1 Nephi 15:30 — LeGrand Baker — “the justice of God” as a veil of light

1 Nephi 15:30 

30 And I said unto them that our father also saw that the justice of God did also divide the wicked from the righteous; and the brightness thereof was like unto the brightness of a flaming fire, which ascendeth up unto God forever and ever, and hath no end.

Nephi described this veil of light that separates us from the tree of life as like “a flaming fire, which ascendeth up unto God forever and ever, and hath no end.” In Genesis it is probably that same concept that is described when we are told: “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23-24).

We live in a world where we are separated from God by two veils. One is the world around us—the one we see with our natural eyes but beyond which we cannot see. The other is the veil of light, the Shechinah,{1} through which the prophets must pass before they see God. Similarly, Nephi now describes the state of the wicked as being divided from God by two barriers. The first is “an awful gulf which separated the wicked from the tree of life and also from the saints of God.” This gulf is not one into which they were unwittingly pushed. Rather it is a gulf of their own making, a pit of blackness through which they will not see the light that radiates from the tree of life and from the countenances of the saints of God. The other barrier is, as Nephi now explains, the justice of God. It is a bright flaming fire that divides the wicked from the righteous. He explained that those who conduct their lives in such a way that precludes their coming within that veil will forfeit the blessings of the “righteous,”that is, the blessings of the ordinances and covenants of the ancient temple rites.{2} Here, he describes those ordinances and covenants as “even the works which were done by the temporal body in their days of probation.”

To understand something about the veil of light that is the shechinah, and of the contrast that is represented as the great and spacious building and the great gulf that separates the wicked from the righteous, we must begin by examining the nature of the light that lets the righteous approach the tree, and then the darkness that keeps the wicked away.
The Gospel of John and the 88th and 93rd sections of the Doctrine and Covenants each begin by introducing the Savior as the source of light. He introduced himself to the Nephites that same way by saying, “I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (3 Nephi 9:18).

The scriptures are replete with the idea that our physical selves are literally made of the great aura of light that surrounds the person of the Savior. John testifies, “The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him” (D&C 93:10). Science confirms that we are made of energy which is also light. All matter is energy. Energy is light—but we are talking about a much greater range of lights than just photons we can see with our eyes. Whether one uses Einstein’s famous E=mc2 or the more recent string theory, the basic conclusions are the same.

The ultimate source of light is truth—truth shines (D&C 88:7). God’s truth is infinite. It fills all space. The Savior is the Spirit of Truth and has all truth (D&C 93:26). His light also and “fills the immensity of space.” His love is also in and through all things. Therefore truth, light, and love either occupy the same space at the same time or they are the same thing. If they are the same thing then love has the same physical qualities as light. The product of truth/light/love is joy—eternal joy that is eternal life.{3}

The pure love of Christ is charity. The severest contrast to charity is the self-imposed separation from others that is the product of an insatiable desire for self-aggrandizement. Loneliness and aloneness are not the same things even though they may feel somewhat the same. Loneliness is a longing to be with others. Aloneness is self-imposed austerity and contempt, even hatred, toward others–there is neither love nor joy in a world of aloneness.

To understand the darkness that engulfed Alma, it helps to realize that if our truth/light/love diminishes, then so does our power to be alive and experience joy. So life itself becomes less as love becomes less.

Some persons exude little or no light. Alma’s life, to that point, had been more defined by his desire to “become a law unto itself”—that is, defined by his contempt and hatred for others rather than by love. The Lord explained,

35 That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still (D&C 88:35).

If our truth/light/love are the definition of our life, and if the quality of our life is the definition the quality of our joy, then the absence of truth/light/love must be hell.

A total lack of love is a total lack of light—a black hole where there is absolute aloneness but no quality of life. If one refuses the Savior’s light, and emits none of his own, and if he remains cognizant, then his existence must be only contempt for others and vanity for himself. The saddest of all scriptures reads:

32 And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received (D&C 88:32).


{3} For a discussion truth, light and love as equivalents see Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, First edition, p. 801-814; Second edition, p. 564-72.

{1} For a discussion of the shechinah and the veils see the footnote at the end of the section called, “1 Nephi 1:1-6, A Three Act Play.” For further discussions see the sections called, “1 Nephi 11:2-7, One Must Say and Do Truth” and “1 Nephi 11:8-22, The Condescension of God.”

{2} For a discussion of righteousness as zedek see Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, First edition, p. 279- 285; Second edition, p. 198-201.
1 Nephi 15:16-18 — LeGrand Baker — The Abrahamic Covenant of Posterity


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