Saturday, June 30, 2018

Pathways Of The Prophetic- Seeing God In All Things

"A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God"
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 137 (25 March 1839))

One of the teachings passed down from the ancient Schools of the Prophets is the need for functional revelation- revelation that provides knowledge that will elevate or transform our world in the here and now.  The pure knowledge or intelligence of Chokmah (wisdom) inspires and the discerning intellect of Binah (understanding) confirms and organizes the pure knowledge we receive so that the fruits of the spirit manifest in the material world. The two together (Chokmah and Binah) form a complete and balanced whole. This was what was known as the ancient secret.

Revelation can be received in a moment.  It only takes a few lessons to begin the art of the prophetic. But like a muscle it takes the hard work of organizing and exercising this divine knowledge so that it becomes strong and capable of having real function.  If we feed and build our minds with the nourishment God provides then we will find that they are not only created but can be recreated in the image of God.

"And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God." 

In the mind of an Israelite the heart is the center and fountain of all thought.  Focus of the heart (thoughts) is the foundation of all prayer/meditation.  Where the thoughts go the attention will be found.  It was through the purification of the heart (thoughts) that prophetic focus and concentration could be accomplished. For the student who followed the path of the prophetic in the ancient prophetic schools purity of thought comes from the discipline of filling the heart (thoughts) with the words of the Torah (scriptures). This is why the recitation of passages of scriptures such as the Shema (i.e. Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One...) were taught as a disciplined daily practice to all Israel. Purity of heart (thoughts) was taught as essential for one to be able to discern between good and evil both in this world and in the world of the spirit.

Above the level of the word was the power of the image or symbol.  As a picture is worth a thousand words, symbols were also employed as object of focus and attention not because the image of itself had any power but because of the word of God connected with those symbols.  As such, there were divine symbols or archetypes used a points of focus in spiritual endeavors.  Some of these symbols included the tree (menorah, as in the tree of life), a dove, a flame of fire, the star of David, letters if the alephbet, among many others.

No less important was the importance of the environment. Surrounding ourselves in set apart environments whether they be synagogues, temples, withdrawing to the wilderness, or a mountain top, or even a cave served as places of refuge and correction until the the spirit of man was willing and able to submit to the directions of the God. This withdrawal from the hustle and bustle of the world into places of quiet and solace are demonstrated by the Messiah:

"And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed." (Luke 5:16)

As well as the Prophet Enos:

"Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart. And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens. And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed." (Enos 1:3-5)

Our hearts (thoughts) are cluttered with the baggage we carry from the world.  It is often because of our environment that we cannot sit still for a moment to learn to quiet our thoughts and focus before being bombarded from the continual stimulus that comes from television, radio, family concerns, etc. For one to bond or ascend to God means that the individual or group is being filled with God:

"And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost." (3 Nephi 12:6)

If one's heart is already filled how then can we expect for God to be able to fill us with his spirit.  This is also one of the meanings of the Messiah when he said:

"And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better."  Luke 5:36-39)

Connecting or bonding with God is not about what we gain but what we are willing to leave behind. The baggage of the heart (guilt, tumult, pride, envy, fear, etc) must be willingly left behind before bonding with God becomes possible.  The presence of God in all places, circumstances, or conditions of the heart must be acknowledged in all things. It is the natural man who seeks to hide their nakedness before the all seeing eyes of YHVH:

"And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." (Genesis 3:8-10)


One teaching passed down from Ancient Israel is the discipline of practicing the presence.  This discipline is summed up by two key scriptures Psalm 16:8 and Isaiah 6:3.

"I have set the YHVH always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." (Psalm 16:8)

This scripture contained the teaching that cleared the heart of all the uncleanness we experience and partake of in this world. It was a practice to place the holy name of God everywhere and to acknowledge his presence both in the light and the darkness, in prosperity and suffering, in the evil we experience and the good.  Knowing the conflict, the chaos, and the contradiction that this earth experience produces causes us to feel the need to hide from the existence of God who sees all things, we often hide in shame. As one placed the name, prayed in the name, and took upon the name of God, they acknowledged his voice among all the trees of the Garden until they experienced the reality of Isaiah 6:3:

"And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory."

It was not sufficient that we simply believe in God.  We must learn to see him and his presence in all things on this earth- both the good and the bad.  In doing so we begin to come out from our hiding places.  In doing so we begin to know God.  This is why both in ancient Israel and even in the history of the restoration, men would mark their homes, their tools, their door frames, etc with the outward phrase, "Holiness To The Lord (YHVH)" or other instruments containing scriptures (i.e. mezuzah) because whether in life or death, sin or obedience, the acknowledgment of the presence of God in all things brought the person out from under the power and shame produced by our adversary and back into the presence of God and the path of true healing and redemption.  By putting up signposts (whether physical or spiritual) we open ourselves to the divine presence- we begin both outwardly and inwardly acknowledge his living presence or eye.  It was not the question of "Why bad things happen to good people" or the declaration that  "Prosperity follows the Righteous", but that the presence of God fills the whole earth in the here and now.  In fact we walk in it daily and with every breath we breathe.

This discipline of practicing or acknowledging that we live continually in the presence of God is also demonstrated by the teaching of the "eye" of God.  The Prophet Jacob declares:

"O, my beloved brethren, remember my words. Behold, I take off my garments, and I shake them before you; I pray the God of my salvation that he view me with his all-searching eye; wherefore, ye shall know at the last day, when all men shall be judged of their works, that the God of Israel did witness that I shook your iniquities from my soul, and that I stand with brightness before him, and am rid of your blood." (2 Nephi 9:44)


"But, notwithstanding the greatness of the task, I must do according to the strict commands of God, and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart, and the broken heart, and under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God." (Jacob 2:10)

The Prophets of Israel walked in the discipline of living/practicing the presence of God.  This discipline was taught to their students as in doing so they began to come out from their spiritual hiding places, experience their nakedness before God, and walk in the path of his presence in this world.  Their acknowledgment of God's presence in their heart (thoughts) and in the world around them was a key discipline by which they lived and governed their lives and in doing so unleashed a fundamental power of transformation.

© 2018 Robert Kay

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