Saturday, December 1, 2018 0 comments

Ether on the old Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem


2 For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof;
3 And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.
4 Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake concerning a New Jerusalem upon this land.
5 And he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come—after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord; wherefore, it could not be a new Jerusalem for it had been in a time of old; but it should be built up again, and become a holy city of the Lord; and it should be built unto the house of Israel—
6 And that a New Jerusalem should be built up upon this land, unto the remnant of the seed of Joseph, for which things there has been a type.
7 For as Joseph brought his father down into the land of Egypt, even so he died there; wherefore, the Lord brought a remnant of the seed of Joseph out of the land of Jerusalem, that he might be merciful unto the seed of Joseph that they should perish not, even as he was merciful unto the father of Joseph that he should perish not.
8 Wherefore, the remnant of the house of Joseph shall be built upon this land; and it shall be a land of their inheritance; and they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord, like unto the Jerusalem of old; and they shall no more be confounded, until the end come when the earth shall pass away.
9 And there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and they shall be like unto the old save the old have passed away, and all things have become new.
10 And then cometh the New Jerusalem; and blessed are they who dwell therein, for it is they whose garments are white through the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who are numbered among the remnant of the seed of Joseph, who were of the house of Israel.
11 And then also cometh the Jerusalem of old; and the inhabitants thereof, blessed are they, for they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb; and they are they who were scattered and gathered in from the four quarters of the earth, and from the north countries, and are partakers of the fulfilling of the covenant which God made with their father, Abraham.
12 And when these things come, bringeth to pass the scripture which saith, there are they who were first, who shall be last; and there are they who were last, who shall be first.
13 And I was about to write more, but I am forbidden; but great and marvelous were the prophecies of Ether… (Ether 13:2-13, emphasis added)
As I read these verses, I can’t help but notice:
1)    There are two cities—the old Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem.
2)    There also seem to be two versions of each of those two cities. There is old Jerusalem that is “built up again” (v5) and an old Jerusalem that “cometh” (v11).  There is also a New Jerusalem that is “built up” (v6) and a New Jerusalem that “cometh” (v10) “which should come down out of heaven” (v3).
3)    The order that these things happen seems a little muddled. It is unclear which—the old Jerusalem that is “built” or the New Jerusalem that is “built”—comes first, but it does seem clear that the “built” cities both happen before the cities that “cometh.”
4)    It seems unclear whether the old Jerusalem is built holy, or whether it is built and then becomes holy (v5) because both conditions seem to be described in verse 5.
5)    The first mention of building the New Jerusalem doesn’t mention holiness at all (v6), but the second mention of building the New Jerusalem says, “they shall build up a holy city unto the Lord” (v8).

What do you think about this?

Sunday, November 18, 2018 2 comments

“A delicate thing…to act in an organized capacity”


I was reading one of the neat talks in the new book At the Pulpit which is a compilation of different talks Latter-day Saint women have given in meetings throughout history. I ran across something that Eliza R. Snow said back in 1869. She said:

It is a delicate thing for us sisters to act in an organized capacity. Our brethren are accustomed to move in organized bodies—we are not, and we need a great deal of the Spirit and wisdom of God to direct us. Although we should meet with difficulties, let us never be discouraged, but move forward in the path of duty, and through the blessing of God and the encouragement of our brethren, we shall surmount every obstacle. (“Let Us Cultivate Ourselves”)

It is hard to imagine a day in the church when the brothers were more accustomed to act in an organized capacity than the sisters. But over time, with practice, through a variety of projects, that ability has come to the sisters as well, and each successive generation has learned from those that came before how to organize and work together in unity.

Why would Eliza R. Snow have called it “a delicate thing” to act in an organized capacity? Perhaps she saw so many ways that things could go wrong. People might step on each others’ toes, people might drop the ball, or try to take over, or criticize the one in charge or cause any number of problems.  She saw delicacy was needed to avoid those errors, errors which could turn potentially turn people off from continuing to organize.

I’m thankful to be part of the Relief Society and for the way it organizes to serve others.
Tuesday, November 6, 2018 2 comments

Status update on counsel from general conference

I feel like I want to share some things I’ve been doing since general conference in October. For a long time I’ve felt that I needed to do something to get better at following the prophet. For years I have typed so many notes in conference, and then I have never looked at them again once conference is over. Yes, it is sad, but I'm being real here. I could remember the really general counsel...if it got repeated over and over by members around me.  But I lacked initiative and focus. 

