Posts Tagged 'Sacred Ordinances and Covenants'

Ponderizing – Week 1 Thoughts

Moses 1:39

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

I chose this scripture this week, because my family has been focusing a talk given by Elder Rafael E. Pino during the April 2015 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His talk is entitled “The Eternal Perspective of the Gospel“, and it references the verse I chose.

I have been looking at the bigger picture this week. This is not something new to me. In fact I do it quite frequently. But I have had some specific thoughts about it. First of all, I believe that part of the purpose of life, is to align my will with the will of God, so that I might become more like Him. If my will is to become aligned with God’s will, then my work needs to be a part of His work, the work “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”.

First, I need an understanding of what this means. What is immortality? We live in mortal bodies, in a mortal world. This means that we all will some day die. This physical death became a part of the life of mankind, when Adam and Eve fell from the presence of God in the Garden of Eden. God’s work was to create a way for mankind to become immortal beings, in order to physically live forever. The atonement of His Son provided the way back. In the Bible Dictionary we read, “All are covered unconditionally as pertaining to the Fall of Adam. Hence, all shall rise from the dead with immortal bodies.” (Bible Dictionary:Atonement) Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, all people are unconditionally provided with resurrection after this life, and therefore, all mankind will overcome physical death and become immortal beings, with bodies of flesh and bone. (Bible Dictionary:Resurrection)

How can I be a part of this work of bringing to pass the immortality of man, when the Savior has already made this possible? I can be grateful for this blessing, because it gives me hope of life after death. I can share my testimony of this with others, and most especially, I can teach this gospel truth to my children. In doing this, I can bring greater hope to others.

What is eternal life? In the Guide to the Scriptures, it is defined as, “To live forever as families in God’s presence. Eternal life is God’s greatest gift to man.” Jesus Christ made Eternal life possible through his infinite atonement. In the Bible Dictionary, we read, “his grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.” (Bible Dictionary:Grace) Eternal life is a gift, that unlike immortality, must be gained. We use our agency in this life, to choose if we will accept this gift. All are blessed to live after this mortal life, but it is up to us to choose how we will live.

How do I make this work a part of my work? First, I must choose to accept His gift of the atonement in my life. How do I do that? Eternal life is accepted when I live my life according to the commandments of God. The Savior has told men to come unto Him and to follow Him. He has shown me the importance of making covenants, such as baptism and temple covenants. The covenants of baptism are the gateway to eternal life and the temple covenants provide the blessings of eternal life, through the sealing power. In the Bible Dictionary we read, “Whenever the Lord has had a people on the earth who will obey His word, they have been commanded to build temples in which the ordinances of the gospel and other spiritual manifestations that pertain to exaltation and eternal life may be administered.” (Bible Dictionary: Temple) I have made these covenants for myself, and have taken the necessary steps to claim the blessings. Jesus taught many, the importance of renewing covenants by partaking of the sacrament, which I have the opportunity to do each week. The scriptures also teach me that I need to believe that He is the Christ, and live according to that belief. I do this most, when I live a life of charity towards others. When I do these things, I will come to know Him. In John 17:3, Jesus prayed, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

Second, I make this work my own, when I share this knowledge with others. I need to teach my children that they can have the ability to return and live with God again. I know these things to be true for myself, but if others are not taught, how will they know? I send my children off to school, so that they can become prepared for the rest of their lives. I want them to be successful, happy and have all the blessing that life has to offer them. God sends all people here, to the earth, to become prepared for the rest of their eternal lives. Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to help others to know what amazing blessings await them. I will continue to make this my work, by helping others to know of Christ, to know the importance of baptism and temple covenants, and to know the blessings of repentance and partaking of the sacrament. Also, I have the opportunity to be a source of strength to others as they strive to endure to the end.

I hope that as part of this work, my testimony and thoughts shared on this blog, can help others to learn of these things.

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

This life is so much more that our current situations. It is so much more than even birth to death. We have so much to live for. I am so grateful for this understanding and I hope that I can have the courage and strength to do my part in the work of the Lord, that I might partake in His glory.

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Joshua Chapter 5

The Israelites, under the direction of the prophet Joshua, crossed the Jordan River and camped near the land of Jericho. The Lord had brought them into this land, in such a way, as to make the other nations nervous. This had been promised prior to their crossing the river. The nations would know and fear the people of the living God. This chapter begins:

1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel.

Fear came upon the people of the land of Canaan. They knew that the people of Israel were a powerful people because of the miracles that God had done for them.

2 At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.
3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.
5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.
6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
7 And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.
8 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.
9 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

The Israelite males were circumcised, just as their fathers had been who made the first covenants at Sinai. This was necessary because all those who had been circumcised the first time, had since passed away. The Lord had not required circumcision as they had wandered for forty years. The place they camped, was called Gilgal by the Lord.

10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.
11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.

As they camped, they kept the Passover and ate the old grains that came from the land. I think this was new for them, because as a nomadic people, they had been fed by the Lord for forty years, and had not regularly eaten the crops as other people would have done.

12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

At that point, the blessing of manna stopped and they began to eat the fruit of the land. I imagine that would have been quite a change for all the people, since all of them were raised from childhood or infancy with daily manna from the Lord.

