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Okay so let’s tell the story of the brother of Jared, and we’re going to turn some of his specific details into generalities so that hopefully, we can find ourselves somewhere in this story. I’m going to tell the story and divide it into three main parts; I’ve found that at any point in our lives, we find ourselves at one of these three points. Listen to each point of the story and see which point you’re at in your life, and then listen for what you need to be doing.
Part One – Before the Shore
The story surrounding the brother of Jared and his people begins around the tower of Babel. They are encompassed by wicked people, and the Lord is preparing to confound the language of the people and scatter them. At the bidding of Jared, the brother prays to the Lord three times. He prays that their language will not be confounded. He prays that the language of their friends and families will not be confounded. He prays and asks the Lord if they should leave. The Lord answers in mercy for all of the prayers; their language remains the same and they leave their homes to follow the Lord to a choice land. The Lord leads them away.
Okay so let’s turn those specifics into generalities, and you can ask yourself if this point of the story lines up with your story.
A righteous family finds themselves surrounded by wickedness. This wickedness will soon directly affect them. Trials are coming, and so this righteous family pleads for specific things. The Lord answers according to His own will (which in this case, means granting unto them their desires). The family avoids the calamities that fall upon the wicked but not without a couple of trials on their own. The Lord personally leads them along towards a promised land.
Perhaps you find yourself surrounded by wickedness. It’s not hard to in our day. Perhaps you find yourself scared of coming trials or in the midst of trials, and you find yourself repeatedly returning to the Lord for mercy and help. Perhaps you’ve had to make some sacrifices, but ultimately, you know the Lord is leading you along even if you don’t know where you’re going just yet.
Part Two – The Shore
Instead of paraphrasing this part, I’m going to read it because it’s really short but also really significant.
13 And now I proceed with my record; for behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years.
14 And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.
So let’s turn this into generalities and see if we relate to this part of the story.
The Lord has guided them up until this point. This point is still on the way towards their ultimate destination, but they’re not really moving towards it anymore. They’re not necessarily prospering; they are still living beneath their privilege in tents (whatever “tents” may symbolize to you). Even though they’re living beneath their privilege, they’re no longer surrounded by wickedness and overpowering trials. In a way, you could say they’re comfortable because they don’t see the promised land they were destined to arrive at. They have no idea what their small band will become if they can get themselves up, moving, and off the shore.
Fortunately, the Lord comes to them (as He so often does in our lives) to call them to repentance. He reminds them that they haven’t been praying.
Part Three – After the shore
The brother of Jared repents, and the Lord forgives him. The Lord also warns him that they are being led to an extremely important, promised land. He has high expectations for people who live upon his land, and so the brother of Jared needs to be on top of his game if he expects to remain there.
Then begins the work. These people build barges (this is actually the second time they have to build barges). I really can’t imagine how much work this must have been, both temporally and spiritually. Perhaps these people did have experience building ships or perhaps they didn’t. Either way, they are built the way the Lord wants them built. So not only do they have to actually do the building and make a bunch of random wood fit together tightly, they have to be extremely spiritually in tune so that they can actually build a ship that can carry them across an ocean. While the story only carefully recounts the revelation regarding the air and light, I believe the rest of the process was just as similar. Lord, how do we make the tools? Lord, how do we get the boards to fit together? Lord, what shape should it be?
Eventually they have built what the Lord asked, but they still have to seek revelation in order to learn how to receive air. They still have to seek revelation on how to receive light. Despite the fact that they don’t need light to cross the ocean, they still ask for it and the Lord grants it unto them after the brother of Jared performs some of the mental work.
Before they arrive at the promised land, the brother of Jared is brought back into the presence of the Lord. Even though he waited for four years on the shore and even though his knowledge of Jesus Christ was not perfect, he was brought back into the presence of the Lord because of his faith. The Lord blesses him with great knowledge.
Many know the rest of the story. The brother of Jared and his loved ones once again find themselves surrounded by trials in the form of storms and ocean, but I’m going to pause there because that’s the end of the section for this week’s Come Follow Me. Let’s turn to generalities for this last part.
The brother of Jared repents and is forgiven. The Lord tells him to step up his game. The brother of Jared works extremely hard in his preparation for his eventual promised land. Not only is this a significant temporal labor, but he is also spiritually laboring. This isn’t just about building a ship (which in our case can range from a relationship to a spirit-filled home). This process draws the brother of Jared continually closer to the Lord. He has to seek out revelation continuously to know how to proceed; it wasn’t just about receiving the revelation to build the ship. In my mind, he had to receive revelation for every step because you don’t want to cut corners when building this ship; it’s meant to take him to the promised land. Along the way, the brother of Jared asks for both things he needs and wants. Before he actually gets into the boat to sail to the promised land, he is brought into the presence of the Lord.
So what part of life are you in? Perhaps you’re in some kind of a mixture of the three groups. Perhaps you’re in the midst of trials while simultaneously trying to do a great work that the Lord has asked you to do. There’s obviously crossover, but we can generally place ourselves into some of these groups and then learn principles from the story about how to act. Are you surrounded by trials and in the midst of evil? Are you on autopilot in your spiritual life, not surrounded by evil but not actually moving any closer to the promised land? Are you in the midst of some great work you’ve been asked by the Lord to perform?
If you’re in part one, continue to pray. Pray for specifics. Be willing to follow where the Lord leads even if you don’t know what the promised land will look like.
If you’re in part two, get off the shore. Get moving. Get praying. If you’re not praying for mercy and help, or if you’re not praying for revelation on how to propel your life forward, start praying. You were destined for far more than tents on a seashore (spiritually speaking, I have a couple relatives who would love living in a tent on the beach).
If you’re in part three, don’t be afraid to ask the Lord. He doesn’t have specific plans. Sometimes He will require you to make your own plans, and sometimes He will have direct answers for you. Follow Him exactly because He knows what you need to be prepared for what’s coming. Not only will His instructions guide you in this life, but your faith will continue to grow until you can be brought back into His presence whether in this life or the next.