How Can I Learn to See Heavenly Father’s Our Heavenly Parents’ Hands in All Things?

Note:

First, I want to acknowledge that I totally ripped-off my post’s title from Kevin Barney’s amazing Dialogue article entitled, How to Worship Our Mother in Heaven (Without Being Excommunicate).” These are the notes from a lesson I gave to all the youth on the last Sunday of January 2015. I wanted to do two things with this lesson:

  1. Show how the LDS understanding of Deity has evolved and have a reasonable explanation for why this is.
  2. Have one spot where all the Hebrew scriptures that talk about Lady Wisdom (Mother in Heaven) appear.

This blog post is a little bit longer than what I normally write for a few reasons:

  1. It contains questions as well as plausible answers to the questions in order to direct the conversation in a certain direction
  2. It contains entire chunks of scripture, as opposed to just citations, in order to help the discussion move along quicker; what I am saying is that the kids didn’t have to look up scripture as the scriptures are right here in the hand-out.  What I handed out to the youth in my ward was a trimmed-down version of my notes.

Because of time constraints, I ended up skipping the first part of my lesson (which builds a doctrinal foundation that leads up to Mother in Heaven) and instead just jumped right in where the lesson starts discussing our Heavenly Mother.

Lastly, the featured image is entitled,“The Tree of LIfe” and was painted by Gala Dara Smith. The Painting is used with her permission and as you read it will become apparent why I chose her painting.

Creeds:  Are there Three Persons and one God or Three Persons and Three Gods?

What is a creed?

A statement of the basic beliefs of a religion

An idea or set of beliefs that guides the actions of a person or group
From Joseph Smith History 1:19

19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

What are the creeds that Joseph Smith would have been writing about?

The Nicene Creed of 325?

Probably not.

Westminster Creed of 1646?

Recently Mormon scholars have landed on the idea that the above statement was in reference to the Westminster Confession of Faith.   Let’s read this, not to mock or criticize, but to compare with our religious beliefs.  Just to note, there are several versions of this creed:

 

I. There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal most just and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

II. God hath all live, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, and upon them, whatsoever Himself pleaseth. In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.

In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

Okay, let’s take a closer look at some of the wording:

“a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts…”

Doctrine and Covenants 130:22

22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also

“[ without] passions, immutable”

Without passions,  means that God does not feel pain nor pleasure from the actions of another being.  The fancy word for this is impassable.   Immutable is a fancy word to mean, God doesn’t change.  The reason God’s immutability follows the idea that God is impassable is this.  If God’s feelings could change, due to another person, then God does in fact change.  That is, if God had passions, then He could not be immutable.

How do Mormons see God?  Is He impassable and immutable?

Moses 7:28, 32-40

28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;

33 And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;

34 And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them.

35 Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also.

36 Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creations which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren.

37 But behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?

38 But behold, these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods; and behold, I will shut them up; a prison have I prepared for them.

39 And that which I have chosen hath pled before my face. Wherefore, he suffereth for their sins; inasmuch as they will repent in the day that my Chosen shall return unto me, and until that day they shall be in torment;

40 Wherefore, for this shall the heavens weep, yea, and all the workmanship of mine hands.

Why is God weeping? Are His feelings of joy and pain being changed because of humans?

So, as things are constructed in our faith, is God impassable?  Is God immutable?

No

“the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance”

This idea is a little confusing because it deals with the idea of personhood.   We usually think of a “person” as a “body”.  “Person”, in this instance, means “center of consciousness.”   Let me give an example:

My daughter and I have two different bodies. Agree?

My daughter  and I are two different persons. Agree?

What about Siamese twins?

Do they have two different bodies? No

Are they two different persons? Yes

So a Siamese twin has one body, but two centers of consciousness.

So with the Westminster Creed.  There is one God, with three centers of consciousness.  Or, in other words, Three persons, but one God.

Again, Doctrine and Covenants 130:22

22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.

So, how many persons are there?