13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
15 And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

The captain of the host of the Lord came to Joshua. Joshua worshiped him and then asked what the directions of the Lord were for him. Joshua, much like Moses, was told to remove the shoes he wore, because he was then on holy ground.

This was a time of great changes for the Israelite people. They were finally becoming prepared to take the land and settle there. I am sure this was a time of great excitement and anticipation. These people had never known this kind of life that they were now facing. I am sure that the need for courage and faith in the Lord, was of great importance. They showed their faith, by performing the ordinance of circumcision and renewing the covenants with the Lord. They were becoming more sanctified by the Lord, and allowing Him to lead them. I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have each week to renew my own covenants with the Lord, by partaking of the Sacrament. Through this renewal, I know that I can be more sanctified as well. With this weekly renewal and sanctification, I am better prepared to face my own adversaries and the every-day trials of life.

Leviticus Chapter 1

The book of Leviticus is the third book of Moses found at the beginning of the Bible. In Exodus, we read of the children of Israel being led out of Egypt by the prophet Moses. They ended up being camped at Mount Sinai, where great commandments and instruction were received from the Lord. They have built the tabernacle of the congregation, which was an ancient temple that could be moved along with the Israelites. The children of Israel were going to be led by God to the promised land. Leviticus begins as follows:

1 And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.
3 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord.
4 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
5 And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
6 And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces.
7 And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire:
8 And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:
9 But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

The Lord spoke to Moses, his chosen prophet, saying that those who wanted to give an offering to the Lord, could willingly offer a sacrifice of an unblemished male cattle. This offering would be for an atonement for their sins. They were to dedicate the cattle at the entrance of the tabernacle, for a burt offering. The priests were to prepare the offering as directed by the Lord.

10 And if his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish.
11 And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar.
12 And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:
13 But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

If an offering of a sheep or goat was made, it was also to be an unblemished male of the flock. Again, the Lord told Moses, how the priests were to prepare the offering.

14 And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.
15 And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar:
16 And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes:
17 And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

Some could bring an offering of turtledoves or pigeons. Moses was told how the priests were to prepare them as an offering as well. All of these offerings were “of a sweet savour unto the Lord.” When I think of this phrase, I am initially led to think of the smell of something cooking, in which case the Lord is saying something like the smell is sweet to the Lord. I looked up the word savour and one meaning refers to the word repute, which can mean honored. I think in this sense, that the Lord may possibly be saying these offerings are a way to honor God. Either way, these burnt offerings were a way to show the Lord that they had a desire to be clean from the sins of the world. It was a type of the great an final atonement provided by the Lord for all of mankind.

One of the things I think about when reading this chapter, is the requirement that these be a willing sacrifice. The Lord will not compel us to make a sacrifice to Him. Our agency is an eternal part of our being, which we had before this life and will have forever. It is up to each of us individually to dedicate our sacrifices to the Lord. In Romans 12:1 we read, “1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” I believe that life would have more meaning if I would truly dedicate more of myself and the things I have to the Lord. I hope to do away with the selfishness of the natural man, and give more as a dedicated sacrifice to the Lord for my sanctification and salvation.

Exodus Chapter 29

Moses had been commanded to build a tabernacle to the Lord. He was given strict instruction as to how it was to be built. He knew the size, shapes and materials to use. Then he was instructed to call Aaron and his sons to officiate there with the authority of the Aaronic priesthood. All of this instruction had been received while Moses was called up into Mount Sinai to talk with the Lord. The children of Israel were encamped at the base of the mount at this time. This part of Exodus continues as follows:

1 And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest’s office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish,
2 And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them.
3 And thou shalt put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams.
4 And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.
5 And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod:
6 And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre.
7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.
8 And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them.
9 And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest’s office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.
10 And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock.
11 And thou shalt kill the bullock before the Lord, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
12 And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar.
13 And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar.
14 But the flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin offering.

The Lord instituted a ceremony of washings and annointings, to consecrate Aaron and his sons (set them apart) for this purpose. They were to bring with them, a bullock (young bull), two rams, and unleavened bread, cakes and wafers in a basket. Once washed, they were to be clothed in their holy garments (see previous chapter for more about the garments). Moses was instructed as to how to make the burnt offering to the Lord, including which portions of the bullock, which were considered worthy to offer to the Lord. This was a sin offering, meaning I think, that their sins would be cleansed by the Lord for their offering.

15 Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.
16 And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar.
17 And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head.
18 And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the Lord: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.

Moses was instructed to sacrifice a ram next. The entire ram would be a worthy sacrifice to the Lord.

19 And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.
20 Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.
21 And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.
22 Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration:
23 And one loaf of bread, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer out of the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the Lord:
24 And thou shalt put all in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons; and shalt wave them for a wave offering before the Lord.
25 And thou shalt receive them of their hands, and burn them upon the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour before the Lord: it is an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
26 And thou shalt take the breast of the ram of Aaron’s consecration, and wave it for a wave offering before the Lord: and it shall be thy part.
27 And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons:
28 And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’ by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the Lord.

