Ancient Temple Practices

Sep 3, 2012
2 min read

The Mountain and the Climb

The symbol of a mountain is a common archetype in religious traditions and is it any wonder? Their everlasting stability, their untouchable heights and the way the light paints them in quiet mornings and sets them afire in evenings have always inspired man.

Within the LDS faith, the mountain has a special meaning. I suppose that one of the most immediate correlations would probably be to the temples.

The same way that the Lord’s voice can be heard through scripture, he speaks to us through number, shape, color, light and movement in nature, in temples, in our dreams and visions and in many other circumstances. Everything in our perception can teach us if we have ears to hear, eyes to see, hands to touch and a heart that yearns for virtue.

The mountain; it is a striking visual symbol encompassing many ideas, sermons and truths. Perhaps the mountain peak represents the final destination of man or the ultimate height one can achieve with only God as a way to ascend higher. What I find especially fascinating isn’t the mountain itself, but the climb.

The climb teaches us, it requires strength and in turn makes us strong, it is brutal, unforgiving and perilous.

It seems safer to stay at the bottom, but is it? What if the point of life isn’t to make it safely to death? What if we spend our lives dragging our way to the top but never make it? What is at the top? Is reaching the top of the mountain really even necessary if the point is the climb?

Perhaps the climb begins with covenants. Under covenant, life and every experience of every moment are another rock, another precipice, another dreadful cliff, treacherous winds and a host of spectacular terrain.

Everything becomes the climb; what you do right after you wake up, how you treat your family, friends and enemies, what you do and think when you are alone, how you apply your talents, how you deal with fear, how you handle knowledge and what your attitude is concerning the things you encounter.

The climb; you will either discover what awaits you or you will spend eternity contemplating two words, “what if”.

Will you climb the rock
Or wait at the bottom for a free ride up
Will you look to the top
And wonder what it would be like
Or will you stand up and climb?
– (Lyrics from the song “Lemonade” by U-turn)

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Aug 5, 2012
0 min read

TempleStudy.com Fireside Discussion on Andrew Skinner’s book “Temple Worship”

My good friend Bryce Haymond of TempleStudy.com hosted a Google Hangout discussion on Andrew Skinner’s book “Temple Worship”. It was fantastic to participate in this event and enjoy the fascinating information that was shared. I think we’re going to do this on a regular basis on Sabbath evenings so feel free to join in if you can and if not, you can catch the discussion on Youtube!

Panelists in this discussion were:

  • Bryce Haymond
  • Frederick M. Huchel
  • Gary N. Anderson
  • Steven Reed
  • Tevya Washburn

I wish I could spend every afternoon talking with these gentlemen.

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Mar 6, 2012
4 min read

Parting the Veil

The veil was one of the core elements of the Hebrew temple. It was the dividing line between this world and the symbolic, or from time to time, literal presence of God. There are many meanings, doctrines, principles, types and shadows associated with the temple and what the veil may symbolize. For the purposes of this article, I will only be covering a few facets of this topic from a Latter-day Saint theological viewpoint.

Internalizing the Veil

The ancient temple and the modern temples alike share the common characteristic of being a model of both the macrocosmos and the microcosmos. The macrocosmos deals with heavenly bodies, systems and galaxies while the microcosmos deals with earthly bodies such as our own. Just as the heavenly bodies all orient themselves according to law, we as beings endowed with free will may orientRead Full Post

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Dec 26, 2011
59 min read

The Seal of Melchizedek?

by Alonzo L. Gaskill
(alonzo_gaskill@byu.edu) is an assistant professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU.

To be unversed in symbolism is to be scripturally and ritually illiterate.

Symbolism is the language of scripture and ritual. To be unversed in symbolism is to be scripturally and ritually illiterate. As one text notes, “Symbols are the language in which all gospel covenants and all ordinances of salvation have been revealed. From the time we are immersed in the waters of baptism to the time we kneel at the altar of the temple . . . in the ordinance of eternal marriage, every covenant we make will be written in the language of symbolism.”[1] While Latter-day Saints accept and utilize a number of symbols common to other religious traditions, we also have our own unique set of symbols foreign to most other faiths.[2]

In recent years Mormonism appears to have adopted a new symbol, one quickly growing in popularity. It is commonly referred to as the seal of Melchizedek and consists of two interlocked (or overlapping) squares, making what appears to beRead Full Post

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May 16, 2011
6 min read

White Cloth, Fire and the Glory of God

I sat pondering in a sacrament meeting one day looking at the table (or altar) on which the emblems of the sacrament, the bread and water, were placed.

