The Book of Ether contains the story of the Jaredites — a story that parallels the overall history told in the Book of Mormon. And, as I’ve observed here before, the story also is somewhat similar to that of the early Saints, who travel to a foreign land at the direction of the Lord, seeking a place where they may live in righteousness. Ether 1-6 tells the beginning of this story, including the revelations given to the Brother of Jared, his exemplary faith and the journey of his people to the promised land. While their home has descended into chaos because each person can not communicate with others due to the confounding of the language, still, I think, they must have had some longing for the familiar surroundings of their homes.
Although writing about the travails of the latter-day Saints, her own people, after the Missouri persecutions, Eliza R. Snow captured the feeling that the Jaredites must have felt in the following poem:
Song of the Exiled Saints
By Eliza R. Snow
- We are far, far away from the land of our Home,
- And like strangers in exile we’re destined to roam;
- While our foes were exulting to drive us abroad,
- Our faith was unshaken-our hope was in God,
- Tho’ far from Home,
- For we journey’d away from our country and Home.
- We were houseless and homeless, in tempest and storm,
- Yet God was our father-we lean’d on his arm;
- And beneath his protection, our lives were secure,
- And we smil’d at the hardships we had to endure,
- While journeying on,
- To a country of strangers-a land not our Home.
- O then, then we remember’d the House of the Lord,
- Where the saints met so often, to feast on the word,
- Pour’d forth in the Spirit, sent down from on high,
- And our thoughts fondly linger’d on seasons gone by;
- When at our Home,
- We enjoy’d with the saints, the rich blessings of Home.
- But all those, who the kingdom celestial would gain;
- Need not parley with danger, with trouble of pain;
- For if Christ was made perfect thro; suffering, shall we
- E’er expect in his presence to reign gloriously,
- Unless we come
- “Up thro’ great tribulation”, to Zion our Home.
- Thus the former-Day Saints, who were driven away,
- And like deer in the fosest were destined to stray
- Clad in sheep-skins and goat-skins, have wander’d around,
- Or in “caves and in dens”, a lone residence found;
- And should they roam,
- And the Latter Day Saints, rest in quiet at Home.
- Now the saints who are faithful, and trust in the Lord,
- Where’er they are scattered, go “preaching the word”,
- And the honest in heart, the glad tidings believe,
- And with joy and rejoicing the gospel receive
- And seek a Home,
- With the just of all ages, when Jesus shall Come.
- And we long for the promis’d redemption to come,
- When the faithful in Jesus, will all gather home,
- From the north, from the south from the east and the west,
- To partake with the ancients, the great promis’d rest:
- And Shiloh come,
- And crown with his presence, Mount Zion our Home.
Times and Seasons, 1 November 1840
The pattern of peoples led by the Lord from their homes into the wilderness is frequent enough that we should, I think, ask what it means for those who go through it. Snow provides one answer in this poem, suggesting that through successfully remaining true under suffering we gain exaltation: “E’er expect in his presence to reign gloriously, / Unless we come / “Up thro’ great tribulation”, to Zion our Home.”
Certainly that was the case with the Jaredites, at least until the first generations were established in the promised land. But, according to both the Book of Mormon and the Jaredite stories, it seems that when a people become prosperous and comfortable where they are, that is when trouble arises—something that remains a good lesson for us today.