Moroni returns to the story of the Jaredites and tells us that the brother of Jared put two stones in each boat to give light to them on their journey.
“And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.” (3)
God made stones shine. He is a God of miracles and He does not want us to journey through life in darkness. That is why He restored His Church to the earth and has given us living prophets to guide us. That’s why He’s brought the Book of Mormon record to light, to give us the fulness of truth to be a companion to the Bible that we already have. That’s why He listens to and answers our prayers.
Trust in God
The Jaredites prepared enough food for them and their animals “and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.” (4)
They had no idea where they were going, but they trusted God that He would lead them and keep them safe upon the great waters. That kind of trust does not come easily—it’s a spiritual gift from God after He has tried us to see if we really want Him in our lives. That gift can bring true peace and joy to us.
For me, I judge my spiritual state by looking at my fears. If I fear anything (men, politics, trials, the unknown), I know my trust in God needs to be strengthened. I take my fears to Him and ask that He take them away and fill me with trust and hope in their place. This isn’t a one-time action. I have to do it over and over again as my spirituality ebbs and wanes and new fears arise that must be overcome.
Fear is the opposite of faith, so turn to God so your fears melt away.
God sends a “furious wind” upon the water to blow them to the promised land, “and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.” (5)
This doesn’t sound like a calm, enjoyable ride. They were tossed about, even though they’d put their trust in God. He got them to their destination, but they were probably super seasick and miserable.
And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.”Ether 6:6
Great and terrible tempests.
Fierceness of the wind.
Those do not describe an easy journey. God could’ve given them calm seas, but He didn’t.
It’s the same with us. We might at times be buried by trials that seem like they will drown us. We might face mountain waves that seem insurmountable. We might be broken at times by great and terrible tempests. The fierceness of our trials might cause us to fear and our faith to weaken.
God will push us to the point of desperation, where we think we cannot go on. But when you reach that point, hold on. Hold your breath. Trust that God will step in, because He will.
He will gladly step forth to grab your hand—like Peter—and lift you out of the scary depths…if you call out to Him in faith, as Peter did.
This year (2020) has tried many of us in ways that haven’t been pleasant. Mountain waves, fierce winds. A great and terrible tempest that’s upset the balance of our lives. Though it hasn’t been a fun ride, I’m still grateful for this year. I’ve feared at times, and had to seek my Savior more intently. I’ve had many trials with family and friends where I’ve gained lots of practical experience in repenting and forgiving. I’ve discovered weak spots that need bolstering and strengthening.
I wouldn’t trade this terrible year for an easy one because of these lessons I’ve learned. I’m closer to my God now than before. I’m learning to hear Him better. I’m learning not to judge, but be more merciful. I’m beyond grateful for how the Lord has helped me grow from these crazy challenges this year.
Seeking God’s help
God had prepared the Jaredites for their journey. Their barges were tight like unto a dish and no water could get in to drown them.
Therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters.”Ether 6:7
That is the key. When we are buried by mountain waves, we need to cry unto the Lord and put our faith in Him.
Change your view
Another thing that stood out to me was that the wind never ceased to blow them. The winds could’ve been seen as a sore trial, making the seas rough. Yet, God used those fierce winds to get them to the promised land. If their had been no wind, they wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. No wind on a sea is the worst thing to a sailor.
We need fierce winds in our lives to move us closer to God.
When the winds of hardship blow, instead of viewing them as obstacles or curses, I can change my attitude and see my trials as lessons and proving experiences to help change me to become more like my Father in Heaven. When I turn to Him when the winds never cease blowing, He can teach me lessons I otherwise would not learn, He can soften my heart in ways it wouldn’t have been softened, He can mold me into who He knows I can be.
Another thing the Jaredites did on their rough journey was to “sing praises unto the Lord.” And they “did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.” (9)
They didn’t complain about the fierce winds or mountain waves that buried them. Because they were grateful, God kept them safe “and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.” (10)
They are on the ocean for 344 days—almost a year. When they reach the shore of the promised land, the first thing they do is show their gratitude to God.
And when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them.”Ether 6:12
This people were very humble and righteous. They wanted to do what was right. They could see how God had blessed them, and they recognizes all His tender mercies.
Do I recognize God’s tender mercies in my life?
Do I thank Him for them?
Going to Work
Jared had four sons—Jacom, Gilgah, Mahah, and Orihah. The group numbers about 22 people (that might only be the men). Double that for wives and add in children and that could easily reach about 80 people. They spread out on the land and go to work, building a new civilization.
And they were taught to walk humbly before the Lord; and they were also taught from on high.”Ether 6:17
They didn’t forget what God had done for them.
Mahonri is getting old and wants to gather the people to number them and see what they desire before he and Jared die. Mahonri has 22 sons and daughters. Jared has 4 sons and 8 daughters. The people want them to anoint a king over them from one of their sons.
Mahonri is grieved and says, “Surely this thing leadeth into captivity.” (23)
They don’t listen to his prophetic warning. Jared tells his brother to suffer them to have what they want.
What warnings have our Church leaders given us today?
If you read through the talks given at our last General Conference in October, you can find plenty of things they have asked us to do. Here are just a few (there are many more).
- Use this unique time during the pandemic to grow spiritually (Nelson)
- Be prepared, so you don’t fear (Bednar)
- Treat others with dignity and respect; work toward unity (Cook)
- Redouble your righteous efforts (Rasband)
- Don’t contend with each other. Anger divides. Avoid hostility and anger towards those whom we disagree. Learn from them. Love them. (Oaks)
- Prepare in small and simple ways, temporally and spiritually (Waddell)
- Focus on the things you can do and not on the things you cannot do (Uchtdorf)
- The change we seek in ourselves and in the groups we belong to will come less by activism and more by actively trying every day to understand one another (Eubanks)
- Create places of security (physical and spiritual) (Nelson)
- Pray always (Ballard)
- Be more open on social media in talking about your trust in Christ (Andersen)
- Let God prevail in your life, learn how to hear His voice and use your energy to help gather Israel (Nelson)
- Repent daily. Seek to be increasingly pure in thought, word, and deed. Minister to others. Keep an eternal perspective. Live each day so you are more prepared to meet your Maker (Nelson)
The Jaredite people “chose even the firstborn of the brother of Jared; and his name was Pagag. And it came to pass that he refused and would not be their king.” (25)
Pagag believed in his father’s warning and wants nothing to do with being a king. The people want Mahonri to constrain his son to be their king, but he won’t. They go on to choose the rest of his sons, but none of them agree either. They choose all the sons of Jared and only Orihah is willing to be king. He probably was the youngest, based on his name in the order above.
Orihah is a good king. The people thrive under him and become rich.
And it came to pass that Orihah did walk humbly before the Lord and did remember how great things the Lord had done for his father and also taught his people how great things the Lord had done for their fathers.”Ether 6:30
Orihah was humble. That always brings the blessings of God into our lives. He was grateful and remembered the Lord. These two traits blessed him and all the Jaredite people during his reign.
It might’ve been easy to have wondered back then, during this prosperous season in their history, why the brother of Jared had been so adamant that having kings would lead them into captivity. It surely didn’t seem to be true right then, under Orihah’s reign.
When our prophet speaks, we can choose to heed his counsel or ignore it or justify it away as not that important.
What the Jaredite record will show us soon is that ignoring prophetic warnings never brings good results in the long run. The Jaredites prosper under Orihaha, who is a good man. But their future will not be so bright when other men take over the kingdom.
Let us listen, study, and heed the words of living prophets today. We will be blessed to conquer our mountain waves and fierce winds when we do.
Get a FREE copy of the Book of Mormon to study for yourself