Sunday, January 20, 2019

President Russell M. Nelson on the symbolism of the temple

President Russell M. Nelson (born Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He became president of that quorum on July 15, 2015. Following the death of President Monson, he was set apart as president of the Church on January 14, 2018.
"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."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Symbols and the Temple," St. Louis Missouri Temple Dedication, session eighteen, June 5, 1997; see Teachings of Russell M. Nelson pp. 371-372

President Nelson helps us ponder some of the symbols we might be missing in the external aspects of temples. It's interesting to consider why they are built the way they are, and to learn from these aspects of their construction, layout, and appointments.

Light is a particularly powerful symbol, and I appreciated this insight into beautiful chandeliers and their ability to reflect and enhance light. We must all learn to be light-reflectors and light-transmitters, helping those around us to be blessed by His true light!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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