Clothing & Vestments

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Karate Kid Perspective on Ordinances

For those who have seen the original Karate Kid movie you’re probably familiar with the famous “wax on, wax off” lesson that Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel. I like the updated version of this lesson presented in the new Karate Kid movie starring Jackie Chan. You might be wondering what this has to do with ordinances – bear with me.

In the first scene, Dre (updated Daniel) enthusiastically approaches Mr. Han (updated Miyagi) and begins by trying to show Mr. Han how “good” he is and what “skills” he already possesses. Go ahead and watch this first clip:

Do we approach God thinking that we have it all figured out? Are we overly-impressed with our own wisdom and skill like Dre who felt like he had to validate himself somehow to Mr. Han? There is a verse in the Book of Mormon that I think is related to this idea:

“And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.” (2 Nephi 9:42)

It is easier to fill an empty vessel than a full one. Are we willing to make ourselves that vulnerable? Are we willing to sell all that we have acquired for the pearl of great price?

Dre thinks that Mr. Han is going to show him all these incredible kung fu moves, but Mr. Han has him do a seemly mundane task over and over again. Dre responds almost immediately with frustration, Read Full Post

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The Relationship Between The Ancient Israelite Temple And The Endowment via TempleStudy.com

The following article is from TempleStudy.com


Ancient Israelite temple vestiture and ritual. The High Priest wears his special linen garments, sash and turban during his once per year entry into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. He approaches the Ark of the Covenant beyond the veil with the incense shovel in one hand, the smoke representing the prayers of the Israelites, and small vessel of bull’s blood in the other hand, the sin offering (atonement) on behalf of all the Israelites. Image based on Leviticus 16 and Exodus 25-31 and Exodus 35-40.

Ancient Israelite temple vestiture and ritual. The High Priest wears his special linen garments, sash and turban during his once per year entry into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. He approaches the Ark of the Covenant beyond the veil with the incense shovel in one hand, the smoke representing the prayers of the Israelites, and small vessel of bull’s blood in the other hand, the sin offering (atonement) on behalf of all the Israelites. Image based on Leviticus 16 and Exodus 25-31 and Exodus 35-40.

Professor William J. Hamblin has offered some good starting points in considering the relationship between the ancient Israelite temple ritual and the modern day LDS temple endowment.  It is from this vantage point that we should approach trying to understand these ancient ritual systems and the connections they might have with the Latter-day Saints temple ritual.

“When considering the possible relationship between ancient Israelite temple system and the LDS Endowment, the first thing to note is the basic purpose of the ancient temple was to reconcile Israel with God and bring all Israel (represented by the twelve stones inscribed with the tribal names) back into the presence of God (that is recapitulating the Sinai theophany), symbolically represented by the Holy Place and Holy of Holies within the veil.

“The second thing to note is that Israel had exoteric rituals in the outer courtyard of the temple which could be witnessed by all (though only priests officiated). Esoteric rituals performed inside the temple itself could only be performed and witnessed by priests. LDS Endowment broadly corresponds to the esoteric rituals performed inside the temple, not the exoteric rituals performed outside. The ancient exoteric Israelite temple rituals correspond with the LDS weekly sacrament (the bread/wine offering of the Israelite temple).” (William Hamblin, Mormon Scripture Explorations)

Another important point to realize is that Christ was the last great blood sacrifice when He came in the meridian of time and offered the Atonement, which ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood (3 Ne. 9:19; cf.Mosiah 13:27Alma 34:133 Ne. 15:2–10). Since Christ was the last blood sacrifice (all precursors pointing to Him), from that point onward the outward nature of sacrificial ritual changed, but still pointing towards Christ, and still a sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit (3 Ne. 9:20–22Psalms 51:16–17;Psalms 34:18).

See the gallery below for various artists’ depictions of the rituals inside the ancient Israelite temple. Click each image to enlarge.

 

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The Nephite Interpreters

nephite-interpreters

Pictured above is my latest rendering of the Nephite Interpreters that were in the possession of Joseph Smith for a time. I have always wondered what these instruments must have looked like so I began by creating a few simple illustrations. Over time, the illustrations evolved into a more realistically rendered piece of art and this is the latest version. One day, I think it would be interesting to try to construct a physical model.

