CLICK HERE to read Ether 2.
Moroni continues his story of the family of Jared.
Jared and his family gathered themselves, their flocks, and their friends as the Lord had commanded (verse 1). They also caught game and fish to take with them for food (verse 2). They also took bees and seeds (verse 3).
When they came down into a valley, the Lord came to talk with Jared’s brother, “and he was in a cloud, and the brother of Jared saw him not” (verse 4).
This “cloud” is the same sheckinah presence we read about in the Old Testament, that led Moses and the people through the wilderness (see Exodus 13:21; Numbers 11:25; and Numbers 12:5). We also see it with Nephi and his family (see 1 Nephi 17).
As the Lord spoke with Jared’s brother, He told him where they should travel, and He went before them to lead them there (verse 5). The people followed Him, even building barges to cross many waters, always “being directed continually by the hand of the Lord” as to where they should go (verse 6). The Lord told them He wanted to lead them to “the land of promise… which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people” (verse 7).
Because this was a sacred land that the Lord had preserved, he warned the people that “whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off…” (verse 8). If the people failed to serve God, He would sweep them from the land “when they ripened in iniquity” (verse 9). He said it a third time, saying that to receive this promised land the people must serve God or be swept off (verse 10).
Abraham Lincoln warned us of the same concept in these words:
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
(Proclamation for a National Fast Day, March 30, 1863.)
Then we get another monologue from Moroni, speaking to us now in our time:
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 fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done (verse 11).
Moroni is warning us not to repeat the same mistakes as Jared’s family did, as the Nephites did, as the Lamanites will do. He is warning us to turn to God and serve Him so that we might be spared and prosper in all He has provided for us.
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 (verse 12).
Then Moroni continues the record, saying that Jared’s family got as far as the sea, where they camped for about four years while preparing to cross the ocean (verse 13). During this time, the people forgot to call upon the Lord, and so the Lord came to Jared’s brother “and stood in a cloud and talked with him” for three hours – chastening them for forgetting Him already (verse 14).
And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that my Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord (verse 15).
The Lord then tells the people how to build ships to cross the ocean (verse 16), even how to make them tight against the water and what size to make the ships (verse 17).
When Jared’s brother finished this work as the Lord had instructed, he returned to the Lord to tell him this work was done as he was instructed (verse 18). He also shares his concern about how so tight a ship will let in air, and also asks about how to have light in the vessels (verse 19). The Lord answers him by teaching him how to provide for air (verse 20), and Jared’s brother goes and makes these adaptions in their ships (verse 21).
Jared’s brother reports back to the Lord again, saying this work is complete, and again asking his question about light for the vessels (verse 22). The Lord tells Jared’s brother that they cannot have windows in the ships because they will be broken (verse 23). He reassures them that He governs the seas and the storms (verse 24), and has perfectly prepared their vessels to get them safely across the ocean (verse 25).
Then he puts the question back to Jared’s brother, asking him how they will “have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea” (verse 25).
Sister Young gave this marvelous insight:
“How do we develop that hope—that hope that lights our way across life’s stormy seas? There are times, as there were for our family, when darkness surrounds us and threatens to engulf us altogether.
At such times we can take a lesson from the brother of Jared. You remember the Lord instructed the brother of Jared to make barges so his people could travel safely to the promised land. But because these boats were dark and without air, the brother of Jared took his concerns to the Lord in words that any of us might use to describe our own troubled times: ‘There is no light. … we cannot breathe’ (Ether 2:19).
How does a person venture out into the darkness without fear? How do any of us venture out day after day into a world where there are no guarantees of safety? The Lord gave a profound answer that again applies not just to the dark sea the brother of Jared faced, but to our own dark seas as well: ‘Ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea’ (Ether 2:25). ‘I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea’ (Ether 2:24). The Lord was not going to spare the Jaredites from the experience, but he prepared them for it and gave them the sweet promise of bringing them up again out of the depths of the sea… Like the Jaredites, we’re afraid of traveling in the darkness, and we need light, which is hope. Sometimes, in the midst of our problems, we lose the vision of why we’re here or where we’re going. We wonder if we’re equal to the tasks that are given us. It is then that we can ask the Lord to touch the unlighted stones of our lives with light. He can deliver peace and hope when all around us speak against it.
(Ensign, Nov. 1986, “The Light of Hope”)