Three

How many Gods?

Three. God the Father.  God the Son. And God the Holy Spirit

Three Gods’s and three persons.

 Some Quick Church History

The Doctrine and Covenants has two parts to its name:

Doctrine

Covenants

Does anyone know why it has this name (Doctrine and Covenants)?

The Doctrine part refers to a part called, Lectures on Faith, that appeared in the first Doctrine and Covenants in 1835.   The Lectures on Faith were eventually decanonized, which is a fancy way of saying,  “taken out” of the Doctrine and Covenants, in 1921.

in Lecture 5 we read:

“There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing, and supreme power over all things – by whom all things were created and made that are created and made, whether visible or invisible”

“which Mind [of God] is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son”

Is the Holy Ghost a person?

Nope.  It’s just “the mind of God.”

“The Father being a personage of spirit, glory, and power, possessing all perfection and fullness.”

Does God the Father have a body of flesh and bones?

No.  He is just a spirit.

“The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man – or rather, man was formed after his likeness and in his image.

“He is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father, possessing all the fullness of the Father, or the same fullness with the Father, being begotten of him

“and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name;

“and is called the Son because of the flesh – and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer, or in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be.”

“But notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God and remained without sin; showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin.”

Compare the quotes from Lectures on Faith to Mosiah 15:1-5 and the Westminster Creed.

Raise your hand if you hear any similarities to what Abinadi is saying and what Joseph Smith said in his Lectures on Faith as well as what we read in the Westminster Creed..

1 And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.

2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—

(and is called the Son because of the flesh. Lectures on Faith)

3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—

4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.

(There is but one only living and true God – Westminster)

5 And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.

(suffering below that which man can suffer, or in other words, suffered greater sufferings… he kept the law of God and remained without sin; showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin – Lectures on Faith)

Okay, put all that in the back of your mind and we will come back to it in a second.   Just recognize there are similarities to these early expressions of the nature of God in LDS theology with what we saw in the Westminster Creed.  And that these similarities are different than what we find later in Doctrine and Covenants Section 130 which was received in 1843; over 10 years after the Book of Mormon was published and nearly almost 10 years after The Lectures on Faith were first published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.

First Vision Accounts

We have several accounts of Joseph’s First Vision. Let’s  look at them. Pay close attention to how many people appear to Joseph Smith:

1832

“therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy for there was none else to whom I could go and to obtain mercy and the Lord heard my cry in the wilderne ss and while in <the> attitude of calling upon the Lord <in the 16th year of my age> a piller of fire light above the brightness of the sun at noon day come down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the spirit of god and the <Lord> opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord16 and he spake unto me saying Joseph <my son> thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy <way> walk in my statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life” (Joseph Smith Papers)

One personage

 

1835

“a pillar of fire appeared above my head, it presently rested down upon my <me> head, and filled me with joy unspeakable, a personage appeard in the midst, of this pillar of flame which was spread all around, and yet nothing consumed, another personage soon appeard like unto the first, he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee, he testifyed unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God” (Joseph Smith Papers)

Two people appear, but don’t identify themselves

 

1839-1841

“I saw a pillar <of> light exactly over my head above the brightness of the sun, which descended gracefully gradually untill it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two personages (whose brightness and glory defy all description) standing above me in the air. One of <them> spake unto me calling me by name and said (pointing to the other) “This is my beloved Son, Hear him.”(Joseph Smith Papers)

This is the version most familiar to us. It has two personages and one of them is the Son of God, so we can safely assume the second person is God the Father.

 

The earliest printed account was written by Apostle, Orson Pratt, An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Vision, 1840:

“from the natural objects with which he was surrounded; and he was enwrapped in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in their features or likeness. He was informed, that his sins were forgiven.” (Joseph Smith Papers)

Two people appear, but don’t identify themselves

 

JS, “Church History,” Times and Seasons, 1 Mar. 1842, 3:706–707. This brief history of the church, often referred to as the “Wentworth letter,” was prepared at the request of a Chicago newspaper editor. The extent of Joseph Smith’s involvement in writing it is not known, but it was published with his signature.