The second ram was to be sacrificed as well, but it was to be a sacrifice of consecration. Each part of the ram would have a part in a ritual of consecration performed with those of the Aaronic priesthood. It is worthwhile to note that with each step of this process, the priests were to lay their hands upon the animals. The laying on of hands is an important part of the use of the priesthood in ordinances and blessings. It reminds me of the Savior’s hands. His hands cause me to think of the sacrifice He made for us. His atonement is what makes all ordinances and blessings possible. I’m not entirely sure why it is that the Lord established this as a pattern for the use of the priesthood, or if it is how things are done in the eternities, but it is how the priesthood was used from the beginning of our records. The priests were therefore consecrating each animal for its purpose in the offerings to the Lord. I think that the “wave” offering or “heave” offering, was possibly a way for them to show to the Lord, that this was given to Him as an offering by raising that portion with their hands. It is also a reminder that they were humble before the Lord, to raise a sacrifice above themselves in the presence of the Lord.

29 And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them.
30 And that son that is priest in his stead shall put them on seven days, when he cometh into the tabernacle of the congregation to minister in the holy place.

The sacred temple clothing, that had been made for Aaron to wear as he served in his office of the priesthood, was to eventually be passed down to his sons. Perhaps this also refers to the length of their work in the temple. I don’t imagine that Aaron was expected to serve in the temple every day, but that his sons would in fact, take their turn serving for seven days. The garments would be consecrated for the work in the temple.

31 And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration, and seethe his flesh in the holy place.
32 And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
33 And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.
34 And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy.
35 And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them.
36 And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it.
37 Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.

The ram of consecration and the shewbread were to be eaten by Aaron and his sons, where the covenants had been made in the tabernacle of the congregation. No one else was to eat it because it had been consecrated for that purpose, unto those who had sanctified themselves to serve there. Whatever was left over, was to be burned the next day, and not eaten. They were to be consecrated and perform these rituals for seven days to covenant with Lord. After each time, they were to clean the altar, and anoint it again, and sanctify it again. The altar in the tabernacle was to be holy and only those things that were holy were to touch it. A portion of the header for this chapter reads, “Atonement is to be made for the sins of the people…”. This ritual was to be performed for the people, not just for those serving in the temple.

38 Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually.
39 The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even:
40 And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering.
41 And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.
43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.
44 And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.

In addition, they were to offer a lamb in the morning and in the evening each day. The Lord instructed Moses how each was to be offered along with other things, such as flour and oil. As they did these things in all holiness, the Lord and his spirit would be with them and speak to them. If they did these things according to the instructions given to Moses, the tabernacle and those of the Aaronic priesthood who served there, would be sanctified by the glory of the Lord.

45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
46 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the Lord their God.

The Lord’s portion of the covenant made at the altar of the temple, was that He would dwell with the children of Israel. This would be a reminder of all the tender mercies of the Lord towards these people, and that He was their Lord.

The temple is a holy and sacred place. All those who enter there, should be worthy to make covenants and serve the Lord. In order to make those covenants and do the work, one must be sanctified for that purpose. There exists washing and anointing today, just as in the days of Moses and Aaron. As I have been studying these things this week, I had the opportunity to serve in the temple and to perform proxy washing and anointing ordinances for the dead. What an experience that was for me, to reflect on the establishment of these ordinances in the days of the children of Israel. I was overcome with gratitude and joy because of the simple understanding I have been gaining over the past few weeks. I suggest to anyone who is planning on serving in the temple, to study these things to see how the ordinances of God have not changed just because we are living in these modern days. I am once again, filled with an incredible gratitude for the temples on the earth today. If any of my readers are seeking to draw closer to God, I encourage you to become and stay worthy to serve in the holy temple of the Lord. It is there, that we can show our true devotion to Him.

Exodus Chapter 27

In the previous 2 chapters of Exodus, the Lord has revealed to Moses and the Israelites, the pattern of the tabernacle they were to build for the Lord. This ancient tabernacle was much like the temples of today, except they were able to travel with it as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. The Lord’s instructions continue in this chapter as follows:

1 And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.
2 And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass.
3 And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basins, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass.
4 And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof.
5 And thou shalt put it under the compass of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar.
6 And thou shalt make staves for the altar, staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with brass.
7 And the staves shall be put into the rings, and the staves shall be upon the two sides of the altar, to bear it.
8 Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was shewed thee in the mount, so shall they make it.

The Israelites were instructed by the Lord, to build an altar. They were given the way to build it in size and material. The altar would be made with horns as part of it. They were also to make accessories to go with it, as well as the means to carry it, just as they would carry the other items they were to craft. This altar would be where they would give of burnt offerings to the Lord. This was an ordinance that had been established with Adam long before, and was to continue until the fulfillment of the Law of Moses through the sacrifice of the Savior.

9 And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side:
10 And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.
11 And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.

The tabernacle has so far been designed with a holy place and the holy of holies within that. In these verses, they are told of a court with twenty pillars surrounding it.

12 And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten.
13 And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits.
14 The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.
15 And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.

They were given the specific size and number of pillars to make each side of the court within the tabernacle.

16 And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.
17 All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass.

The area of the court, was to have a entrance of fine materials, with silver and brass metals.

18 The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass.
19 All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass.

The items for use within the court were to be made of brass.

20 And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always.
21 In the tabernacle of the congregation without the veil, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord: it shall be a statute for ever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.

