Rend the veil of wickedness, hardness of heart, blindness of mind, then shall great and marvelous things be revealed unto you. Call upon the father in his name with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. First off, I think it’s interesting that we can have a veil of wickedness. Just like the veil that is placed over us when we are born, we can also add to that veil with our wickedness. A veil that will allow us to not only be blind to things of righteousness but also to things temporal in nature.
An Example of Being Veiled
Something I have seen recently and thought upon is smoking. A man a few days ago left an empty box of cigarettes on our window sill. Before tossing it, I examined the package. It said very blatantly and with a picture, “smoking causes premature birth”. I thought about that warning and other warnings such as smoking causes cancer and warnings that show pictures of what happens when you smoke. I remember thinking to myself, “Why would anyone smoke? It says it will kill you right on the box!” The answer was immediate, they don’t stop because Satan has wrapped them up in his chains. I am reminded of faith and miracles. It doesn’t matter how many miracles you see, if you don’t have the faith beforehand, they won’t be miracles to you. Another thought that crossed my mind while writing a few moments ago was that of perspective. All those upfront warnings on the cigarette boxes take place in the future. You won’t die after one cigarette. What’s the harm in that? Satan is all about the here and now, instant gratification. The sad thing is, all those narrow-minded decisions to gratify yourself now, add up till pretty soon, that warning on the package isn’t a far off thing but a reality that has arrived with irreversible physical consequences. That is why it is important to not only keep that eternal perspective but also regarding physical things.
The way to transcend and rend that veil, like verse 15 is to have a broken heart and contrite spirit. For me, broken heart and contrite spirit mean realizing that God is in charge, not through persuasion but you yourself have internalized this fact and you are willing to listen fully and act fully o what you are being told by the Lord, the bishop, parents, or someone else. It is a result of having tried to get through or do things for yourself and having failed miserably. I feel like when we have a broken heart ad contrite spirit, we say some really good prayers because they are very sincere. If we could have a broken heart and contrite spirit every time we knelt in prayer, not only would we be more willing to learn and listen, but also to have the mysteries of God unfolded to us.
John Saw the Same Vision
Whoa! Verse 16! You know how we have been talking about how the visions and revelations of God will be unfolded through people’s righteousness and faith? Well, verse 16 says that the revelations of his servant JOHN (the Revelator) will be unfolded to all people. When people shall see these things, you will know the time is at hand for these things to be made manifest. At first, I thought Ether was writing this but then I realized it was Moroni. It’s cool to think that he knew John’s name. He lived like 400 years after him. Do you think he saw him? Maybe John paid Moroni a visit?
There are two other things I wanted to say about this. When I first read it, I thought to myself, “Wow! people are going to see the revelation of John!” That may be true but I feel like maybe bits and pieces will be unfolded to people. Not the exact same thing John saw but the same topic, just applied to them. After I had that thought, I had another about it. The verse says that the revelation will be unfolded in the eyes of all the people. Follow one of the cross references 1 Nephi 14:23. It is talking about the Bible. The vision being unfolded to everyone could mean that the Bible with the revelation of Joh in it is published and available for anyone that would like to read it. Verse 17 clears it up. It is referencing the Bible. Regardless, I believe my earlier thoughts of people having similar visions of John is still valid. The verse says that when you receive these revelations, you will know the work of the father has commenced upon all the face of the land.
This scripture remains a little cryptic though. I think there is a little deeper meaning. Because it says when this work comes forth, you will know the work of the father hath commenced. I thought the work of the father always was going forth. Maybe the coming forth of the Bible was a giant sign that it was still going forth? Maybe the coming forth of the Bible was the end of one phase and the beginning of the next phase? Maybe it is the turning point in God’s work? Perhaps I’m overanalyzing it.
Chapter 5 of Ether verse 1. Moroni says he has written the things which he has been commanded according to his memory. What does he mean according to his memory? Does he mean he wrote the last chapter according to the things he knows? If you are commanded to write something from memory, do you think God blesses you in remembering it? I think so. That would be a logical thing to do.
