I was sitting in the room about to begin an endowment session and was overcome with emotion as I looked at the attendees of that session. I saw people of all shapes and sizes, colors and ethnicities. There were young people that looked strong and vibrant. There were old people that could barely sit or stand. There was a man in an electric wheelchair, with a smile beaming across his face. I couldn’t help but ask myself… “What are these people doing here in this temple? Why are they here? What motivates them to do this?” Then I turned inwardly and asked myself…”Why am I here spending so much time in this temple?”
I can’t answer those questions for anyone else but myself…but I personally love going to the temple because of two reasons. One of those reasons is based on how I feel when I’m there, and the second reason deals with the things I learn while I’m there. Since it’ll be hard to adequately describe how I feel when I’m there, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve recently learned while working in the temple.
1. The Temple Is Not Weird
To atheists, every religious ceremony is weird so it would be really hard for me to make a case to them about it. They go to biology class and learn about how the universe was created by chance, or by aliens, or whatever. I go to the temple to learn about how the universe was created by an intelligent designer that carries the name of God. “Weird” is just defined by a person’s perspective and some people think a Mormon temple is weird. That’s alright. But for Bible believers…I can make a case for the temple being anything but weird.
There’s this little obscure trio of verses found in the Book of Revelation that most people pass over. John is seeing in vision the last days and in this vision one of the “elders” comes up to him and essentially asks him; “who are these people that are dressed in white robes…and where did they come from?”
John defers back to the “elder” in the vision for the answer; “These are the people which came out of great tribulation and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Meaning…these are some people that have dedicated their lives to God and have had the atonement of Christ become active in their lives. The elder continues telling John about these people. These people are in God’s house and they “serve him day and night in his temple”
Personally, I don’t know of any other church that fulfills this New Testament prophecy. I watch people coming in and going out of the temple “day and night” as they serve the Lord in His house on earth. (Rev 7:13-15) If you believe in the New Testament, you’ve got to scratch your head and wonder if those Mormons are on to something.
2. Women “Officiate” In The Ordinances of The Priesthood
I loved when I first realized this. It opened up to me an entirely different view of the priesthood. Just last night my wife and I went to the temple and and she pointed out even a few more areas in which women participate fully. Women not only participate in every major performance and ordinance…but they are required to be present and active in order for the ordinances to continue. Not optional…but essential. The ceremony, the covenants, the ordinances…all of it would crumble without women.
We learn that Eve was amazing and wise…and that through her instrumentality and thoughtful consideration, all of us now exist. All of us now have the opportunity to learn and progress toward our potential. Women were the Lord’s crowning creation and from the very beginning we stand in awe giving respect to them above all other creations.
3. Christ is At The Center Of Everything In The Temple
The temple…every part of it…is the greatest earthly symbol we have of Jesus Christ. Every step of the way in the temple, we’re met with things that point our minds back to Christ. The words, the ordinances, the architecture…everything, if you look for it, will bring your mind to an appreciation of Jesus Christ. In the last verse of that same chapter in the Book of Revelation we discussed above, John records that the Lamb (Christ) would be in the midst of them and that he would feed them, and “lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God will wipe away the tears from their eyes.”
My wife observed a man in the temple bound to a wheelchair who seemed to be having a hard time. She told me of how this man maintained a smile unlike anyone she had ever seen. He could easily justify staying home and one would second guess him. It melted her to tears as she thought of what this man has had to go through and what he is still going through…and yet here he was, dedicated, committed, and beaming in the temple! She could see the enabling power of the atonement radiating from this man in his permanent chair.
God…is in His house wiping tears from their eyes.
4. Old People Rock
Most of the temple workers are old. Many temple patrons (at least in my area) are also old. That’s just a fact. My only complaint about working in the temple is that no one can ever hear what I’m saying. I often hear the whistles of the hearing aids and that reminds me that I need to speak up. But seriously…these old people rock!
Recently I took a few missionaries to a session. Among us was a man that must have been in his late 80’s or early 90’s. He was moving very slow, trying his best to get through the session. Eventually, we made it into the Celestial room and when I walked in…I was shocked by what I saw next. The man’s pants had fallen to the ground and he was so old that he couldn’t even pick them up. It must have been embarrassing for this man to have this happen to him. One of the elders helped him out and everyone tried to remain reverent in that holy room…but inside I had so many emotions going through me.
For one…it was funny. I couldn’t help but think it was funny. I don’t think anyone could resist an internal laughter. The missionaries and I had a good laugh about it on the way home. But that laughter (not loud laughter) was replaced by a profound reverence and respect for these latter day warriors. This guy was an extreme example, but I watch people like him come in and out of the temple every time I’m there. Instead of rotting away on their couches…they practically crawl their way to the temple so that they can expend every last ounce of energy serving their God. They have determined that they will “waste and wear out their lives” in extending the blessings of the restoration to people they’ve never seen before.
It may take a physical toll, but it is invigorating their spirits.
5. The Veil Is Pretty Important
There is a veil in the temple. That is available knowledge. It’s similar to the veil that was found in the tabernacle and in other Jewish built temples. In these ancient temples, no one was allowed to pass through the veil into the “Holy of Holies” which symbolized the presence of God. Only the high priest in Israel was allowed to enter on the Day of Atonement. That High Priest was representative of Jesus Christ…the only person worthy to enter the presence of God.
I always found it interesting that the very first thing that happened immediately following the death of Christ was the veil of the Jewish temple being “rent in twain”. The scripture specifies that it was ripped “from the top to the bottom”. Meaning all the way. Completely.
I’m sure that God didn’t pick some random event to happen immediately following his death. This was a symbol to each of us that the doors of heaven have now been opened because of the effects of the Atonement. That sign was God’s way of telling us that this once impenetrable barrier that divided us from our Heavenly Father’s presence had been obliterated by the merits and mercy of Christ. It also symbolized that the work for the dead had commenced, and that heaven and earth could once again be reunited and sealed through the proxy saving ordinances of the restoration.
There are many other things that have stood out to me but these are five of my favorite things to think about.
What a blessing it is to have temples dot the earth in our day. We’ve just got to make sure we’re utilizing them!