Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Isaiah has to say about the Celestial Kingdom - part 3

This section is on the condition of the earth, sun, and moon.
For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make,
shall remain before me, saith the LORD,
so shall your seed and your name remain.
(Isaiah 66:22)
New heavens and the new earth, ones that will remain afterwards. Quite an amazing prospect. In what way must they be renewed? It must die and be resurrected just like us to a celestial glory. “And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth. For all old things shall pass away, and all things shall become new, even the heaven and the earth, and all the fullness thereof, both men and beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea” (Doctrine & Covenants 19:23-24).
And one cried unto another, and said,
Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts:
the whole earth is full of his glory.
(Isaiah 6:3)
"the whole earth is full of his glory" – This shows us that the whole earth will be glorified with the same glory and brightness the Lord has, which Joseph Smith described as being “above the brightness of the sun” (Joseph Smith History 1:16). We’re going to live in devouring fire in the celestial kingdom. “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God” (Revelation 15:2).

Something that always puzzled me was that the celestial kingdom is described as a sea of glass and fire and that to dwell with God is to dwell with everlasting burnings, while hell is described as a sea of fire and brimstone. It seems that our destination is fire no matter which way we go. What is the difference between these two fires? I think one is the fire of guilt and humiliation and buffetings of Satan, while the other is the enlivening and joyful fire of the Holy Spirit. To the souls in hell, the light of truth testifying that their deeds were evil is torture, and to the souls in heaven, the light of truth testifying that their deeds were righteous brings joy.

Isaiah has some fascinating things to say about the sun and the moon and their light levels.
Then the moon shall be confounded,
and the sun ashamed,
when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion,
and in Jerusalem,
and before his ancients gloriously.
(Isaiah 24:23)
19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day;
neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee:
but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light,
and thy God thy glory.
20 Thy sun shall no more go down;
neither shall thy moon withdraw itself:
for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light,
and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
(Isaiah 60:19-20)
Both these scriptures use the lights of the sun and moon to teach the principle that the Lord will be our everlasting light and guide and never be hidden from us again. It will be as if the sun never went down and as if the moon never waned in the sky, yet even though the sun and the moon will be always there, we won’t need it, because the Lord’s blazing presence will be here, the earth will have celestial glory of its own, and resurrected beings will be shining about as well. You and I hope to be part of that group!

Since Isaiah tends to prophesy both spiritual things and temporal things, we must also consider this scripture literally in terms of astronomy. It seems to me that if the sun never goes down, then a day will be much, much longer than 24 hours. What about the night side of the earth? Perhaps that side will be lit just as brightly as daytime by a glorified full moon. (The nightside is where the moon has to stay for it to never wax or wane but remain full all the time.)

I thought that last bit was speculation, but then I found this scripture:
Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun,
and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold,
as the light of seven days,
in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people,
and healeth the stroke of their wound.
(Isaiah 30:26)
This seems to say to me that on the “night side” of the earth the moon is going to be just as bright as the sun is now, and that on the “day side” of the earth the sun will be many times brighter than it is now.

"in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound" – This tells us when this is going to happen, but we have to do some serious thinking about it, because there can be multiple fulfillments of Isaiah’s prophecies and they can be fulfilled both temporally and spiritually. The first, most plain reading seems to say that it will be when Christ heals the wounds of His people. This could be the day of Resurrection, when all our bodies are healed from death. It could also be when Christ comes again and heals the spiritual wounds of His people—doubt, feeling rejected, feeling alone and persecuted, etc.— that have been inflicted upon them by the unbelievers. Finally, it can refer to healing the largest wound of all—spiritual death—by bringing us back into the presence of our Father in Heaven into the celestial kingdom, never again to be separated.