“Establish…a House of God”
Lesson 18 – D&C 95; 109; 110. Our Heritage pg. 33-36
Background: As far as we know, only four temples were built by the Lord’s covenant people before our dispensation. Solomon’s temple was the first and it was rebuilt twice. It was also known as the temple of Zerubbabel and the temple of Herod. The Book of Mormon mentions three other temples—one built by Nephi (2 Nephi 5:16), another located in the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 1:10) where King Benjamin gave his farewell address, and the third being the Bountiful temple where people gathered after the resurrection of the Savior (3 Nephi 11:1). At the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith was a temple builder who constructed or planned five temples: Kirtland, Independence, Far West, Adam-Ondi-Ahman, and Nauvoo. Today, we follow his example, having over 100 temples providing eternal spiritual opportunities for Saints all over the world.
The Lord commanded the Saints to build the Kirtland temple.
In D&C 95, the Lord called on His people to repent of their disobedience and begin immediately to construct the temple in Kirtland. They had previously been commanded in December 1832 to build the temple, but they had accomplished nothing in that five months. However, only four days after D&C 95 was received, digging of the foundation trenches and cutting of stone commenced.
The purpose(s) of the Kirtland Temple differed from that of present-day temples where we perform saving ordinances for the living and the dead. Its purposes included:
· Preparation of the apostles and pouring out of His Spirit on “all flesh” (D&C 95:3-4)
· Endowment of His chosen servants with power from on high (95:8-9)
· Offering of the sacrament, preaching, fasting, prayer; and a school for the apostles (95:16-17)
· A place for the personal appearance of the Savior (109:5)
· Establishment of a house of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, order, and of God. (109:8)
D&C 95:13-17 gave instructions to the Prophet about how the temple should be built:
In addition, when some workers suggested a log or board construction, the Prophet replied: “Shall we…build a house for our God, of logs? No…I have a plan of the house of the Lord, given by himself; and you will soon see by this, the difference between our calculations and his idea of things.” (History of Joseph Smith, ed. Preston Nibley , 230)
A vision given to the First Presidency revealed the plan for the temple. President Fredrick G. Williams said that a model of the building “appeared within viewing distance.…After we had taken a good look at the exterior, the building seemed to come right over us.” He later reported that the finished building looked exactly as it had been seen in vision. (In The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Lyndon W. Cook , 198)
Today, the First Presidency receives revelation that determines when and where temples are built.
D&C 109:5 indicates that the Kirtland Temple was built in a time of tribulation and poverty. The property was obtained after a new convert, John Tanner, was prompted by the Lord to move to Kirtland from New York. Upon arrival, he provided the $2000 that purchased the farm on which the temple was built. The Saints consecrated their time, talents, and means for three years as they labored on the temple. While the brethren provided labor and skill and guarded the temple site at night, the sisters spun and knit to clothe the workers. (Our Heritage, 33-34)
Blessings attendant to the completion of the temple included visions and the ministering of angels; it was a time of rejoicing according to the Prophet. The greatest blessings came with the dedication of the temple on 27 March 1836 as approximately 1,000 people gathered at the site. “The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning” was written for the dedication and the Prophet, Sidney Rigdon, and others delivered sermons. Eliza R. Snow recorded that “Angels appeared to some, while a sense of divine presence was realized by all present, and each heart was filled with ‘joy inexpressible and full of glory’.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith dedicated the Kirtland Temple during a 7-hour service on March 27, 1836. D&C 109 is the dedicatory prayer as received in revelation from the Lord. That prayer was pronounced along with the singing of hymns, the bearing of testimonies, the administration of the sacrament, the delivery of sermons, and the observance of a solemn assembly in which the Prophet and other Church leaders were sustained by those in attendance. The conclusion of the dedication came as the Saints participated in the Hosanna Shout, an event that is part of the dedication of each new house of the Lord.
Responsibilities of members with regard to temples include:
· D&C 109:7, 14 – We should seek learning diligently by study and by faith
· D&C 109:17-19 – Our incomings, outgoings, and salutations should be in the name of the Lord
· D&C 109:20-21 – We must be worthy (as verified by a recommend) and clean to enter
· D&C 109:23 – When we depart the temple, we should bear gospel tidings to the ends of the earth
In the dedicatory prayer, the Prophet petitioned the Lord for numerous blessings:
· D&C 109:15 – The Saints would receive of the fullness of the Holy Ghost
· D&C 109:22 – The Saints would leave the temple armed with power and watched over by angels
· D&C 109:25-26 – No weapon or wickedness would prevail against the Saints
· D&C 109:32-33 – The Lord would break off the yoke of affliction from the Saints
· D&C 109:36-37 – Spiritual manifestations, like on the Day on Pentecost, would be poured out
· D&C 109:54-58 - The Lord would prepare the hearts of people across the world for His gospel
· D&C 109:61-64, 67 – The gathering of the House of Israel would begin
· D&C 109:72-74 – The Church would fill the whole earth
The Lord accepted the Kirtland Temple, and ancient prophets restored priesthood keys
In D&C 95:8, the Lord had promised to endow his servants with power from on high after the completion of the Kirtland Temple. The promised endowment consisted of the Savior’s visit, an outpouring of the Spirit, numerous revelations, and the restoration of priesthood keys. The result was increased power and ability being enjoyed by His faithful servants.
In D&C 110:1-3, the Prophet described the appearance of the Savior as He accepted the Kirtland Temple. His remarks about the temple are contained in D&C 110:6-10.
Keys were restored by Moses, Elias, and Elijah as recorded in D&C 110:11-16. Moses restored the keys of the gathering of Israel; Elias the keys of the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham (see Abraham 2:9-11); and Elijah the keys of the sealing power.
Temple construction has accelerated as President Gordon B. Hinckley announced plans to construct smaller temples at the October 1997 General Conference. He set the goal of 100 temples by the end of the year 2000 and achieved it. In three years, as many temples were built as had been constructed in the Church’s first 167 years. In conjunction with that effort, Church leaders placed greater emphasis on temple work. In D&C 138:53-56, we recognize that the worthy members of today are among the “choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fullness of times to take part in…the building of temples and the performance of ordinances therein.”
President Howard W. Hunter said: “Let us be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people. Let us hasten to the temple as frequently as time and means and personal circumstances allow. Let us go not only for our kindred dead, but let us go also for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety which is provided within those hallowed and consecrated walls. The temple is a place of beauty, it is a place of revelation, it is a place of peace. It is the house of the Lord. It is holy unto the Lord. It should be holy unto us” (Ensign, Oct. 1994, 5).
It is time for each of us to determine how we will support this heavenly mission to redeem the dead. We should be just as dedicated as were the early Saints at Kirtland in faithfully supporting the building of temples and the use of the Washington D.C., temple near us. If we will be faithful in this effort, the Lord will bless us as he did the Saints of Kirtland for our righteous work.
Do you display pictures of the temple(s) in your home? Pres Howard W. Hunter said: “Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. Teach them about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing.” (Ensign, Nov 94, 8)
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