Sunday, May 17, 2009

Temple of the New Testament and Everlasting Covenant

When most Christians or Jews think of the temple, they think of Solomon's temple in Jerusalem; destroyed by Babylon, rebuilt by Zerrubabel and expanded by Herod, then destroyed again by Titus and the Roman Empire. Also, most Christians think of the temple and temple ritual as part of the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses involved many outward ordinances and ritual which foreshadowed details of the life of Jesus Christ but which was made obsolete after Christ's atonement, death and resurrection. While the Law of Moses and ritual animal sacrifice was done aways with, the idea and utility of the temple and temple ritual actually are not limited to the time between Moses and Jesus Christ. In fact, a few scripture passages speak of temples in existence in the days of Enoch as well as being rebuilt in the Last Days. So, while the death of Jesus Christ made animal sacrifice obsolete, His death did not make the purpose of the temple obsolete. That purpose being to point our souls to Christ, which is just as important now as it was then.

Many Christians have adopted a radical “all I need is Christ” doctrine to the exclusion of temples, priesthood, church organization, apostles, prophets, helps, governments, ordinances, water baptism, communion of the Lords Supper, and the laying on of hands. These say; “what does God need with a temple?” Doesn't the Bible say that God does not dwell in any temples built with mens hands? But we know that God's presence dwelt in Solomon's temple. We also know that when a person,who processes the power and authority of Gods holy priesthood, does something when commanded and empowered by God, it is as if God had done it Himself. That person is merely acting as an instrument in the hands of God. Therefore, a temple built by the command of God, by those duly authorized with the Holy Priesthood of God, is built by God and not man. Nevertheless, God though his grace and mercy has given man the temple not because He needs it but because we need it.

Some Christians do believe that the Jews will rebuild their temple before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. However, their view of this rebuilt temple in Jerusalem is a negative one. Many associate this future temple with prophecies about an Antichrist who they believe will sit on a throne within this temple and rule the world, perform counterfeit miracles, blaspheme the name of God, and lead many believers astray. While I cannot rule this scenario out completely if the Jews were to build an obsolete OT-style temple, the prophecies of the future temple God promises to build, on the other hand, are wonderful and positive. Could there be a case of mistaken identity at work here? Could Christians be looking for the wrong kind of temple, like the Jews in the meridian of time were looking for the wrong kind of Savior?

Ezek 43:10-12 Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.

Here Ezekiel is shown and told to measure the size of a great temple. But, if you do the calculations, this temple is much, much bigger than any of the temples at Jerusalem. This temple is so big it actually measures the size of a large city or small country. Could this be Enoch's temple, or could Ezekiel have been shown a temple that would be built in the future? Some are of the opinion that Ezekiel was shown a temple in heaven. But we know from John in Revelations that there are no temples in heaven (Rev 21:22). There are no place set aside in heaven as Holy. All of heaven is holy. If there is a place set aside, then it be a small place set aside for the wicked in hell. Regardless of where and when Ezekiel's temple existed, the spiritual significance being taught here is that the details of the temple are symbolic. The pattern of the temple, its form, fashion, and ordinances point to Christ in some way. And by meditating on these truths the temple serves as a powerful gift and instrument to teach us about God, and His great plan of happiness. And as we learn these important truths, we are changed, sanctified, perfected and made holy.

Isa. 2: 2-3 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. 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.
Dan 2:34-35, 44 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. . . . and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain (a temple), and filled the whole earth. . . . And in the days of these kings (iron and clay = Last Days) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

God reveals to Daniel and Isaiah more about the temple that will be built in the Last Days. In the days of those kings represented by the iron mixed with clay, a stone is cut out of the mountain without hands that will grow until it becomes a great mountain (temple) and fill the whole Earth. We know that the temple is referred to as a mountain, or the mountain of the Lords house. The idea here is that the idea of the temple is scalable. It begins with ourselves. We are temples for the Holy Ghost. And then it grows to a sacred and holy building, then a temple city, a holy nation, until the whole Earth becomes purified and sanctified. This will be the great work during the Millennium. The temple will serve to sanctify the whole Earth and all souls upon it so that by the time of the end of the Millennium, Christ will deliver His work to the Father and there will be a new Earth and a new heaven, when the Earth is fully transformed from its Paradisaical and Millennial state to a Celestial state which John describes the new Earth as a “sea of glass mingled with fire”

