In September 1969, I attended a Priesthood Meeting in Leeds, England. That meeting was presided over by then Elder Spencer W. Kimball. During the general training session of the conference, Elder Kimball spoke of Temples and said, “there will be hundreds of Temples in Western Europe.” Today, sacred and Holy Temples, Houses of the Lord, are beginning to dot the Earth. We live in an era of Temple building and Temple service. Throughout world history, when there have been covenant-keeping people of God, we have been commanded to build Holy Temples. Whether it was the Arch of the Covenant, Solomon’s Temple, or the beautiful and majestic temples of today, the covenant people of God have been instructed to build Holy Temples to their God. These are magnificent structures of learning and covenant-making. They play a necessary and critical role in building Zion, Gathering Israel, raising a covenant making and covenant keeping people, and preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
In the Lord’s Holy Temples, we learn of Jesus Christ and God’s Eternal Plan of Salvation. We are taught in the simplest terms about the Great and Eternal Plan of Salvation; we make and strive to keep sacred and Holy Covenants with our God; and, we revisit often to review and renew our covenants. In the process, we hope to draw ourselves and our families (on both sides of the veil) nearer to God. All that we do in the temple points us towards Jesus Christ. According to a modern-day Apostle, “…everything in the temple glorifies Him whose house it is. All we do and see in the temple bears witness of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer—the Son of God.” (Elder David A. Bednar) Attending the Holy Temple faithfully and regularly brings rich blessing in this life, and in the life to come. Temple attendance and service is an act of pure love that blesses all the covenant-keeping children of our Heavenly Father …on both sides of the veil.
In May 2002, I had a unique temple experience. I was honored to attend the Bountiful Utah Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with my daughter, Melissa. Aside from proxy baptisms for the dead, this was her first Temple ordinance session for the living (herself), and an enormous spiritual experience for me. We began our visit by sitting together in the chapel session with a few very close friends and family members. Melissa would soon be making sacred and Eternal Covenants in the House of the Lord. I sat with her and fought to hold back my emotional joy. I was so proud of Melissa’s decision and happy to be sharing that major event with her. While I was overjoyed and filled with love for her, I also knew that Melissa’s deceased mother was nearby …on the other side of the veil. It was truly an enormous spiritual event.
After a few opening remarks by the officiator, Melissa was escorted to the Initiatory Rooms, and I was left temporarily by myself in the chapel. I moved to the back row of the chapel and sat quietly ponder the blessing of that day. My thoughts were mostly about Melissa and how much I loved her. Since her mother’s death (when she was only 11 years old), Melissa had been “a rock” in her support and help within our home. At that tender age, she somehow intuitively knew what needed to be done. Whether she learned those skills from her mother over the years, or she was inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit (or both), she knew what needed to be done, and she went about doing it. Of our seven children, Melissa was the assertive one. On that day in the Temple, I sat in the chapel pondering and thinking about what led us to that sacred event. I truly felt joy in my heart.
After about ten or fifteen minutes, I decided to stand and stretch my legs. I asked for directions to the drinking fountain. Returning to the chapel, I was stopped by a Temple Ordinance Worker who pointed at two large, over-sized doors covered in bronze. He said, “do you know what doors these are?” I didn’t. He said, “these are the doors that face the East. They are the doors that Jesus Christ will pass through when He enters into this temple.” The thought set me back for a moment. I stared at the doors, thought deeply about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and tried to image His appearance with the doors wide open. I approached the heroic-sized doors and examined their surface. They were indeed bronze covered with raised shapes of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. Outside, it was early in the morning, and the Sun was just rising over the eastern mountains. Inside, I ran my hand over the surface of the doors and could feel the warmth of the Sun’s rays as it rested on the outside of the doors and radiated the warmth to the inside surface. Slowly, I slid the palm of my hand over the shapes of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. As I felt the warmth and pondered about the Savior, I was overwhelmed with the conviction that Jesus Christ himself indeed will come again and will enter His Holy Temples.
After several emotional minutes, I quietly walked back to the chapel. As I walked, I felt love and confidence, and the warmth of the Holy Spirit. When I sat down, I opened the scriptures and began to search for references to the children of God being taught at the Temples, and of the Lord coming to His Holy Temples. I found several, and I noticed a significant pattern of building Temples to the Lord where His covenant people would come to be taught. Consider these references:
- The Prophet Nephi built a Temple. (2 Nephi 5:16)
- Jacob taught in the Temple. (Jacob 1:17)
- King Benjamin gathered and taught at the Temple. (Mosiah 1:18)
- Alma & Amulek taught at the Temple. (Alma 16:13)
- The Sons of Mosiah taught at the Temple. (Alma 23:2)
- The Nephites gathered at the Temple when Christ came. (3 Nephi 11:1)
- The Nephite people were told Christ shall “…suddenly come to His Temple.” (3 Nephi 24:1)
Not long after my emotional experience at the massive doors and my brief scriptural searching, I was invited to join Melissa in the Ordinance Room. It was a glorious and joyful session. Melissa was so beautiful. After the session, we were invited into the Celestial Room of the Temple. My joy was filled again to overflowing as I embraced my beautiful daughter. Words cannot describe my feelings as we stood there, dressed in the robes of the Holy Priesthood, standing in the Celestial Room, surrounded by some of our closest family and friends, and knowing that Melissa’s mother (my dear Jenny) was nearby. That day, my heart was full.
“…the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in; behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
(Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 24: 1)
(Note: I have recently revisited the Bountiful Utah Temple. I notice the East doors no longer have the raised shapes of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. The shapes have been removed and the doors are now decorated with more standard trim.)
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