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Critics of the Book of Mormon have noted the story of the brother of Jared as evidence that the Book of Mormon is not true. Specifically, they have claimed that God would certainly know how to build barges and would not design plans that did not account for light and air. However, we know the Lord wasn’t building barges; the Lord was building faith.
The Lord’s work is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
If this is the Lord’s work, then it is likely His plan as well. If we consider the story of the brother of Jared from the Lord’s perspective, His plan included having the brother of Jared develop his faith by building barges that were useless to the understanding of man.
Each of the three flaws were in place for a reason to help him increase his faith and bring him closer to the Savior. We can see that the Lord’s plan to bring to pass the salvation of the brother of Jared was indeed intricate and successful:
And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord and I feared…
And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith, thou has seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?
And he answered: Nay Lord show thyself unto me.
Thus we see that the Lord’s plan successfully redeemed the brother of Jared and brought him into His presence. If the Lord’s specific plan for the brother of Jared was successful, one may ask, when did the Lord formulate this plan? Was it when the brother of Jared made the stones, built the barges, or left Babel?
The knowledge we have gained of the great plan of salvation through the revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith have greatly increased our knowledge of the purpose of life and our eternal destiny. Yet, it would seem that the Lord’s plan to bring the brother of Jared back into His presence was much more intricate and detailed. If the Lord has such an intricate plan for each one of us, then the diagram we use to represent the plan of salvation is merely the banner that hangs over the doorway to an immense library containing countless volumes of plans for the salvation of each of our souls.
But the Lord had a greater vision for the potential of the brother of Jared.
Where we envision a test, the Lord envisions a classroom. The Lord designed the specific obstacles and trials the brother of Jared needed to progress from his inactive and dormant state to becoming worthy to enter into the presence of the Lord. When the Jaredites started building the first barge, they surely noticed the flaws in the design.
It is likely the brother of Jared fasted, prayed, and pleaded with the Lord for the answers he thought were necessary to finish the assigned task. Yet, if the Lord had given the answers at the beginning, it would have removed the necessary lessons, hampered the progress of the people, and kept the brother of Jared from obtaining the faith he needed to enter the presence of God. As such not answering the prayer of the brother of Jared in the way he desired was an essential part of the Lord’s plan and an essential part of the brother of Jared’s salvation.
If the Lord had such an intricate and personal plan to provide for the salvation of one man, then it stands to reason that He has an intricate personal plan for the salvation of each of us. Likewise, when we plead for answers but feel that heaven is closed, it is not because the Lord does not have the answers we seek, but instead, the Lord has the perfect plan to bring about the salvation of our souls. If the Lord were to answer all of our prayers and remove all of our obstacles, it would negate His perfect eternal plan to bring each of us back into His presence.