Who wants to be an angel? Any of you ready to be translated?
Isn't it interesting how angels travel light; they carry no purse or scrip (sorry millionaires), so what do they think is important enough to keep in their knapsacks?
Angels carry in their hands trumpets, vials (bowls), and keys.
These symbols represent the "seals" of their stewardship, or in other words, their sealing power.
-Trumpet. Take the symbol of a trumpet ─ it is the insignia of one who speaks the word of God and who can bind (seal) on earth as in heaven.
-Vial. A vial holds the blessings or judgments of God.
-Key. Keys unlock or lock bottomless pits and gates and doors.
Today I'd like to attempt to clarify a few things about the sealing power because it is not what we generally suppose.
After all, most of us picture the Prophet having the sealing authority and then delegating that authority to temple workers who seal happy couples for time and for all eternity on their wedding day at an altar in the Pocatello Temple.
But hold on. What if the sealing power came not by "the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God; and it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will" (JST Genesis 14:28-29)?
How would it change our understanding of the sealing power if we didn't picture a pyramid structure (hierarchy) in which the President sits at the top and chooses who his authority trickles down to?
Because, here's a curve ball: our current teachings about the priesthood after the order of the Son of God don't add up when we consider the context of the new and everlasting covenant given to Enoch WHEN ADAM WAS STILL ALIVE AND KICKING.
So is it possible we're missing something?
The way we administer priesthood authority while ignoring the "voice of God" is like trying to bake a cake without flour or cookies without butter.
Not very appetizing.
A Sealer is a Seer
Does holding the sealing power make one a seer or vice versa?
For argument's sake, let's say Enoch was 308 years old when Adam died at the ripe old age of 930. How old was Enoch when he received his endowment from God?
Enoch was twenty-five years old when he was ordained under the hand of Adam; and he was sixty-five and Adam blessed him.
What is the difference between:
(1) Ordination by the laying on of hands.
(2) Receiving the "blessings" of the Fathers.
(3) Being called by God's own voice.
How did Enoch receive his calling and election? How did he obtain the sealing power when he was "but a lad" (Moses 6:31)?
In the Book of Moses we learn "the Spirit of God descended out of heaven and abode upon him [Enoch]" (Moses 6:27) and he received his spiritual endowment:
And the Lord said unto Enoch: Anoint thine eyes with clay, and wash them, and thou shalt see.
Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify.
(Moses 6:35, 34)
It was by God's own voice ─ just as it says in JST Genesis 14! And "from henceforth came the saying abroad in the land:
A seer hath the Lord raised up unto his people.
Was Adam jealous? Did Adam march down to Enoch's bishop and demand he pull his temple recommend for being out-of-order?
"Windows of Heaven"
The point of that lead-up discussion about the priesthood was two fold; first, we're going to circle back around to Enoch in the next post when we discuss translation; and second, I wanted to loosen up our minds a bit to introduce some concepts that may be new to some of us.
But I want us to ignore the Seven Seals from the Book of Revelation for a moment (they get all the press) because we first need to talk about seals in general terms.
I am using the word "seals" ― but the word itself is not important, just the idea.
There are seals placed between this world and others (think of them as windows between kingdoms) that pertain to the translation of the spiritual to the temporal and of the temporal to the spiritual.
When the scriptures talk about the "windows of heaven" they are referring to these intersections (convergences or junctions) between worlds (kingdoms). The opening of seals allow movement between this word and the spirit world, for example, or between the spirit world and the Celestial Kingdom.
We'll see in the course of this series that the doctrine of sealing is closely related to the doctrine of translation.
Through seals (think: windows) a person may pass through either physically or spiritually ─ but so may blessings or even a document (such as John's parchment from D&C 7).
The primary function of seals is to allow for the exchange of grace.
The sealing power is nothing more or less than having the keys to open or shut a seal.
A Primer on the Sealing Power
You may be wondering if we can open seals on this side of the window, or does it require someone on the other side? The answer is, Yes.
For example, a seal opens when you receive your calling and election.
When a seal is opened, it begins "a time."
Now that we have our calling and election, we're on the clock; tick tock (don't worry, there won't be a test). All "times" will eventually end, but they are of various durations (sort of like dispensations).
Using the example of receiving one's calling and election, we are placed upon a path to progress onward ("press forward") in order to make our calling and election "sure" while the window (seal) is open. We could even call this the "covenant path."
The example we generally use for the sealing power is marriage. Picture a happy couple on their wedding day. The opening of the seal is important because through the opened channel (window) the couple may receive blessings, privileges, vows, oaths, connections, associations, conversations, and so forth.
Practice Pointer: Don't forget the principle of reciprocity. Remember: windows go both ways; meaning we receive grace for grace (D&C 93:12).
You see, if the window were one-way, we would merely be acted upon. But because we are agents unto ourselves, we can influence the order of heaven by our faith on this side of the window.
Now, going back to our happy couple, they must press forward and secure the promises before the seal closes (what we might call receiving the "more sure word of prophecy").
In other words, the opening of a seal is a promise being extended (an opportunity) by the Lord. But windows open and windows close. The appointed time between those two events may be called "a time," or a day, a generation ─ or even a dispensation, depending on the context.
But for now, just remember that there are OCD angels who record the opening and closing of seals, because all things are done in order and a faithful record is kept in heaven.
