English review by Rick Baria /
The movements in the plan of salvation that we observe in the scriptures tell us a lot about the laws that govern the heavens. In the same way, knowing the law of gravity that governs the movements of objects, describes the nature of this world.
The flow of knowledge we receive from the gospel is not as voluminous as that of science since that knowledge obeys different laws than the scientific method.
Being a lover of cosmology and its related studies, I cannot digest the constant volume of new discoveries and proposals, the latest on a new theory of gravity proposed by Verlinde that questions Einstein’s.
Sometimes it seems that, as believers in Christ, we feel as if we are passed on our left by a car going so fast we can’t read the license plates. Then we look at our speedometer and wonder if we should trade up. However, the “slow” mechanics of the gospel is a means to our true goal: to return home. Therefore, the gospel places more emphasis on the route than on speed, more on the driving than on the steering wheel, more on the passengers than on the bodywork.
As I said at the beginning, and may the reader forgive a few unavoidable detours, but the movements in His Plan of Salvation have to be observed on a large scale to properly view the whole. More than just comparing His slow plan and His wisdom with the fast movement of the world, we must associate His Plan with the deep, powerful, and measured movements of the stars, since he is our Father who is in heaven, the place of veiled skies that we no longer gaze upon. Now we look at a bright and fast sky, at cyberspace, where a multitude of people have ascended, body and soul, to settle in it, as if they already lived in heaven!
An eternal round
The Great Turn
The first great movement we find in the plan of salvation is a great turn. Because of its enormity it contains all humanity and its condition is that of being eternal; “…and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.” (Alma 37:12). What we have read would give us a circle, but the scriptures speak of the development of this circular movement along the axis of time; “…and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:19 )
By combining these two properties over time we have a geometric helix. Without the twisting produced by time, the plan of salvation could not have developed.
“…And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God.” (Alma 42: 4 ). In a wonderful and ingenious way, the Lord combines the eternal and the temporal in a single movement. On the contrary, if it were not so: “having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated.” (Alma 42: 5 )
There are two theories about human history; the one commonly accepted is the cyclical one. That is, the rise and fall of empires, cycles of wealth and poverty, the fall and emergence of civilizations. The typical example is the Roman Empire.
The turn in life
On the other hand, the gospel is assigned a linear way of explaining the development of man, from the fall of Adam to the Apocalypse, or end of history. This linear movement is considered outdated, unsophisticated and simple. And it is, at the scale of any civilization like ours, the western one. But the movements of His Plan are executed with a celestial, non-human pulse. Its expansive curvature is much wider than our horizon.
Men found it difficult to understand the spherical shape of the earth; we had to see things in a new way. We must try the same approach if we want to see the turning of God’s plan for us.
All cultures and civilizations are wrapped around the straight path of His plan and the eternal turn of its course, in the same way that the seasons revolve around the course of the years. In the same way that the turns of the double helix of DNA contain the template of our body, the eternal turn of His Plan contains the template of His destiny for man. Only now, we see but a small segment of it.
The saints should get used to very large magnitudes if we want to approach His works and not use the measuring system of the natural man, for whom five seconds of waiting in cyberspace is something unbearable.
“And he said to them: I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” (Luke 10:18 ) The savior spoke those words with a contemplative gaze, without looking at anyone, with his eyes half-closed to the horizon, evoking in his memory that terrible moment.
I was not there, but the more I think about it, that phrase … was spoken only in that particular way.
The fall of Satan was not accidental; …”(he) was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, and was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning, and we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! Is fallen, even a son of the morning!” (D&C 76: 25-27 )
He fell like lightning
In these two scriptures we see a physical and a social fall. I think that sometimes we can see both aspects in the big crisis in the stock market and they also are similar to lightning.
The use of lightning as an example of Satan’s fall is too powerful to ignore. On no occasion did the savior use an exaggerated tone or shrill parables to teach. What stands out most in a lightning bolt is its immediacy, its unpredictability, as if it were outside of time.
Movement without time
This movement, far from the celestial turn, is perpendicular and violent. It is dispossessed of properties, curvature, straight path and time. There was no reflex action on the part of Satan, since this movement does not belong to the heavens, although it originates from them.
The fall of Satan belongs to the movements without time. Therefore they must leave the curved and celestial. “… and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” ( Rev.12: 7-9 )
The powerful impulse that made the fall of Satan stunningly bright was not because of earthly gravity. We see in D & C 76:48 a description of the kingdom where his trajectory ended “… Wherefore, the end, the width, the height, the depth, and the misery thereof, they understand not, neither any man except those who are ordained unto this condemnation.”