This year I felt it was important to figure out a way to make sure that I captured a list of things they counsel us to do and then work that stuff into my task list so that I actually do it.  An urgent feeling has grown in me lately of how important it is to follow the prophet’s counsel. 

So after October conference,  I made the list, and I put them into my task app on my phone and decided on when I would complete them and how often. So far I feel pretty good about how that is working in my life. There are a few things that I haven’t been able to implement as completely as I would like, but I am still trying. 

One of the things President Nelson challenged the women of the church to do was read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year and mark all verses mentioning Christ as we read. At the time, I made a note of the reading, but not of the marking aspect. I started reading, but I was kind of mechanical about it, just trying to get through the 6.5 pages I needed to read for the day. (Eventually I started just reading 7 pages to be safe.)

 I think it was mechanical at the beginning for me because I already read my scriptures every day, so I started it wondering what this was going to do for me more than I was already doing. It forced me to push through more pages than I usually read, and I think I had a hard time continuing the movement when I usually like to ruminate over things that catch my attention. 

Then someone at church mentioned they were doing the marking as President Nelson had said. I went back to look at the talk to verify that's he’d said, and it was. So I decided I needed to do that too so that I could be complete in my obedience. I started just marking instances of “God” and “Lord” and “Christ” and the various pronouns used for God. The first day I did that, I felt something special from that. But then the next days afterward it went back to feeling like a mechanical exercise. But I persisted. And then I got the idea that I should mark everything that God did and said too (not just the whole verses; I wanted to be targeted with my marking). And that made it more special, but I still felt I was missing something. (It was also difficult because I was using a dying highlighter that barely showed much. Once I switched highlighters, marking got easier.)  Eventually I realized that after having read and marked the requisite number of pages, I also needed to look back over the pages to see what I could learn from those markings. That has made it even more special.

The fascinating thing is that this marking exercise is the same thing I would do if I were trying to revise a book to fix a particular problem. (When I was trying to revise some of my fiction (still unpublished), on one of my passes I marked all instances of scenery description to see if I had enough of that and then added when there wasn’t anything there.) 

What President Nelson’s marking exercise is doing is getting us to notice all instances of God’s dealings with the Book of Mormon peoples so that we can learn more about His character and what He can do for us. It is a prophetically-mandated scripture study program to help us notice principles that we might otherwise pass over. The principles we learn will help increase our faith in God.  We need that increased faith in this day and age.

What have you learned from that challenge?
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Friday, November 2, 2018 0 comments

By the Power of His Word

  Here Alma reminds the people of Zarahemla of what the Lord did for their fathers:

And behold, after that, they were brought into bondage by the hands of the Lamanites in the wilderness; yea, I say unto you, they were in captivity, and again the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word; and we were brought into this land, and here we began to establish the church of God throughout this land also. (Alma 5:5)

What strikes me as neat in this verse is this—“the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word” (emphasis added). It was simply by telling them “tomorrow you will be delivered” that the Lord was able to save them. The spent the whole night gathering their flocks together to prepare for this (and may have completely worn out their taskmasters who couldn’t keep going) and then when their taskmasters went into a deep sleep, they left and kept going as far and as fast as they could. Because they prepared for the Lord’s promise, they were ready to go. If they hadn’t prepared, they would have had to stay there.

It seems to me that so many of the Lord’s commandments deliver us out of bondage by the power of His word. Tithing delivers us from a bondage to our goods. Chastity delivers us from bondage to our carnal desires. Repentance delivers us from bondage to all sin. Fasting delivers us from bondage to our appetites for food. Service, charity, and families deliver us from bondage to selfishness and self-centeredness. Prayer delivers us from a bondage of emotional separation from God. Are there any commandments that don’t in some way deliver us from some sort of bondage?

I’m so thankful for the freedom that comes from the Lord’s words.
Sunday, October 28, 2018 0 comments

Isaiah 44:1-5 – As Willows by the Water Courses


1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant;
and Israel, whom I have chosen:
2          Thus saith the Lord that made thee,
and formed thee from the womb,
which will help thee;
Fear not,
O Jacob, my servant;
and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.
3                                  For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty,
and floods upon the dry ground:
I will pour my spirit upon thy seed,
and my blessing upon thine offspring:
4                                              And they shall spring up as among the grass,
as willows by the water courses.
5 One shall say, I am the Lord’s;
and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob;
and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord,
and surname himself by the name of Israel. (Isaiah 44:1-5)

I like these verses and how easy it is to see the parallelism of repeated thoughts and themes. (I indented at various levels to make it a little more easy to see what things I think go together.)

