Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Ether 3:1-14 - "Lord, show thyself unto me."

After the Lord reveals himself unto the brother of Jared, having touched the stones in order to provide a source of light for those in the vessels, He explains that Jared’s brother’s faithfulness is what enabled him to see God. Indeed, his faith was so strong, that Christ proclaims, “never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast” (Ether 3:9). The veil was removed from the brother of Jared’s eyes, and eventually, the Lord fully revealed Himself unto Jared’s brother.

            This chapter begins with the prayer that the brother of Jared recites when calling upon the Lord. Standing out most, to me, is the importance of faith if we want our prayers answered. Before revealing his full body, God asks the brother of Jared a series of questions regarding faith. It is because of his answers that the Lord shows Himself. It’s also mentioned that, after seeing the Lord’s hand, the brother of Jared falls down in fear, to which the Lord responds, “Arise, why hast thou fallen?” (Ether 3:7). In all that we do, the Lord is there to encourage us to “arise.” In some situations we must rely entirely on the Savior in order to do so; in others we can rely on ourselves. Regardless, He does not want us to be tossed about the depths of a sea of fear and despair, but prefers that we raise ourselves closer to His level.

Ether 2 - "What will ye that I should do?"

The Lord prepares the brother of Jared and his family for the Promised Land in Ether 2, providing them directions through the wilderness and instructions on how to build barges which could take them across the sea. It’s mentioned that the Lord has preserved the “land of promise” for a “righteous people,” and that whoever is given possession of the land, “from that time henceforth and forever, should serve…the true and only God” (Ether 2:8). When the people of the land no longer serve God and are “ripened in their iniquity,” God’s wrath shall fall upon them, and they “shall be swept off” of the face of the land (Ether 2:11). Furthermore, the Lord promises that any nation occupying this land shall maintain freedom and liberty, so long as they continually serve Christ.
            It’s difficult to determine whether or not historical events can be deemed the “wrath of God” or not. Clearly throughout history, the American continent has managed to maintain freedom, even at times of World War. Still, there are moments where it’s clear that we have paid for our sins, most notably during the American Civil War. Regardless, we have reason to be a hopeful people, given these covenants which the Lord makes with Jared. This is a blessed and promised land and will always be a land of liberty so long as we serve God; what an incredible thought. While I understand the concern so many have regarding America’s religiosity, given that a recent Pew or Gallup survey (I forget which) found that more than 80% of Americans still pray daily, I think we haven’t drifted too far just yet.  
A Few Other Thoughts…
·         The brother of Jared, apparently, fails to call upon the Lord for four years. How? Beats me. For a guy who has literally spoken to Christ and heard His voice, it’s amazing that he forgot to pray. Apparently, the Lord agreed, as He chastens him for failing to call upon Him. He mentions that the brother of Jared is forgiven this time, but that he should not sin again, for if he does, he will lose the Land of Promise. Clearly constant communication with God is important should we hope to maintain our liberty.

·         When the brother of Jared asks the Lord how they should light the barges which they have built, the Lord responds, “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?” (Ether 2:23). The lesson here? When we pray, the answer to our prayers is so often simple and right in front of us. While Heavenly Father and the Savior provides us direction, we do have agency, and there’s no reason for them to offer solutions to every single solitary issue. God sent us to earth because He trusts us; He knows that we have the gifts and talents necessary to endure life on this earth. So long as our decisions are in compliance with His Gospel and laws, there are times where he may simply want us to make a decision ourselves.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Ether 1 - Inquire of the Lord

I find it curious as to why we do not know the brother of Jared’s name. I wonder if it’s to offer readers a chance to recognize and understand the example of Jared’s faith and humility. We know Jared’s name, and we know the Jaredites are to be named after him; he’s clearly a leader and is to become a powerful man. Yet we also know that Jared is not the one who is “highly favored of the Lord,” and that he relies on his brother for revelation and communication with God. Given these facts, the fact that he didn’t go all “Laman and Lemual” on everyone says a lot about Jared’s character. It also tells us quite a bit about his faith, as he was totally reliant on his brother for answers, never doubting the things which he suggested.
When it comes to that revelation received by the Brother of Jared in Ether 1, a pattern has developed. Jared instructs his brother to “Go and inquire of the Lord,” after which he does (Ether 1:34). He then returns to Jared with an answer (Ether 41). The key to this pattern is that Jared acts in faith and suggests that his brother pray for answers; they go to the Lord, they don’t wait for the Lord to come to them. At one point, Heavenly Father even says, “And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me (Ether 1:41). We must ask the Lord and present Him with all things that dwell within our hearts and minds. Then will we receive confirmation of either comfort and peace or conflict and struggle regarding those things which we are inquiring of.

(Written January 2, 2016)