“I retired to a secret place in a grove and began to call upon the Lord, while fervently en gaged in supplication my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a heavenly vision and saw two glorious personages who exactly resembled each other in features, and likeness, surround ed with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon-day” (Joseph Smith Papers)

Two personages.

 

Apostle Orson Hyde, Ein Ruf aus der Wüste (A Cry out of the Wilderness), 1842, extract, English translation

“At this sacred moment, the natural world around him was excluded from his view, so that he would be open to the presentation of heavenly and spiritual things. Two glorious heavenly personages stood before him, resembling each other exactly in features and stature. They told him that his prayers had been answered and that the Lord had decided to grant him a special blessing.”(Joseph Smith Papers)

Two unidentified heavenly messengers

 

In August 1843, David Nye White, editor of the Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, interviewed Joseph Smith in his home as part of a two-day stop in Nauvoo, Illinois

“Directly I saw a light, and then a glorious per sonage in the light, and then another person age, and the first personage said to the second, “Behold my beloved Son, hear him.”(Joseph Smith Papers)

We can assume that this is God the Father and God the Son.

 

On 24 May 1844, German immigrant and church member Alexander Neibaur visited Joseph Smith in his home and heard him relate the circumstances of his earliest visionary experience.

“a fire towards heaven came near & nearer saw a personage in the fire light complexion blue eyes a piece of white cloth drawn over his shoulders his right arm bear after a w[h]ile a other person came to the side of the first” (Joseph Smith Papers).

One person.

 

What do we learn from these accounts?

Some would say that Joseph was changing his story as he went along.  I think there is another way to interpret this.

Article of faith 9:

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

 

“If the Book of Mormon were now to be rewritten, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:311)

 

“Things that fall from heaven are still colored by earth” (John Dillenberger, Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California).

 

“I do not even believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the Church, that is perfect in its fulness. The revelations of God contain correct doctrine and principle, so far as they go; but it is impossible for the poor, weak, low, grovelling, sinful inhabitants of the earth to receive a revelation from the Almighty in all its perfections. He has to speak to us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities . . . ” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:314)

 

God works with us where we are.  And our experiences with the divine are interpreted by our own historical and personal context.

Joseph grew up with the ideas expressed in the Westminster Creed, that is, God is a Spirit and that there are three persons and one God.  We see that in his early language as he describes the First Vision (only one person) in the Lectures on Faith (the Holy Ghost isn’t even a person, but is the mind of God. God is a Spirit), and even in the Book of Mormon where the language that Abinadi uses sounds very trinitarian.

As Joseph grew, his past experiences were reinterpreted and God was able to reveal more to him as he was ready.   This should not be a stumbling block, but rather an open acknowledgment that God works with people where they are – you and me included – and that God will continue to amend past revelations.

With that in mind, one of the most wonderful Doctrines of Mormonism, and where Mormonism departs from creedal Christianity quite a bit, is the idea of a Female God.

We don’t have any contemporary accounts of Joseph teaching about a Heavenly Mother.  But we find it being discussed shortly after his death. This would suggest that Joseph did in fact teach it.  Our earliest account of a a Mother in Heaven is a poem written by one of Joseph Smith’s polygamous wives, Elliza Roxy Snow-Smith.

Does anyone know why I use the name, Eliza Roxy Snow-Smith?

She was one of Joseph Smith’s polygamous wives.

It was originally called, “My Father in Heaven,” was also called, “Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother,” 

Eiza first wrote the poem on October 1845 in Nauvoo, Illinois and it appeared in the Church periodical, Times and Season, on November 18, 1845.  Here is a line from her poem.

Tell me if you recognize it and what do we call her poem now?

I had learned to call thee Father, Through thy Spirit from on high,
But until the key of knowledge Was restored, I knew not why.
In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason, truth eternal Tells me I’ve a mother there.
When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?
Then, at length, when I’ve completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.

