Unto Three Shall They Be Shown – Ether 5:2-3

2 And behold, ye may be privileged that ye may show the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work;
3 And unto three shall they be shown by the power of God; wherefore they shall know of a surety that these things are true.
(Ether 5:2-3)

After describing the miraculous vision seen by the brother of Jared, Moroni took the opportunity to teach his modern readers how they could also qualify to receive great spiritual knowledge (Ether 4). Then, before returning to the account of the Jaredite people, Moroni gave some specific instructions to the prophet Joseph Smith, who would translate the book about 1,400 years later. In the passage above, Moroni assures Joseph that he will be given the privilege of showing the plates containing the original text to other people, specifically to three people who can then provide firsthand corroborating testimony.

In June of 1829, soon after the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed, three men who had assisted with the translation—Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris—saw a vision in which an angel showed them the plates and they heard the voice of God declaring that the book was translated by His gift and power (Testimony of Three Witnesses). Following that experience, Joseph’s mother described her son’s feelings:

They returned to the house. It was between 3 & 4 o’clock. Mrs. Mary Musselman Whitmer & Mr. Smith [Joseph Smith Sr.] and myself were sitting in a bedroom. I sat on the bedside. When Joseph came in he threw himself down beside me. Father!— Mother!— said he, you do not know how happy I am. The Lord has caused the plates to be shown to 3 more besides me who have also seen an angel and will have to testify to the truth of what I have said, for they know for themselves that I do not go about to deceive the people, and I do feel as though I was relieved of a dreadful burden which was almost too much for me to endure, but they will now have to bear a part, and it does rejoice my soul that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world.
(Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, Page [11], bk. 8)

It is hard to stand alone, and it is comforting when other people stand with you, particularly when they have independent evidence that you are doing the right thing, and they don’t simply have to take your word for it.

Today, I will be grateful for the people in my life who can provide corroborating testimony for some of the most important truths I know: that God lives, that He loves His children, and that, through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, we can overcome sin and death and return to His presence. I’m grateful that each person can learn these truths for themselves, because the independent witness received by other people gives me confidence in my own knowledge and helps me not to feel “alone in the world.”

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One Response to Unto Three Shall They Be Shown – Ether 5:2-3

  1. Pingback: Lessons from Sermons to Modern Readers | Book of Mormon Study Notes

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