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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Lord's House, the Temple, Prophesied to Be Important in the Last Days

When one considers what reverence the ancient prophets and Jesus Christ himself showed for the Temple, when one considers how it remained important to early Christians who gathered there often, and when one considers that it is prophesied to be important even after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when the saints will be serving God there day and night (Rev. 7:15), it may seem surprising that so much of the Christian world is puzzled by the importance of the Temple in the LDS religion. To us, it's majestic evidence of the Restoration, of the time of "refreshing" that Paul spoke of in the last days (Acts 3:19-20). One prophecy that may help you realize that the temple is meant to play a vital role in God's work in these, the last days, is found in Isaiah 2. The prophecy is so important that it was "plagiarized" also by Micah in Micah 4 (I use the word "plagiarized" for those of you who take offense at the tendency of Book of Mormon writers and writers in the Bible to quote heavily from older texts). Here is Isaiah 2, verses 2-3:
2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
The temple, the house of the Lord, will be established in the top of the mountains. It will be a gathering place for all nations, and a place of learning and of worship. What wonderful news to know that the ancient temple has been restored in the "tops of the mountains" and around the world, and indeed is a place of gathering, learning, and worship, bringing people of all nations to Zion. Wonderful news, and part of God great and wonderful works in the last days.


Mike Parker said...

Except the temple mentioned in Isaiah 2 is on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, not in Salt Lake City. See Isaiah 2:1 for context.

The best that can be said is that the Salt Lake Temple is a type or shadow of the future Jerusalem temple.

See pages 11–13 of my Isaiah class notes here:

LuckyMatt said...

I would say that the Gospel describes "how" Jesus saves us--through His sufferings, death, and resurrection--and the temple and the blessings bestowed there are at the center of "why" He saves us. I recently wrote a blog entry about my appreciation for the temple here.

Creek said...

My wife and I go to Temple Square in SLC every Christmas and a couple other times during the year. What a beautiful place. You don't have to be LDS or know what goes on in the Temple to appreciate the spiritual essence of it.

I've also been inside two temples in the SLC area when they opened, and they are gorgeous. As a Catholic, I'm also partial to the Cathedral of the Madelaine in SLC, too :)

LuckyMatt said...

Creek, I have sung in concerts in the Cathedral of the Madeline a couple of times when I was in the Early Music Ensemble at BYU. It truly is a beautiful building. I especially enjoyed the stained glass artwork.

Mormanity said...

Fair points, Mike. Interestingly, Micah does the "LDS thing" and cites Isaiah 2 without verse 1 as well. In the immediately preceding verses at the end of Micah 3, Micah addresses a broader audience than Judah alone: "Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity." (v. 9) He closes that chapter with a prophecy of waste and destruction: "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest." (v. 12) But the desolate temple will then be restored and the gathering will proceed, per Micah 4.

I think the Jerusalem-centric nature of the language of the Hebrew Bible need not limit the global aspect of some of its prophecies. Even if only as types and shadows, "Zion and Jerusalem" in the last days can accommodate a restored center for Zion and restored Temple in the top of the mountains. We may be adding meaning that Isaiah didn't intend, but there should be no doubt that the Temple should still be important in the last days, and not something rendered meaningless by the coming of the Messiah the first time.

catholic defender said...

Good Morning All,

Growing up in the DC Area, I remember the beauty of the DC Temple overlooking the beltway in the summertime. Its a very beautiful and majestic building. Equally beautiful, is the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in downtown DC. Both are quite exquisite architectural accomplishments. Both are ornately decorated, though I can only speculate about the inside of the DC temple, since I can't go in. But, what has always intrigued me is the idea that God would want such a materially ornate place for his house. Think about it, God has no use for material things. They are not valuable to him, and if he truly wanted them, he could just create them. So when you talk about this in the spiritual context, is this really the type of place where you'd find God dwelling?

In my life, I've found God much more present in the more humble chapels. I grew up attending mass from time to time at the Carmelite Monestary, usually midnight mass for Christmas in the winter. For those who don't know, Carmelites take a vow of poverty; their chapels are basically four walls, a door, an alter, and a few seats. No heat in the winter, no AC in the summer. In such meager settings, its very easy to feel God's presence.

Another example, the Portiuncula is a chapel rebuilt by Francis of Assisi. I've not been to the original one in Italy, but I've visited replicas. These are very humble buildings...basically walls and doors, with a very modest alter and hard wooden benches. These are beautifully simple structures. The true beauty though is that the spirit of God is so much more present in these humble places. I have to wonder, if that's just because I feel a closer connection to God because I am not distracted by the opulence surrounding me, or is it because God really has no need for any of that opulence and really makes himself much more present in those humble places.

Its something to ponder, when you consider that Solomons temple is described as a marvel to behold, yet God either destroyed it himself, or allowed its destruction...I don't remember which. Maybe we, both Catholics and Mormons spend far too much time creating these material masterpieces of architecture to attract God, when he really would prefer the humble settings more akin to that in which his son was born.

Very Truly Yours,

Catholic Defender

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