You can begin to get an idea of what these interpreters must have looked like by examining quotes from witnesses that actually saw them; from there you are left with gaps that can only be filled in with speculation. Here are the aspects of this version that I feel are pretty solid:

  1. Triangular shape of the “stones”
  2. Figure-8 design of the frame
  3. “Glass” setting for the interpreters

Here are the characteristics that are speculations and assumptions Read Full Post

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A Few Notes About Temple-related Clothing From the Temple Institute

All of the notes below are taken directly from the Temple Institute which is an organization seeking to rebuild the third temple on Mount Moriah.


the-temple-institute

Moses was instructed by G-d that the garments of the priests were to be both dignified and beautiful; as precious as the garments of royalty. Indeed, the Talmud informs us that when the wicked Persian king Ahasuerus made a feast for his advisors and officers and sought to impress them with his greatness (as recorded in the scroll of Esther, which tells the story of Purim) he put off his own royal vestments and donned the uniform of the High Priest… which was more precious than his own. These priestly garments were in his possession since the First Temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians.

Understanding Life in the Holy Temple

It is noteworthy and revealing that one of the finest ways to gain insight into both the details of life in the Holy Temple, and to its inner spirit, is by a study of the priestly garments.

We shall see that these garments are essential in order for the priests to function in their sacred capacity; so much so that in their absence, the offerings made by the priests in the Temple have no validity! Without his uniform, the priest who serves in the Holy Temple is considered like a “stranger” serving before the L-rd – like an ordinary non-priest. What, then, is the basis for the garments’ powerful significance?

The Garments Possess An Intrinsic Holiness

No priest, neither lay nor the High Priest himself, is fit to serve in the Temple unless he is wearing the sacred garments. As the Talmud states, “While they are clothed in the priestly garments, they are clothed in the priesthood; but when they are not wearing the garments, the priesthood is not upon them” (BT Zevachim 17:B). Conducting the service without these garments would render the priests the same as those who are not descendants of Aaron – all of whom are unfit for service in the Temple.

Why does the Bible attach so much significance to the garments? Because their quality is such that they elevate the wearers – Aaron and all his descendants – to the high levels of sanctity required from those who come to serve before G-d in the holy place. These garments themselves possess a certain holiness; powerful enough to sanctify all those who merely come in contact with them, as we read in the prophets: “… so as not to hallow the people with their garments” (Ezekiel 44:19).

Actually, the Hebrew expression which we are translating as “sacred” or “holy” garments also means “garments of the Temple;” that is, the garments themselves show that their wearers are standing in the Divine service. 1

The Garments Atone for Sins

Another important quality of the priestly garments is that their very presence, worn by the priests during the Temple service, serves to atone for the sins of Israel. It is taught that just as the sacrifices facilitate an atonement for sin, so do the priestly garments (BT Zevachim 88:B).

This is one of the deeper aims of wearing these garments, and something for the priest to ponder while they are upon him. For his everyday actions in the Temple transcend his own personal idiom and take on a more universal theme… he makes atonement and spiritual rectification for all humanity.

Thus we are taught (ibid.):

  1. The tunic, which covers most of the priest’s body, atones for killing.
  2. The pants atone for sexual transgressions.
  3. The turban, worn on the head, atone for haughtiness.
  4. The belt, wound about the body and worn over the heart, atones for “sins of the heart” – improper thoughts.
  5. The breastplate atones for errors in judgment.
  6. The ephod atones for idolatry.
  7. The robe atones for evil speech.
  8. The High Priest’s crown atones for arrogance.

“For honor and for beauty”

The rabbis established that G-d’s command for the priestly garments to be “for honor and for beauty” teach us that they must be new and dignified. If the garments were soiled, stained, or ripped, the priests may not conduct the service while wearing them – and if they did, the service would be invalid.

Another aspect of “honor and beauty” means that the uniform must fit each fit perfectly. It was forbidden for the pants, for example, to be too long or too short. The garments were made to order for each priest, tailored to fit his measurements exactly.

This tells us something of the tremendous work force needed to turn out these garments in such quantities that every priest in Israel could be supplied with his own garments. As we shall learn with regard to the incense offering, there were so many priests available for duty in the Holy Temple that no priest ever offered the daily incense service more than once in his lifetime, and it was offered twice daily for many hundreds of years! Yet each had his own garments.

The Garments Were Not Washed

Furthermore, although the priests were extremely neat, just as they were diligent and careful – still, they were working with the sacrifices. Any garment which became soiled to the extent that its stains could not be removed, those garments were not washed. When they became disqualified from use in this manner, they were shredded and used to fulfill another of the Creator’s commandments! The tunics were used to make wicks for the menorah, and the belts and pants, wicks for the oil lamps of the Festival of the Water Libation which took place in the Women’s Court during the Festival of Sukkot. This applies only to the garments of the ordinary priests, of which there were a great many. When the High Priest’s uniform became unusable through wear and tear, it was not destroyed, but hidden away so that no other man could ever wear it.

