Different types of sacred buildings
After the destruction of the land of Ammoniah by the Lamanites, the people of Nephi enjoyed peace and prosperity for a season. As good mission partners, Alma and Amulek took advantage of the occasion to strengthen the Church, organizing a missionary tour among the Nephites.
This passage helps us to realize the three types of sacred buildings that had been built among the Nephites at that time, which gives us clues to their peculiar way of worship. Their places of worship were composed of a) temples, b) sanctuaries and c) synagogues. Let's see what we can learn about each of them.
The importance of the temple for the people of Israel
The value of the temples is patent in Bible. The temple was not only the main place of worship for the Israelites, it was also the symbol of their national identity. As such, it had both religious and civil importance. In the religious aspect it was destined to the accomplishment of sacred ordinances, as well as to the learning of the divine principles and to the obtaining of communication with God. In the civil aspect the temple was a place where the people congregated for coronations and civil events and for important assemblies.
The first Nephite temple
When the colony of Lehi left Jerusalem, the temple of Solomon was still standing. Upon arriving in America and after the separation between Nephi and his brothers, the Nephites endeavored first to have a temple like that of Solomon. Nephi explains that this temple was not built with such excellent materials as Solomon's, and surely it was smaller, but the model of its basic construction was the same.
Temples in the towns of Zeniff and Zarahemla
Some time later, Mosiah I would lead this town to the north, where it would merge with the town of Zarahemla. However, a group of nostalgic people returned to the original land, which had already been occupied by the Lamanites. They constituted the town of Zeniff.
The story told in the Book of Mormon It is evident that both the people of Zarahemla and the people of Zeniff immediately proceeded to the construction of temples. It was from the temple of Zarahemla that King Benjamin gave his posthumous address to the people. For its part, it was in the temple of the land of the south (the land of Lehi-Nephi) that King Limhi communicated to the people of Zeniff the glad tidings of his future deliverance. This temple, we are informed, had been built in Zeniff's time and had made remarkable improvements during the time of King Noah.
The temple and the Nephite migrations
Among Christian scholars prevails the opinion that only in Jerusalem could a temple be built. We see by the evidence of Book of Mormon that, in each migration, the people of God endeavored to build temples where they could worship God, wherever they were, and that they considered it a necessity of the highest priority.
The evolution in the organization of the Church
The people of Zarahemla, strengthened by the inclusion of the groups of Zeniff, Alma, and later of the Ammonites (or anti-nefi-Lehitas), soon grew in population and complexity. Consequently, the Church also branched into seven ecclesiastical units, to give greater attention to the members of the Church (Mosíah 25: 19-24). Each local unit of the Church had its "priests and teachers" who received the word of God from the prophet (Alma) and communicated it to their congregations. This organization included the ordination of local high priests, such as the one who was in the town of Ammon (Alma 30: 20) or the one who officiated in the land of Gideon (Alma 30: 21). This is a novelty in the organization of the Church, and it is worthy to be taken into account, since under the law of Moses the principal care of the high priest was the care of the temple. This suggests the existence of local temples, which the Nephites would build as they spread. In Alma 16: 13, not only the temple of Zarahemla is already spoken, but also the word "temples", plural, built, according to what is said, according to the model that had been provided to the Jews (Welch).
Temples among the Nephite dissenters
So great is the importance of the temple that the Nephites were not the only ones to build them. From time to time in the Nephite history we can observe the presence of separatist groups, called "dissidents", which differed from the religious concepts taught by the prophets. Even so, we see with a certain astonishment that each time a group separated, it also built temples. For example, the followers of Nehor, the antichrist, built their own religious movement, which included temples, synagogues and priests ordained according to their worship.
Temples among the Lamanites
Perhaps because of the influence of the Amulonites, who were Nephite apostates, the Lamanites also had temples among them, a fact we realize during the preaching of Ammon and his brothers, since the king of the Lamanites forbade the Nephite missionaries from these temples.
The visit of Jesus Christ in the temple of Abundance
Surely, the most exciting experience lived in a Nephite temple was the appearance of Jesus Christ himself. This visit did not take place in the temple of Zarahemla, but in a temple built much farther north and in a later period, on the land of Abundance. This temple is evidence of the multiplicity of temples built between the town of Book of Mormon and it does not stop being significant that, of all the places to go, Jesus Christ has chosen precisely this place, the temple, for its manifestation, with so much anticipation promised and expected by the faithful.
I will interrupt here for the moment. Soon we will talk about the rest of the sacred buildings that he talks about in the Book of Mormon and I will be very happy to have your feedback and comments.
Form T: Temples in the Book of Mormon
|Temples of the Book of Mormon|
|The people of Nephi built a temple after separation from the Lamanites||2 Nefi 5: 16|
|Jacob taught in the temple of the land of Nephi||Jacob 1: 17, Jacob 2: 2, Jacob 2: 11|
|King Benjamin taught from the temple of Zarahemla||Mosíah 1:18;Mosíah 2:1-7|
|King Limhi asked the people to gather in the temple||Mosíah 7: 17|
|King Noah made improvements to fine works within the temple at Lehi-Nephi||Mosíah 11: 10|
|There was a tower near the temple of the land of Lehi-Nephi||Mosíah 11: 12; Mosíah 19: 5|
|Amulek made reference to the temple wall (of Zarahemla?)||Alma 9: 1-2|
|The king of the Lamanites forbade the removal of the missionaries from the temples||Alma 23: 2|
|The sealing power given to Nephi included power over the temple||Helaman 10: 8|
|Jesus appeared to the Nephites in the temple of Abundance||3 Nefi 11: 1|
The following references were extremely useful in the elaboration of this biblicomentario:
- Welch, John W .: The Temple in the Book of Mormon: The Temples at the Cities of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Bountiful. In Donald W. Parry (Ed.): Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism.
Originally posted 2015-03-26 00: 22: 34.