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A few weeks ago, I suggested a Tabernacle model for speaking meaningfully about temple symbolism without talking about covenant symbols.[1] Each piece of the ancient furnishings seems to correspond to the temple laws referenced by Elder Bednar in the last conference.[2] The Tabernacle process then serves as a model of how to come unto Christ to be saved according to one reading of Alma 13:2[3]

“And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.”

After entering by the gate of the tabernacle (faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost), Nephi[4] says we stand in the “Strait and Narrow Way” that leads to eternal life, represented by the Holy of Holies.  Within the gate of the tabernacle complex, in the court yard of the tabernacle, one stands in the telestial compartment of God’s kingdom on earth.  The altar of sacrifice looms large before one’s face because in order to obey God and walk His pathway, one must learn to sacrifice appetites and desires that run counter to God’s nature. Placing the “animal within us”[5] upon the altar allows Him to cleanse our hearts.  But as this open courtyard symbolizes, there is the matter of the stains of other blood, symbolic of the blood and sins of the telestial world.  The court yard was a violent place of slaughter and butchering so all the priests, now blood stained, were required to ritually wash in the copper basin next to the entrance to the Holy Place before entering.  We too need to be cleansed from the blood and sins of this world by 1) teaching our children the gospel before age eight.[6] 2) Magnifying our church callings.[7] 3) Sharing the gospel,[8] 4) Keeping the Sabbath and renewing our covenants, etc..[9] Thus we learn to live in the world without becoming like the world.

Once cleansed the priest could then enter the “Holy Place,” sheltered from the blood and sins of the courtyard, but dark were it not for the over five-foot-high golden menorah that furnished light from the burning wicks set in seven cups of fresh, consecrated olive oil. The cups were the terminal ends of each of seven branches fashioned by hammering a single piece of gold weighing around 75-90 pounds. The incredible details of this lamp include seven branches with three knops and almond blossoms on each branch.  It was obviously designed by Jehovah[10] to be the likeness of a tree, a blossoming almond tree.  Adding these details to others one begins to look beyond the symbols for their intent and the realities for which they stand.[11]  A short list might be appropriate here:

  1. The almond tree was the first fruiting tree in Israel, blossoming in February.
  2. God used the almond blossom as a sign to Israel of Aaron’s authority.[12]
  3. Christ is the first fruits and ultimate authority on earth and in heaven.
  4. The Holy Place corresponds to the terrestrial state as the past and future state of this world, the Garden of Eden and the millennium.
  5. The tree in both Eden and the Millennial glory represent eternal life and as such represent Christ, as Nephi discovered in being shown Lehi’s tree of Life.[13]
  6. Olive oil, the source of light in the Holy Place is used in other places as a symbol of the Holy Spirit[14] by which one can now see by the “light of the Spirit.”
  7. A tree is used as a reference to the cross by Peter,[15] Luke[16] and Paul[17] which symbolically, represents both the Atonement of Christ as well as the two great laws of God.[18]
  8. In the Sermon at the Nephite Temple the Law of Chastity[19] is placed after introducing the law of obedience,[20] the law of sacrifice,[21] and then the law of the Gospel.[22] 
  9. In doing so, He not only elevates lust as a thought sin to the same level of seriousness as adultery but then gives a powerful key to avoid it. He connects the sin to the penalty, “take up your cross.”  The capital penalty for adultery was indeed to be hung on a tree.[23] 
  10. The law of chastity is one of the few commandments stated in the negative while portending much more.  For example, “Thou shalt not kill” or “Thou shalt not steal, etc. do not portend keeping other commandments.  Keeping the stated law of chastity of not having sexual relations except with a lawful spouse does portend that the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth, is contextually part of the celestial laws leading to exaltation.  President Nelson said, “salvation is an individual matter; exaltation is a family matter.”
  11. The Sermon then continues with principles pertaining to marriage, contracts, and how to handle being abused by others.[24]  As one family psychologist said, “Your greatest joys and trials in life will either be born to you or married to you.”[25]
  12. The number 3 to the Hebrew symbolism represented man while the number 4 represented woman and the door to mortality she represents by giving birth.  The Menorah had 7 branches, 3 + 4 representing man + woman to equal the 7 of completeness that comes through marriage.
  13. To be standing before the large menorah as a tree/cross symbol of Christ who has commanded us to take up our cross[26] and follow Him, (tying this commandment to the prevention of lust and then fidelity in marriage as the first conditions and keys to living in a terrestrial, Edenic, or Zion like condition), then enables one to walk and see by the light of the Spirit. 

