“16 And the Lord said: Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord. And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water.
17 And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish.
18 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, I have performed the work which thou hast commanded me, and I have made the barges according as thou hast directed me.
19 And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe, save it is the air which is in them; therefore we shall perish.
20 And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood.
21 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did so, according as the Lord had commanded.” (Ether 2:16-21)
Jared, his brother, and their families left the area near Babel to travel to a promised land. After a long journey over land and water, they camped on a beach. After staying there for a few years, the Lord commanded them to travel across the ocean. The brother of Jared asked how he should make the boats. The Lord told him to make them small and light and “tight like unto a dish”. These boats may or may not have had some sort of sail. They might have been rowed. They might have simply followed the currents of the ocean. In any case, the boats were built well and did not leak. I imagine they were something like a submarine, except they were designed to mainly float on top of the water. There were times, however, when they would be buried in the ocean before bobbing back up to the surface. Because they were water-tight, they were also air-tight. Air holes were constructed in the top and bottom (as the Lord instructed) so that if the boats were covered in water or upside-down, there were at least two holes to try and open to let in air. The hole on the bottom, if opened, would not let water in due to the internal air pressure of the boat. The hole on the top could let in fresh air.
The times would come when the Jaredites would be buried in the darkness of the depths of the sea. They would be without light and seemingly without help. It was of these dark times that the brother of Jared pondered when he approached the Lord in prayer and asked “What shall we do for light when we are buried in the depths of the sea?” The Lord asked the brother of Jared what he thought the solution was. After some thinking and problem solving the brother of Jared came back to the Lord with a solution. I’ll summarize and paraphrase the dialogue. “Here are some stones I created out of molten material. If Thou would but touch them, they could shine forth with Thy light.” The Lord then touched the stones with His finger and they lighted. The brother of Jared saw the finger of the Lord and was surprised by the Lord’s appearance. Once the Lord taught the brother of Jared about the nature of His spirit body, the brother of Jared asked to see all of the Savior – for the Lord Jehovah is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Then the Savior appeared to him (see Ether 3).
There are some important lessons for us in these stories of the Jaredites. Like the Jaredites, there will be times in our lives when we will be buried in the depths of the seas, so to speak. We will feel lost, alone, scared, and in the dark. At such times, we can remember the story of the Jaredites and how the brother of Jared was blessed by God with a solution. The brother of Jared was able to come up with his own solution to the light problem but the solution still required to miraculous power of the Lord. God provides us with power to overcome the darkness in our lives.
One other lesson we can learn from this story is that the brother of Jared first had to see the hand (finger) of the Lord in His life in order to receive a greater manifestation of the Savior’s power and presence. Once the brother of Jared saw and comprehended the hand of the Lord in his life, he was blessed with greater light and knowledge from the Lord. He was blessed with one of the greatest of all blessings – to stand in the presence of the Lord and be taught by Him. Once we recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives, we can be blessed with greater knowledge of the Lord; maybe we will not actually see Him, but we will be able to feel of His power and love. As we are caught up in the depths, over our heads in life, if we see and recognize and acknowledge the hand of the Lord in our lives, we will be blessed by the Lord and protected through the stormy seas and darkness of life.