Mormon Temples across Time
Some people think Mormons are weird for worshipping in Mormon temples. The truth is, temples existed in ancient times, just like they exist today. Solomon’s temple was built thousands of years ago as a place for God to dwell among His people. It was a sacred, sanctified place set aside for special worship. Only those who were authorized were able to enter, and those who did were instructed to worship in a certain way. This was also true for the Tabernacle while the Jews were wandering in the wilderness, though this was a special, portable temple, since they were working their way towards the Promised Land.
In ancient temples, animal sacrifice was still practiced under the Law of Moses. The laws which the people were instructed to keep are outlined clearly in the Old Testament. The animals which were brought to the temple had to be without blemish, the first males of their flocks. They had to be certain types of animals as well. There were several different reasons for animals to be sacrificed, but the most well-known sacrifice is probably for the Day of Atonement, when the high priest would sacrifice one animal for the sins of all the people.
Mormons believe that ancient temples also existed on the American continent before the time of Christ. The Book of Mormon is a history of three different groups of Jews who were led to the American continent by the hand of God before the destruction of Jerusalem. Their history shows that they also built and worshiped in temples.
Mormon doctrine teaches that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses when he suffered in Gethsemane and was killed on the cross. He was the ultimate sacrifice, and all the animal sacrifices which had been done up until that point had been symbols of this eternal sacrifice of our Savior’s. At the time the Law of Moses was fulfilled, Christ said that instead of continuing to offer animal sacrifices, what would be required from that time forth was a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:20). These are the sacrifices which are required in Mormon temples today. What is meant by a broken heart and a contrite spirit is that each of us must humble him- or herself and offer the only thing that is truly ours to give to God: our will; our hearts. We must choose to follow His commandments, for that is how we show we love Him (John 14:15).
Mormon temples today are places of worship and learning. It is in temples that we learn more about God’s plan for each of us and how we can continually grow closer to Him. Modern temples continue a marvelous ancient tradition of worship which was instituted by God thousands of years ago, and they are still built under His direction today.