We identify in this verse three dimensions of the space that received him; width, height, and depth. If we look, its time is not like in our world, but misery is in its place. In that realm, misery is one additional dimension, not a condition of the soul but a dimension of its space, something terrifying if we think on it. There is no way out of that misery; neither is there redemption. “… without having a space (time) for repentance …”
Fall of the Nephite nation
The Nephite fall
We see this movement in the fall of the Nephite nation. “O my beloved son, how can a people like this, that are without civilization—(And only a few years have passed away, and they were a civil and a delightsome people) But O my son, how can a people like this, whose delight is in so much abomination…” (Moroni 9:11-13)
In historical terms a few years is to fall like a thunderbolt.
These are rectilinear, hasty movements, without curvature to soften the impact, without power, without message or pulse, as if in a passageway without hope, trapped in a flat world.
The fall of Adam was not a violent plummet from the heavens, rather it was assisted by a plan of salvation, and before he could extend his arm to leave time and God’s eternal round “… the Lord God placed cherubim and the flaming sword, that he should not partake of the fruit..” (Alma 42: 3)
Like the dew of heaven
This concept is present in the scriptures implicitly, but nowhere more clearly than in D & C 121: 45-46 , we read in 45 “… let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.”
This process is very revealing, and with the reader’s permission, we will classify it as a type of movement. Distill comes from the Latin distillare (drip, extract drop by drop). It is a slow process and in ancient times was used to make aromatic oils or chemicals. In this beautiful scripture the doctrine of the priesthood is distilled; as the dew is the distillation of water vapor from the atmosphere. The example that the Lord uses in this revelation is very precise and if we scrutinize it, we extract great information from the laws that govern that kingdom.
Like the dew
Dew forms from the condensation of water vapor in the atmosphere; it occurs when the temperature drops to a point where the air cannot contain any more water vapor in the form of gas. We observe the vapor collecting in small droplets on the surface of exposed objects.
So we can say:
The doctrine of the priesthood is present in the entire human “atmosphere”, and like water vapor in our planet’s atmosphere it condenses as does the dew, when in similar manner the conditions of temperature and pressure are met for us to receive knowledge. The suitable conditions are that “…thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly” (45)
When these conditions come together, small droplets of the doctrine of the priesthood condense upon our souls. This process is slow, and drop by drop, it is a distillation.
We see it also in D & C 98:12. “For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.” There is no compulsion or force in this process, the timing of this distillation of knowledge is our condition of readiness.
It will flow unto thee
While Joseph Smith was in prison in Liberty prison he receives one of the deepest revelations of his ministry. The final sentence (46) is the description of the opposite of his situation. The prophet was fighting against a fatal destiny that threatened his life and that of the saints, and yet he was promised that one day he would cease to fight and that a glorious destiny would clothe him. I think that all of us are in the first case; that is, we exert our strength in pulling and pushing to bring the heavy, solid, worldly things towards us.
“…and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” ( D & C 121: 46 )
The Lord uses the verb to flow. Flow comes from the Latin fluere (to slide, to flow). This verb is applied mainly to liquids and gases, because the placid movements in these states are elegantly responsive, requiring no more energy than a small difference in elevation or temperature gradient. Liquids can move in large masses without apparent effort or noise. Fluidity in language relates to the ease of expressing ideas, of overcoming objections, of adapting to change in the course of debate, thus emulating the flow of the river.
Without compulsory means
The Lord spoke to the prophet, who in his life was often at a well. If Joseph wanted water, he had to go to the well, throw the bucket to the bottom, wait for it to fill up, and then pull upwards. Thus, by his forceful exertion the bucket was “compelled” to move upwards. In the end he had a bucket of water, no more. We see that all the movements he made involve a force, related to the family of the verbs force and compel, from the Latin compellere (to force, push, make move).
This is what we do every morning when we go to work. We come home with a bucket, full of everything we were able to compel towards ourselves. So, in one way or another we exert our will on the objects of the world.
However, in this scripture the Lord describes to the prophet, and to us, the essence of our wishes and just desires (our domain) as now solidified in this fallen world, and he describes them with the behavior of the waters that flow towards us.
This movement suggests to us with what elegance and perfection, and how gently and abundantly, the promises we have received will come to us.
The hidden things
Let your pavilion open
We read in Psalm 18:11 “He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.”
In the same way that we had to start thinking differently than usual to discover the shape of the world and its physical laws, we must educate our eyes to see through the darkness, to view the hiding place.
The supplication of the Prophet Joseph Smith, (D & C 121:4); “… let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered…” teaches us that he hides his pearls from the careless gaze.
The scriptures are the pearls of great price; having them is priceless, but to value them fully might engage us for the rest of our lives.