Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Temple Covenants and the Sacrament on Sunday

I continue to be fascinated and impressed by the depth of covenant-based themes in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. The ancient covenant concept permeates the Gospel and provides so many blessings and insights for those who are willing to enter into covenants to follow Jesus Christ.

One example is the deep relationship between the temple and the weekly sacrament. Many latter-day Saints think of the sacrament - the term we use to describe the partaking of bread and liquid to remember Jesus Christ - as a weekly renewal of baptism covenants. But the linkage goes beyond baptismal covenants alone. Elder Dallin H. Oaks made this point in a profound General Conference address, "Taking upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ," given in April 1985:
It is significant that when we partake of the sacrament we do not witness that we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We witness that we are willing to do so. (See D&C 20:77.) The fact that we only witness to our willingness suggests that something else must happen before we actually take that sacred name upon us in the most important sense.

What future event or events could this covenant contemplate? The scriptures suggest two sacred possibilities, one concerning the authority of God, especially as exercised in the temples, and the other—closely related—concerning exaltation in the celestial kingdom.

The name of God is sacred. The Lord’s Prayer begins with the words, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name.” (Matt. 6:9.) From Sinai came the commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” (Ex. 20:7, Deut. 5:11.) Latter-day revelation equates this with using the name of God without authority. “Let all men beware how they take my name in their lips,” the Lord declares in a modern revelation, for “many there be who … use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority.” (D&C 63:61–62.)

Consistent with these references, many scriptures that refer to “the name of Jesus Christ” are obviously references to the authority of the Savior. This was surely the meaning conveyed when the seventy reported to Jesus that “even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” (Luke 10:17.) The Doctrine and Covenants employs this same meaning when it describes the Twelve Apostles of this dispensation as “they who shall desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart.” (D&C 18:27.) The Twelve are later designated as “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world,” and as those who “officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church.” (D&C 107:23, 33.)

By way of further illustration, the Old Testament contains scores of references to the name of the Lord in a context where it clearly means the authority of the Lord. Most of these references have to do with the temple.

When the children of Israel were still on the other side of the Jordan, the Lord told them that when they entered the promised land there should be a place where the Lord their God would “cause his name to dwell.” (Deut. 12:11; see also Deut. 14:23–24; Deut. 16:6.) Time after time in succeeding revelations, the Lord and his servants referred to the future temple as a house for “the name” of the Lord God of Israel. (See 1 Kgs. 3:2; 1 Kgs. 5:5; 1 Kgs. 8:16–20, 29, 44, 48; 1 Chr. 22:8–10, 19; 1 Chr. 29:16; 2 Chr. 2:4; 2 Chr. 6:5–10, 20, 34, 38.) After the temple was dedicated, the Lord appeared to Solomon and told him that He had hallowed the temple “to put my name there for ever.” (1 Kgs. 9:3; 2 Chr. 7:16.)

Similarly, in modern revelations the Lord refers to temples as houses built “unto my holy name.” (D&C 124:39; D&C 105:33; D&C 109:2–5.) In the inspired dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith asked the Lord for a blessing upon “thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house.” (D&C 109:26.)

All of these references to ancient and modern temples as houses for “the name” of the Lord obviously involve something far more significant than a mere inscription of his sacred name on the structure. The scriptures speak of the Lord’s putting his name in a temple because he gives authority for his name to be used in the sacred ordinances of that house. That is the meaning of the Prophet’s reference to the Lord’s putting his name upon his people in that holy house. (See D&C 109:26.)

Willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ can therefore be understood as willingness to take upon us the authority of Jesus Christ. According to this meaning, by partaking of the sacrament we witness our willingness to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple and to receive the highest blessings available through the name and by the authority of the Savior when he chooses to confer them upon us.
One of the impressive things about the Restoration is how well it brings together various aspects of the scriptures. The centrality of covenants and covenant relationships with Deity among the writers of the Bible has been restored, including the focal point for covenants, the ancient temple, where we can make sacred covenants that are beautifully linked with the fullness of the Gospel, including the weekly sacrament.

