About 1,600 Years Ago

1600-1Sixteen hundred years is a long time – a real long time.

Looking backwards, this would put us back to the year 417.

In history, the Roman empire was still a force to be reckoned with, though its grip on Western Europe was loosening.

The Nephites are still a few decades aware from destruction.

That was a long, long time ago.

Sixteen hundred years is about the span of years the Jaredite nation survived – 600 years longer than the Nephites.

Yet all we have of this vast swath of history is 15 chapters in the Book of Ether. Four of which are dedicated to the first five years of their journey. One chapter is Moroni’s lecture on faith. This leaves only 10 chapters to cover 1,600 years.

Because Moroni had such limited space and a small sampling of Jaredite records, we are left with just a summary of the rise and fall of these people following the same cycle of pride and humility experienced by the Nephites.

One core lesson we can learn by combining the Nephite and Jaredite experiences is that people throughout history and up to our current time are basically the same.

We strive.

1600-2We fail.

We try again.

Some give into the demons of our worst nature.

Others work hard to express the angels of our better nature.

As I try to unpack the myriad of lessons we can learn from the rise and fall of the Jaredites, I see the following trends.

When we strive to align with God’s will we see an increased measure of happiness. This does not mean life will be easy. In fact, just the opposite may be true.

For example, the Jaredites were closest to God as they spent a year on their voyage in the belly of the barge.

They were isolated.

They had limited control of their lives.

They had no idea how long the trip would take.

Yet they thrived.

Not too many years later, after the generation of the barge people passed, they focused on selfish pursuits.

They divided themselves across economic lines.

Soon, they found themselves divided, siblings against siblings, families against families. When political leaders advocated the pursuit and power of wealth, the people soon followed.

This resulted in polarization, conflict, contention and destruction.

Is there a lesson for us in these historical trends?

Could it be when we feel most distant from God, that perhaps we have moved away from Him?

1600-41600-5Could it be when our desires turn inward we find ourselves filled with the junk food of happiness while sacrificing the banquet of joy?

I am convinced when we see ourselves more similar to those in the scriptures than we are different, the more impact their stories of rise and ruin will have to bring us closer to God. Besides, isn’t that the very point of the scriptures to teach us how we can come to know God?

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