The lamp in the court, was to use pure olive oil, and be lit at all times. This was to be in the area where the congregation would gather, outside of the veil to the holy place. It sounds like the sons of Aaron, those who by patriarchal line had right to the priesthood of Aaron, would be responsible for the tabernacle of the congregation, or the areas of the tabernacle where the Israelites would be permitted to enter. Today, we gather together as a congregation in our meetinghouses. There, we receive the sacrament as established by the Lord at the end of His ministry on earth, by the hand of those who hold the Aaronic priesthood. This was an established duty of the priesthood, which continues in the restored church today.

There is so much about the design, purpose, and organization of the tabernacle of the Lord, which is found within the church today. I had not realized just how much of what we have and do in the church, was established in ancient times. I am so grateful for the priesthood of the Lord. I am glad that we are able to gather together to make sacrifices of a broken heart and contrite spirit, and to renew our covenants through the ordinance of the sacrament each week. We would not be able to do this, without the proper priesthood authority from God to do so. Our meeting houses and temples are sacred places built to do the work of the Lord, just as the tabernacle was in that time.

To read more about the design of the tabernacle, see my previous posts: Exodus Chapter 25 and Exodus Chapter 26.

Exodus Chapter 25

In this part of Exodus, the laws and judgments of the Israelites is being established. The Lord has spoken to the people through the prophet Moses, and he is continuing to do so in this chapter. At this time, the children of Israel are encamped around the base of Mount Sinai and I do not think that it has been too long since they arrived there. If I am correct, then it is still not too long after they have been delivered from bondage in Egypt. The word of the Lord continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,
4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,
5 And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,
6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,
7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.
8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

While Moses was speaking with the Lord, upon Mount Sinai, he was commanded to tell the Israelites to bring offerings or donations of fine things in order to build a tabernacle for the Lord. Anything that was brought willingly, was to be taken by Moses. He was told that the Lord would show him how it was to be made and with what to build it. This was like our temples are today, which the Lord commands us to build in order to have a holy place for Him to dwell. Instruction is given to the modern prophets and apostles as to where these temples should be built and how we should build them as well.

10 And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
11 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.
12 And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it.
13 And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold.
14 And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
15 The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

The Lord commanded that they build an ark as well. They were told how they were to make it, including the material, size, and design of it. They were to carry it with two gold plated staffs of wood. This was to carry the testimony or covenant given to Moses. They were to make a golden mercy seat and then craft two cherubim for it, and were given specific instructions on to how they would appear, with wings outstretched and faces towards each other and the mercy seat. The footnote regarding the mercy seat reads that it was hebrew for “atonement-cover. … it was a golden slab of the same dimension as the top of the ark. A winged cherub was placed on each end.” It sounds like this mercy seat would be placed on top of the ark of the covenant. The Lord told Moses that once finished, He would be there with His people, on the mercy seat which they had made. Symbolically, the presence of the Lord would be guarded by two cherubim or something like two angels. This was the most sacred portion of the things that Moses would be commanded to create for the tabernacle.

23 Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
24 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about.
25 And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about.
26 And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof.
27 Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table.
28 And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them.
29 And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them.
30 And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.

They were to build a table for the shewbread, as the Lord instructed. They were given a specific size and design. They were also to make it so that it could be carried by gold plated staffs. They would have dishes for administering in the sacred ordinances. Much of what was made, was to be of pure gold. I think that this portion of the items was much like a sacrament tables we have today, where we renew our own covenants with God on a regular basis.

31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
34 And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
35 And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
36 Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
37 And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.
38 And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.
39 Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.
40 And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.

Finally a candle stick of pure gold was to be made with 6 branches, each with a specific design given by God. Then seven lamps were to be made to light it, as well as the other tools they needed for the candle stick. All of these were to be made of pure gold. The idea of God given strict instructions as to how to build something, is not knew to me. We read of Nephi being instruction specifically on how to build a boat for the family of Lehi to cross the great waters. Likewise, the Brother of Jared was given specific instructions on how to build the barges that he and his family and friends crossed the waters in. This, to me, is a reminder, that man has a finite knowledge on how to use the things of the earth to create. The Lord will direct His people to create things according to a better design than we can imagine on our own. I feel this same guidance in my life when I do not know how to deal with a situation or to solve a problem and I am inspired to do something I would not normally do. The Lord truly knows what is best, and what we are capable of doing.

The thing I think about most with this chapter, is the importance of temples among the covenant people of God. Having a temple, requires sacrifice. At this time, it was a sacrifice of precious things, just as it was in the early times of the restoration, when the Lord commanded the early saints to give of their fine things for the building of his house. Our required sacrifice today is given in our tithes and offerings usually. We recently had a temple rededicated and some were needed to sacrifice their time, energy and means in order to make His house a clean, beautiful, and consecrated place. The Lord commands us to do this for the same reasons he did in ancient times. He wants to dwell with the righteous. He wants a holy place where His spirit and uplift us and we can feel His love. He does not want to leave us to wander the worldly wilderness on our own. This instruction to the Israelites, was a witness of his love for them. We are shown this same love today and should show our gratitude for it by using the temples as God intended.

Exodus Chapter 24

The Lord gave the Israelites the commandments and judgements they were to live by, through His prophet, Moses. They had been encamped around the base of Mount Sinai and had received a witness of the Lord. The book of Exodus continues as follows:

1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.
2 And Moses alone shall come near the Lord: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.

The Lord called Moses, Aaron, and two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, near to Him, out from among the people, to worship, along with seventy elders. Then Moses was called directly to the Lord, while the others were left behind. No one else was to come with these men.

