Thursday, January 15, 2015

Moriancumer’s Talk With the Lord-Part II

Continuing with the three-hour interview the brother of Jared had with the Lord in which he was chastised for not calling upon the Lord after four years camping on the seashore. 
   Sometimes in our reading of scripture, we take the first impression of a passage as we quickly continue reading; however, there are times when pondering the writing is necessary to learn of the real, or deeper, meaning of the statement(s). Again, a cursory reading suggests that the Lord was telling the brother of Jared that they were to build the exact same boats as they had built earlier in order to cross the great sea.
Yellow arrow: Jaredite homeland near Babylon and the tower; White arrow: the Persian Sea, past which the Jaredites traveled (and did not stop)
    It is likely up to this point that the Jaredites had only once seen a sea, having lived near or between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers all their lives (to which the opposite bank was visible at all times), and only seen the Persian Sea as they passed by it, but never seen an ocean that stretched on forever as one looked out over it from the hills leading down toward the seashore.
    The “many waters” they had crossed, being the Mesopotamian marshes, were not overly deep, and filled with reeds and small islands. But the great sea would have been an entirely different view, filled with awe and wonder, especially upon learning they were to make boats that would take them across that great deep.
Top: Mesopotamian Wetland Marshes; Bottom: The great sea that stretches out from the Arabian Peninsula into the Indian Ocean
    Consider, as an example, that when the Jaredites reached the seashore after an extensive land voyage and ferrying themselves across many waters of the marshes, that they might have even thought this was the land of promise. In any event, they settled down for four years until the Lord finally called the brother of Jared to repentance and instructed him on the rest of the journey to be taken.
    After a brief comment in Moroni’s abridgement about the brother of Jared repenting of his evil (not calling upon the Lord for four years) and the Lord forgiving him and his brethren, the Lord tells him what he needs to do—“Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built” (Ether 2:16).
    It would seem from the way these events are worded and the work to be done, that the Lord instructed the brother of Jared in where to find the timber (in this case the trees), what those trees were like and how they had specially been prepared for this very purpose, their value and use for a voyage, how they were to be dug up and prepared (gutted), etc. In this sense, it would seem that the chastising was a minor issue here, or at least a brief one, with its main purpose to make sure the brother of Jared clearly understood that he was not to forget to talk to the Lord regularly (pray). He also took time to warn the brother of Jared that such inattention was a sin and the danger of sin, then went on to talk about the barge building (Ether 2:15-17).
    What all was discussed is not mentioned in Moroni’s abridgement, but it can obviously be assumed that this instruction would have included a lengthy explanation of what, how and why, the work before them was to be done.
    Consequently, after being well instructed, the brother of Jared took about fulfilling his assignment, which would have included the involvement of all those able within the Jaredite party to dig up the trees, gut them, probably fire the insides, and basically get them ready for the next step. In the course of this gutting and finishing the insides, the workers obviously recognized the problem with not having light—no doubt having to work by artificial light of torches while finishing the inside work. Of course an opening in each tree would have been made, no doubt what was later described as the door: “and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish” (Ether 2:17)—but that they well understood would need to be shut during the voyage, cutting off that light they then were using.
    It might have been an interesting conversation when this was brought to the brother of Jared’s attention by those who were finishing up the interior and the last of the Lord’s instructions. It might also have been brought up in this discussion that with the vessel airtight, how would they get air sufficient to breath during the voyage? Given the brother of Jacob’s extensive trust in the Lord, no doubt he told his workers all would be taken care of, and he went to inquire of the Lord.
This appears to be the chronology of the events since the next step mentioned was the brother of Jared reporting back that he had accomplished what he had been instructed in that three hour meeting (Ether 2:18), saying, “O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me” (Ether 2:18).
    Again, one might wonder what his thoughts were as he approached the Lord in prayer. Were they actually going to spend their time crossing the sea in total darkness? At least he would have known the Lord had something in mind to solve the problem of needing breathable air inside.
    Consequently, he added, “And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish.”
Like many of us today, when we are confronted with an assignment and see a problem to carrying it out, we simply call attention to the problem, expecting someone else to solve it for us. But the Lord does not do that all the time—often he calls upon us to suggest a solution, or even to solve the problem ourselves. In the case of the brother of Jared, he did both:
    1. And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: “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” (Ether 2:20).
    2. And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire” (Ether 2:23).
    With one problem solved, the brother of Jared was faced with solving the second problem himself. So often we expect answers to our problems, but the Lord is wise and expects us to come up with answers when it is within our ability to do so. The Lord went on to explain that it was he who had solved the problems of getting them to the land of promise, preparing the way for them to survive the voyage (Ether 2:24-25), then turned the tables and told the brother of Jared that it was up to him to determine how light should be provided: “Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?” (Ether 2:25).
    The point of all this is to suggest that when we read simple statements in the scriptural record that does not mean our first impression really digs deep enough to understand the magnitude of what actually transpired—and why else is it in the record if we are not to fully understand what took place behind the abridged descriptions Moroni in Ether and Mormon in the rest of the scriptural record tells us?
    The Critic, casual reader and antagonist covers the brief account and thinks that is all there is—the pursuer of truth and understanding reads deeper and ponders what actually must have transpired behind the brief abridged writing and understands the deeper workings of the Lord.

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