Are We Unknowingly Standing in The Great and Spacious Building?
By Emilia Julian
Lehi’s dream in 1 Nephi 8 and 11 of the Book of Mormon is filled with several examples of symbolism, and if we read the words with our spiritual eyes, we will come to more clearly understand and be blessed by them if we pay close attention to following the charge we’ve been given to stay on that strait and narrow path and hold tight to the iron rod. Here, we will focus more on the “great and spacious building”, of which both Lehi and Nephi had visions of.
So, let’s begin by talking about what exactly is the “great and spacious building”. According to 1 Nephi 8:26-34, 11:35-36, it is evident that those that continued to walk the path toward the tree of life, or in other words, the righteous, were separated from those that were the proud, materialistic, and evil occupants of that “great and spacious building”. They were on the other side of the river in a building that is described to be floating in the air, “high above the earth.” This symbolizes that the building had no foundation! As we know, any building that does not have a foundation, or even one that has a very weak foundation, is unsafe and very dangerous. The building will eventually fall and hurt or kill the occupants.
What is more interesting to me; however, is the character of the people that chose to dwell in that large and spacious building. The building was filled with the most prideful, materialistic, sinful, people, both young and old, male and female; “and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:27). I can just picture this like a movie in my head, can’t you? Anyone who chose not to hold to the rod and make their way toward the tree of life, chose to be with those in this filthy building across the river. They are in two opposite locations, both physically, spiritually, and symbolically. The tree of life represents all that is good. It is symbolic of the Saviour, and He is an expression of the “love of God.” Our Father in heaven has shown us this love by giving His Only Begotten Son, that we might return to Him some day. Whereas those that chose to be with the crowd in the large building wanted nothing to do with the tree of life, the people partaking of the fruit, or of Jesus Christ. Imagine a world without the comfort, guidance and blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It would surely be a very scary world to me. No Jesus Christ, and no one to come save us from our imperfections and sin. Truly a horror movie.
As members of the Church, we are always taught to “walk on that strait and narrow path”, and “hold on to the rod”, which is the word of God…and to “partake of the fruit of the tree of life”, which is the love of God. We are strongly admonished to stay clear away from that great and spacious building, which is filthy and has no foundation, and represents the pride and temptations of the world. We know that if we allow ourselves to entertain the thought of entering those doors, we will be swallowed up by the peer pressure of sin and easily fall away from the teachings of God.
But have you ever wondered if we actually unknowingly entered in that “great and spacious building” with those we were asked to stay away from? The answer for each of us is probably “Yes we have”. In “YOUR STUDY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON MADE EASIER”, by David J. Ridges, he writes the following:
“If we have ever said to a fellow member of the Church, “What’s the matter? Can’t you handle it?” when they were offended by inappropriate language, music, or perhaps a movie, then we stepped into the “great and spacious building” for a few dangerous moments. If we have ever tried to talk to a friend or an acquaintance into departing from his or her higher standards for even a brief visit with us into foolish or forbidden paths, we have entered this treacherous structure. If we have ever balked at gathering for family prayer or home evening, or invited someone to join with us in skipping a Church meeting, we have entered this worldly palace and joined those who scorn the righteous.”
There are so many more examples that can be given of us having entered into the building of which we have been strongly advised not to get near, and probably there have been times now and then, when we did. In fact, have you ever considered this? In our day it has become increasingly difficult to hold tight to the iron rod looking forward to the tree of life. When we watch inappropriate television shows or read books that use pictures or language that is not tasteful, or watch models on a runway walking along a seductive catwalk, we are ultimately living in that filthy building. Even the internet has a “great and spacious building”. When we choose to surf those sites that lead us to lose the companionship of the Spirit, that tempt us to do things contrary to what we were taught by our leaders, to dress a certain way, to use profanities, we have, once again, entered that building.
It is important for us to remember that none of us are perfect and that we are susceptible to the temptations of the world, even at the best of times. Although we have a testimony, it is still difficult not to be drawn to one or more of the things that are offered to us in that filthy building. It is even more difficult when it appears that those in the building are enjoying themselves, all having a good time all of the time. We’ve all heard of the term, the grass is always greener on the other side”. It may appear so in this instance. They may all look happy and free but let us not mistaken their telestial or worldly pleasure for celestial happiness and cheer. Their lack of self-control is not freedom. They are enslaved by their appetites and are, in fact, not really free at all. Don’t envy a life that is less than what we have been promised we can have by holding on to the iron rod and partaking of the delicious fruit on that bright and beautiful tree. Remember that the joy that is felt in the great and spacious building is temporal. Their joy will not last. However, the joy that comes from what is bright and good from across the river is eternal, and the blessings that come from being there far outweigh the temporal thrills, adventures, and excitement that are being had by those in the building.
There are many who may be struggling and perhaps have been lured into one of the many doors of that building and are finding it difficult to find the exit. Don’t feel trapped or defeated. There is hope and all is certainly not lost. If you are one of them, remember, Jesus Christ loves you. He Atoned for you and has paid a great price for you. He has provided a way for you, an exit, if you will, to escape that awful place. He knows your name. If you will kneel with a deep and sincere prayer to our Heavenly Father, in the name of our Beloved Saviour, Jesus Christ, He will point you in the direction of the exit sign and help you to escape the awful state of that great and spacious building and back onto the grasp on the iron rod, which leads to the arms of the Saviour.
So, the questions we should ask ourselves are these: Are our desires to hold tight to the iron rod until we reach the Saviour? Or do we want to dwell in the great and spacious building with the leader of the pack being Satan?