Tuesday, September 3, 2019

MANIFESTING THE POWER OF GOD- (Barges, Boats, and Arks- Part 2)

“You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing, and they will answer, “Doesn’t the Bible say he created the world?” And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end.” 
(Joseph Smith. King Follet Sermon)

The Torah (Five Books of Moses) is the key to unlocking Nephi’s narrative to reveal the mysteries of the Fathers. The Prophet Nephi was instructed by God to construct his ship after the manner shown unto him by God.  Just as he did work the timbers of his ship after “curious” workmanship, Nephi also interlaces his narrative with the hidden knowledge passed down by the Fathers.

If we are to construct our ship to reach the promises land we must discover and study the builder’s designs.  Just as the tools and the wherewithal to construct them was revealed by God to the Fathers, the manner of constructing the ship is also revealed by God so that we also may reach the Land of Promise or the Divine Throne of God.

The plates of Laban obtained by Nephi contained a complete copy of the Torah of Moses from Genesis through Deuteronomy.  They also contained many records of prophets such as Zenos, Zenock, and others that were not preserved in the records of the Jews.   For all Israel, The Torah is not only the Covenant, but also the dictionary, thesaurus, and basis for all language and culture not to mention science, mathematics, and many other things.  It is a layered record written in childlike simplicity and at the same time multi-dimensional in its application.  The records of both the Torah and the Book of Mormon open when we have the key to unlock their secrets- sacred records meant to reveal and conceal.

Enter Stage left—The Carnal or Natural Man

Lest we forget that while Nephi is a type of the Spiritual man.  Laman and Lemuel represent the presence of the carnal or natural man:

“And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters. And thus my brethren did complain against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord.”(1 Nephi17:17-18)

In every journey of ascension the presence of the carnal or natural man is present until the point of separation in the Land of Promise.  As the spiritual child of God walks a path of submission to the instructions and doings of God, the carnal or natural man walks the path of suffering or resistance.  We often hear the murmuring voice of the natural man, “You cannot do so great a task!  It’s impossible!  You are not worthy! You cannot repent or ascend!” 

“And now it came to pass that I, Nephi, was exceedingly sorrowful because of the hardness of their hearts; and now when they saw that I began to be sorrowful they were glad in their hearts, insomuch that they did rejoice over me, saying: We knew that ye could not construct a ship, for we knew that ye were lacking in judgment; wherefore, thou canst not accomplish so great a work. And thou art like unto our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart; yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death; and it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions. Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy. And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people; and our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his words; yea, and our brother is like unto him. And after this manner of language did my brethren murmur and complain against us” (1 Nephi 17:19-22)

The voice of the natural man causes us to withhold our desires to receive to bestow (i.e. to love God and love our neighbor) and replace it with a desire to receive to covet and withhold for ourselves.  We displayed in the carnal mind the fear of loss or progression. Their attachment to their possessions in the land of Jerusalem is the first sign that demonstrates the desire to receive to covet.  In their complaint against Lehi and Nephi, Laman and Lemuel resort to justifying their position and desires by stating that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept God’s commandments according to the law of Moses.  There is an important distinction made in their complaint which is found in the phrase, “the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses”.  The commandments of God are called the mitzvot and refer specifically to the ten commandments.  The phrase according to the law of Moses refers to what is often termed “oral torah” or the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses.  To an Israelite the Performances (ma-asim- performances or deeds of rabbis, prophets, teachers, elders, etc) and Ordinances (takanot- legislative enactments) would be similar to our modern case law including city and state ordinances on how to carry out certain laws.

The natural man/woman views God through his or her own natural eyes. It sees God as a great power who has an end game.  In the mind of the natural man God demands through performances and ordinances that we do what he desires.  To the natural man, if we do what God desires in form only, in our outward performances, and keep the commandments then we will receive the reward.  Notice how Laman and Lemuel complain along this very sentiment, “we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people”.  The natural man is a force of division and seeks to obtain through performance so that it may receive to covet. Its desires remain rough, unrefined, with no real boundaries except the outward boundaries of legal performance that it seeks to manipulate to obtain the things of this world. The natural man cannot comprehend the things of the spirit, the instructions of God, or the great and marvelous works of God—even the building of ship to cross the great deep to reach the mystery of the throne of God or the Land of Promise.