The temple, the House of the Lord, was prophesied to be on the earth in the last days and be a focal point for the work of gathering people into the House of Israel (Isaiah 2). We testify that it has been restored in this day, in the "top of the mountains" and beyond, and is playing exactly the role that Isaiah spoke of.

When the Lord returns, he will come suddenly to His temple (Malachi 3:1). And after that glorious day, the saints will serve him day and night in His temple (Rev. 7:15). What work remains to be done in the temple that will take so much time from so many people? We have a few insights into this (e.g., temple work will be done for all those who have died without the blessings of the Gospel - another restored temple-based element of the Gospel that makes sense out of puzzling theological and scriptural issues). In light of the biblical references to the importance of the temple in the last days and beyond, those who claim that the temple is no longer part of God's work and is not needed may say this out of expediency, not having a temple or knowing what one is. We testify that the Lord has not ceased his work of gathering and raising a covenant people, and has restored the ancient temple concept in our day.

17 comments:

Nate Nead said...

Great post. Sometimes, I think we forget that each of the covenants builds upon one another and that when we renew one, we should think of it as a renewal and a recommitment of all of them.

Anonymous said...

Malachi 3:1 Already fulfilled?

"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty.

"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

This is the one about whom it is written: " 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you. I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear.

Anonymous said...

when will you Mormons build my jewish temple in israel?

Anonymous said...

"when will you Mormons build my jewish temple in israel?"

Before the second coming of your Messiah.

jayleenb said...

Excellent post as always Jeff!

On a side note, I've been watching the round table discussions on the Pearl of Great Price on Sunday mornings, byutv online and boy do I have a new appreciation for that portion of Scripture! Best round table discussions of all the books! In my ever so humble opinion anyway.

Anonymous said...

"The temple, the House of the Lord, was prophesied to be on the earth in the last days and be a focal point for the work of gathering people into the House of Israel (Isaiah 2). We testify that it has been restored in this day, in the "top of the mountains" and beyond, and is playing exactly the role that Isaiah spoke of."

Then is the third Jewish temple necessary?

Anonymous said...

I heard some where that it would take 1 million members 10 years to get all the church geneology from microfilm records to computer format use. Lets get with the program.

glo said...

Jeff are you saying that the temples of the mormon church replace the need for the temple or tabernacel in Jerusalem?

Alex Valencic said...

The LDS church will build a Temple in Jerusalem some day, and that day will be before the second coming of Christ. However, the Temple in Jerusalem will be just one of the hundreds of Temples that are already dotting the earth. Each Temple serves the same purpose, and each is the House of the Lord, therefore they do not "replace" the Temple in Jerusalem, just as the words of one prophet do not replace the words of another.

And yes, many of the prophecies of Malachi have been fulfilled. The Lord came to His Temple in Kirtland. The hearts of the children have been turned to the fathers, and the hearts of the fathers have been turned to the children as Temple ordinances have been performed on behalf of those who have passed on from this life.

Anonymous said...

"The LDS church will build a Temple in Jerusalem some day, and that day will be before the second coming of Christ."

Where do you get this?

Anonymous said...

"The LDS church will build a Temple in Jerusalem some day, and that day will be before the second coming of Christ."


BYU Jerusalem Center could have been set apart for the apperance of God.

Georgia said...

As an outside person looking at the LDS church there are always plenty of questions when it comes to temples.

The question can be ask of why so many LDS temples but I feel the better question is... Should there be more than 1.

I've seen where in the old testament we have the main one in Jerusalem but there is also a second one mentioned. Unfortunately the name of the second one escapes me at the moment.

In the second coming the HF will return to the 'temple' The word is singular and not plural. So it makes me wonder about multiple temples.

If a friendly LDS person would help me understand I would appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

There is to be at least 3 Jewish temples and a forth is talked about in the Old testiment. The third is to someday be build on the temple mount. From middle east studies has shown that there were other Jewish temples out side of Jerusalem. So they did have other small temples away from the capital of Jerusalem.