Notes

  1. http://www.templeinstitute.org/beged/priestly_garments.htm
  2. http://www.templeinstitute.org/beged/priestly_garments-2.htm
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Sikhism’s “Five Ks” and Other Sacred Clothing and Artifacts

I was driving down my street the other day and noticed that there was a family gathering going on at one of the homes. Seeing the turbans I figured that they must be of the Sikh faith. I realized how little I knew about their beliefs and thought I’d do a little research since I like to study other religions.

It is a very simple faith with some unique aspects that I found fascinating.

The Sikh (pronounced ‘seek’) religion that originated in southern Asia around the 15th Century. The word Sikh means ‘disciple’ or ‘student’ and the core purpose of the faith is to seek oneness with God. In order to escape the cycle of reincarnation, and become one with God, one must overcome the five obstacles which are: lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego.

Seemingly corresponding with the five obstacles are symbolic emblems that are continually worn called the “Five Ks”

  1. Kesh (uncut hair, usually tied and wrapped in the Sikh Turban, Dastar.)
  2. Kanga (wooden comb, usually worn under the Dastar.)
  3. Katchera (specially made cotton underwear as a reminder of the commitment to purity.)
  4. Kara (iron bracelet, which is a symbol of eternity.)
  5. Kirpan (curved sword, comes in different sizes.)

Each of these symbols are a “representation of the ideals of Sikhism, such as honesty, equality, fidelity, militarism, meditating on God, and never bowing to tyranny.” [source] Much like how a Christian will wear a cross to remind them of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice, the Sikh faith includes wearable symbolic emblems that serve to keep in remembrance sacred commitments or covenants entered into.

The Kesh, or uncut hair, reminds me of the vow of the Nazarite (Outlined in Numbers chapter 6) which says that “there shall no razor come upon his head” and that “he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow long” (vs 5). The Kanga, or wooden comb, keeps the hair nice and tidy and emphasizes looking after the body that God has created. The Katchera, which is an undergarment resembling a pair of white boxers reminds me of a very similar article worn by endowed members of the LDS faith and the linen breeches worn by Aaron and his sons that went from the loins to the thighs (Exodus 28:42).

The Kara, or iron bracelet is a perfect archetypal reference to eternity in its circular appearance. The Kirpan, or sword, is a striking reminder to never bow to tyranny along with the struggle against injustice and the defense of the weak. I find each of these five symbols quite fascinating and can see several parallels with practices of other faiths, particularly my own.

Some of the emblems are visible like the uncut hair, iron bracelet and perhaps the sword, but others are concealed such as the wooden comb and the cotton undergarments. This got me thinking about the temple garments worn by members of the LDS faith who have received an ordinance called the “Endowment”.

These white garments, worn under the clothing, are made from various light, comfortable fabrics and appear very much like any white shirt and boxers that you would pick up at the store. The only noticeable difference would be four small, subtle marks embroidered in specific locations; each mark has a distinct meaning, much like each of the symbolic “Five Ks”. The marks and garment as a whole remind the wearer of these sacred vestments about the atonement, obedience to God, bridling one’s passions, continual growth and a recognition of the Messiahship of Jesus Christ.

When these sacred vestments are “put on” it symbolizes the covenants and promises we “take upon ourselves” as we wear the garment and simultaneously live out the promises we have made. The apostle Paul taught the Galatians:

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)

The phrase “put on” is from the Greek word “Enduw” (pronounced “en-doo’-o”) which means: “(in the sense of sinking into a garment); to invest with clothing  (literally or figuratively):–array, clothe (with), endue, have (put)  on.”

Bryce Haymond over at TempleStudy.com reported on the discovery of what are believed to be early Christian graves in Egypt. Several of the mummies were wearing some interesting robes and garments with markings on them:

Ten of the robes on this burial are plain linen garments but the many strands of linen ribbon wrapped around the upper half of the body are gathered together into a complex knot. This knot is found on the left shoulder on two of the robes and on the right shoulder of the remaining eight robes. The symbol of the sacred knot or bow is common in Egypt and elsewhere and may indicate sacerdotal or priestly authority.