In verse 1, the Lord is trying to get covenant Israel to listen and is reminding Israel they are chosen and they are His servants. He chose them from the beginning to be His servants. We recognize this because one is not born into the house of Israel by accident, but by design.

Covenant Israel has a tendency to think the job of blessing the entire world is overwhelmingly big, but the Lord tells Israel in v2, “[I] will help thee; Fear not.”

Covenant Israel also recognizes that blessing the whole world is hard work and there are moments when we feel like it would be nice to relax and have others do the teaching for a change. And while we are being examples to the rest of the world, where will we get our examples?  In verse 3, the Lord promises to pour out water (spiritual water) upon those that are thirsty—thirsting after righteousness. “I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.” It is the Spirit that teaches our children, and often they end up teaching us.

Then there is some beautiful imagery: “they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.”  To understand this, we only need to remember how grass doesn’t grow unless there is plenty of water.  Similarly, willows grow best when very near some sort of river or lake. This is teaching us that with all the spiritual water the Lord pours out through the Holy Ghost, we and our children will grow easily, just like those plants that grow best when there is plenty of water around.

With that kind of spiritual environment, covenant Israel will know for sure they are the Lord’s people. They will be so certain, they will want to take on a new name, perhaps calling themselves Jacob, or Israel, or perhaps consecrating themselves completely to God.

What do I learn from these verses? They tell us to FEAR NOT.  If we draw near to the Lord, He will draw near to us and satisfy our spiritual hunger and yearnings.


Thursday, October 25, 2018 0 comments

Mysteries of God

A question I had recently was, "What do the scriptures call mysteries? When the scriptures talk about the mysteries of God, what topics are discussed in that context?" I felt like if I did a survey of the scriptures that referred to "mysteries of God" I might get an idea of what those things are and also how to obtain them.

What follows are notes I made from investigating the scriptures. I think you'll find them illuminating.

Mysteries of the kingdom (Matt 13:11) (given to the disciples to know these)
Mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1)
Mysteries of God (1 Nephi 2:16 (in context of Nephi wanting to know his father was right or not)
Mysteries of God (1 Nephi 10:19) in context of Nephi asking about Lehi’s dream of the tree of life
Mysteries of God (Mosiah 1:3) associated with the things already written in the scriptures
Mysteries of God (Mosiah 2:9) associated with the vision Mosiah had of an angel that gave him a message about the Messiah
Mysteries of God (Alma 10:5) associated with preserving the lives of the Nephites
Mysteries of God (Alma 12:9) about the resurrection from the dead and the judgment
Mysteries of God (Alma 26:22) associated with revealing new things and bringing people to repentance
Mysteries (Alma 37:4) in the scriptures
Mysteries (Alma 37:11) about how the hardened Nephites will be brought to repentance
Mysteries (of God) and secret works of darkness (Alma 37:21) associated with the 24 Jaredite plates
Mysteries  (Alma 40:3) concerning what happens to the soul between death and resurrection
Mysteries of God (D&C 6:7) that will make rich and give eternal life
Mysteries (D&C 6:11) great and marvelous, to bring many to know the truth, to convince others of their error.
Mysteries (D&C 28:7) given to the prophet
Mysteries (D&C 42:61 peaceable things, which bring joy, which bring life eternal
Mysteries (D&C 43:13) to be given because of charitable giving
Mysteries of my kingdom (D&C 63:23) as a well of living water, spring up unto everlasting life
Mysteries out of the scriptures (D&C 71:1)
Hidden mysteries of my will (D&C 76:7-10) from days of old, for ages to come, good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. Wonders of eternity. Things to come. Things of many generations. Understanding reach to heaven. Secrets of my will. Things eye has not see, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man.
Mysteries (D&C 77:6) associated with the book sealed with 7 seals. Revealed will, mysteries, works of god. Hidden things of his economy.
Mysteries of the kingdom (D&C 84:19) key of the knowledge of God, associated with the power of godliness in the ordinances of the church.
Mysteries of the kingdom (D&C 107:19) of heaven, having the heavens opened to them. Enjoying the presence of the Father and Jesus.
God revealeth secrets (Dan 2:28) in association with Daniel telling the dream of the king and interpreting it.  What shall come to pass (v29)
Secrets (Amos 3:7) revealed to the prophets before they happen.

