20 And in the second year the word of the Lord came to Ether, that he should go and prophesy unto Coriantumr that, if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people—
21 Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr.
22 And it came to pass that Coriantumr repented not, neither his household, neither the people; and the wars ceased not; and they sought to kill Ether, but he fled from before them and hid again in the cavity of the rock.
A recurring pattern in the history of the Jaredite civilization is the arrival of prophets who warn the people to repent and who are rejected by the people they are trying to save. Moroni tells us that this pattern occurred during the reigns of Shule (Ether 7:23-24), Heth (Ether 9:28-29), Com (Ether 11:1-2), Ethem (Ether 11:12-13), and Coriantumr (Ether 11:20-22).
In the passage above, we see the Lord giving Coriantumr, his family, and the people he ruled one last chance to avoid the destruction of their civilization. The prophet Ether had withdrawn from among the people because of their wickedness. He was living a solitary life, in “the cavity of a rock” during the day and venturing out only at night (Ether 13:13-14). But when the Lord commanded him to deliver a message to Coriantumr, he courageously and obediently did so.
The message was positive but clear: You have another chance. If you choose to repent now, you can retain your kingdom, and you and your people can avoid the destruction which is coming. Unfortunately, Coriantumr and his people once again rejected this message of warning and tried to kill the messenger, as though that would make the problem disappear.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught that the voice of warning “can be urgent, as when we warn a child not to put his or her hand in a fire. It must be clear and sometimes firm. On occasion, warning may take the form of reproof ‘when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,’ but always it is rooted in love.” Ether surely knew the danger he faced, but he was willing to take that risk because he loved the people.
Elder Christofferson reminded us that all disciples of Jesus Christ must be willing to raise a voice of warning:
The Lord has declared, “The voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.” As watchmen and disciples, we cannot be neutral about this “more excellent way.” As Ezekiel, we cannot see the sword coming upon the land “and blow not the trumpet.” (“The Voice of Warning,” General Conference, April 2017).
Today, I will follow Ether’s example of courage in speaking up for what I know to be right. I will remember that loving others includes welcoming them but also warning them. I will not be neutral about the gospel of Jesus Christ.