"Temple patterns are as old as human life on earth. Actually, the plan for temples was established even before the foundation of the world," President Russell M. Nelson taught. Throughout his service in the Church, President Nelson has provided profound insight into the temple, its symbolism, and what it means to each of us. Here are some of those insights, excerpted from the new book Teachings of Russell M. Nelson.
Scripture and Topics to Enhance Your Temple Attendance
Each temple is a house of learning. There we are taught in the Master’s way. His way differs from modes of others. His way is ancient and rich with symbolism. We can learn much by pondering the reality for which each symbol stands. Teachings of the temple are beautifully simple and simply beautiful. They are understood by the humble, yet they can excite the intellect of the brightest minds.
Spiritual preparation is enhanced by study. I like to recommend that members going to the temple for the first time read short explanatory paragraphs in the Bible Dictionary, listed under seven topics: “Anoint,” “Atonement,” “Christ,” “Covenant,” “Fall of Adam,” “Sacrifices,” and “Temple.” Doing so will provide a firm foundation.
One may also read in the Old Testament and the books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. Such a review of ancient scripture is even more enlightening after one is familiar with the temple endowment. Those books underscore the antiquity of temple work (“Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 2001).
Symbolism of Temple Features and Gestures
Inside the Tijuana Mexico Temple, Newsroom
In the temples, symbols are utilized to teach us spiritual things. For example, we admire that beautiful chandelier in the celestial room. . . . Look at the many innumerable pieces in that chandelier, each one made beautiful as it reflects the light behind it. Can you see that each piece in that chandelier could represent some of the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob illuminated by the light of the Lord?
Elsewhere in the temple, we admire the altars. They become more important to us when they symbolize the importance of prayer. The sculptured carpets on the floor signify the sure foundation of truth, below which we do not descend, as devoted Latter-day Saints. . . .
The whiteness of temple clothing suggests purity, and the similarity of our dress symbolizes the fact that we are all sons and daughters of God. In the temple, there is no segregation according to position held, color, wealth, or the lack of it.
In this temple, there is a symbolic pathway of progression. The baptismal font is located in the lowest part of the temple, symbolizing the fact that Jesus was baptized in the lowest body of fresh water on planet earth. There He descended below all things to rise above all things. In Solomon’s temple, the baptismal font was supported by twelve oxen that symbolized the twelve tribes of Israel. . . . From the baptismal font of the temple, we progress upward through the telestial and terrestrial realms to the room that represents the celestial home of God (“Symbols and the Temple,” St. Louis Missouri Temple Dedication, session eighteen, June 5, 1997).
In the temple, we learn something of the unique pattern by which the Lord teaches His children. Here we make sacred covenants; in turn, the Lord emphasizes the importance of those covenants by giving us special signs and tokens. This pattern . . . is equally evident in many scriptural examples. Coupling a covenant with a sign or a token is an instructional model often employed by the Master Teacher.
Recognition of a pattern among creators is expected. They all have their individual styles. A person familiar with the music of Beethoven, for example, can easily recognize his pattern of composition. One acquainted with the art of Van Gogh can readily identify his style of painting. So it is with this instructional model of the Lord.
In the temple, He uses covenants, signs, and tokens. The same pattern is evident in holy writ (“Teachings, Covenants, and Signs,” Salt Lake Temple Devotional, October 11, 1998).
Read more profound insights from our prophet in Teachings of Russell M. Nelson.
Internationally renowned as a surgeon, teacher, and man of great faith, President Russell M. Nelson has dedicated his life to healing hearts and ministering throughout his medical career and his Church service. This definitive volume of his teachings presents excerpts from his speeches and writings spanning more than three decades as an Apostle of the Lord, including many from his recent world tour and other unpublished addresses. Alphabetically arranged by topic, these teachings on more than 100 subjects provide a perfect, easy-to-use resource for talks, lessons, and more.