Both above and below the emblems are a pair of white sheets. I have often heard it said that the white sheets covering the sacramental emblems was to give the impression of the body of Christ on an altar. This always made sense to me because there are numerous references to Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who gave his own life as an offering for our sins.

However on this day my thoughts went down another road.

The modern ordinance that we call the ‘sacrament’ used to be something else before the atonement. Since Adam and throughout the era where the Law of Moses was in effect, that table or altar used to be an edifice where animals were slain and consumed by fire. We have in our modern ordinances emblems that represent the flesh and blood of a sacrificial victim, and an altar on which they are placed, but what are these white linens covering the emblems? What do they represent? I began to wonder if it was possible that the white cloth could be a representation of the fire that enveloped the sacrificial emblems.

Fire and the Presence of God

All these thoughts reminded me of how the presence of God is often related to fire; here are a few significant verses:Read Full Post

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Apr 4, 2011
2 min read

*UPDATE: More Evidence That the “Lead Plates” Are Probably Fakes

Jim Davila posts some information from a man named Peter Thonemann who was in contact with a Mr. David Elkington who is allegedly in possession of the main cache of ‘plates’. The more I read about this David Elkington character the more I become suspicious of his motives and the validity of these so-called ‘plates’.

Here is part of Mr. Thonemann’s reply to Mr. Elkington:

The text on your bronze tablet, therefore, makes no sense in its own right, but has been extracted unintelligently from another longer text (as if it were inscribed with the words: ‘t to be that is the question wheth’).  The longer text from which it derives is a perfectly ordinary tombstone from Madaba in Jordan which happens to have been on display in the Amman museum for the past fifty years or so.  The text on your bronze tablet is repeated, in part, in three different places, meaningless in each case.

The only possible explanation is that the text on the bronze tablet was copied directly from the inscription in the museum at Amman by someone who did not understand the meaning of the text of the inscription, but was simply looking for a plausible-looking sequence of Greek letters to copy.  He copied that sequence three times, in each case mixing up the letters alpha and lambda.

This particular bronze tablet is, therefore, a modern forgery, produced in Jordan within the last fifty years.  I would stake my career on it.

Ok, so click here and then read down to the post titled: “HEBREW-INSCRIBED-METAL-CODICES WATCH: A FAKE”. I tend to agree with some of the commentary that I have been reading that is critical of these plates. I’m probably about 95% convinced that they are indeed very well-crafted fakes. Well, physically crafted at least; the forgers apparently went through all this trouble and didn’t even read what it was that they were writing.

Too bad though. I believe there are so many more amazing and astounding things left to be discovered, but it’s too bad that there are people out there that are dishonest and do so much harm to the acceptance of truly genuine artifacts out there that may prove to be just as controversial.

As for now, I’m probably not going to post any more news about these ‘plates’ until we can ascertain 100% one way or the other just what these things really are. It’s made for a fun few days though ;)

——-

Updated: April 4, 2011

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Apr 3, 2011
2 min read

The “Face of Jesus” on the Lead Plates and more…

I came across this new story on the plates today and there are some interesting new factors that I’ll sum up for you below:

  1. One of the booklets appears to bear the words ‘Saviour of Israel’ – one of the few phrases so far translated as well as a face that some think might be that of Jesus.
  2. According to sources in Saham, they were discovered five years ago after a flash flood scoured away the dusty mountain soil to reveal what looked like a large capstone. When this was levered aside, a cave was discovered with a large number of small niches set into the walls. Each of these niches contained a booklet. There were also other objects, including some metal plates and rolled lead scrolls.
  3. The cave is less than 100 miles from Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered
  4. The codices seen by The Mail on Sunday range in size from smaller than 3in x 2in to around 10in x 8in. They each contain an average of eight or nine pages and appear to be cast, rather than inscribed, with images on both sides and bound with lead-ring bindings. Many of them were severely corroded when they were first discovered, although it has been possible to open them with care.
  5. Many of the books are sealed on all sides with metal rings, suggesting they were not intended to be opened.
  6. The books are currently in the possession of Hassan Saida, Saida, who is in his mid-30s and married with five or six children and claims he inherited the booklets from his grandfather.
  7. Saida’s motives are complex. He constantly studies the booklets, but does not  take particularly good care of them, opening some and coating them in  olive oil in order to ‘preserve’ them.
  8. In contrast to Saida’s story, there are claims that they first came to light five years ago when his Bedouin business partner met a villager in Jordan who said he had some ancient artifacts to sell. Saida was said to have purchased the books because he thought they contained magical powers and then smuggled many of them into Israel.
  9. The Israeli Antiquities Authority believed the booklets were forgeries on the basis that nothing like them had been discovered before.
  10. Samples were sent to the Swiss National Materials Laboratory at Dubendorf, Switzerland. The results show they were consistent with ancient (Roman) period lead production and that the metal was smelted from ore that originated in the Mediterranean. Dr Northover also said that corrosion on the books was unlikely to be modern.
  11. Jordan is trying to do everything is can to get the records returned to them.
  12. The director of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities, Ziad al-Saad, has few doubts. He believes they may indeed have been made by followers of Jesus in the few decades immediately following his crucifixion.

