“And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me? And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make a bellows wherewith to blow the fire, of the skins of beasts; and after I had made a bellows, that I might have wherewith to blow the fire, I did smite two stones together that I might make fire.
For the Lord had not hitherto suffered that we should make much fire, as we journeyed in the wilderness; for he said: I will make thy food become sweet, that ye cook it not; And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.
Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem. Wherefore, I, Nephi, did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord, and I did exhort my brethren to faithfulness and diligence. And it came to pass that I did make tools of the ore which I did molten out of the rock.” (1 Nephi 17: 9-16)
The construction of a ship to cross an ocean is a mighty feat. When Nephi receives this command from God he faces the problem of not knowing exactly how to perceive or create what seems to be an overwhelming and complex work. To complete such a great feat as building a ship to cross the deep he needs the instructions and correct tools to build the ship to make it a reality. In Hebrew this word for tool is Kli (meaning a tool, vessel, or dish). It is something formed whereby other elements can be poured into or fashioned to create something workable. It is a vessel of functionality. We create our Kli or tools just as a blacksmith takes raw materials (ore) and works upon it to fashion various them into a functional form. The raw material or the ore represents our desires, our thoughts, and intentions. In this earthly world or kingdom (Malkhut), our desires start out as rough, crude, and without form. Our ability to design our kli (tools, vessels, or desires) according to the patterns given by God help us to perceive the spiritual world, its boundaries, and the eternal gift of receiving from God to bestow upon others.
Nephi as a spiritual blacksmith then creates bellows to blow the fire. Bellows are instruments of air (as corresponding to the world of Beriyah) or wind that represents the instrument through which the Spirit of God as the Holy Wind or Breath blows upon the spark of fire. The instrument through which the air flows is particularly made of the skins of beasts. That knowledge passed down by the Fathers communicates that when Adam and Eve were in the garden their bodies were different. Some teachings suggest that unlike our bodies their bodies were bodies of light—pure and refined. After partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge both Good and Evil they were cast out of the garden and God clothed them with coats of skins, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21) These coats of skins represent our mortal bodies.
In true Israelite form, Nephi layers his account with a teaching much deeper and important than a cursory reading of the “story” he relates. The coat of skins represents our mortal bodies wherein resides and flows the Holy Wind of God (Holy Ghost or Ruach Elohiym). This wind then breathes or fans the spark of fire. The fire is struck by the striking together of two stones.
The two stones have a dual symbolic meaning. The first is found in Deuteronomy 8: 15-16:
“And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth (heb. Chayil- strength), that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.”
The two stones being struck is an assumed allusion to the word flint- as even in the ancient world stones of flint could be struck to produce fire. The Hebrew word for flint or stone is challamiysh Using the keys passed down in Israel to unlock Nephi’s teaching we then go to the Torah to find the first place where this word is used; Deuteronomy 8:15-16. Using this key we can examine the depth of Nephi’s account to discover further instructions on how correction and ascension takes place by connecting it to the Lord’s declaration to Moses, “Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness.”
Just as the children of Israel were led through the wilderness and fed by the Lord even to bringing forth water out of the rock of flint, Nephi’s two stones (of flint) that struck fire leads the Israelite reader back to remembrance of the deliverance of their fathers in the wilderness. In parallel to this Nephi explains, “For the Lord had not hitherto suffered that we should make much fire, as we journeyed in the wilderness; for he said: I will make thy food become sweet, that ye cook it not; And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.” Man cannot correct himself or ascend solely by virtue of himself; it is done by the direction, instruction, and further revelation given by God.
Correction and ascension are accomplished with the presence of the Lord- to one degree or another whether by his spirit or second comforter. The element of fire is symbolic of the world of the Celestial or Atziluth- the presence of God. This connection between flint, fire, and the presence of the Lord is also demonstrated in the words of the Psalmist, “Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob; Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.” (Psalm 114:7-8)
Just as God was actively present through their journey in the wilderness (both Israel and Lehi’s Family) so too is he the light and sole provider through our journey of ascension through the wilderness or barrier that separates this world from the Heavenly World. There is another important aspect and symbol that also comes into play- two stones. The symbols of the two tables of stone direct us back to the words of God to Moses, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.” (Exodus 34:14)
Like the stone tablets whereon the commandments of God are engraved, our hearts are also tablets upon which God’s instructions are engraved. In Israelite thought, the heart is the center of our thoughts and desires. Even as Jeremiah declared:
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people..” (Jeremiah 31:33)
The commandments of God written upon two stones comprised the heart of the covenant. As we fulfill the commandments of God, the stones are struck and the spark of celestial light above sparks within our hearts where it is then fanned by the Wind or Spirit of God (the Holy Ghost or Ruach Elohiym) to become the purifying fire. The celestial fire created by the fulfilling of God’s commandments purifies our desires, thoughts, and intentions.
