Saturday, November 12, 2011
The Iron Rod
The iron rod. So why iron? Why not steel, or gold, or any of the other more attractive elements?
Lehi's dream, which Nephi also gets a vision of, is where we find the well known iron rod. The iron rod, which represents the Word of God (Christ), is how we get through the mists of darkness.
Iron as we all know is notorious for corroding. It gets rusty when in the presence of air and water. And it's heavy. What an interesting choice of elements. Why iron? Could have been steel, brass, copper, gold....the folks back then knew of all these elements. Iron as used in the scriptures is often in reference to it's strength or fortitude. Interesting connections. Is not God's word notorious for becoming corroded by our fallen sphere? The truth corrodes if we do not preserve it, take care of it, and keep it pure. Although it may not be shiny and pretty all the time, and it may not always be smooth to the touch, none the less Lehi informs us this element is what describes the rod, and the way through the mists of darkness.
Iron is also not a "precious" metal. It's not desired by the world for gain. So this idea of an iron rod also communicates a rod that will not necessarily be attractive and desired by the world. But the humble will not care, they will hold on to it for very different reasons.
The mists of darkness from Lehi's dream forced people to keep their hand(s) upon the Iron Rod. The mists of darkness are in a way gate keepers which say, “Nobody shall come to the tree from any other way than by the Word of God.” You don't just stumble onto the scene, or receive the blessings through someone else's experiences. Nobody crashes the party at the tree of life. Outsiders may stand and mock, but they are locked out by their own refusal to do and follow the instructions to get there, (or remain there as the case may be). As a side note, it's interesting to me that Lehi see's the iron rod, yet himself never touched it.
No one crashes the party at the tree of life. haha. I have to credit John Pontius who was the first person to use that phrase that I know of.
So if we substitute something else for the word of God, and then hold fast to it, can we hope to end up at the tree of life?? That would be as if we got deceived on the directions to get to the source. Or have just made a foolish choice to find some other party to go to.
So it sounds to me like it's dangerous to replace the word of God, especially the Book of Mormon with something more convenient, more shiny, or something that only says positive things about us, or heaven forbid some replacement mingled with the philosophies of man claiming to be the truth. Those "rods of iron" don't lead to the same place as the one in Nephi's vision.
Certainly we shouldn't replace this powerful rod with something which has no power to save. The word of God has eternal power. Man's words don't, unless of course they are approved by or come from Heaven. So trusting in a man's words isn't the iron rod. "Approved by heaven" isn't the same as being approved by the correlation committee. The difference is incredible. Committee's historically are not a trustworthy alternate and are a poor substitute for God's direct word. We need to distinguish between committee's approval, and heavens approval.
There are many substitutes that suppress the actual voice of God in our lives. I'm thinking of a few right now. There are so many. So many "great", admired, and respectable things to cling to and gaze on. There is so much we can "hold fast to" that simply is not the Iron Rod.
Alternate rods include incorrect or incomplete beliefs. Which could be termed "unbelief". Perhaps it's that we don’t believe that the Still Small Voice is real. Perhaps we don't believe it comes from God, and actually is the pathway to the sacred and eternal. We may believe it's figments of a deranged mind. It could also be that we hear it, but don’t “believe” we are obligated to obey. Or have expended effort to ignore the promptings long enough that now doing so is a habit.
It could also show up as a mindset that “Revelation only happens to important people, people with high up callings, for important things, and the rest us have to use our own intellect, and then pray for God’s confirmation to go ahead with what we were planning to do anyway.” Our prayers down that path are more like “Please bless me to make my own plans work”" Other alternate iron rods are words from men.
I'm writing this from a place like that of anyone else. Which is guilty of many many errors and incorrect/incomplete beliefs. But I write as part of my ongoing effort to repent from the errant ways. And having glimpsed the truth, now I can't help but reach upwards further.