Mountains are the meeting place between heaven and earth. .Man's spirit instinctively responds to the solitude and grandeur of these temples of nature. Here it is that prophets and righteous men from time immemorial have gone to meet their God, and here it is that many of earth's most singular events have taken place. So sacred is the mountain summit that our temples have come to be known as the mountain of the Lord's house. As there are sacred moments, so there are sacred places-places, like men, chosen and ordained to stand above the rest and point the way to God.
It was the "
As there are proper forms of worship, so there are proper places of worship. Moses and
From the Sinai experience we learn that ascending to the high place or presence of the Lord is a gradual process: First, we see Israel assembled at the base of the holy mountain; then we see the seventy, who were allowed to go up
partway; and finally we see Moses, who at the invitation of the Lord passed through the veil of the cloud into the divine presence (see Exodus 24). The same pattern is reflected in the construction of the tabernacle. There we plainly see the pattern
of graduated splendor designed to be both instructive and functional. Wood and brass were common to the outer court, whereas the glory of gold was the standard of the inner sanctuary. The sacred furnishings were arranged in such an order that their
associated ordinances, performed by the priest, became more and more sacred as he progressed toward the Holy of Holies. The tabernacle itself consisted of three enclosures: the court of the tabernacle, the
As an Israelite approached the sanctuary (the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies), he was immediately confronted by the Court of the Tabernacle, which concealed the sacred dwelling place of the Lord by a generous enclosure of one
hundred cubits north to south. This court was encompassed by a five-cubit wall of fine-twined linen whose white brilliance typified the cleansing purpose of the sacred ordinances120accomplished therein and served as a symbolic reminder to the
In both pattern and purpose the wilderness tabernacle foreshadowed the temple. The ordinances performed there have been common to the Saints of all ages. In our own dispensation we find the Lord commanding Joseph Smith to
"build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein" (D&C 124:27). "How shall your washings be acceptable unto me," the Lord asked Joseph Smith, "except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my
name?" Then to emphasize that the ordinances of salvation and the way to God are always the same, the Lord explained, "For, for this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the
wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was." (D&C 124:37-38.) The Lord explained to Joseph Smith that such sacred ordinances as washings, anointings, and baptisms for the dead belonged to his house and were acceptable when performed outside of such a holy sanctuary "only in the days of your poverty, wherein ye are not able to build a house unto me." Thus
the Lord's people of all ages have been commanded to build such holy places unto his name. (See D&C 124:30, 39.) Further, the place upon which the temple was to be built was chosen, consecrated, and made holy by the Lord (D&C 124:42-44). We
have every reason to suppose that such sacred edifices stood in the great city of Adam-ondi-Ahman, in the city of
Subsequent to his call from the burning bush, yet before the Exodus, Moses "was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain... the name of which shall not be known among the children of men" (Moses 1:1, 42). Here Moses talked with God "face to face" and "beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created" (Moses 1:2,1218). Others of the prophets were also instructed in world history on this same heavenly campus, not the least of which was Christ himself. Attendant to his wilderness experience, and before he commenced his ministry, he "was in the Spirit, and it taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them" (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 4:8).
Nephi records that as he sat pondering the things that had been revealed to his father he was "caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I
never had before set my foot." Here Nephi was shown the history of his people through the ages, the birth and ministry of Christ, the history of the Gentile nations or the nations of
In harmony with Nephi's revelation of the Apostle John's activities, the Revelator also professed to be among those who had been carried "away in the spirit to a great and high mountain" to entertain the visions of eternity (Revelation ). Ezekiel, who was a prophet of the Babylonian captivity, also spoke of the visions of God in which he was brought to "the land of Israel" and there set "upon a very high mountain" that he might see the vision of the temple (Ezekiel 40:2).
Sinai was neither the first nor the last instance in which nature provided a place for a prophet and his people to meet their God. Surely Adam worshipped in such places, as did Enoch, the brother of Jared, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Nephi, Christ, and122many others. Enoch records the voice of the Lord directing him to ascend the mount of Simeon. "I turned and went up on the mount," he said, "and as I stood upon the mount, I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory; And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face; and he said unto me: Look, and I will show unto thee the world for the space of many generations." (Moses 7:3-4.) Enoch was also shown the vision of future history.
It will be remembered that the brother of Jared took his six teen small stones to the mountaintop, where he sought to have the Lord touch them with his finger. There the brother of Jared was privileged to see the Lord and also to obtain a revelation of the future. Recounting that experience, Moroni said, "The Lord commanded the brother of Jared to go down out of the mount from the presence of the Lord, and write the things which he had seen; and they were forbidden to come unto the children of men until after that he should be lifted up upon the cross." Further, he added that "never were greater things made manifest than those which were made manifest unto the brother of Jared." (Ether 4:1, 4.)
