We live in a day when there are more temples on the earth than any other time. What is the significance of this?
The answer is in many of our Patriarchal blessings. Most Latter-day Saints come from the tribe of Joseph, first by way of Ephraim, who received the birthright, then Manasseh. It is specifically Ephraim’s responsibility to gather Israel.
How do we gather Israel? By bringing the House of Israel into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where they can receive the ordinances and blessings of salvation. We gather by doing missionary work and Family History work, linking families together through baptisms and sealings.
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism explains it this way:
In the last days, Ephraim’s descendants have the privilege and responsibility to bear the message of the restoration of the gospel to the world and to gather scattered Israel (D&C 113:3-6). “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent” (A of F 10; cf. Deut. 4:27-31;28;29;30; 3 Ne. 20–21). The keys of gathering Israel were committed
to the Prophet Joseph Smith by Moses on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple (D&C 110:11). Many of Ephraim’s descendants are being gathered first, for they have the responsibility of preparing the way for the gathering of the other tribes (D&C 113). “And they [others of the tribes of Israel] shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants…and there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim, and they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy” (D&C 133:30-33; see also Israel: Gathering of Israel).
The great work of the Lord is mostly done in The House of the Lord. This is where we receive all the ordinances and blessings, taking on sacred covenants. This is where we receive instruction to understand better our purpose in this life, and the life to come. This is where we can be separated from worldly influences, renew our desires, and seek personal revelation. Everything in the temple is meant to bring us closer to our Savior, and our Heavenly Father, reminding us who we are, and who we are to Them.
We know the great purpose of our Heavenly Father is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). That can only happen in the temple. When President Hinckley was inspired to build smaller temples, it made an incredible boost toward this purpose. Because of the incredible faith of people in remote areas, these blessings could not be kept from them and the purposes of the Lord could go forth.
It makes me sad to hear people complain about the temple, or dishonor it in their quest to derail the church. But in spite of these attempts made by the opposition, temples remain a holy, sacred place where worthy members of the church can go to find peace.
Temples are for those who are pure in heart; who have shown a measure of desire and obedience. They are places where families can be sealed for eternity. When you enter the temple, you show concern with things of immortality.
One of Ephraim’s main responsibilities is to see that all of God’s children have received the
ordinances required for exaltation. This is an enormous undertaking. Some scientists have estimated that over 100 billion people have lived on the earth. Family History is a critical responsibility and an act of pure service for those who desperately wait for their work to be done. But Family History doesn’t just serve the dead.
Satan knows his power is ending. He is bent on doing as much damage as he possibly can and he is aiming his last gasps toward our youth. But the youth have been given great promises.
“As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives” (David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Oct. 2011).
“My young brothers and sisters, as an apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ, I invoke a blessing upon you. … I promise you that you will feel the beautiful link that binds us together as families through eternity. … You will feel purpose and strength that will help you to avoid the temptations that surround you” (Neil L. Anderson, Rootstech, Feb. 2015).
“Many youth have discovered that giving of their time to do family history research and temple work has deepened their testimony of the plan of salvation. It has increased the influence of the Spirit in their lives and decreased the influence of the adversary. It has helped them feel closer to their families and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. They have learned that this work saves not just the dead; it saves all of us” (Henry B. Eyring, “Gathering the Family of God,” Apr. 2017).
Pres. Hinckley has urged us all to live worthy of a temple recommend. Years ago, in the heart of Africa, women desired to go to the temple but could not afford it. Nevertheless, they were worthy of and received, their temple recommends and held them close to their hearts.
We all yearn for the “sanctifying influence of the Spirit of the Lord.” Pres. Hinckley promises us that regular attendance in the temple will “peel off the selfish shell in which most of us live” and “partake of all of the marvelous blessings that are yours to be received there.”
This lesson reminds us to look to the temple. We have blessings awaiting us every time we walk through their doors. The temple can save us. The temple can save our children. The temple can save our ancestors. The temple provides an everlasting sealing of individual families linking together with Heavenly Father’s great and inclusive family.