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, spake unto them, saying: Do ye believe that our fathers, who were the children of Israel, would have been led away out of the hands of the Egyptians if they had not hearkened unto the words of the Lord?

Yea, do ye suppose that they would have been led out of bondage, if the Lord had not commanded Moses that he should lead them out of bondage?

Now ye know that the children of Israel were in bondage; and ye know that they were laden with tasks, which were grievous to be borne; wherefore, ye know that it must needs be a good thing for them, that they should be brought out of bondage.” (1 Nephi 17: 23-25)

The Prophet Nephi here links the performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses to the “tasks which were grievous to be borne” and equates these performances and ordinances with bondage.  His statement ‘performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses’ can be a little misleading for those not familiar with Israelite Law   The commandments (Mitzvot) of God are one thing, but keeping his commandments according to the performances and ordinances of men can become a system of bondage.  We see Christ making the same parallel in Mathew 23:

“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Matthew 23-1-4)

The Greek version of Matthew obscures the frame of reference of something that is plain and simple to the mind of an Israelite.  According to a Hebrew text of Matthew preserved by the Baal Shem Tov, “Now all which they say to you keep and do; but according to their ordinances (takanot) and deeds (maasim) do not do because they say and do not.” (Matthew 23:3;  Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, George Howard)

“Now ye know that Moses was commanded of the Lord to do that great work; and ye know that by his word the waters of the Red Sea were divided hither and thither, and they passed through on dry ground. But ye know that the Egyptians were drowned in the Red Sea, who were the armies of Pharaoh.” (1 Nephi 17:26-27)

Besides the literal account of the Red Sea dividing, this miraculous event also teaches the inner reality of man and his ascension in connecting with God.  Nephi cites the parting of the red sea and the deliverance from the armies of Pharoah not only to draw the minds of his brothers to faith and trust in the God of Israel, but also to teach us that submission and obedience to God is the way of to ascend the center pillar or pathway to God. The dividing of the waters “hither and thither” represent the right and left hand pillars of the tree of life.  The dry ground represents the center pillar, pillar of balance or mildness, or the pathway in a strait and narrow course back into the presence of God.  Moses and the children of Israel represent the spiritual children of God who can ascend up the center pillar into the presence of God.  The Pharaoh and his armies represent those natural, carnal, or egotistical people who attempt to ascend only to drown in the great deep or waters of the Red Sea.  The sea or deep symbolizes the waters of power (Gevurah) that only part for those whose desires are purified-those who are ready to separate themselves from the natural man who is self-interested, self-willed, and lawless.  The miracle of separation only occurs through faith (trusting-loyalty) to God as we are ready to go beyond the reason of our five senses.

“And ye also know that they were fed with manna in the wilderness. Yea, and ye also know that Moses, by his word according to the power of God which was in him, smote the rock, and there came forth water, that the children of Israel might quench their thirst. And notwithstanding they being led, the Lord their God, their Redeemer, going before them, leading them by day and giving light unto them by night, and doing all things for them which were expedient for man to receive, they hardened their hearts and blinded their minds, and reviled against Moses and against the true and living God.” (1 Nephi 17:28-30)

As the children of Israel were corrected in the wilderness they were fed manna (mahn). Manna or the bread of heaven and symbolized our desire for oneness with God in love and receiving to bestow.  Manna represents the connection of Binah (Understanding) with the earthly (Malkhut) wherein our desires become purified to reflect the Love of God and Love for our fellow man-receiving to bestow.  Moses speaking to the rock by his word to bring forth water is a symbol for the means by which the life, desire to bestow, and the mercy of God comes forth. 

Nephi’s evokes the image of God leading them by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night demonstrates the manner in which ascension occurs.  Some things being concealed (the cloud) while other things being revealed (the pillar of fire).  The outcome of God’s actions (both things concealed and things revealed) leading those in the wilderness to the Land of Promise or Throne of God that exists beyond the barrier or veil.  In their journey toward the Land of Promise God reveals that in everything he does his desire is for us to receive.  The desire to receive to covet represents the hard heart even as the blindness of minds represents the inability to exercise faith beyond the reason of the five senses. Moses represents the man who is corrected and connect to the livng God.  Their reviling against Moses representing the refusal to correct and their inability to ascend into the presence of God.