Reference was made in the first chapter of this work to Abraham's journey to
The idea that certain places have been designated for holy purposes, and as such are known long in advance, is common to Latter-day Saints, who look for a day when the New Jerusalem will be established in Jackson County,
Missouri. Along with123Sinai and Moriah,
In his dream Jacob saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. Above the ladder stood the Lord, who (and we must assume that Jacob ascended the ladder) covenanted with Jacob, as he had
with Abraham and Isaac, to bless him and his posterity throughout all generations. He was told, as had been his fathers, that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. Joseph Smith tells us that the "three principal rounds
of Jacob's ladder" were the same ascended by Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2) and that they represented progression from telestial to terrestrial, and from terrestrial to celestial degrees of glory
(Smith, Joseph. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The use of mountains as the meeting place between God and men is nowhere better illustrated than in the ministry of the124Savior. In company with Peter, James, and John he went "up into an high mountain apart" which we have come to know as the Mount of Transfiguration. That this was a temple experience there can be little doubt. Christ was transfigured and his "raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them (Mark 9:3). Moses and Elias (Elijah) appeared and instructed them, causing Peter to say, "It is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias." Peter's suggestion that three tabernacles or tents be built brings to mind Moses' tabernacle in the wilderness. That tabernacle or portable temple, with its three parts, was covered by a veil or cloud which was the symbol of the divine presence (Numbers ). Such was the experience of those on the Mount of Transfiguration, for we are told that as Peter "yet spake, behold, a bright cloud over shadowed them" and they heard a voice saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him." (Matthew 17:4-5.)
Describing this experience, Peter said that he and his companions were "eyewitnesses" of Christ's "majesty." "For," he said, "he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount." (2 Peter 1:16-17.) Then he added, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy . . ." (v. 18). "The more sure word of prophecy," Joseph Smith tells us, "means a man's knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood" (D&C 131:5). We are also told that Peter, James, and John, while on the mount, saw, as had so many of the other prophets, the future history of the earth even to the time when it would be "transfigured" or receive again its paradisiacal glory (D&C 63:21).
Though our account is fragmentary, the high mountain, the raiment of white, the heavenly messengers, the cloud or veil, the voice of the Father, and the manifestation of the destiny of the earth all combine in a harmonious
description of a temple experience125Indeed it has been suggested that Peter, James, and John, while on the mount, received their endowments and were there empowered for all that they would yet be called upon to do (McConkie,
Bruce R. The Mortal Messiah. 4 vols.
On the night of the Paschal feast, at that event known to us as the Last Supper, Jesus said to his disciples, "But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee" (Matthew 26:32). Lest they forget, at the
open tomb the angel of the Lord instructed the two Marys to tell the disciples that Christ would meet them in
So frequently had mountains served as the meeting place between God and men that Isaiah referred to the temple as "the mountain of the Lord's house" (Isaiah 2:2); Jeremiah used the phrase "mountain of holiness" (Jeremiah 31:23); and the Psalmist wrote of the "hill of the Lord" (Psalm 24:3). Nephi records that when the Lord sought to reveal to him the manner in which he should build the ship that was to bring his family to the Americas, he first heard the voice of the Lord say to him, "Arise, and get thee into the mountain" (1 Nephi 17:7).
It was commonplace among the ancient Near Eastern peoples to view mountains as temples, for they were the meeting place between heaven and earth. Anciently the temple was viewed as the ritual center of the universe. It was
believed to be the place where men could establish contact with other worlds. Hugh Nibley writes, "It is now generally recognized that the earliest temples were not, as formerly supposed, dwelling-places of divinity, but rather meeting-places at
which men at specific times attempted to make contact with the powers above" (Nibley, Hugh. What Is a
The temple is a symbol of true religion. The Lord's people have always been a temple-building people (D&C 124:39), thus accounting for the endless array of counterfeits in the ancient world. Only among those who deny the
principle of revelation and refuse man the right to stand in the presence of his Creator are no temples to be found. As long as some degree of divine favor rested upon the nation of
When Christ died upon the cross, "the veil of the temple was rent in twain" by the hand of God "from the top to the bottom" (Matthew 27:51), thus symbolizing the end of the old covenant and the fulfillment of
its sacrificial types. No longer was man to approach the Lord through its ritual or receive a remission of sins in its performances. The Jewish dispensation had ended, the Messianic had begun, and as the Savior had prophesied, not one stone of that
temple would be left standing upon another (Matthew 24:2). The destruction of the temple betokened the destruction of a wicked nation. As its stones were not to be left one upon another, so its people would be scattered among all nations of the earth
to await that future day when, in the economy of heaven, a temple would again be built on the sacred hills of Jerusalem. That temple, when built by the proper authority, will stand as a beacon to the scattered remnant of
McConkie, Joseph Fielding. Gospel Symbolism.