Scripture Study Tips: Symbols

The scriptures are totally loaded with symbols. Looking for symbols and understanding them are a helpful way to get more meaning, and hopefully application, from the scriptures. Plus, symbols are fun!!!

Here is one of my favorite:

“And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.” – 1 Nephi 20:21

First of all – some background. This scripture is found in First Nephi, but Nephi is actually quoting Isaiah. (See Isaiah 48:21).

This scripture references Moses and the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness. The children of Israel were thirsty. They begged Moses for water. Moses, smote the rock, and it brought forth water that they could drink. Of course, Moses didn’t do this in and of himself. He did it through the power of the priesthood – and because of the suggestion of the Lord – Jehovah.

So, Jehovah saved Israel. (He did that so much!)

This scripture has so many awesome symbols.

Symbol Meaning
Desert Mortal life – especially being cut off from God
Israel Children of God – all of us
The Rock Jesus Christ
Waters Jesus Christ
The cleaving of the rock Christ’s atonement
The gushing of the waters Christ’s ability to heal us

I think it is interesting that this scripture reference has two types of Christ in it. However, because of the use of these two references, we can understand more about the role of the Christ’s sacrifice and crucifixion and how it brought about the atonement. It isn’t until the rock is smitten that the waters gush. Similarly, it wasn’t until Christ was smitten of men (and subsequently resurrected) that He was able to save men.

I love finding examples of symbols because they help me to understand the scriptures better. They help me to understand everything of the gospel better. In this example, I am better able to understand that Christ needed to suffer in order to bring us the peace and redemption we desired. As sad as it is to know that He suffered, I’m grateful that He did so willingly, and that we are all beneficiaries of His sacrifice.

I think that you can also look at this symbol in our own lives, too – as we seek to become Christ, we will have times when we feel smitten (through trials or adversities), and it is when we navigate these times, with the Help of our Savior, we begin to see how the Living Water can be found within us, too.

What are your favorite symbols in the scriptures???

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5 Comments

  1. Scripture Study Tips Series (part One) « thatgoodpart
  2. Scripture Study Tips Series – Scripture Journal « thatgoodpart
  3. Scripture Study Tips: Color Coding « thatgoodpart
  4. Scripture Study Tips: Compare and Contrast « thatgoodpart
  5. Scripture Study Tips: Cross References and Scripture Chains « That Good Part

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