Sunday, May 6, 2012

More than one meaning




I've always been interested in things that have hidden meaning.  Meaning that you don't notice upon first glance.

The scriptures I think are one of the best places for it.  Passages I think are intentionally written and given in such a way so as to have many layers of meaning.  Sometimes people only want or think of one meaning, or a traditional meaning, and then give it no further thought.  To me that's one quick way to make the scriptures boring.  The alternative for me, has been enjoyable.  

Here is one that has many meanings and which I found interesting.

Mosiah 4:1
"And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them."

King Benjamin has spoken with "the Angel of the Lord".  He doesn't tell us who it is, but instead uses the the hidden meaning phrase "Angel of the Lord".  There is no hesitation about telling the audience this was a special message.  It did not originate with King Benjamin, he makes that clear.  It was not sentiment, or inspirational stories or good principles.  This was an actual Angelic being delivering a message.  This is the kind of thing you'd expect a prophet to speak of.  King Benjamin was not just someone in a high position, he communed with Angels.  It's right there in plain English for believer, member, non member and non believer alike to read.  It's an open claim to have a message from an Angel and it is not clouded in vague words, or implied meaning trying to be politically correct. 

But that's not the part I wanted to talk about.  The part that I wanted to write about was:
"and behold they had fallen to the earth"    

First glance you might imagine a group of people kneeling or otherwise having suddenly become positioned on the ground.  But can it mean anything else?  I think it does.

"Fallen to the earth".  That reminds me of Adam and Eve and the fall of mankind.  The Fall did in fact occur.  We fell three degrees from where God resides and now find ourselves on the earth, in a fallen telestial state.  This is the story of all of us.

When the message from the Angel prompts these people to "fall to the earth" it's almost as if, in that moment, they realized a truth which previously existed, but which had not dawned on them as yet.  The physical act of falling to the ground perhaps mirroring another kind of "fall" to the earth.  Thanks to the God sent message, it woke them up to the reality of their situation.  They perhaps realized that all the talk about the "natural man" from the sermon was about them.  It clicked.  They came into possession of a true message which helped them appreciate their true "fallen" state.  The purity of the Word of God could be compared to the impurity of the natural man world.  That understanding or appreciation would well identify the fall, and the immediate need to seek forgiveness, purity, mercy, and the Son of God.  The people had both fallen to the earth, and fell to the earth, both literal meanings.  The one mirroring the other.       

The next verse seems to suggest this line of thinking is correct:  "And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created  heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men."

I wonder who they were talking to when they cried aloud with one voice?  Was it to King Benjamin?  Does a man have power to grant what they cried for?   

They all cried?  With one voice?  "One voice" could mean they all spoke the exact same words and syllables .....  It could also mean they were unified and "it was given them what they should say".  Reminds us of the Temple.  The meaning being they were unified in their Spirit guided desire regardless of which air vibrations their vocal chords may have created to express it.  More of a heart unity thing, than a vocal chord uniformity thing.  

The next verse says The Spirit of The Lord came in response to their petition.  That, for  me, answers to whom they were addressing the petition.  It was not to King Benjamin the mouthpiece, it was to God, the source and power behind the truth of the message. 

Joseph Smith's experiences, and angelic ministers mirrors this pattern of receiving a message and experiencing it's immediate effect on him.  As this message did for the people listening to King Benjamin.   Restored ceremonies depict angels conversing with man and giving them sacred knowledge which is necessary for them to be able to walk back to the presence of God.  We see this in both scripture, ceremony, and the history of Joseph.  But you have to look at it that way or you miss the layers.

As a side note it seems important to be open to the possibility of God offering such things in your life, otherwise all of this just looks like some historical record of some random people who's experience sounds interesting but has no real connection to you or I.  The fullness of the Gospel isn't just watching General Conference every 6 months.  It needs to connect you directly to heaven.   So the conclusion of all these meaningful scriptures seems to suggest YOU need to get an authentic message from God.  The Book of Mormon claims to be one.  I have not always viewed it that way, nor read it with that in mind.  But it makes a big difference when I do.       

A semi true message or to be 99% isn't any good if the rest is misleading.  We can have confidence in the Book of Mormon.  Only faith in an authentic message will produce the outcome God intended.  I think faith exists among the Latter Day Saints, and I think many are hungry to hear such things and be a part of authentic spiritual experiences like this one with King Benjamin and his people.  I would go so far as to say some are starving.  Good historical morals and principles are great, but again, faith in them can only go so far.  A true and authentic message from the Lord can create a lasting connection and unspeakable outcomes.....  It fills the soul.  The other, or watered down correlated messages seems to leave people malnourished.            

Food for thought.  A true message can have an immediate effect. 

Side-note:  At first glance the photo at the beginning of this post looks like 5 geese.... but there are actually 7.  You miss it unless you looked closely. 

(Photo of the geese taken by David Christenson and used here with his permission)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your message. I agree that there is a hunger for the word of God. In the scriptures I think one key is to read and reread passages without preconception. Sometimes new insights will open up.

    Missed the number of fowl. Thanks, Steve

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