The Iron Rod
|The Celtic church|
I was recently contacted by a friend who was proof-reading the Holy Grail pages for me. I mentioned that the year 570 features in a parable in “Times and Seasons” (the early church newspaper). He asked to see the complete text. After reading it, he pointed out something I had entirely overlooked: the parallels between the Iron Rod and the Holy Grail.
|The Holy Grail is the Iron Rod?|
In the scriptures, the rod of iron is the word of God (which implies a living priesthood). It is best known from Revelation chapter 12 (the “man child” rules with a rod of iron), and 1 Nephi 11 (in the Book of Mormon).
Bruce R. McConkie, in his Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (vol.3, p.518) comments on the rod of iron in Revelation 12:
“Verse 5. A rod of iron: The gospel, the priesthood, the laws and power of God. In Lehi’s dream, seen later by Nephi, ‘the rod of iron. . . was the word of God’ which led to eternal life. (1 Ne. 11:25.)”
“Verses 6, 14. In the war on earth, Satan prevailed over the meridian saints, and the Church of God was taken away; dire and universal apostasy prevailed until the day of restoration.”
A comparison of the rod with the grail may be helpful.
|The Iron Rod||The Holy Grail|
|A symbol of something else. (The Word of God).||A symbol of something else. (It is also remembered as a plate, a cauldron, or a stone).|
|The focus of a journey…||The focus of a journey…|
|…through a wilderness…||…through a wilderness (the successful quest rejuvenates the dying land)…|
|From filthy water to the water of life||It is guarded by the Fisher King|
|It is the route to Christ (it leads to the tree of life)||It is the route to Christ (the end of the grail quest was a vision of the Lord)|
|The successful pilgrim only has to ask||The successful pilgrim only has to ask (i.e. Percival in the castle of the fisher King)|
|But it also requires righteousness||But it also requires righteousness|
|It was lost in the Great Apostasy||It was lost in the Great Apostasy|
|And taken back to heaven||And taken back to heaven|
Here is the complete parable referred to (with the iron rod section highlighted):
Times and Seasons, vol.6, p.846.
There was a day when a certain great king proposed a marriage for his son, prepared a dinner, and proffered to bequeath to his son one of his provinces, on the day of the marriage. The woman that was to be the bride was very fair and beautiful, her adorning was that of a crown with twelve precious diamonds set there and placed upon her head, holding in her hand a reflecting rod, by which the bright rays of the sun was brought to reflect upon the diamonds, giving light both day and night, so that she walked not in the dark, but as in the light of the noon day sun, to guide her steps. Her features were fair and comely, decked with virtue, innocence, and loving kindness, administering to all who came under her care; she surpasse
d all women in wisdom, in faith, and other like precious gifts and graces. The surrounding neighborhood, together with the inhabitants of said province, looked upon her with jealousy and waged war against her and her intended espousal, and treated them as their worst enemies and succeeded in banishing the king’s son from his province, which caused the woman to mourn with a great and grievous mourning until she was comforted by tidings from the great king, who promised to bring back his son again, and (seeing his dinner was despised) he would prepare a supper, and invite all the inhabitants of the province to come to the marriage supper of his son, and that his son should be made king over the whole province, and that he would cause the rod of iron which was in the bride’s hand to reflect light over all the kingdoms in the province, as this son was the legal heir; and the different kingdoms should become the kingdoms of his son.
