05 May 2020

The First Vision - More significant than you might think.



             I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the Sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me, I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. The first spoke to me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, “This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him.”
--Joseph Smith

There are some interesting physical phenomena involved here: Gravity is apparently constrained, and there is a “Beyond-a-19th-Century-technology-light-show,” among other things. These unusual features were also apparent in the three visits by Moroni to Joseph in 1823. Physicists have learned a lot in the past century, but mostly we’ve learned how much we don’t know. Some possibilities (among the known unknowns) are Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and Quantum Entanglement – any of which may be involved. This is another reason for physicists to look forward to crossing over to the Other Side: we’ll learn what they are, and what else is involved!

TWO Brief Asides Here:
   a. This wasn’t the only time something like this happened. As noted, three years later in 1823 Moroni appeared the same way. These weren’t dreams either, but physical visits. Moroni physically carried away the plates after the translation was completed. Also, Joseph was not the only witness to this kind of visit; the Three Witnesses, the Eight Witnesses (who handled physical plates), and others (e.g., several in the Kirtland Temple) also witnessed similar visits.

   b. Why did God the Eternal Father visit a humble, half-grown, poorly-educated kid in the boonies of western New York – the wild west of the US at the time? Why not visit the Pope Pius VII in Rome? The chief Imam in Makkah? President James Monroe? There is an important pattern here: Christ himself was born in the most humble of circumstances. He died in the most humbling and degrading way the Romans could engineer. Humility is important – the Savior makes this clear time and time again throughout the scriptures. By example.

Remarkable Consequences followed from this visit: The First Vision restored to us the only Pre-Nicaean “Primitive Christianity” Church on Earth; One not “…made of The Philosophies of Men, Mingled with Scripture,” but instead fully consistent with what Jesus taught:
·       This is the only Church that preaches all the Bible, including the principle of a Separate Godhead (Matthew 3:16-17 “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” and Matthew 17:5 “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”), Baptism for the Dead (see 1 Corinthians 15:29 “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?”), and a Pre-Existence (Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” and Ecclesiastes 12:7 “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”), among other doctrines unique to this Church – a Church that the Savior countenances.
·       This is the only Church that has planned and operates 168 Temples, with 49 more planned or under construction, all over the Earth.
·       This is the only Church, as far as I know, that is also preached in all the World – even in China, even in Saudi Arabia (where my family were personal witnesses), even in Israel (despite severe restrictions).  It is likely even practiced in North Korea (though sub-rosa among diplomats, inferred from our experience as such in Venezuela and Saudi Arabia).


This represents only the 6th time (according to my count) that God the Eternal Father has physically visited the Earth. Most other interactions with prophets (Abraham, Moses, Paul, the Brother of Jared, Nephi, etc.) were with Jehovah.

            THE SIX TIMES FATHER IN HEAVEN WAS PHYSICALLY PRESENT:
            1. Organizing Adam and Eve (Genesis, Temple)
            2. Casting Adam and Eve out of the Garden (Genesis, Temple)
            3. Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16–17)
            4. Transfiguration on the Mount (Matthew 17:5)
            5. To the Nephites (3 Nephi 11:7)
            6. The Sacred Grove (JS—History 1:11–20)

            Let’s now put this into larger perspective (warning – we're entering the nerd zone here):

Specifically, let’s talk about Exoplanets: In the 1830’s we learned from multiple revelations that there were “other worlds” in addition to ours. This was far beyond the science of the time. Astronomers were only just discovering what existed in the Solar System – Neptune had not yet been discovered. In fact, there is very explicit information about other worlds in the Temple Endowment ceremony.  To give a sense of how ahead-of-its-time this other worlds concept was, bear in mind that it was only in 1933 that Edwin Hubble finally proved through variable stars in a photographic plate that some blurry things seen in telescopes were other galaxies!
           
In the past 30 years astronomers actually began discovering “exo-planets.”
·       As of January 2020: 4,108 exoplanets are “firmly” verified. 18 can support liquid water.        (About 1,000 of these exoplanets have been found by the Kepler satellite.)
·       Kepler-452b (1,402 LY) and Kepler-1638b (2,492 LY) are Earth-sized and orbit G-type stars like ours, found at 0.75 – 1.5 Earth-orbit radii from their star. They lie in the “Goldilocks Zone” – Not too hot/too cold.
·       Note that the Milky Way galaxy hosts 100 billion stars… maybe twice that. It’s kind of hard to count.
·       We have enough information from the local galactic vicinity now to suggest that 10% - 26% of stars can host an Earth-sized planet.
·       That means there could be 5 billion Earth-sized “worlds” in our galaxy alone.
·       In 1995 the Hubble telescope was turned to a dark, star-free part of the northern hemisphere sky to gather a “Deep Field” image. This effort took 10 days to gather enough photons to see anything in that apparently empty patch – a tiny patch of sky the size of a tennis ball at a distance of a football field. Another Deep Field image was acquired in the southern hemisphere the following year, and both images were full of far-distant galaxies. These have been extrapolated by cosmologists to suggest there are as many as 2 trillion galaxies in the universe.

Some simple multiplication gives 2 x 10+12 * 5 x 10+9 ≈ 10+22 worlds out there. That’s 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (in other words, ten sextillion) Earth-sized worlds.

Of course, there are caveats upon caveats with this number. For one thing, the early universe did not have enough heavy elements for any Earth-like worlds until sufficient stars had formed, grown old, and gone nova/supernova to provide the life-critical heavier elements such as oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, silica, and iron, etc. How many of these worlds orbit in a “Goldilocks Zone”? How many orbit single stars instead of complex binary stars? How many have "correct" ratios of light isotopes (C, O, N, P, Si, etc.) to heavy isotopes (Fe, Cr, Mn, etc.)

From latter-day revelation we know that the Father and the Son have tangible bodies of flesh and bone (D&C 130:22–23 / Articles of Faith 1). They look like us (or more correctly, we are organized in their image). This implies that Father in Heaven can be in only one place at a time.

I want to qualify this “implies” word carefully, because the history of humankind is full of men who try to put human limits on a Creator who is far beyond what they can possibly comprehend.

But if so, then the significance of Father In Heaven visiting our world even once is hugeMuch less six times.

Why Now? I put together a chart of the (growing) Signs of the Times. I found seventeen separate prophesies about these Signs in scripture – and more than half of the seventeen – nine – have been fulfilled only since 1820! There are just five more to go, and two are pretty terrifying:



Clearly the Signs are accelerating. Gathering Steam.

In “Nerdlish” the curve is non-linear; the 2nd Derivative is strongly positive.

Pres. Nelson reinforced this observation in the October 2018 General Conference:

“If you think the church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning… There is much more to come.… Wait till next year. And then the next year. Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest. It’s going to be exciting.”
   
We are celebrating the 200th anniversary of one of just six Cusp Events in all of human history.

I am so grateful that my Father in Heaven chose to come here personally – first to bring about, and now to accelerate our salvation.

==Jeff Wynn, 8Mar2020, the last talk given in the Grass Valley Ward.

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