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Question

 

Hey Gramps,

I’ve been studying more of the Old Testament and I was really looking for scriptural support for our temple ordinances but I can’t really find it. There are ritual cleansings and anointing with oil but I can’t find anything about our temple garments that we’re supposed to wear, or eternal sealings, or baptisms for the dead. And even those things that do have similarity, such as the washings and anointing were practiced ritually, many times, not just once.

Jacob

 

Answer

 

Jacob,

Do you know of any official Church source that has recorded what we do in the temple?  I only know of very general descriptions that are not caught up in common discourse or narrative.

Now consider what we have in scriptures.

1) The five books of Moses are largely narrative, with instructions on the Law of Moses and policy / organizational matters.
2) More narrative from many books.
3) The Psalms which is basically a hymnal.
4) The Song of Solomon — which Joseph Smith said was not an inspired work.
5) Prophecies and history.

If (say, 1000 years from now) we were looking into similar records of our day, where would we find such descriptions of the temple ceremony?  I don’t know if we’d find anything that we could link directly to the Temple ceremony itself.  There would be mention that we had temples.  And there would be a mention that our highest ordinances are to be had there.  But no real description of the ceremonies themselves.

So, why would there be such a mention in the record of the Jews?  They were even more fastidious about “keeping sacred things sacred” than we are today.  They wouldn’t dare mention any of it, if there were any doubt as to the sacred nature of the ceremonies.

Another problem with finding mention of our temple ordinances is that we really wouldn’t know exactly what we’re looking for.  While it is true that some elements in our present ceremony are of ancient date, it was undoubtedly different than what we have today.  In my lifetime alone there have been alterations approved by the First Presidency and the 12 Apostles.  There were probably more from the time of Joseph Smith to the time I was born.  It would be irrational to believe that the ceremonies didn’t change among the Jews for 1000 years.

They didn’t have audio/video recording devices.  And they sure wouldn’t have written the ceremony down, lest it fall into the wrong hands.  By that reason alone, human memory would lend itself to inadvertent changes over the years.

And from 600 BC to the life of Christ, the Jews did without the benefit of the prophets.  And there was no temple for those years.  It would be similar to Christianity after the death of the apostles.  Where is their temple ceremony?  They don’t even know that there was a temple for Christian use.

During Christ’s time, they had the Temple of Herod.  But did they still have the ceremony after 600 years of exile?  How?  No one had practiced the entire ceremony during that time.

Another problem is the language.  Have you ever tried to translate ancient Hebrew?  If I showed you a word-for-word translation of the ancient Hebrew of an Old Testament passage, you’d probably consider it a jumble of disconnected words that would be difficult to interpret any intelligible message from.  So, what often happens is that people translate based on a previous person’s opinion of what the translation means. And if we’re talking about centuries of people who have not had the benefit of prophets or temple ceremonies, what interpretations would be likely to include such ceremonies?  None.

So, if there were something in the Old Testament regarding the ceremony, what would we be looking for?  What could possibly have remained over the course of a few millennia?  I would guess that there was little to nothing ever written about the endowment.  And if there was anything at all, we wouldn’t be able to recognize it.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

 

 

 

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