Hymn number 292, “O My Father.”

So, why don’t we hear more about Mother in Heaven?  That question is working under the assumption that we don’t have much information about her, which is incorrect.  Look at the following graph:

hm3

“The holy name of Deity is blas- phemed when used in concert with gutter language and misused in every- day expressions. . . . Is it any wonder that our Father in Heaven has been so protective of the identity of our Mother in Heaven?”(Hoyt J. Brewster Jr., Behold, I Come Quickly: The Last Days and Beyond  (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994),  Brewster is a Mormon scholar and managing director of the Church’s Priesthood Department.)*

Brother Brewster’s statement seems to contradict actual facts as presented in the above graph and in the following statements:

Over 600 cases where General Authorities spoke about Heavenly Mother are documented in the BYU Studies artilce, entitled, “A Mother There: A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven.” Here are some examples:

  • Heavenly Wife and Parent: 1995 (The Family: A Proclamation to the World), President Boyd K. Packer – we “lived in a pre-mortal existence as an individual spirit child of heavenly parents.”
  • Divine Person: Elder Orson F. Whitney – “there was a time when that being whom we now worship- that our eternal Father and Mother….”
  •  Co-Creator with the Father: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife, Patricia, have taught that our Mother and our Father are involved in the ongoing process of creating everything around us, and “are doing so lovingly and carefully and masterfully.”
  • Coframer of the Plan of Salvation: Elder M. Russell Ballard – “we are part of a divine plan by Heavenly Parents who love us.”
  • Involved Parent in Our Mortality: President Harold B. Lee – “We forget that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother…”
  • Mother in Heaven in the Hereafter: Elder Neal A. Maxwell – “…such a regal homecoming [could not] be possible without the anticipatory arrangements of a Heavenly Mother.”1

Elder Glenn L. Pace –

“Sisters, I testify that when you stand in front of your heavenly parents in those royal courts on high and you look into Her eyes and behold Her countenance, any question you ever had about the role of women in the kingdom will evaporate into the rich celestial air, because at that moment you will see standing directly in front of you, your divine nature and destiny.”

For the women here, how does the above statement make you feel?

Mother in Heaven in the Hebrew Tradition

Mother in Heaven in the Jewish/Hebrew tradition was associated with the oak, the tamarisk, the date palm, the sycamore, and many other species. This association led to her identification with sacred trees or the tree of life.

Mother in Heaven base figurines were ubiquitous in ancient Israel homes.

In Jewish tradition, the tree of life was most commonly an olive tree and thus, olives would be the fruit of that tree.

Is it significant that we use olive oil when we give healing blessings?

It appears that it is in part a symbol of our Mother’s nurturing concern for our health.

In Jewish tradition, study is perceived as a kind of worship. So, studying can be a way for you to acknowledge Mother in Heaven (I totally stole this from Kevin Barney).

A good question would be, “Does Mother in Heaven show up in scripture?”

Yes she does, but you must look for her.

What does personification mean?

To attribute human characteristics to something non-human.

Mother in Heaven shows up most often as what scholars call, “The personification of Wisdom.”  

It used to be that scholars thought that Wisdom, when it is described as a female God, was just metaphor.  That was, until some interesting discoveries were made that showed that Israel in deed did acknowledge a female God:

Two separate pieces of archaeological evidence have been central to scholarly discussion about an Israelite Goddess. These are a number of inscriptions found in the Negev desert (Kuntillet ‘Ajrud) and Judah (Khirbet el-Qom) that mention Yahweh in association with a female deity referred to as “his asherah” and hundreds of small clay figurines recovered from excavations throughout central and southern Palestine that depict a female holding her breasts ( for a very scholarly discussion of this, click here).

Kuntillet

pillarfigurines-300x200

When Mother in Heaven shows up in the Bible as the personification of Wisdom, scholars will sometimes call her, “The Divine Feminine” “Lady Wisdom” or “Sophia”. Sophia is the Greek for Wisdom.

