1. Even Solomon acknowledged this discrepancy [i.e., God commands us to build Temples, yet He doesn’t dwell in Temples made with hands] when he dedicated the Temple he built:

    “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (1 Kgs. 8:27; 2 Chr. 6:18)

    Nevertheless, God’s presence is in His Temples — not because He physically lives there, but as Solomon points out:

    “That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, ‘My name shall be there:’ that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.” (1 Kgs. 8:29; 2 Chr. 6:20)

    We don’t believe we have to build God a house because He needs one [like the Athenians believed]. We believe the Temple is the place where we make covenants with Him, and that He observes the work we do, with His eyes on us always, from His real throne in Heaven.

  2. Bryce,

    You have given a very clear explanation of the continuing importance of the temple. I will look forward to the next installment.

    Temples require priesthood, ritual, and revelation outside of mere Biblical authority. It is understandable why Protestants would be uncomfortable with the concept. But, Paul’s life showed a clear interest in the functions of the temple. To me, this fact exposes a big hole in many standard Christian theologies.

  3. Good answer, Bryce! As many scholars (like Margaret Barker) are realizing, the Christian world revolved around the Temple. My last post on my blog talks about this subject–it covers chapters 2 and 3 of Margaret Barker’s book “Temple Themes in Christian Worship.” Barker goes into much more detail than I could include in my post, and shows how Christians truly expected to have a physical temple to worship in.

    Unfortunately, they usually did not have a temple building in which to worship. Christ and the Apostles were frequently in the Temple in Jerusalem. However, according to the evidence Barker provides, it appears that the Christians were soon considered “anathema” by the Jews and expulsed from the Temple. Subsequently, as expected by the Christians, the Temple was destroyed. The destruction of the corrupt Temple had been part of the Messianic expectation, and the Christians awaited the return of Jesus to rebuild the Temple at his Second Coming.

    In the meantime, it was important for them to have a belief in the Heavenly Temple and to see the Church, or their own body, as a spiritual temple. The Christians maintained the temple tradition even when they had no physical temple to worship in.

    That does not mean, however, that they did not expect there to be a real physical temple for them some day in the future. It is true that, especially after the second century, Christians increasingly favored the spiritual temple. The reason for this, however, is likely due to the fact that many of the first Christians expected Jesus to return soon to rebuild the Temple (which Paul had warned against in 2 Thes. 2:3). When he did not fulfill that expectation, many began to see these things as allegorical, or “spiritual.” Not all Christians, however, lost sight of the promise of a new temple. Barker notes that both Constantine and Justinian built edifices in Jerusalem that were built like, and intended to be, that new temple. Perhaps they felt it was their duty to fulfill this long held expectation. Unfortunately, by that time, the Christians had lost the true doctrines and ordinances of the Temple.

    This is all spelled out in great detail in Margaret Barker’s book. You can tell your evangelical reader that Barker is not Mormon, she’s a Methodist.

  4. Ferreira

    I agree with the idea that what God directs His servants to do/make and what He sanctifies is not in effect “built by hands” but may be considered as being built by God (it was done under His command and according to His holy order).

    Margaret Barker’s article, Fragrance In The Making Of Sacred Space: Jewish Temple Paradigms Of Christian Worship (http://www.margaretbarker.com/Papers/FragranceintheMakingofSacredSpace.pdf) states, “In Hebrew tradition, all the instructions for worship were revealed by God. King David received a writing from the hand of the Lord about building the temple (1 Chronicles 28.19), and Moses had been told on Sinai exactly how the tabernacle was to be built and furnished, how the priests were to be vested and how the perfumes were to be blended (Exodus 25.9). . . . Moses was told to copy what he had seen in his vision on Sinai.”

    The Lord instructed Moses to make an ointment, “it shall be an holy anointing oil” (Ex 30:25).

    “26 And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony,
    27 And the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense,
    28 And the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and his foot.
    29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.” (Ex 30:26–29).

    The anointing had the effect of sanctifying the temple. Thus, the temple which is technically made of earthly matter and built by mortals was considered sanctified and holy through God’s power. A true temple, build under the direction and order of God and sanctified by His power, is not “built by hands” (i.e. hands of men) but is built by God.

  5. Mark Greene

    Since the Apostle Paul declared that we are temples and the Spirit of God dwells in us if we keep ourselves as holy temples (see 1 Cor. 3:16–17), we must ask the same question of our own bodies as temples. Are they made by human hands? Yes, our human parents had an important part in this making of human temples but this human parental function is only part of the whole work to “bear the souls of men” (D&C 132:63). This work is the work and glory of God under His direction.
    Mark Greene

  6. Zack

    You mentioned Hebrews 8, illustrating the idea that temples/priesthood are part of God’s pattern but I think you are leaving some important verses out. If you read the whole chapter, i believe it gives a very different view.

    Anyways, for the first verses 1-5 it talks about the old testament shadows of heavenly things and patterns but then the next verse, verse 6 reading to 13, it says “But now” he has created a better covenant …. making the old covenant obsolete and old getting ready to vanish. All the prophets/temples/priests were under the old covenant.

    Looking at verse 4 and 5, Old testament priests served as the copy and shadow of the heavenly things. The Levitical priesthood served as a copy and shadow of our heavenly High Priest. Just like how the animal sacrifices, prophets, and temples were foreshadows of something so much better, Jesus. Since Jesus came, there is no need to sacrifice animals anymore. In the past, we were guided by God through prophets, but Jesus fulfilled and now Jesus speaks and leads us instead (Hebrew 1:1-2). Prophets do have a purpose today in the church- they prophesy but don’t hold the same leadership responsibility like Moses. Old and New Testament prophets have many women prophets also as the bible depicts, not just men only.

