John 1:1-4– (part 5) ‘All things were made by him; without him was not any thing made that was made’ — LeGrand Baker

This essay is a brief history of the creation of the earth, beginning with the first actions of the Council in Heaven and continuing until the earth receives its celestial body. This is not a discussion of church doctrine. Some of what I write here is scripturally sound, some is just my conjecture. My opinions may or may not represent eternal reality, and next year I may or may not still believe them. With that in mind, I offer them to you to consider, discard, or believe, as you see fit. However, the following sentence is not opinion but is absolute truth.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3).

That bears a powerful testimony that is validated by an interesting and important qualification. It says two things. The first is that the Savior created all things that were created, and then qualifies that by acknowledging that some things are self-existent, so were not created. The modern revelation that affirms that same truth is Section 93:

29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence (D&C 93:29-30).

The Prophet Joseph further explained that the most fundamental part of what and who we are is “co-eternal” with God.

We say that God himself is a self-existent being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul. (Refers to the old Bible.) How does it read in the Hebrew? It does not say in the Hebrew that God created the spirit of man. It says “God made man out of the earth and put into him Adam’s spirit, and so became a living body.”

The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal [B. H. Roberts’s footnote changes that to “co-eternal”] with God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their relatives and friends are only separated from their bodies for a short season: their spirits which existed with God have left the tabernacle of clay only for a little moment, as it were; and they now exist in a place where they converse together the same as we do on the earth. {1}

Other scriptures also affirm that Jehovah created everything that was created. They do not project the creation back into an unfathomable infinity, but identify the event and place of the creation as “the beginning.” When the Savior introduced himself to the Nephites he said,

15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name (3 Nephi 9:15).

Earlier, when the Lord introduced himself to Moses, he clarified,

1 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; write the words which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest (Moses 2:1).

King Benjamin understood that clarification and taught,

8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary (Mosiah 3:8).

Samuel the Lamanite testified to the Nephites,

12 And also that ye might know of the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and that ye might know of the signs of his coming, to the intent that ye might believe on his name (Helaman 14:12).

“The beginning” is a reference to the time of creation that can be identified with a specific event and a place. Section 76 begins with a beautiful testimony of the Savior then gives us a thumbnail sketch of creation “from days of old.”

1 Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, and rejoice ye inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior.
2 Great is his wisdom, marvelous are his ways, and the extent of his doings none can find out.
3 His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand.
4 From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.
5 For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.
6 Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.
7 And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.
8 Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations (D&C 76:1-8).

In Joseph Smith’s poem that follows the same outline as Section 76, he bears a more personal testimony, then he pinpoints “days of old” as “the council in Kolob.”

I will go, I will go, to the home of the Saints,
Where the virtue’s the value, and life the reward;
But before I return to my former estate,
I must fulfil the mission I had from the Lord.

Wherefore, hear 0 ye heavens, and give ear 0 ye earth,
And rejoice, ye inhabitants, truly again;
For the Lord he is God, and his life never ends,
Aud besides him there ne’er was a Saviour of men.

His ways are a wonder, his wisdom is great;
The extent of his doings there’s none can unveil;
His purposes fail not; from age unto age
He still is the same, and his years never fail.

His throne is the heavens — his life-time is all
Of eternity now, and eternity then;
His union is power, and none stays his hand,
The Alpha, Omega, for ever. Amen.

For thus saith the Lord, in the spirit of truth,
I am merciful, gracious, and good unto those
That fear me, and live for the life that’s to come:
My delight is to honour the Saints with repose,

That serve me in righteousness true to the end;
Eternal’s their glory and great their reward.
I’ll surely reveal all my myst’ries to them —
The great hidden myst’ries in my kingdom stor’d;

From the council in Kolob, to time on the earth,
And for ages to come unto them I will show
My pleasure and will, what the kingdom will do
Eternity’s wonders they truly shall know. {2}

From those statements we may deduce that “from the beginning” when the Savior created all things dates to the meeting of the Council in Heaven that is described in Abraham 3, and that the meeting took place in Kolob .

However, Joseph’s explanation of Facsimile No. 2, suggests that even Kolob cannot be eliminated from among the things the Savior created. That may indicate the Jehovah’s role actually predated the creation of this system in which the members of the Council participated.

Fig. 1. Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God. First in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time. The measurement according to celestial time, which celestial time signifies one day to a cubit. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth, which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh.

I do not pretend to understand that, I am only suggesting it ought not to be ignored when we consider the Savior’s role in the creation of “all things.” Hugh Nibley makes an interesting observation after quoting:

And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord’s time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest (Abraham 3:9).

