Friday, March 23, 2012

The Brother of Jared

This week I've been studying the Book of Ether, located within the Book of Mormon.  It's been fascinating.  This little book was recorded on 24 plates, which were found by the people of King Limhi when he was trying to find the land of Zarahemla.  When King Limhi's people finally did make it to Zarahelma, they asked King Mosiah (leader of that land) if he could read it.  He was able to do so, not just because he was a prophet, but also because he was a "seer" and a "revelator". 

Moroni, who is now abridging the plates which were passed down from his father, Mormon, now gets to compile what he can.  He includes part of the record from those 24 plates, but also includes much of his own thoughts as he goes.  I never noticed before how predominant his words are in this little book, and it never seemed quite so apparent how much he had to cut out to abridge it.

It begins with two brothers.  One named Jared, and then "the brother of Jared".  They are at the tower of Babel, when the people's language is confused.  Jared asks his brother to pray to God so that they are able to keep the same language, which He grants them.  He also allows their families and close friends to keep the same language, and from there, they are guided and led by the brother of Jared, who is led by God, through the wilderness, and eventually to a "land of promise" (Ether 2:7).  

We learn the ins and outs of their journey, but what is most amazing is the powerful experience that the brother of Jared has.  It is one of the most astounding experiences recorded in scripture, in my opinion.  It begins with the brother of Jared preparing a set of barges for his people to cross the waters, as the Lord had commanded him.  He then realizes that according to the design of the barges, there will be no light from windows.  So he goes to the mount Shelem, and moltens out of a rock, sixteen small stones.  I used to imagine these being about the size of my computer's mouse, but now I think they're small enough to carry within his two hands.  (After all, it says "and he did carry them in his hands"... Ether 3:1)

(photo source - thanks, In the Realm of Home!)

The brother of Jared works hard to create these stones, and then goes to the top of the mount, and begins crying to the Lord.  A few things I notice about his prayer (see Ether 3:2-6).
  • He repeats what the Lord has told him already.
  • He recognizes his own personal weakness, and asks the Lord not to be angry with him.
  • He acknowledges God's holiness, and his own personal unholiness.
  • He expresses understanding of the commandment to call upon God to receive.
  • He recognizes the Lord's mercy and patience, and power, all the while asking Him for mercy and to look upon him in pity for his present state and challenge ahead. 
  • Then he makes his request: that the Lord touch the stones so that they may permanently shine while they embark to cross the oceans.  
And guess what happens?  The Lord touches the stones, and a glorious experience unfolds for the brother of Jared.

The Lord later tells him that "never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger.  Sawest thou more than this?" (Ether 3:9).

Never?  Never has man come before God with such exceeding faith.  Wow!!!  Perhaps by Moroni choosing this experience from these 24 plates to share with us, we were just shown a marvelous example of how to demonstrate faith to achieve a most wonderful encounter with God.  And this is just the beginning of what this man experiences!

I love it.  It's worth reevaluating some more, that's for sure.

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