3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do.
4 And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord.
6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.
7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.
8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.

Moses took all the commandments and judgements or ordinances to the people, and the people agreed, by a unanimous voice (or what we call common consent) to follow the word of the Lord. Moses recorded all that had been told to him and then he built and altar at the base of the mountain, to the Lord. The altar also had twelve pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel, who were going to make sacrifice and covenants with the Lord. They offered their sacrifice to the Lord and then made a covenant at the altar, that they would obey the law. I think about the idea that they sent young men to make the offering for the people. When I read this, I think about our young men today, who are just ordained to the priesthood and then pass the sacrament to each of us. I don’t think that the church was organized too different in ancient times from what it is now. And again, this was a type for the Christ to come, just as the sacrament we take from the altar in our churches today, is a way to look to Christ as well.

Once again, we can learn from this that we are to keep a record of sacred things. Records lead to remembrance of things that would otherwise be forgotten by men. I had an experience with this just this weekend. I had an impression during church and intended to share it with my family. I know it was something that I felt strong in my heart, but I did not write it down as I usually do. Because of this, I had forgotten what the thoughts and feelings had been once I arrived home. I was sad when I realized I couldn’t recall it to share it with them. It is easy to forget because we are mortal and at the mercy of our minds with all that is going on in our lives. I believe that we should always record our personal revelation, just as Moses recorded revelation received for the people of the Lord.

9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

The elders that had been called of the Lord, went with Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and witnessed God and worshiped him. This sounds a lot like a quorum of The Seventy going with the First Presidency of the church today, to a meeting of worship. A description is given of what he was standing upon, which was a paving of sapphire, which was clear as the heavens. The Lord did not touch them, but was seen as God, by these men.

12 And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.
15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
16 And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
17 And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

The Lord commanded Moses to come to Him, to receive the law on tables of stone, so that he could teach the people. Often times, the prophets have received greater instruction from the Lord and other messengers, so that they are capable of teaching great things to the people of God. Moses left Aaron and Hur in charge of the people, while he went to see the Lord. The glory of the Lord remained on the mountain and was covered by cloud for six days, where Moses was. Then Moses was called out of the cloud and the children of Israel witnessed the glory of the Lord. It was like a great fire on the mountain. Moses went into the cloud and up the mountain, where he was gone from the Israelites for forty days and nights.

In this chapter we learn of the covenant or testament made between the children of Israel and God. The Israelites covenanted that they would do all that the Lord had commanded them through his prophet Moses, which we learn in the last 3 chapters studied. We have the privilege of making covenants with God as well. When we make the covenants of baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and those made in the holy temple, we are in a sense adopted into the tribes of Israel. When we sanctify ourselves and become worthy, we are capable of attending the temple and experiencing sacred things, just as these men of old experienced. We need to keep these experiences in our remembrance, so that we will remain true and faithful. I believe that in the coming chapters, we will see that the Israelites struggled to remember their own covenants with God and failed to receive the blessings because of that. I am so grateful for my covenants and I know that if we strive to live up to them each day, we will be greatly blessed and our testimonies and knowledge will grow.

Are We Striving for Exaltation?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of one of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:
Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.
Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.
Delight in service and good works.
Love life and learning.
Stand for truth and righteousness.
Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.
Rejoice in the blessings of the temple,understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.

This series of posts has been a lot of fun for me to go through. It’s been great to focus on the Relief Society declaration and all that it means to me in my life. I’m a little sad to see it coming to an end. The last question of this series is are we striving for exaltation? It goes right along with the previous posts and is a perfect final thought for this series.

What is exaltation? Every person will receive the blessings of immortality that comes with the resurrection, because the Savior has fulfilled the requirements for that and it doesn’t matter what we do. However, there are additional blessings to be received after this life, and they come from the choices we make in this life. Exaltation is what happens when God raises us to a level or glory above where we can reach for ourselves. In Matthew 25:34 we read, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”. Exaltation is receiving our inheritance of the kingdom of God, which has been prepared for us. It is there that we have a fullness of joy. In Psalms 16:11 we read, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Exaltation is the reward which allows us to live in the presence of God and at His right hand. It is often described in the scriptures as receiving the crown prepared for us. In 2 Timothy 4:8 it says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day. . .”. Also in Doctrine and Covenants 59:2 it says, “For those that live shall inherit the earth, and those that die shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them; and they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father, which I have prepared for them.” Exaltation is the ultimate reward of the rest that the Savior has promised to us in John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Exaltation is the companionship of the Godhead as we live in their glory forever more.

With this understanding of what exaltation is, what are we doing to strive for it? Striving for something, is not simply allowing it to come to us, but making a great effort to obtain it. To strive for exaltation, we must be actively working to do what the scriptures teach us we need to do in order to obtain it.