“And it came to pass that according to his word he did destroy them; and according to his word he did lead them; and according to his word he did do all things for them; and there was not any thing done save it were by his word.” (1 Nephi 17:31)

The Children of Israel being “led” by the Lord their God, their Redeemer is paralled with being led according to his Word.  The Word is the Son of God and they were literally led by him and all things from traveling through the wilderness to the promised land were accomplished through the word of God or his Son.  On a deeper level of meaning, this being led by the word represents the correction of the individual represented by coming into oneness with the Mystery of the Son, the mystery of the Only Begotton or Chosen Son, or Zier Anpin (little face-of God) as represented by the following:

Zeir Anpin or as sometimes called, the Mystery of the Son or the Messiah. Not only does it represent the Messiah but also represents those after his holy order who have corrected themselves to the degree where they have balanced the attributes of justice and mercy, glory and endurance, etc. This balancing is represented by oneness with God or a merging of the left pillar and right pillar into the center pillar of mildness or balance. The six sephirot represented by the Son of God represent a fusion of the attributes of God into a new creation.  Like a woman who receives the seed of a man to bring forth a new child, a man or woman (as earth symbolized by Malkhut) receives the mystery of Son, the seed of the Word, and creates a new entity.  Using the analogy of a kingdom, the people of the kingdom accept the King as sovereign and in return he provides for all their needs.  This fusion of the sephirot/emanations/attributes is represented by the star of David which is a symbol not only for the seed of God but the oneness of God:

GEVURAH- The Matchless Power of God

From 1 Nephi verse 29 through verse 55, Nephi continues to admonish his brothers by reminding them of the great power that God demonstrated in their deliverance as well as contrasting God’s long suffering or endurance.  Here Nephi giving teaching regarding the sephira or attribute of God’s Power (Gevurah) and the sephira or attribute of Mercy (Chesed).  These two attributes being balanced by the “Word” or the Word of God even the Son:

“And it came to pass that according to his word he did destroy them; and according to his word he did lead them; and according to his word he did do all things for them; and there was not any thing done save it were by his word.” (1 Nehi 17:31)

On the one hand God demonstrates his attribute of Power (Gevurah) and on the other hand he demonstrates the attribute of long suffering (Netzach):

“And after they had crossed the river Jordan he did make them mighty unto the driving out of the children of the land, yea, unto the scattering them to destruction. And now, do ye suppose that the children of this land, who were in the land of promise, who were driven out by our fathers, do ye suppose that they were righteous? Behold, I say unto you, Nay.
Do ye suppose that our fathers would have been more choice than they if they had been righteous? I say unto you, Nay.

Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.” (1 Nephi 17:32-35)

According to his Power, God drove out the inhabitants of the Land of Israel to destruction because of iniquity or lawlessness.  According to the Mercy of God (Chesed) he demonstrates his blessing upon the Fathers.  This passage is a key to the righteous manifestation of God’s Power – either to blessing or cursing.  It is a key to mystery of the power of Godliness being made manifest unto the children of men in the flesh.  Those who follow the path of the Holy Order of the Son of God accomplish all things according to his will.  In doing so they seek to balance the attributes of Power and Long Suffering just as Christ demonstrated this balance of these attributes.  Doing all things according to his “Word” is a Hebrew play on “words” meaning according to the commandments of God (Torah) and in the manner demonstrated by the Son (Sermon on the Mount) in order to bring oneness.

