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The meaning of 'wings' in the scriptures

The meaning of 'wings' in the scriptures is light intensive. In the ancient tabernacle of Moses God's throne was built upon "the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, with two Cherubim whose wings stretched over the invisible throne, called the Mercy seat... Solomon's Temple throne was like that, but much larger. In the Temple's Holy of Holies, on either side of the throne were two great golden cherubim. Their wings touched the sides of the walls and made a kind of canopy that stretched over the throne; over whoever sat upon the throne; and the Ark of the Covenant which now sat in front of the throne as its footstool." (WSAITHOTL, p. 400).

There are several scriptures, therefore, that makes more sense as they speak of God sitting between the Cherubims (see Psalm 80:1, Isaiah 37:16, and Psalm 99:1). We also learn in 1 Chronicles 28:1-21 that the throne was patterned after a chariot, "representing God's ability to move among the clouds, and the cherubim's overshadowing wings represented the powerful winds... upon whose majesty God himself is also said to have ridden" (see Psalm 18:10 and 2 Samuel 22:11).

With this in mind, we find in several places in the scriptures we (all of God's children) are invited to either ride on wings or be gathered underneath wings. Some of the most striking examples (not an exhaustive list) include:

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37)

"And upon the wings of the Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them." (2 Nephi 4:25)

When the veil was torn at the crucifixion of Christ it partly symbolized the restoration of the idea (lost within the Second Temple period) that all were invited to sit down on the Mercy seat beneath the wings of the Cherubims. Joseph Smith gives clarifying credence to this idea: "... wings are a representation of power, to move, to act, etc." (see D&C 77:4) Therefore to ride on the wings; to be gathered into the wings; to be carried away by the wings; all meant to be gathered into the Lord's literal presence and to receive power from him. As further evidence, Joseph Smith gives this commentary right after quoting Matthew 23:37,

"What was the object of gathering the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world?...

The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose... It is for the same purpose that God gathers together His people in the last days, to build unto the Lord a house to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings and anointings, etc." (History of The Church, 5:422-427; Sunday, June 11th, 1843)

As further evidence:

"[Christ] will gather his people even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, even as many as will hearken to my voice and humble themselves before me, and call upon me in mighty prayer." (D&C 29:2)

Cross-referencing this with D&C 93:1 is illustrative of the point being made. Wings are a symbol of one being brought before the throne of God and being clothed with honor and majesty (the garments of priesthood and kingship).


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