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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Alignment, Part 6 of 6: When One Becomes the Compass and the Square

This miniseries has six parts:
  • Part 1: Face To Dirt - Align yourself to God by laying hold of the word of God. The doctrine of approaching God in profound humility. 
  • Part 2: Hands to Heaven - The doctrine of praying with upraised hands, displaying clean hands and a pure heart.
  • Part 3: Penetrate the Veil - How do we best approach God? The scriptures indicate that we kneel, meditate, descend (physically, emotionally and psychologically) and display upraised hands. This may have been the sequence of steps - as detailed in the scriptures and historical accounts - which ordinary people, just like you, took to approach God.
  • Part 4: Dialogue with God - Approach God in silence, prepared to do a lot of listening and with an expectation of receiving an answer. Address God using a little-known pattern found in the scriptures. Ask Him for forgiveness, light and knowledge, opportunities to help others and insights about yourself. Offer yourself as a living sacrifice to Him, and weary Him until He blesses you.
  • Part 5: See the Light - Recognize the blessings, the "love notes", that God spreads forth abundantly in your daily life. Express your gratitude to Him and others, and let the light that comes from that expression grow and emanate to affect others. As you do so, you will be like Him in a way. And you will be on the path to the perfect day, when you will see Him as He is.
  • Part 6: When One Becomes the Compass and the Square - Where a literal pattern emerges, combining the concepts explained in the previous five segments. It is a pattern which, when approached in solemnity, deepens man's relationship with God and leads to an outpouring of "more and more light until there is finally power to pierce the heavenly veil and to know more than man knows." 

The Literal Pattern of Aligning with God


The scriptures may indicate a three-phase pattern:

First, the individual approached God in the humblest of postures. They knelt, meditated, then descended with their face to the dirt.
 

Secondly, they beseeched God by raising their hands to heaven. We see in Facsimile No. 2, Figure 7 - as well as an image from the church's archives of a sacrament meeting in Ephraim, Utah's tabernacle in the early 1870s - that arms were upraised at opposing 90-degree angles (like this:  |_o_|   ). While in this posture, they addressed God using wording found in Psalms. They asked for forgiveness, light and knowledge and more. They submitted themselves as a living sacrifice to God and covenanted to do His will.

Thirdly, they returned to their initial posture of humility in thanking God for His goodness and mercy.

When combined in a graphical representation, their worship displayed the following chiastic pattern.
 

As you can see, they started "down," then went "up," then back down again. Diagrammed, this creates an "upward" pointing triangle, or compass point, in the middle (see 1 Nephi 18; Alma 37:43-44). At the apex of this sequence, the individual approached God with their arms and hands in a posture resembling a carpenter's square, as mentioned above.

They became the compass and the square - the very symbols which:

Are found in the Book of Abraham, Facsimile 2 Figure 7.
Are viewed as the instruments marking out both the pattern of the universe and the foundations of the earth. (Hugh Nibley, "On The Sacred and the Symbolic," in "Temples of the Ancient World," edited by Donald W. Parry, p. 379, http://fc.byu.edu/jpages/faithintellect/nibley/30_Sacred_1.pdf; Nibley, "Early Christian Prayer Circle," in Mormonism and Early Christianity, CWHN 4:73-74; http://www.jefflindsay.com/lds/temple-blindness). Image is from the exterior of the (former) Endowment House in Spring City, UT, constructed in 1876;  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2006/12/mormon-symbols).

Prof. Hugh Nibley described as having been found on Egyptian the garments of ancient Egyptian mummies and a veil from an ancient Taoist-Buddhist tombs in Central Asia (which included the Chinese phrase, "kuei chu," meaning, "the way things should be, the moral standard") (http://publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1123&index=6; http://www.templestudy.com/2008/09/17/nuwa-and-fuxi-in-chinese-mythology-compass-square; www.elarsen.net/lessons/Compass%20Square%20and%20Circle.docx).
Are included in the original architect's sketch of a proposed Nauvoo temple weathervane, circa 1846. In this image, the angel is dressed in special temple clothes and carries a trumpet and open book (rendering probably by William Weeks).

Were worn (as a pin) by Brigham Young (David John Buerger, "The Mysteries of Godliness", p. 131; click image for larger size).


Going Beyond the Compass and the Square


I believe that the above pattern is a natural, outward manifestation of several inner commitments: that the person wishes to overcome their self-recognized sinful and fallen state, have faith in to God and His will, and that they are ready and willing to receive further light and knowledge from God.