Then he says here, “I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest [verse 3 ].” So Abraham lives on a particular order that belongs to a particular star. {3}

John Taylor adds additional insight when he writes that the earth “fled and fell from where it was first organized, near the planet Kolob.” {4}

The creation of this world began “in the beginning” then continues as an ongoing series of events. The Book of Abraham tells much of the story. Indeed, the Book of Abraham is the only place in the scriptures where we get the whole sequence of that premortal history. The sequence in Abraham is: (1) the intelligences, among whom were the noble and great ones; (2) the spirits who were selected to be the rulers; (3) a planning meeting presided over by Jehovah and included members of the Council in Heaven; (4) Satan’s rebellion; (5) creation of the heavens and the earth; (6) Adam and Eve in the Garden; and (7) the fall.

Parts of that history are explained in many places in the scriptures, but nowhere else can one find the entire sequence in one place. Were it not for the sequence as it is given there, we would not be able to know our own history and could not fathom the meaning the ancient Israelite temple drama. {5}

There are two parallel stories told there. One is the story of the creation of the universe, with emphasis on our earth. The other is our own history as we mature through our own creation process, to develop and define our own Selves. We received spirit bodies on the premortal spirit earth; then mortal bodies on this physical earth; then go to the postmortal realm of this earth, and finally inherit the resurrected celestial earth.

Today I wish to examine the progressive creation of the earth, and next time focus on our own journey through that same creation process.

In Abraham, the creation of the earth begins with the abbreviated minutes of a planning meeting. As is often the case, the key to understanding what is going on is in the tenses of the verbs. In the following, the “first estate” is the spirit world, and the “second estate” is this mortal world where we are now.

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he [Jehovah] said unto those who were with him: We will go down [future tense], for there is space there, and we will take [future tense] of these materials, and we will make [future tense] an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove [future tense] them herewith, to see if they will do [future tense] all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command [future tense] them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon [future tense]; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory [future tense] in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate [future tense]; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory [future tense] added upon their heads for ever and ever (Abraham 3:24-26).

The verb tenses in Abraham 3 teach us that the plan included building both a spirit world and a physical earth. If I read that correctly, then the account of creation that follows in the next chapters may well be about the spirit world.

The Abraham account continues

1 And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth (Abraham 4:1).

In that verse the Lord is Jehovah and the gods are the members of the Council in Heaven. {6}

In a different version of the creation story, the Lord told Moses that he created all things spiritually before those things were placed upon the physical earth.

1 Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day I, God, ended my work, and all things which I had made; and I rested on the seventh day from all my work, and all things which I had made were finished, and I, God, saw that they were good;
3 And I, God, blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it I had rested from all my work which I, God, had created and made.
4 And now, behold, I say unto you, that these are the generations of the heaven and of the earth, when they were created, in the day that I, the Lord God, made the heaven and the earth,
5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air (Moses 3:1-5).

There are several scriptural accounts of the earth’s creation: two in Genesis, one in Moses, one in Abraham, and one in Job. {7}

None of them are the same. That suggests to me that they were not intended to be scientific analysis of how or when it was done. Some L.D.S. scholars suggest that those differences are because some versions are about the creation of the spirit world and the others are about the physical world. I am content to know that they are symbolic, telescoping billions of years into a few pages. It is sufficient to me to know that they represent the same sequence of the development of the earth and the plants and animals as do the scientific studies.

There is an intriguing letter written by W. W. Phelps and published in the Times and Seasons in which he describes some of the contents of “the records found in the catacombs of Egypt” which the Prophet obtained along with the Book of Abraham. One paragraph of that letter reads:

Well, now, Brother William, when the house of Israel begin to come into the glorious mysteries of the kingdom, and find that Jesus Christ, whose goings forth, as the prophets said, have been from old, from eternity: and that eternity, agreeably to the records found in the catacombs of Egypt, has been going on in this system, (not this world) almost two thousand five hundred and fifty five millions of years: and to know at the same time, that deists, geologists and others are trying to prove that matter must have existed hundreds of thousands of years;—it almost tempts the flesh to fly to God, or muster faith like Enoch to be translated and see and know as we are seen and known! {8}

I introduced this essay by saying it would include a good bit of my own opinion. Here is another of those bits: This is what I believe about evolution.

There were many species of intelligences who needed spiritual and physical bodies. To accommodate that seemingly infinite variety of life, the earth has passed through many stages of geological changes, like the distribution of water and land, and radical changes in temperature, so that all forms of life could live on the earth in an environment most suited to their needs. I am really glad there was a different time when flesh eating dinosaurs half as big as my house were roaming around looking for food, and I didn’t have to be on the earth at the same time they were hungry. In the end, every living thing will be resurrected, like the earth, after fulfilling “the measure of its creation” (D&C 88:19 and 77:2-5).

