Taste the Grass on the Summit (Ether 4)
In the previous chapter, the Lord recognized the great faith of the brother of Jared by allowing him to view the body that He would inhabit as Christ on the earth. The Lord also showed him things that would happen through the end of the world. Ether 3 ends with the Lord commanding the brother of Jared to write down what he saw, such that this record could be shared with future generations.
In Ether 4, the Lord instructs Moroni in how to handle the record of the brother of Jared. He is told to "seal up" the writings such that "they shall not go forth unto the Gentiles until the day that they shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord" (verse 6).
On the one hand, the call to repentance is typically directed at those who have not yet given their lives to the Lord, even as it is at the end of this chapter — "repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and believe in my gospel, and be baptized in my name" (verse 18).
On the other hand, even servants of God can be prone to sinful actions or attitudes that require repentance. Lest we're quick to say, "Not me — I'm not doing anything wrong," remember that pride, envy, lack of forgiveness, and lack of love toward others all qualify as behaviors that should not exist in a servant of God.
This particular week, the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ are asking us to examine ourselves for the above types of behavior — or anything else that could be deemed sinful — and to "turn ye even to [the Lord] with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil" (Joel 2:12-13).
If we can be honest with ourselves and truly be repentant where necessary, it will surely move the collective righteousness of The Church in a positive direction. Will it be enough to bring forth the revelations of the brother of Jared? Well, every effort we make does draw us closer to that point. Using the metaphor of sheep on the mountain (as in the song referenced by this article's title), any sinful behavior that we can shed may move us above the level of eating scrubs on the lowlands — but we will still have a good bit further to go to reach the summit.
Hopefully, we're not satisfied with remaining lower on the mountain, where the grass has been beat by the footsteps. It may be comfortable there, but let's try to climb higher, with a desire to even taste the grass on the summit of the mountain of the Lord. How do we move in that direction? As the Lord tells Moroni in this chapter:
"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" (Ether 4:7).
So, the goal is to have the same faith as the brother of Jared. It's a lofty goal, but let's not allow the extreme challenge to discourage us from trying our best — any growth of our faith will move us up the mountain toward the summit. The greater our faith, the greater will be our understanding of God's will for our lives and the greater will be our righteousness. Even if we don't live until the time that the brother of Jared's revelations come forth, if we have a pure heart, we will see more of God in our lives.
The current crisis we are all experiencing is a great opportunity to exercise and grow our faith. It's a time when we need to trust in the Lord each and every day — perhaps more so than ever before. It's also a time when we should be learning how to evaluate things we are told to do (or not do), making sure they're consistent with God's direction rather than just blindly following; we don't want to be the blind being led by the blind (we know where they end up). Don't miss this opportunity for growth — it's a chance to climb higher on the mountain.
The Lord tells Moroni (in verse 13) that He desires to show us the greater things, and that it's only unbelief that's holding us back. Let's grow our faith and increase our righteousness such that we will see more of those greater things. Let's accept the Lord's invitation to taste the grass on the summit.
Come sheep, taste the grass on the summit,
Sheep come, breathe the pure mountain air.
"Climb higher", the Good Shepherd cries, "Higher,
For the pasture is much sweeter there."
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.