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Introduction
 
Part One: Truth vs. Error
Part Two:
Ascending the Mountain
 
Fireside Chat Articles
 
November
Thanksgiving:
Called to the Feast
 
December
 

Week One:
Part 1:
Peter the Great Fisherman

Part 2:
Pounding the Tent Stakes

 

Week Two:
Part 1: Into the Wilderness
Part 2: Out of the Wilderness

 
Week Three:
Part 1: When the Christmas Lights Go Out
Part 2: Winter Solstice and Saving Christmas
 
Week Four:
The Christmas Tree of Life
 
January:
Week One: New Year and the Suffering King
Week Two: The Garden

Week Three:
Rounds of Creation

Week Four:
The Plumed Serpent

 
February:
 
Week One: Babel
Week Two: The Pattern
 
Coming Articles
 
The Abrahamic Covenant
Aaron and the Ark
 
Archives

Available soon!

 


First Week of December

Part 2

Pounding the Tent Stakes

The Door 

To climb onto the rock of salvation as we discussed in the last article, the fish have to come in by the proper door in order to become a new creature; a little lamb. Christ is the door of the sheepfold. In the ancient Middle East , when sheep were kept in a sheep cote at night, as in the time of David, the shepherd would sleep across the open doorway to protect the sheep from bears, lions, etc. Thus, the shepherd was the door.

The first of a number of doors that lead us home is the ordinance of baptism. When we are fished from the waters of baptism, we have passed through the door. The principle of Christ being the door may help to further explain the verse in Ephesians, quoted in the last article where we see Christ takes us unto Himself: " And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby."1 Christ holds back the enemy, who can be symbolized here as the Greek god of the seas, Poseidon. Many people get angry when we tell them where and who the door is. They insist that any part of the wall they believe in should be the door. Many feel the entire wall should come down to make the whole thing a nice, broad doorway instead of a narrow one, but that would allow the enemy to enter in and the shepherd would not be able to protect the flock. Back to the mythical Poseidon who tried to establish dominion over a Greek City by sending a flood of sea water; which water represents the waters of chaos. Christ represents the pure fountain of water that has brought order from chaos. Without the door to hold back the flood and purify the water, a flood of filthy water would continually stain the sheep so they could not return to heaven. The filth on them as a result of the fallen world would bring about corruption of flesh and spirit. Mosiah wrote that: "Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption" Mosiah 16:10 ). Brother Nibley explains in the first chapter of Temple and Cosmos , that only the cleansing of the atonement can rid the initiate of the effect of the second law of thermodynamics, which is that everything is in a constant state of breaking down. Only when we put on the new creature, (become a sheep which follows His voice) with none of that flammable dross will we be able to bear the presence of the Lord. For as we read in Isaiah: "God lives in everlasting burnings",2 and no unclean thing can safely enter therein. There are many out there who claim they can help us find another way to climb in but John refutes that claim:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
(John 10:1 and 9)

Christ himself, as the symbol of the first mound of creation rising from the waters of chaos. As mentioned above, He purifies and organizes the water. When the sea water filters up through the mound, it comes from the top a spring of pure water, springing up unto everlasting life. The Lord wants us to follow Him in this process whereby we become a temple from which pour the waters of life: "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life."3

Once the initiate comes from the waters of baptism as a newborn, having joined the body of Christ, then the new creature is taken by the midwives, washed, anointed, and finally is given a name. As the initiate begins to mature, his/her journey will bring both blessings and trials. This is how we learn and make choices between good and evil.

Each initiate should see him/herself as following in the footsteps of Christ in laying down the foundation for a new creation. The day will come, if we are faithful, that we, with our spouse, will work under the Lord in creating worlds of our own. That process begins on this earth, where the righteous will receive an inheritance before being sent out to enlarge the territory of the King beyond this earth. Christ's joint heirs will fill the four quarters of the universe with the works of God in kingdoms of their own. We have a serious stake in assisting in the redemption of this earth. When the gospel is restored in each dispensation, the first thing to do is lay out a foundation stone in the four cardinal directions. The building has to wait until the foundation is laid. The fortress of the temple is a watchtower which protects us from our enemy. Rock and fortress is the same word in Hebrew.4

To begin organizing the foundation, we are placed under shepherds who work in Christ's name. After getting our bearings on that square stone, we help spread the boundaries of the foundation. We teach the gospel, and try to anchor ourselves and our loved ones in the principles that establish the stakes of Zion . The ship of Zion is sent out to all the world. The purified water of truth goes in the four cardinal directions, which symbolize the four quarters of the earth. The ships of Zion travel on the four great rivers. Nibley says the rivers are the power of God.5

As we know from the Facsimiles, the Egyptians symbolized the four cardinal directions by the "Four Sons of Horus". As one author explains: "These four gods held the pillars of heaven and earth in position, and represented the earth in its four cardinal points or quarters, as well as the 'four pure lands'."6

The Sons of Horus spread out from the center point as explained by the following:

...the divine center, the baptismal font signifying the Atonement of Christ, which is the center axis of eternity around which all things revolve and the bedrock upon which all things rest. The initiate must pass through the gate of the waters of baptism to begin the journey into the eternities.7

