Friday, July 27, 2007

Temple Worship

Matt. 27: 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Many Christians interpret this verse to indicate that the worship of God and Christ in the temple ended with the death of Jesus Christ. Temple worship somehow became obsolete together with animal sacrifice. However, Isaiah prophesies that the temple would be restored in the Last Days (Isa. 2: 2-3). Isaiah isn't talking about at the time of Christ. Those weren't the Last Days. Today is the Last Days.
There are many more scriptures which prophesy about the temple in the Last Days. Ezekiel was mourning over the scattering and loss of the tribes of Israel. Because of the envy of Ephraim toward Judah (Isa. 11: 13), Ephraim divided Israel into a Northern and Southern kingdom after which the Assyrians destroyed and scattered the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom. Years later, the Southern Kingdom of Judah was conqured and destoyed by Babylon. But, a remnant of Judah returned to Israel and rebuilt the temple. But the Northern 10 tribes remained lost. Except for the Samaritans who claimed to be a remnant of the original 10 tribes and who built their own apostate temple at Mt. Gerezim. The Samaritans and the Jews were never one. The Jews hated and dispised the Samaritans.

Ezekiel prophesies that in the Last Days (Ezek. 37: 15-28), that the tribes of the Northern Kingdom represented by Joseph and Ephraim, and the tribes of the Southern Kingdom represented by Judah would be restored. And that when Joseph and Judah are restored that their scripture would come together in one as well. The stick of Judah is the Bible. The stick of Joseph is the Book of Mormon.

God says that he will gather the blood of Israel from among all the nations of the heathen. And in that day Israel will no longer be divided but will be one nation. Now, lets not make the same mistake that the Jews did and interpret this to be speaking politically. The day of literal fulfullment will come. But I think that this revelation is first speaking of a spiritual and religious unity and a restoration of the Kingdom of God.

And at the time of the fulfilling of Ezekiel's prophecy, God says that he will make a new and "everlasting covenant" with Israel. Why is it new, because the covenant was restored to the Earth after being lost. But, then how could it be everlasting? The covenant is everlasting because it is the same covenant that God has sought to make with all his people. It's the same everlasting covenant that God made with Noah (Gen. 9: 11) and with Abraham (Gen. 17: 2-7). This is the same covenant which God tried to establish with Moses and Israel but they refused (Ex. 20: 19) and a lesser and preparatory law was given to them. This same everlasting covenant was made with the Meridian-day Saints who, through obedience to the covenant, had their calling and election to eternal life made sure (2 Pet. 1: 10).

Then Ezekiel tells us where this everlasting covenant would be made. Earlier this covenant was made on mountain tops (2 Pet. 1: 18-19). But in the Last Days, this new and everlasting covenant would be made in the "mountain of the LORD's house" or the temple. Ezekiel prophesies that God would build his sanctuary or tabernacle among spiritual Israel in the last days. And that temple would never be destroyed but would exist forever.

The Meridian-day Christian Saints continued to consider temple worship as central to their belief and devotion to God and Christ. Several examples of the apostles worshiping in the temple include: Peter and John taught and healed a man at the Temple (Acts 3: 1-3, 8, 10); Paul purified himself and taught in the Temple (Acts 21: 26-30).
And on the day of Pentecost, John records that after the believers were "pricked in their hearts" and asked "what shall we do?" John decribes the nature of true Christian worship. Those who believed in Christ repented, were baptized with water and fire by recieving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then:

"they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2: 37-47).

Clearly, worship in the house which Christ himself referred to as His and as "the house of prayer" (Matt. 21: 13); remained a central part of true Christian worship. And through the prophet Joseph Smith, temples and the new and everlasting covenant have been restored to the Earth. And all true believers in Christ are invited to first repent and then worship God in the LORD's house "in spirit and in truth" (John 4: 23-24).

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