Saturday, November 1, 2008

Joseph's Vision of the twelve

This was a vision given to Joseph Smith during the time period of the dedication of the Kirtland temple:

He [Joseph Smith] saw the Twelve going forth, and they appeared to be in a far distant land. After some time they unexpectedly met together, apparently in great tribulation, their clothes all ragged, and their knees and feet sore. They formed into a circle, and all stood with their eyes fixed upon the ground. The Savior appeared and stood in their midst and wept over them, and wanted to show Himself to them, but they did not discover Him. He [Joseph] saw until they had accomplished their work, and arrived at the gate of the celestial city; there Father Adam stood and opened the gate to them, and as they entered he embraced them one by one and kissed them. He then led them to the throne of God, and then the Savior embraced each one of them and kissed them, and crowned each one of them in the presence of God. He saw that they all had beautiful heads of hair and all looked alike. The impression this vision left on Brother Joseph's mind was of so acute a nature, that he never could refrain from weeping while rehearsing it.


This brings to mind some interesting questions regarding our appearance and the resurrection. We believe that we lived in a pre earth life in a spirit form. Reason would seem to say that we had some form of appearance or a name by which we were known. We had identity, we were either male or female, and all spirit is a form of refined matter which must have some manner or form of appearance. We come to earth receive a name by the hands of our mortal parents and take on physical characteristics according to genetic make up, natural reasons, etc. When we pass this life how shall it be? Do our perfected bodies take on the image of the previous spiritual form, or is it just the mortal body, or both? We believe that in heaven there is no division within ones level of kingdom, no deformities, illness, etc. I find the statement in Joseph's vision interesting where he says; "and all looked alike". I don't know how far we can actually take that statement literally, but I think it could mean the same in likeness and glory, maybe not so much identical facial features. We know that Christ exactly resembles the father but we also know there are differences in appearance between resurrected angels who have ministered to the earth. We are not all clones but share a closeness in appearance still the same compared to nothing else we know. How exactly our eternal pre earth life or lives affects our future body compared to the one we have now maybe yet to be determined. We know that Christ, as well as other angels in heaven still have some of the same likeness or appearance as their mortal bodies, enough that prophets and apostles such as Joseph Smith and others earlier and later were able to identify them. How could it be possible that we have some of the same facial features now that we had before this life, given the complexity of life here. Different races, shapes and sizes etc etc. Here we take on similar features of those in our family tree who have gone before us. Could it be that all of this has been so well orchestrated from before the foundations of this earth? It is one of the great mysteries. How can our looks here be a complete copy of our previous spirit image? Or isn't it? Maybe there are some similarities in image, but that's where it ends. I would love to continue this disscussion if someone has some insight to bring to the table. I know there must be much I'm not thinking of right now.
In my mind, these connections of ones identity between previous life/ lives, current life and future life/ lives is one of the greatest myteries of all. We are all created in the image of God and we are his children. What sciptures are relavant to this disscussion? I will try to look some up, here's one I know off the top of my head.

Alma 40

21 But whether it be at his resurrection or after, I do not say; but this much I say, that there is a space between death and the resurrection of the body, and a state of the soul in happiness or in misery until the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works.

22 Yea, this bringeth about the restoration of those things of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets.

23 The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.

24 And now, my son, this is the restoration of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets—

25 And then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God.