This important teaching is why so many fail to manifest the Power of God.  The natural man resorts to his own authority and office to both bless and curse while the spiritual child of God seeks only to manifest the power of God to bring about a condition of oneness through blessing or destruction through cursing when the fullness of iniquity is reached.  It is never done to exert unrighteous dominion over someone or something only to bring about oneness.  At times bring about oneness with God involves blessing and at other times it involves setting them apart to destruction or cursing. The deciding factor the lawlessness of the people. This teaching on the manifestation of God’s Power and Long Suffering either to blessing or cursing was also discussed by the Fathers:

“For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power (gevurah), by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world. And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.” (JST Genesis 14:30-32)
In verses 36 through 40 Nephi continues to draw this contrast between the Power of God and the Long Suffering of God.  Like Christ who stated, “If you love me keep my commandments.” Nephi explains that the balancing and demonstration of God’s Power and Long Suffering involve loving God:

“And he loveth those who will have him to be their God. Behold, he loved our fathers, and he covenanted with them, yea, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and he remembered the covenants which he had made; wherefore, he did bring them out of the land of Egypt.” (1 Nephi 17:40)

God’s attributes of Power and Mercy enable him to bless and curse in order to bring at-one-ment or a state of oneness with him, “And he did straiten them in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity. He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished. And they did harden their hearts from time to time, and they did revile against Moses, and also against God; nevertheless, ye know that they were led forth by his matchless power into the land of promise” (1 Nephi17:41-42)

The strait path is the path of discipline even as the rod is a symbol for the delivering power or enabling power of God during our correction.  The path of correction is not about the correction of outward acts but of the correction or purification of the desires of our hearts.  The easiness of the way is not through sheer force of will or stubbornness of heart also called hard heartedness, but through humility and submission to recognize the easiness of the way. The serpent follows the path of ascension up the center pillar or strait path back into the presence of God as depicted below:


When Nephi’s brothers had been rebuked the anger and pride of the natural man had been kindled and as a result the natural man who is governed by these forces seeks to destroy not only the message but the messenger as well.  Their response was to throw their brother into the depths of the sea, but Nephi having been filled with the Power of God demonstrates an ancient mystery of the Flaming Sword or Lightning bolt of God. 

“Behold, my soul is rent with anguish because of you, and my heart is pained; I fear lest ye shall be cast off forever. Behold, I am full of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame has no strength. And now it came to pass that when I had spoken these words they were angry with me, and were desirous to throw me into the depths of the sea; and as they came forth to lay their hands upon me I spake unto them, saying: In the name of the Almighty God, I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh; and whoso shall lay his hands upon me shall wither even as a dried reed; and he shall be as naught before the power of God, for God shall smite him.” (1 Nephi 17:47-48)

Throughout the scriptures trees are used as symbols for men and women. Trees can serve as natural lightning rods and the same goes for both men and women.  Lightning or electricity can be both creative or destructive.  By plugging a lamp into an electrical socket the vessel produces light.  A man, woman, or child who sticks their finger in a plug however may get a hair raising and destructive effect.  The same force can be both creative or destructive depending on the conduit.  The flow of the spirit of God or lightning comes from the Throne of Heaven to earth as shown below.  It flows from Kether (The Crown) to Chokmah (Wisdom), to Binah (Understanding), to Chesed (Mercy), to Gevurah (Power), through Tipharet (Beauty) to Netzach (Long Suffering) to Hod (Glory), to Yesod (Foundation), to Malkchut (Earth or Kingdom).  Just as we see lighting descend from Heaven to the Earth during a thunderstorm, the spirit of God flows and is manifest here on the earth.  The spirit of God through Nephi represents a corrected conduit through which the spirit of God can flow to either bless or curse.   Should the lightning of the spirit of God go through Laman and Lemuel (the natural man) who are not prepared it would cause them to wither and be destroyed.

So great was the power of God like a lightning bolt that it caused Nephi’s body to quake.  As he reached forth his hand according to the command of God his brother’s received the shock of their life:

“And it came to pass that the Lord said unto me: Stretch forth thine hand again unto thy brethren, and they shall not wither before thee, but I will shock them, saith the Lord, and this will I do, that they may know that I am the Lord their God.

And it came to pass that I stretched forth my hand unto my brethren, and they did not wither before me; but the Lord did shake them, even according to the word which he had spoken. And now, they said: We know of a surety that the Lord is with thee, for we know that it is the power of the Lord that has shaken us. And they fell down before me, and were about to worship me, but I would not suffer them, saying: I am thy brother, yea, even thy younger brother; wherefore, worship the Lord thy God, and honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God shall give thee.” (1 Nephi 17:53-55)

Article Copyright Sept 3, 2019- Robert Kay

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