Divine Symbols in Our Journey: Understanding Heavenly Language
Symbols play a crucial role in our understanding of divine teachings. Our Heavenly Father, in His wisdom, frequently employs symbols to communicate profound truths, making complex concepts accessible and relatable. This symbolic language is not just a teaching tool but a means to convey spiritual principles in a manner that resonates deeply with the human soul.
Throughout the scriptures and our daily experiences, symbols serve as reminders and guides, helping us to navigate our spiritual journey. For example, a simple color or number, once identified as a symbol by Heavenly Father, becomes laden with meaning and can offer insights into His teachings. In the scriptures, these symbols are not mere literary devices but channels through which God imparts wisdom and understanding.
The power of these symbols lies in their ability to transcend the ordinary, turning everyday objects and numbers into vessels of divine truth. By understanding and interpreting these symbols, we unlock a deeper level of spiritual knowledge. They are more than just representations; they are conduits of God’s wisdom, offering us a clearer vision of His plan and intentions for us. Recognizing and interpreting these symbols enriches our spiritual lives, providing clarity and guidance on our path to understanding His eternal truths.
The Symbol of the Quilt
Imagine a family stumbling upon an old, intricately designed quilt handed down through generations. Each patch on the quilt represents a different symbol, each with its own story and teaching. The family, intrigued by the quilt’s history and the symbols it bears, decides to explore its meanings more deeply.
As they research, they discover that one patch depicts an olive tree, not only a symbol of love, peace, and our Mother in Heaven, but a symbol of the Tree of Life from scripture. Another patch shows a white dove, representing the Holy Spirit ascending and descending from heaven to give us divine guidance and comfort. Dozens of other symbols were on this quilt, each with a meaning to be discovered. The family learns that each symbol on the quilt is not just a design choice but a representation of a spiritual principle or a historic event that shaped their ancestors’ faith.
This discovery turns into a family project, with each member delving into different symbols, seeking to understand the spiritual teachings they represent. The quilt becomes more than a family heirloom; it becomes a catalyst for spiritual discovery and growth. Through this journey, the family members find themselves connecting more deeply with their faith, understanding the values and beliefs that have been passed down through generations, and seeing how these symbols are reflected in their own lives. The quilt, thus, serves as a bridge between their ancestral legacy and their current spiritual journey, turning their hearts to their forefathers.
The Power of Symbols in Scripture
The use of symbols in scripture is a powerful method through which Heavenly Father communicates deep spiritual truths. Symbols are often used to represent complex concepts in a way that is both profound and accessible. For instance, the number seven in the Bible is frequently associated with completeness or perfection, as seen in the creation story where the creators completed their work in seven days. This symbolism of seven extends beyond the narrative to signify the idea of completeness in other contexts throughout the scriptures.
Another example is the use of color in scriptural stories. The color white often symbolizes purity and holiness, as demonstrated in the book of Revelation where it describes the righteous clothed in white robes. Similarly, the color red can symbolize sacrifice and atonement, reflective of Christ’s blood shed for humanity.
These symbols are not arbitrary; they carry a divine weight and meaning that transcends their literal interpretation. In Moroni 7:16-17 in the Book of Mormon, it’s taught that “the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil.” This passage highlights the universal nature of Christ’s light as a guiding symbol in our lives, enabling us to discern between right and wrong.
By understanding and reflecting on these symbols, we gain a deeper insight into God’s teachings. These symbols act as spiritual markers, guiding us in our faith and helping us to understand and internalize divine principles. They are keys to unlocking a richer, more profound understanding of our Heavenly Father’s teachings, providing us with a clearer path to follow in our spiritual journey.
As the family with the quilt discovers, each symbol in scripture carries layers of meaning that, when unraveled, reveal the depth and richness of God’s wisdom and love. By studying these scriptural symbols, we, too, can deepen our understanding and appreciation of the divine messages they convey.
Symbolism in Everyday Life
The symbolic language established in scripture often extends into our everyday lives, allowing us to see the hand of God in the world around us. The family’s exploration of the quilt’s symbols demonstrates how ordinary objects can hold extraordinary spiritual significance. Just as each patch on the quilt represents a different aspect of their faith, the symbols we encounter daily can remind us of the Savior’s teachings and His involvement in our lives.