I think that first, we need to believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. When we come to know Christ, we come to know God. We cannot hope to achieve our potential if we do not understand what that potential is by having faith in Jesus the Christ. In John 17:3, the Savior teaches us, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Once we come to have a belief and faith in Christ, we need to live as He did and follow His perfect example. In that example, the Savior showed us that we need to be baptized in His name. In 3 Nephi 11:33 we read the words of the Savior to those on the American continent. He said, “And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

One of the things I found in my study of this, is the reward of salvation from honoring the priesthood of God. This makes perfect sense to me, but probably wouldn’t have come to my mind immediately as a way to strive for exaltation. In Doctrine and Covenants 84 we read the following:

35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

To receive the priesthood, means to allow the power of God to act in our lives. It means to honor it by honoring the men who hold it, by following our modern prophets and apostles, by living according to the covenants we make through it, by allowing the atonement to be a part of our everyday lives, and more. Part of honoring the priesthood, is making sacred covenants with God and taking upon us the ordinances that must be performed with the priesthood authority given to us by God. One mentioned above, was baptism. Others include receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and our temple covenants in the endowments and sealings. In Doctrine and Covenants 132, great rewards of exaltation are promised to those who enter into the covenant of eternal marriage, or the new and everlasting covenant.

19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

Continually striving to honor the Lord by living according to the priesthood power he has allowed us to have or by making and keeping these sacred covenants with him, will push us towards that reward of exaltation. It will give us the opportunity to be as God and have forever families and rule in glory with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.

There are two things that we need to do, which are often found hand in hand: keep the commandments and endure to the end. In Doctrine and Covenants 25:15 we read, “Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come.” I love that it has the word continually in there. We cannot just keep the commandment once and receive that great reward. Rather, we must continually return to Christ through repentance and strive each day to do our best to keep the commandments, for the remainder of our days. That is endurance. Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 says, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” We need to endure through the everyday temptations of Satan as we are instructed in James 1:12 which reads, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” When we endure these temptations, we choose which side we would rather be on. Through our endurance, we can overcome evil and love that which is good. In Revelation 3:21 it says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

This continual path of striving to keep the commandments and endure, will not be easy. In fact, it will probably be harder than any other path we could choose to take in this life. There are many more trials in life, then just those that Satan puts before us. Yet, even with these difficulties, we learn and grow so much more from trials than if we did not have them. In Doctrine and Covenants 58:4 we read, “For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.” These promised blessings are for the faithful, who are truly striving each day to do what is right. Doctrine and Covenants 75:5 teaches us, “And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many sheaves, and crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life.” Again in section 81, verse 6 of the Doctrine and Covenants we learn, “And if thou art faithful unto the end thou shalt have a crown of immortality, and eternal life in the mansions which I have prepared in the house of my Father.”

Our efforts in striving for exaltation, really come down to the little decisions of every day. The gospel in this is simple. We either choose to do the things that God has asked us to do, or we choose to follow the path that Satan has made easily accessible to all of us. In 2 Nephi 2:27 we learn this gospel truth. “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” Then again we are reminded of the consequences of our choices in 2 Nephi 9:39 which reads, “O, my beloved brethren, remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.” Our eternal reward is dependent upon the thoughts, words and deeds which we choose to have while here in mortality.

Faith is a Sunrise

I hope and have great faith in the promises of exaltation. I cannot imagine anything better then being allowed to live in the presence of God and have my own eternal family. I know that in order to receive this, I have to believe in God and Jesus Christ, honor all that is truly sacred which is all connected to the amazing power of the priesthood, keep the covenants which I have made with God, keep the laws and commandments that He has given to us, and endure to the end of my days. I know that I cannot allow things to act upon me, but that I must choose these things for myself and be striving for the blessings of exaltation each and every day. I know that I am not expected to be perfect right at this moment, but that if I am willing to make my best effort and rely upon the Lord and the atonement in repenting and returning to the Lord always, that the blessings will come. It is after I put forth the effort to live righteously each day, that my Savior will take me from the imperfect state that I will be in, and raise me to that state of glory and reward that I will deserve. We, as disciples of the Lord, can receive exaltation through our Savior, Jesus Christ, if we will do our best to strive for it each day.

Do We Rejoice in the Blessings of the Temple?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of one of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:
Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.
Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.
Delight in service and good works.
Love life and learning.
Stand for truth and righteousness.
Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.
Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.

The next question in this series is do we rejoice in the blessings of the temple. I absolutely love the temple. In the LDS church, we have temples all over the world, which are dedicated to the work of salvation. There are certain saving ordinances that can only be performed in the temple, both for the living and those who have died. All are invited to enjoy the blessings of the temple and can do so, if they are found worthy to enter the holy and sacred house of the Lord. In Psalms 24 we read the following:

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (emphasis added)

To answer the question for today, we have to understand what some of the blessings of the temple are. The first one I think of, based on my description above of what the temple is ultimately for, is the eternal blessings that come from the ordinances performed there. With the covenants made in the temple, we have promised blessings that await us. The one that I look forward to the most, is eternal families. We believe that through the work in the temple, our earthly family relationships can be ours for eternity. In Doctrine and Covenants 138:48 we read, “Foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the redemption of the dead, and the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming.” It may be hard to see this as a blessing to rejoice in right now, but there is great hope that comes from this knowledge. It is a huge blessing to be able to look at my loved ones and feel that even if we are parted because of death or distance, we will see each other again some day and enjoy the blessings of heaven with one another.

