Cover image via Gospel Media Library.

Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). That pretty much sums it up. If we consider the claims and covenants of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, it appears Matthew was on to something. What began in creation culminated in the covenant. This covenant of Abraham culminated with the tent of the meeting place. The tabernacle became the temple, and the temple became flesh. The Word became flesh so we could become the Word. He dwells among us in time, so we can dwell with Him in eternity.

Creation

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The earth is his temple, the place where his work is wrought, and his glory is given. Consequently, “the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:25). The Lord inaugurated the earth to be his temple in seven creative days. He organized and formed the earth as a fitting place for us to be fit for him. When he “rested” on the seventh day, he began his rule among his image-bearers, the man Adam, the woman Eve, and their subsequent posterity.[1]

Covenant

The Lord instituted a path, or a way, for the truths of God’s plan to come forth. This path enables us to live according to the “measure and stature and fulness of Christ.”[2] Isaiah called it a “highway . . . The way of holiness.”[3] This strait and narrow way is how we partake of the character, perfections, and attributes of Christ. Indeed, as the Lord is “the way, the truth, and the life,” when we enter his path, we do so through sacred ordinances—conduits of grace—opening the power of godliness in toto.[4] Our beloved prophet taught, “Ordinances and covenants give us access to godly power. The covenant path is the only path that leads to exaltation and eternal life.”[5] The Lord’s covenant assures that the parties entering the covenant come together until they become one. Such is the nature of the promises. As we enter the gospel covenant, we partake of the story of salvation culminating in the most glorious happily ever after whereby the Father proclaims, “Ye shall have eternal life.”[6]

So, naturally, our current prophet counseled,

“I urge you to get on the covenant path and stay there. Experience the joy of repenting daily. Learn about God and how He works. Seek and expect miracles. Strive to end conflict in your life.

As you act on these pursuits, I promise you the ability to move forward on the covenant path with increased momentum, despite whatever obstacles you face. And I promise you greater strength to resist temptation, more peace of mind, freedom from fear, and greater unity in your families.”[7]

Tabernacle

Established at Sinai, the Lord prepared Israel to receive his presence. The tabernacle, the sacred tent, is God’s dwelling place (mishkan). It is the meeting place where God promised to meet with Israel (Exodus 29:42). It is a sacred space designed for a sacred person. The Sabbath was instituted as a sacred time where Israel could come to the Lord’s place at a particular time to receive a particular person, even God. Yes, that last claim flies in the face of traditional Christianity, but one of the doctrinal diamonds of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is that God is a man, an “exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!”[8]

Emmanuel, “God with us,” traveled with and among Israel to their promised land. The tabernacle was the Lord’s portable dwelling to remind Israel of that fact. Perhaps Nephi’s quip finds covenantal expression when he said, “And my father dwelt in a tent” (1 Nephi 2:15). Lehi’s family was guided in the wilderness by Jehovah, the light (Liahona). This parallels Israel, guided by the tabernacle’s covering cloud (see Numbers 9:15-23). When Israel completed the tabernacle construction, it is said to have been filled with Jehovah’s glory as He took up residence among His people. The veiled Lord of glory guided the Jaredites, Israelites, and Lehites to their promised land along a covenant path (see Ether 2:4-5, 14). So it is with us.

Temple

Finally, the mighty king David took Jerusalem. The sacred city—the city of peace—was the destined city for the Prince of Peace. No longer would God’s presence be moved from place to place and hill to hill. Jerusalem was the place for God’s glory to be manifest. This was “Ariel, the city where David dwelt!” (Isaiah 29:1). This mountain city was also the place where Abraham prophesied and designated Jehovah-jireh, or “The LORD will provide” (yhwh yir’eh; Genesis 22:14). Truly, in this mountain, the glory of the Lord would be seen—crucified on Calvary’s cross.

Solomon constructed a majestic house in Jerusalem, a temple of the Lord. This miqdas, or sanctuary, was designated the gateway of heaven. This was the Lord’s axis mundi or the place where heaven meets earth. This was “the mountain of the Lord’s house” (Isaiah 2:2), and to ascend the mountain required ritual and rites of passage. These outward ordinances were symbols of one’s inner covenant. To ascend the mountain of the Lord required “clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” (Psalm 24:4). In these last days, the house of Israel, under the direction of Ephraim, is, with power, pushing “the people together to the ends of the earth” (Deuteronomy 33:17). What awaits the people when they are pushed “to the ends of the earth”? They discover their real home, the house of the Lord, whereby the covenant path enters eternity.

