Thursday, December 6, 2018

AN ISRAELITE APPROACH TO THE BOOK OF MORMON


The language of Hebrew captures and embodies multi-dimensional aspects of the word of God.  As a functional language it is designed to be uttered by our physical tongue but embedded in this language is the system of mathematics, geometry, chemistry, physics, grammar, etc. passed down from Adam and the first civilization.  

In a way the language itself is like a winding staircase or a divine helix of DNA that contains the essential building blocks of creation.  The knowledge of ascent through these dimensions was been preserved and transmitted by the Prophets of Israel.  The ascent through the four worlds or dimensions is taught to this day in Israel through a system of interpretation called PaRDeS.  PaRDeS in an acronym formed from the initials of the four levels or approaches to understanding the revelations of God:

1. Peshat – The simple, literal meaning of the word or account.
2. Remez – The allegorical or symbolic meaning of the word or account.
3. Deresh – A comparative meaning as compared to similar occurrences, accounts or teachings.
4. Sod (pronounced with a long O sound)– The secret, esoteric, or mystical meaning


For many the Book of Mormon yet remains a sealed book.  When we think of a sealed book we often see images of ancient scrolls or plates bound by some kind of material or metal band that forbids a person from opening the book.  While this is one type of seal, to the mind of an Israelite a sealed record can also be a record whose true meaning and interpretation is not yet understood or revealed. The Book of Mormon is such a record. It is a sealed record to many because while the literal (peshat) account is the literal story of Lehi and his descendants, we miss the deeper dimensions of light hidden in plain sight.

Peshat:


To demonstrate and apply this science of ancient Israel, let us examine the following scripture: “And my father dwelt in a tent” (1 Nephi 2:15).  As we discussed earlier, sometimes the greatest of truths are hidden in plain sight.  How many times have you as a reader read through the Book of Mormon and simply passed over this one sentence verse, “And my father dwelt in a tent.”  The verse seems very straight forward, simple and literal.  In reading this verse, it may draw images of desert Bedouins living in their tents in a desert wilderness surrounded by camels and stock.  The very simple and literal (Peshat) reading of this verse is that Lehi literally dwelt in a tent.

To the initiated mind of an Israelite, this verse reveals so much more about the man Lehi and lends itself to a great truth of this hidden science.

Remez:


As we increase our awareness, we can begin to make the conscious associations demonstrated by the second dimension or level of interpretation.  In this dimension, an Israelite begins to ask, “Where has God revealed these things in the covenant God made with the Fathers”: (The TaNaKh – The Torah –Five Books of Moses, The Neviim –the Prophets, or the Ketuvim – the Writings). The verse, “And my father dwelt in a tent”, directs the Israelite mind to the Mishkan or “tent of dwelling” often called the “tabernacle in the wilderness” or the “tabernacle of Moses”.   The parallels in the stories of Lehi leading his family in an Exodus from Jerusalem into the wilderness and Moses leading the children of Israel on their Exodus from Egypt into the wilderness are not accidental.  In fact in true Israelite fashion, Nephi weaves these parallels into his account to compact great revelations about his Father, His Father’s connection with God, and essential knowledge preserved for his posterity on how they must also walk with the God of their Fathers.

The tabernacle (tent) in the wilderness is the appointed place where God would meet with Moses and Aaron. Here the glory of God (Shekinah) would dwell.  Here Moses would ascend into the presence of God by (1) “The Way” or outer gate of the tabernacle, to pass by the furnishings of (2) the outer court, in preparation to enter the (3) inner court or Holy Place, to then come before (4) The Holy of Holies or Throne of God.  In this tent of dwelling instructions and decrees were delivered from God to his righteous ones.  In this tent of dwelling, the officiating priests stood as ministering servants or angels to assist in bringing the people into a condition of oneness (at-one-ment) with God.  It is here that the earthly journey of ascension began and as a type symbolically ended with the reality of heavenly ascension realized.

