One of the criticisms leveled at the LDS (Mormon) practice of temple worship is the seemingly dissimilar forms of the ordinances when compared with those found practiced by ancient Israelites in the Bible. It is true that the forms of the ordinances and sacrifices are different, but their meaning and symbolism remain the same. Let us consider why the forms are different.
From Adam down to Moses, the Melchizedek priesthood, with its accompanying higher ordinances, were practiced by the covenant people of the Lord. These were similar in form to LDS temple worship today. Unfortunately, since most of the accounting from the Old Testament takes place from the time period of Moses to Christ, from the Bible we become most familiar with the lower ordinances that the Israelites practiced in the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, Zerubbabel’s Temple, and Herod’s Temple. This is because when Moses desired to give the higher law of the gospel and the ordinances of the Melchizedek priesthood to his people they rebelled against him and the Lord withdrew these higher ordinances and instituted the lower Aaronic priesthood (including the Levitical priesthood) with its accompanying outwardly observances and performances. The Israelites were not worthy to come into the presence of the Lord as a whole; only the high priest was allowed into the most holy place in the Tabernacle, and only on certain prescribed days. These practices continued for 1200-1300 years, and the Israelites’ writings during this time fill a large measure of the Bible.
When Christ came to earth, he restored the Melchizedek priesthood with its accompanying higher ordinances. The Mosaic law was also fulfilled in Christ at that time, and the type of sacrifices performed in temples were consequently changed. Blood sacrifices were no longer required. Intermediary animals were also now not required. All of the Lord’s covenant people were able to approach the Lord directly and offer a self-sacrifice of their time, talents, and everything that they had, including the only true sacrifice we can give God, our individual will. The form of the sacrifice changed, but the meaning and symbolism remained exactly the same.
Yesterday and today, the ordinances and sacrifices offered in the Lord’s temples have always pointed to Jesus Christ and his ultimate sacrifice and atonement. The following table helps compare the types and forms of sacrifice offered in the temple of the Lord since Adam to the present day: ((Most of this information was gathered from Andrew Skinner’s Temple Worship, 121-125, 181-189)) [Read more…]