just fleshing it out.)

  7. NathanG said

    Brian,
    Good point about the order of things with Mosiah and his sons. Regarding OT judges, I figured someone would comment on that. I was thinking more of Samuels misgivings about having a king when the time of the judges ended (1 Samuel 8) because he rehearses many similar things that Mosiah does. Regarding the judges, do you know if it was judges to distinguish from kings? Did the lesser judges established by Moses in the wilderness continue on in that function? Is the book of Judges named so because their government was judges, but these military leaders just happened to rescue Israel during that time, or were these leaders considered judges?

    When Mosiah was teaching about kings and judges he made this comment in verse 27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. This seems like a reference to the Jaredites, but it isn’t really a direct reference to their kings.

  8. BrianJ said

    Some make the argument that Samuel wrote the Book of Judges specifically for Saul—as a warning. There are several verses that indicate that the author of Judges knew that there would be a king in Israel (e.g., Judges 19:1).

    The judges were chosen as dictated to Moses; every tribe had judges. My comment about them being like warlords needs some clarification: I meant that one judge had “jurisdiction” only within his/her own tribe, but could outgrow that normal limitation. As instituted by Moses, the judges were meant to be political, legal, spiritual, military leaders; that’s very different from Mosiah’s judges in regards to spiritual leadership. The Israelite judges were appointed by other leaders and the position was not hereditary; the Nephite judges were voted in.

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