Moroni makes an interesting comment. He says that these things will be sealed up (Book of Mormon) will be established by three witnesses. You can see these three witnesses and their testimony at the beginning of the Book of Mormon. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that interesting, but the thought I had on a sort of unrelated note was that it made me think of that scripture that says, “By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the law be established.” Or something along those lines. I was wondering, do you think we’ll have another set of scriptures? We have the Bible and Book or Mormon as the main ones. The Pearl of Great Price is part of the Bible times. The D&C is mainly church history and revelations. What I mean is another set of scripture that is a record of people in some area of the world? Like the Bible takes place in the Old World, the Book of Mormon in the New World. Maybe a set of scriptures that takes place somewhere else? I don’t know.
Coming off the Mount After Visiting with God
Back to the story of the Jaredites. The Brother of Jared comes down from the mountain with the stones, puts them in the barges–on in each end. First off, how do you think the Brother of Jared changed during his visit and vision of God? Do you think he glowed a little brighter? Do you think the spirit about him was more intense? He had after all seen God and pretty much every other one of his works. I think it is safe to say that his testimony was a lot better. I kind of imagine him coming down in some manner as when Moses came down from Mount Sinai but instead of carrying two tablets, he was carrying 16 stones.
Then the second thing I wanted to say was the stones must have glowed pretty intensely. How long were the barges again? The length of a tree? What’s the average height of a tree? 20-25 ft? And one stone in each end. These stones must have been glowing very bright in order to illuminate the boat. Imagine being in a submarine like a barge that is coming in and out of the water. Probably really noisy and you have these two stones shining brightly. It would make the whole experience a little eery. I imagine the stones a very white color. But maybe they glowed a soft yellow.
The Journey Across the Ocean
Eight barges with enough food in them to last the entire journey across the ocean. Plus, all their flocks and herds, plus birds, not to mention their families. Brothers and sisters, this was not a luxury cruise. It was probably cramped big time. Plus, you have the stench of animals. Your boat is constantly rocking and rolling, the birds were most likely yacking up a storm and pooping whole way there. I think it would have been unpleasant. Maybe the Lord blessed the animals to stay calm the whole voyage.
I like that it says they set the barges in the sea and commended themselves to the Lord, their God. What great faith it must have taken to do this! No rudder, no engine, no sail. Only powered by God. And if this doesn’t work out, you are taken wherever the sea wants to go. If you never hit land, you will slowly run out of food.
The Lord causes the wind to blow them to the promised land. they were tossed upon the waves of the sea. Cross reference 1 Nephi 18:9. Lehi and his family were also carried by the wind to the promised land. I love how the Lord uses the wind. We know it is the Lord because the scriptures say a “furious wind”. The wind that isn’t normal. How fast do you think both these families were blown across? Pretty quick I would imagine. The other thing this scripture says was they were tossed upon the waves of the sea. They have two holes, right? One in the top and one in the bottom? Depending on where they were, they would use the one to give them air. That means the floor could be the ceiling and the ceiling could be the floor. Did anyone get hurt in the flip-flop? Rained with poop? Or maybe everyone and everything was tied down super well so when these flips did happen, nobody moved. Cross reference the next verse (6). Many times they were buried in the depths. Because of the mountain waves (emphasis added) (I’ve always wanted to write that). And the great and terrible tempests that were caused by the winds. This journey is beginning to sound scary. It probably was just as scary if not scarier than in the scriptures. I wonder if, in moments like these, people wondered if God was trying to kill them rather than take them to the promised land. I’m sure the thought crossed some people’s minds. It would have crossed mine. Regardless of what they thought, they were protected.
I think there are times in our lives when we seem to be on a small barge. With mountain waves crashing upon us and great and terrible tempests raging about us. And we wonder to ourselves, “Are you trying to destroy me, or are you blowing us to the promised land?” The prophet Joseph Smith asked the same question when he was in prison, “O God, wherefore art thou?” The Lord’s answer was all these things will be for thy good. And if you endure them well (doing your part of being as faithful as you can.) God will exalt you on high. Sometimes it’s hard to keep that eternal perspective, isn’t it? It’s hard to see that we are being blown to the promised land when we have giant waves and tempests raging around us. It was probably hard for Joseph to see the dross of his soul being burned away as he sat in prison. I declare with all the fervour of my heart, that at times like these, God is very aware of us. He is aware of our struggles, our challenges, and our needs. As we come to rely on him and follow him, those storms around us will subside. It may not be immediate or in the way expected, but God will always blow us to the promised land if we put our faith in him. Believe in God, trust in him, and good things to come.