The tabernacle in the wilderness serves as an allegory that Nephi draws upon. With this ancient connection established between Lehi and Moses, the verse, “And my Father dwelt in a Tent” takes on greater significance. In the world of Israel, this verse communicates that Lehi was a Tsadik (a holy or righteous one) who walked in the same pathway of the Holy Order such as Moses, Abraham, Noah, Enoch, and Adam.  As he dwelt in a tent in the wilderness, he communed with God.  He received revelations, commandments, and decrees for his people.  In fact in those places where Nephi relates that his “father dwelt in a tent” such as 1 Nephi 2:15, 9:1, 10:16, and 1 Nephi 16:6 (four distinct instances) we find connected four distinct manifestations of God to both Lehi and Nephi filled with simple commands, ancient allegory, divine instruction, and the hidden/esoteric teachings of ascension in their unadulterated form.

Deresh:


With the new dimension of understanding and consciousness added upon us from Remez, the next or third dimension of understanding begins to unfold.  The mind of an Israelite is then drawn to examine similar occurrences and teachings related to the tabernacle in the wilderness.  These occurrences and teachings have historical precedent, legal precedent, and instructional precedent as passed down by inspired teachers.  One such ancient teaching associated with concepts of a tabernacle or tent has to do with an ancient teaching regarding prayer.

The concept of dwelling in a tent while foreign to many in the West is common place among cultures in the Middle East and Orient.  In Israel, all of God’s people were commanded to be tsaddikim (holy men and women), “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6)  Even as Moses declared, “would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”

Like ancient Israel camping in tents in the wilderness, a tsaddik or holy man would often be found living outside the bounds of the cities in the caves and tents of the wilderness.  In doing so these men lead a consecrated or set apart existence similar to Moses dwelling in the Tabernacle enwrapped in the Glory of the Lord (Shekinah).  This set apart walk with God was embodied with the wearing of the four cornered garment known as a tallit.








The tallit is a four cornered garment that serves as a reminder that the wearer is wrapped in the authority of Heaven. It was every man and woman’s private Mishkan or Tabernacle.  It symbolized the righteous dominion and authority of Heaven over the wearer and a place of retreat from the world.  To this day, modern observant Jews are seen in the attitude or prayer under the tallit worshipping in their private tents (tabernacles) the God of Creation.






With this understanding of Israelite culture and teaching, our understanding can then be drawn to a great teachings from the Prophets and the Messiah:

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:5-6, 3 Nephi 13:6

“And when I did turn unto my closet, O Lord, and prayed unto thee, thou didst hear me.” (Alma 33:7)
“But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.” (Alma 34:26)

When we hear these scriptures in our modern tongue our minds are often drawn to images of going into our bedrooms, going into our literal closets, and closing the door so no one can see us pray.  In ancient Israel whether Nephite or Jews, there was no physical concept of a closet like we think of today.  The word closet refers to the “secret chambers” which then brings the mind to remembrance of the Holy Place and Holy of Holies in the tabernacle.  When a man covers his head with his tallit for prayer this tent or secret place is what is being referred to as “entering into thy closet” ( i.e. secret chambers/place)- a living witness of a tsaddik or holy man/woman dwelling in a tent and connecting with God.

Sod:


The sod level of interpretation pertains to the mysteries or hidden things of God.  They pertain to those things of the divine throne or council of heaven. In the wisdom of God, great truths have been hidden from the world.  In the preserved science of ancient Israel, we are spiritual beings tabernacled in mortal element in this physical world (Malchut).  “Don’t you know that you yourself are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives within you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)

Just as the Glory of God filled the physical tabernacle in the wilderness, so too do we as spiritual beings that are part of and eternally connected to God dwell in physical tabernacles.  The temple in all its physical glory represents the physical body of man and woman whose spirit has awakened and connected with the temple of God above. It represents the soul of a quickened individual in a state of at-one-ment with God, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing and the glory of kings to search out a matter!” (Proverb 25:2) As all Israel was called to be a nation of kings and priests to God, then it was the glory of kings to search out the concealed things of God. Like Lehi’s tent in the wilderness, we are called to walk the path of the tsaddik (righteous) and to enter the gateway of the tent and experience true oneness with the God who created us.  We go within the tent to receive wisdom, understanding, mercy, justice, judgment, enduring vitality, glory, and oneness with God.


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