Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ether's great and marvelous prophecies


For he [Ether] did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed, saying unto them that by faith all things are fulfilled—
 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
 And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not. (Ether 12:3-5)

2 For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof;
 3 And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.
 4 Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.
 5 And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel—
 6 And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.
 7 For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.
 8 Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.
 9 And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.
 10 And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.
 11 And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham.
 12 And when these things come, bringeth to pass the scripture which saith, there are they who were first, who shall be last; and there are they who were last, who shall be first. (Ether 13:2-13)

In these verses we find out several interesting things.  We find out that Ether prophesied to the Jaredites to believe in God unto repentance and that their land was a choice land given for the purpose of serving God and it would someday be the place of the New Jerusalem that would come down out of heaven and the new Jerusalem that would be built up by the remnant of Joseph. 

It seems Ether told the Jaredites all about the house of Israel, about Joseph in Egypt and about Jerusalem.  Moroni gives us a very basic summary of the things Ether prophesied and it is with satisfaction that we can see that those parts were verified.  But a significant part of it is still in the future for us too.

From a strictly existential point of view, Ether’s prophecies were incomprehensible to the Jaredites, since most of it concerned people they didn’t know in a land they would never see during their lives, in times far past and far to come.  To them, it would seem like Ether’s prophecies had no bearing on practical living.  His words would seem unverifiable.

However, if we look closely, we can see that those prophecies did have a practical purpose  The words Ether shared about the building up of the holy city and the coming of the New Jerusalem from heaven upon the Jaredite lands was set before them as the promise of a better world for which they could prepare themselves.

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. (Ether 12:4, emphasis added)

It was sad that the Jaredites did not believe these things because they did not see them (Ether 12:5), and the sad irony is that if they had seen them, they would not have been prepared for them.

Even if the New Jerusalem was not something they would see during the Jaredite time in mortality, the time would come when all the righteous would be resurrected and live together with God, and in order to be part of that, they would have to prepare now.

How does this apply to us today?  In the same way as it did to the Jaredites.  We have to prepare now to be part of that better world.