Read Full Post

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Mar 30, 2011
1 min read

*UPDATED: Possible First Century Christian Lead Plates Discovered in Jordan

I actually came across this today at TempleStudy.com and thought it was absolutely fascinating! I love ancient artifacts especially when those artifacts give us new light into the past. If these lead plates are found to be authentic, there are some major implications in so many areas that I haven’t even had time to collect my thoughts on the subject!

One of the most significant features of the plates are their ties to ancient Christianity. It would make these documents the oldest Christian documents ever discovered in this region and can shed some new light into what some of these early believers taught and understood about the Gospel.

Then there are the obvious similarities of these records to the Book of Mormon, the original version written of plates of Gold and bound together with three rings. Here are the lead plates:

***UPDATE (Sat, April 2, 2011):

It appears that more and more there is evidence that these are indeed incredible forgeries. TempleStudy.com has a great write up on the current state of these ‘plates’. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see what the investigations reveal about their origins; very interesting…

http://www.templestudy.com/2011/03/31/jordanian-lead-plates-authentic-forgery/#more-2396
http://danielomcclellan.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/on-the-lead-vs-bronze-codices/

These aren’t the only examples of ancient people writing on metal plates, here are some photos of several other authentic records that have been discovered:

Links

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Mar 14, 2011
7 min read

Three: The Exploration of Archetypal Symbols Series

With three points we have for the first time, dimension. Three was considered to be the first number whereas one and two were looked upon as the parents of numbers (A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, by Michael Schneider – 1st ed., 39). Although three becomes the first number, it only exists in the 2 dimensional world. No matter how you configure the points, it will always produce a flat plane of undefined thickness that does not exist in the three dimensional world.

We can construct a perfect equilateral triangle with using various points of the vesica piscis. Three occurs all over scripture and there is something about the number three that makes things feel complete. The most obvious reference in Christianity is to the holy Godhead made up of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We have the elements of three occurring in our physical birth into the world and also in our spiritual rebirth as children of Christ. This is illustrated in Moses 6:59-60:

That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust  a living soul, even so ye must be born  again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy  the words  of eternal  life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;

For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;

The temples of the Old Testament were made up of three areas:Read Full Post

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Mar 6, 2011
10 min read

Sanctuary Vesture: A Brief Overview and Comparison via Temple Study

Link to the article on TempleStudy

The link to the article is above, but I would like to interject a little commentary on the topic as well.

It is common knowledge that Latter-day Saints wear white clothing in the temple as a symbol of purity and many other things in relation to their relationship with God.

Matthew Brown begins his article by stating:

“It is publicly acknowledged that Latter-day Saints who participate in the central temple rites of their faith dress in several layers of ceremonial clothing, consisting of a “white undergarment” (which is worn as part of everyday life) and “other priestly robes” (which are only worn during times of temple service).” Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 2:534

Many people are familiar with the “white undergarment” that LDS members who have gone through the Endowment ordinance wear on a daily basis under their normal clothes. Others might not be as aware of the other ceremonial clothing mentioned in the above quote.

That ceremonial clothing has similarities to the priestly robes worn during ancient temple service. You can read about that particular clothing in the Old Testament in Exodus 28 among other places:Read Full Post

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Feb 21, 2011
5 min read

Two: The Exploration of Archetypal Symbols Series

Just like the number one was not considered a number by the ancients, two was also in the same boat.

When you start with one point and then add a second point, you have just created distance which can be represented by connecting the two points into a single line but a “line” doesn’t exist in nature just like a single point doesn’t exist in nature.

Thus, two was not considered a ‘number’ but, like one, an originator of numbers.