Ezek 37:26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

Here, God reveals to Ezekiel details about a the future temple that will precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We know God is not referring to an OT temple, because God tells Ezekiel that this future edifice which God refers to as His sanctuary and tabernacle would be everlasting, and also that it would administer the everlasting covenant. Well we know that this could not be referring to any OT temple because these temples only administered the preparatory Levitical covenant and the Law of Moses. This future temple would not be an OT temple, but designed after a more excellent pattern, form, and covenant. While the OT Temple served to make Israel ashamed of her sinfulness and need for a Savior it did not sanctify. The NT Temple, on the other hand, promised to both justify, sanctify and perfect Israel through the blood of Christ.

Heb. 7: 11, 19 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? . . . For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

What is the everlasting covenant of the restored Christian temple and how does this covenant sanctify and change us? Christ clearly tells us what the higher covenant is in the New Testament.

Matt 19: 16-21 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

This invitation of Jesus Christ to the rich young man is the everlasting covenant. After restating the commandments of the Law of Moses, the young man asked “what lack I yet.” Christ responded that if he would be perfect, that the man must consecrate his life to God. This dedication to God is the everlasting covenant of the restored temple that promises to sanctify and perfect God's people. And we see the Early Saints enter into this covenant as they instituted a type of communalism with all things in common setting all their Earthly wealth at the feet of the Bishop and withholding nothing.

When John in Revelations talks about Gods people in the Last Days before the tribulation, he says that right before God is about to unleash the tribulation on the Earth, an angel arises to stop the 4 angels and says " hut not the earth until we have sealed the servants of God in their forehead." Later John says that the 4 angels are not given power to hurt those who are "sealed in their forehead". So we see that while Satan is marking his people with the "mark of the beast" God is "sealing" his servant in the forehead. This angel mentioned in Revelations is the angel depicted on top of LDS temples.

Rev. 7: 2-3 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Rev. 9: 4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
Isa. 11: 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Rev. 14: 6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,

The NT Temple differs from the OT Temple in many ways. One such difference is the nature of temple sacrifice. Some Christians mistakenly think that Christ's atonement did away with the law of sacrifice. In reality, Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses and did away with ritual animal sacrifice, but not the law of sacrifice itself. Instead of your best lamb or goat, what God expects is the complete sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit or in other words, a willing heart and mind (Ps. 34: 18). This goes along with the covenant of consecration spoken of above.

You should also remember that in the OT temple only Levities and sons of Aaron were priests. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, all the Elders of Israel were invited up into the mountain. God originally desired to establish the everlasting covenant with Israel and make all the people a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex. 19: 6). However, the Elders feared to go into the mountain and told Moses “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Ex. 20: 19). So, only Levities and Sons of Aaron were washed, anointed and clothed as priests unto God. But in the NT Temple, all who are worthy to enter are made priests and kings after the manner of Aaron.

Ex. 40: 12-13 And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
Heb. 5: 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

LDS have been commanded by God to build NT temples across the face of the Earth. There are currently 129 operating temples with 8 under construction and 9 announced to be build. Many Christians misunderstand the Bible to teach that there is to only ever be one temple in Jerusalem. One temple, given to one nation, kindred, tongue and people. However, they forget the prophecy of John in Revelations that in the Last Days when the everlasting covenant is given to the Gentiles, that it would be made available to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people and not just one nation and the priesthood to one tribe. And this is why the LDS church is building Christian NT temples which dot the globe. Already we see the prophecy of Daniel being fulfilled as small rock cut out of the mountain without hands is getting ready to fill the Earth.

Those who enter into the temple do not wear the same color clothing as they did the OT Temple. Many don't realize that OT temple priests didn't dress in white. Their robes were multicolored like Joseph's coat of many colors. Aaronic priest robes were red, purple, blue and yellow. This was to remind the Jews of their uncleanness before God, and their need for a Savior. This is how the Law was their schoolmaster. But in Revelations the angel asks "who are all these dressed in white robes?" And the answer is that they have been washed or sanctified in the blood of Jesus Christ and serve Christ in his temple. So, in the NT Temple, everyone is to wear white. John tells us in Revelations that the white is to remind us that we have been washed clean in the blood of Jesus Christ, and to inspire us to good works and purity of thought and deed.

