Two nights ago, I had the opportunity to stay up until 2AM and watch the first of four “blood moons” that will occur over this next year (April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015; and September 28, 2015). It was truly incredible and well worth the lost sleep. I remember as a child, seeing a bright red moon that appeared as a result of some local fires. I literally went home from a church activity that evening in tears thinking it was the end of the world – as I remembered the scriptures that speak of this particular sign:
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;” (Revelation 6:12)
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:” (Acts 2:20)
Thirty-or-so years later, watching the blood moon eclipse brought disconcerting feelings about the coming calamities, judgment, and cleansing, but also a feeling of awe and excitement as I reflected on the next scripture in acts:
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21)
I believe the blood moons we will witness over this next year are among the signs spoken of in the scriptures above warning and announcing these last days before the return of our Savior. There will be other signs as well, and we will recognize them if we are paying attention. Denver Snuffer has talked a bit about signs and has admonished us to start paying attention to the heavens. In his Idaho Falls lecture, he says this:
“This is not, they shall all know about Me. This is they shall all know Me. And it will no longer be necessary for anyone to say know the Lord, because you shall know Him. It’s not knowledge concerning Him, it’s Him. And those that know Him shall be: “from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” That’s who He is. That is what He does. He doesn’t want to remember your sin. He would rather prefer it if you don’t remember your sin. Because if you don’t remember your sin and you go on in a positive way, having laid down the burden that He so willingly will accept from you, and remove from you that burden of guilt, then you can go on and become healthy again. You needn’t be troubled about all of those things that have bogged you down. He wants to remove that. He wants to carry them. “I will remember their sin no more. Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever.” (Jeremiah 31:35-36.)
If you look up in the morning sky, right now you can see Orion on the Eastern horizon. That’s been true, twice a year, since the beginning. It’s been true that all of the ordinances ordained by God in the heavens have remained true from the day that He set them there until today. They are so well-established, they are so regular, they are so permanent, and they are so far beyond the ability of man to touch, alter, or destroy, that the only way to have an apostasy from those ordinances, from our perspective, is for you to forget what knowledge is there written in the heavens. But the Lord wrote it there. It remains there. Knowledge about it is still part of what is to be restored.
Well, the definition of salvation or life eternal given in John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” This is the knowledge of the Lord that he’s talking about here. This is the day that Jeremiah prophesies. No one needs to say know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least until the greatest. This is what the Gospel was intended to restore, offer, promise, suggest to each one of us.
The ordinances in the heavens are referred to in Genesis 1:14: “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.” [He sets this up in order to communicate things. If you go back to the book of Abraham 4:14:] “And the Gods organized the lights in the expanse of the heaven, and caused them to divide the day from the night; and organized them to be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years; And organized them to be for lights in the expanse of the heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so. And the Gods organized the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; with the lesser light they set the stars also; And the Gods set them in the expanse of the heavens, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to cause to divide the light from the darkness. And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed. And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that it was night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that it was day; and it was the fourth time.”
This is not a bunch of gratuitous language. This is describing something that took place with absolutely deliberate intent. Everything that is written in scripture and all of the ordinances that were ordained upon the earth and in the heavens were reckoned from the position of the earth. It’s not that the ancients were ignorant of what is going on in the heavens. Instead they viewed the heavens as being a testimony given to us on the earth. It is geocentric, that is, viewed only from the surface of the earth that allows you to see this testimony which has been written. From the surface of the earth, the sun occupies a space – even though the sun is over 100 times larger than the earth – in the firmament that is exactly the same as the space in the firmament that is occupied by the moon, although the moon is 1/6 the size of the earth. From the surface of the earth they are identical in size. So much so, that when you put them on the ecliptic as they are located, one can block out the other entirely in an eclipse. All of these things were ordained by God to testify in the heavens and about Him and about His work. Those things are bearing testimony, and they are telling you something. And who knows if we will ever get to restoring that part of the Gospel. But they are designed to be understood.” (Denver Snuffer, Idaho Falls Lecture, Lectures on Faith, emphasis added.)