As it was anciently, so it is today in the restored Church. As we “stand in holy places and be not moved,” the Lord becomes one with us.[9] Such is the nature of the covenant path. The temple is a “holy place” where we are promised to receive the fulness of the Lord’s name and glory. The covenant path begins in the waters of baptism, where we are “willing” to take upon us the name of Christ. The temple is the consummation of that promissory note.[10] To take his name upon us, and walk according to his name, culminates in becoming the Name. No wonder our prophet urged us to “counter worldly ways by focusing on the eternal blessings of the temple. Your time there brings blessings for eternity.”[11]

Christ—The Tabernacled One

“In the beginning” is the phrase inaugurating the Lord’s earthly temple; those words also inaugurate the Lord’s incarnated temple (see Genesis 1:1; John 1:1). As the earth awakens us to the glory of the Lord, the temple initiates us into his glory.[12] When our Lord entered mortality, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [“tabernacled’] among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). All that the earth awakens within, we see tabernacled in Him. What the temple initiates, Jesus consummates. When we are one with Him, we are one with the Father.[13] To enter his covenant path is to enter the path concluding in the glory of the Father (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:33-39).

John saw the millennial New Jerusalem and testified, “I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Revelation 21:22). The inscribed words, etched in stone upon the facades of temples today declare, “Holiness to the Lord: The House of the Lord.” All that the covenant assures, the temple initiates, and the Lord consummates in that sacred statement. The mortal ministry of our Lord was the tabernacled house of the Lord. From the precincts of the premortal realm to the cross of Calvary, the Lord’s mission was holiness to his father.[14] His life was the embodiment of what it means to be the house of the Lord.

Easter Morning

The promise of Easter can be proclaimed in this angelic anthem, “He is not here: for he is risen” (Matthew 28:6). We become the temple of God. God is both with and within us. He is both proximate and personal. Though our “skin worms destroy this body,” in our flesh shall we see God (Job 19:26). The promise of Easter assures the body of Christ—his flesh, our flesh, and his Church—a renewed body, a regenerated body, and a resurrected body. The Great Basin was “the right place” for the geographic gathering of Saints. The temple is the “right place” for the covenantal gathering, and the covenant path is the right process. Jesus, our Lord, is the “Righteous One” (Proverbs 21:2); therefore, his path is the right one.

Surely, we have reasons to rejoice for the resplendent realities of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The promises of renewal and rejoicing are both timely and timeless. Our righteous Redeemer has staked his life on it—quote literally on a cross called Calvary. What began in creation culminated in a covenant; what was tabernacled in the wilderness was tabernacled in the flesh. The temple of God is with us, within us, and before us. The Word became flesh so that our flesh may become the Word. The Living Word is mediated by the written word, and the Living Temple is mediated by the earthly temple. The covenant path culminates in the character of Christ, and when we receive our Redeemer, we receive our Father. God be praised for Easter’s promise of new life, new beginnings, and a new temple.


[1] See Genesis 1:26-27; Moses 2:26-27; 3:1-3; Abraham 4:26-31; 5:1-3.

[2] Ephesians 4:13.

[3] Isaiah 35:8.

[4] See Doctrine and Covenants 84:19-39.

[5] Russell M. Nelson, “The Power of Spiritual Momentum,” General Conference, April 2022.

[6] John 14:6; 2 Nephi 31:20.

[7] Russell M. Nelson, “As We Go Forward Together,” Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2018, 7.

[8] Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 40; see also Doctrine and Covenants 130:22-23.

[9] Doctrine and Covenants 87:8.

[10] See Elder David A. Bednar, “Honorably Hold a Name and Standing,” General Conference, April 2009.

[11] Russell M. Nelson, “Now is the Time,” General Conference, April 2022.

[12] See Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:19-20; Doctrine and Covenants 109.

[13] John 14:9; 17:20-24.

[14] See Moses 4:2; Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 27:54.