    Looking at verse 4 again explains why Jesus could not have been a priest on earth by the mosaic law. According the law, in order to be an aaronic priest you had to be of the tribe of Levi. Christ couldn’t even be an aaronic priest because he was not from the tribe. (also in Heb 7:13:14). I’m not really sure how LDS can have aaronic priests who are not from the tribe of Levi. Jews know their priests must be from the tribe of levi. (Sorry, a little off topic)

    You bring up a good point with Paul and apostles worshiping at the Temple. I believe that they continued to worship there for a number of reasons. One of them was because most were jews before their conversion to Christianity and were accustomed to worship there. Also, it gave them a good advantage to preach the gospel to their own people. There was a transition period of Jewish customs and habits.

    I believe you can find God anywhere and that you can make covenants with God anywhere. I don’t have to go to the temple to be in the presence of God. Also, if temples were so important to the apostles, they would have expounded in great detail the importance of attending the temple. They also would have talked about the important temple ceremonies and rituals if there were any, but they didn’t. If they existed, the apostles would have definitely talked about them and their importance. But there is hardly anything talked about in the temple in the new testament. It just isn’t there

    Well, i know that everyone will probably disagree with me, but that’s alright, that’s what discussions are for.

  7. Hi Zack,

    Thanks for the comments and discussion. I’d like to address some of the topics you brought up.

    I assume when you say “old covenant” that you are talking about the Mosaic law/covenant that pervades most of the Old Testament. What most people don’t realize is that there were priests, prophets, and temples even before God established the “old covenant” with Moses. Melchizedek was said to be a “priest” long before Moses was around (Gen. 14:18). And certainly those patriarchs that lived before Moses were God’s prophets – Adam, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. Temples also existed before the old covenant was instituted. Adam and his family set up altars and offered sacrifices (Gen. 4). God established a covenant with Noah (Gen. 6:18), and also builds altars and offers sacrifices (Gen. 8:20). God made a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:2–3; Gen. 13:16; Gen. 15:5, 18), who also built altars, and saw the Lord (Gen. 12:7–8; Gen. 13:3–4). Etc.. All these things happened before God established the Mosaic covenant. In other words, there was a superior covenant to the Mosaic formerly, and this is what Christ brought back. He was a “high priest” after the “order of Melchizedek,” and not of Aaron or Moses or Levi. He restored a more ancient covenant. But since priests/prophets/temples had existed prior to the Mosaic covenant, there isn’t any reason they couldn’t exist when that former covenant was brought back in Christ.

    I think of the Mosaic covenant as a subset of the more ancient covenant that Christ restored. The Mosaic covenant had only the Aaronic/Levitical priesthoods, but the higher covenant (also called the new covenant) includes those priesthoods but also has the Melchizedek priesthood. In other words, the Mosaic dispensation lost the higher priesthood/covenants because of iniquity in Israel. They could not directly come into the presence of God, but had to send in an intermediary (Moses) to speak with God. All of this priesthood has been restored today. That is why we have Aaronic/Levitical priesthoods, and Melchizedek priesthood.

    The early Christians kept the customs, rituals, symbolism, architecture, imagery and memory of the temple long after the ascension of Christ. I book I recommend on the subject is Solomon’s Temple: Myth & History by Drs. Hamblin and Seely. It talks extensively about how the temple symbolism continued throughout early Christianity, as well as many of the other topics I’ve mentioned. Also note that the temple in Jerusalem was not only where Christ and the apostles taught, but where the apostles continued ritual activity and the Lord appeared to them there after his ascension (Acts 21:26; Acts 22:17–18). The temple continued to be the place of worship and revelation.

    In all of scripture God’s people have never been able to make covenants with Him anywhere or under any circumstances. God established priesthoods, temples, sacred spaces, rituals, covenants, ordinances (like baptism), authority, prophets, teachers, deacons, bishops, and priests for the reason of establishing these covenants in particular ways and in particular settings. God is order, and does things in orderly and patterned ways. That is the only way we can recognize God’s doings, because they have a pattern.

    The apostles did teach and preach the importance of temples. The early Christians were “continually in the temple,” worshiping and praising God (Luke 24:53; Acts 2:46; Acts 5:42). They wouldn’t have been there doing those things if it were not important. They could have met anywhere to worship, but they chose the temple. No one expounded on the specifics of the rituals of the temple at the time because they are sacred, and are not given to those who are not prepared. But Christ did tell them that He would endow them with power at that sacred place (Luke 24:49).

    The New Testament is saturated with the temple, if you look for it. It starts at the very beginning speaking of Zachariah in the temple receiving a vision of Gabriel announcing the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1). The baby Jesus was taken to the temple to present Him to God (Luke 2). The twelve-year-old Jesus stayed at the temple to hear and teach the Jews (Luke 2). Christ cleansed the temple of those who would defile it with a whip (John 2:15), and called the temple “My house,” and a “house of prayer” (Matt. 21:13), and “my Father’s house” (John 2:16). Christ healed at the temple (Matt. 21:14). Christ frequently taught at the temple (Luke 21:37–38; John 8:2, 20; Mark 12:35; Luke 22:53; John 7:14, 28).

    I hope that helps give a little more perspective about the temple in the New Testament, early Christianity, and in the restoration of the Gospel in these latter days.

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