The piece of clothing closest to the body is not usually well preserved due to the destructive influence of fluids and chemicals remaining in the body. In this burial, as well as a few others, however, the woolen garment next to the skin is sufficiently well preserved for us to observe that small rosettes have been woven into the material in particular locations. There is one rosette over each breast and one on the right leg near the knee, but there is no corresponding rosette on the left leg. Across the lower abdomen, the material also has a hemmed slit about six inches long. [source]

Bryce published another interesting article about the “Tallit Katan” which is worn by Orthodox or Hasidic Jews under their clothing in accordance to the commandment given in Numbers 15:38-40.

Check out these other oneClimbs articles that also reference sacred clothing:

Whether it a simple cross worn by many in Christendom, a white garment, a turban, sword or tallit katan, the use of wearable reminders of sacred beliefs has been around since God created coats of skins for Adam and Eve after they were expelled from the Garden of Eden.

I find it interesting how other faiths make daily use of visual symbols to remind them of what is sacred and think there is much we can learn from each other on the subject. Someday soon, I hope to meet these Sikh neighbors of mine and learn more about their religious beliefs and practices.

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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:

  • Deuteronomy 4:24 – For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
  • Hebrews 12:29 – For our God is a consuming fire.
  • Exodus 24:17 – 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.
  • Doctrine and Covenants 130:77 – But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.
  • Deuteronomy 5:24 – And ye said, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.
  • Isaiah 10:16 – Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.

Here is what the Bible Dictionary says about fire:

Fire: Frequently the symbol of God’s presence, revealed either in mercy or in judgment (1) of his glory (Ex. 13:21–22; Ezek. 1:4, 13; 10:6–7; Dan. 7:9; 10:6); (2) of his holiness (Deut. 4:24; Heb. 12:29); (3) of his presence to protect (2 Kgs. 6:17; Zech. 2:5); (4) of his judgments (Isa. 66:15–16; Zech. 13:9; Mal. 3:2; 1 Cor. 3:13); (5) the punishment of the wicked (Matt. 18:9; 25:41; Mark 9:43–48; Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14–15; 21:8); (6) of the Holy Spirit as a purifying agent (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16); as tongues of fire (Acts 2:3). On the altar there was a perpetual fire, replenished with wood every morning (Lev. 6:12; 9:24; 2 Chr. 7:1, 3), which consumed the burnt sacrifice and the incense offering.

Note how when fire is mentioned we often have the word ‘glory’ appearing right along with it. The Bible Dictionary states that fire is a symbol of God’s presence and of his glory. It makes sense because any time we hear of an angel or messenger being sent from the presence of God they are arrayed in glory and in white garments.

If you keep going down this road you can infer that in religious practices the wearing of white cloth is not only symbolic of purity but also the presence and glory of God. The Book of Revelation speaks many times about certain individuals being clothed in white robes:

  • Revelation 7:99 – After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
  • Revelation 7:14 – …These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
  • Revelation 6:11 – And white robes were given unto every one of them;…
  • Revelation 19:14 – And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

Year-round the high priest during the time of the Law of Moses would wear a rather colorful array of eight articles of clothing. The ordinary priests would wear white garments consisting of only four articles. The only exception to these standards were on the Day of Atonement where the high priest would wear only four white garments: a white turban, white robe, white pants and a linen belt around his waist.

In Exodus 28:22, Moses is commanded to make special garments for Aaron for ‘glory’ and beauty.

And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.

My research took me to an article by Rabbi Noson Weisz where he states:

It is not the human glory and splendor of Aaron that the vestments are intended to display; it is the glory and splendor of God. The high priest must wear vestments that reflect the glory and splendor of God, as he is God’s appointed human ambassador to our world.

He continues: If we carefully read through the instructions regarding the vestments of the high priest, we discover that he wears eight articles of clothing. Four of these are of plain white linen, whereas four contain various amounts of gold — white clothes versus gold clothes in Rabbinic parlance. The white clothes reflect God’s splendor, tiferet in Hebrew, an attribute that is expressed by God’s Holy Name YHVH, while the gold clothes represent God’s glory, Kavod in Hebrew, expressed by the Divine name Adonai.” LINK

In Rabbi Weisz’s interpretation, he has the the white and gold-containing vestments symbolizing the splendor and glory of God, respectively.

Modern usage of white cloth

In the LDS faith, white cloth plays an important part in almost every ordinance of the gospel that we participate in. When we are baptized, both the person being baptized and the initiate are arrayed in pure white garments.