For instance, the rising sun can be a symbol of Christ’s resurrection and the hope of a new beginning. The changing seasons can symbolize the cycle of life, death, and rebirth, reminding us of eternal principles like resurrection and renewal. Even the simple act of breaking bread can recall the Last Supper, symbolizing unity, sacrifice, and the blessings of life.
In recognizing these symbols in our daily lives, we cultivate a heightened awareness of the spiritual significance that surrounds us. This awareness can transform our perception of the world, helping us to see the divine in the mundane and to find spiritual meaning in our everyday experiences.
As we become more attuned to these symbols, we also become more receptive to the promptings of the Spirit. Just as the quilt became a tool for the family to connect with their faith heritage, the symbols we encounter can strengthen our connection with God. They serve as reminders of His love, His promises, and His teachings, guiding us in our decisions and actions.
By actively seeking and reflecting on these symbols, we open ourselves to a deeper spiritual understanding and a more profound relationship with God. We learn to see His hand in all things and to appreciate the myriad ways He communicates with us. As we integrate this symbolic understanding into our lives, we find that our daily experiences are enriched with spiritual meaning and purpose, drawing us closer to our Heavenly Father.
Deciphering Divine Symbols
Understanding and interpreting the symbols used by Heavenly Father can profoundly enhance our spiritual learning and experience. The key to deciphering these symbols lies in a combination of scriptural study, prayer, and personal revelation. Just as the family with the heirloom quilt sought to understand each patch’s significance, we too can seek to understand the symbols in scriptures and our surroundings.
Modern prophets and apostles have often spoken about the importance of understanding symbols. For example, Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in his talk “Symbols,” delivered at a BYU devotional on October 12, 1971 said:
“Symbols are the timeless and universal language in which God, when He chooses, often speaks to men about eternal things.”
Furthermore, as we familiarize ourselves with the language of symbols and their meanings, we become more attuned to the messages Heavenly Father is conveying to us. Symbols can serve as personal reminders of our commitments, promptings for action, or reassurances of God’s love and plans for us. The more we ponder and pray about these symbols, the more profound our insights and understanding will become.
50 Common Symbols
Here’s a list of 50 symbols commonly found in our theology, along with brief explanations for each:
