[At Ether's Cave we generally focus on the Book of Mormon for the most part and will continue to do so, but the recent re-dedication of the Ogden Utah Temple last Sunday has caused me to reflect on many things and I wanted to just share a thought or two about temples, which I may do again from time to time. I don't think Ether would mind].
The Lord instructed Moses to make a “mercy seat of pure gold” which served as a lid for the ark of testimony that was placed in the holy of holies in the desert tabernacle and later in the temple at Jerusalem. (Exodus 25:17-21) It seems to have also represented the footstool of the heavenly throne. At each end of this plate of "pure gold" was a winged cherub facing inward toward the center. “And there,” the Lord promised Moses, “I will meet with thee, and will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony” (Exodus 25:22). It was on the day of atonement, once every year, that the High Priest would pass into the holy of holies with the blood of the sin offering and would sprinkle the blood of the sin offering on the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:14-15). “And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanliness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins” (Leviticus 16:16). These things foreshadowed the atonement Jesus Christ would make for the sins of mankind (Hebrews 9-10; Alma 34:9).
It is striking to read the opening verses of section 110 of the Doctrine and Covenants with this in mind. There the Prophet Joseph Smith describes the Lord’s appearance to himself and Oliver Cowdery to accept the dedication of the Kirtland Temple as his Holy House.
The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened. We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as the flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth. I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father. Behold your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me; therefore, lift up your heads and rejoice (D&C 110:1-5).
Here the Lord accepts the Kirtland Temple as his house as his feet stand upon “pure gold” (110:2) which reminds us of the mercy seat where the blood of sin offering was sprinkled yearly (Exodus 25:17) to foreshadow the atoning sacrifice Jesus Christ would make for his people. Lest we miss the significance of this, the glorified Jesus reminds us that he is the one that lives and that was slain and is now our advocate with God the Father (110:4). He then tells his faithful servants that their sins are forgiven and that they are clean before him and that they should therefore rejoice (110:5). The Lord further promises that “I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house” as he stands in glory upon the mercy seat (110:7). I am not suggesting that the Lord always does this when he appears to his people, but on this occasion at least, his standing upon pure gold as he meets with his servants Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and communes with them as he accepts the Kirtland Temple as his own seems appropriate and highly meaningful for such an occasion.
Interestingly, when the Lord appeared to President Lorenzo Snow in the Salt Lake City Temple and directed him to reorganize the First Presidency following the death of Wilford Woodruff President Snow reported to his granddaughter, “He stood right here about three feet above the floor. It looked as though he stood on a plate of pure gold.” (Lundwall, Temples of the Most High, 141).