Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thinking About the Links...

I was thinking about the book of Abraham and the facsimiles in it. Fascinating things, those. We know that not the hundredth part made it into the Book of Mormon - Heavenly Father's and the prophets' polite way of telling us to pay attention, because every word is important. I wonder if the same is also true of the Book of Abraham. I suspect it is so, considering how wild Joseph Smith went over its discovery.

The importance of the book of Abraham is clear from the beginning, actually. If nothing else, it gives us incredible detail about Abraham's lineage, culture, and learning.

And then out of nowhere, there are these images. Facsimile Nos. 1 and 2. Pictured here is Facsimile No. 2, and if you're reading this you might want to pull it out so you can see what I'm talking about as I go.

There are several items in this image for which explanations have been provided. Figure 1, (dead center of the circle) for example, is "Kolob, signifying the first creation..." Figure 2 (located near the top) "Stands next to Kolob... [and] is the next grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides..."

This Figure 2 always catches my eye, because it is the only place in the facsimile where there is an overlap between two areas. In all other instances, the symbols are blocked off from one another in boxes or rectangles which are clearly delineated by double lines. The only exception to the "double line rule" is the outer ring, which is separated from the inner panels by a circle comprised of only one line.

These two things - the overlap of Figure 2 from the inner portion of the image to the outer ring - and the outer ring itself being separated from the rest of the images by only a thin line make me wonder what meaning there could be. We know that this image tells a story - all doctrine is told in stories, if by no other than the grand story of Jesus' life and the atonement, from which all Gospel tenets spring - so what story or teachings do these strange juxtapositions teach us?

I have some opinions. Again, bear in mind that I am not a spokesman for the Church. Just someone who likes to think, and share those thoughts. So take this with a grain of salt, and if there is anything "of good report, or praiseworthy" about the following, use it. If not, chuck it.

Okay, here we go.

Outer circle, at almost exactly the 9:00 position, there is an image of what appears to be a person, legs bent, arms over their head. Next to that is a thing that looks like three straight lines: two short and the long one in the middle, the long one looking like an arrow. This is a symbol that has been translated to mean "the holy place."

So we have a person in the outer ring, which is separated from the inner portions by a thin line, supplicating at the holy place.

Of course, as Latter-day Saints, our most holy place is the temple, and so for me it is no huge jump to wonder if this is a symbology representing worship at the temple. This would make it even more interesting that there is a single place where the "wall" between sections of the Abrahamic facsimile is punctured: a place where, if one comes in proper supplication to the holy place, perhaps the line between this kingdom and the next may be pierced, and thereby perhaps may the holiest of things be glimpsed.

There is precedent, of course, for this happening. The prophet Joseph Smith's vision of Christ standing before him which occurred in the Kirtland Temple, after he and Oliver Cowdery shut themselves away and prayed to the Lord (the full account of this is in Doctrine and Covenants Section 110).

In effect, the holier realms came through the single line that separates us from them when we are in the temple - the holy place - and provided edification and glimpses of glory that can be had in no other way and at no other place.

Again, I am not an official spokesman for the Church, or a prophet (other than inasmuch as I have a testimony of Jesus Christ - see, e.g., Numbers 11:25-29 and Revelation 19:10). So what do I know?

Not much, I suppose, but I do suspect that one of the primary reasons we are instructed to visit the temple is because that will be the entry point from which things will flow when the Earth is at last reclaimed by Christ and He takes its place as its rightful king. If we are known at the Temple, we will be known in the kingdom of Heaven, for we will have pierced the wall between Heaven and earth in the place that it is thinnest. We shall have seen the things of God, and been seen by them in turn.

Why do we go to the temple (assuming we do). To save the souls of the dead? Certainly. To participate as saviors in Zion. Of course.

But I propose that it is also a question of familiarity. In the parables of the New Testament, those seeking entry into the feast or the wedding party - the kingdom of heaven - we can see examples of the master refusing entrance to someone because he "knows them not" (see Matthew 25:1-12).

So have I gone to the temple often enough and recently enough that, should Christ come to the earth today, I would know and be known by him?

Have you?

Sobering thoughts.

Thank you, father Abraham.

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