Ether 2 – Crossing the great deep

These are pretty clever people. As they meet in the valley of Nimrod, they “did also lay snares and catch fowl of the air; and they did also prepare a vessel, in which they did carry with them the fish of the waters. (2) And they did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind.” (3)

Jared and Mahonri’s people were industrious and wise, planning for the future, preparing to meet the needs for their journey.

  • Do I prepare for what I need along my journey?
  • How might God want me to be creative in meeting challenges?
  • What might God be asking me to do now to prepare for what He needs me to do in the future? Am I listening to Him?

God talks to the brother of Jared in a cloud, so he cannot see the Lord. They go into a quarter of the land where man has never been, and they build “barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.” (6)

God warns Mahonri-Moriancumr (the brother of Jared) “that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and living God, or they should be swept off when the fullness of his wrath should come upon them.” (8)

Moroni inserts himself here to make sure we understand this covenant for the promised land.

And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fullness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fullness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.

Ether 2:9

Moroni specifically writes to us in our day:

And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent and not continue in your iniquities until the fullness come, that ye may not bring down the fullness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.”

Ether 2:11

The Book of Mormon shows how three entire civilizations are swept off the land of promise because of iniquity: 1) The Jaredites, 2) The Mulekites, and 3) the Nephites.

Moroni warns us—the people who would receive this history—so we can repent and mend our ways, so we don’t meet the same fate.

Behold, this is a choice land and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.”

Ether 2:12

All we have to do to keep our blessed freedoms is to serve Jesus Christ.

Now they build barges as the Lord has instructed them.

And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water.

And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish.”

Ether 2:16-17

Five times it’s described as being tight like unto a dish. Why was this phrase so important, that it was written down five times?

The water could be likened to the world and all the stormy temptations of the devil that can sink and drown us spiritually. The boat could be my faith in Jesus Christ. Tight like unto a dish suggests no holes or flaws to let water in to capsize or sink that faith.

Faith in Jesus Christ keeps us ‘light upon the water,’ floating safely, not tipping precariously to the side, which could happen if sin gets into our boat, if sin seeps into our thoughts. Our boats are shaped tight like unto a dish, so it can hold things like our faith, courage, integrity, devotion to God, etc. 

When the boats are finished, Jared recognizes weaknesses and turns to the Lord to fix them.

  • There is no light in the boats.
  • There are no breathing holes for air.
  • There is no way to steer the vessels.

They will perish if these problems are not fixed.

I believe it’s important to repent, so we can discern, through the Holy Ghost, what our weaknesses are—places in our boat that need strengthening or fixing. When we discern our weaknesses, we can kneel before God without specific problems we need Him to help us fix.

The next few verses give us insight into how God answers our prayers and helps us receive personal revelation for the problems in our lives, when we turn to Him.

For the problem of no air, God gives him a solution.

Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood.” (20)

Ether 2:20

It’s awesome when God answers us this way in our own lives—directly, simply. We have an answer to our question. But this is only one way in which He can interact with us, and I think it is more rare.

A symbolic lesson of the air holes can be that we need to open upan air hole to God each morning (bottom of the boat) and night (top of the boat) to get nourished by heavenly air as we communicate with our Father in heaven. When we forget to open up air holes to receive heavenly sustenance, our spirits can suffocate.

For the problem of no light, God asks Mahonri to solve it.

What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?”

Ether 2:23

God helps him understand the whole picture first, by enlightening his mind. He tells him that he can’t have windows, because they’ll be dashed to pieces by the waves. He can’t bring fire. God gives him insight into what their journey will be like.

For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.”

Ether 2:24

In our lives, there are times when we will feel as if mountain waves dash us to pieces. We may feel swallowed up by the sea and pains and worries of this world. When this happens, our only hope is to trust in God, to know that He knew we would face on our individual journeys and He sent His Son to pay the price for our sins and to suffer for our agonies and hardships, so Jesus Christ would be able to succor us when those monster waves swallowed us up. If we put our trust in our Savior, He can swallow up those monster waves and bring us back on top again. He is the Only One that can do that for us.

At times, God may allow us to sink a little, because when we are truly desperate, we become humble and turn to Him in ways we otherwise never would. In that desperate, heart-sinking moment, when we are in the depths, He can help us breathe the spiritual air of peace and joy and the knowledge that everything will be okay in the end.

So this problem is still unanswered. God has put the responsibility for answering it upon the brother of Jared, and we will see what solution he comes up with in the next chapter (post).

For the problem of no steering, God assures them He will be in charge.

He will steer them through the elements. He will steer us through life, using our afflictions and mountain waves to mold us into beings worthy to live with Him again.

And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the flood which shall come…”

Ether 2:25

In life, we will have to cross our own “great deep” to fulfill God’s will for us. Personal revelation is vital to each of us to be in sync with God’s will and to develop our trust, faith, and love for Him.

Without our Redeemer’s infinite Atonement, not one of us would have hope of ever returning to our Heavenly Father [crossing the great deep]. Without His Resurrection, death would be the end. Our Savior’s Atonement made eternal life a possibility and immortality a reality for all.”

Russell M. Nelson, Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives, May 2018

Our prophet today has given us clear counsel about receiving personal revelation for ourselves so we can cross the great deep without being drowned or dashed to pieces in the monster waves of this world.

Imagine the miracles of it! Whatever our Church calling, we can pray to our Heavenly Father and receive guidance and direction, be warned about dangers and distractions, and be enabled to accomplish things we simply could not do on our own. If we will truly receive the Holy Ghost and learn to discern and understand His promptings, we will be guided in matters large and small.”

ibid, Nelson

In this divisive world today, I love the insights our prophet has outlined for us on how to be more unified, even when we have differing views and opinions.

Though we may differ in our initial perspectives, the love we feel for each other is constant. Our unity helps us to discern the Lord’s will for His Church.

In our meetings, the majority never rules! We listen prayerfully to one another and talk with each other util we are united. Then when we have reached complete accord, the unifying influence of the Holy Ghost is spine-tingling!

ibid, Nelson

The brother of Jared had specific problems he needed divine help with, and he sought for answers from God. We can do the same in our lives.

What wisdom do you lack? What do you feel an urgent need to know or understand? Follow the example of the Prophet Joseph. Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort.

Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take…

ibid, Nelson

How can we do better at receiving personal revelation in our lives, so we may be guided across our own “great deep?” This is one of my favorite messages from our prophet today. I read it often and feel God testify of its truth.

Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon, and regular time committed to temple and family history work.

To be sure, there may be times when you feel as though the heavens are closed. But I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow. That is what personal revelation will do for you.

I am optimistic about the future. It will be filled with opportunities for each of us to progress, contribute, and take the gospel to every corner of the earth. But I am also not naïve about the days ahead. We live in a world that is complex and increasingly contentious. The constant availability of social media and a 24-hour news cycle bombard us with relentless messages. If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation.

Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest words between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”

ibid, Nelson



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President Russell M. Nelson, Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives, Ensign, May 2018, 96

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