Fascinating, huh?
Tuesday, October 23, 2018 0 comments

7 different perspectives on sin from Isaiah


This verse caught my attention recently:

Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. (Isaiah 1:4)

I count seven different perspectives on the cause and problem of sin in this verse.

1)    “sinful nation” – The nation was full of sin, like a cup full of water.
2)    “a people laden with iniquity” – No one likes to carry a load they don’t have to, but these people were loaded down with iniquity like a donkey carrying an oversized load of sticks.
3)    “a seed of evildoers” – They learned how to sin from their parents, and they hadn’t learned to be critical of those bad traditions and escape them.
4)    “children that are corrupters” – Children are supposed to be innocent, but these children weren’t. They corrupted those who came in contact with them, spreading wickedness like a disease.
5)    “they have forsaken the Lord” – This gives the sense of the runaway or the unfaithful spouse who doesn’t care anymore. They were with Him, and then all of a sudden, they left.
6)    “they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger” – This gives the sense of one who sins in spite of knowing the truth. They do it deliberately to irritate, just to thumb their nose at spiritual authority. (This type tends to glorify their rebellion.)
7)    “they are gone away backward” – This is the person who stays facing the Lord the whole time, but slowly backs away, getting farther and farther with every step and every choice they make. They claim they are faithful, but other things incessantly take higher priority.

It’s useful to think about these different types with reference to our own lives and determine if there is something we’re doing that matches this. And then repent.

We could also extrapolate from Isaiah’s words what we want to be instead.
--A nation full of righteousness
--A people buoyed up by goodness
--A seed of do-gooders
--Children that are sanctifiers
--who have come to the Lord
--who have pleased the Holy One and gained His favor
--who are pressing forward
Friday, October 19, 2018 0 comments

Looking for the Lord to Come



There’s a scripture I’ve run across that in the past I’ve interpreted as referring to the second coming of Christ, but now I see also fits into the context of missionary work

And the poor and the meek shall have the gospel preached unto them, and they shall be looking forth for the time of my coming, for it is nigh at hand— (D&C 35:15)

This perfectly describes those situations and stories we’ve heard about people who have had religious questions and they reach out to God, pleading for the truth, pleading for something more in their lives. And then, in a few days (or hours, or even minutes) they are visited by the missionaries and are ready to receive the gospel. These people are looking for God to come and bring them greater light, and they see the missionaries as messengers from God. They see God has answered them, and they see the coming of the gospel was so close. All those things are encapsulated in this verse.

How does it help us? It shows us that there are people who are prepared to hear the gospel, and we just need to talk to them and invite them. If they are ready, they will respond. We don’t know what is going on in their lives to prepare people, but there are people who are prepared to hear.

It also tells us that if we are going to help find them, we need to be meek as well. We need to be humble and ready to follow the impressions of the Spirit, even if they seem to not make sense. (If they made sense, why would we need the Spirit?)
Wednesday, October 17, 2018 0 comments