We know very little about the history of the inhabitants of this physical earth. What experts tell us changes with each generation of scientists as they keep discovering a new and different “largest dinosaur that ever lived,” and re-reckoning the age of the earth. But for us humans, there is no “missing link.” There is a sharp divide between the man-like creatures who walked upright, and we humans who suddenly appear out of nowhere with the ability to convey ideas by writing and reading, and to use math and sophisticated tools to build cities and great stone monuments.

The scriptures tell us our own story. The Lord told Moses, “only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you (Moses 1:35),” but even so, he limited his account to our time on the earth, and said almost nothing about the earth’s other purposes. If we had that information the basic story probably would not change; only the size of the stages on which it was enacted would be very different.

Brigham Young said the postmortal spirit world is on this earth.

Is the spirit world here? It is not beyond the sun, but is on this earth that was organized for the people that have lived and that do and will live upon it. No other people can have it, and we can have no other kingdom until we are prepared to inhabit this eternally. In the spirit world those who have got the victory go on to prepare the way for those who live in the flesh, fulfilling the work of saviors on Mount Zion. {9}

I suppose that means that the spirit world functions in a different dimension from ours. It seems reasonable to me to believe that the premortal spirit world may also be here, only in a different dimension from the mortal and postmortal worlds.

In part 2 of this discussion of John 1:1-4, I equated the energy from which all matter is made, according to Einstein’s famous equation and the “string theory,” with the great aura of light that surrounds the person of the Savior and fills the immensity of space as described in Section 88. That truth/light/love is the energy source from which all things are made and “which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things (D&C 88:1-13).” {10}

Light has multiple frequencies. I suppose that is also true of the truth/light/love energy from which all things are created. Perhaps we could simply say that the each phase of the earth through which we pass in our journey through linear time functions in a different frequency from the others. Wouldn’t it be interesting to really know!

In the scriptures we also encounter that light as the veil that separates us from God. Those same or similar veils may also separate us from the premortal and postmortal worlds. {11}

In Section 88:14-40, in the context where the conditions of our own resurrection are explained, the Lord also tells us about the resurrection of the earth.

16 And the resurrection from the dead is the redemption of the soul.
17 And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it.
18 Therefore, it must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory;
19 For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;
20 That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified.
…………………
25 And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law—
26 Wherefore, it shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it (D&C 88:16-26).

The final phase of the earth’s creation process will be its resurrection to become a celestial body. The Prophet Joseph explained,

9 This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s (D&C 130:9).

That is described more fully in two other places in the scriptures. A short version is reported by the Prophet Joseph when he saw a vision of his brother Alvin.

1 The heavens were opened upon us, and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell.
2 I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate through which the heirs of that kingdom will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire;
3 Also the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son.
4 I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold (D&C 137:1-4).

More detail is given by John the Beloved in the last two chapters of the book of Revelation.

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen (Revelation, chapters 21 and 22).
————————————–

FOOTNOTES

{1} Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), 352-53.
(The version of the King Follett discourse, as we have it in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, is a compilation of the notes taken by three different people. Consequently, the language is not as precise as it would have been if the sermon had been recorded then transcribed.)

{2} Joseph Smith, A Vision, published in the Times and Seasons, February 1, 1843. You can find the entire poem under “favorite quotes” in this website. The italics are in the original, the bold is mine.

{3} Hugh Nibley, Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe ([n.p., n.d.), 5.

{4} John Taylor, “Origin, Object, and Destiny of Women,”an editorial published in The Mormon, New York, New York, August 29, 1857. You can find the entire editorial under “favorite quotes” in this website.

{5} It is not a coincidence that the Prophet Joseph published it the Book of Abraham in the Times and Seasons in March 1842, at the time he began using the red brick store as the first endowment house.

{6} The word ‘God’ is translated from the Hebrew word Elohim. Elohim is the plural for “the gods in the ordinary sense” It is also the name/title of the Father of the gods. Strong # 430, and also Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), 43.

{7}The creation story in Job is in chapters 38 and 39. Then the rest of the ancient temple drama concludes the book. There is another very nice one in The Secrets of Enoch in Charles, R. H., ed. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1976, beginning with chapter 22. You can find it under “favorite quotes” in this website.

{8} Letter of W. W. Phelps to William Smith dated 25 Dec. 1844, printed in Times and Seasons, vol 5, January 1, 1845, p. 758.

{9} Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), 3: 372.

{10} “John 1:1-4– (part 2) Truth, Light, and Love as equivalences — LeGrand Baker” quotes D&C 88:1-13 and suggests that truth/light/love is the same as the mass-energy equivalence in Einstein’s famous formula and in the string theory. (The easiest way to find my previous comments is to search for the scriptural citation.)

{11} See “Ether 2 & 3 — veil of light, of fire, of cloud, shechinah – LeGrand Baker” (Can be found on this website).

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