SALT LAKE CITY | 21 August 2009 | President Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple today. Prior to the first dedicatory session, President Monson joined hundreds outside the temple for the traditional cornerstone ceremony. [Continue to story]
I recently was listening to a talk by Elder Merrill J. Bateman. It was given at BYU in 2000, and the way in which he talked about missionary work really caught my attention because he emphasized something that I guess I've always known, but never stopped to think about.
Every temple that is built is a victory for the welfare of the human race. It stands in direct and holy opposition to Satan and his angels. Every temple that is dedicated reclaims a piece of the Kingdom for our Father in Heaven. Our temples are such sacred and beautiful places to our people, naturally we rejoice that more of them are being built. But there's more to the story than that.
What I didn't know pertains to the rate at which the temples are now being built, and how that is a reflection of how the Lord is hastening His work.
Elder Bateman points out that Isaiah was speaking to us in the latter days when he instructed:
Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes (Isaiah 54: 2)
This verse refers to the growth of the Church, which we've long witnessed as one of the fastest growing religions in both the United States and the world. But looking at it again, the imagery in it alludes to the tabernacle of the Old Testament--thereby suggesting something that I didn't realize until Elder Bateman showed me it was true.
The number of temples being built isn't just a reflection of our growth; it's an investment in that growth. Our growth is going to continue because more temples are being built, in tandem with the fact that the Spirit of Elijah is coming to member and non-member alike, to "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." (See Malachi 4: 6)
And really, I'm not a numbers person. But you really don't catch on to the scope of what any of that means until you look at the numbers.
Elder Bateman quotes President Brigham Young when he said that accomplishing the work of the Lord would require thousands of temples. And like any one of us probably would think, he always assumed that such a high number would probably be a part of the Millennium, the time after Christ comes again and begins organizing His kingdom on the earth.
But to even break 1000 temples is doable in my lifetime. Elder Bateman's time frame was more along the lines of 2025, at which point I wouldn't even be middle-aged. I'm sitting here pondering what that would mean, and again, all I have to speak for me are Elder Bateman and the numbers.
I remember sitting in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple in March 1996 during a meeting of the General Authorities. The Church was preparing to dedicate its 50th operating temple after 166 years of this dispensation. At the end of the meeting, President Hinckley stated that he hoped there would be at least 100 temples operating before he completed his assignment on earth. I sat there stunned. The president was in his 86th year. It had taken 166 years for the first 50 temples to be built. I knew him as an optimistic man, but how could another 50 temples be built in the remaining years of his ministry?
About 18 months later, in another meeting in the Salt Lake Temple, President Hinckley announced the concept of the small temple. On a long summer trip, returning from the old Mormon colonies in Mexico, the manner in which these temples should be constructed was revealed to him. The temples would be of the same quality as the larger ones, they would be built of the finest materials, and they would be constructed to last for hundreds of years. Moreover, many of them would be built next to existing stake centers. The St. Paul Minnesota Temple was dedicated this past weekend, bringing the number of operating temples to 69. The 100th temple, expected to be in Palmyra, New York, will be completed within a few months. Brothers and sisters, we are witnesses of a miracle.
This talk was given in 2000. So, let me put this in terms that even I can understand. In four years, the Church managed to double the number of temples from 50 to 100. Even though it had taken them 166 years to build the first 50?
This also coming from a church that took almost forty years to build ONE?
Now granted, that ONE is really beautiful, was made at a time period that doesn't enjoy the technology and prosperity we do today... but seriously. Forty years. That's practically BIBLICAL!
Needless to say, we've come a long way, and not on our own either. These Houses of the Lord are beautiful, and I rejoice with my brothers and sisters all across the globe as more of them are being built because even though the Oquirrh Mountain Temple isn't serving any of the saints where I am at the moment as far as performing ordinances are concerned, the fact that it's now dedicated definitely serves all of us in a very real way.
Seeing as we're in an economic crisis at the moment, and there will no doubt be some (both inside and outside of the church) that will criticize us for building temples at a time like this, I pray that we all will understand what it REALLY means to have these temples being built right now, at this rate, no matter what the personal cost. Nothing could BE more important than all of our Father's children receiving the ordinances of His holy temple.
I'd like to bear my testimony of the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--that they truly are the Houses of the Lord unlike any other on this earth. I testify of the ordinances performed inside of them. Having participated in some of these ordinances, I can speak from some of the most sacred experience I've ever had that what we do inside those holy walls doesn't just save lives here, it saves souls in the hereafter.
And most importantly of all, I testify of the blood that makes all of this possible and so much more, even Jesus Christ. I know that there is no other name under heaven whereby man can be saved, and I know that if we will consecrate our every effort to Him in righteousness, He gives us the deepest and most profound truth, joy, and peace in return.
[On a belated note--HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRESIDENT MONSON!]