During the sacrament white cloth is placed under and over the emblems of the ordinance; even the priests, teachers and deacons that officiate are instructed to where a white shirt as they administer the ordinance.

When one attends the holy temple, a person first receives the garment of the holy priesthood, a white garment, during an ordinance known as the initiatory. This garment is a representation of the garment given to Adam and Eve when they were cast out from the garden of Eden. Among other things, it was a reminder of where they came from and probably an indicator of a future resurrection and glory that they would be ‘clothed’ with.

The ordinance known as the Endowment also features the use of white vestments as part of the instruction. The veil of the temple that one passes through for entrance into the Celestial Room is also made of white cloth. When a husband and wife are sealed together via the ordinance of Celestial marriage they are also wearing white.

See also: Sanctuary Vesture: A Brief Overview and Comparison via Temple Study

It is interesting to think of how the use of white cloth in each of these cases can be representative of fire and the glory of God resting upon individuals, emblems or between sacred spaces. The presence of white cloth in religious worship seems to be a physical representation of the presence and glory of God that we are seeking to be reconciled unto.

The daily wearing of the garment of the holy priesthood by both male and female endowed members of the church is a reminder to us that the glory of God will always rest upon us if we will but live worthy for it.

Just as Adam and Eve left the ‘first temple’ or the Garden of Eden with a garment that reminded them of their covenants and promises there, so also we enter and depart from the temple with a reminder of sacred covenants that will allow us to return to the presence of God after the time of our mortal probation has past.

——-

Updated: May 8, 2011

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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:

28:2 – And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.

28:4 – And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

28:39 – And thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework.

28:40 – And for Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.

One of the most fascinating things about the temple and the way of temple teaching is the numerous parallels; one of my favorites has to do with the temple clothing. Just as a temple is a piece of earth that is clothed with architecture that gives the space sacred meaning, Latter-day Saints and many other religions consider our own bodies respectively “temples” of our spirits.

1 Corinthians 3:16, immediately comes to mind: ” Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” So it has always been interesting to me that as we enter a building that in many ways represents ourselves and our own internal journey back to God through the ‘inner mountain’ so to speak, that we also adorn our own earthly temples as well with symbolic clothing that assists in the teaching process.

By entering sacred space we mark a transition of our bodies from the profane to the holy, a process that is underscored with the addition of sacred clothing.

It has been mentioned in previous articles that the idea of ‘clothing’ oneself is tied to the resurrection of Christ and the receiving of certain blessings from God.

The phrase “put on” is from the Greek word “Enduw” (pronounced “en-doo’-o”) which means: “(in the sense of sinking into a garment); to invest with clothing (literally or figuratively):-array, clothe (with), endue, have (put) on.” This might be a link to understanding the connections that the Temple “Endow”ment has to the resurrection.

We will literally ‘put on’ Jesus Christ in the resurrection by receiving a new body formed by his ‘template’ that never had evil or imperfection recorded into it. This is how Jesus was able to atone for the ‘sins of the world’ and how there is no sin that cannot be cleansed by the atonement. It covers everything because he literally replaces corruption with incorruption. This is the miracle of the resurrection and why “when He shall appear we shall be like Him.” (1 John 3:2) (From a oneClimbs article: Understanding the atonement by understanding the body)

While from the outside, the idea of sacred clothing in the context of modern temple practices is something viewed as unusual, unnecessary or even strange to other professions of Christianity in our Westernized cultures of worship, the concept of sacred vestments goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

The clothing marked a transition for Adam and Eve. The garden of Eden was a temple, it was a place where God manifested his presence to Adam and Eve and made covenants with them. Before leaving this ‘temple’ the received therein a special covering that they wore before entering the fallen world.

In like manner, Latter-day Saints go to the temple to be endowed with similar ‘garments’ that we wear with us to remember our covenants and promises to the Lord, the temple being a type and shadow of both the Eden of old and the future glorified state the world will return to.

Read through the Bible and you will find volumes of information tied to the idea of sacred clothing and the important part it has played with God’s dealings with his people. The knowledge of sacred clothing has been lost to modern Christianity, but it has been returned to it’s proper order through the restoration of the Gospel.

Temple worship is something very foreign to contemporary Christianity, but has always been part of the connection between God and his people. A ‘temple’ is defined as a “house of God” and is set apart from the rest of the world as a place where God can come and commune with man. The first ‘temple’ was the Garden of Eden, we see Jacob in Genesis 28 anointing a pillar of stone with oil and naming the place “Beth-El” or “House of God”. We have the various mountains such as Sinai which acted as temples or sacred space where God could communicate with man.