This glorious news gave encouragement to the intended bride and enabled her to stand firm through many hard battles; at last the emperor of the nation that was warring with the woman, changed his course and proclaimed peace. The emperor by this means hoped to become in possession of the rod of iron, which seemed to be destined to rule all nations; the woman now was overpowered and was embraced in the emperor’s arms, and at this critical moment the king himself stepped forward just as the woman was ready to deliver up her authority to the emperor, and took the rod out of her hand and carried it home to his own dominions and rescued the woman out of the emperor’s hands, and secreted her in a neighboring woods, that her life might be preserved. This enraged the disappointed emperor with madness and revenge; he renewed the war, declared his greatness, claiming that he had received from the woman all the authority of the king’s son, putting to death all who dared to deny his assertion. The woman wandered in the wilderness for many days, lost the diamonds out of her crown and being destitute of the reflecting rod, she lay dormant in the wilderness; or in other words asleep, having nothing but the pale rays of the moon to guide her feet. She mourned, she wept, she lamented her untimely widowhood, longing for the return of her banished husband; in all this she was some comforted, waiting with hope and listening with great anxiety to hear the glad news, behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him, put on thy former apparel and prepare thyself for the completion of the marriage; and all those who refuse this my second and last invitation, shall not taste of my supper; this glad news for her was promised to be declared by a messenger from the king who was to bring back the reflecting rod, and all its attending beauties, authorizing the same to be proclaimed to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, saying, with a loud voice, fear the great king for he is about to execute judgment upon all the rebels.
Times and Seasons, vol.6, p.858.
(To the parable in our last number.)
To make the subject plain, the explanation is given in question and answers.
Q. 1. Who is the king and his son?
A. — The king is the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. 2. Who is the woman?
A. — Christ’s Church.
Q. 3. When was the marriage and dinner proposed?
A. — At the time Christ and his apostles offered salvation to the Jews.
Q. 4. Who banished the king’s son?
A. — The Jews.
Q. 5. Who put to death the woman’s friends?
A. — The Roman Church.
Q. 6. What was the rod?
A. — It was the power and priesthood after the holy order of the son of God, which the church had; and was delivered of it, or rather, it was taken from her in the year 570, and the church fell into the hands of the Pope of Rome.
Q. 7. What were the twelve diamonds? A. — The Twelve apostles.
Q. — 8. Will the woman or church come out of the wilderness?
A. Yes, with the same adornings as Solomon saw her.
Q. — 9. When will the king’s son return?
A. As soon as the church gathers together and gets ready.
Q. — 10. Where is the woman?
A. She is on the continent of America.
Q. — 11. How is she known from other women or churches?
A. By the Priesthood; by her twelve apostles at her head; the organization of her officers being the ancient order, a presidency, the Twelve, and Seventies, walking by immediate revelation, the only principle of light that ever guided the people of God in any age.
Q. — 12. Do the inhabitants of the world, look upon her now, with any less jealousy, than they did eighteen hundred years ago?
A. No; she is evily treated in like manner.
Q. — 13. Who despised the king’s dinner?
A. The Jews when they refused the gospel as offered to them by Jesus Christ in person.
Q. — 14. Who were invited to the supper?
A. The Gentiles, when the apostles said to the Jews, seeing you count yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo! we turn and invite the Gentiles, that they may be ready at Christ’s second coming.
Q. — 15. What was the dinner?
A. It was the gospel of eternal life offered in the days of Christ and his apostles; first to the Jew.
Q. — 16. What was the supper?
A. It is the same gospel offered the second time, first to the Gentiles, that the first (which was the Jews may be last); and the last, (which was the Gentiles may be first.
Q. — 17. Who is that will not partake of the supper?
A. It will be those who refuse to obey the gospel when God sets his hand the second time to organize his kingdom, and calls forth his hunters, and sends them out to preach the everlasting gospel, to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, saying with a loud voice, hear O ye inhabitants of the earth, and hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, for he has sent his angel to man on earth, and committed the everlasting gospel to him; saying: fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come, and worship him who made heaven, and earth, and sea, and the fountains of waters.
Q. — 18. Who is the messenger sent from the king?
A. It is the angel that John saw flying from heaven, having the everlasting gospel to commit to man on the earth.
Note the additionalparallels with the grail legends:
- The rod of iron is beautiful and shining
- It is guarded by a fair maiden
- Its shining light ensures peace and prosperity for the land
- It is meant for a king’s son
- The final fate of the rod is to be carried away to another kingdom
- The linking of the grail with the supper of Christ
And remember that the one who wrote this parable made no connection with the grail
legends. He was simply explaining the iron rod as he understood it.
the bottom line
The Holy Grail appears to be nothing less thanthe Iron Rod