One word that sticks out here is “ORDINANCES”. I think the significance of this warrants some understanding of the word itself. Sometimes the Lord uses funny things to teach me. He used one of my favorite movies of all time, to teach me and remind me of the reason we have ordinances:
As Mr. Miagai says, “Not everything is as [it] seems…” What an incredibly brilliant teacher. Watching this clip makes me tear up – as it feels so familiar and reminds me of many moments when I have been taught and realized that these moments I thought utterly sucked, were teaching me great and amazing things.
The Savior taught in parables. He did this because not only were the stories easy to remember, but different layers of symbolism could be seen and understood by those with the ability to recognize and understand those deeper meanings by the spirit. On the flip side, those who did not know HIS voice, heard only a story and the sacred meanings were not defiled by repeating the stories among those who were blinded to the truth.
Ordinances are similar to the Lord’s parables. We go through these words and actions and symbols to teach us deep meanings. To the ignorant onlooker, it may appear as some silly, meaningless song and dance. The newb may understand that doing the symbol IS the deep meaning. But those with eyes to see and ears to hear will come to know what the symbols actually represent – and how they teach us what God truly wants us to know.
Daniel thought that Mr. Miaggi was just using him for free labor and micromanaging his chores. But in reality, he was teaching Daniel the physical actions that would help him know and begin to understand the disciplined art he was REALLY trying to help Daniel learn.
When we go through the temple endowment sessions, we act out various motions and scenarios – switching clothing, exchanging hand signals and words, etc. When we are baptized, we wear white clothing and are physically immersed in water. Those actions in and of themselves don’t accomplish or mean anything in the eternal scheme of things. However, they are all symbolic physical activities representative of what we are supposed to be doing spiritually – and directly with God and the Savior! (How many of us are still just sanding the floor and painting the fence?)
Denver uses the word “ordinance” over and over in his quote above, and what it SEEMS to say, is very significant to me. Clearly EVERY movement of the bodies in heaven are by design and show something different from different points of view. For example, we would not see exactly the same movement as we observe a heavenly body standing on the sun, as we would see from the Earth.
These messages were orchestrated for us and as Denver says, they are bearing testimony and telling us something – which is EXACTLY what the ordinances DO. They teach us, they bear testimony of truth, and they point to something. So IF – as Denver says and the scriptures imply, the heavenly bodies are performing ordinances, what IS it they are SAYING? What is Venus saying, for example, as she creates the intricate floral pattern depicted here with her rotation through the sky every 8 years? (More information on this here: http://www.skyscript.co.uk/venusrose.html)
Back to the word “ORDINANCES”; men are given authority from God to perform ordinances here on earth in order to teach the things He wants us to learn while in this flesh. We can literally learn about the power of godliness if we come to understand what the ordinances are actually teaching us:
“Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;” (D&C 84:20-21)
We are spirit beings housed inside bodies on this earth, but our spirit is the entity that is growing and progressing within this temporary clay tabernacle. So it is spiritually that we are given the authority to perform ordinances to teach the spiritual things of God.
We also know that the earth has a spirit – a literal spirit – meaning it is a spiritual being in a state of progression housed in a temporary tabernacle. Hugh Nibley writes:
“One old writing with unusually good credentials that trace back to books deposited by the apostles in the first Church archives in Jerusalem is the Coptic “Discourse of the Abbaton, a sermon based on the text delivered by Timothy the Archbishop of Alexandria.” 304
The book belongs to the forty-day literature; and as it opens, the Lord on his last day on earth with the apostles just before his ascension asks them if there is any final request they would like to make of him—exactly as in Third Nephi 28:1. [3 Ne. 28:1] What they want most is to understand the role of Death and its horrors in God’s plan for his children. 305 To explain this the Lord tells them of the council in heaven in the preexistence where the plan of the creation is being discussed. There was great reluctance among the hosts to proceed with the creation of the earth, the earth itself complaining, exactly in the manner of Moses 7:48, of the filthiness and corruption that would surely go out of her and begging to be allowed to rest from such horrors. (Fol. 10a–b.) Because of the council’s reluctance to proceed, God allows the lifeless body of Adam to lie upon the earth for forty days, unwilling, without the council’s approval, to let his spirit enter. (11b.) The Son of God saves the day by offering to pay the price for whatever suffering will be entailed, thus permitting “God’s children to return again to their former condition.” (12a.) Christ alone thus becomes the author of our earthly existence; amid joy and rejoicing God calls for a book, in which he registers the names of all the “Sons of God” who are to go to earth. (See Gen. 5:1 ff, Fol. 12b.) This of course is the heavenly book of the generations of Adam open at the foundation of the earth, the book to which Enoch refers so explicitly in Moses 6:46, 8.” (Hugh Nibley, A Strange Thing in the Land: The Return of the Book of Enoch, Part 8, emphasis added.)
