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Excerpt from Glimpsing Eternity: Things as They Really Are
By Dwight E. Monson
"It was Mark Twain who observed, “It’s not the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so” (Goodreads.com). In this post-modern world of growing secularism, skepticism and relativism, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must appear naïve and narrowminded to many as we stand forth boldly, proclaiming we know precious truths.
Latter-day Saints are blessed with additional scripture providing the Lord’s definition of truth as found in D&C 93:24: “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.”
The Lord’s definition of truth implies key elements of God’s great plan of happiness for His children. Truth is not limited to what we experience in this mortal realm with its unique conditions, a “sphere in which God has placed [us]” (D&C 93:30). Truth was truth before this earth rolled into existence, before Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, before mortality entered this fallen world. For eons before this mortal existence, truth was truth, and truth will continue through the long-anticipated millennium, through the Resurrection and Final Judgment, and through future eons of eternity.
Science employs a far-reaching assumption that things as we observe them today have always operated under the same laws and conditions and will continue to do so for the indefinite future. By contrast, we know from the revelations of God that this world is a fallen world, far different from the paradisiacal conditions in which it once operated, and even more different from the highest degree of glory that is its destiny.
One of the conditions of this fallen sphere, in the words of the Apostle Paul, is that “now we see through a glass darkly . . . now [we] know in part” (1 Corinthians 13:12). It would seem only reasonable that “things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” are, in fact, different from what we perceive from our constrained vantage point.
One of the great stories in the Old Testament illustrates this very principle. It is found in 2 Kings 6:8–18. To summarize, the king of Syria was frustrated in his efforts to defeat the Israelites in battle because the prophet Elisha kept revealing Syrian designs so the Israelites could escape and successfully defend themselves. The king of Syria called a council of his leaders, asserting that one of them must be betraying their plans to the enemy. After much frantic discussion, one of the Syrian leaders suggested the problem was instead due to the intervention of the Israelite prophet, Elisha. The king ordered spies to find Elisha so they could apprehend him. Elisha was located in Dothan and surrounded by a great host of warriors on horses and chariots. Early in the morning, Elisha’s servant arose, and perceiving their desperate situation, he informed his master, “Alas . . . how shall we do?” Elisha’s response was, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
The account continues, “And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about . . . And Elisha prayed . . . Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And [the Lord] smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15–18).
It is important to note that both Elisha and his servant were fully cognizant of real danger. The reality of this world, in this case, the Syrian army, was clear and unmistakable. But this story
What Is Truth?
beautifully demonstrates a profound truth; namely, the conditions of our mortal existence operate within a constrained reality that exists within a larger reality. Though the temporal forces of the Syrian army were actual and great, there was a larger reality that Elisha was able to access, and he prayed that the servant might see it also and not fear. Elisha understood that the very real threat posed by the amassed army did not comprise the totality of their situation. In the larger reality, Elisha perceived correctly that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” This larger reality did not invalidate the temporal reality of the Syrian army, but it completely altered the outcome of what ensued.
And so it is with us. We live each day in a very real world of constrained reality that operates within a larger reality. We call this reality the economy of God. And when we access this larger reality, we see things more completely: as they are, as they were, and as they are to come. Then, in the words of Paul, we will “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
This book is an attempt to describe various aspects of how God’s economy operates, altering outcomes in the “seen” world and enabling all to access the power of an “unseen” world that eludes us when we limit our view to a temporal perspective with all its constraints.