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JON - Since about 400 years after Christ. Jacob has a revelation about angles coming in rounds from heaven and earth. Then it seems most of the Christian faiths, including the Muslims. Use this vision it different ways. It has to do with Jacobs Ladder. Talking mainly about the astrology (if you will) and 7 Rungs in the later. And the most compiling story starts about the 16th and 17th century with the Freemasons.
Jacob seems to be stating by his description of the divisions in a way that eludes to the 3 degrees of glory. (In the Telestiral their are Angles, Archangels & Principalities, in the Terrestrial there are powers, Dominions, (one more I just don't remember, and in the Celestial there is Thrones, Cherubilm, Seraphims working with the three degree of glories. Each degree seems to have a level of knowledge limit to it and
each degree has a set of angles as mentioned above.
most of the Christian groups have some form of the vision of
Jacob, because it seems most Christian faiths tie the 7
rungs in the latter to not only a Angelical Service (Angels
and such) but a lot to do with astrology (Sun = Celestial,
Moon = to Terrestrial and stars to the Telestial. Mormonism,
we seem to treat Jacobs ladder as more of a knowledge level.
Its the rounds that is confusing and its the interpretation
of the dream that dates back to about 400 or 300 BC, before
Constantine got a hold of it. In the 16th and 17th centuries
a lot of information is coming from the Freemason side.
though your answer maybe long I would like to know if we can
tie all of this to levels of knowledge we obtain when
leaving this world and the Angels, Archangels,
principalities powers, dominions, Thrones, Cherubim's,
Seraphim's and such play a part in the 3 degrees a
glories and the part it plays. The rounds within is the
pathway Jesus took to be Christ and God. A pattern of which
we must take to become God's. Reading most of the
interpretations of the visions from most of the Christians
and even the Muslims Jacobs latter is inclusive to suggest
that it looks like the Plan of Salvation. Is it so, or am I
way off base on the vision of Jacob about the Ladder of
JOEL - My answer is not too long because Jacob's vision is described in only a couple of scriptures and any explanation that anyone gives is mostly speculation, personal interpretation and opinion.
So, in his dream Jacob saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. Above the ladder stood the Lord, who (and we must assume that Jacob ascended the ladder) covenanted with Jacob, as he had with Abraham and Isaac, to bless him and his posterity throughout all generations.
Joseph Smith seemed to think the ladder refers to the Plan of salvation when he said the vision tells us, the "three principal rounds(or rungs) of Jacob's ladder" were the same ascended by Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2) who was caught in the third heaven and that they represented progression from telestial to terrestrial, and from terrestrial to celestial degrees of glory (Smith, Joseph. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1927 (published by the Church). 5:402)
Joseph Smith's reference to a ladder with three rounds is a known masonic symbol (Jacob’s Ladder)
You are not way off in suggesting the ladder refers to progression of knowledge. The rungs on the lader might represent covenants we make with the Lord as we progress towards perfection.
Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
“When Jacob traveled from Beersheba toward Haran, he had a dream in which he saw himself on the earth at the foot of a ladder that reached to heaven where the Lord stood above it. He beheld angels ascending and descending thereon, and Jacob realized that the covenants he made with the Lord there were the rungs on the ladder that he himself would have to climb in order to obtain the promised blessings—blessings that would entitle him to enter heaven and associate with the Lord." (Marion G. Romney, “Temples—The Gates to Heaven,” Ensign, Mar. 1971, 16)
Combining all these interpretation one might say that:
The first rung on the ladder is Telestial understanding, or followng Christ and receiving the Holy Ghost,
The second, Terrestrial understanding, or receiving Christ into our souls and possibly seeing Him.
These two levels can be achieved in this life.
The third, Celestial understanding, or receiving the Father and all He has; something that would happen in the next life.
Joseph Smith said:
"When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel--you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave." (HC 6:306-307)
The ladder symbol is evident in some of our temple designs. The Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple has in it's tall rectangular windows the symbol of Jacob's three rung ladder leading up to heaven.