We have many temples as instructed by Christ in these last days to do work for us and our families and friends so they can return to our Father in Heaven. The work is similar to the Jewish temple if you dig deep into the mean of both of the temples.

Anonymous said...

Georgia,

Remember the first temple was the garden of Eden, then on mountains like where Moses obtained instructions, then the tabernacal, then the perment structure on the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount will be the Third Temple. This Fourth Temple will be one square mile, with many temples and places for people to live.

I like to look at Christians view of thing that Mormons have an understanding from a restored gospel view and see how close they get. They do not have temples so their total understanding would come from the bible rather than latter day revelation. Below is the view from a Christian prespective and it is impressive how close he come to how we view the modern day temple should be. There are those that think this temple will be built 25 miles from the temple mount. If this is true then Joseph Smith said a similer temple will be built in Jackson County Mo. Both temples will be one square mile. One location will come the law for the planet and one will come the spiritual law and working of the Church.

In addition to being a very large and complex structure Ezekiel's temple differs in several very important ways from any previously existing Jewish temple. These have been cataloged by researcher John Schmitt, a Portland, Oregon Bible scholar, as follows:

Features Unique to Ezekiel's Temple
Ezekiel's temple and the millennium occupies the last eight long chapters of his book. In addition to the physical differences in Ezekiel's Temple a number of changes are made in the annual cycle of Jewish feasts. It is very clearly that the Millennial Temple sacrifices are definitely not a re-instatement of the Mosaic system, (see Ref. 4).

No wall of partition to exclude Gentiles (compare Ephesians 2:14) The Gentiles were previously welcome in the Outer Courts, but excluded from the inner courts on pain of death.

No Court of Women (compare Galatians 3:28 (Outer Court and Inner Court only)

No Laver (see Ezekiel 36:24-27, John 15:3)

No Table of Shewbread (see Micah 5:4, John 6:35)

No Lampstand or Menorah (see Isaiah 49:6, John 8:12)

No Golden Altar of Incense (Zechariah 8:20-23, John 14:6)

No Veil (Isaiah 25:6-8, Matthew 27:51) This talking about the Veil where only a few people could enter. This was rent at the time of Christ's death and will now be open for all worthy Gentiles. So many Veils are needed for the instruction of man.

No Ark of the Covenant (Jeremiah 3:16, John 10:30-33)

Major Changes to the Altar: The sacrificial Altar will be approached by a ramp from the East. Previous altars were all approached from the South. Now there will be stairs to the altar, not a ramp as previously. The top of the altar is now described by the Hebrew word "ariel" [Isaiah 29:1] meaning "hearth of God" or "lion of God." [Rev. 5:5]. (Ref. 3)
If the previous temples, as well as the Tabernacle of Moses, are pictures for us of man as the dwelling place of God, then Ezekiel's temple may be intended to teach us about the marvelously new resurrection bodies waiting for every believer when he leaves this present life (2 Corinthians 5:1-5).

The following is a statement made by a Christian and could not have been said better by a Mormon to describe what goes on in the LDS temples.



"According to many Christian Bible scholars, the Fourth Temple (Ezekiel 40-45) will be "memorial" - a teaching center apparently to instruct men about the holiness of God and proper worship during the coming kingdom of Jesus on the earth. As sinful men and women continue to be born into the world in the millennium, the temple is supposed to remind everyone of the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross, as the "Lamb of God," some two thousand years earler.

Again the following is a statement from a Christian about the Fourth Temple and how a person must be worthy to enter. Most Christians always question why only members of the LDS Church are allowed to enter our temples.



"Believing saints from the Old Testament epoch, saints from the Christian era, and all those raised from the dead at the second coming of Christ in glory receive new resurrection bodies, like that of Jesus, as detailed in 1 Corinthians 15. and determine which individual Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve are worthy to enter the Millennial Kingdom, City or Temple complex on earth."

A further statement by non-Mormons about the Fourth temple. It sounds like it was written by a Mormon. Only Mormon would fully under stand and apprecieate these statements.



