Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sacred Temples Are Not A New Idea

Temple worship is really not a new concept. If one looks carefully for it, it can be seen in the scriptures as early as The Garden of Eden itself.

The prophet Ezekiel actually compares The Garden of Eden to The Mountain of the Lord in Chapter 28.

13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

The next Temple experience can be easily discerned in the description of Jacob’s ladder, or El Bethel, which literally means “The Temple”.

Genesis 28: 12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;

14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Jesus Christ promised His disciples this same temple experience in John 1, as He explained that He would be the way to open heaven and to introduce them to His father who was in heaven.

51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Moses had a Temple experience as he ascended the mountain called Horeb, known as the Mountain of the Lord. As Moses sought to bring the Children of Israel into the presence of the Lord, they rebelled and worshiped the Golden Calf. The consequence of their broken covenant was the inability to be in the presence of the Lord and so the Tabernacle was constructed as a mediatory place of worship or a place of learning until they were worthy of a Temple.

David desired to build that Temple but was refused the right because he was a “man of war”. Solomon, who represented “peace”, was the actual builder of the Temple for the Children of the Lord. In the Temple built by Solomon the “glory of the Lord” was exhibited.

2nd Chronicles 7: 1 Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.

2 And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.

3 And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

During the reign of Rehoboam, king of Judah, the Egyptian empire took the treasures of the house of the Lord and the temple became defiled. Ultimately it was completely burned to the ground by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.

Historically when the Persian Empire conquered the Babylonian Empire, King Cyrus who was the king of Persia, allowed the Children of Israel to return to Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple of the Lord.

Ezra 6:5 And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.

This rebuilt Temple is commonly known as the Temple of Zarubbabel. Although the Lord accepted the offering of the Temple as in the days of the Tabernacle of Moses, the glory that was felt there was not the same as was felt in the Temple built by Solomon. In Haggai chapter 2 it is recorded,

3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?

4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts:

5 According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.

6 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;

7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.

8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.

9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.

Even though the “glory” of the Lord was not exhibited in this temple or in the subsequent temple that Herod rebuilt, which is the Temple in operation during the time of Christ, the promise that the Lord gave of a “latter house” whose glory will be even greater than that of the Temple built by Solomon, was finally fulfilled with the building of His Temple in this last dispensation, the Kirtland Temple.

The description of the Kirtland Temple dedication as received in Section 109 of the Doctrine and Covenants reveals that once again the Heavens “shook” and the Law of the Lord was restored, creating a Latter Day Temple with an even greater degree of glory than that of the Temple built by Solomon.

The description of the Dedication is as follows:

“The dedication was set for Sunday March 27, 1836 after everything was cleaned up and ready, The doors promptly opened at 8:00 AM. Nearly one thousand people had gathered there waiting to get in. Some had to be turned away. They sang some songs written by some of the brethren; Sidney Rigdon offered a prayer and then spoke for two and one half hours. They then sustained the general authorities. The prophet Joseph then arose and offered the dedicatory prayers Among other things he said: "Thou hast commanded thy servants to build a house to thy name in this place. And now thou beholdest O Lord, that thy servants have done according to thy commandment...thou knowest that we have done this work through great tribulation; and out of poverty we have given our substance to build a house to thy name, that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself...And now, Holy Father, we ask thee to assist us, thy people with thy grace, in calling our solemn assembly, that it may be done to thy honor and to thy divine acceptance...And in a manner that we may be found worthy, in thy sight, to secure a fulfillment of the promises which thou hast made unto us, thy people, in the revelation given unto us that thy glory may rest down upon the people, and upon thy house, which we now dedicate to thee...And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with power which thou hast ordained to be poured out upon those who shall reverence thee in thy house... Let it be fulfilled upon them, as upon those on the day of Pentecost; let the gift of tongues be poured out upon thy people, even cloven tongues of fire, and the interpretation thereof. And let the house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind with thy glory...That all the ends of the earth may know that we, thy servants, have heard thy voice, and that thou hast sent us." (DC 109: 2,3,10-12,22,36,37)

“One week after the dedication, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver Cowdery "standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit," and accepted the Kirtland Temple. After the appearance of the Savior, other heavenly beings appeared to Joseph & Oliver including Moses, Elias, and Elijah, each committing the keys of their respective dispensation unto them.”

Once again the Temple work of old has begun again, new. The authority has been given to administer in the ordinances thereof, by those who hold the priesthood keys, and the work of the Lord has begun to come forth, restored and authorized, within the walls of the LDS Temples of God. This is a sacred work and, as is labeled on the doors of the Salt Lake Temple itself, one that is described as “Holiness to the Lord.”

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