In this week ‘s review of the Book of Mormon we’ll wrap up our analysis of Nephi’s ascension set out in chapters 5 to 12 of Helaman. Previously, we saw Nephi ascend to the Zion/Jerusalem and God’s Sons/Daughters/Elect of Isaiah’s Ladder to Heaven. This week we’ll look at Nephi becoming God’s Seraphims or His Angelic Messengers. The group of scriptures that comprise of this ascension of Nephi includes Helaman 5:36 when he sees God to when Nephi receives the sealing power in chapter 10.
In the person of Nephi the son of Helaman we have a singular account in the scriptures of how a person attains the “sealing power,” also called the “spirit and power of Elijah” and the “fulness of the Priesthood”. Other accounts exist in the scriptures of individuals who attained this power, such as Enoch, Moses, Elijah, John the Revelator, and the Three Nephites; but none is so explicit as to their background. How did they get to the point where the Lord endowed them with this extraordinary power? What were the struggles they endured, the tests of their faith they had to pass, that qualified them for this highest of all callings?
Nephi and the Ladder to Heaven
Last week, we saw Nephi achieve God’s Sons/Daughters/Elect level of blessedness. For those who haven’t read my last post analyzing Nephi’s ascent to Sons/Daughters/Elect, go HERE.
The next level or spiritual category that Nephi needed to ascend to obtain the sealing power is God’s Seraphim or His Angelic Messengers. We can see that in our summary below.
Achieving God’s Seraphim or His Angelic Messengers
The third and final ascension that Nephi needs to achieve is the Seraphim or Angelic Messenger level of blessedness.
Those on the level of seraphim follow the same pattern by keeping the terms of the covenant God makes with them individually, which is similarly patterned after the Davidic covenant. Seraphim, however, take covenant keeping to the next level. They bring many of God’s people out of the path of destruction …. Like Moses, Elijah and Isaiah, however, those who serve on the earth on the seraph level are as “angels” of God because God imbues them with extraordinary powers. As kings and priests of God – as proxy saviors on the seraph level – they are more effective in their ministry than all others of God’s children. Their ministry is marked by divine intervention and is accompanied by miracles. Seraphims overcome death… Comprising the highest spiritual category to which one may ascend on this earth, seraphs compare with translated beings such as Enoch, Moses, and Elijah, who exercise divine powers.
Our analysis of the scriptures reveals the following process to achieve Seraphim/Angelic Messengers.
Nephi and Achieving Seraphim/Angels/Joint Heirs
The primary function that we see here with God’s Savior-Angels is that they obtain God’s power to fulfill or execute the Father’s Will in saving and exalting groups of people on a large scale. Having overcome Satan, proved their willingness to do the Will of the Father and suffer unto death they receive God’s power including God’s power to seal and bind actions with Heaven and Eternity, which is indicated here as the Enochic Covenant because he is the first in the scriptures that was taken, bound, sealed with Heaven.
From Servants to Angels
Those who perfect their lives, prove their loyalty to God under all conditions and see God as His Sons/Daughters/Elect are eligible now to ascend from being God’s Servants to being His Angels, and enter into a probationary state as God’s Seraphim/Angels. (Personally, I was always taught that angels came from Heaven and were some kind of heavenly being, but angels can also be mortal men who perfect their lives and see God, and who do the Will of the Father.)
We see that exact theme here with Nephi at 5:36 as Nephi and Lehi are described as having the “faces of angels.” Then at 5:39 they are also described as “they do converse with angels”. And finally, we see that angels descend from heaven at 5:48 to minister to Nephi and Lehi and those who are with them. So these are key indicators that this narrative of Nephi has transitioned to the next level of blessedness – Seraphim/Angels/Joint Heirs.
Another theme we see in the scriptures for those who ascend to be like God is that they must confront Satan, the master deceiver. We see in the Gospels where the Messiah is tempted by Satan after 40 days of fasting. Yeshua/Jesus received three tests of power, pride and passions of the flesh. We also see this same sort of thing when God allows Satan to test Job. Moreover, those who ascend to be God’s Savior-Angels must also be subjected to temptations from Satan.
For Nephi, this is the next major theme that we see in this narrative in chapter 7 when Nephi confronts the secret combinations of Gadiaton robbers, who murder, plunder for gain and praise. Furthermore, we see in chapter 6 and 7 that Satan is the author and instigator of this secret organization – 6:21,26-30;7:15,16
Actions of Joint Heirs
Those who do the Will of the Father become Joint Heirs with Messiah and are God’s Seraphim/Angels. We see Yeshua/Jesus convey this concept of Joint Heirs when he declares it at Matt 12:50.
46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
One interesting thing that we see here is that Nephi declares four “wos” at 7:22,25,26,27. These declaratory wos almost look like Nephi is calling down judgements on the people, which is something that God’s Seraphim/Angels would do if they possessed God’s power – see 8:8,12; 9:5. And, in fact, later when Nephi does receive God’s power, he calls out a famine in chapter 11. Further, these wos dovetails into our next theme of preparing to receive power.
Preparing to Receive Power
The next theme we see here with Nephi is that we see rhetoric about power from 8:6 through most of the rest of chapter 8. It appears that Nephi here is not only responding to the wicked judges who say they have power, but Nephi is anticipating that at some point he is preparing himself to receive God’s power. Chapter 8 continues in its theme of power when Nephi declares that prophets have the power to know of things to come, which here included the coming of the Messiah to save Humanity.
A Third Baptism of Fire
Again, as with all levels of ascension, we have a trial of faith to test one’s loyalty to God. But, here on the Seraphim level, it is a test that includes the giving of one’s life for God’s truth and overcoming death. We see that theme here with Nephi when he is accused of conspiring to murder the chief judge. We see at 9:19,25 that Nephi is bound and brought before the people to be condemned to die.
Obtaining God’s Power
The culmination of overcoming Satan, being a Joint Heir and passing a trial of death on the Seraphim/Angel level is to receive God’s power. We see that here when God’s gives Nephi His power in chapter 10 at verse 6.
The Sealing Power
Additionally, we also see God giving Nephi the sealing power at 10:7, which we indicate as the Enochic Covenant because Enoch is the first in the scriptures to be taken, sealed, bound with Heaven. Some have also called it "the power and spirit of Elijah" and the "fulness of the priesthood". The covenant sign here is the mount/tabernacle/temple as it represents Heaven and the place where God dwells.
The power of persons who operate on the seraph level to "seal on earth and in heaven"(Matthew 16:19), and their ability to exercise power over the elements....enabling them to save God's children as did the angles who saved Lot from Sodom (Genesis 19:12-25). Those who possess this sealing power are able "to save life and to destroy . . . to seal up unto life or to cast down to the regions of darkness".
Nephi the son of Helaman's "descent phase" - prior to his "ascent phase" to the seraph level-embodied God's personalized test of him under the adverse political and ecclesiastical conditions then prevailing. His willingness to serve God at all costs as a savior to his people was the law he kept that would propel him from the son/servant level to that of a seraph whom God endowed with divine powers. When such persons commit their lives to the cause of Christ in leading souls to salvation - when they covenant with God to pay any price to serve on the highest ministering levels - he orchestrates their personal journeys so that they may fulfill their desire. While no two such such spiritual odysseys are the the same, the degree of suffering incurred and hazards faced in the course of serving God's people are similar. A common attribute of all seraphs is that they succeed in subjugating their wills to the will of God as they work out their destiny by bringing to pass the salvation of many to whom they minister. (Gileadi,Endtime Prophecy)