"During this thousand year reign of Yeshua over a restored earth, with Satan locked away in the abyss (Rev. 20:2), sinners will be born on the earth and will need to be instructed in matters of God's grace and mercy. For this reason most commentators on Ezekiel believe that the Fourth Temple will be Memorial in nature, looking back in time to the cross of Jesus Christ, just as the Tabernacle and First and Second Temples pointed ahead in time to the cross. The prescribed worship services of Ezekiel's temple are also described for us in great detail by the prophet. The priests presiding over the temple services will be of the line of Zadok (44:15) or Melkesdick Priesthood who proved faithful after the failure of the Levitical priests in the line of Eli (1 Samuel 2:35, 1 Kings 2:26-27, 35). The Millennial Temple will not have a separate High Priest. Instead the previously separate offices of King and Priest will be combined in the Messiah or after the order of Melkesick as talked about in the book of Hebrews and as noted, (See Zechariah 6:9-15)"




Jerusalem, the rebuilt city in Israel, on earth, during the Millennium, should not be confused with the heavenly city known as "New Jerusalem," referred to in the New Testament, (Hebrews 11:16, 12: 18-29, Revelation 21-22) which seems to take the form of a great orbiting or stationary satellite above the earth. This vast city whose dimensions are of the order of 1500 miles on a side, may be connected to the millennial temple by a space-time gate way. The New Jerusalem does not include a temple (Revelation 21:22, 23) - "The Lord God, the Almighty and the Lamb, are its temple."

Anonymous said...

Jerusalem, the rebuilt city in Israel, on earth, during the Millennium, should not be confused with the heavenly city known as "New Jerusalem," referred to in the New Testament, (Hebrews 11:16, 12: 18-29, Revelation 21-22) which seems to take the form of a great orbiting or stationary satellite above the earth. This vast city whose dimensions are of the order of 1500 miles on a side, may be connected to the millennial temple by a space-time gate way. The New Jerusalem does not include a temple (Revelation 21:22, 23) - "The Lord God, the Almighty and the Lamb, are its temple."

I put this one in just for fun. I have no idea what this is going to be that is found in Revelation 21:22,23

Anonymous said...

Georgia said...
As an outside person looking at the LDS church there are always plenty of questions when it comes to temples.

The question can be ask of why so many LDS temples but I feel the better question is... Should there be more than 1.

I've seen where in the old testament we have the main one in Jerusalem but there is also a second one mentioned. Unfortunately the name of the second one escapes me at the moment.

In the second coming the HF will return to the 'temple' The word is singular and not plural. So it makes me wonder about multiple temples.

If a friendly LDS person would help me understand I would appreciate it.

4:20 PM, May 23, 2008




Jews fled Jerusalem before and after its destruction and built Temples at Leontopolis, Philae or (Elephantina) in Egypt and these two were approved by the Jewish priests in Jerusalem. There is a letter dated to 400 B.C. that gives their permission to build them. Also Tel Arad in the Negev South of Jerusalem also built by priests of Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

I believe Mormons firmly hold that the Jews will rebuild the third temple atop Mt. Moriah (many call it Ezekiel's Temple). The key is, the Jews require the Lord to tell them where, when and exactly which design to use (due to so many interpretations of Ezekiel). This is a key issue. Since the LDS Prophet receives the Lord's word, he will gladly share the Lord's instruction. However, there are traditional requisites to receive such: enough worthy LDS members in the area to justify the expense. Israel regulates this happening by regulating LDS missionaries teaching the words of THE MESSIAH to those who will listen. So, the whole situation is based on the time it takes good Israelis to allow "other" belief systems (freedom of religion) in Israel. Being firm in your faith is one thing. Believing you can't be wrong, so you won't allow anyone to suggest any other possibility, is quite another.

I see many good Jews who would do well to relax their hold on the idea of being "the covenant people" for a moment, to see the words of Isaiah fulfilled. That is, that the Lord in his anger has smitten their ancestors because they would not see with their eyes and hear with their ears, as well as persecuted and killed the prophets.