Nephi’s words create the following parallels:
The Smiting of the two stones are those actions and meditations of correction wherein we draw our spirits closer to God. It is a conscious and deliberate action of drawing near (whether by action or prayer) that we create the sparks. The Ruach Elohiym or "Wind/Breath" of God then breaths upon the spark allowing it to take hold. Like two tablets of stone the instrument of creating the sparks is our heart or the center of all thought and emotion in Israelite thought.
In Israelite thought the physical world is a reflection or manifestation of the heavenly worlds. That which is constructed above manifests itself in the world below. As we commence the construction of our vessel below based upon the instructions given from above, we can construct a vessel or ship to carry us across the waters of the great deep to reach the Land of Promise or the Throne of Heaven. While the details of Nephi’s account appear mundane it contains the spiritual light transmitted to him by God and the Fathers.
CONSTRUCTING THE SHIP: THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE HEART:
When a ship is constructed it must have a plan or design by which the builders follow to complete their project. This design is captured in a picture or state of being that is taught in the Sermon at the Temple/Mount. The word "Blessed" comes from the Hebrew word barukh and demonstrates as state of being. When an Israelite blesses God or God blesses someone or something the word barukh carries with it an awareness of the closeness of God. In fact being blessed is being in a state wherein the very presence of God fills the air. The idea of blessedness carries with it deep Israelite connotations of the presence or spirit of God being felt in our minds, our hearts, even the core of our very souls. The idea of being blessed or even in blessing God is that our hearts and minds should be awakened to the understanding that God is making himself close to us to draw us into closeness with him. In other words, the declaration of a blessing or declared blessed is that of the awareness of the presence of God right now.
With that in mind now consider the words of the Messiah as part of his covenant declaration:
"2 And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.
3 Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.
7 And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
8 And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
10 And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake; For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you. (3 Nephi 12)
Now for a moment as you read the words of the Sermon at the Temple/Mount consider as the Messiah of Israel is making a declaration of blessing (i.e. blessed) that in each of these declarations he is declaring the instructions or STATE OF BEING in the closeness -EVEN THE PRESENCE- of God in the here and now. As we conform to the image of those blessed-who are the poor in spirit, those that mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted for the sake of walking in his name we are creating our hearts and bodies as sacred vessels to carry and receive the presence of God.
When the words of Christ were declared in exactness on this day the people who were there were visited by the voice of God, The Presence of the Son and the Spirit of God. And again even the next day when his disciples had administered these same words in exactness to the multitude that gathered there we see the fulfillment of this covenant promise again with as they were given the spirit of God, the Presence of the Son, and the revealing of Great and Marvelous Things that were too great to be written.
Now those same words in the mouth of two witnesses from the House of Israel as contained in the Sermon on the Mount and more particularly those recorded in the Book of Mormon in the Sermon at the Temple have come unto us. No we were not those people who were physically present when these words were recorded. BUT we are the people to whom these words have been delivered. In fact we would be those who are labeled, "Those who believe on their words." Consider for a moment now these great covenant promises:
And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words, and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.
And Consider the Covenant prayers of God as promises to us who were not present and yet who believe on their words:
19 And it came to pass that Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said: 20 Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.
21 Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words. 22 Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them. 23 And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one.
27 And he turned from them again, and went a little way off and bowed himself to the earth; and he prayed again unto the Father, saying:
28 Father, I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me.
29 Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them.
We see that God is offering us -those who believe on their words- the same declaration of blessing (blessed) as he offered to those who were there that day to hear those words with their own ears. These words in the Book of Mormon are those words as recorded by those servants and receiving the Presence of God and an awareness that he is all around us from the air that we breath to the reception of his Son.
© 2018 Robert Kay
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