Have you ever wondered if the angels wear wrist watches? Does Kolob sell a line of Rolexes? How do the angels tell time as they jump across time zones and between glories?
We mark our birthdays using the Gregorian calendar, but if an angel described the timing of our birth, would they say, "She was born in 2001"? I doubt it: their desk calendars do not match our own.
The irreconcilable differences between God's reckoning and man's timing has caused a lot of mischief ― especially in terms of the timing of prophecies, dispensations, and measuring generations.
Is it time we synced our watches to God's clock?
Something goes "like clockwork" when it functions without problems or delays.
Does Christ "delay" His coming (D&C 45:26), or is He right-on-schedule? Much is lost-in-translation when dealing with the celestial mechanics of sacred time, which don't fit neatly with our Gregorian calendar (hence why no man knows the day or hour, I guess).
Thus, understanding the "signs of the times" is not about predicting dates and years; it is about understanding the clockwork of Christ through understanding the types, symbols and figures God has given, including those in the stars (like the Zodiac).
I think we underestimate the importance of time; when we view "time" through Christ's eyes, we won't be in a hurry; we won't act hastily; we won't worry.
Why? Because "the peace which passeth all understanding" (Philip. 4:7) accompanies an unshakeable assurance that God's handiwork (like clockwork) shall be redeemed in "the due time of the Lord" (1 Nephi 10:3).
So how does God relate to time? Does He live inside or outside of time? Does He time-sync when dealing with His children here on earth, who are immersed in it?
And most importantly, how does God walk through the currents of time flowing between glories and kingdoms? Can He go backwards in time?
Since the workings of God can span across eons and eternities, He has a long view of things. A bad "day" for God would cover the entire Middle Ages.
Maybe that's why He doesn't panic at the bumps in the road we experience here in mortality. Because with enough time, He can achieve anything.
Fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.
"The Meridian of Time"
It's hard to have an eternal perspective when we measure our lifespans in years, not centuries; when we want to cry out as Joseph Smith in Liberty jail:
O God, where art thou? How long shall thy hand be stayed?
Notice these two questions attempt to situate God in space-time:
(1) Where is God (space); and
(2) How long will He take getting here (time)?
While there is much we do not comprehend about God, I think it is safe to say that something we have in common with Him is that we both operate through cause-and-effect, which means eternity is split into innumerable befores-and-afters.
For example, when Enoch had his remarkable vision, he was told Christ's coming would occur in the "meridian of time" (Moses 7:46; see also Moses 5:57).
A "meridian" is a fascinating word to use, so I want to focus on what a "meridian" is.
In brief, a meridian is a circle. But not just any circle; it is a circle around the earth's surface that is constant, passing between the earth's poles. On earth, since 1884, the Prime Meridian passes through Greenwich, England (0 degrees).
Christ is our Prime Meridian. All celestial time is measured as it relates to Him.
The causal force of creation is Christ; the effect is the atonement. But notice that the effects of the atonement differ when we speak of the spiritual vs. the temporal.
Spiritually the effects of the atonement are applied timelessly (and retroactively), covering everyone who had ever been born before Gethsemane as well as those after it.
Alma reasoned, a century before Christ's atonement:
Behold, I say unto you, is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?
So we see that the spiritual blessings of the atonement existed before the physical performance of Christ's sacrifice, which was taught by King Benjamin:
Whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins . . . as though he had already come among them.
Why is this important? Because the atonement (though infinite and eternal) did not work retroactively when it came to physical resurrection.
Christ was the first-fruits of the resurrection, and all those who had died before Him had to wait to be physically resurrected until after Him.
So resurrection was limited based on timing in a way that the spiritual atonement was not. Thus we see that Christ's atonement walks along two time-tracks. Fascinating, isn't it? But is it important?
Prepare to embark upon a journey that will stretch our minds to the furthest heavens and the darkest abyss (TPJS, p. 137).
God's "Course is One Eternal Round"
Heaven can refer to many things: it can describe the place where God dwells, or it may refer to the society of exalted beings. But I want to talk about heaven in a specific way, in Abraham-Chapter-Three terms.
Kolob, we learn, is "after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof" (Abr. 3:4). Just as planets circle around a star, so too we find God's "course is one eternal round" (D&C 3:2).
What is a "course"? It is "the act of moving in a path from point to point, often progressing through a developmental period or series of events; an ordered process."
The symbolism of Kolob hits us over the head as being a type of Christ; for Kolob (Christ) signifies "the first creation, nearest the celestial [and] first in government" (Facsimile 2, Fig. 1).
The "course" that Christ (Kolob) walks is the path (orbit) we must follow to become as He is.
I visited the Redwood Forests in California last year; at the visitor center the Park Ranger gave me a map of the trails. It started to rain heavily; with my family, we marched through the mud and I kept referring to the (wet) map to figure out which way to go. Because I am terrible at navigation, even with a map, I would have gotten lost except for the fact the trail was marked with signs. I was so relieved when we came to a crossroads and there was a wooden sign with arrows pointing the way.