The temple is a house of glory. When we make covenants with the Lord, the faithful are promised to receive great glory. In the LDS faith, we believe in an order to the kingdom of God. That order divides His kingdom into three degrees of glory. They are the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial glories. The one we are aiming for, which is the glory in which the faithful, covenant, and righteous will dwell, is the celestial glory. We believe that within that glory, there are three degrees. All the faithful, who have made their first covenants (baptism by water and the spirit), will qualify for the lowest degree in that glory. Those who have made greater covenants will be worthy of the greater degrees of glory. Ultimately, we believe that the covenants of celestial marriage, will allow the faithful to be worthy of the highest degree of glory within the celestial kingdom. Doctrine and Covenants 131 starts with the following:

1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

I find additional hope in this knowledge. This highest degree of glory, is where our Father in Heaven dwells. In Doctrine and Covenants 97 we read the following:

15 And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;
16 Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.

I see it as a great blessing to have hope in living with God again someday, because I have made and kept the covenants in this life to be worthy of His glory.

So, I guess when I think of these two things I have already mentioned, the blessing in this life is hope for things to come after this life. In Romans 8:24 we read, “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” Do we rejoice in the blessing of hope? I certainly do. My life has so much more purpose because of this hope. I find that I devote more energies to my family than that natural woman inside me would give. I am more devoted to learning about and living at the level of personal righteousness that God would have me live. This gives me more strength and a greater desire to face each day and challenge with courage and confidence.

The temple is a house of prayer. I cannot even begin to number the blessings that come from prayer. But prayer is something that is not excluded to the temple. Why rejoice in the blessings of prayer from the temple then? The temple is the house of the Lord. Aside from our homes, there is no place that is more sacred on earth. The peace of the temple shuts out the volume and distractions of the world. It is in that setting that we can feel closest to the spirit. Because of that peace, we can show the greatest reverence in our conversation with our Father in Heaven. There, we should be able to hear the answers we are seeking, with ease. There is a video I watched yesterday, which went right along with this topic.

Our Eternal Life

There were a few things that I got from this, worth mentioning here. First, I know that most people are seeking for happiness. We want to have our own ‘happily ever after’. Most people do not realize where the real, lasting happily ever after can be found. I know that this can only be found through the temple. In Isaiah 56:7 we read, “Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” God wishes to bless us with the things that we desire physically and spiritually. When we are worthy to enter the temple, our desires will naturally be more focused on the things of an eternal nature and our dreams will be what God wants for us as well. When we take our dreams and desires with us to the temple and ask God in sincere faith, he will give us answers and will bless us for our faithful obedience. These answers and blessings will lead us to our dreams becoming a reality. They will lead us to becoming the person that God would have us be. Who wouldn’t want to rejoice in the blessings of getting what they truly desire, or in knowing (not just believing) that those dreams will be fulfilled someday?

Doctrine and Covenants 110:7 reads, “For behold, I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.” Another blessing of the temple, that goes right along with answers to prayers and fulfillment of our dreams, is the blessings of revelation received. What I mean by this, is that we can receive inspiration we were not even seeking. There have been many times when I have been blessed with some unexpected inspiration, that once followed has led to incredible blessings in my life. One of those thoughts that came from watching the video above, was that the temple is God’s way. Therefore, in the temple, He will guide us to do His will, and to be an instrument in His hands in ways that we had not thought of before. The Lord will manifest his will through the inspiration we receive in the temple.

The video reminded me of additional blessings that come from the temple, for which I am always grateful. When I’ve talked to others about the feelings they get in the temple and from temple service, they often talk about the renewed strength they feel.When we serve in the temple, God blesses us with the fortification and energy of strength to face the world outside. In the temple, we focus on the eternal perspective of life, and that alone gives me greater faith in living my daily life according to God’s desire for me. That faith crushes the fears that I am faced with every day. I am a natural worrier and my tendency is to look always to the worst case scenario first. When I am in the temple, God helps me to recognize that be aware of what that worst case can be is fine, but focusing faith on my Savior will give me the power to have everything work out for the best. In Exodus 15:2 we read, “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” What a blessing it is to be renewed with a greater faith in Jesus the Christ, and to put aside the worries of life to focus on the power of Him who wants me to succeed and be happy.

Another thing that this video caused me to think about, was the blessing of time. In Alma 40:8 we read, “. . . all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.” The eternal perspective we gain in the temple, teaches us that this life is really just a moment in the never-ending life that we are living. Because of this knowledge, there are two lessons that bring tremendous blessings, if applied. First, the experiences of this life have greater value. A blessing of the temple, is learning that we need to spend the time we have focusing on what is most important. This includes things like our relationships with family members, gaining knowledge of all things, and nurturing a greater love for others, which are the things that we will take with us into the eternities. Second, the lesson that we don’t have to be so hard on ourselves. Acts 15:11 reads, “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” The grace of God is eternal. We need to trying our best, but God does not expect us to achieve perfection in this life. The path to perfection is eternal. We will continue to progress after we leave this mortal world. If God expected perfection in all things right now, or rather if we all could achieve it in this life, we wouldn’t need to be here. The blessing of time, or rather a better understanding of what time is, brings me so much peace and happiness.

The temple truly is a house of learning. There is so much to be gained there. In Isaiah 2:3, we read, “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.” There is an infinite amount of knowledge that we do not have. In the temple, we are given an understanding that we cannot receive in other places. The more often we go, the more we realize just how much we do not know. God blesses us with a knowledge line-upon-line, as we are prepared to receive it. 2 Nephi 28:30 reads, “For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” The things that I have learned in the temple, are a blessing beyond measure to me. Gaining the knowledge is empowering and humbling at the same time. In addition, we learn through the covenants we make, that we must use that knowledge for good. We have a duty to build up the kingdom of God and we will not retain that knowledge unless we use it in our lives. The blessings of learning from the temple continue as we live according to the things that we have learned there, to the point that we cannot even realize just how great they are.