The earth COMPLAINED, and ultimately conceded. In other words, she said:
“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
This leads my mind to a few other things (bear with me while I attempt to tie my thoughts together here…)
The rungs of progression on Jacob’s Ladder come to mind next – one of which is the level of a cherubim (see Denver Snuffer’s Orem Lecture on Priesthood – specifically pg. 10-12 for further information on the rungs of Jacob’s Ladder). A friend of mine initially suggested that cherubim and the flaming sword may be relevant here – and as I’ve pondered on it, it seems to fit. If you read these scriptures and can recognize the higher level of symbolism, you’ll see what I mean:
“So I drove out the man, and I placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Moses 4:31, emphasis added.)
“Now behold, my son, I will explain this thing unto thee. For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken—yea, he drew out the man, and he placed at the east end of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the tree of life—”
(Alma 42:2, emphasis added.)
Our assumption (at least mine always was before), is typically that an angel (in the form of a personage) stood by the tree in the garden with a sword emitting flames – just like artistic renditions depict. But the first error in that thought is that the word cherubim is plural – meaning there would have been multiple cherubs keeping the way of the tree of life. What if the scriptures are referring to bodies in the heavens and showing us something on a much bigger scale?
If the heavenly bodies actually contain spirits as our Mother Earth does, could the cherubim placed to guard THE WAY of the tree of life – be referring to spiritual beings in a celestial level of progression (cherubim), occupying planetary bodies as part of that level of progression? Could these scriptures be referring to the moon and the other planets in our solar system?
We know that the heavens have been changed since the life cycle of this Earth began, and we know that when “the fall” occurred, the heavens changed at that point. Our sun was not the sun we see today, and the planets were not in the same configuration – nor did they have the same relationship to our earth that they have today. (Anthony Larsen does an incredible job of expounding upon the history of the Earth, the solar system, and our Milky Way. His website can be found here: http://www.mormonprophecy.com/) Could the earth have been moved into this position at the time of the fall in order to remove it from the presence of the Father (being cast out into the “lone and dreary world”, or the telestial sphere)? And could the other planetary bodies in our solar system have been organized in a manner that keeps the earth within this orbit and guards the way to the tree of life?
And what about the flaming sword which turns EVERY WAY as those scriptures state? If it were turning every way, would it not create a sphere of flame (as the flame of a seraph occupying the highest rung of Jacob’s Ladder), like our own sun? Could the things Denver discusses above about the sun and the moon and their relationship to the Earth and the things the heavens are teaching us, be alluding to this?
If ORDINANCES are being performed by the bodies in heaven, wouldn’t it require them to have spirits which are ordained and given authority by God – in order to perform those ordinances? Wouldn’t they need to be at level of progression that would enable them to instruct and teach and testify to us on that level?
The ordinances we perform here on earth teach us to return to God and to become like Him as we grow and progress in understanding. Could these ordinances the heavens perform, be teaching the same things – and possibly also be showing us a future stage of our progression as they also announce the events prophesied in this small portion of our existence on this Earth?
Will our spirits – at some point in our progression to godhood, need to occupy planetary bodies? Is this one of the things we are being shown by their example?
From Lectures on Faith, Lecture Seven:
“It is only necessary for us to say that the whole visible creation, as it now exists, is the effect of faith. It was faith by which it was framed, and it is by the power of faith that it continues in its organized form, and by which the planets move round their orbits and sparkle forth their glory. So, then, faith is truly the first principle in the science of Theology, and, when understood, leads the mind back to the beginning, and carries forward to the end; or in other words, from eternity to eternity.”
In other words, the planets HAVE GLORY – something that those who have obtained a level godhood possess.
I haven’t developed a firm conclusion on these things, and I’ll continue to explore and learn and remain open to whatever the truth is surrounding these mysteries. But there is definitely food for thought here, as we enjoy the “fireworks” in the heavens – and hopefully learn from them as well.