The creation of Life, continuing on the theme of creation in 3 Nephi—to identify it and apply it to myself.
First, the earth cleaved. In that destruction, Matter Organized. Secondly, Firmament Divided. The Holy Ghost taught me that the pattern applied to the Earth and also to the People. I applied it to Light.
The creation pattern for those days were obvious and beautiful to me. But then I came to Life! God created plants and animals and mankind, life. I didn’t see that pattern followed as obviously. I read the passages repeatedly, looking for every verse that mentioned flora, fauna, and animals.
I found some. Jesus has sheep in other folds. He would gather the people like a hen gathers her chickens. The sacrament referred to bread (made of grain) and wine (made of fruit). I felt like this was stretching the lesson beyond the mark.
So I left Life as a creation principle in 3 Nephi on my mental question shelf for a while.
One night my super active mind kept me awake. I thought about a wide variety of things. Then I slowed my mind and told myself to count sheep. I laughed to myself, because does that ever really work?
I imagined a sheep and a second sheep, and suddenly, my mind bounced to my question shelf and pulled this off the shelf. I saw Life created in a new way. Recognizing this whole process was my lesson to learn and apply, I hesitated to share because I’m not sure how to share it. The lesson came in flashes, knitting together things I already understood. But it’s come to my mind again this afternoon, so I hope I can organize my thoughts on it.
Trees as People
Throughout many scriptures, scriptural trees metaphorically represent people.
For example, Jacob 5’s chapter heading indicates that the trees allegorically represent various groups of people.
Jacob quotes Zenos relative to the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees—They are a likeness of Israel and the Gentiles—The scattering and gathering of Israel are prefigured—Allusions are made to the Nephites and Lamanites and all the house of Israel—The Gentiles will be grafted into Israel—Eventually the vineyard will be burned.
Isaiah’s beautiful stem, root, and branch metaphors also taught me to look for people in trees.
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
Doctrine and Covenants 113 devotes itself to answering who these trees/parts of trees are.
With my mind open to new avenues of thought, a few scriptures filtered through it.
And the Gods prepared the earth to bring forth the living creature…and the Gods saw they would obey.
Abraham’s record repeatedly mentions a creation and then its obedience to the Gods. “It was good” because it obeyed.
In the darkness after upheaval, the Savior’s voice invited the people to come to Him. He listed the nation’s sins and then said,
O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life…
Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name…
And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh.
Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved.
The Gods created a place for living things to obey. These people outlived catastrophic destruction because they “were more righteous.”
But their purpose of creation wasn’t finished yet.
Because of Adam’s transgression, Earth fell. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice and power overcame the full effects of the Fall, including offering a remission of sins.
When my sins are remitted, I have turned completely away from the sin and the Savior’s grace heals me from that avarice as if it never happened.
A root of the word remission means to restore. Restore to what? In this case, restore to former innocence, purity, glory. I am restored from effects of the Fall. Through Christ, I’ve overcome this estate and become part of the next, Zion.
And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.
And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God…they were one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.
As King Benjamin taught his people at the temple, they covenant to be obedient in all things. Obedient to their Creator.
And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.
And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.
The Book of Mormon brims with stories of people reaching this point. Typically, a person who demonstrates absolute obedience and loyalty to God is called by name, introduced to God, and then given power over elements or other spiritual gifts related to sealing and binding.
In Helaman, Nephi receives this blessing.
Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.
Creation Pattern – Life
That’s a lot of trying to build a foundation to explain that the lesson the Holy Ghost gave me was that this 3 Nephi creation experience wasn’t to create another fallen experience for the Nephites, but to bring them to the next level.
The Savior descends through a heavenly veil. He identifies Himself. He speaks to everyone individually. They handle His body. They testify that He is the Christ. They worship Him. He establishes His doctrine. He organizes structure, ordinances, covenants, power to act in His name.
Then the people feast. They feast on sacramental emblems. They feast on prayers sublime. Angels minister. Fire engulfed.
They were healed in every way. They were changed. He prayed to the Father on behalf of His children..
And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.
And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome.
A world created for those who obey. This is the penultimate example of that creation pattern. The Nephites obeyed. And they gained full life, complete life, eternal life.
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
The Way is created and prepared. So many people in the scriptures show that it’s possible for an ordinary person to reach this promised door.
And that was the Holy Ghost’s invitation to me. Am I obedient in His creation? Do I know the Father and Jesus Christ whom He has sent? Will I choose life?