Scripture Sunday

Thoughts on Symbolism

I have been fascinated with symbolism for much of my adult life.  I decided that I’d do a study on symbolism for a little while.

Symbols are a timeless, universal language.

God often speaks to us through symbols.

I want to be more literate in the things of the Spirit and more fluent in the language of symbols.

Today I was thinking how God has given us reminders of Him and His Plan all around us.


In a book by Joseph Fielding McConkie entitled Gospel Symbolism I learned that there are 12 categories (now that is symbolic) that symbols used in the scriptures fall under: objects, places, personal names, titles, animals, events, feelings, foods, persons, words, rituals, and elements.

See.  There is so many things to touch on.

I need a study!

Objects can be anything really.  Brother McConkie uses the example of an altar.  In the Bible, alters are mostly used as places for blood sacrifices…  They are like little stages for the ultimate atoning sacrifice of Christ.  Altars were also a place of peace and a place where God would manifest Himself.

Places often were named to teach us a little something.  A good example is Bethlehem.  This name means “house of bread.”  The name of the town where Jesus was born testifies that it is the place from which the Bread of Life will come.

Names carry meanings.  Jesus, Joshua in Hebrew, means “Jehovah saves.”  How appropriate that even His name bares testimony of His mission.

Titles, such as Christ, means “anointed one.”  To be anointed is to be consecrated or set apart to sacred purposes.

My favorite animal symbol is a lamb.  I guess it is because I’ve heard it explained the most… how a lamb represents the Savior.

Events are harder to spot.  I guess the Sabbath Day counts as an event.  It is a day set apart to remember and to rejoice.  I love that the Sabbath is the first day of the week.  It was chosen because Christ rose on the first day of the week.  It was chosen to remind us of His atoning sacrifice His breaking the bands of death, and His extending immortality to all mankind and eternal life to those who diligently seek it.

The feelings of peace are the feelings of God.

Yesterday I took the sacrament.  Here I was reminded of the symbolism in food… the Bread of Life.  When we seek Him, we will never hunger.

Christians are a good example of Persons used as symbols.  When we follow Christ, we take upon us His name and become a part of His family.

The words spoken by the Savior are symbols.  He is the Messenger of Salvation, after all.

Baptism is a ritual that carries great symbolism…. we are buried and reborn… we are washed clean with Living water…

My favorite symbolic element is light.  I circle it every time I see it in the scriptures.  Christ is the light.  Light exposes darkness.  Light always wins.  Life gives life.  Light warms.  Light is power.

All things truly testify of the Maker.

Posted 1st April 2013 by Wendy

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