Temple Scriptures: A Mountaintop Experience

I had been studying the scriptures quite intently for the year or so before I first went to the temple. This really added to the experience for me, because I could see all the ways that temple worship connects with everything we know from the scriptures. The form of temple worship is quite different from what we experience elsewhere in the church, and I know some people who have found it a bit disorienting at first. In my case, though, with so much from the scriptures fresh in my mind, everything made sense and felt that much more right and beautiful.

My sister Emily had given me the excellent suggestion that I especially study the Pearl of Great Price, which I totally recommend. Since then she and I have also noticed a lot of other passages that have special meaning in connection with the temple, and I thought I would share some. Here is one set, which includes a lot from the Pearl of Great Price but also positions it within a larger, quite striking pattern.

The temple is often referred to as the mountain of the Lord (e.g. Isaiah 2:2-3). It is illuminating to consider what happens on mountaintops in the scriptures. Several prophets describe a mountaintop experience that helps to prepare them for their calling. For example, Nephi was carried away into a high mountain and shown the plan of salvation, the big picture, from the beginning (1 Nephi 11-14). Lehi had a similar experience in 1 Nephi 5-15, though we don’t have it recorded in as much detail. Moses saw the burning bush and was called as a prophet on a mountain, and returned to that mountain after Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, to receive the law (Exodus 19-20). Moses 1-4 describes quite a bit more that was revealed to Moses on a mountaintop. Enoch (Moses 7:21-67), and Abraham (Abraham 3-5) had similar experiences. The brother of Jared also had a choice experience atop a mountain, where he saw Christ and learned about his coming (Ether 3:1-21). It is also interesting to compare the mount of transfiguration in the New Testament (Matt 17:1-13 etc.) and the similar event in the Kirtland temple (D&C 110).

Each of these events is unique, but there are shared patterns. The temple experience today is like one of these mountain-top experiences, in the sense that it gives us an overview of the plan of salvation, the major events that have put it in place, and our role within it. As with these prophets, receiving temple ordinances prepares our minds and hearts to serve God more fully.

Since it is not appropriate to discuss the temple ordinances in any detail in this forum, for the sake of simplicity I am keeping comments closed on this thread. However, these scriptures are as public as can be, and both those preparing to go to the temple and those who have gone for years may find them interesting to read with the temple in mind.