Verses about the Last Days


 
87 For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig tree.
88 And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
89 For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
90 And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
91 And all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men’s hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people.
92 And angels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
93 And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together.
94 And another angel shall sound his trump, saying: That great church, the mother of abominations, that made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, that persecuteth the saints of God, that shed their blood—she who sitteth upon many waters, and upon the islands of the sea—behold, she is the tares of the earth; she is bound in bundles; her bands are made strong, no man can loose them; therefore, she is ready to be burned. And he shall sound his trump both long and loud, and all nations shall hear it.
95 And there shall be silence in heaven for the space of half an hour; and immediately after shall the curtain of heaven be unfolded, as a scroll is unfolded after it is rolled up, and the face of the Lord shall be unveiled;
96 And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.
97 And they who have slept in their graves shall come forth, for their graves shall be opened; and they also shall be caught up to meet him in the midst of the pillar of heaven—
98 They are Christ’s, the first fruits, they who shall descend with him first, and they who are on the earth and in their graves, who are first caught up to meet him; and all this by the voice of the sounding of the trump of the angel of God.
99 And after this another angel shall sound, which is the second trump; and then cometh the redemption of those who are Christ’s at his coming; who have received their part in that prison which is prepared for them, that they might receive the gospel, and be judged according to men in the flesh.
100 And again, another trump shall sound, which is the third trump; and then come the spirits of men who are to be judged, and are found under condemnation;
101 And these are the rest of the dead; and they live not again until the thousand years are ended, neither again, until the end of the earth.
102 And another trump shall sound, which is the fourth trump, saying: There are found among those who are to remain until that great and last day, even the end, who shall remain filthy still.
103 And another trump shall sound, which is the fifth trump, which is the fifth angel who committeth the everlasting gospel—flying through the midst of heaven, unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people;
104 And this shall be the sound of his trump, saying to all people, both in heaven and in earth, and that are under the earth—for every ear shall hear it, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess, while they hear the sound of the trump, saying: Fear God, and give glory to him who sitteth upon the throne, forever and ever; for the hour of his judgment is come.
105 And again, another angel shall sound his trump, which is the sixth angel, saying: She is fallen who made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication; she is fallen, is fallen!
106 And again, another angel shall sound his trump, which is the seventh angel, saying: It is finished; it is finished! The Lamb of God hath overcome and trodden the wine-press alone, even the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God.
107 And then shall the angels be crowned with the glory of his might, and the saints shall be filled with his glory, and receive their inheritance and be made equal with him.
108 And then shall the first angel again sound his trump in the ears of all living, and reveal the secret acts of men, and the mighty works of God in the first thousand years.
109 And then shall the second angel sound his trump, and reveal the secret acts of men, and the thoughts and intents of their hearts, and the mighty works of God in the second thousand years—
110 And so on, until the seventh angel shall sound his trump; and he shall stand forth upon the land and upon the sea, and swear in the name of him who sitteth upon the throne, that there shall be time no longer; and Satan shall be bound, that old serpent, who is called the devil, and shall not be loosed for the space of a thousand years.
111 And then he shall be loosed for a little season, that he may gather together his armies.
112 And Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven.
113 And the devil shall gather together his armies; even the hosts of hell, and shall come up to battle against Michael and his armies.
114 And then cometh the battle of the great God; and the devil and his armies shall be cast away into their own place, that they shall not have power over the saints any more at all.
115 For Michael shall fight their battles, and shall overcome him who seeketh the throne of him who sitteth upon the throne, even the Lamb.
116 This is the glory of God, and the sanctified; and they shall not any more see death. (D&C 88:87-116)

In these verses are a whole bunch of prophesies about the last days, about calamities to come on the earth, and then v94-106 tells of seven angels sounding their trumpets to announce the fall of Babylon and the progressive resurrection of various parties based on their level of righteousness. After that comes v108-110 telling of another seven angels sounding their trumps to tell of the secret acts of men in the various thousand-year eras of history. Then the binding of Satan and his loosing after another thousand years, with the final fight of Michael against the devil and armies.

Before I studied the Book of Revelation in depth, it seemed like these verses were a sort of translation of Revelation into a simpler form. I thought it was supposed to overlay the top of Revelation and readers were supposed to find corresponding points.

But after having studied Revelation a lot more, I now read this and I can see it is a mishmash of a bunch of different elements of Revelation, but they are all out of order. The Book of Revelation only has one sequence of angels sounding their trumpets, but these verses have two. These verses have all the dead resurrected before the final battle when Satan is bound, but Revelation has it the other way around.  Revelation has the angel warning there will be time no longer in the sixth trumpet, but these verses have him doing that in the second set of seven trumpets, in the last trumpet, just before Satan is bound (v110).

So what are we to make of this? Unbelievers might say Joseph Smith was making it up, but we who believe he was a prophet know differently. We dare not say he didn’t know what he was doing, especially since he said the Book of Revelation is the plainest of all books. And if it is plain, then he wouldn’t have then gone and “messed it up” like this, if this is supposed to be an improvement.  I am personally forced to conclude that he was using the imagery of Revelation to reveal additional things.

V92-106 tells of a sequence of different groups of people who are resurrected at different times based on their level of righteousness. We may think this is obvious now, but it would not have been so in Joseph Smith’s day. Also, the Book of Revelation only says the righteous are raised at Christ’s coming and then the rest later after the final battle against Satan. The trumpet sequence of seven here shows us the resurrection is a sequential process.