Tent Poles

Isaiah, Nibley, and others have used the metaphor of a tent to illustrate Zion and its counterpart, the temple. Tent stakes have to be placed, and pounded in before the canopy goes up. Those stakes get placed in their spots under the direction of the King at the central pole (center stake of Zion). A consecrated temple is a terrestrial place, the meeting point between heaven and earth. Spreading out the stakes and spreading out the curtains of the tent to prepare the earth for the terrestrial Millenium is the work that we should be engaged in. As Nibley explains, it all starts in the middle:

...the temenos, which means temple," "to cut" -the point at which the two lines, the cardo and the decumanus, intersect"."All space comes together at this absolute, theoretical, perfect point. It is the center of everything, which doesn't exist."."Thus it's a device for taking our bearings on wherever we are. That's precisely what a temple does: it puts us into the picture of time and space."

"The temple at Jerusalem was built to accommodate the ark of the covenant. The ark could travel in a tent, because it does travel. Even when housed in Solomon's temple, the ark had the carrying poles on it, so it could be carried around.8

Here Nibley mentions the dichotomy between a moving foundation and one that is immovable:

This double quality (the ever-moving center) caused much dispute among the Doctors of the Jews. Some said that a stone temple that tied down the ark, and hence the chosen people, was an abomination; others said it was the very symbol of endurance and everlasting assurance.

The central pole of the tent is often identified with the pole (the polestar) of the heavens. The tent itself is the Weltenmantel, the expanse of the firmament. Other tent poles sometimes represent the four cardinal points or the two turning points of the sun in the summer and winter solstice.

There are two kinds of temple architecture-the circle and the square. The four cardinal points get circled because the king would traditionally circle the land with his court. He visits one by one each holy place, to take possession of his land, something he has to do every year. When he arrives at each, he circumambulates it three times. That's the combination: the circle and the square.

There is always motion around, but also always stability in the center. We are now into the mechanics of the creation process.9

This implies that the foundation is squared by the Four Sons of Horus, working in the name of the King, but eventually the King must come and circle each point and the land as a whole, to put the sacred space into motion. That puts the canopy on each point and over the whole land he claims. The temple buildings themselves can be seen as the canopy, but it is the Cherubim that cover the temples with the Spirit of the Lord and with the protection of the Sphinx, that really creates the covering.

Brigham Young fully understood the importance of establishing the foundation. The way he planned cities was no accident, nor was the emphasis on sending out the Saints in every direction to layout cities in the same way as the center of Zion as illustrated by Nibley:

Everyone knows that a template is what you put over a map. It's as if we put a template over the temple in Salt Lake City; most every street in the city, and every city in the state, is measured east, west, north, and south from that arbitrary point.10

Brother Nibley wanted to make sure we envision these truths of establishing a foundation and eventually building temples as not only for the Church, but also as individuals who need to stand in holy places: ".everything is relative to the individual: the individual is the center. All distances, all times, all places are measured in terms of the (earth) upon which thou standest." Since we are to become temples, we need the tools to take our bearings on the universe. We need to be squarely in the middle of that foundation stone. ".where life was generated by a concentration of mighty forces upon one relatively tiny point."11 So the motion and concentration of the four cardinal directions, create the energy that enlivens the center point.

Enoch prepared first himself then a city to return to God. Now we in Zion 's boat have to roll (as a stone cut without hands) throughout earth and sink enough stakes (pillars) or tent pegs, to stretch out the tent until it is wide enough to hold the canopy of heaven. The Egyptians taught that the god, Geb is the foundation, and his wife, Nut is the canopy draped over the foundation stone, held up by the center pole of the tent. Geb's job, involves the patriarchal succession. The King in the center, sends out substitutes to spread his kingdom in the four cardinal directions. They act in his name, establishing a broad and firm foundation.12 We could think of the center tent pole as the tree of life, and the cherubim protecting that tree as those working in the office of the goddess Nut, as the canopy of the tent. This is also depicted as the dome of a cave. Of course, it is all resting on Geb, the foundation stone. Only when the center point and the four cardinal directions are established, can the tent canopy can be put into place.

The Canopy

In Jacob, chapter five, we learn how important it is in growing the olive tree to make sure the roots have enough strength for the branches. Once Zion is established and the foundation is strong enough, it is time for the temple to go up. The cocoon built around the developing caterpillar, referred to in Called to the Feast , is a reminder of the sacredness behind the tent canopy.

Now we will take a quick look at Brother Nibley's writings regarding the foundation being made of the same substance as the temple stones.

As we read in the last article, Peter the Great Fisherman , we are the lively stones used in the building. The Egyptians believed that sacred stones were shaped with a crystal chisel used by the goddess of truth, "Maat". We know it takes a diamond to cut a diamond. The light and heat that comes from the chisel of Maat heats the coal. Depending upon the quality of the coal, there is a dramatic change over time. If the coal is bad, it ends up as what is referred to as a bucky ball. That is a light, round puff of coal that can be blown away, reminding us of wheat and chaff. The good coal becomes a diamond.

