Friday, June 3, 2011

Ezekiel 47 and Lehi's Vision of the Tree of Life

In my most recent book on the Tree of Life I attempted to tie a number of biblical images to the hugely significant image of the Tree of Life. 

One of the biblical images I covered was the vision of Ezekiel 47. The importance of this chapter, to me, is staggering. Yet it seem largely ignored by LDS scholars and laymen (and completely undecipherable by the non LDS world). In my view, it is the very same vision that Lehi and Nephi saw of the Tree of Life. It is not usually seen as such because certain components of the imagery are swopped for other theologically equivalent images. For example, in Lehi’s vision there is a Tree, and in Ezekiel’s vision there is a temple at the head of the vision - but if you understand the vision you will see they both represent the same underlying principles. They are theological equivalences.

They both have a river. We are told by Nephi that the tree of the river both represent the same thing (1 Nephi 11:25). They both represent the “love of God” which is meant in the wide sense, the creation, the Plan of Happiness, the atonement, and the redemption.

We see the Plan of Salvation portion in Ezekiel with a little more detail. The river is the emanations of God flowing from Heavenly realms, that as Ezekiel walks in them they first rise to his ankles, representing the Celestial Kingdom. Then they rise to his knees, representing the Terrestrial Kingdom. Next, they rise to the level of his loins, representing the Telestial Kingdom. As the waters flow into the sea and salted marshes they represent Outer Darkness.

Both of these visions are of the same genre, and if they are laid one upon the other they bring tons of understand to each other. We see the Lehi’s vision right at home with the imagery of Ezekiel’s vision, in fact they can elegantly intertwine to bring us a picture that is greater that the sum of it’s parts.