In this sense, those who approached God recognized one profound fact: Prayer is not just something you do. Prayer is not just something you say. Prayer - true communion with God -- is something you enter into.
"Let us therefore come [Greek: προσέρχομαι, to come to, approach, draw near to] boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near [Greek: προσέρχομαι] with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:19-22)
The ancient Hebrews understood this concept well. When they approached the tent of God, they saw a veil. Later on, in the temple, it became doors. As they proceeded deeper and deeper into the temple, they entered into the holy place, then the Most Holy of Holies, where God communed with his people.
"When you went in to the holy place, if you would look to your left, you would see the great seven-branch Menorah that burned in the darkness. You could only see it when you went inside, and nobody saw it but the priests (except those who had the honor of entering in). What does that mean? When you get deep into the presence of God, you will be given light. You will be given something that will lighten you up. When you get into the presence of God, it lights you up. It puts something there inside of you so that no matter what happens to you on the outside, it's still shining. You could be at your worst moment in the world, yet if you're spending your time with God, there's going to be a light down there. And the more time you spend in God's presence, the more that light shines. No matter what's happening to you physically or emotionally, you have a light that shines in the darkness that always gives hope and strength. 
Your time with God is something you enter into. If you're really going to experience God's blessings in your life, you need to enter in. You don't just do it. You get into it. You go inside of it. 
It means prayer is immersive. And when you get in, you don't see anything but God.
In order to be in God's presence, where would you have to go ultimately? You would have to go to the Holy of Holies - the deepest part, the inner sanctum of the tent. What does that tell you? That in order to get the greatest blessings from God, you need to get deeper in God. God wants depth. Thus, the more you focus on physical things, the things of this world, the more shallow you become. 
The more you get into the presence of God, the deeper your walk becomes, deeper your faith becomes, deeper your strength becomes. 
Look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. With all the experiences she had, we read that she treasured all these things in her heart. She was deep, because she had God. She was deep with God. And her closeness with God intersected with the things you couldn't see with your eyes. But that's what makes you deep. It was her - and is now your - antidote to what's happening on the outside." (Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, "The Tent of Heaven," https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgnaBzSYozE).

Conclusion


I am now concluding this mini-series how to align yourself to God, and to experience Him in a truly personal, intimate way. Although this is not intended to be, nor is it, a complete recitation of all that's required to do so -- nor is it a customized, personalized set of insights for just you -- it is a summary of what I've found to be a journey which can take one to the deepest of depths and the highest of heights.

Words cannot describe how deeply both Jesus Christ and His Glorious Father wish to be part of your life. They reach out to you in dozens, perhaps hundreds, of ways everyday - to share beauties and mysteries you gloss over in your life, to share laughter at funny things, and to weep with you when you are sad.
"Christianity is all about having a personal, interactive, dynamic relationship with a real, caring, loving, and personal God who is actually interested the things you worry about, your fears, pain, the problems you face, the things that fill you with joy, your successes as well as your failures." (Ansel Elliott, http://www.anselelliott.com/#!the-greatest-adventure/c1lzb)
The Eternal Father is anxious to have you share from His immense reservoir of truth all that you need, to have intelligent perception.

Jesus Christ far prefers a dialogue -- reasoning together (Isaiah 1:18; D&C 50:10) and bestowing communion over interacting with you just having a listening ear.

This journey is not easy. Satan will seek to overthrow and thwart you. He will tell you that the promises of the scriptures concerning the power of mighty faith are beyond the possibilities of belief, and that they can never be realized.

This is not so. It IS possible. Those who truly walk with the Lord cannot either be overthrown or thwarted. Try Him and see how greatly He will aid you. In fact, I highly suspect that even more is possible for those of mighty faith than has yet been disclosed.
"I have learned that where there is a prayerful heart, a hungering after righteousness, a forsaking of sins, and obedience to the commandments of God, the Lord pours out more and more light until there is finally power to pierce the heavenly veil and to know more than man knows. A person of such righteousness has the priceless promise that one day he shall see the Lord’s face and know that he is (see D&C 93:1)" (Spencer W. Kimball, "Give the Lord Your Loyalty," Ensign, March 1980, p. 4)
Yet both Father and Jesus Christ are immeasurably meek (D&C 121:41). They will not ask to be part of your life, nor beckon for your attention. You must ask for it. And, true to their word, when you ask, they will respond, in their own ways and own times.

Blessed are all such as shall draw close to the Lord in lowliness of heart, in great love, sacrificially, and in great faith.  Such will be pillars of strength and instruments of power in His hands.

If you are filled with a Godly concern, if you become of great faith, if you will call on Him in mighty prayer, if you will prepare yourself, if you will go apart into the quietness of the woods or hills or desert places -- into places where you can listen for the still small voice -- He shall wondrously show you what lies ahead. He will show it to the spiritually awake among us, be they aged or young.

And in typical, God-like fashion, the answer to your knocks on the holy doors of heaven will likely and eventually surpass anything that has ever entered into your heart and mind.

I invite you to read, and re-read, the posts in this mini-series - Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. "Look to God and live" in a way you never knew you could. Experience Jesus Christ and Our Father in a way few ever have.

This is MY invitation to you, and it is MY testimony, which I bear to you independent of any living creature, past or present, pronounced in the name of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing all of these! I have been lead to ponder and meditate on all of the things you have written in these articles.

    On a side note, I wonder if these concepts have anything to do with what happened to the Brother of Jared in Ether 2:14-15.

    ReplyDelete