V108-110 has yet another sequence of angelic trumpets sounding to announce the secret things of the various thousand years of history that will be revealed. This is another thing that is probably obvious to us now, but again, it may not have been obvious before. The Bible is pretty clear about the doctrine that God sees all and knows our doings, our words, our thoughts, our intents, and our desires. But it is not clear on the doctrine that all these things will eventually be revealed to everyone else as well. The Book of Revelation only says the books will be opened and everyone will be judged according to what is written in the books concerning their works. But these verses tell us all will be revealed to everyone. And if so, then we need to be especially careful about everything we do, say, think, intend, and want. Sooner or later, everyone will know all the secrets of everyone on the planet who has ever lived, whether good or bad. We will be very happy if we have repented of all our sins and if all we have done, said, or thought is beyond reproach.
Monday, October 8, 2018 0 comments

The Covering of the Tabernacle Equipment



5 And when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering veil, and cover the ark of testimony with it:
6 And shall put thereon the covering of badgers’ skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof.
7 And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon:
8 And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put in the staves thereof.
9 And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it:
10 And they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put it upon a bar.
11 And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put to the staves thereof:
12 And they shall take all the instruments of ministry, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put them on a bar:
13 And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth thereon:
14 And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basins, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers’ skins, and put to the staves of it. (Numbers 4:5-14)
In these verses as I was reading I noticed that the Tabernacle equipment was to be covered before it was moved. This emphasized its sacredness and how it was set apart for holy use.

But I also noticed that the manner of covering the objects was not always the same. Moving inward:
·      Altar of sacrifice – covered by purple cloth, then altar vessels/censers/fleshhooks/shovels/ basins, then badger skin.
·      Instruments of ministry in sanctuary – covered by blue cloth, then badger skin.
·      Golden altar of incense – covered by cloth of blue, then badger skin.
·      Candlestick, tongs, snuffers, oil vessels – covered in blue, then badger skin.
·      Shewbread table – covered by blue cloth, then table utensils & shewbread, then scarlet cloth, then badger skin.
·      Ark of the covenant – covered by veil, then badger skin, then blue cloth.

This caused me to ask more questions. Why are some things covered in blue, others by scarlet, and others in purple? Why are some things covered with badger skin on top and the ark isn’t? Is there a progression of change in color as one approaches the holy of holies? Are there any types of Christ present here? Is there a gradation of holiness represented by color or position or number of coverings?

After pondering these different things, it seems to me that there is sophisticated symbolism at work here, teaching things about the Messiah, His nature, and His mission.

First, let’s think about the colors. Blue, scarlet, and purple are used a lot in the robes of the high priest. Blue, with its easy association with the sky, makes us think of the divine and of holiness. Scarlet makes us think of blood, and therefore man in his mortal condition. Purple has several associations. It was a very expensive color at that time, so it was confined to those who had wealth, usually royalty. Also, the color happens to be a mix between blue and red, so it could be in itself a type of Christ, who had both divine and mortal parentage.

The purple cloth that covered the altar of sacrifice says something about the high price of that sacrifice, the fact that Jesus is king of Israel, and His divine-mortal nature.

Many of the things in the holy place were covered with a blue cloth, then with badger skin. The blue makes me think of divinity and badger skin of mortality as well.

The shewbread table, however, had a different kind of covering pattern. The table was first covered with blue cloth, then all the table utinsels and shewbread was placed on it, then covered by scarlet cloth, then badger skin. Why the scarlet?   I think the scarlet was in consideration of how the shewbread represented the twelve tribes of Israel, who were mortal, sinful, and who needed redemption. The shewbread was carried on the blue-covered table, which I think teaches something about how divine power and grace carries us.

The ark of the covenant was first covered with the veil (which separated the holy place from the holy of holies). This made the space under the veil a miniature holy of holies and ensured no unhallowed eyes would see it. Then badgerskin, as all the other things were, and then topped with blue out where all would see it! And the ark would be carried out front. This, I think, teaches first how Christ was a visible example to all of us. Also, I think that blue on the outside teaches that after He died, or passed through the veil, He rose from the dead and regained His glory and ascended into heaven.

That’s a lot of stuff to teach just with the preparations for getting rady to move the Tabernacle! It seems the Lord wanted the priests and Levites to ponder those things and know of His mission even in day-to-day tasks.