Monday, April 13, 2009
In Sunday School this week we were discussing the “gathering” or the "gathering of Israel." The question was asked about the “four quarters” of the earth, or the “four corners” of the earth.
I did not volunteer my answer because I thought it too complicated for a one-sentence answer, and concluded it would be better not to appear as the crazy guy in the back of the room, again.
I see these phrases as part of a larger, and mostly lost understanding of Israelite theology and imagery. In Kabalistic thought there are really only two things in physicality; “Creation” (existence, dividing, and scattering), and the “Chariot” (gathering, uniting, at-one-ing).
The imagery of the Tree of Life first shown in Eden has a river that flows from it, and it flows to the entire physical universe. It is the blessings of God. It is the power that maintains existence, it’s the laws of physics, it is the knowledge that saves, it is the power to exalt, it is covenants, it’s our gospel heritage.
This river immediately divides into four parts. These parts correspond to the four estates of man, or the Celestial, Terrestrial, Telestial Kingdoms, and Outer Darkness (non-redeemed state). All of these, even outer darkness is maintained by this flow.
Some would argue that tribes of the earth generally, as a group, adhere to one of these kingdoms.
Going to the four corners of the earth, would be analogous to following one of the four rivers to where that tribe exists, and preaching the gospel there. This is associated with the prophecy that the gospel would go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (tribe).
Going to every tribe is a fairly new phenomenon. It was not always so. Even Jesus resisted teaching the gospel to those of questionable breeding. This latter-day process of taking the gospel to all four quarters is associated with the Abrahamic covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant is the means of salvation and exaltation. You can’t be a child of God and reject the Abrahamic Covenent.
The seed for this covenant is inserted by the blood of Israel being planted into each tribe by the scattering of Israel (intermarrying)(linage), or by individuals accepting the covenant and being adopted. (see Israel, LDS Topical Guide)
This idea of the four rivers is demonstrated in Ezekiel 47 where the river coming from the Temple exists in four depths. Nephi saw the river coming from the Tree of Life in levels of purity (REF). This water is also associated with final things as we see in Revelation 22. This idea can also be soon in many simple teachings and parables such as the Parable of the Sower, with its four outcomes.
Through this process, all the world will be blessed.