“In the Dyad we see the Monad refract as Two. The Dyad emphasized difference. It foreshadows the world’s apparent boundaries, conflict and echoes our own sense of separation. Opposites appear when separateness begins. (A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe, by Michael Schneider – 1st ed., 36)

This is where things get interesting. Ponder the prior quote when reading Lehi’s words in 2 Nephi 2:11-13:Read Full Post

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Feb 16, 2011
5 min read

One: The Exploration of Archetypal Symbols Series

Interestingly enough, the number “one” wasn’t considered a “number” according to many groups like the Pythagoreans (around 500 B.C). One was the progenitor of all numbers, it was the source by which all numbers came into being. It represented unity, but not any kind of unity that was conceivable in this world.

Confused? Think about it, a single point does not exist anywhere in nature. Even a dot on a sheet of paper is not a point, because upon magnification, we find a circle that has a radius and circumference so therefore it doesn’t constitute an actual point without sides, length, height and depth. Because of this otherworldly connotation of one, it had divine qualities attached to it. “Just as unity is in every number / thus God the one is everwhere in everything” – Angelus Silesius (The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images, by Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism and ARAS, 710)

The shape that is best suited to represent the number one is a circle. A shape without sides or other dimensions, the center of the circle becomes emblematic of the invisible point that we know as “one”. Like a stone dropped into a pond, the single point radiates outward into endless circles. The circle can represent:

  • God
  • Unity
  • Heaven
  • Eternity (eternal time)
  • Covenants (circumcision, arrangement of people or objects in a circle)
  • Blood (the sacrament cup, properties of liquid)
  • The Spirit (via the symbolism of the Liahona)
  • A complete cycle (orbit, seasons, return, etc)
  • Water (water pulls itself into a spherical shape, ie: drops)
  • Bounds or Perimeter (Proverbs 8:27  When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:)
  • Space
  • The Sun
  • The Moon

Since a compass is the tool used to create circles, the compass may also beRead Full Post

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Nov 15, 2010
3 min read

Holocaust

What does “holocaust” mean? Most people might instantly without thinking throw out a reference to the mass slaughter of humans (esp. Jews) by the Nazis during World War 2.

To illustrate, a person on Yahoo Answers asked the question: “Why is the holocaust called the ‘holocaust?” To which the ‘best answer chosen’ was:

“Because the word “holocaust” means “an act of mass destruction,” in the case of “The” Holocaust it was the mass destruction of 11 million lives.”

Technically the word “holocaust” doesn’t mean “an act of mass destruction.” That may be what the general understanding of the word today is, but words are complex things and most often have intriguing histories behind them.

Let’s turn to a modern dictionary to find out. Dictionary.com defines “holocaust” as:

  1. a great or complete devastation or destruction, esp. by fire.
  2. a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering.
  3. (usually initial capital letter) the systematic massslaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration campsduring World War II (usually prec. by the ).
  4. any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.

Sounds pretty much like what we would have expected to find inRead Full Post

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Sep 27, 2010
18 min read

The Wise Man on the Mountain

After an Institute of Religion class, my teacher and I were having a discussion in his office. He asked if he could show me something; he grabbed a book and took his seat across the table from me. He asked me to close my eyes and focus on envisioning what he was going to be reading to me. What he read was a very descriptive narrative of a climb to the top of a mountain that was meant to be imagined from the perspective of the reader.

This simple narrative was amazingly effective at teaching a few important principles that I will cover later. With a few words, my paradigm had been shifted concerning how I approach my Father in Heaven in prayer.

Below is the text that was read to me and since you can’t read this with your eyes closed, I suggest possibly having someone read this to you or for the time being, read it slow and try and project what you are reading into your mind’s eye. Do your best to clear your mind, find a quiet place and simply focus; if you simply skim it, you will getRead Full Post

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Aug 11, 2010
11 min read

Cut a Covenant

The Hebrew word covenant as we read in the Old Testament is: briyth (ber-eeth)

  • to cut
  • ‘from ‘barah’ (1262) (in the sense of cutting (like ‘bara” (1254);
  • a compact (made by passing between pieces of flesh)

Let’s explore some instances from scripture where we have something being cut or divided and then a passing between the parts.

Dividing in creation

In the Creation the following things are divided:

  1. Light from the darkness.
  2. Waters from the waters.
  3. Water from the earth.
  4. Plants from the earth.
  5. Day from night.
  6. Animals from the sea and land.
  7. Woman from man.
  8. Man and woman from Eden/God.
  9. Sacrifice instituted.

The Red Sea

Exodus 14:21,22
21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.Read Full Post

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