Photo by Rick Satterfield – taken from ldschurchtemples.com
We have all heard that the world is becoming increasingly dark – and it is true. “The world and the wisdom thereof”1 is clamoring to become an even louder and more influential voice among us, and its “dark clouds of trouble hang o’er us and threaten our peace to destroy” yet we can rest assured that “there is hope smiling brightly before us, and we know that deliverance is nigh”.2
All over the world and “upon all the face of the earth”, we will find “the church of the Lamb”, and even though our “dominions upon the face of the earth [are] small” we can and will be “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory”.3
Symbolism is so powerful, and we have “the great symbol of our membership”4 that we can look to every single day to learn exactly how to live in these perilous times. Every single day, and literally spread throughout the whole earth, there are beautiful temples standing firm, tall, and glorious as a symbol of “all we hold dear”. 5 And each night as the sun goes down and the darkness of night gathers around that temple – it begins to shine. That darkness comes slowly, and as it does the soft light of the temple begins to glow and we may not even notice it until the natural light of the day is completely gone and darkness is nearing its peak – but each great edifice, each great symbol, stands as a magnificent contrast to the darkness surrounding it as it glows with “the shining of a flaming fire”6 for all to see.
We have learned that “Fire is a symbol for cleansing, purifying, or sanctifying, and that it can also serve as a symbol of God’s presence”7 – and nowhere is this more true or symbolically visible than in his own house when that flaming fire is against a backdrop of complete darkness – it is a reminder for each of us to “stand with brightness” in a world full of darkness – for the whole world to see.
The temple is much more that just a building, and much more than just a sacred place – although it is that. The temple as a symbol stands for everything that we as latter-day saints proclaim to the earth as unique truth restored through Joseph Smith and the whole reason for existence. It is the one and only place on earth where eternal families can be forged, where we can learn about where we came from and who we really are. Each mighty temple is “a standing witness that the power of God can stay the powers of evil in our midst”. 8 It is a constant reminder of the ideal and atoning sacrifice of our savior, how to be like him, and what he did for us.
The world is becoming increasingly dark – this is true – but the world is also becoming increasingly bright. Each day and each month and each year, there are more and more people and families and homes that have started to glow brighter. As that darkness becomes more intense, so must our brightness and when the natural light of the day is gone and darkness is found everywhere, we must be found standing tall and firm and true as “the shining of a flaming fire” as a very visible contrast to the prevailing darkness of the world. Let us all stand with the light of the world, and the light of all truth – even Jesus Christ – and continue to fill the world with that light.
1 1 Ne. 11:35
2 Hymns, no. 196
3 1 Ne. 14:12-14
4 The Great Symbol of Our Membership, by President Howard W. Hunter, Oct. 1994 Ensign
5 Priceless Blessings of the House of the Lord, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (Chapter 13).
6 2 Ne. 14:5-6, see also Isaiah 4:5. As Isaiah mentions, the temple is very much a “cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night”. I think it’s also appropriate the point out that there are 3 places referenced where his glory shall be as a defense and a refuge; the first is “every dwelling place of mount Zion” (our homes), the second is “her assemblies” (wards, stakes, meeting places), and the third is “the tabernacle” (the temple).
7 The Guide to the Scriptures – Fire
8 Priceless Blessings of the House of the Lord, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (Chapter 13).