Do any of you have a friend who’s name is Sophia or Sophie?

Pretty cool name, right?

Let’s dig in. So anywhere it says “Wisdom”, just insert in your mind, “Mother in Heaven.”

In the lesson we went through as many of these scriptures as we could and discussed them.  I explicitly sought out the input of the young women in the room.

Psalms 111:10
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practise it have a good understanding.
His praise endures for ever.

Proverbs 1
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 3:
13 Happy are those who find wisdom,
and those who get understanding,
14 for her income is better than silver,
and her revenue better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honour.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called happy.
(vs 18 is a reference to one of the trees found in the creation narrative of Genesis. Pretty cool)

19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;

(a reference to Her participation in creation)

20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
and the clouds drop down the dew.
Proverbs 7
4 Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister’,
and call insight your intimate friend,
5 that they may keep you from the loose woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words.
6 For at the window of my house
I looked out through my lattice,
(^^^ This is Wisdom speaking. In the Greek translations, they made this woman, not Lady Wisdom, but rather the foreign woman that is trying to seduce the young man away from a life of prudence (they do this by changing the pronoun). It was their attempt to demythologize Wisdom as the Wife of God)
7 and I saw among the simple ones,
I observed among the youths,
a young man without sense,
8 passing along the street near her corner,
taking the road to her house
9 in the twilight, in the evening,
at the time of night and darkness.
( ^^ A little weird, but Wisdom is trying to entice the young man to a life of personal and erotic fulfillment)
10 Then a woman comes towards him,
decked out like a prostitute, wily of heart.*
11 She is loud and wayward;
her feet do not stay at home;
12 now in the street, now in the squares,
and at every corner she lies in wait.
13 She seizes him and kisses him,
and with impudent face she says to him:
14 ‘I had to offer sacrifices,
and today I have paid my vows;
15 so now I have come out to meet you,
to seek you eagerly, and I have found you!
16 I have decked my couch with coverings,
coloured spreads of Egyptian linen;
17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,
aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love until morning;
let us delight ourselves with love.
19 For my husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey.
20 He took a bag of money with him;
he will not come home until full moon.’
21 With much seductive speech she persuades him;
with her smooth talk she compels him.
22 Right away he follows her,
and goes like an ox to the slaughter,
or bounds like a stag towards the trap
23 until an arrow pierces its entrails.
He is like a bird rushing into a snare,
not knowing that it will cost him his life.
24 And now, my children, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
25 Do not let your hearts turn aside to her ways;
do not stray into her paths.
26 for many are those she has laid low,
and numerous are her victims.
27 Her house is the way to Sheol,
going down to the chambers of death.
Proverbs 8
8Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?
2 On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3 beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:
4 ‘To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.
5 O simple ones, learn prudence;
acquire intelligence, you who lack it.
6 Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right;
7 for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are righteous;
there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
9 They are all straight to one who understands
and right to those who find knowledge.
10 Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold;
11 for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
12 I, wisdom, live with prudence,
and I attain knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
and perverted speech I hate.
14 I have good advice and sound wisdom;
I have insight, I have strength.
15 By me kings reign,
and rulers decree what is just;
16 by me rulers rule,
and nobles, all who govern rightly.
(^^ she maintains cosmic order and is the teacher of her initiate.)
17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me diligently find me.
18 Riches and honour are with me,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
and my yield than choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
21 endowing with wealth those who love me,
and filling their treasuries.
22 The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
26 when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
( I love the following verses because it shows She was there at creation)
27 When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.
32 ‘And now, my children, listen to me:
happy are those who keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction and be wise,
and do not neglect it.
34 Happy is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
35 For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favour from the Lord;
36 but those who miss me injure themselves;
all who hate me love death.’
Proverbs 9
9Wisdom has built her house,
she has hewn her seven pillars.
( ^^^ She has built her temple)
2 She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine,
she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls
from the highest places in the town,
4 ‘You that are simple, turn in here!’
To those without sense she says,
5 ‘Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Lay aside immaturity, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.’
Job 28
12 ‘But where shall wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?
13 Mortals do not know the way to it,
and it is not found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, “It is not in me”,
and the sea says, “It is not with me.”

