Come Follow Me: Ether 6-11
The Creation Anew
"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" (Ether 6:2)
With the beginning of this chapter, we see a new creation occurring. It is reminiscent of the Creation in Genesis chapter one. Everything that occurred in the Book of Ether thus far is similar to the preparations of God to create the world and the skies above. Now we have a repeat. Similarly, we find the same event occur with Noah and the ark, where ancient traditions suggest he may have had shining stone in the ark to give light.
In the barges, we find all things necessary for a new Creation: light, food (plants), animals, and everything needful for the journey. As the darkness and waters in the original Creation and in Noah's flood were chaotic, the shining stones brought order out of dark chaos, and the barges represented safety on dry ground from the chaos of the great waters.
Exactly four centuries ago this month (November 11, 1620), 102 Pilgrims and others landed on Plymouth Rock. For them, the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a tiny and cramped ship, was akin to a new Creation. As the physical and cultural descendants of Jared, Lehi, Mulek, and others are scattered upon the New World today, so 35 million descendants of the Mayflower dwell today in the Americas. With each new creation, the dangers of physical and spiritual chaos had to be overcome, in order to obtain a new Godly Order.
We are reliving the Jaredite and Nephite stories. We are reliving the cycle of Creation and Destruction.
The shining stones also symbolize Jesus Christ, the Light and Life of the World. It is through Christ that Jared, Nephi and the Pilgrims successfully traversed land and sea, through dangers and darkness,
"And thus they were driven forth; 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."(6:10)
Ancient tradition notes that in the Creation, God had to destroy the sea monster, Rahab the sea dragon (Isaiah 51:9). This monster symbolized the Chaos of darkness and water.
Interestingly, even as the barges sank deep into the water, we see,
And they didpraises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
Even in the deepest and darkest times, they gave praise. It is a key to making it through our tough times, whether dealing with sickness (Covid), poverty, war, or other dangers, we can "always remember" Jesus Christ and give thanks.
"And they didupon the shore of the . 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 over them." (6:12)
Seems reminiscent of the Pilgrim landing in what they also viewed as a "promised land." Again, the cycle repeats and we do well to consider the stories of the Nephites and the Jaredites as our story.
That the people desired a king suggests a few things. First, after these many years in the New World, where would the people get the concept of wanting a king? For me, it is possible that by this time they had integrated with peoples already in the New World (as had happened with the Nephites), and saw that other groups had kings. For the Brother of Jared, the desire for a king was problematic. He had seen what King Nimrod had done at the Tower of Babel, creating a mighty people that fought against God (see my previous lesson). The Brother of Jared would have them led by a prophet and have God as their king. So concerning was this problem that all of Moriancumer's sons refused to be king. Only one of Jared's four sons would agree to be king, perhaps knowing that if any other took the throne there may not be a righteous person leading the people.
And so Orihah becomes the first Jaredite king. He rules in righteousness among the people, but only 2 generations later, we begin to see intrigue, secret combinations, and the intense search for getting gain.
“And also in the reign of Shule there came prophets among the people, who were sent from the Lord, prophesying that the wickedness and idolatry of the people was bringing a curse upon the land, and they should be destroyed if they did not repent. And it came to pass that the people did revile against the prophets, and did mock them. And it came to pass that king Shule did execute judgment against all those who did revile against the prophets. And he did execute a law throughout all the land, which gave power unto the prophets that they should go whithersoever they would; and by this cause the people were brought unto repentance” (Ether 7:23-25).
“And it came to pass that they all sware unto him, by the God of heaven, and also by the heavens, and also by the earth, and by their heads, that whoso should vary from the assistance which Akish desired should lose his head; and whoso should divulge whatsoever thing Akish made known unto them, the same should lose his life. And it came to pass that thus they did agree with Akish. And Akish did administer unto them the oaths which were given by them of old who also sought power, which had been handed down even from Cain, who was a murderer from the beginning. And they were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms. And it was the daughter of Jared who put it into his heart to search up these things of old; and Jared put it into the heart of Akish; wherefore, Akish administered it unto his kindred and friends, leading them away by fair promises to do whatsoever thing he desired. And it came to pass that they formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God; For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man…..And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites…. And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed….” (Ether 8:14-22).
“Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning” (Ether 8:24-25).
“For so great had been the spreading of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people” (Ether 9:6).
"And it came to pass that Coriantor dwelt in captivity all his days."And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and prophesied of great and marvelous things, and cried repentance unto the people, and except they should repent the Lord God would executeagainst them to their utter destruction;fathers."And they did all the words of the prophets, because of their and wicked abominations."And it came to pass that Coriantor begat, and he died, having dwelt in captivity all his days." (Ether 11:19-23)