After the first generation of Jaredites had traveled a great distance toward a land which God had promised would be “choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42), they arrived at the ocean. Throughout their journey, they had prayed for instructions. Moroni tell us that they had been “directed continually by the hand of the Lord” (Ether 2:6). But here, on the seashore, something changed. They pitched their tents. They named the place “Moriancumer” (probably after the brother of Jared: see Messenger and Advocate 1:112). And they settled.
Moroni tells us that they “dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years” (Ether 2:13). He doesn’t tell us what happened to stop their forward momentum, but we can guess. Like Lehi’s family, who took a similar journey many years later, they must have felt some relief and joy to arrive at a beautiful and comfortable place. (See 1 Nephi 17:5-6.) They might have assumed this was the “choice land” God had promised them. They became complacent, and they failed to seek additional guidance.
Reflecting on the significance of this event, President Henry B. Eyring wrote:
When we face an unknown wilderness or a strange sea, which may for us be a move to a new place or mortal sickness in a loved one, our hearts soften and we beg for blessings and weep when they’re given. But when it’s harder to see the needs or the blessings—when our tents are pitched—it’s easy to forget the Master and think more of the part our own courage and exertions may have contributed. Sometimes those around us make that forgetfulness more likely by praising us and attributing the victory to us. Most of us spend a good part of our lives in perils so nearly invisible that self-reliance comes easily, and accepting counsel from brothers, or from God, comes hard.“The Brother of Jared—An Expert at Learning,” Ensign, July 1978
Fortunately for this group of travelers, their spiritual leader, the brother of Jared, eventually made contact with God again. This was not an easy meeting, and it was not short. Moroni tells us, “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” (Ether 2:14).
I don’t envy the brother of Jared on that occasion. He must have deeply regretted his negligence. Those three hours must have felt extremely long! Fortunately, he responded to the rebuke, repented quickly, and resumed his frequent communication with the Lord (Ether 2:15).
President Eyring pointed to the length of that conversation as evidence of God’s commitment to the spiritual growth of the brother of Jared:
The Master took not a minute, not five minutes, but three hours of His time to rebuke inattention….
A three-hour interview, longer than we may ever give our child or brother or husband or wife, could remind us of the availability, the patience, and the love of our Teacher.“The Brother of Jared—An Expert at Learning,” Ensign, July 1978
Today, I will remember the four years the Jaredites remained on the seashore. I will recommit to seek guidance from the Lord and not to become complacent when things are going well. I will also remember the three-hour conversation between God and the brother of Jared. I will remember that my Father in Heaven loves me, as He loves all of His children, and that He is willing to dedicate time and energy to teach me if I am willing to learn.