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There’s something extraordinary about mountaintops. Early saints crossed a nation to settle in the Rocky Mountains. In the Nauvoo Temple, President Brigham Young saw a vision of the very mountaintop where he would later view the final destination of the pioneers.(1)
Moses was called as a prophet and received the law on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-20). Enoch, Abraham, Nephi, Lehi, the brother of Jared, and the Savior himself had sacred visions and monumental experiences on mountaintops. And, of course, Jesus Christ, Moses, and Elias (Elijah) conferred the keys of the priesthood to Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration.
“Arise, and get … into the mountain” we read in 1 Nephi 17:7. And in Psalms 24:3 we read, “ascend into the hill of the Lord.”
But mountaintops hold a magnetism for members and nonmembers alike. Crowds flock to retreats and hiking adventures that place them atop rugged peaks, often unaware that this pull they feel is a celestial one.
Atop a mountain, with an overview of the world below, we cannot help but have a larger view, a moment of intense humility and gratitude, and an expanded grasp of God’s creation and the Plan of Salvation. Even nonbelievers often describe their ascent as “spiritual,” “profound,” and “awakening.”
In a recent Book of Mormon Central article reprinted in Meridian Magazine, church leaders explain that ancient prophets received the temple endowment on mountaintops.
In Isaiah (2:2-3) the temple is referred to as the mountain of the Lord. This, more than any other reason, is why mountaintops should always remind us of the sacred covenants bestowed on mountaintops of old—and in temples today.
We virtually have a mountaintop experience whenever we enter a holy temple. That enlarged understanding, that deeper communion with God, is available to all regardless of where we live, or how far away an actual mountain might be.
And then, endowed and gifted with saving ordinances and precious covenants, we can carry mountaintop thinking with us wherever we go. We can keep a piece of that supernal experience in our hearts and minds. This is why “stand in holy places” can be wherever we stand.
We can draw upon the peace and the power of the temple when we pray, when we serve, when we simply go about our daily lives. Mountaintop thinking can help us curb anger, find charity, receive revelation, and make wise choices. Reflecting upon the promises we make inside the temple can—and should be—life changing.
Temple attendance awakens our love for our ancestors, and the desire to perform sealings for those awaiting this work. It makes us better missionaries, wanting to gather all those we can to partake of these glorious blessings.
This is a message we want to carry to the world. Many already feel the urge, the desire to ascend and come closer to God. We just need to tell them why they feel such a powerful pull. As the hymn says, High on the mountain top A banner is unfurled. Ye nations, now look up; It waves to all the world.
- Quoted in John D. Lee Diary, 13 Jan. 1846, Historical Department, Archives Division, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.