by Andrew Bellomy

This last week in Book of Mormon class we entered a new book within the Book of Mormon. Its name
is Ether. To help you to understand and to give my words some context I will tell a little about where
the book of Ether comes from and what it is about. Although there is a lot to say about it, I will keep the
explanation brief, because I have much to say about a particular passage from it today. Ether is a record
of an ancient group of people who were lead to the Americas, then referred to as the promised land, by
the hand of the Lord around the time of the tower of Babel. They are called the Jaredites. Their story,
within the book of Mormon, comes from a set of plates whose discovery is recorded of earlier in the Book
of Mormon. Portions of the record are translated and included in the Book of Mormon by a prophet named
Moroni.

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Now with a little background established, I will now get into my subject. The portion of the Jaredite history
included by Moroni details the journey of these people from the Dead Sea area to the Americas.

“5 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea,
into that quarter where there never had man been…”

mormon family bookWe discussed this verse in class and as I looked closer and listened to the words of my teacher, I realized how significant this verse is in a scriptural history context, but also in a personal context.Throughout scriptures there is this recurring moment when the Lord sends His prophets or people into the wilderness as they begin a journey. Adam and Eve were cast out the garden and into the wilderness. Moses and the children of Israel journeyed in the wilderness for 40 years. Nephi (in the beginning of the Book of Mormon) were brought through the wilderness and now, here, the story includes an exodus to the unknown and untamed wilderness.

First, this journey IS the plan of Salvation. Before we came here to earth, we dwelled in the presence of our Father. In order for us to grow and to become more like Him, the earth was created and we were brought here—a wilderness. As we live this life and strive to rely on the Lord, we will be led to the Promised Land—to salvation and exaltation.

Second, within this mortal life we too experience times of struggle. When I think about what a wilderness is, I picture a time when comfort and resources are not readily available. A place where I must struggle to exist. Like the stories of the scriptures, provisioning of our necessities (whether temporal, emotional or spiritual) seems uncertain. It can be easy to feel alone, but we are not. The verse above continues,

“5…And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them…and gave directions whither they should
travel.”

As in other stories in the scriptures, our needs can be taken care of by our Lord as we have faith in Him
and seek Him and to keep His commandments. Like manna from heaven or direction from His lips, we will
be taken care of. Certainly, the reality of these mortal experiences that seem as wildernesses to us show
us that the Lord is not seeking to make our lives easy, but that we must go through hard times to learn to
rely on Him and to grow.

I witness that the Lord has been there for me in my times of struggle and that I have found help in
Him. Whether by the Spirit or by someone else, I am always sent help. The story of Ether is a powerful
reminder to me that I am never alone as I travel on this earth or through its wildernesses (both literally
and figuratively!).