Saturday, August 13, 2016

Some Helpful Context about Tokens and Signs

I ran across the word “token” in my reading of D&C 88, and I wondered where else in the scriptures tokens are mentioned, so I did a search. I was surprised to see how many instances there were.

The rainbow was made a token of the covenant God made with Noah that He would not flood the earth and destroy all flesh. (see Genesis 9:12-15)

God made circumcision a token of the Abrahamic covenant to Abraham and his seed after him. (see Genesis 17:10-11)

God’s presence with Moses and the promise that he and the Israelite would serve God upon that mountain was to be a token to Moses that God had sent him to Pharaoh. (see Exodus 3:11-12)

The lamb’s blood put upon the doorposts was to be Israel’s token to God so that God would pass over them and not destroy them. (see Exodus 12:13)

Israel’s act to sacrifice their firstborn animals and redeem their firstborn children was to be a token they remembered the Lord’s power that brought them out of Egypt. (see Exodus 13:15-16)

Aaron’s rod that budded was to be kept in the tabernacle as a token against those who rebelled against Moses and Aaron. (see Numbers 17:10)

Rahab, who sheltered Joshua’s two spies in Jericho, asked for a “true token” that they would save her and her family from death. (see Joshua 2:12) The scarlet cord at her window was that token. (Almost like her own special Passover, huh?)

David asked God for a token for good so that those who hated him would be ashamed and see the Lord was helping him. (see Psalms 86:17)

Judas Iscariot plotted with the Jewish leaders that the one he kissed should be a token so they would know who to capture. (see Mark 14:44)

Here’s one I have to quote directly:

And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. (Phil. 1:28)

Paul observed to the Philippians that their lack of fear was considered a token of perdition to their adversaries, but to the righteous it was a token of salvation. Interesting; it shows that signs and tokens may be read differently, depending on the level of integrity and virtue of one’s character.

Paul would add a personally written salutation in every epistle as a token it was him. (see 2 Thes. 3:17)

In the Book of Mormon, after Captain Moroni made the Title of Liberty, the people rent their garments and piled them at his feet in token of their covenant. (see Alma 46:21)

The Lamanite king raised his bowing servants with his hand as a token of peace… and was promptly assassinated by one of Amalickiah’s goons. (see Alma 47:23-24)

The depraved Nephites devoured flesh of the daughters of the Lamanites as a token of bravery after raping, torturing, and murdering them. (see Moroni 9:9-10)   Eeeeew.

The teacher in the school of the prophets was to offer prayer on his knees to God before class in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant. (see D&C 88:130-131)

The teacher in the school of the prophets was also to greet each brother entering and salute them in the name of Jesus Christ in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant. (see D&C 88:133)

The class members of the school of the prophets were to greet the teacher with uplifted hands with the same prayer or covenant they were greeted by, or by saying “Amen” in token of the same. (see D&C 88:135)

Those part of the United Order were to be given what they asked for by the treasurer in token that they were in full fellowship and faithful and wise stewards. (see D&C 104:75)

Obviously there are a few bad tokens in the list, but by and large, tokens seem to have been little acts done to represent good faith, commitment, assurance of things to come, as a memorial, or as a representation of favored status before God.

I think tokens are a way of making intentions visible when they would not otherwise be. They help do away with uncertainty in relationships. (For instance, an engagement ring in our culture is a token of intent to marry.) Seeing how tokens work in the above scriptures makes me think of temple covenants, but also of the various visible things we do that may also act as tokens to God and to each other of our inward state and intentions. 

As an example, we say taking the sacrament is a witness we are renewing our covenants, and I suppose that makes it a token or sign.  Same with baptism as a token we are making the covenant. 

What other tokens can you think of that we give the Lord or that He gives us?