Heaven is marked by signs (stars and constellations) that point us towards Christ. The course of Christ is an intricate, celestial clock (a "round") that cycles endlessly, in whose scales the worlds-without-end are measured and weighed.
This is the Godly geometry we call "eternity." An eternity is one full round (revolution) of heaven.
Where is Heaven?
When viewed as the totality of God's creations, heaven describes the ordered ("numbered" or "named") creations among His handiwork that have embarked upon the path (course) He has laid for our advancement and growth.
In March 1841, Joseph Smith declared:
"God is good and all his acts are for the benefit of inferior intelligences....
"Therefore, the Lord called them together in council and agreed to form them tabernacles so that he might gender the spirit and the tabernacle together."
(William McIntire Minute Book, March 1841)
Thus we learn the purpose of this circuit we're on: to "gender the spirit and the tabernacle together." (This, the scriptures call "intelligence, or the light of truth." I've talked about this concept in the past, as intelligence is the power of the Spirit upon element; I am not just talking about our physical bodies; I am speaking of tabernacles that extend far beyond our mortal frames, to encompass all things.)
For now, remember we are numbered; we are named. Therefore, we are part of the coursework of heaven itself.
Heaven, naturally, consists of various degrees and glories, but don't think of it in a two-dimensional sense, in which we go "up" to heaven or "down" to hell. Glory increases as we go "in" and diminishes as we go "out."
In our current condition (here in a fallen world) we are in a telestial borderland that is pretty far "out" there; the scriptures call it the "wilderness."
In these outer-reaches (not outer-darkness, thankfully) we find bandits and pirates aplenty. Crime is rampant; homelessness is common; sickness spreads easily.
But we are still within a kingdom (creation) of God. Outer-darkness ― not as used in scriptures but in the modern parlance ― means to be cast out of heaven (thrown off course) into a place where God's glory is not found.
But as we progress inward, coming closer to God ― who is described as being "in the bosom (the center, the heart-place) of eternity" (D&C 88:13) ― something curious happens: we discover spacetime unlike our own, in which there is an absence of impurity; with no plagues or leprosy or leukemia; a place beyond the reach of despair and death, where all uncleanness is consumed in the everlasting burnings of God's love.
The Tabernacle of God
The idea, you see, is not to bring us "into heaven" because we're already in it.
The idea is to bring the glories of the Father further outward, enlarging His dominion.
Imagine a leper whose hand is rotted away; we are at the extremity of heaven, the telestial.
Now, the hand is still connected to the body even if it is sick. The idea is not to cut the hand off, for it must be saved.
Neither is the solution to replace the hand with a hook; or to cover its sores with a napkin. But we don't want to put the hand in our mouth, either, due to its putridness.
So what's the answer? How can the hand be healed and restored? How can the hand receive strength to its nerves, to do the work it was created for?
And finally, how can the spirit of man exert its influence upon the flesh to rebuke the leprosy and make the hand whole?
We are the tabernacle of God. The Spirit is the central nervous system of heaven (the light of Christ) which connects all the parts of the body to the brainstem, the Mind of God.
Thus our distance from God is not necessarily a consequence of sin, but of survival, for if we are not "prepared" to present ourselves at the veil (that curtain of fire which surrounds the Tree of Life), we would perish in HIs presence.
This is what it means to repent: to clasp hands with God, whose arm extends through the Cherubim's flame to take our hand in His, drawing us back into His presence.
All those who turn to face God ("repent") cannot help but have His image seared into their visages with the flame unperishable, branding their flesh and spirit with His name.
All this to say, God's arm extends through all the heavens, great and small; there is no part or place in His heaven that He cannot reach us.
Time is Not of the Essence
I know, I know. "Time is measured only to man; there will be no time in the Millennium. God resides in an eternal Now."
Actually, the only time that will cease-to-be in a future day is the time we're accustomed to in our current state ― it is our calendars, not God's, that shall become obsolete in the Divine Y2K of the earth being rolled up as a scroll.
It is a unique feature of the gospel of Christ to watch for the signs and seasons of His coming. The celestial clock does not include manmade gears and wheels; it does not rely on spinning handles to tell the hour and minute.
This celestial clock is timed to the movement of the spinning stars and planets:
They move in their times and their seasons;
And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets.
And they give light to each other in their times and in their seasons, in their minutes, in their hours, in their days, in their weeks, in their months, in their years-- all these are one year with God, but not with man.
Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power.
(D&C 88:42-44, 47)
It appears the Restoration exposed a big gap in our gospel knowledge, to wit: understanding the Logos-sky. We're not talking about astrology, but of a sacred knowledge dealing with the workings of the heavens and how they mark sacred time.
In the beginning, Adam was taught of these things; Abraham had them renewed to him; and Joseph Smith gave us a glimpse but never took the time to spell it out. So we'll have to fill in the gaps.
The records of the fathers, even the patriarchs, concerning the right of Priesthood, [includes] a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars.
When was the last time we heard a General Authority give a talk on the meaning of the Zodiac? Isn't it ironic we claim to have the authority of the Priesthood, having lost its key of knowledge?
In our next post, we shall explore the celestial calendar.