Now we come to the crux of the matter. What happens when we fail to secure the promises? For example, if our happy couple becomes disenchanted with each other and divorce. What happens to that seal?
Well, it's fairly common for seals to be broken. But all is not lost! The day of grace may have passed, but as we circle back around, another opportunity will come. The Lord always extends another chance and his hand of mercy is always outstretched.
But, yeah, there's no way to put it gently: we beefed it.
Wherefore he broke my covenant, and it remaineth with me to do with him as seemeth me good.
Definition Time: The two most common ways we "break" a seal are when we:
(1) Receive grace but do not return grace in kind; and/or
(2) Attempt to force open a seal using brute force ("the arm of flesh") instead of the Lord's way.
I think this deserves further explanation:
1. We break a seal when we receive grace, but do not return grace (we become black holes in which grace cannot escape the event horizon of our selfish pride).
2. Instead of waiting upon the Lord and seeking blessings through faith in Him, we use the crowbar of our own strength attempting to pry open the window (think of Lucifer), causing it to shatter.
The Lord said "they have broken mine everlasting covenant," but how? What did they do? "Every man walketh in his own way" (D&C 1:16).
Whereas the glory of God is always reciprocal. A seal, in other words, opens a space for two (or more) things to be united; but the sealing occurs only if those two (or more) things share in each other's grace (light and truth); this is the Glory of God. This is how we become "one" with each other and Him.
(Unless, of course, we're talking about the flip-side of the sealing power, which is the power to "loose" on earth and in heaven; that is, to sever the link between two (or more) things so that they are "cut-off" from each other ─ which means they cannot share grace between them.)
The Doctrine of Agency
Here's the important part: How soon (or long) it takes for another opportunity to come around after we've broken a seal depends upon several factors, but one of them is our faith (repentance) and desire.
We have the ability to expedite the renewal of a seal more than we think. So never give up or lose hope, because Christ will never give up on us. His charity never ever faileth.
For many of us, we're waiting around for God to do something, like we're living life sitting in a boat being carried out to sea by the tide.
Sure, we watch the shoreline shrink as we're pulled out to sea, and so we hope and wait for the tide to turn. "Come on, God, send me a favorable wind! Don't you see I'm adrift?"
In this way we're waiting to be "acted upon" rather than picking up our oars and rowing, or jumping out of the boat and swimming back to shore.
Meanwhile, as we're counting our remaining provisions in the boat, hoping they'll last until the wind turns, we sit in the boat and are lulled to sleep by the ocean's hypnotic tides; we become accustomed to the monsters of the ocean that surround us, all slime and spines, jelly and teeth ─ awful things we begin to think of as normal ─ and bit by bit we lose our humanity in the water's cold, dark depths.
And God is calling us, "Hey, wake up; you've got two arms and two legs; you've got agency, so use it!"
To become agents unto ourselves means we become co-creators with God, standing ("walking") with Him against the tide of entropy.
The Lord responds to our faith! We determine, in large measure, which seals are to be opened.
For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.
(2 Nephi 27:23) The seals placed between the temporal and the spiritual worlds are watched over by those who hold “keys” with which to administer the blessings. What son asks his father for a fish and receives a serpent?
So my friends, knock on those seals.
Pound on them.
And keep knocking.
Blessed to Curse?
Nephi's experience of receiving the "sealing power" from God is interesting.
Blessed art thou, Nephi [the Lord pronounces a blessing] for those things which thou has done . . . [he has returned grace for grace received] Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, [notice the formal covenantal language: an oath sworn by the voice of God before angelic notaries] that . . . I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.
But no one ever reads the next part, in which the Lord gives VERY INTERESTING HYPOTHETICALS of the appropriate use of the sealing power.
(1) If ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done (Helaman 10:8).
Whoa. Things got serious, fast. Why in the world would the Lord START THE LIST with using the sealing power to destroy the temple? Isn't it supposed to be his house? Then why is He getting bids for its demolition?
(2) If ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done (Helaman 10:9).
Can anyone explain why mountains are always in need of moving? Anyone?
(3) If ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass (Helaman 10:10).
Hold on! Where are all the warm fuzzies about using the sealing power to marry newlyweds in pretty dresses with tiered cakes and garter-throwing?
Why is the Lord focused on Nephi using the sealing power to smite?
Well, these were just hypotheticals, right? I'm sure Nephi had better uses for his super-sealing powers.
O Lord, let there be a famine in the land, to stir them up in remembrance of the Lord their God, and perhaps they will repent and turn unto thee.
And so it was done, according to the words of Nephi. And there was a great famine upon the land.
Yikes, I'm not liking this new brand of sealing power. Bring back the bouquets of lilies and roses!
But just so you know we're not proof-texting things here, consider the example of Elijah, the sealing-prophet-in-chief:
And Elijah said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
(1 Kings 17:1)
Practice Pointer: The sealing power is a mirror. It seals and binds according to the hearts of the people. If we're wicked, the sealing power calibrates accordingly, and we get famines and droughts.
And let's not forget this whole Dispensation began with this gusto-draining-whopper:
To them is power given to seal both on earth and in heaven [so far so good, right? Sealing those happy couples in the temple? No.] the unbelieving and rebellious Yea, verily, to seal them up unto the day when the wrath of God shall be poured out upon the wicked.
So how do we see the sealing power being wielded today?