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The Context of Ether 12:27

If we were to poll the general populace of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and ask them what their favorite scripture is, one of the top answers (if not the top answer) would probably be Ether 12:27.

I can recall several instances where we have the Elders over for dinner and this verse is shared as the spiritual thought. This is not to criticize, but simply to highlight our tendency to read scriptures out of context and miss so much meaning. I have written elsewhere about this scripture and how it is misread here. This very short post is to highlight the context to further enrich our love for this well-beloved scripture.

The chapter begins with Moroni, in verse 6, going on a tangent about something that the prophet Ether taught in verse 4 (it is possible that verse 4 is an interjection by Moroni, it is unclear, but unimportant for our purposes). Moroni gives several examples of what can be accomplished through Faith. He focuses mostly on personal communication with Jesus Christ but ends his list about the promise the ancient prophets of the Book of Mormon received that the Gentiles would bring their record forth to their posterity and the world (see verse 22).

It is there where Moroni appears to transition into a lamentation about the record coming forth. He is worried about the awkwardness in writing and addresses the Lord specifically. Note at the beginning of verse 23 this does not appear to be a conventional prayer. Moroni voices his concern as if he is speaking face to face with the Lord.

Further evidence of this can be found in verse 26 where it says, "And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying...". It appears that as soon as Moroni is done lamenting the Lord begins to speak to give his advice/council on the matter. The Lord's words end in verse 28 and then Moroni picks up again praising the Lord for his wise counsel from verses 29-36. He lists off a litany of things the Lord has done and what the Lord has promised. The Lord then comes in for another verse where he promises Moroni a place to sit down (a throne is implied) in the mansions above (see verse 37).

Moroni for the last few verses gives a warning and an invitation. For our purposes though, I will focus on verse 39:
"And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things;"
Note the wording "concerning these things". Moroni plainly tells us that this conversation that has occurred for 14 verses happened "face to face... even as a man telleth another in [his] own language". In other words, the talk of weakness, grace, love, charity, faith, and so forth happened before the presence of the Savior. It was a Holy of Holies experience and might give us a glimpse into the plain conversations the Lord's servants have with Him.

What does this mean for verse 27? For me, I find it very ironic that Moroni is complaining about a weakness that often besets him while standing and talking with the Lord face to face. The interesting thing about that is that I find that similar theme a few other times in scripture. Namely in Ether 3 when the brother of Jared is in the midst of repenting and the Lord shows himself unto him and in 2 Nephi 4:26 where the original manuscript of that verse (from Royal Skousen's Earliest Text) says that the Lord visited Nephi despite the sins that "often beset him".

In short, our weakness is not meant to be something that isolates us from the Lord. Despite our flaws, we can grow very close to the Savior if we consistently try to follow Him.

More can be said, but this short thought is enough food for thought for now.


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