One quick last thought. I have talked with a surfer recently about how strong waves are. Even small ones can do a lot of damage. If they had mountain waves crashing upon them, how did the barges not break? God must have protected them a lot. Also, I’ve been on water when it storms. It doesn’t take a lot of wind to get decent sized waves. Imagine how big the waves would get with furious winds.
Ok, Ok, this will be my LAST thought. This is just a follow-up with what I was saying two paragraphs ago. There was no water that could hurt them. They had done what the Lord had asked of them. Even though they had really bad storms around them, they were protected because they had done their part. Even in the midst of this great trials they did not forget God. Every time they were sloshed under, they called upon God to bring them back up and he did. You could have reason to be afraid and let your heart fail you and forget God. I mean look what is happening! Your world is literally being flip-flopped all the time and you don’t know if you are going to live the next moment. But they didn’t lose hope. And that is what sets them apart. When everyone has a reason to quit, and they do, but you keep going, that’s what sets apart the better from the best. Willingness to endure when you have every reason not to and deserve to stop.
The Power of Singing Praises
The people in the barges sang praises unto God, the Brother of Jared included. He did it all the day long as well as into the night. (Sound like Nephi when they crossed?) They sang songs and prayed unto God. I think there is a lot more to singing than we realize, especially singing of hymns or other religious music. I’m not really sure how to explain it but I feel like Africans have it figured out. It stirs my soul (I’ve got a few songs on my phone in various African dialects). I guess that is why it is so important that we choose our music carefully. I kind of imagine the brother of Jared talking/praising and singing in the same manner as would someone who you just can’t get enough of because you are so impressed and thankful for them. It may sound a little funny but that is how I imagine it. The Lord really has just blessed everyone so much. Ways that we don’t even know. I’m grateful for the blessings of the Lord, both known and unknown.
The Jaredites’ Voyage vs. Lehi’s Voyage
The Jaredite barges were upon the water for 344 days. That’s a week and a half short of a year! Makes me think about the route and method of travel. I need to re-evaluate my predictions. Let’s compare and contrast.
Lehi lives a few thousand years later. Their family had a boat, probably with sails. They had the wind blowing them there and probably a current. They did what I believe was from the Red Sea or Arabian Gulf to Africa, around the southern tip, and towards the Bahamas in around 6 months. Whereas the Jaredites didn’t have said, they had barges. Probably similar to Noah’s ark in some respects. Pretty much a floating box. Their only method of moving was the Lord sloshing them with waves and/or currents. As far as I know, there was no rudder. They may have been able to do the same trip as Lehi just double the time. Or, did they land somewhere other than Florida? I believe they settled up by the Great Lakes area. If that is the case, did they land in New York? I can’t see much logic in landing in Florida but then migrating all that way North just to be in the Great Lakes area. When you land, you want to settle down as quickly as possible. If they had landed in the Eastern U.S., Northern part, maybe they settled on the beaches and sent scouts out to find sources of fresh water big enough for them to live by such as lakes. This would cause them to find the Great Lakes, causing them to move there. It’s a theory.
Giving Thanks Upon Arrival
As soon as the Jaredites land on the shore, they bow themselves down, humbled before the Lord and give thanks to him for his infinite mercy in leading them to the promised land. I think it is interesting that whatever people comes to America, as soon as they get there, they bow down and give thanks. Pilgrims gave thanks when they got here, Christopher Columbus, and Lehi’s family. Having lived outside of America and returned, it feel very special. As soon as you enter the country, you can tell God’s hand is protecting it and that it is the promised land. And you are just so excited to be home. It feels like a place where you belong. You can smell the opportunity and freedom in the air. In short, I’m proud to be an American.
That’s it! Stay tuned for the next installment!