Joseph of Egypt’s “coat of many colors” may have not been “colored” at all but a “coat of many marks” a priesthood garment that dated back to Eden (Sorry Donny Osmond, no ‘technicolor’ here).

With Moses’ tabernacle and the permanent temples that were erected after, we see the ordinances, artifacts and special clothing that goes along with participating in the things of the house of God.

Many are not even aware of certain practices and rituals of early Christians that are not know in modern “Christianity” today. We read of early Christian prayer circles, and other rites that would be foreign and strange to modern churches. A BYU professor Hugh Nibley has done amazing research and written countless books on these topics. TempleStudy.com is dedicated to Hugh Nibley’s research and provides some great information along these lines.

TempleStudy.com referenced the excavation of a cemetery in the Fayum region of Egypt where some early Christian remains turned up clothed in garments with unusual features that the deceased were buried in.

Garment with woven rosettes and hemmed cut this early christian garment was made of wool and was placed next to the body the garment has a woven rosette over each breast a hemmed cut on the abdomen and a rosette above the right knee

Ten of the robes on this burial are plain linen garments but the many strands of linen ribbon wrapped around the upper half of the body are gathered together into a complex knot. This knot is found on the left shoulder on two of the robes and on the right shoulder of the remaining eight robes. The sym

bol of the sacred knot or bow is common in Egypt and elsewhere and may indicate sacerdotal or priestly authority.

The piece of clothing closest to the body is not usually well preserved due to the destructive influence of fluids and chemicals remaining in the body. In this burial, as well as a few others, however, the woolen garment next to the skin is sufficiently well preserved for us to observe that small rosettes have been woven into the material in particular locations. There is one rosette over each breast and one on the right leg near the knee, but there is no corresponding rosette on the left leg. Across the lower abdomen, the material also has a hemmed slit about six inches long.

We still see sacred clothing used in various faiths today, where the pastor or preacher will wear special robes or other clothing to mark his separation as a minister or holder of priestly authority.

Most people in these faiths see nothing strange about this; note in the images provided above how many of these priestly robes have markings on them, symbols that set the sacred vestments apart from regular clothing. In the Latter-day Saint faith, every worthy male can be a priesthood holder, and man and woman together in marriage are both made partakers of the blessings of the priesthood via the marriage covenant. In this manner, each person and not just the ‘leader’ of the particular denomination participates in the wearing of sacred clothing as symbols of covenants entered in to.

To Latter-day Saints, these vestments are not ‘magical’ but symbolic, an “An Outward Expression of an Inward Commitment” as Elder Carlos E. Asay put it. Symbols have special meanings to all who use them and as the outward expressions of inner commitments are precious to everyone of all faiths, we should be reverent and respectful of each other in our sacred expressions.

As Latter-day Saints, a proper understanding of our own sacred clothing is an important key to understanding what the God is trying to teach us and what he is trying to prepare us for.

In the Book of Mormon we read:

And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. (3 Nephi 27:19)

And again:

I say unto you, ye will know at that day that ye cannot be saved; for there can no man be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins. (Alma 5:21)

In Revelation 7:9,13,14 we see white robes referenced:

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;…And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

And in verse 15 we see temple service referenced again, even though some believe that the place of temples is obsolete in God’s dealings with man nowadays and in the future:

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

This ‘white robe’ and these ‘white garments’ are symbolic of our purity before God and the ‘white robe’ of resurrection that we will receive through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

The practice of adorning oneself in white clothing and the sacred robes of the temple are directly related to these promises of the Lord in dealing with our future destiny and also serve to teach us about many other things as we progress in our journey.

I for one am very grateful that we are able to participate in the ordinances of the temple and feel the connection to some of the ancient practices of our ancestors all the way back to the beginning. At the same time, I love the deeply solemn atmosphere of the temple which is something that is very hard to find in this world. I love the sense of awe and wonder that goes along with temple service. It’s something completely foreign to anything else you can find in this world, because a temple is not meant to be a place of this world; it is something in between.

It’s a bridge between this world and the next. A place where the seriousness and gravity of our covenant relationship with God can be sensed and felt within a proper context.

The more I attend the temple, the more I realize how important it is to not view things only at face value. Like the parables of Jesus, we are meant to look deeper, to seek for the understanding and eternal truths that lie beyond the physical symbols and themes. Like Jesus said: “…seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (Matthew 7:7).

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Updated: March 6, 2011

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