(Here “The Deep” and “The Sea” (which are actually the proper nouns, Tehom and Yam) are being personified as they are in old, non-Biblical, and some biblical, creation narratives. I wonder if this a reference to Genesis 1:1-2 and 8:1 which read:
“1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters.”
In the story of Noah, we read:

Genesis 8:1
8But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided;
the word, “wind” found in “wind of God” is a very direct translation. Some are uncomfortable with this and render it as “Spirit of God” instead; the wind that blows in the Noah story is the same Hebrew word as the “Wind of God” in Genesis 1:2 The word, “swept” is sometimes rendered as “hovering”. I picture it more like “brooding” – what a hen does with its chicks. Regardless, the Genesis verse has the wind of God as acting as a separate divine entity from God. I don’ t totally understand this next part, but apparently the word, “hover” or “swept” is a feminine verb, so it renders the word phrase, “Wind of God” or “Spirit of God,” as a feminine deity. )

Job continues:
15 It cannot be bought for gold,
and silver cannot be weighed out as its price.
16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
in precious onyx or sapphire.
17 Gold and glass cannot equal it,
nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.
18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
the price of wisdom is above pearls.
19 The chrysolite of Ethiopia cannot compare with it,
nor can it be valued in pure gold.

(These verses in Job are in explicit contradiction of the piety of the literature of the above Proverb verses, which while comparing Wisdom favorably with precious metals and stones, also stresses her availability)

Proverbs 3:13-18
“13 Happy are those who find wisdom,
and those who get understanding,
14 for her income is better than silver,
and her revenue better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honour.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called happy. “

(With these Job verses, she is inaccessible. )

Job continues:
20 ‘Where then does wisdom come from?
And where is the place of understanding?
21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
and concealed from the birds of the air.
(According to one Bible scholar, “It” at the beginning of this verse, should be translated as “She”. and in the subsequent verses, “It” should be rendered as “her”)
22 Abaddon and Death say,
“We have heard a rumour of it with our ears.”
23 ‘God understands the way to it,
and he knows its place.
24 For he looks to the ends of the earth,
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he gave to the wind its weight,
and apportioned out the waters by measure;
26 when he made a decree for the rain,
and a way for the thunderbolt;
27 then he saw it and declared it;
he established it, and searched it out.
28 And he said to humankind,
“Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding.” ’
(Wisdom, according to the author of this part of Job believes that Mother God, although comparable to precious metals and stones, is (unlike precious stones and metals) inaccessible, except through Father God.)

 

Job 38

(Here Father God asks Job where Job was during creation, for Mother in Heaven (as seen in chapter 28), pre-existed creation. Pretty cool)

1Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
2 ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
4 ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings* shouted for joy?
8 ‘Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb?—
9 when I made the clouds its garment,
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed bounds for it,
and set bars and doors,
11 and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stopped”?
12 ‘Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 so that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal,
and it is dyed* like a garment.
15 Light is withheld from the wicked,
and their uplifted arm is broken.
16 ‘Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.
19 ‘Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
20 that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21 Surely you know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!
22 ‘Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
25 ‘Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a way for the thunderbolt,
26 to bring rain on a land where no one lives,
on the desert, which is empty of human life,
27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground put forth grass?

Conclusion

I changed the title of this lesson.  By reading about our Heavenly Mother’s attributes, we can better see her hand in our lives.

What are some of Her attributes you all learned today?

________

notes

1Quote was found in BYU Studies article, “A Mother There:  A Survey of Historical Teaching About Mother in Heaven”

Michael is a Guatemalan-American Mormon living in the Northwest with his family. He is one of the proprietors of the Rational Faiths blog.

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