Tuesday, June 19, 2012

1 Nephi 1:8 - A Throne and Concourses

In my last post about 1 Nephi 1:7,  I wrote my thoughts on what Lehi was going through, as he had just barely experienced a remarkable situation of being overcome with the Spirit.  On to 1 Nephi 1:8:

And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a avision, even that he saw the bheavens open, and he thought he csaw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.
This post has really taken me a long to muster.  Figuring out how to really analyze this one is really challenging.  What did Lehi really experience here?  He was carried away.  Is that literally?  Physically, or spiritually?

I've learned a lot in the last several months about spiritual separation - how when many people experience certain things, part of their spirit will recede to somewhere else in order for the part of the spirit which remains to be able to tolerate the experience and still allow the body to function.  For those who believe we have a spirit that is fluid, is it not hard to imagine and believe.  Some may think that's way out there, but for those who have experienced trauma and undergo serious emotional and spiritual work, they will attest to the possibility, and even truth of this idea.

So what happened to Lehi?  Was he spiritually carried away, or is it more literal, in a physical sense?  Just some questions to ponder.

He was carried away in a vision.  What did he see?  He saw the heavens open.  Wow!!!  What does that entail?  Is it like a curtain parts?  Like a new realm simply appears where he was carried away to?  Or was he carried to a heavenly space?

He thought he saw God.  Remarkable.

Sitting upon his throne.  A throne is a strong symbol of authority.  It denotes a position of power, respect, and justice.  It is also, for some, a "mercy seat".  I know the term mercy seat is a loaded term, so I won't get in to that, but a throne is a very symbolic image.  It denotes Kingship.

God was sitting.  Why sitting?  Why not standing?  To me, this sends a message of calm attentiveness.  What was He paying attention to?  How would it be, to have God's attention?  How would that make one feel, to know they were privy to this scene?  How would it feel to be Lehi, and get a glimpse of this throne with the Almighty God, sitting on it?

God was surrounded - not just in the company of, but surrounded... Have you ever been surrounded?  How does that feel?  Overwhelming?  Exciting?  I know I personally get overwhelmed when I'm surrounded by people, but God is capable of this.  And apparently rather than get flustered, as many mortals do, He did not.  For there were numberless concourses of angels.  Numberless?  Holy cow.

The angels were in the attitude of singing and praising their God.  Can you even imagine?  True singing!  Real praise, not just lip service!  What does it take, to truly sing and praise God?  Is it showy?  Is it all hands in the air?  Or is it all hands on the ground?  Perhaps both?  Perhaps neither?  Have we mortals ever really experienced what it feels like to really sing to and praise God?  What a wonderful thing for Lehi to witness.  It must have been a remarkable sight.

p.s. - Denver Snuffer's The Second Comforter has an extensive and deeply poignant view of this verse.  See the chapter titled Ceremony and Knowing God.  Well worth the read.

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