Ex. 28: 2-6 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty. . . And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.
Rev. 7: 9-15 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; . . . And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
Rev. 3: 5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (who are these angels that require Christ's confession?)
Rev. 19: 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

The veil of the OT temple and the NT temple is also different. You will remember that at the death of Jesus Christ, the Bible says that the temple veil was torn down the middle. This was no small feat. The OT temple veil was 60 feet high and 4 inches thick beautifully embroidered with blue, scarlet and purple thread. It was also designed with cherubim who represented angelic guardians shielding access to God. (Exodus 26:31). Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. In contrast, the NT veil is to be white, and made of sheer material so that you can almost see through it. Also, the NT temple veil is to have partitions in it allowing those who have been washed, and anointed and clothed as was Aaron the ability to pass through the veil, and by the angels into the presence of God. While some incorrectly infer that the God tearing the veil of the temple means the end of the temple, the Bible teaches the significance of the torn veil is that the blood of Christ has finally bridged the eternal chasm between man and God.

And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. (Mark. 15:37-38)

The purpose of the everlasting covenant and Christ's atonement is not to simply sweep our sins under the rug. Christ's atonement is not only grace but also transformative power to change us, purify us like silver, turn us away from sin and change our heart such that we have no more disposition to do evil but to do good continually. You and I rightly admit that we are not completely sanctified yet. However, the Melchizedek priesthood temple has been given to help us complete the process of sanctification "in this world" and in the Millennium. The temple helps us overcome the flesh, change and sanctify us in 3 ways.

#1. The restored temple covenant reveals to man who God is, who we are, and our relationship to God. When a person has a spiritual realization of the true nature of God, and that we are all spiritual children of God with infinite potential; the light of this knowledge and eternal possibility makes the enticings of sin pale in comparison.

#2. The temple provides an eternal prospective as it reveals to us the stages of the plan of salvation including the pre-existence, creation, the fall, the millennium, judgment and hope of eternal life. By going through the progression of the plan of salvation and understanding where our lives fit into eternity, we realize our true purpose to accept Christ and His word. Again when we see how short life is in perspective of the whole of eternity, sin loses any attractiveness.

#3. The Christian temple is a space set aside as holy and pure from the world. As a quiet and reverent place set aside, a person is enabled to enjoy and experience the light and power of the Holy Ghost and the infinite love of Jesus Christ. As we feel the pure love of Christ for us, we are strengthened against sin. And as a result, the allure of any brief pleasure that comes from sin pales in comparison to a taste of eternal glory and happiness.

The eternal perspective of the temple is why the scriptures refer to the temple as the "Mountain of the Lords House." The restored temple or "Mountain of the Lord's House" gives us an eternal perspective of who God is, who we are in God's eyes, our relationship to God, our eternal and infinite potential, the majesty of God's power and creation, God's mercy in sacrificing His Son Jesus Christ, and our important and individual role and calling in God's plan. And it is this eternal perspective, the love of God that we feel, and the atoning blood of Jesus Christ that has the power to transform us, give us new hearts, make us new creatures, purify our hearts like silver, turn us away from sin, overcome the flesh, and destroy any disposition to do evil but empower us with an unquenchable desire to do good continually. This is the true power, grace, and promise of the infinite and eternal atonement of Jesus Christ. This is the new model and pattern of the NT temple.


In The Doghouse said...

Great comparison of the OT Temple and the NT Temples. The priests who entered into the Most Holy Place in the OT did wear white for that occasion. They were doing vicarious work for the House of Israel who could not do it for themselves at that time. Today in our white, we also have become the "Sons of Moses and of Aaron" and vicariously do work for the House of Israel, who cannot do it for themselves.

Jeff said...

Thank you so much for this blog!! do you have a personal email address? I have further questions that I cannot seem to find answer for!

Thank you!

Jeff said...

Thank you so much for this blog!! do you have a personal email address? I have further questions that I cannot seem to find answer for!

Thank you!