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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lehi's Dream and the Tree of Life

Why you will never hear a complete explanation of Lehi's Dream in Sunday School.

Lehi would have been completely familiar with the Tree of Life. When God speaks to man, he uses language man understands. If he were to speak to me today, he would use English -- not the language of the heavens. It is no surprise, therefore, that he spoke to Lehi through the symbolism of the Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life is found in virtually all times and places of the earth. It takes its place alongside the cross, the spiral and the swastika as a truly universal symbol. Some have suggested that it is the second tree in the Garden of Eden.

The first tree undoubtedly represents the law -- not just the Law of Moses, as it is called, but the law of all human interaction. It may be called ethics, morality, Natural Law; but whatever it is called, it is clearly symbolized by the apple, the pomegranate, the fruit first sampled by Eve and then given to Adam.

The second tree was forbidden to Adam and Eve. It may be seen as the Cross; he who eats of the fruit of that tree will never die. More accurately, their spirits would never die; Christ brings us the Resurrection. The cross is truly the Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life is symbolized by the Jewish Menorah, with its lighted branches. For Christians, it comes to us in the form of the Christmas Tree. It may take a moment to make the connection; we tend to think of the Christmas tree as being of German or Scandinavian origin. But in The Golden Bough Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941) says
THE WORSHIP of the oak tree or of the oak god appears to have been shared by all the branches of  the Aryan

In the Book of Mormon Jacob 5 and in the New Testament Romans 11:16-25, we read the parable of the olive tree. Joseph Smith called Doctine and Covenants 88 an

 "olive leaf . . . plucked from the Tree of Paradise, the Lord's message of peace to us." John 15:1-5: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. ...I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
The sacred tree turns up just about everywhere. The Celts, the Basque, the Greeks and Romans, Asians, Mayans and Australian Aborigines. We speak of our family tree, and on a wider scale, the evolutionary tree.

It is easy to see the tree as a sacred symbol; drawing nourishment from the earth, its leaves and branches scattering its truths to the sky.

Books continue to be written on this subject. All I've given you here is hint, a nibble. Go on the Net and enter "tree of life" or "sacred tree" with almost any ethnic, cultural or geographic modifiers you can think of. Get a coke or a cuppa and sit down for many a long evening of fascinating research.

And that, boys and girls, is why you will never hear a complete explanation 
of Lehi's dream in Sunday School.

The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion: A New Abridgement from the Second and Third Editions (Oxford World's Classics) by Sir James George Frazer
Buy new: $12.26 / Used from: $9.98 Usually ships in 24 hours
Muhammad and the Golden Bough: Reconstructing Arabian Myth by Jaroslav Stetkevych
Buy new: $14.95 / Used from: $3.81 Usually ships in 24 hours
(You will find more than 25,000 titles on the subject in the Saints Alive! store)

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