I think that the list of blessings from the temple could go on for a while. Deuteronomy 26:11 reads, “And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee . . .”. As people of faith, we should rejoice in the blessings that come from the temple. If you are worthy to enter the Holy House of the Lord, I would hope that you would have a desire to go often and be reminded of these amazing blessings. If you have not yet been to the temple of the Lord, I encourage you to put your life in order to be able to enjoy these blessings for yourself. I am so grateful for the temple. I cannot imagine living in a time or place where this privilege was not available to me. I am inspired by many stories of people who have sacrificed so much to be able to go just once in their lifetime. I am blessed to have several temples close enough to drive there in a matter of hours. The temple that is closest to me has been closed for renovations for a while now, but will be rededicated this coming month. I am excited to take my children to the open house, which is a time before the dedication when anyone can enter the temple and see what it looks like and where we perform our sacred ordinances. I hope that many people will take advantage of this opportunity to see this beautiful temple and feel the spirit that is there.

I feel so much joy when I am in the temple. It is one of the places that I can feel the closest to heaven, and I know that the blessings that I receive from it cannot be numbered. I know that God loves His children. He has given us this great blessing, to give us a place where we can draw closer to Him, make sacred covenants and promises to Him, and show Him just how much we love Him in return.

Here are some additional posts I have done regarding the temple and related topics:

  • Temple Work and Family History
  • Eternal Marriage
  • The Family Can Be Eternal
  • Genesis Chapter 35

    Jacob, the son of Isaac and grandson of father Abraham, is a faithful and blessed man of the covenant. He has family that has been using their agency contrary to the way of God. The book of Genesis continues:

    1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Beth-el, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
    2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:
    3 And let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.
    4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.
    5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.

    God calls Jacob to go to Bethel where he had seen the Lord, when he had ran away from Esau years earlier. In Bethel he was to build an altar to renew his covenants with God. Jacob gathered his family, having removed the things which were distracting them from God, and took his journey to Bethel as he had been commanded. I’m assuming his family repented of their idolatry and wicked ways before leaving with him, so this probably did not happen overnight. Jacob remembered that God had been good to him and delivered him from the anger of Esau, when he had returned to this land with his family. It is so important for us to remember the blessings that God gives to us, because it helps us to remain faithful and obedient to his commandments.

    6 So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Beth-el, he and all the people that were with him.
    7 And he built there an altar, and called the place El-beth-el: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.
    8 But Deborah Rebekah’s nurse died, and she was buried beneath Beth-el under an oak: and the name of it was called Allon-bachuth.

    Jacob built an altar in Bethel in the place where he had seen the Lord before. Then his mother’s nurse passed away and was buried there. I am sure that she had been seen as a member of the family and that it would have been sad to loose her.

    9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan-aram, and blessed him.
    10 And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
    11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
    12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.
    13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.
    14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.
    15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Beth-el.

    The Lord appeared to Jacob and he was given a new name, Israel. Then God renewed his covenant and promise with Jacob, as he had with Abraham and Isaac. This promise was that if Jacob would remain faithful and obedient, he would be the father of many nations and the land of promise would be his and the land of his descendants. The blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are always tied to the concept of multiplying and replenishing the earth. Part of our faithfulness to God, is shown in our willingness to obey this commandment, which was given to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. It is truly that important.

    16 And they journeyed from Beth-el; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
    17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.
    18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Ben-oni: but his father called him Benjamin.
    19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Beth-lehem.
    20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.

    Rachel was pregnant again and in its difficulty, she died during childbirth. Her son was called Benjamin.

    21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.
    22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:
    23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:
    24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:
    25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:
    26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padan-aram.

    Israel took his family and went to the land near the tower of Edar, which I believe was still in the land of Cannan. Reuben was the oldest of Israel’s sons and I imagine he was a grown man at this point because it has been several years since he first married Leah (Reuben’s mother). Reuben had an affair with Bilhah, which would have been just as much against the covenants that Israel and Bilhah had made as it would be today. I get the feeling that Reuben was a bit of a rebellious soul even at a younger age.

    27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.
    28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.
    29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

    Jacob (Israel) went to visit his father Isaac when he had reached the old age of 180. Isaac died and was buried by his sons, Jacob and Esau.

    What I get out of this chapter is that life is about returning to the Lord. Jacob was commanded to do something and so he guided his family to repent and return to the Lord so that they could be worthy of the task they had before them, meaning building the altar and giving an offering to the Lord. We all make mistakes. We all have times when we loose our way, even a little, and we need to remember the blessings and return to the Lord. Life is not about being perfect now, it is about heading in the right direction. Life is about returning to the straight and narrow path towards eternal life. When we are worthy, we can go to the altar today, which we find in the house of the Lord (the temple), and there we can make our own covenants and offerings to the Lord. When we do these things, we are promised to receive the blessings that God has in store for us. I am so grateful for the atonement and repentance, which make it possible for me to return to the Lord.


    About My Scripture Study Buddy

    I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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