Nibley teaches: "The Stone of Truth (Maat) in our text is necessarily a shining stone." He explains that light creates all realilty. She is the conveyer of light to men in holy places. The letter 'mem' in Hebrew is one of the three creation letters. It is shaped like a cave with a door for entrance and a shaft of light penetrating into the cave. In the following weeks we will explore the motif of the cave in changing death to birth with the vivifying ray of light. Christmas is the perfect time to think of these things. This shaft of light from Maat, brings life to the stone and makes it shine in its place in the temple. We can think of the power in the temple to reverse the blows of death when we read about the healing that comes from the light of Maat. In February we take a good look at the power which Nibley writes is associated with the "wheel of the sun, ...so that the healing power now resides in the sun's rays."13 Nibley goes on to quote part of a Qumran hymn that says, "My feet are on the rock." He then goes on to suggest that that rock is the "rock of truth" of Maat.13 Now we learn more from Nibley about the connection between the Egyptian principle of "Maat", and the temple sunstone:

The Stone of Truth is a foundation stone , as the cornerstone of the Hebrew scriptures was a pyramidion or sun-stone , Egyptian style, the headstone of the corner. As mentioned, Flusser designates the stones of the twelve tribes and the twelve apostles, of Peter and Abraham, of the high priest's breastplate, of Revelation 21 and 1QS VIII, 1, all as Grundsteine, or foundation stones. Ford sees in the precious stone, the Urim and Thummim, the ultimate foundation stone that provides the foothold in empty space which is the first prerequisite for creating anything-it is the temple, the pyramid.15

Nibley adds that some legends name the foundation stone as Abraham, reminding us of the flexibility of offices, and divine investiture:

This is the eben setiyyah, which was formed when twelve gems fused into one, which became the center of the earth and the center of the temple and has the name of the Messiah engraved on it: the knowledge of this made a man master of life and death; it is the navel of the earth, the pillar which becomes God's house. When Jacob went to Bethel to behold the three degrees of glory and to receive the same ordinances that his father and grandfather had received there, he built his altar of twelve stones; then, according to Rabbi Eliezer, "Jacob returned and found the stones turned into one stone...The Holy One placed his right foot and sank the stone to the bottom of the depths, and he made it the keystone of the earth, just like a man who sets a keystone in an arch; therefore it is called the foundation stone." As God sits in the heavens, the doctors report, there is before him the archetype and model of the temple, "with the Glory of God in the middle of it: a costly stone on the altar having the name of the Messiah engraved on it, and the stone was supported by the Spirit of God." Compare this with the striking parallel in Moses 7:53: "I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity.16

Stretching Out the Tent

"Look upon Zion , the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
(Isaiah 33:20)

Isaiah saw our day and the stone filling the earth. He knew in this last dispensation, the Kingdom would be carried off triumphantly after the end of trials. The bride is truly being adorned for the bridegroom.

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations; spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
(Isaiah 54:2-4)

During times of apostasy, the Church is likened to a widow who goes away into hiding in the marsh for her protection. That will never happen again. Moroni writes that we need to prepare ourselves. To awake and arise means to be born into a higher state. Zion must adorn herself for the bridegroom. Moroni says that with a strong enough foundation, we will not be confounded:

And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel , may be fulfilled.
(Moroni 10:31)

The marriage canopy can go up, we need to dress in our wedding garments to prepare for the marriage of the Lamb: "For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called" (Isaiah 54:5).

Joseph Smith knew the glorious future of the Church. The Lord gave him the following revelation:

Until the day cometh when there is found no more room for them; and then I have other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion. Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places; And prepare for the revelation which is to come, when the veil of the covering of my temple, in my tabernacle, which hideth the earth, shall be taken off, and all flesh shall see me together.
(D&C 101:21- 23)

The above verses make it clear that the day will come when the Cherubim will no longer hide the Tree of Life and the whole world will see the brightness of His coming. The following poem illustrates many of these ideas.

Weaving the Covenant

Square the frame;
thread the loom.
Draw straight and
bowstring-taut the cords.

With harness and heddle
pattern the covenant cloth.
Throw color-threaded shuttle,
straight as an arrow,
swift as pure thought,  
to fill the sovereign space.  
Enlarge the fabric
of stake-stretched tent.  
Increase the temple-tall poles.

With reed press tight,  
rich patterns of light.  
Extend and bind  
borders with gold.

Prepare royal robes;  
spread canopied veil.  
Dress Earth to  
embrace the Lord!

Sharon Price Anderson

Published BYU Studies Vol. 41, No. 1, 2002

END


Footnotes

1Ephesians 2:16
2Isaiah 33:14
3John 3:14
4The New Bantam-Megiddo Hebrew & English Dictionary, p. 239
5Nibley, Temple and Cosmos, p. 239
6Harris, The Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham, p. 37
7Fletcher, A Study Guide to the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham, p. 127
8T&C p. 144-45
9Ibid p. 141
10Ibid
11Ibid p. 139
12Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri. 411-412
13Ibid p. 197-8
14Ibid
15Ibid
16Ibid p. 195

 

 

 

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