The Temple – A Typology

The Tabernacle (tent, dwelling) in the Desert

During his forty-day fast upon the mount, Moses received every detail needed for the construction of a tabernacle, a house of the Lord, where Israel could come and receive the keys of salvation and exaltation. The tie between this tabernacle and latter-day temples is unmistakable. Like modern temples, the tabernacle was to be a house wherein “every needful thing” could be found (D&C109:15). It would be “a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of glory and of God,” so that “all the incomings of thy people, into this house, may be in the name of the Lord; that all their outgoings from this house may be in the name of the Lord” (D&C 109:16-18)… Thus, through the power of revelation, Israel could be “taught words of wisdom” and “seek learning even by study, and also by faith”. (D&C109:14).

The Ark of the Covenant (Ex 25:10-37:1-9)

The ark of the covenant was a chest, or box, of acacia wood overlaid with gold. It was approximately 3 feet, 9 inches long, two feet three inches wide, and two feet three inches high. Staves, or poles, on both sides allowed the priests to carry it without actually touching the ark itself. Inside, the tablets of the law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai were placed. Hence, it was called the ark of the testimony or ark of the covenant. Later, a pot of manna and Aaron’s rod, which miraculously bloomed, were also placed inside the ark (Heb:9:4). The ark was placed inside the inner room of the tabernacle known as the most holy place, or Holy of Holies. The ark was viewed with the greatest reverence by the Israelites, and prayers were recited before it was moved or placed in position (Num 10:35-36).

The blood of the lamb of Jehovah was sprinkled upon the mercy seat during the sacred day of Atonement. Paul and John both spoke of Jesus as being “the propitiation” for our sins (1John 2:2, 4:10; Romans 3:25)… The Greek word hilasterion, translated “propitiation”, was also used to translate the Hebrew kapporeth (seat of atonement) in the Greek Old Testament… both in the Old and New Testament, hilasterion has a regular and a technical meaning. It always means the lid of gold above the ark which was known as the mercy seat… “’If we then take hilasterion to mean the mercy –seat, and, if we can call Jesus our hilasterion in that sense, it will mean… that Jesus is the place where man and God meet, and that specially He is the place where man’s sin meets with the atoning love of God.’” (Barclay, The Mind of St. Paul, pp. 87-88).

From Old Testament Student Manual – Genesis-2 Samuel, Church Education System, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980-81.

This is the second in a series on Temple articles throughout 2010. Please click the link to read the initial article:


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