After having a disagreement with Emma, Joseph noted that he was not able to translate the plates.  He excused himself from Oliver and went to apologize.[27]  Walking by the light of the Spirit enables a desirable list of capabilities available only to those becoming more terrestrial.[28]

  That Spirit which leadeth:

  1. to do good—
  2. to do justly,
  3. to walk humbly,
  4. to judge righteously;
  5. which shall enlighten your mind,
  6. fill your soul with joy;

Elder Boyd K. Packer positioned the law of chastity as “the very key”[29] to our mortal success in becoming capable to live in a celestial world, under celestial laws.  Tied to the Atonement of Christ, personal discipline, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, set in a context of promised paradisiacal light and peace, the Menorah stands symbolically to invite us first to see, then to be, so that we can then become

“When you, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, then you shall stand in the holy place; whoso readeth let him understand.” JSM 1:12, 32; see also DC84:117[30]

“In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”[31]



[2] April 2019 Elder David A Bednar refers to President Benson’s list of Temple Laws:


[4] 2 Nephi 31:17-18

17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea,

[5] Elder Neal A. Maxwell, (“Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,” Ensign, May 1995, 68).

[6] DC 68:25And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.

[7] Jacob 1:19 we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.

[8] Ezekiel 33:7-8

7 ¶ So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.

8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

[9] DC 59:8-9 Notice the sequence of sacrifice then cleansing

8 Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

9 And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;

[10] Exodus 25:31-37

[11] Elder John A. Widstoe, “Temple Worship” Address given at the Genealogical Society of Utah at the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake on October 12, 1920,

[12] Numbers 16:41 all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron,

Numbers 17:8-10

8 And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.

9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.

10 ¶ And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.

[13] See 1 Nephi 11:7-22; John 3:16

[14] DC 45:53

[15] 1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree 

[16] Acts 13:29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.

[17] Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

[18] See Meridian:

[19] 3 Nephi 12:27-30

27 Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery;

28 But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart.

29 Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer noneof these things to enter into your heart;

30 For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell.

[20] 3 Nephi 12: 17-19

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil;

18 For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled.

19 And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father,

[21] 3 Nephi 12:19

ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

[22] 3 Nephi 12:21-26

21 Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, and it is also written before you, that thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God;

22 But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of his judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

23 Therefore, if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee—

24 Go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you.

25 Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time he shall get thee, and thou shalt be cast into prison.

26 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence until thou hast paid the uttermost senine. And while ye are in prison can ye pay even one senine? Verily, verily, I say unto you, Nay.

[23] See Meridian

[24] 3 Nephi 12:31-44

[25] Sterling Elsworth

[26] DC 112:14 Arise and gird up your loins, take up your cross, follow me, and feed my sheep.

[27] David A. Whitmer “Address to all Believers in Christ”

One morning when he was getting ready to continue the translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out about it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and I went up stairs and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation, but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went down stairs, out into the orchard, and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour–came back to the house, asked Emma’s forgiveness and then came up stairs where we were and then the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful.” 

“At times when Brother Joseph would attempt to translate he would look into the hat in which the stone was placed, he found he was spiritually blind and could not translate. He told us that his mind dwelt too much on earthly things, and various causes would make him incapable of proceeding with the translation. When in this condition he would go out and pray, and when he became sufficiently humble before God, he could then proceed with the translation. Now we see how very strict the Lord is, and how he requires the heart of man to be just right in his sight before he can receive revelation from him.”

[28] DC 11:11-14

11 For, behold, it is I that speak; behold, I am the light which shineth in darkness, and by my power I give these words unto thee.

12 And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.

13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;

14 And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.

[29] Elder Boyd K. Packer, April 1972 “Why Stay Morally Clean”

“He was prevented from having a mortal body and was cast out—limited forever from establishing a kingdom of his own. He became satanically jealous. He knows that this power of creation is not just an incident to the plan, but a key to it.

Protect and guard your gift. Your actual happiness is at stake. Eternal family life, now only in your anticipations and dreams, can be achieved because our Heavenly Father has bestowed this choicest gift of all upon you—this power of creation. It is the very key to happiness. Hold this gift as sacred and pure. Use it only as the Lord has directed.”

[30] This reference is to THE HOLY PLACE while other references and prophetic commentary refer to HOLY PLACES, this reference is symbolic of our personal life-style relative to the Family, the Spirit, the Atonement of Christ, and our communication with God as symbolized by this terrestrial space in the ancient temples.

[31] President Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” General Conference, Sunday Morning Session, April 2018.