Nephi’s Temple Experience on the Mountain
If you have not had the opportunity to read David Bokovoy’s inaugural article in the new Interpreter journal, I recommend it. It discusses Nephi’s experience in 1 Nephi 11 when he was caught away to “an exceedingly high mountain” where he had a question and answer exchange with the Spirit of the Lord, and thereafter was given higher spiritual knowledge.
High mountains have always been traditionally associated with temples, and as sacred spaces. Indeed, their physical height and altitude alone contribute to this symbolism; ascending the mount gets one closer to God on high. Many times throughout the scriptures, the prophets ascend high mountains to seek spiritual refuge and converse with God. Such is the case with Moses ascending Mount Sinai, for example. Whenever a prophet or other individual in the scriptures goes to, or is taken to, a high mountain, it is well to pay careful attention to what is taking place, as it is almost always a sacred temple-type experience.
The question and answer exchange format that precedes an endowment of further light and knowledge is also a pattern often found within these scriptural accounts. Bokovoy explains that these exchanges were often to consider the worthiness and faith of the individual who had approached God, and so that there could be a divine witness, or seal by the Holy Spirit of Promise, of such righteousness before higher mysteries were given by God to that individual. At the ancient Israelite temple, such question and answer exchanges also preceded even entering a temple, when those ascending to the temple would encounter the priests at the gate, and be interrogated as to their worthiness to enter there.
I’ve been impressed for some time by the many prophets we read about in the scriptures who have apocalyptic visions of the history of the earth, the creation story, it’s purpose, the reason for our mortal lives, and concluding with visions of the heavenly temple and God’s throne. I’ve often wondered if these prophets were, in fact, witnessing the same heavenly ascent vision, as it almost always includes the same or similar elements. It would be interesting to compare further these accounts.
What were some of your impressions of Bokovoy’s article? Please share your thoughts in the comments.