Monday, March 9, 2009

The Camp of Israel and The Three Degrees of Glory

I love the Old Testament. That said, I believe that many of the “plain and precious” truths that were contained in the Old Testament were taken out during the many translation processes. Joseph Smith had the incredible job of restoring some of those truths back where they belong, within the context of the scriptural stories of the Old and New Testament. Today we have what is known as the JST or Joseph Smith Translation which adds back many truths that have been lost to the world.

The Lord knowing the “cunning and craftiness” of Satan and of men, knew that some of these evident truths would be tampered with. In His wisdom he allowed them to remain, buried in symbolism, known only to those who “searched” diligently, guided by the direction of the Spirit, to find them. These are some of the “mysteries of the kingdom” that we are instructed to search for.

One such mystery is that of the organizational make up of our Heavenly abode. The Doctrine and Covenants plainly teaches about the “three degrees of glory” and illustrates the nature of Heaven.

D&C 88:20 That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified.

21 And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ, must inherit another kingdom, even that of a terrestrial kingdom, or that of a telestial kingdom.

22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.

23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.

24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

I believe that even though this doctrine is not as plainly taught in the Old Testament it is still there. It was such an important concept to learn, that the Lord made sure His covenant children would never forget it, or recognize the truth of it when taught to them a new.

One example of the Lord’s teaching on the "three degrees of glory" is shown to the Children of Israel through the manner in which they were to set up the camp of Israel, as they wandered in the wilderness under the direction of Moses. They were given strict instructions as to the placement of the tribes and tabernacle, as illustrated below.

Even in the placement of the Camp of Israel we see the separation, or concept of the degrees of glory, that is being taught. The innermost place was the Tabernacle of the Lord, moving out from there were the Son’s of Moses and of Aaron, or the priesthood. These priesthood holders acted as mediators between the outermost circle which consisted of the rest of the camp and represented the world, and the Tabernacle itself. There was even a place labeled “outside” the camp of Israel where certain portions of the sacrifices were to be taken.

To illustrate the point even further, within the Tabernacle there were three distinct separations as well.

D&C 131: 1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

The Lord made sure that the “mysteries of His kingdom” would be made know to those who searched for them throughout all generations. We are so lucky to have the added insights from the additional scripture we have been given, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Joseph Smith Translation. These scriptures allow us to more fully recognize these truths that are taught in both the Old and New Testaments.


LdsNana said...

Great insights, as usual! Thank you for sharing:-)


Bob and Carol Norman said...

We are on the same wave link! More to come in my next two posts.

Anonymous said...

This is so cool ~ if you viewed the camp from the air, it would look like a cross!

Look at this map:

The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed;
The Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.