1. Iron Rod. Steadfastness in the gospel, holding to the word of God.
2. Tree of Life. The love of God and the gift of eternal life.
3. White Clothing in Temples. Purity, cleanliness, and equality before God.
4. Beehive. Industry, unity, and cooperative work.
5. Olive Tree/Olive Branch. Peace, the gathering of Israel, and Christ’s Atonement.
6. Water. Cleansing, spiritual birth (baptism), and living water (Christ).
7. Bread and Water (Sacrament). The body and blood of Christ, renewal of covenants.
8. Liahona. Divine guidance and the importance of faith and obedience.
9. Salt. Preservation, covenant discipleship, being the “salt of the earth.”
10. Dove. The Holy Ghost, peace, and purity.
11. Sword. The word of God, truth, and defense against evil.
12. Lamp/Light. The Light of Christ, intelligence, and truth.
13. Anchor. Hope and steadfastness in Christ.
14. Fish. Early Christian symbol, discipleship.
15. Candle. Light of Christ, spreading the gospel.
16. Path/Way. The journey of life, following Christ’s path.
17. Mountain. Higher communion with God, temple worship.
18. Leaven/Bread. The kingdom of God, personal growth.
19. Rock/Stone. Christ as the cornerstone, revelation, and firm foundation.
20. Shepherd and Sheep. Christ as the Good Shepherd, followers of Christ.
21. Oil. The Holy Ghost, consecration, and preparedness.
22. Ring/Circle. Eternity, eternal marriage, and the eternal nature of man.
23. Garments (Temple). Covenants, protection, and sacredness.
24. Sun, Moon, Stars. Degrees of glory in the afterlife.
25. Flame/Fire. The Holy Ghost, purification, and God’s presence.
26. Cup or Chalice. The Atonement of Christ, suffering.
27. Harvest. The gathering of Israel, missionary work.
28. Vineyard. The world, the place of God’s work.
29. Mirror. Self-reflection, seeing ourselves as God sees us.
30. Gate. Entrance into God’s kingdom, baptism.
31. Cross. Christ’s atonement, sacrifice, and resurrection.
32. Crown. Exaltation and glory, victory over sin.
33. Linen. Righteousness, cleanliness.
34. Honey. The sweetness of the gospel, spiritual nourishment.
35. Lion. Christ as the Lion of Judah, courage, and power.
36. Handclasp. Fellowship, unity, and the sealing power.
37. Wheat. The righteous, gathered during the Second Coming.
38. Tares. The wicked, opposition to righteousness.
39. Eye. Divine watchfulness, all-seeing nature of God.
40. Mustard Seed. Faith, growth from small beginnings.
41. Camel. Endurance, sometimes worldly wealth.
42. Pearl. Great worth of the kingdom of God.
43. Fountain. Christ as the source of living waters.
44. Keys. Authority, specifically priesthood authority.
45. Tower. Vigilance, the need for spiritual watchfulness.
46. Rainbow. God’s promises, particularly the covenant with Noah.
47. River. Life, spiritual nourishment, progression.
48. Clay. Malleability, being shaped by God.
49. Palms. Triumph, victory, and rejoicing.
50. Cornerstone. Christ as the foundation of the Church.
Each of these symbols, along with countless others, embodies rich, multifaceted meanings and frequently appears across a wide spectrum of contexts within the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well our lesson manuals, scriptures, and hymnody. They serve as profound vehicles for conveying spiritual truths and principles, offering nuanced insights into the depths of the faith.
Creating Personal Symbols to Remember Christ
In our journey of faith, personal symbols can play a vital role in keeping our focus on Jesus Christ and His teachings. Just as the Lord uses established symbols to represent and remind us of spiritual truths, we too can find or create our own symbols in everyday life to continually remember the Savior. This practice of assigning spiritual meanings to common objects or experiences can be a powerful tool in our personal worship and reflection.
Consider the mundane stop sign we encounter daily. It can be transformed into a personal reminder of the Savior’s sacrifice with the phrase “Savior Took Our Punishments.” This simple mnemonic turns an everyday sighting into a moment of spiritual recollection, reinforcing our gratitude for Christ’s atonement. Similarly, the four legs of a chair can remind us of the first four principles and ordinances of the Gospel: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Such associations create a pegboard of reminders in our daily environment, each item leading our thoughts back to Him.
When we partake of the sacrament, we are explicitly encouraged to “always remember Him.” This directive can extend beyond the sacrament table into our everyday lives. By identifying and creating symbols in our surroundings, we can craft a living environment that continuously directs our minds to Christ. Whether it’s through natural sights, household objects, or routine activities, each can bear a meaning that strengthens our remembrance of the Savior. These personal symbols not only enhance our spiritual awareness but also serve as quiet yet constant invitations to align our actions with His teachings. As we journey through life, let us seek and establish these symbols, creating a landscape rich with reminders of His love and our commitment to Him.
The Sanctity of the Mind
Our mind can be considered the most sacred space within us, where the Light of Christ can illuminate our thoughts and guide our decisions. Protecting this space involves setting standards and erecting barriers against impurities, much like how a temple is kept holy and undefiled. Philippians 4:8 advises us to think about whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, setting a benchmark for the thoughts we allow in our mental temple.
In practical terms, this means being selective about the media we consume, the conversations we engage in, and the activities we participate in. It involves actively avoiding thoughts and actions that can cloud our judgment or lead us away from the path Heavenly Father wants us to walk. Just as the family with the quilt sought to understand and honor the symbols passed down through generations, we too should honor the sanctity of our minds by filling them with things that uplift and inspire.
Personal purity in our thoughts and intentions is crucial for clarity in receiving divine guidance. The clearer our mind, the more distinctly we can hear the whisperings of the Spirit. When our thoughts are aligned with God’s teachings, we find that our ability to perceive and understand His symbols and messages becomes more pronounced. This clarity leads to a more profound understanding of His will and a closer relationship with Him.
Living the Principle
Living according to the principle of recognizing and honoring divine symbols can be transformative. Understanding and applying the symbols that Jesus uses in His teachings is crucial to our spiritual growth. Like the family with the quilt, as we seek to understand these symbols and apply their meanings to our lives, we open ourselves to a richer, more profound spiritual experience. We are reminded that the sanctity of our mind is essential in receiving divine guidance and that by living the principles these symbols represent, we draw closer to Christ. I testify to the peace and direction found in heeding the Light of Christ, echoing in our purified hearts and vigilant minds.